Sunday, July 29, 2012
This is a fairly new bike lane near a major university in Central Texas. Its condition, sadly, is not a rarity. It's actually rather typical of large numbers of bike lanes in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth (and other cities across the USA), and soon, Dallas.
Why it exists in this condition is related to another feature it shares with hundreds of miles of bike lanes in the above mentioned cities. It can be filled with debris without serious complaint because it's not filled with something else. It's not filled with bicyclists. Not even a few. But the bicicli-fashionistas who demand such facilities never intend on using them in the first place. You see, it's the idea of using them that's wonderful, and for the most part, not the actual commitment to using a bicycle as transportation.
This is a mostly unused, one million dollar a mile exercise in bowing to the pressures of a fad as transportation planning (think of it as tattoos for roadways, with the same functionality) and the desire of municipal officials to keep bicyclists out of the way of real traffic, and thought of as toys operated by children.
Remember, you and I are required by law to use this facility. The law also allows for momentary diversion outside of the bike lane to avoid hazards like the one seen above. The complicating problem with that is: A) a police officer in a 4000 lb car, or on 800 lb. motorcycle, gets to decide if the hazard is sufficient for diversion, B) motorists expect you to stay in the bike lane, and won't appreciate your choosing when to be in it and when not, and C) a last second swerve to avoid a hazard can (and has with some frequency) send a bicyclist into the path of an over-taking motor vehicle (known as the "suicide swerve").
But still, governmental agencies and bureaucrats will paint it and forget it, because the bicicli-fashionistas do, too.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
What is a 'cager'? Well, it's a derisive term many urban cycling advocates (ciclifashionistas) like to use in regards to drivers of automobiles, as they are confined by choice in 'cages', not living freely like the ciclofashionistas. Oddly, these same cycling people demand their own 'cages' of confinement, and resist madly any attempt to make the public roadways 'cage-free'. "Uncle Fixies," I suppose they could be called, because they are really serving the interests of the very automobile "cagers" they disdain, keeping the cyclists free to be confined in paint cages, and locked out of the way of real traffic.
Friday, July 20, 2012
The primary reason my career as the reluctant bureaucrat was cut short (at least in my opinion) was due to a character flaw I possess: I have an inability to tolerate fools and lies for very long. Many (myself included) were amazed I survived twenty years in the midst on an institution that seems to encourage both. My survival secret? I refused to lie, and I avoided fools whenever possible. Alas, all good things come to an end.
In the world of transportation planning, one of the lies I refused to condone was the claimed cost of bike lane installations. If they worked as advertised (creating a dramatic shift in trip mode-share), the cost would be irrelevant. But they don't work as touted, and the cost becomes burdensome.
The popular lie told by politicians (elected, appointed, and self-appointed) is that "it's only paint," with the cost being only the gallons and labor required. Of course that's not true, as maintenance costs must be considered, but even then the cost only comes out to about $30,000 per mile (independent of land acquisition costs), plus $10,000 a mile per year for sweeping debris. A bargain if they worked even fractionally.
But that's not the real cost, the tax-payer paid cost.
It's rather like a home squatter moving into an empty house and claiming it as their own. "It's empty, and I'm simply making good use of the space!" The squatter is willfully ignoring that someone else paid for the house, and that they are trying to steal it from them. The same with most bike-lane advocates.
To stripe in an unnecessary bike lane, the pavement has to already be there. That pavement, roughly six feet from the curb-face out, cost about $500,000 a mile to construct, not including the right-of-way costs. A street with two bike lanes (one in either direction) needs to have $1,000,000 of infrastructure per mile taken away from the 99% of users, and given to the 1%*, free and clear.
So when a politician, consultant, or 'community activist' says that 500 miles of bike lanes are either "free", or cost $100,000 for the entire installation, they are either liars, fools, or both. A 500 mile bike lane system costs (in real taxpayer dollars) $500,000,000... and has been given to the 1%* who can't be bothered to learn simple vehicle operation skills and/or take responsibility for their own actions.
What you end up with, based upon cost per user, is possibly the most expensive transportation infrastructure available in all but a very few locations. The cost of light rail is a relative bargain in comparison to the actual cost of bike lanes, per user.
Of course, there is an approach to bicycling that's inexpensive, safe, and effective. But it requires honesty, accountability, and a willingness to learn.
* This is a wildly optimistic percentage in all but a select few locales. In my big-city of Austin, the bike lanes that aren't near the University of Texas, Zilker Park, or the Lake Lady Bird Johnson Trail system carry less than .01% of the daily traffic.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Monday, July 09, 2012
...because "bicycle facility" lobbyists said they couldn't? What if there was a better, safer, affordable way, utilizing the already-built cycling infrastructure?