Thursday, November 26, 2009
Ken Dille, the son of an old friend from my Greater Dallas Bicyclists and Texas Bicycle Coalition days, made the mistake of riding in a bike lane in Austin (as required by law) and came away somewhat the worse.
This is the typical "right hook" collision that bike lanes set up by placing through traffic (cyclists) to the outside right of right turning motor vehicles. Segregationist and (as Herman May calls them) "infearior" cyclists routinely ignore this designed in, and too often fatal, danger, in promoting the false sense of safety that bike lanes "provide" from the fear of being struck from the rear (the least likely cause of serious injury to a cyclist).
The bike lane design, by its very nature, (especially the AASHTO non-compliant ones that Austin installs) creates a situation that places cyclists in danger at every intersection, a danger they could avoid by simply controlling the travel lane. Motorists and cyclists negotiate right of way and passing more easily, and with far greater safety, when they truly share the space. All a bike lane does is mandate the curb-hugging riding style that leads to the majority of bicycle/car collisions.
In Ken's case, the ability, and the legal right, to ride his bicycle safely as a vehicle by controlling his lane has been removed by the City of Austin, a denial of right supported by fear-based cycling advocates. But even if the Texas Transportation Code didn't specify that cyclists must use the bike lane if present, any experienced cyclist quickly discovers dramatically increased motorist hostility towards cyclists... if you aren't using the segregated bicycle space (either bike lane or parallel path) that has been provided.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks indeed that my old friend's son will be able to grow older, too. Even expensive bicycles are cheap compared to what could have been.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Cycle*Dallas contributor ChipSeal has a great post up on his weblog. Click here.
If more folks would learn how to dance, we could quit worrying about more "complete streets" (or, deplete streets as some say), and focus on having more Complete Cyclists.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
City cyclists feel they're getting the metaphorical middle-finger when it comes to asking for fair, safe access to Cleveland roads. That sentiment surfaced Friday at Cleveland City Hall, where about a dozen cycling advocates expressed disappointment with the Ohio Department of Transportation's plan to nix a bicycle/pedestrian lane for the upcoming Inner Belt project.
ODOT officials, at a city planning commission meeting, presented final plans for the project, which will take two decades to complete and cost an estimated $3.5 billion. ODOT Project Manager Craig Hebebrand says highway bike lanes — at a price of at least $20 million — are not financially feasible in the eyes of the state and the Federal Highway Administration. - Cleveland Scene
With total tax revenues down between ten and twenty percent everywhere, bicycle infrastructure is proving to be a luxury in the eyes of policy makers. In these lean times, we need a more thrifty bicycle advocate. One that puts a premium on promoting cyclist's safety and liberty without requiring massive new spending.
May I suggest encouraging local police and district attorneys to apply the current law? Enforce commonly violated and neglected statutes in the name of public safety!  Could you demand enforcement of bicycle laws with an emphasis on safety instead of harassment? (Ticket sidewalk riders, ninja night riders and suicide salmon cyclists [wrong way cyclists] instead of inconsequential stop sign violators.) For an outfit that claims to have cyclists best interests at heart, how can you stand by and say nothing about the dangerous behaviors of your beloved constituents?
You can also help reduce spilled blood by educating Texas cyclists in safe and lawful operation on the public roads. Remember, each cyclist's life you save is another potential dues paying member! Instead of pandering to novice and incompetent cyclists, develop ways of educating them so they cease being a hazard to themselves and others. If they can bloom and prosper into confident lawful cyclists, their natural enthusiasm will lead to more "butts on bikes"  while you wait for more prosperous times.
Could we be the genesis of a general civility campaign for our streets? A safe and civil public way would benefit all cyclists. I know you would be resistant to anything that may benefit motorists (Gasp!), but who would not get on board such a campaign that benefits so many? Car clubs, auto insurance outfits, pedestrian advocates, medical interests, municipal governments... Heck, everyone outside of body shops ought to find this idea appealing!
If you must muck around in the transportation code, how about repealing some of it's discriminatory parts? Like 551.103.(a) and, failing that, at least Sec. 551.103.(a)(4)(A) 
The sooner you change your focus from directing public monies to pet infrastructure projects as the way to define your success, the sooner Texas cycling will get better, because the money train you rely on has just derailed.
 Sec. 545.053. (a)(1), Sec. 545.401, Sec. 545.351. (b)(2) and (5), Sec. 545.062, Sec. 545.101, Sec 545.103, Sec. 545.152, Sec. 545.256, Sec. 545.418 would all be great laws to have enforced before you go writing new ones that would do the same thing.
The overriding mission of TBC?
 Remove the far-to-right rule in Sec. 551.103(a) as redundant. Since bicycles are legally recognized as legitimate vehicles, Sec. 545.363(a) covers that of slow moving traffic already.
Remove the mandatory bike lane rule. Elimination of Sec. 551.103(a) will take care of this. However, in the event legislators cannot stomach the political fallout from removing this sub-section altogether, at the very least they can revert Sec. 551.103(a)(4)(A) to its original language. (The mandatory bike lane language was added as punishment for revising this subsection to define an unsharable lane as one being less than fourteen feet wide.)
Define “safe distance”. Sec. 545.053(a)(1) already stipulates that one vehicle overtaking another must do so “at a safe distance.” Apply the “Safe Passing” sentiment to the existing law by specifying buffer zones pertaining to all slow moving vehicle classes.
Sec. 551.103. OPERATION ON ROADWAY:
Sec. 551.103. (a)(1) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction.
Sec. 551.103.(a)(2) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway.
Sec. 551.103.(a)(3) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
Sec. 551.103.(a)(4)(A) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane.
Sec. 551.103.(a)(4)(B) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless it is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
Sec. 551.103.(b) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
Sec. 551.103.(c) Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."
-- Karl Marx
Friday, November 06, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
Bikes and cars: Can we share the road?
With more bikes on the road, drivers are frustrated -- and cyclists are at risk. Now's the time for changes.
By Christie Aschwanden
November 2, 2009
According to Forester and others in the vehicular cycling camp, efforts to push bikes into separate lanes or bike paths reinforce the notion that bicycles don't belong on the street and relegates them to separate and not-quite-equal status. Segregating cyclists to their own paths reinforces motorist resentment toward cyclists and may encourage drivers to view cyclists on the road as scofflaws unworthy of their courtesy, Forester says.
Studies support Forester's contention that bike lanes may make cycling more hazardous. In a study released earlier this fall, Ciaran Meyers from the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies in the U.K. found that motorists gave bicycles significantly more room when passing them on a road without a bike lane than they did when the cyclist was riding in a dedicated bike lane.
Bike lanes also tend to abut parking spaces, which can turn the bike lane into a door zone where an opening car door can intrude without warning into a cyclist's path, Forester says. Such "dooring" incidents have killed cyclists in cities across the U.S.
"American bicyclists have been taught to stay to the right or get squashed, but it's actually much safer to ride a bike as you would a car, following all the rules of the road," Forester says.
There is even a section in the article named "Claiming the lane"!
Claiming the lane
Beverly Hills resident Ron Durgin, who calls himself a "bicycle lifestylist" and has not owned a car for the last 14 years, says when he first began riding, he "was of the mind set to ride in the gutter -- stay as far to the right of traffic as possible." When Durgin rode in that manner, he found that cars came uncomfortably close as they squeezed past.
Then Durgin took a workshop on how to ride a bike in traffic and changed his entire approach. "I drive my bike as if I were driving a car, and I have very few problems now," he says.
He says cyclists can reduce their risk of being hit from the side or run off the road if they obey all traffic laws and claim their space in the road, skills he impresses in bike safety courses he now teaches for the League of American Bicyclists.