Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In the photo on the left, a gutter-hugging cyclist is truly in the wrong position in his lane. However, the passing automobile has pulled way to the left to pass, leaving the cyclist an abundance of "safe passing" space.
In the photo on the right, the cyclist is maintaining a better lane position, this time within the bike lane (are those double stripes?). Studies have shown that (timid) cyclists do indeed right farther from the curb in a bike lane than on a street without one. The same studies show that cars pass the cyclist closer, and at a higher speed, when there are bike lanes present.
If the cowering cyclist had been taught to ride at least 4 feet from the curb face, the overtaking car would still take their foot off the gas and pull out to pass, as opposed to squeezing past the cyclist without slowing down. Amazing how "bicycle advocates" could call a car changing lanes to safely pass a cyclist "over correcting", and yet these are some of the same folks crying over the failed "safe passing" law earlier this year that Gov. Perry vetoed. Perhaps they should have called it the "over-correcting" law instead.
So, who benefits from these segregated facilities? Bicyclists or automobile drivers? Clearly, it's the automobile drivers who benefit in the example shown here, and it's the bicyclists who are put at greater risk.
I see a tortilla, while the faithful of the Irving Bike Lane Task Force see the face of Elvis. And this passes for "bicycle advocacy".
Edit: Keri Caffrey of CommuteOrlando kindly posted this in the comments below. It deserves to be here where everyone can see it, as it perfectly illustrates the dynamic we are discussing. Elvis has left the building.
One of the common complaints of anti-cyclist motorists is that we don't pay for the roads we use, we don't pay for road maintenance, and we don't have to pay for liability insurance. As is so often the case with emotional arguments, facts are conveniently shuffled to the side.
Local roads are built and maintained with revenues generated from property taxes, not gasoline taxes. Gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees are used to build highways. While rural cyclists often use highways built with auto tax dollars, the vast majority of them own cars and pay the taxes, while the very few that don't create no wear on the roadway, and their purchases of goods that were transported on highways have the tax built into the cost, so they pay indirectly. But this is primarily an issue regarding urban/suburban cyclists.
Bicyclists who use the roads as vehicles create no special needs. The simple engineering accommodations that aid cyclists benefit all users. That's one of the attractions of an integrated cycling system. It's highly cost effective.
As for liability insurance, automobile drivers are required to carry coverage because of the expensive damage a motor vehicle can (and do) cause to people and property. While an out-of-control bicycle can cause severe injury, it can never approach the damage potential of a 4,000 lb. vehicle.
Bicyclists (and anti-bicyclist motorists) who support segregated facilities demand expensive construction and maintenance programs that benefit only one small user class (although I'd argue that the benefit is illusory). Multi-purpose trails are now costing almost $2 million a mile to build (exclusive of any right of way costs). Segregating trail users completely from the road results in the $8+ million pedestrian bridge over Mockingbird Lane for the Katy Trail, or the planned $15+ million bridge connecting the Katy Trail to the Trinity Strand Trail... both "needed" to avoid having trail users stop at a signalized street crossing. Urban cycle-tracks can be even more expensive, as utility and storm-water facilities have to be relocated (the salespeople pushing these designs never mention the expensive associated costs in their estimates, but only a best-case simple paving cost).
Bike lanes have an initial cost of $40,000 per mile of roadway for paint and markings, followed by $5,000 a mile annual maintenance costs above and beyond the normal maintenance costs of the roadway (unless you don't mind them filled with broken glass and trash).
As cities look for alternative funding sources for these segregated facilities, they often look to the cyclists themselves for user fees. Almost every municipality investigates Bicycle License Fees (bicycle tax) as a way to pay for the segregated facilities. To my knowledge, no one has ever implemented one, as the cost is unbearable. Dallas looked into it in the early '90s, and we were seeing estimates of $25 per bicycle just to cover the administrative costs of a registration system, meaning that a fee approaching $50 per bicycle would be necessary to cover overhead costs and generate enough income to make a significant contribution to the City's budget. Bicycle registration wouldn't apply to out of town cyclists who flock to Dallas to use our trails, and it's a regressive tax that hits the poor especially hard. And yet, it's always proposed (I hear rumors that Dallas is again investigating bicycle registration fees to cover the costs of segregated facilities).
The bottom line is which approach is the most cost-effective: an integrated, comprehensive, on-street cycling network that removes barriers, or an expensive, segregated system that limits rather than empowers?
Me? I prefer a judicious mixture of utilizing trail opportunities where available, a comprehensive on-street system (like we have now, only improved) that can convey cyclists anywhere they need to go, and an educational/promotional element designed educate cyclists and motorists alike.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Do League of American Bicyclists instructors have a role in advocacy?
Ed Wagner discovers that the answer is a resounding NO.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
What is the common denominator for cities with high mode-share for bicycles?
Latitude plays a part (US cities that have a significantly better than average share of trips taken by bicycle are mostly along the 45th parallel), as does having the correct demographic (usually anchored by a major public university or three in the urban core). Good public transportation is also usually present. But these factors are not always present simultaneously.
But one visible clue ALWAYS proceeds a high bicycle mode-share: pedestrians. Cities with high numbers of pedestrians are the cities with high numbers of bicyclists... they go hand in hand. High population density is a required ingredient for both modes to have significant numbers, but it's always the presence of a large number of pedestrians, making short trips, that indicates a city is likely to become a place where bicycles can become a major part of the transportation system.
The limit to a comfortable pedestrian trip is roughly 1/4 mile. 1/2 mile and longer trips are hikes, and the number of trips drops dramatically. Where do peds walk 1/4 mile? From home to work, in many cases, and from home to get daily groceries, or a meal, to school, or to pick up laundry. or from home to transit/transit. That's why building more sidewalks won't dramatically increase pedestrian activity in low-density neighborhoods... the trip origin/destination points are too far apart.
A cyclist's ideal casual trip is 4X that of a ped, or roughly one mile. Beyond one mile, and a bike trip is a bike ride, which alters the mindset. Minus the transit component, the rules for ped trips are about the same for cyclists.
If you know of an exception, please let me know.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Relative risks of crossing an intersection. Crossing on a set-back cycle path has been found to be up to 11.9 times more risky than straight crossing on a road with a bike lane. Note that off-set separate paths are often only provided on one side of the road, thus making the 'contraflow' movement with its high accident risk legal, in some jurisdictions officially required.
Full article here.
Segregated facilities and accident numbers
For urban roads with many junctions, accident analysis suggests that segregated cycling facilities are likely to produce a net increase in the number of collisions. These conclusions are supported by the experience of countries that have implemented segregated cycling facilities. In the United States, UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmarkand Finland, it has been found that cycling on roadside urban cycle tracks/sidepaths results in up to 12-fold increases in the rate of car/bicycle collisions. At a 1990 European conference on cycling, the term Russian roulette was used to describe the use of roadside cycle paths.
In Helsinki, research has shown that cyclists are safer cycling on roads with traffic than when using the city's 800 kilometres (500 mi) of cycle paths. The Berlin police and Senate conducted studies which led to a similar conclusion in the 1980s. In Berlin 10% of the roads have cycle paths, but these produce 75% of fatalities and serious injuries among cyclists. In the English town of Milton Keynes it has been shown that cyclists using the off-road Milton Keynes redway system have on a per-journey basis a significantly higher rate of fatal car-bicycle collisions than cyclists on ordinary roads. Cycle lanes and bike lanes are less dangerous than cycle paths in urban situations but even well-implemented examples have been associated with 10% increases in casualty rates.
Friday, October 16, 2009
I live in way south Texas, Mission to be precise. We have some unusual circumstances with road sharing. The bike lanes are frequently used for passing lanes, or turning lanes or parking lanes. This is not my biggest gripe, though.
I have an ongoing problem with golf carts. Golf carts at 6 a.m. going to the golf course to sneak on. No lights, no noise, ghosting along. (I have lights fore and aft) The ones that do have light seldom have brake light or turn signals.
Day time is just as bad. Sometimes coming back from the grocery store I use the sidewalk for safety. I do yield to all pedestrian traffic and will stop to let them pass. But what do you do about a golf cart going the wrong way on the sidewalk?
Yesterday there was a golf cart on the shoulder of a busy street going against the traffic. Many times they drive next to the curb, shoulder does not really apply, and as usual without signals or brake lights. I know this must be illegal but the local police turn a blind eye. I guess the income from one of the cheapest gold courses in the country is too much to pass up.
Unlike bicycles, golf carts are not legal vehicles, and if we provide segregated lanes for non-vehicles, then shouldn't we do segregated lanes for electric wheelchairs and scooters and inline skaters? And doesn't that then further push bicycles out of the category of legal vehicles and into the category of "vulnerable user on a toy vehicle"?
Hi-tech wicking-fabric performance T, retina-burning hi-viz color, head-exploding text: $25 each (+/-).
The graphic on the back is of a proposed version of the Cyclists May Use Full Lane sign from the new Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The adopted version doesn't have the "change lanes to pass" blade.
These are not in the Cycle*Dallas store (in the right column, but other great items are), but will be available by special order. Let us know.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I organized and led rides in the Dallas area for many years. Group rides, competitive time trials, bike rallies, and taking folks on weekly urban tours of Dallas utilizing the bike route system. One ride I organized resulted in over 1,000 (one thousand) cyclists, from all over the Metroplex, converging on Downtown Dallas for Sunday brunch.
On rides I led, I always had a ride leader and "point" rider (who would switch positions). The point rider's job was to set the course and the pace, and to try and make sure all traffic controls were obeyed. The point rider obeyed all signs, and stopped for all yellow lights, regardless if he/she could make it through, knowing that the following cyclists would be tempted follow, even if the light turned red. The ride leader's job was to ride at the rear of the group (riding up into the group to share tips), to make sure no one got dropped, to coach on technique, and to police the group. Any rider who refused to obey the law, or who rode in an unsafe manner, was given a warning. If they continued unsafe practices, they were asked to leave the ride.
Absolving oneself of responsibility by making a "speech", or signing a waiver, is not a sign of responsible leadership. I realize a bicycle is primarily a toy to a lot of people, but it can be a deadly toy if not used properly. Attempting to turn streets into playgrounds can have very serious (and deadly) consequences.
On one ride, a young man (with a wife and infant son at home) had a mechanical failure on his bike, and something fell from his bike into the front spokes and became lodged behind the fork blades. He was traveling about 16-18 mph on a open road, and was immediately flipped over the handlebars and onto his head. His new, properly fitted, Specialized helmet afforded no protection, as his skull was pressed down upon his vertebrae. I knelt beside him and held his hand as he was dying.
That young man's death will always be a burden to me, but I know he died due to no fault in my leadership. We obeyed the laws, we took no undue risks, and I even ran through the ABC Quick Check to have everyone check their bicycle's condition. Had he died because I let him ride in the wrong lane, going the street the wrong way, or running through a stop sign/signal, my burden would instead be my guilt.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A reader wrote the following:
The founder of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, Jason Roberts, commented in The Dallas Observer: “we're being forced to ride in lanes with cars.”
Who is forcing him to ride his bicycle on a public road? If he is trying to ride his bicycle with a car next to him in the lane, then he must be hugging the curb and does not know how to position himself in a lane to promote safe riding for himself and other vehicle operators.
This shows the mindset of one who had their training wheels taken away from them too soon. Why are we surprised that a generation raised in the “safe” suburbs in which they were told to always ride their bicycles on the sidewalk and never in the street, demand a sidewalk to ride their bikes on when they leave their suburbs? They just want a place away from stoplights and stop signs and away from the scary cars where they can just cruise without any breaks. No rules – No worries!
No rules – No worries - This was evident during the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff media events of last week. His BFOC “rides” are really the scary things. I went on one of them during a cyclespazmatic event last week. The turnout was good. Wide range of ages, bicycles and experience. There were many beginners that had never been on a ride before. There were also very experienced cyclists with many tours and commutes under their belt.
The ride used a mindset that resulted in the group ignoring every signal and traffic control device on the road. Every red light and stop sign was run. An elderly woman pedestrian was ignored as she tried to cross the street, leaving her stuck in the middle of a crosswalk as the parade rolled along. Left turns were made by riding on the wrong side of a multilane road. All other traffic had to stop and yield to this parade. I was amazed at the patience and good will of the motorists that waited through their green lights as the BFOC group ran the red lights. Such poor riding! Such a poor example!
The rules of the road were ignored because the leader thought that having a “critical mass” of bicycles on the road absolves them from obeying any of the rules of the road. The critical mass bullying that elevates his use of the public road above anybody’s other use of the same public roadway at the inconvenience of others shows the narrow vision of this group. Even though I have been a vehicular cyclist for over 20 years, with thousands of accident free (and mostly hassle free) miles, this was the scariest ride I have ever been on.
I think that BFOC's idea to have easy, slow paced bicycle rides that highlight history, architecture and culture in the city is great, but the execution is flawed and needlessly dangerous.
The above comments, posted to a thread below, have been ever-so-slightly edited (including bold emphasis) from a comment into a standalone statement, without changing the comment's meaning or misrepresenting the author's intent. It's worth a wider read.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Fred Oswald has some interesting observations about two species near and dear to my heart...
A naturalist recently told about his study of armadillos in Texas. He described that, when threatened, armadillos rise up to "look big" and deter attack. This is an appropriate response to 4-legged predators, such as coyotes; but it can be tragically inappropriate when the "predator" has 4 wheels. The naturalist would often see road kill with the only apparent damage being a small crescent-shaped nick in the shell near the head where it had been hit by a car's undercarriage. If the animal had hunkered-down instead of rising up, it would likely have not been hurt.Read the rest of the article here.
Like armadillos, many cyclists respond inappropriately to the perceived danger of passing traffic on the road. The intuitive reaction is to "stay out of the way" by riding on sidewalks, or on the wrong side of the road (to see traffic coming), hug the curb or ride in the gutter.
In a way, cyclists' response is opposite to armadillos; they "ride small". What is similar is that instinct leads them wrong.
After a couple of months of prodding, I (and others) got the Dallas Morning News to report...
Dallas police again enforcing law requiring bicycle helmets on all riders[snip]
11:26 PM CDT on Friday, October 9, 2009
By DIANE JENNINGS / The Dallas Morning News
After suspending enforcement for several months, the Dallas Police Department is again ticketing people for violations of the city's bicycle helmet law.
City Attorney Tom Perkins said enforcement was halted in June after a state district judge issued a ruling on the local ordinance that rendered it unconstitutional.
Sgt. Warren Mitchell, public information officer for the Dallas Police Department, said officers do not use the law inappropriately.
"This is more of a safety issue than anything," he said. "Bicycle accidents occur all the time and hospitals are filled with patients from those injuries who were not wearing helmets."
The cycling community is divided over the issue of requiring helmets, said Jason Roberts, co-founder of a biking advocacy group, Bike Friendly Oak Cliff. He's fairly ambivalent on the issue, he said, but, "I'm more of an advocate for wearing helmets due to the fact that we're being forced to ride in lanes with cars.
"Once we can get dedicated pathways built, I will feel more comfortable," Roberts said.
Lies and ignorance highlighted in red.
The (no doubt unintended) lie is the comment about hospitals being filled with brain-injured cyclists. Total fabrication, with no statistical basis or evidence. Pure propaganda from the helmet manufacturers who paid for the lobbying efforts to pass mandatory helmet laws (increased sales). A DPD lieutenant told me when the law was first passed that the police liked it because it gave them "probable cause" to stop a "suspicious looking" cyclist.
The ignorance comes from comments about a helmet protecting a cyclist from cars. The design speed of a bike helmet is about 15 mph... about the velocity your head attains when you simply fall off a bike while standing still. The protection a helmet affords is more suitable to the conditions found on a segregated facility (which have a three times higher rate of serious injury per miles traveled). That's why bike helmets have a warning sticker in them about not being used with motorized vehicles. More myth and propaganda.
I like bike helmets, and was an early adopter. They provide some protection, and some is better than none, but there are many unanswered safety questions about their usage, including increased head/brain temperatures and rotational neck damage. But one of my favorite benefits of wearing a bike helmet is the increased visibility they bring to cyclists.
It is interesting to note that the police were not enforcing the law on Wednesday when they escorted a parade of primarily Anglo segregationist-cycling advocates to City Hall. Wouldn't want to embarrass any politicians by ticketing their supporters... or perhaps they just didn't look "suspicious".
Thursday, October 08, 2009
In addition to these on the east side, there are two more on the western periphery of Das Bunker. There are six more bike racks in the City Hall parking garage that will hold up to 30 bicycles.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
First come the Magick Rainbow Ponies...
...dropping harmonious segregation everywhere they tread, so that everyone has their own, individually striped, "My Space" alternate reality.
But eventually, all the promises end up in the gutter, with the other refuse.