Monday, December 26, 2011

Roads to Nowhere

This Way to the Curb
Walking around on Christmas day, the streets are almost completely abandoned. This offers a rare opportunity to observe during daylight hours how things are laid out. I cycle past this particular intersection several times a week, but always approaching from the other direction, and it is usually very crowded. So I've never fully processed its design from the opposite direction until now. And the design is really something. I don't know how well my pictures demonstrate this, but there is a bike lane running against traffic that guides cyclist directly onto a brick island at the intersection.

Bike Lane, Curb
Once the bike lane reaches the island, there is no entry point. But the markings invite cyclists  to hop a 4-5" curb, at an angle. Some of you are probably thinking "Well okay, I can take that at speed on the right bike." But wait, not so fast.

Bike Lane, Curb
There is a bicycle stop sign just before the intersection, so you really don't have that much room to accelerate. In addition, remember that this bike lane is against car traffic, so you also need to watch the blind turn as you make your way toward that 5" curb. I am no expert, but this might be worthy of some sort of "cycling infrastructure fail" award. And it certainly explains why I see confused, flailing cyclists approach the intersection from this direction whenever I cycle through here.

Bike Lane, Curb
Lately I've been reading Brown Girl in the Lane's delightful rants about Vehicular Cycling advocates. She considers these fellows to be the "spawn of Satan" because they are against cycling infrastructure. Of course, their reasoning is that they are against it precisely because the sort of thing pictured here is what cities will do to cyclists when designing said infrastructure. Carving out a middle-ground position in this debate is tricky and I am not going to try right now. I only wonder whether there is a way to put a system in place whereby those who design cycling infrastructure (1) are required to consult with experts who are actual cyclists, and (2) have some accountability over the type of layout they create. We should not have to choose between harmful infrastructure and no infrastructure at all.

60 comments:

  1. A painted line added to a contemporary roadway helps very little. What you noticed is an example of the wasted effort and money spent on a good thought but a poor plan. Just concider the door zone IS the bike lane. It is up to us to make our way on the roadways 'till bikeways are built/established.

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  2. I don't think this is cycling specific, but just bad road design. There's an intersection near my house where cars are clearly instructed that staying in the second left lane will allow them to turn left at the light, but then when you get there... no left turn from that lane. This leads to much last-minute getting over and flailing and illegal left turns. The signs have been that way for as long as I've lived here, which is going on four years.

    So I don't think it's cycling so much as idiot design. My mom was a DOT engineer, and said with firm conviction that many of her colleagues were fools. The really good young engineers tended to go to the private sector to make more money.

    That's my theory...

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  3. Well, you could always ride to the bike lane stop, turn left and walk into the pedestrian crosswalk lane (or what the hell, just ride. If the city can make it up as they go then so can we, right? ;) ) , use the ramp up onto the brick island and then I assume there is a crosswalk with ramp on the other side? If I were visiting your fair city, as someone coming from somewhere without much cycling infrastructure, that's what I would do just to avoid the ride, stop, pick up bike over curb, ride/walk over brick, pick up bike over curb again, ride routine that seems to be the case.

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  4. In addition, think what it takes to safely have walking on a roadway. Seperate sidewalks. And woe to the driver that hurts a pedestrian on a sidewalk. Bicycles need to be truely seperated or have very strict laws regarding their rights to "right of way".

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  5. It's the same problem with public transit as well: the very people making decisions about public transit rarely use public transit (well, at least in most U.S. cities). From what I'm learning with regard to bike infrastructure, the people who ride are beginning to engage in the decision making process and I think we're starting to see some significant changes on what is and is not good bike infrastructure. Of course, I think part of the reason we have these crappy bike lanes is because the bike advocacy voice has been so weak and spineless for so many decades without a clear focus or any idea of measurable and tangible goals. But it has been getting stronger and thus butting heads with the old guard (those whom I rant against). Change is always uncomfortable and I'm looking forward to the day when these images will be in a museum of what not to do for cyclists.

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  6. My favorite example of bike infrastructure fail is the sign "Cyclists Must Dismount". They might as well post a sign saying "We Screwed This Up". You never see a sign telling drivers "Get Out and Push". My solution is to ignore these nonsensical signs. In addition to consulting cyclists, the designers should be required to ride the infrastructure themselves for a couple of weeks.

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  7. That's just plain bad design, but also looks like a spot that is crying out for a DIY ramp.

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  8. Middle Ground. Don't put bike infrastructure where it's not needed, such as where speed limits are >30 mph and in grid neighborhoods. Put them out in the burbs where there are only high speed/high traffic arterials. That's where we could use the segregation.

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  9. Yep, these are everywhere. Maybe lawsuits will help fix them, as some of these lead to terrible accidents.

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  10. If that lane is contraflow, and the cyclist stops at the stop line, what danger is there from watching the blind turn? I would think that when the lane is clear, the stopped cyclist would move forward. If it is blind turn that is not apparent from the photograph. I'm not saying this isn't an example of bad design, but I'm not sure that specific criticism is a danger.

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  11. Sam, also, when there is a debate about whether a specific piece of infrastructure should be improved to accommodate cyclists, and two opposing cycling groups voice their opinion, with one camp advocating spending millions, and the other camp emphatically declaring that spending no money is safer, who do we think the city councils will listen to?

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  12. Planners expect each cycling journey to begin from the beautiful curb 'launching pad', lovingly crafted from 'olde world' kiln-fired briquettes that bring to mind quaint medieval pavements. The cycling path thrusts cyclists boldly into traffic - a post-modern innovation that should appeal to 'extreme cyclists' who enjoy full contact sports. Cyclists who scorn the designer's vision by cycling towards the curb (instead of away from it) are met with the prospect of a punctured tire, in an artistic master stroke of contempt for the tired old concepts of cycling safety and care for the bicycle. The artist is quietly stating that those who are not willing to travel with his vision are against him - a comment that brings cyclists into a post 9-11 age of avant-garde cycling infrastructure.

    It's certainly a novel and exciting approach. We'll have to see if it catches on.

    Seriously though, I've been cycling for 40 years and I've yet to see a bike path or bike lane that wasn't at the very least a death trap at every intersection. Incompetent design that produces dangerous bike lanes like the one above are so common that there ought to be a scandal and mass firings of transportation engineers. But there won't be, because bike lanes and bike paths are the new religion - you either love them, or you are cast out.

    As to your question of "whether there is a way to put a system in place whereby those who design cycling infrastructure are required to consult with experts who are actual cyclists", back in the days of yore, expert cyclists' views were taken seriously. Unfortunately, today these folks are despised, because they have come out en-masse against bike paths and bike lanes, and to criticize the almighty Bicycle Infrastructure is blasphemy.

    Fortunately, for those who are geeks like me, there is a way to find the truth: there are plenty of studies available on the web that tell the truth about bicycle infrastructure. So far, although the religious zealots have managed to indoctrinate traffic engineers, they have not succeeded in altogether corrupting the process of studying traffic collisions (although they are making inroads - see Lusk's 2011 Montreal study). Almost every study done since 1985 criticizes bike lanes and bike paths.

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  13. Adam: the response is flawed because we don't exist in a vacuum. I'm sure you know this, but I'll state it anyway - the cost of not building is much higher as measured by congestion, environmental and psychological damage and increasing health care costs, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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  14. I'm going to assume Meaux meant <30 and agree. Provide some protection when the speed differential gets greater than say 25 mph. Otherwise the only infrastructure needed is bike racks or bike lockers.

    Be traffic... Bikes Belong.

    But then I accept that I'm the Devils spawn.

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  15. I think it's bad design by non-cyclists, but also adding cycling infrastructure AFTER the road was designed for autos. We see this all the time here in Burlington. Like the Boston area our roads are narrow and the city makes some streets one-way with parking (like the pictures above). Then along comes the recent surge and voice of cyclists who want bike lanes. Unrealistic and unsafe lanes get pushed through the bureaucracy and painted - some making sense and some not - to appease the cyclists.

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  16. Cycling advocacy hasn't been weak and spineless. It was co-opted by the vehicular cyclists who believed separate cycling infrastructure was unsafe. They worked with local and state governments to prevent installation of *any* cycling accomodations. It's only been in the last ten years that a growing group of people realized how wrong that approach is - largely because of the successes in increasing transport cycling mode share in the Netherlands by building out well engineered separate infrastructure. Based on that model, vehicular cyclists can no longer argue that separate infrastructure is unsafe. But, we are only now (within the last five years) seeing any movement away from that view. And they still represent a vocal and argumentative voice within the cycling "community".

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  17. Most of the newer painted bike lanes in Chicago are simply ignored by all road users. The basic cynical speculation is they are there so traffic police can occasionally add an extra offense - driving a motor vehicle in the bike lane - to a traffic ticket if the driver gives the officer a hard time. Almost impossible to imagine that motoring in the bike lane would be an offense all by itself when it's basically a given and a constant.

    Bike paths are great at hours when traffic is very low. Like winter. Otherwise too dangerous to go near.

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  18. "If that lane is contraflow..."

    Contraflow! Thank you. I still can't get a handle on all the terminology after 3 years.

    "...and the cyclist stops at the stop line, what danger is there from watching the blind turn?"

    You can't really watch the blind turn adequately. It's blind and the cars don't always stop(!). So you have to cycle at a very slow speed with an eye out for cars from that direction, while trying to hop the curb at an angle. Might as well get off and walk.

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  19. "there ought to be a scandal and mass firings of transportation engineers. But there won't be, because bike lanes and bike paths are the new religion - you either love them, or you are cast out."

    Those are my thoughts almost exactly. Inevitably I get into arguments with both VC'ers and infrastructure supporters, because of my apparently unusual stance. I do think that good infrastructure is a better system for transportational (not road) cycling than VCism. But I am unwilling to accept poor infrastructure that puts cyclists in danger, and I *am* going to criticise it. Sadly, infrastructure supporters tend to see this as my being against their cause, which is far from the case. And VC'ers... well they just seem to hate me when they see me because I am wearing a skirt, not enough neon stuff, and seem to be enjoying myself.

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  20. We had a similar debate over an intersection here in Melbourne recently (where large amounts of crushed glass were intentionally put on the bike path in a famously dangerous intersection, but that's another story).

    An actual Traffic Engineer helpfully contributed to the discussion by pointing out that the position of Traffic Engineer is a poor job opportunity, with very little applicants. He more or less said 'this is what you get because no-one else applied for the job'. A case of you get what you pay for.

    It comes down to the simple fact that if a city/town/region is serious (and strategic) about cycling infrastructure it will pay the required salaries and consulting fees to start cycling infrastructure planning with smart, integrated cycling path solutions.

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  21. It hardly costs a lot of money to make a tiny asphalt ramp up the curb. Maybe something worth contacting the city about?

    Anonymous said: "some of these lead to terrible accidents."

    No, they don't. Firstly they are collisions and not accidents. Secondly they are caused by careless driving. Thirdly the careless driving is partially due to car infrastructure that gives car drivers a sense of entitlement, a sense that they shouldn't have to slow down too much.

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  22. accident -- 'an unforeseen and unplanned event with lack of intent which generally leads to a negative outcome'.....my encounters with poorly planned bike lines are of this nature. no collisions involved. maybe the careless driving was on my part, but the paths helped by leading me to unsafe, unstable places.

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  23. Erik Sandblom said: "It hardly costs a lot of money to make a tiny asphalt ramp up the curb."

    Agreed. But it does take more money that is currently invested to employ an engineer with the flexibility and imagination to integrate an asphalt ramp into an already botchy intersection without reducing usability for any road users (pedestrians, cyclists, drivers).

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  24. I'm curious if we can have the address, so we can look at it on Google Street View.

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  25. Anonymous 7:10:
    Ok crash is a better word than collision. But most motor vehicles are hardly unforeseen. They are due to operator error.

    Cyclists can crash without motor vehicles being involved, but those crashes aren't so dangerous. 90% of cyclist deaths involve a motor vehicle. Source: Cochrane Review, "Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists".

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  26. Adam - It's Concord Ave & Garden St in Cambridge, MA - though I think the aerial photo might be outdated.

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  27. Oof. I see this "infrastructure" as a de facto speed bump.

    Anyway, bad infra can be surmounted by cheating.

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  28. V, you hit the nail right on the head. Vehicular cyclists advocates want safe cycling road infrasture and this is what happens when bike lanes are forced.

    Vehicular cyclist... advocate for narrower car lanes (to slow down traffic) and wider shoulder room for cyclists to ride on to allow cyclist and motor vehicles to "share the road" together.

    What happens when marked bike lanes like these are created--then some not so friendly motorists believe that cyclists should only ride inside these marked bike lanes; which may not always be safe - thus defeating the purpose of integrating motorists and cyclists to share the road peacefully.

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  29. I must admit that I fall into the VC camp mostly, because I've seen the studies and I know how unsafe even the best of the current bike infrastructure designs is.

    The problem is, in order for bike lanes and bike paths to work well and be safe, they are going to cost a bundle, because the only way for bike infrastructure to overcome the intersection problem is if it includes junction underpasses, and that's extremely expensive. But if a bike path design ever includes such underpasses, I'll be 100% for it. But in the real world, I don't see such a thing ever getting green-lit.

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  30. Interesting, interesting. I read the blog from Brown Girl's in the Lane. She put into words a situation that I've been suspecting for awhile, but have not seen articulated.

    Case in point, we have a bike lane near my house and back in the summer I noticed some bikers taking the lane and not using the bike path, which runs parallel to the street. It is seperated from the roadway by a row of trees and a curb. Recently I stopped into a new bike shop, met the owner, and we had a long conversation. One of the topics that came up was the bike lane I just mentioned. I said that I still see bikers using the road way (4-lane with 55 mph traffic) instead of the bike lane, and why would anyone do that. He quickly stated that one of them would be him. When I asked why, he stammered around with this reason and that reason, but in the end it came down to this --- he wants to go fast. He stated the path is not smooth enough for fast, and with tires that are onion skin thin with 100 lbs of pressure, it beats you to death. Fair enough. At least he was honest about it.

    He and I ride different types of bikes which is fine. I guess it also stands to reason we might enjoy different infrastructure. But I'm not sure how you reconcile these for city planning purposes.

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  31. I think I'd feel safer on this road:

    http://www.google-earth.es/uploads/forums/camino_de_la_muerte2.jpg

    than on this bike lane.

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  32. Have you seen the Warrington Cycle Campaign's "Facility of the Month" website? It's at:
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/wcc/facility-of-the-month

    Every month they feature a different idiotic cycling facility, mostly in the UK. But my favorite is from the Netherlands:
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/wcc/facility-of-the-month/February2009.htm

    Apparently they don't always do things as well as they should, even in the cyclists' paradise! (For the record, I did a seven-day tour in the Netherlands this summer and loved it.)

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  33. @Ian Brett Cooper - The VC approach is busted. I started doing VC when I was a teenager in the 70s. Works, in the small, for riding in/with traffic. In the large, it has utterly failed. Look at our pathetic ride share. Look how unsafe cycling is in the US, compared with the Netherlands. How we can call this anything other than a massive fuckup? Oh, but we're the experts at designing safe bicycle infrastructure that practically nobody uses. Just think, if it was just a little more repellent, we could get our ride share to zero and then it would be perfectly safe.

    Compare Groningen with Cambridge/Somerville. Similarly in most ways, except for ride share. Focussing on the design of individual intersections is missing the forest for the trees.

    I would add, also, that if there were any merit, for actual humans, to the vehicularists blinkered-rational approach, that there would be no need to do anything at all to get people to ride bicycles, because it has already been established that cycling is safer (considering all causes of death, 29% lower annual mortality rate, 2-5 years extra life) than driving. If people were rational, they would ride bikes already, in droves. The Dutch, with their (allegedly) locally unsafe designs and strategies, deliver greater ride share and safer roads, because they deal with the humans that we've got, not the humans that we wish we had. VC may succeed in theory, but it has utterly failed in practice.

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  34. Many bike lanes I've seen are death traps. The best bike lanes I've seen are debris traps that waste money and pavement and diseducate the public.

    What is approriate infrastructure? Low speed two-lane through routes, shared with cars; wide outside lane where speeds warrant, shared with cars; traffic signals that detect bikes, shared with cars; short bike or bike-ped paths for connectivity in neighborhoods designed for non-connectivity. These things work, and are cost-effective.

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  35. Regarding the Netherlands: I don't know if they've had a recent increase in bicycle mode share, but over the last 65 years they have had a decrease.

    See if you can find footage of Dutch cities at shift change time from the 1950's: curb to curb bicycles, in the street; no bike lanes or sidepaths. Scarcely a car to be seen.

    About 20 years into the recovery from WWII, enough people started to be able to afford cars so that objections were raised to having to drive cars at bicycle speed. So the sidepaths were built to clear the roads of the still large numbers of bicycles, to make way for the cars.

    The sidepaths neither created the high bicycle mode share, nor were a response to increasing bicycle mode share. They were a response to increasing car mode share.

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  36. "I said that I still see bikers using the road way (4-lane with 55 mph traffic)... He quickly stated that one of them would be him. When I asked why... in the end it came down to this --- he wants to go fast."

    I would avoid the bike lane too, and my cruising speed is under 10mph (and I have no desire to go faster). I refuse to use bike lanes for a different reason, and that is that I've really enjoyed my last 49 years on this Earth and I'd prefer that however many years that are left to me are free from the right hooks and left crosses that could kill me.

    It took me about 10 years and about 15,000 miles of cycling as an adult to figure out that the reason cars kept 'cutting me up' (as we Britons say) was that I was riding in the gutter or in a bike lane or on a bike path. Yeah, 10 years - I'm a bit slow on the uptake. Since I stopped doing those things, I've never once had an intersection conflict. That's 20 years without a single intersection conflict. That's what vehicular cycling did for me. Someone once said that VC hasn't been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and left untried. That seems about right to me.

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  37. " He stated the path is not smooth enough for fast, and with tires that are onion skin thin with 100 lbs of pressure, it beats you to death. Fair enough."

    Ah! He just needs a roadbike that is better at dampening road vibrations : ) But that's a bit OT.

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  38. All obstacles may be overcome by tech and ability. Unless little dwarf men try to call the po-lice.

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  39. @Dr2Chase:

    I happen to have cycled in both Groningen and in Somerville/Cambridge. To say the two are comparable in everything but rideshare is a mistake. Groningen is a stand-alone city of about 200,000 people and has standard Dutch traffic speed limits; Somerville is part of Greater Boston, a city of 4.5 million people, which has standard US speed limits, which are much higher. I did not see anything during my stay in the Netherlands that compares to some of the psychotic intersections and rotaries in East Somerville, where I used to live, and Cambridge, where I commuted to work. The only place I've cycled in the NL that comes closest to Somerville is Rotterdam.

    If VC is busted, bike infrastructure advocacy is busted more. The difference between the two modes of thought is that VC advocates don't care about rideshare - we care about keeping people safe. If the bike infrastructure lobby even held safety and rideshare as equally important, I'd be right there cheering it on. But it often seems to me that the reality of bikeway advocacy is that safety comes a distant second.

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  40. I like your pragmatic attitude, Ground Round Jim :)

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  41. Uuugh, I cycle through this urban planning epic fail every day on my way to work. I used to think that I just wasn't understanding how to properly use it, but no, it is just incredibly poor design. Yet somehow I adapted to it and use it every day. Only when I see another sane person point out how utterly unusable it is do I remember how ridiculous it is!
    Thank you, Velouria.

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  42. Veloria, thanks. I see the intersection at Concord and Follen. Yep, that's a blind spot alright, and if the Street View is up to date Follen has no stop sign. Pity, all they would have to do to make that safe is a) add a stop sign at the Follen/Concord elbow, and b) ramp that curb.

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  43. Ian Brett Cooper, there is a direct correlation between bicycle mode share and bicyclist safety. The lower the rideshare, the higher the number of bicycle/car collisions measured against trips traveled and miles traveled. By fighting against increased bicycle share, VC proponents are fighting against safety. It seems to me that in truth with VC proponents, genuine safety a distant second, while the right to the lane and being recognized as legitimate vehicles on equal footing with motorized vehicles is their primary concern.

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  44. jedgarquink - I encourage you to take a look at David Hembrow's blog. http://hembrow.blogspot.com, and in particular, this video which describes the evolution of thinking that went into current street design in the Netherlands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK-ESyajHLY. Cycling mode share was decreasing throughout the 60's and 70's, but the new street designs they started implementing in the 80's weren't about removing bicycles, it was about remaking cityscapes to create a more human scale liveable environment where vulnerable (i.e. non-motorized) traffic was safer, both subjectively and literally. In the process, the Dutch have created an environment where middle school age children can bicycle and walk to school without fear of getting hit by cars and needing their parents traveling with them. How many independent middle schoolers do you see out on bikes on your daily commute anyway?
    Vehicular cycling is great for experienced, predictable, older cyclist but lousy for anyone else.

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  45. What are the laws or vehicular codes regarding bike lane use? What is the law regarding throwing a door open and a bicyclist hitting it? A right turn across a bike land and a bicyclist hitting the car? Or a left turn?

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  46. I used to ride this every work day when I lived out in Huron Village, and I am not sure it's quite as bad as all that. I just cheated and rode up onto the brick island using the pedestrian curb cut at the right, without any problems. The contraflow is on a very low volume street, and the cars are making a very sharp turn with no visibility, so what few cars are there are going very slowly.
    To me the biggest drawback to this "infrastructure" is having to push the pedestrian signal on the other side of the island to cross that intersection.

    The alternative is to make a right turn onto a fairly busy street (Concord) and then immediately get into the left lane, and make a slightly tricky left under pressure from people coming up behind you at speed. I would choose which way to go based on time of day (would take the street -and the lane) after rush hour, but use this "infrastructure" at rush hour.

    I always took this cut-through going the other way- making an unprotected left off concord to get around the cambridge common is no fun.

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  47. @Ian Brett Cooper - you're missing the forest for the trees. VC techniques work in the lab, but they fail in the field. If VC worked (with real people) how is it possible that cycling here is (about) 5x as dangerous as cycling in the Netherlands? We've had almost 40 years to spread the VC word, the Dutch have had almost 40 years to make specific accommodations to bicycles in their infrastructure (their road death rate was high enough then that the slogan was "stop the child murder"). Remember, I was one of you guys once, but I'm also an engineer, and I can count. If you care that much about safety, why are you not trying to figure out how to copy what the Netherlands did? Your search for differences between Groningen and Cambridge/Somerville is not convincing; being embedded in an even larger (and locally very dense) metro area seems like a plus for bicycles, not a minus. This looks like a variation on the usual no-infrastructure oxymoron: "we're too spread out, and there's no room".

    (Lack of) psychotic intersections (or efficient ways for non-cars to avoid them) are part of bicycle-specific infrastructure. Sane speed limits are part of the solution as well. I'm not quite sure why speed limits are as high as they are; I just spent 4 days in a golf-oriented retirement community with community-owned roads, and the speed limit was 15mph. I'm in a different golf-oriented retirement community today, with county-owned roads, and the speed limit is 30mph.

    As to what to do with busted infrastructure -- I used to grumble and (as a good vehicular cyclist trying to set a Good Example) obey the law. I quit caring, and now if a little improvisation will save me time or avoid an awful stretch of road (Burlington Mall) I will cheerfully take an illegal left where none is allowed, or ride on the median strip, and jump curbs (the alternative is mixing with late-to-work right-turners heading into the mall, yuck). I try to be active in town government, and one problem we do have with "bike routes" and "bike lanes" is that the compromises are set wrong -- bicycles are routed through psychotic intersections (Concord/Common, aka "that overpass", in Belmont) in the name of directness, when alternative routes are almost as direct and much saner. Or, right up and over Belmont Hill on Clifton and Park, when there is an almost-as-direct route that avoids the narrow, winding, curbed, steep, BUSY section between the two rotaries. It does indeed assert our rights to put bike lanes in these places, but in a way that is so assertive that most people won't do it. And there's no way in hell that someone who cared primarily about safety would direct bicycles onto that stretch on the hill.

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  48. @ Adam: I realize there is a direct correlation between bicycle mode share and bicyclist safety. The problem is, there has yet to be shown an actual increase in rideshare. It's very possible that no one is actually deciding to switch to the bike, and the increases seen on certain bike paths come from current cyclists changing their routes to incorporate the path/lane.

    Also, even if bike lanes do increase rideshare and such an increase does provide more safety, does the extra safety offset the extra danger at intersections? I'm not convinced. Off-road infrastructure has been shown in studies - even by bikeway advocates - to be slightly more dangerous: that's studies done by people who have a vested interest in promoting bikeways and bike lanes. Disinterested parties suggest that bicycle infrastructure is very dangerous indeed - between 2 and 12 times more dangerous. If even the lowest of those figures is accurate, no rideshare safety factor can offset the danger.

    Bikeway advocates, in choosing rideshare over safety in the 'hope' of getting more safety are choosing an unethical philosophy. I cannot support a system that I know to be more dangerous just for some perceived future increase in safety. I just can't.

    One thing I'm certain of is this: I sure as heck won't use a bikeway or bike lane, because this kind of infrastructure, on an individual basis for someone who already cycles on the road, decreases safety, and I have an 8 year-old daughter and I want to see her grow up. I'll be damned if I'm going to start taking stupid risks with my life.

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  49. @ Skip: Dutch infrastructure is based on a traffic model with much lower speeds than the US. That is why the Dutch model works. Implement the Dutch model here without educating drivers to value cyclists' lives and without reducing traffic speeds, then have kids riding to school on it and we'd have an epidemic of children being killed on our roads.

    The Dutch system simply won't work here. Heck, I'd argue that it doesn't work in the Netherlands. I've ridden a bike in the Netherlands - it's hardly cyclist heaven. I'd rather ride in Greece.

    Vehicular Cycling works for everyone because it is simpler and safer than the alternative. I'm living proof that you don't have to ride fast or do cycling acrobatics to do it.

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  50. "Anonymous said...
    Yep, these are everywhere. Maybe lawsuits will help fix them, as some of these lead to terrible accidents."

    Yep,costing the city\county much more extra money will help fix it,it won't cause them to deside or vote to ban cycling or place unrealistic restrictions against CYCLISTS (rolling eyes here). That's a LOT of modern living's problem,everyone thinking they're so special that they deserve the rights to file suits over everything.....but that's another debate,isn't it? :p

    We have a few "bike routes" here,thought they don't really run anywhere other than to offer "a safe way to road ride" in some areas (granted,I may not have found them all yet),a few place cyclists on the sidewalk,against the flow of motorized traffic...I'm not always for infastructure,not always for VC,I'm for "keep my son and I safe when cycling around the city",so whether we use the "bike routes" or not really depends on the area we're riding at the time.

    At least on the TN side of this border town,there is a "3ft Law" in effect (not sure about the VA),though what good is that when it's NOT enforced,even when it's a friggin cop that just buzzed you with their mirror (when there isn't even anything coming from the opposite direction and it would have been perfectly safe...sane...to move over)? Motorists (here) don't give a crap because they know the worst that's going to happen if they buzz someone is a finger flown (assuming the cyclist isn't afraid they'll be ran over in retaliation),and they know that should they hit a cyclist,EVEN IF THEY CAN PROVE IT,they most likely will only receive a minor traffic infraction.

    What we need as much as anything,is for the damn government (or lack of it) to get off their asses and enforce the safety of cyclists,to enforce traffic laws in regards to motorsists...I mean,hell...why wouldn't I drive 50 in a 30MPH speed zone when I see the police doing it everyday on their way to lunch,coffee or whatever (meaning,not like the law says when they're allowed to break speed limits,"when on call and blue lights activated").

    Everybody's in a damn hurry because everybody waits to the last damn minute to leave (knowing they'll have to break laws to get there on time),because everybody thinks they are more priviledged,more special than everybody else,and this seems to grow by leaps and bounds depending on the type of car the individuals are driving (from the "too rich to give a shits" to the "I may be poor but I'm bad-ass's").......sorry,very heated subject around here (V,you feel free to edit or not post,LOL,I won't be offended-and as always,enjoyed the read :) ).

    Disabled Cyclst

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  51. Actually.. it does work in the Netherlands. Most of us Dutch residents find it works quite well. Especially those of us who are outside of A'dam/Den Haag/R'dam area. Biking there sometimes is like biking in a busy subway underground! It's all armpits and elbows.

    Our family is car free. My husband bikes 33 kilometers per day to work and back. I do half that every day around our village. My children bike. My dog bikes. I've only had one or two complaints about the Dutch bike system and it was mostly because I was in a new, unfamiliar area and didn't understand what a sign or two meant. The rest of the time I've loved it. It's very safe, very secure and very quick. It's not entirely about average speed.. yes we have a lower speed as compared to America, but we also have a higher density. You simply can't have 45 and 55 mph zones in high density housing.

    So it's not just roads, it's housing. It's how buildings are built, how neighborhoods are planned. Our homes are tall and thin, often 3 levels, a lot like condo life. We also don't put convenience stores on every corner and huge strip malls on state roads. Different concepts. The "Dutch Model" is based on Dutch lifestyle and Dutch tradition. We want to be able to walk or bike to the butcher, the baker and the outdoor market.

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  52. @dr2chase:

    Seems to me you're looking at Netherlands vs U.S. and reducing ALL the societal differences to just one: "They have lotsa bike lanes; we have few." But they also have gas prices that are at least double ours, licensing requirements that would keep most Americans out of the driver's seat, laws that hold drivers responsible for any crash (and a society that takes those laws seriously), cities that are compact and flat, streets that were built before automobiles, a much stronger "green" mentality, far more expensive parking, and nobody telling them that biking kills. You can't put in a bike facility and make U.S. into Netherlands.

    Furthermore, your claim that VC failed is confused. The purpose of VC is not to get everyone out of cars and onto bikes. The purpose is to help those who choose biking to ride where they want to go, with freedom, safety, convenience and pleasure. It works - as opposed to "innovative" bike facilities, that promise safety but cause confusion and chaos.

    How about dropping the idea that you NEED special ghettos to safely ride? Why produce a population that says "Someday, if they build completely segregated paths everywhere, I might ride my bike"? Why not teach people that competent bicycling is safe right now? Why not stop the fear mongering?

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  53. This is good, but frankly, it's not going to make the grade for the Warrington Cycle Campaign's 'Facility of The Month'. Be warned before visiting their site & browsing through the gallery - you'll waste hours in slack-jawed amazement at the stoopid things that get built to "make cycling easier" on the UK's roads.

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  54. @Anon - you think, perhaps, that I have never tried to push VC on my friends? For the overwhelming majority of people, it simply does not work. They won't do it. That's failure. The only way you can claim success is by defining the VC goals to be the itty-bitty "it works great for me and some of my friends". And that's great for you, but given that it does not work at all for most people, VC advocates have no business at all prescribing how to get more people on bicycles, or what infrastructure might be best and/or safest for all the people who are not interested in VC. And don't forget -- I know all about VC, I did VC for years, I bought the Forester book long ago.

    At a national level, Dutch cycling is far safer than US cycling. If, according to our "experts", their infrastructure is so unsafe (and if infrastructure safety is such a large and important factor), how can this possibly happen? If the answer is, "but X, Y, and Z", doesn't it seem that we should be pursuing X, Y, and Z? And maybe it's HARD to get X, and Y, and Z -- but look at VC adoption rates, hmmm? Are you going to tell me that's a practical, easy solution?

    Go see John Pucher's presentation: http://vimeo.com/1096179 . That's what killed my enthusiasm for vehicular cycling.

    Go read David Hembrow's blog: http://hembrow.blogspot.com/
    Read about the history of cycling in the Netherlands. They have not always had drivers-responsible crash rules. If you ask the Dutch what worked for them, they tend to say "infrastrcture". Why shouldn't we take them at their word? Just for example, notice that gasoline is also expensive in England, their cities are also compact, were also laid out before cars. Yet they (like us) lack much in the way of infrastructure, and also have low cycling rates.

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  55. Ian Brett Cooper said...
    Someone once said that VC hasn't been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and left untried.

    Who knew that Chesterton was a vehicular cyclist?

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  56. To your point about asking engineers to consult actual standards, the problem was that until very recently there were no bike- specific standards, and the universal manual was car-centric. There is a new bike specific guide book designed to avoid these problems, the NACTO Urban bikeway design guide. http://nacto.org/print-guide/ which is attempting to provide a new standard.
    Also, I forwarded this post to the city bike coordinator asking if a little asphalt ramp could be added.

    One problem is that even when the roads are properly designed, they are often improperly built, by people who aren't paying attention or thinking of bikes, and there is little effective recourse to correct the resulting problems.

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  57. Your expectations for real facilities that actually get built is far better than anything I observe locally. The engineers I've seen at public meetings admitted they don't ride much. As a result, comments from bicyclsts that ride now without facilities are rejected.

    The engineers tole me quite a few bicyclists had complained about door zone lanes, but their comments were dismissed because the engineers preferred to accept the risk of being doored to riding further into the lane.

    Even where bicycle specific standards exist, the initial plans often don't comply, and when the plans are corrected (when reasonable standards can be cited) the final paint reverts back to the noncompliant design.

    I don't believe many cyclists that describe themselves as VC ideologically oppose bike lanes all facilities. However, as you noted bicyclists that complain about lanes routed to the right of turn lanes onto interstates are better than no facilities and we need to support them unless we are the deranged Spawn of Satan.

    I'm not aware of any dress code or speed required to follow normal traffic laws on normal roads (my understanding of VC). While I don't wear heels or skirts (not accepted for men at my office), I also don't own lycra, bicycle shoes, or wear neon colors. If people hate you for this, they're not VC, just jerks.

    AD

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  58. I'm a professional city planner working for a medium-sized city in the south. The picture above is obviously a concrete diverter that was poured over an existing lane, and they never ( or haven't yet) came back to repaint the street. It's bureaucratic screwup. For some to use this and similar examples as a damnation of all facilities is simply bad science. You can't use anecdotes to draw broad conclusions. However, human nature is what it is, and people do this every day.

    If someone calls the responsible department and says that this is a safety issue and a lawsuit waiting to happen, it's likely it will get fixed fairly quickly. Cities are very lawsuit-averse, and, well, mistakes are made. Just pick up the phone and get it fixed. Stop complaining and DO SOMETHING.

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  59. @ Anon 7am-
    Just out of curiosity, are you familiar with/ do you use the NACTO guide?

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  60. Anon @ 7am, I don't understand your comment. How can paint fix the situation in above pictures.

    Unless of course the bike line is removed entirely by means of paint. I suppose that would be a fix, although I am sure that's not what you meant.

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