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Posted by on Jul 15, 2010 in Bicycle Culture | 48 comments

Stop the madness! We can do so much better.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

— Michelangelo

Yesterday, I rode downtown with a friend to have lunch on Church St. We met on Highland and headed over to Orange Avenue.

I love riding on Orange Avenue. I love the way downtown unfolds as I ride… there’s something majestic about it on a bike that’s just not the same in a car.

As usual, we glided down Orange, riding side by side and chatting — sometimes traffic was moving our speed, sometimes it was passing quietly in the other lanes. No one bothered us and we were a bother to no one — just two women riding to lunch. We looked like a picture from a livable communities presentation. We might have even been cycle chic, if I had dressed better. ;-)

After lunch, we headed north on Rosalind. Since Rosalind has a bike lane, we rode single file. No more chatting. I resented that even before the trouble began.

At the first intersection (Pine), the light was red and a Chevy Suburban was waiting to turn right. We merged into the lane behind it. After the intersection, we went dutifully back to single file in the bike lane.

A few seconds later I was startled by a large, noisy vehicle speeding past my shoulder. It was a Lynx bus. Google’s satellite view of this street (right), shows a Lynx bus in the lane and how little extra space there is.

As if the buzz pass wasn’t enough, the bus immediately pulled into the bus stop on the other side of Central and stopped, blocking the bike lane. Of course, there were several cars behind the bus and we nearly had to stop completely before we could merge into the right lane to pass it.

This is the passing clearance I usually get from a Lynx bus (about 6ft). The typical bike lane pass is less than half that clearance.(Video still from Conway Rd)

I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting this, but I was startled again, just past Washington, as the bus buzzed us again. I am not used to being passed that close by large vehicles. I absolutely NEVER experience passes like that from trucks and buses while controlling a lane. I have lots of video showing many safe passes from both. Truck drivers will go fully into the left lane, while the Lynx drivers sometimes have their right wheels on the line. Nonetheless, they are still much farther away than when they pass me in a bike lane. Because changing lanes takes work, Lynx drivers seem to think twice and don’t pass me just before a stop when I’m controlling my lane. I have that on video too. The bike lane changes that dynamic completely. My avoidance of bike lanes might explain the reason I have fewer complaints with Lynx drivers.

At the next light, Robinson, we merged out of the bike lane again. Lots of traffic turns right on Robinson. The bike lane is striped improperly (solid to the intersection) AND has RPMs (a known crash cause for cyclists) on the line. After Robinson, Rosalind makes a curve to the left and a partial right turn lane continues straight toward Ridgewood and a one-way street that connects to Livingston. We remained out of the bike lane there, again, to avoid being hooked. But before we got to the turnout, a little red car rushed up to our back wheels and proceeded to tailgate us. As we signaled and entered the one-way street, the red car turned onto Ridgewood and its driver screamed “get in the bike lane” at us. Whew! Imagine what would have happened if we’d been in the bike lane. I have no doubt he would have hooked us.

From Livingston, we made a left on Highland. No more bike lanes. No more problems.

So tell me again. WHY are we striping bike lanes for novices? To subject them to THAT? To convince them of the myth that the roads are too dangerous to ride on by inviting them into constant conflict?

I’m not the only one who’s noticed bike lanes are scary.

In this cycletrack promotional video from Vancouver, the narrator notes that bike lanes are:

…OK for people who feel comfortable riding next to traffic (shows bicyclist swerving around a bus), but for others that feels intimidating, so they ride less or not at all.

Meanwhile, a cyclist in flip-flops on a key-west cruiser glides easily down Orange Ave at 9mph

Ha! It used to be that riding in the road was OK for the intrepid road warriors, but we needed bike lanes for everyone else. Now bike lanes are for intrepid road warriors and we need cycletracks for everyone else.

The North American version of the cycletrack is no picnic, either, as you can see in this video. A similar facility in Montreal was too conflict-ridden for this reporter:

I wasn’t prepared for the skill, the reflexes, the 360-degree sensory awareness and slaloming abilities needed to navigate my way by bike between Atwater Ave and The Gazette offices on Peel St. I was no longer simply watching out for traffic or an occasionally inattentive fellow driver. I was now embedded in a circus. Pedestrians moving at one speed, cyclists at another and cars at still another, and each of the performers moving to a different set of rules and in different directions.

Of course, I had my own experiences with the one in St Pete, while riding on the adjacent road was exponentially easier at any speed.

The most comprehensive study of road safety — before and after bike lanes or cycle tracks were added — was done in Copenhagen in 2007. It proved that bike lanes and cycle tracks increased crashes for cyclists (and pedestrians). The study’s conclusion deceptively includes motor vehicle crashes along with bike and ped crashes and compares that with bicycle mode share. But car-v-car crashes went down while crashes involving bikes and peds went up. Sounds real bike friendly, huh?

Here is the study’s author, Soren Underlien Jensen, quoted in an Ottowa paper:

“I’ve been in this business for a very long time, and what we need is acceptance that (having) bicycle lanes does not improve safety in urban areas.… And therefore we have to look for other design elements that improve safety,” he said. “But it does make a positive impact in terms of our perceptions and in terms of the traffic volume of cyclists. And that is what we want.… We have to accept some facts and we have to focus on what else we can do to move on.”

I was once chided for using the word trickery to describe segregated infrastructure, but when perception is opposite reality and you pander to perception at the expense of the misguided perceiver… well, trickery is almost too nice a word.

I agree with Andy Cline at Carbon Trace. I have a real problem with end-justifies-the-means thinking. Making people feel safe while making them less safe is really a breach of trust. Especially when you consider an integrated cyclist is even safer than a person in a car! The very people these facilities are designed to attract are at the greatest risk of injury. We can make people actually safe and make them feel safe, too. For a lot less money!

Jensen goes on to describe the add-ons required to mitigate the safety problems created by segregated facilities… and the cost:

Jensen said that building segregated bike lanes properly was expensive — about one million euros per kilometre, but he added that bike lanes had a positive impact in encouraging people to cycle.

You want to spend how much of my tax money to build a few miles of conflict-ridden facility to solve an imaginary problem?

For more about the Copenhagen study, Dan Gutierrez has done some nice work of visually simplifying the data and removing the whitewash. You can see that here. Dan explains:

I question the ethics of anyone who tells me that a 30% increase in crash rates over what one would expect for a 20% mode share increase, could justify that increase.

My whole purpose in creating this album is because Jensen didn’t show the effect on bicyclists, he only showed the increases for all crashes (the 10% number), which, because it includes a lot of car-car crashes, effectively hides just how severe the safety detriment was for cyclists. If you read the captions I created for the images, you will see that I discuss his conclusions, where Jensen states that the decreases in cyclist safety were significant, yet he didn’t bother to show (with numbers) just how significant.

We all pay the price for this decrease in safety. Educated cyclists pay it with increased workload and/or harassment. Novice cyclists pay with injuries.

So where does this madness stop?

Let’s take a look at where it goes. The root cause of the problems for bicycling in the U.S. is the oppressive belief system about who the roads are for. We have car-culture amnesia about our public road system and who is entitled to use it. Enforcers of the culture of speed have used intimidation and fearmongering to subjugate the drivers of human-powered vehicles. The result is that most bicyclists ride in ways that increase their risk, leading to a spiral of increasing fear:

FEAR OF BEING HIT BY CARS
People fear being hit from behind, so they ride on the edge of the road or on the sidewalk

—> SELF-CREATED RISK
Riding on the edge of the road increases risk of being doored, sideswiped and hit at intersections/driveways. Riding on sidewalks increases intersection/driveway crashes and falls from pavement defects and fixed objects.

—> CONFIRMED FEAR OF CARS
Close calls and crashes confirm the belief that roads and cars are dangerous.

—> CALL FOR FACILITIES
Not understanding the cause of their problems, people clamor for bike facilities to make them “safe”

—> MORE CLOSE CALLS AND CRASHES
Bike facilities offer the same crash-conflict problems as curb-hugging and sidewalk-riding

—> HARASSMENT FROM DRIVERS
The belief that cycling on the road is dangerous is echoed by beleaguered cyclists and permeates the entire community. Selfish car drivers feel emboldened to harass cyclists for being “foolish” and “dangerous”

—> DEEPER FEAR OF CARS
The combination of increased conflicts and harassment deepen the belief that “cars” are predators and bicyclists need more and fancier special facilities to protect them

I’ve watched this dynamic play out for years. The tone of discussion on bike forums and blog comments exposes this pattern. I was even a part of it myself for a while. I got into advocacy to fix the problems that made parts of my commute a maddening gauntlet every day. Like most, I tried to fix it from the wrong end first.

Catering to these negative beliefs seems easier than challenging them. So that’s the road our bike advocates have chosen. It’s led to increasingly “creative” attempts to build attractive facilities and solve the problems inherent in segregation. While this may produce a temporary illusion of success, in the end, it will only make things worse. It amounts to poisoning the tree while you pick the low-hanging fruit. You cannot solve a problem while you reinforce its cause.

Reinforcing limiting beliefs is a counter-productive way to promote an activity as positive and freeing as bicycling!

There is a better way!

All along, bicycling has been safe, easy and fun. It only requires us to learn a few simple skills and, more importantly, be freed from the baggage of ignorance and fear. Imagine how many more miles we’d get for our money if we spent it addressing the root causes of incivility and ignorance and truly changing the belief systems that suppress bicycling in America. It’s not that hard, especially if you’re not making it worse!

I strongly support smart bicycle infrastructure as part of a holistic strategy for a cyclist-friendly community. The metro area has some very useful and pleasant trails, two of which serve transportation corridors and are used by many of our readers. I use that infrastructure whenever it serves my destination, because I enjoy it. There are many more untapped easements in Sprawlando which could be utilized for access to higher-quality cycling than the surrounding traffic sewers. Our readers have collaborated to indicate numerous opportunities to connect networks of pleasant, shady streets.

We need to demand more than marginal gutter lanes and symbolic segregated tracks that make cycling more difficult and frustrating. That stuff is a waste of money that could be spent doing something real. Let’s recognize where cycling is already easy and enjoyable and maximize it. Let’s address the problems with impatience, intolerance and car-centric beliefs about the roads. Let’s recognize that every type of road is as safe as the bicycle driver who is using it—yes, motorists do dumb things, but most of their mistakes are predictable and avoidable. Let’s be clear on the distinction between “safe” and “pleasant” — I don’t like to ride on 436 and 50, but I can do it safely… and you can too. Honestly, those roads would be much more pleasant to ride on without the specter of incivility from other ignorant users. Let’s focus on fixing that problem and make our roads better for everyone.

Let’s build bicycling mode share on a solid foundation. We can create a truly livable community with integration, cooperation and respect. We can build a renaissance — a culture of trust. Aim high.

48 Comments

  1. Wow, Keri, that was terrific and comprehensive, as usual.

    • As an avid rider and LCI in Maine I applaud Keri”s work. We need more like Keri.

      Joel Fishman

  2. I read your blog this morning. To tell you the truth, I filed it away in my brain because I rarely ride where there are bike lanes.

    Well, on the way to work this morning I found that the Fashion Square entrance to the Cady Way Trail was closed off by the police. Not sure what happened, but police tape was strung over a large portion of the trail entrance and nearby road. I tried to think of the best detour route and decided to cut through Baldwin Park. I went east on Maguire and made my way over to Beach and then back onto the trail at Old Cheney.

    Well, to my surprise, I found myself in a bike lane adjacent to parallel parked cars. And, as I approached one of those parked cars, the door was opened onto the bike lane. Now, I saw it all unfolding in front of me, I had plenty of time to act, there was absolutely no traffic in either direction and I had your blog stored fresh in my forebrain, so no issue resulted.

    Just wanted to say thanks for refreshing my mind about issues that I do not regularly encounter.

    • Ron, thank you for sharing that. I’m glad you were able to anticipate and react!

  3. Excellent article. If only the self-deluded bike lane advocates would read it. By the way, I’m surprised you didn’t mention the recent UK study.

    • There’s actually a link to an article about the UK study in the first section, the paragraph about bus passing clearance. I just didn’t call out any quotes from it. That study isn’t that recent, I remember reading the articles about it last fall. The one I linked to was published last September.

      • Eli and Keri:

        I think this UK is relevant: Effect of cycle lanes on the proximity between motor traffic and cycle traffic by John Parkin & Ciaran Meyers Accident Analysis & Prevention, V 42, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 159-165

        Abstract: An experiment collected proximity data of motor traffic overtaking cycle traffic on roads with and without cycle lanes using an instrumented bicycle. The work enhances previous research which has considered the riding position of the cyclist and whether or not the cyclist was helmeted, while controlling for vehicle type.

        The analysis shows that significantly wider passing distances are adopted by motorists in the condition without a 1.45 m cycle lane, with posted speed limits of 40 mph and 50 mph with a 9.5 m wide carriageway. These findings were not replicated for a similar width road with a posted speed limit of 30 mph and a 1.3 m cycle lane.

        The results suggest that in the presence of a cycle lane, drivers may be driving within the confines of their own marked lane with less recognition being given to the need to provide a comfortable passing distance to cycle traffic in the adjacent cycle lane.

        Some related articles ….

        Why are female cyclists so vulnerable to lorries? | Anna Leach | Environment | guardian.co.uk – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/may/13/cycling-lorries-women-road-deaths

        “Last year, 10 out of 13 fatal cycling accidents in the capital were women, and eight of them were killed by HGVs [large trucks].

        Related story – London’s road casualties: collisions, injuries and statistics | UK news | guardian.co.uk -
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2010/jun/22/transport-for-london-road-safety-statistics-crap-cycling-waltham-forst-blog

        Finally Transport for London (TfL) fact sheet – Casualties in Greater London during 2009
        http://londonroadsafety.tfl.gov.uk/www/downloads/publications/casualties-in-greater-london-during-2009.pdf

        “Pedal cyclist casualties overall increased by 15%. Fatalities reduced from 15 to 13, serious injuries decreased by 2% but slight injuries increased by 17%. (page 5)

        So much for the “safety in numbers” meme.

    • Eli said: If only the self-deluded bike lane advocates would read it.

      In my humble opinion, I unfortunately believe that READING the article will NEVER be enough. I truly believe that you have to ride the ride and get into such situations before you ever really can understand.

      That is why the burden of education falls upon us!

      • You are 100% correct!

        If you want to open a person’s eyes, take them for a ride. It works for me every time I do it.

  4. Excellent essay. This will help me keep the pressure on in Springfield. Will be highlighting this on CT later today.

  5. I am so glad I live in a city (Dallas) that doesn’t have bike lanes (yet).

  6. This begs the question, what do we need to do to get the city to remove the dangerous bike lanes? Maybe we can make a nice long list with all the deficient bike lanes around?

    I learned something new today, I’ve always taken lake baldwin lane to cady way to maguire, riding out in the lane instead when there are parked cars. I’ll have to use the cady way more from downtown.

    • Tell them. Every single person who wants to see the dangerous stuff removed needs to write to the city.

      Here’s the challenge: for every one of us, there are probably several other people who will scream and wail and gnash their teeth if the city tries to remove even the most egregious bike lanes. Those are the people they hear from the most—complaining that the roads are dangerous while they skim the gutter and doors of parked cars, or dodge constant conflict on the sidewalk. In public policy, there is no reasonable process for weighing informed criticism against uninformed wailing… the loudest wins.

      I think making a list is a good idea. Want to start a thread on the forum?

      • “Tell them. ”

        Tell who, Keri?
        Give us a name and an address at the City of Orlando. All that happens when I try to complain is stonewalling. How do we get through to the “helpful” people that think they are doing good by satisfying the LAB?

  7. Is this the same Copenhagen study that was discussed here before? The one that showed that although the number of crashes went up, the proportionate number of cyclists went up a lot higher. Overall result: crash rate (not number) went down for safer roads.

    I’m not a fan of Copenhagen (or Danish in general) cycle infrastructure. Coincidently enough, I see that David Hembrow has just posted another of his criticisms of Copenhagen cycle infrastructure. I’ve got to say that I agree with him. The Netherlands has much better infrastructure. Which is why the Dutch roads are 17 times safer to cycle on than in the USA.

    Although we’ve still got a long way to go here in Ontario, the progress to date has still resulted in Ontario’s roads being the safest in North America.

    If we take a look at one of Mark Wagenbuur’s excellent videos at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkgKYjrNLwg&feature=player_embedded

    We see what is, by Dutch standards, rather crappy infrastructure. There are level crossings and no car-free zone. This isn’t Groningen. But look at the second half of the video where there are level crossings of bicycles and cars. What has been done is engineering out all of the turning conflicts. You just don’t see cars turning across bicycle traffic. No right hook conflicts. No left cross conflicts. Even crappy infrastructure has been carefully thought out.

  8. Another advantage of proper Dutch-style road infrastructure is that it is amazingly cheap. In spite of the significant capital projects in the push for improvements and the ongoing maintenance costs, Dutch cycle spending is about 30 euros per capita annually. See:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2010/05/487-million-euros-for-cycling.html

    Segregated car infrastructure is vastly more expensive. Just one US project, Boston’s “Big Dig” cost about as much as 50 years of current cycle spending in all of The Netherlands. And thanks to the phenomenon of induced demand, all that this enormous spending achieved in Boston was to move the car traffic bottlenecks to other locations.

    A fraction of the amount spent could have created proper cycle infrastructure in Boston and torn down the segregated car infrastructure. This would result in everyone being able to get around the city quickly. Not to mention saving billions of dollars!

  9. @Kevin Love – The only “proper” Dutch road infrastructure exists in the Netherlands, where cyclists are restricted by law and culture to operate in these types of segregated facilities. While I’m saddened that the Dutch treat cyclists so poorly, much like racial minoroties were treated in the US in the Jim Crow south, it’s not my place to tell another sovereign nation how to treat it’s cyclists; it is my place to ensure that that type of bicycling Apartheid does not happen in the US. Dutch facilities are wildly out of legal and operational context in the US, as they relegate cyclists to an underclass road user status, instead of full and equal drivers.

    Nothing is less expensive than cyclists using the existing road network as drivers. Wasting money on inferior, higher crash rate infrastructure, and the loss of rights these facilities entail, is little more than utopian thinking.

    Regarding the Copenhagen cycle track and bike lane study, the oft quoted 10% increase in crashes for a 20% mode share increase is not true, based on Jensen’s own data. He quoted a 10% increase for all crashes over what was expected from his traffic models that already took mode share into account; you can see that in his TRB paper that I link to in the images on my FB site which Keri linked in her blog. The 10% includes motorist, cyclists and ped combined, over the rate expected for the new volumes. So even a 10% increase is over and above what would have been expected for a 20% increase in cyclist mode share. When one tallies up the cycling crashes, it shows a 30% increase over what would be expected for a 20% mode share increase. If cycletracks were equally as safe as roads without at a given traffic volume, the expected increase would be 0%, so any increase over 0% is a bad result, so 10% for all road users is bad, 30% for bicyclists is criminal.

  10. Super post. In the spiral of fear there’s a special place for those so-called professionals who have a vested interest in creating facilities, and who are either aware of the problems they create and indifferent to them, or ignorant and unaware. Both types have got to be held accountable.

  11. I’ve been to Copenhagen, and my wife lived in Denmark for a year. The cycling infrastructure, while not quite up to Dutch standards, supports a bicycle mode share of 38%. I’m unaware of anywhere in the entire world that has achieved any more than a tenth that mode share without supportive infrastructure.

    I see Streetfilms released their video of Copenhagen after the Velo-City 2010 conference at:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/cycling-copenhagen-through-north-american-eyes/

    I’ve also spent considerable time in Orlando. Let’s just say that I do not disagree with the Transportation for America’s classification of it as the #1 most dangerous city in the USA.

  12. Here’s the Transportation for America report:

    http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign/

    I’ve been cycling in The Netherlands and seen grade schools where, as far as I could see, 100% of the children walk or cycle to school.

    I’ve also been cycling in Orlando. That’s why I do not dispute TFA’s assessment of it as the most dangerous city in the USA. And I understand why my 72-year-old mother, who lives in Naples (Fla, not Italy, alas) refuses to cycle.

    Having experienced both, I can assert exactly which type of infrastructure is better to cycle upon. And I understand why Dutch roads are 17 times safer than roads in the USA.

  13. I see from the Boston Globe that the cost of the “Big Dig” segregated car infrastructure was $22 billion. WOW!

    Source:

    http://www.boston.com/news/traffic/bigdig/articles/2008/07/17/big_digs_red_ink_engulfs_state/

    That’s more than 50 years of current capital and maintenance spending of cycle infrastructure in all of The Netherlands. For a mere fraction of that money, all of the existing segregated car infrastructure could have been replaced by proper cycle infrastructure, allowing people to get around Boston much faster.

  14. While poking around the Boston Globe site, I see that the $22 billion spent in the “big dig” segregated car infrastructure only resulted in moving the bottlenecks around. For many car drivers, there is far more congestion and longer drive times than before the project.

    See:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/11/16/big_dig_pushes_bottlenecks_outward/

    I can imagine a lot better uses for $22 billion…

    • If this is any indication of what they’re doing with that money, I’m grateful I don’t live there.

      screenshot

  15. @Kevin – Keri is in Florida, you are in Canada, so what does Boston have to do with her situation? It still costs zero to use existing roads, and you have chosen to ignore the difference between roads with cycletracks or bike lanes in Copenhagen compared to roads without.

    Rather then cyber carpetbag, why not talk about the scenario she showed. The local land use and traffic laws and customs are not those of the Netherlands or Denmark, so given the existing traffic culture and laws and land use, it is not reasonable to talk about billions in Boston as if it were even remotely similar or relevant to the situation in Orlando (color of money, jurisdiction, etc.). Why not proseltyze where you might actually find some sheep? People on this thread are not so intellectually lazy as to passively accept your propoaganda.

  16. Cyber-carpetbag may be florid rhetoric, but it’s my new favorite expression!

    Where I am there are some city Department of Transportation proposals to put some roads on diets which include removing main travel lanes and adding bicycle lanes. One in my neighborhood is patently unsafe because at both ends of the proposed project the bike lanes will abruptly end and becomes sharrows at narrow, high-speed, right-hook prone curves.

    http://seattlelikesbikes.org/wordpress/?p=417

    Thanks to this post (and I originally came to this excellent site via link to Keri’s “dance” video) I’m going to get off my butt and oppose this project. I don’t think we can eliminate local governments’ affinity for “bike infrastructure”, but I’m hopeful that with reasoning as sound as the above we can help make sure that it’s executed better.

    • JAT, that does not look good! You definitely should oppose it.

      This kind of crap is the result of decades of really bad advocacy. Cities get rewarded for miles of bike lanes — it doesn’t matter if they connect to anything, it doesn’t matter if they are in the door zone or have intersections and driveways every 20 feet, it doesn’t matter if there is any sense to them at all. You can just shoehorn them in, count the miles and collect an award. Politicians love awards.

      And someone needs to slap the Seattle DOT upside the head. They have some of the worst sharrow placement in the country. Right side of a right-turn lane, are they kidding?

      If a DOT wants to facilitate passing of slow vehicles on a hill, it is totally appropriate to put extra pavement on the uphill side. Bike lanes should NEVER be striped on a downhill. Cyclists should not ride on the right side of the lane, let alone be penned in a bike lane, at descent speeds, regardless of traffic speed. Google Bryce Lewis (killed right there in a Seattle bike lane) and Brett Jarolimek (killed in a Portland bike lane)… both: high speed, down hill, into a turning truck.

      BTW, thanks for hanging around here and joining our conversations!

  17. Excellent post, Keri. As you say, our job is to get the right people to read, and to ride with you.

  18. This reminded me of a photo of a cyclist in a bike lane and a comment or caption (by whom?) about bike lanes being mostly for daring cyclists, and an astonished reply (by Keri?)

    Andy Clarke:

    “The painted bike lane is great for the committed and enthusiast cyclist, but for the next big swath of the population, that isn’t gonna be enough.”

    @9:22
    Cycling Copenhagen: Through North American Eyes

    Could this be about Bikes Belong and the bike industry’s desires. I did not know that urban planning was part of the L.A.B.’s mandate.

    It appears to me that they are seeking growth, not ministering to existing cyclists, and presumably their membership is composed almost entirely of committed and enthusiast cyclists.

    They are advocates for cyclists who have yet to ride bicycles, “the next big swath”.

    If I’m wrong, I’d like to be corrected.

    • Ray, Not sure if I recall the photo/caption you’re referring to, but I’m seeing that sentiment more and more about bike lanes only being for the daring. The first I remember was when streetfilms did the “case for separated bike lanes” film in NYC. The bike lanes were an absolute gauntlet. Ours in Orlando are a lower order gauntlet than those in NYC, but they’re still way more frustrating to use than simply claiming a lane.

      I agree that the league is turning its back on what was its original demographic in favor of “the next big swath.” But the league has a history of doing that, too.

      In any case, their logic is flawed and their tactics are shameful. They have found themselves a government tit to fund attractive, useless and sometimes dangerous facilities because politicians are ignorant of the issues and far too attracted to ribbon cuttings.

  19. Excellent.

    Dan G: thanks for the neologism: “cyber carpetbagging”

    Dear Mr. Love: Boston’s “Big Dig” is nearly entirely a interstate project, generally bikes are not allowed on controlled access roads. Do you dig what I mean? The general discussion is city streets, roads available to all vehicles in Orlando, Florida

  20. Dan wrote:
    “… I’m saddened that the Dutch treat cyclists so poorly…”

    Kevin’s challenge:
    Name me one city in the entire world that has achieved a bike mode share of even 5% using the ideas that you’ve written about.

    I can name five using mine: Bejing, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Groningen (cycle mode share 55%) and Davis, California.

    As to being “treated poorly,” take a look at how cyclists are treated in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (bike mode share 44%).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgiJqbhhU3c&feature=player_embedded

    I can only wish and dream and pray that I am “treated poorly” like that!!

  21. @Kevin – Contented slaves are happy slaves. Segregation advocates’ infatuation with mode share does not take precedence over cyclists’ rights to operate with the lowest crash risk as drivers in roadway travel lanes.

    In these countries where mode share is high, cyclists are relegated by law and facility design to operate as rolling pedestrians, which is fine for people who don’t value driver rights, and take 2km bike trips as replacements for walking trips in a medieval villiage. This of course has NOTHING to do with Orlando.

  22. Dan wrote about:
    “…cyclists’ rights to operate with the lowest crash risk…”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Well, let’s see. Orlando’s roads are the most dangerous of all cities in the USA. While at the same time, The Netherlands is 17 times safer to cycle in than the USA.

    So where is the lowest crash risk?

    I notice that you have failed to take up my challenge to name so much as one city where your ideas have resulted in even such a low cycling rate as 5%.

    To say that Dutch cyclists are “rolling pedestrians” is absurd. I myself am able to cycle much faster in Groningen than in Orlando. Largely due to the superior infrastructure that eliminates for cyclists traffic lights and other obstructions.

    I am not the only one to have experienced this. See, for example:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2008/09/speed.html

  23. Not all cyclists in the US choose to operate with the lowest crash risk. Segregated infrastructure reinforces the common mistakes that lead to crossing crashes.

    See this US data for details:
    http://www.cyclistview.com/ITC-Intro/slide13.htm See slides 13-28.

    The laws and land use and liability defaults are radically different in the Netherlands compared to the US, so simply transplanting Dutch infrastructure will not have the same effect in the US, becasue those facilities will be badly out of context and amplify cyclist exposure to the common crossing crashes shown at the above link.

    I laready answered the mode share question; it is not as important as driver rights which allow cyclists to reduce their risk compared to the forced hazardous crossings that bike lanes and cycle tracks require in northern European countries (aside from the UK).

  24. Dan writes of:
    “…forced hazardous crossings…”

    Kevin’s comment:
    The slide show that you posted seems to show quite hazardous crossings to me. Compare that with the crossing shown in the video here:

    http://www.youtube.com/markenlei#p/a/B271D0D935C03800/1/a6gy-ojmdh8

    Notice that right hook and left cross crashes have been eliminated by requiring car drivers to turn before crossing the cycle road, which they then cross at a right angle. Where, of course, cyclists have right-of-way.

    Better still, of course, is complete grade separation, as shown in the previously posted video.

    I find it quite amusing the way you ducked the mode share challenge. How do you measure successful cycling advocacy? The measures that I use are of road safety and cycle mode share.

    By these measures, the means that I advocate are successful. Cycling in The Netherlands is 17 times safer than in the USA. Even the comparatively crappy infrastructure in Ontario has led to the safest roads in North America.

    When we look at mode share, cycling mode share in Canada is three times that in the USA. Here are some cities throughout the world. Unfortunately, I could not get reliable data for Bejing and Shanghai. Anyone else have a source for Chinese cities?

    Even omitting Chinese cities, it becomes quite obvious that using the measures of safety and cycle mode share, the means I advocate have been successful throughout the world. The means that you advocate do not appear to have been successful anywhere.

    Here is the list:

    Groningen, Netherlands – 55%
    Greifswald, Germany – 44%
    Lund, Sweden – 43%
    Assen, Netherlands – 40%
    Amsterdam, Netherlands – 40%
    Münster, Germany – 40%
    Copenhagen, Denmark – 37%
    Utrecht, Netherlands – 33%
    Ferrara, Italy – 30%
    Malmö, Sweden – 30%
    Linköping, Sweden – 30%
    Västerås, Sweden – 30%
    Odense, Denmark – 25%
    Basel, Switzerland – 25%
    Osaka, Japan – 25% [est.]
    Bologna, Italy – 20%
    Parma, Italy – 25%
    Oulu, Finland – 20%
    Rotterdam, Netherlands – 20-25%
    Berne, Switzerland – 20%
    Tübingen, Gemany – 20%
    Aarhus, Denmark – 20%
    Tokyo, Japan – 20% [est.]
    Pardubice, Czech Republic – 18%
    York, UK – 18%
    Dresden, Germany – 17%
    Munich, Germany – 15%
    Davis, USA – 15%
    Cambridge, UK – 15%
    Berlin, Germany – 12%
    Turku, Finland – 11%
    Stockholm, Sweden – 10%
    Bordeaux, France – 10%

  25. Duck mode share? Huh? You aren’t paying attention. Improving the safety of existing cyclists is far more important than mode share. That’s why I advocate for the interest of cyclists, rather than advocate for enticing people who don’t already cycle, with facilities that increase their crash risk.

    You are so blindly infatuated with mode share that you are cannot discern the difference between someone that advocates for the interests of cyclists as opposed to someone that advocates or should I say proselytizes for mode share by conccerning himself with non-cyclists.

    My metric is simply this, how rapidly are cyclists learning traffic skills. This you cannot measure with facilities or mode share. I’d rather live in a country with a lower mode share, where cyclists have traffic skills and equal driver rights, than be a road slave in a country with high mode share. I’ll take quality over quantity any day.

  26. @Kevin – After thinking about it just a little bit, using mode share as a metric in countries where cyclists are forced onto segregated infrastructure, is lot like rating slave owners by population of their plantations. It may impress those who want to increase the slave population, but I’m not interested in becomming a cycling Eloy. I’d rather just be a driver and take advantage of the extensive and existing road network that already serves all the destinations I need to reach. We don’t need your plantitions, and the billions they would cost.

  27. Discussion of Dutch infrastructure in the context of the expansive American landscape is a fantasyland waste of bandwith.

    It is not possible to build separated infrastructure here that offers the same safety or access to destinations as the existing road network. Furthermore, it is a waste of money to build such infrastructure in a slow-speed urban environment where it is already easy to use a bike. That’s where most of that stuff is being built and it is nothing more than a symbolic gesture. Attempting to mitigate the decrease in safety requires a lot of expensive add-ons. What you end up with is a Rube Goldberg solution to a non-problem.

    Meanwhile, real problems are being ignored.

    It is possible to enhance our existing network with facilities that are equally safe and more pleasant to use — like the Cady Way and Little Econ Trails.

    We should do that where possible, while recognizing it is not possible everywhere. Those facilities are not a substitute for our roads.

    We still have to fix the problem behaviors on the roads — incivility/territorialism, excess speeds, inattentiveness and poor cyclist behavior — to create a culture of trust where more people will feel comfortable choosing human-powered transportation.

  28. Keri wrote:
    “It is not possible to build separated infrastructure here…”

    Kevin’s comment:
    I’ve heard that before. In Amsterdam they said “Car-free zones??!! That will never work here. We’re not an Italian city.” In Toronto they said “Protected bike lanes??!! That will never work here. We’re not a European city.”

    There is never any shortage of nay-sayers who come up with reasons why something cannot be done. Until it is successfully implemented. Then they go on to saying why the next step cannot be done.

    I see cities around the world as falling upon a continuum. At one end are world-class benchmarks, like Amsterdam or Groningen. In the middle are cities like Paris or Toronto, that are moving in the right direction, but still have a ways to go. Unfortunately, Orlando lies at the extreme wrong end of the scale. My experience cycling in Orlando leads me to agree with Transportation for America’s assessment of Orlando’s roads as the most dangerous in the USA.

    Perhaps it would be better to hold out as examples for Orlando cities like Toronto or Paris. As John Henry Newman wrote in “Lead, kindly light”:

    “I do not ask to see
    The distant scene; one step enough for me.”

    • Most dangerous for PEDESTRIANS, Kevin. Not bicyclists.

      And definitely not bicycle drivers. Only 8% of crashes involve bicyclists operating on the road and obeying the law. And almost all of those were preventable by the cyclist.

      Bicyclists who act like rolling pedestrians face the same risks as pedestrians, only at higher speed with less maneuverability.

      We should not tolerate the selling of facilities (of any kind) with fearmongering. All that does is make things worse for cyclists and cycling.

    • Kevin, if you’re going to quote Keri, at least keep the meaning of the quote. You left off the important half of the sentence: “…that offers the same safety or access to destinations as the existing road network.”

      You also seem to be ignoring all the other factors that affect mode share, such as density, climate, topography, and demographics.

  29. What I see across the world is two distinct models, the UK leads in treating cyclists as drivers on public roads, while also allowing optional separated/segregated infrastructure; A model I support for the US. The other model is forced segregation into a limited subset of pedestrianized facilities that lack the overall convenience and connectivity of the highway network, and require that cyclists operate as an inferior user class with rules and facilities that prevent them from engaging in basic risk reduction behaviors like lane control to avoid right hooks, pullouts and crosses by forcing them to the locations of highest crossing crash risk at driveways and intersections.

    In locations in the US where such defects are “mitigated” such as 9th Ave, in NYC, cyclists on the cycle tracks have a much lower level of service because of the limited cycle times needed to separate them from the left turn phases at all the at-grade intersections, compared to cyclists who would use the roadway, except NYC has a mandatory use law that forces the use of this slow cycle track. Such is the result of forcing cyclists to the edge and then having to mitigate the safety defects of these facilities. Worse still, cities like Long Beach, are planning to clone the 9th Ave facility but unlike 9th Ave, the Long Beach streets have numerous uncontrolled driveways which the city sees no need to control.

    Again we see the results of treating cyclists as non-drivers who can be forced to the road edge or onto a cycle track, like a kind of rolling ped who can be kicked off the roadway at the whim of local government. The only saving grace for the Long Beach facility is that it can be ignored by cyclists wishing to take advantage of the relative safety and higher level of service of the adjacent roadway, because CA has no mandatory path use laws.

    Those of us, who operate freely as drivers and teach others to do so, have little use for laws and urban planning that seek to force us to be compliant sheep, herded into special facilities. There is nothing more green than taking advantage of existing infrastructure, and our mission is to teach cyclists, some times one at a time, to realize the benefits of the existing road network:

    http://www.cyclistview.com/ITC-Intro/slide07.htm

  30. Keri wrote:
    “Most dangerous for PEDESTRIANS, Kevin. Not bicyclists.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    My experience cycling in Orlando is that it is both dangerous and unpleasant. The same design and behaviour mentalities that make it dangerous for pedestrians also make it dangerous for cyclists. Issues I have personally encountered include:
    *Conflicts engineered into intersections with turning cars.
    *Distracted car and truck drivers. I’ve seen talking on cell telephones, eating, and many other inappropriate behaviours while driving.
    *Territorial aggression. While exercising lane control, I’ve experienced everything form honking to thrown objects. When I carefully wrote down the license plate number and description of the thrower and called the police, they were somewhat less than enthusiastic about finding the violent criminal and laying assault charges.

    • How many times have you ridden here. I live here. You live in Toronto.

      While there is sometimes incivility (mostly in the burbs, rarely in the urban core), I almost never have close calls that make me feel unsafe. I don’t have problems with turning cars. I don’t have problems with distracted drivers (except when I ride in bike lanes). I have had something thrown at me once. In Apopka. And I was part of a group. I have never experienced more than territorial honking while exercising lane control. If it was as you describe, I would not subject myself to it and drive a car instead. I’m not a martyr. I drive a bike because it is more pleasant, not because I have some other agenda.

  31. Unpleasant? Poor baby, I’m so sorry that life is so stressful for you. In case you hadn’t noticed, the transportation system wasn’t designed for your pleasure; safety and convenience take precedence, but not pleasure. It’s not the responsibility of transportation professionals to make your experience pleasant. Grow up and keep your personal issues to yourself. Oh that’s right, if we don’t mollycoddle the feelings of overly sensitive non-bicyclists, they won’t want to join the velorution, right?

    Regarding distracted drivers; they are a threat to everyone, motorists, cyclists, peds, so there is NOTHING bicyclist specific, or facility discriminatory about this comment; it’s an education/enforcement issue, NOT an infrastructure issue, and it’s quite unreasonable to build a completely grade-separated clone of the existing road network for non-bicyclists as encouragement, when the road network already exists as a bicycling network!

    Territorial aggression? A horn honk is a sign of weakness, not aggression. It’s an amplified whine. That the police aren’t responding to complaints about assault (thrown objects) is a police education/enforcement problem, which is also not a problem with the infrastructure. And how is this any different than when cyclists ride in the gutter. My own experience, documented with a lot of video is that motorist treat cyclists at the road edge much worse than those who control lanes.

    But then again, this type of mistreatment is amplified when inadvisable special facilities, like bike lanes in an urban core with frequent crossing conflict zones or located in the door zone are present and cyclists with trafic skills instead use the travel lanes to avoid crossing conflicts. Special facilities OTOH do promote territoriality by training motorists to think (wrongly to be sure) that cyclists aren’t drivers and don’t belong in travel lanes; hence the honking.

    Is this whack a mole game fun for you? We shoot down your utopian dreams and misunderstandings, and the response it to keep finding new nits to introduce. I’ll give you a little clue; it won’t wear me down one little bit. I know your MO very well, and how to deal with it.

    I can hardly wait for the next rationalization of cyclists as happy road slaves, mode share ideology, sprinkled with non-sequitur anecdotes and anti-bicycle driver propaganda.

  32. Dan Gutierrez:
    “the UK leads in treating cyclists as drivers on public roads”

    Speaking as a cyclist in London, I can tell you that what this country specializes in: treating cyclists as second-class citizens at every level. That includes discriminatory police action and half-baked crap masquerading as facilities.

    Cyclists die here under the wheels of trucks regularly. Including a friend of mine.

    Also, if you are struck by a motor vehicle in this city, you better pray that it’s not one of the 13% of drivers who are uninsured.
    And if the driver ends up in court, your smashed bones are less important to the law than a cigarette butt.

    That is what being “treated as a driver” in the UK entails. You are unsafe at every level, at all times, regardless of whether you engage in “bicycle driving” or not. If this is the model you support for the US, I pray for their sake that it never arrives.

    By the way, peppering your comments with inflammatory rhetoric about “sheep” and “slaves” does your arguments no favors whatsoever.

  33. “That includes discriminatory police action and half-baked crap masquerading as facilities.”
    .
    Discriminatory police actions are a problem, but this isn’t a rights bicyclists issue, it’s a police education issue. Regarding crap facilities, this is a perfect example of why bicyclists should not be forced to use these facilities through mandatory segregation. Thank you for supporting my contentions about mandatory use laws.

    In my opinion, special facilities advocacy in the US is unwitting motoring advocacy, since it clears the travel lanes of bicyclists for the benefit of motorists. This is why I find it so bizarre that the anti-motorists advocate for facilities that increase cyclist crash risk, like the cycle tacks in Copenhagen (see this publicly accessible FaceBook album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=54796&id=1574017310&l=6d6baf5bf4
    And this table in particular:
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=993353&l=4c23bb70e3&id=1574017310 ), and benefit motorists by removing cyclists from the roadway. Only Kafka could fully appreciate this type of “advocacy”…

    Uninsured motorists is also a US problem (that is not cycling specific, since they are a problem for anyone with whom they collide), but again there are distractions from the rights questions; the ones we are dealing with in the US. With discriminatory laws on the books, cyclists are virtually guaranteed to lose in court, as a police officer can ALWAYS cite the cyclist of find the cyclist at fault in a crash for not being at the road edge. if you don’t remove the tools of discrimination, then it makes it even easier for police and the courts to mistreat cyclists.

    Regarding your friend’s death, the article implies that he died from a road hazard, and that he fell in front of the truck. We have people dying, by trying to pass turning rucks on the right at driveways and intersections, which is why some of us work at educating cyclists not to do this. Sadly, special facilities encourage, and in countries or US states where these facilities are mandatory, force cyclists to make these types of hazardous maneuvers.

    Having equitable laws is a necessary, but not sufficient condion for an equitable cycling environment, and with discriminatory laws in place, cyclists are always under Bicycle Driver Apartheid and cannot make the lowest risk traffic movements.

    Those who think mandatory segregation is “good” and admonish us uppity cyclists to stay in our place are the “Uncle Toms” of the cycling world, because they put fashion, popularity, and a desire for mode share above rights and the ability of cyclists to manage their own risk.

    The legal situation in countries that have mandatory facilities use laws is an anathema to low risk driver behavior. I’d much rather bicycle in countries like GB or US states like NC, where bicyclists are free to operate as drivers, because I’m much less likely to be in a crash, as opposed to other countries or US states where I’m obligated to court crashes. I don’t want to interact with the courts and medical establishments, I’d much rather avoid crashes in the first place, and I can’t do that when I forced to operate at the road edge or on parallel paths/cycle tracks, where I’m much less visible to motorists.