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    Hopefully our streets can at least be safe enough that when some newbie comes along and rides on the wrong street, they are safe enough that they’re able to live long enough to learn which streets are better.

    And the poor cyclist that is taking their first or last leg of a trip and has to leave a decent street for one that’s much less safe.



    Those simulated cyclists need to read my book and take my class to learn to be vehicular simulated cyclists and ride at the speed of traffic. After just six 2-hour sim-u-cast classes, those simulated cyclists will be able to ride with simulated traffic at ANY simulated speed!


    Samuel Stephens

    As someone who is put on both sides of this dynamic, I can very much relate. As a driver in a city that is seeing increased biking but virtual no infrastructure, or no infrastructure that meaningfully separates and protects bikers, it can make drives a very frustrating exeprience. It’s a very nervous, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous experience whenever I’m on the other side of the equation.

    Although I know there are still some around these parts that believe otherwise, I would say “no, we can’t all get along.” What bikers and drivers need is often fundamentally mutually exclusive and no amount of unrealistic lawful/behavioral perfectionism is going to change that.



    Yup, exactly. Good road diets/complete streets really benefit all users. The ensuing reduction in injuries and conflicts amongst all modes is really a major win for everyone.

    In addition to the benefits to people on foot due to reduced crossing distances (and the sheer buffer effect that protected bike lanes provide from cars), protected bike lanes also directly benefit other non-bike modes who can also use a cycletrack (rollerblades, skateboards, mobility scooters, etc.).

    This is especially relevant for the less abled:



    Note this was done with a traffic simulator where the answer really depends on your assumptions. Also note the baseline speed of traffic on the road is rather high (approximately 65 kph). This is not representative of city streets, where congestion is already too high to support this sort of average.



    Which is why I support investment in bicycle infrastructure, even thought I don’t ride a bike!





    This wasn’t covered in the study, but I have noticed that the investment in bike lanes has resulted in a lot fewer bicyclists using the sidewalks.



    This is probably why many recent road diets/complete street transformations in the US have typically seen a reduction in conflicts and injuries amongst users for *all* modes–whether you’re in a car, on foot, bike, wheelchair, or whatever.



    What I think many people who drive don’t realize is that, by not sharing the road with slow moving cyclists, they are creating the need for separate bikeways, which usually means the removal of a travel lane or parking. Many drivers who complain about parking loss or lane removals should be mindful that these types of projects are primarily because of the danger and discomfort they produce.

    Ultimately though, once people get used to whatever change happens on a street that gets a bikeway, they appreciate that everyone has their own space which makes it much more predictable where everyone will be.



    Thankfully for places like Portland, Berkeley and SF the greatest need for protected infra is in the core areas–which at least in those cities happen to mostly coincide with the flattest areas (Seattle’s a bit different).

    Btw, don’t forget that despite the stereotypes, the Netherlands is actually no stranger to inclines–especially in its hilly southeastern regions, where grades of 10% and above are not uncommon. Believe it or not, this is the Netherlands:

    There are even biking guides for such terrain (“bergop” = “uphill”):

    As David Hembrow points out, even in hilly Limburg, bike modeshare of ~30% is not uncommon:

    While 30% is still lower than most other places in the Netherlands (and hills may indeed be part of the reason), it shows the kinds of modeshare that can be achieved even in places with hills when the proper infrastructure is put into place.

    Back to the US, when hills do impede core areas, there are already a fair amount of possible strategies to deal with local reality, such as SF’s famous Wiggle:

    This is pretty much *the* way to get from Market to Golden Gate Park/Haight/Sunset/Richmond/etc. with very little incline. Its popularity has only been enhanced by progressive rounds of infrastructure appealing to more than just the Strong & Fearless, as evidenced by bike counts and certainly anecdotal evidence such as that documented in the video above.

    I don’t think there’s much demand for a protected intersection on SF’s Twin Peaks, Portland’s West Hills, or the Berkeley Hills, for example, nor should we really be worrying much about those low-density, low-bike-demand areas.

    I think the clear focus is the low-hanging fruit of building out #minimumgrid spine networks amongst the most vibrant corridors of these kinds of cities that are very flat yet still have at best halfhearted bike infrastructure at this point:

    Financial District, SF, current:

    What could be:

    Polk St, currently:

    What could be:

    East Portland:

    Land of scenes like this:

    What could be:

    The aforementioned infamous car sewer Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley (still looks pretty much identical to this today, just with newer cars):

    What could be:

    Etc. etc.


    Andy B from Jersey

    I like the protected intersection but I feel the safety of protected infra starts to breakdown in hilly environments. I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with the protected intersection even on a moderate downhill. I think the solutions for our hillier towns and cities will need to go beyond the CROW manual and find new solutions.



    But understand we are living the after effects of the Reagan years where we can have lower taxes and keep spending. What’s worse keep spending and have no money to pay for it or just keep spending, but at least pay for it (somewhat).

    Problem with both political parties is they seldom want to face down the hard issues, but kind find easy cuts like healthcare to the poor, just as long as it satisfies the majority of their voting constituencies.

    And woooh beyond any politician that actually suggests people may have to pay more for something!


    Santhosh Reddy B

    Nice Post
    Answer Keys



    I fully agree. Compare car usage of GenX when they were 20-30 to Millenial car usage from 20-30. That’s a worthwhile comparison. Or even, what percentage of 26yo GenX’s bought cars compared to 26yo Millenials.



    Yeah, Seattle’s a tough one! That hill between Downtown/Capitol Hill is brutal (though biking from where I was staying in Belltown to Fremont via Westlake wasn’t bad at all).

    That’s something I’m not used to in SF. You may remember this comparison:

    In other words the majority of SF’s core dense/vibrant/public sector/private sector/commercial-filled areas are actually in the flattest swaths of town.

    Of course hills–even slight ones–will always be a deterrent to some people, and more importantly, some trips. After all, the Portland report even points out few of even the Strong & Fearless venture much up the West Hills. But no one really lives/works up there anyway. Presumably one of the reasons cited amongst the 35% No Way No How includes hills, but according to the reports it’s not reason #1.

    I think the point for a city that has a goal of 20% trips by bike is to remember that you don’t need 20% modeshare in, say, Twin Peaks (where as you can see despite being the biggest hill is also one of the least dense areas–as it is comparatively few San Franciscans live in or travel to this area by any mode). You don’t even need 20% of people biking to work.

    The low-hanging fruit are attracting a sizable minority of the ~67% of bike-curious people making all those little trips within 1-3 miles who’d like to hop on a bike more but would prefer it look a bit more like this:

    and this:

    Places like Portland have done a decent job with the former, not so much the latter.


    Andy B from Jersey

    Good points again. Never rode in Berkeley but was surprised at how relatively stressful riding in Portland was. Nothing that I couldn’t handle since I seem to fit the description of a “Bold and Fearless” (despite the fact that I sometimes ride scared to death!) but could see the main roads being a major barrier. They had me looking for alternate routes.

    I wouldn’t underestimate the slight hilliness of towns deterring the “Curious but Concerned” (“I like the idea of biking and all but you need to sweat up all those hills”). You mention that alternate side street routes can be hillier than the main roads. This was the case in Seattle. The main roads were located where they were because they were the easiest way to traverse the topography. The side streets were super quite and narrow in many neighborhoods but difficult to ride due to the steepness.

    Again, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, even Munich are much flatter. I don’t think its a coincidence that the further north you go in Germany, the flatter the country gets and in general the bicycle mode share goes up. This is where I say the electric assist bike could literally level the playing field.


    Andres Dee

    If a certain demographic is renting or borrowing cars rather than owning more or less that the same demographic did a few years back, there’s a story, even if they’re all “driving”. Remember that Gen X had access to their parents’ cars and rentals, as well, if they chose them.



    “we’re spending billions to build more roads and highways while Americans are driving less”

    There’s not much point to this statement unless you can make a good case that we have too many roads for the number of cars. It will not be easy to convince the average commuter of this.


    Larry Littlefield

    From 1990 to 2002, transit fares weren’t increased either. And I’ll bet there was little if any increase in tolls. There were huge cuts in what was paid, adjusted for inflation.

    You had the same thing in NYC, with the introduction of the Metrocard and fare discounts. The fare plunged relative to inflation.

    Ah the transit advocates were celebrating. So the debts and pension obligations were running up. It was a big game of chicken. Why put money in if no one else is? Someone else will lose in the end.

    Now we see the reality. The future is here. Everyone in NJ (and NYC) is screwed. But transit riders are apparently screwed the most. What does that say about 1990 to 2002?

    Note all those years NJ had a tax burden, as a percent of its residents’ personal income, that was at or below the U.S. average. Even though the average place in the U.S. doesn’t have a huge transit system, or schools as good as NJ.

    How did those saints, heroes and geniuses accomplish this? They sold the future. Which no one had a problem with because it was the future. Except that now it is the present.



    Actually, large swaths of Portland and Berkeley are really flat or very minimally hilly…and the hilliest parts are where the fewest people live/work. See attached images of topographical maps of those cities at end of message.

    My point with the Shattuck example is if you’re trying to go from one destination on Shattuck to another one half a mile away on flat Shattuck, it not only seems extra silly that the Berkeley Bike Plan expects you to track back to the backstreets but that also to add insult to injury in the area I was referencing there are even some notable inclines on the east-west streets whereas Shattuck is flat.

    While hills will be an issue for some people not riding a bike, it doesn’t explain why a full 93-94% of people in these locales currently aren’t hopping on bikes to get around. The lack of comprehensive low-stress networks is the single-biggest factor.

    From Portland’s own survey:

    Survey after survey and poll after poll has found again and again that the number one reason people do not ride bicycles is because they are afraid to be in the roadway on a bicycle.

    –> The “Strong and the Fearless” comprise perhaps 2,000 or fewer cyclists in Portland, representing fewer than 0.5% of the population. These are the people who will ride in Portland regardless of roadway conditions. They are ‘bicyclists;’ riding is a strong part of their identity and they are generally undeterred by roadway conditions—though likely few are courageous enough to venture too far up West Burnside into the West Hills.

    –> The “Enthused and Confident” are those who have been attracted to cycling in Portland by the significant advances the city has made developing its bikeway network and supporting infrastructure over the past 16 years. They are comfortable sharing the roadway with automotive traffic, but they prefer to do so operating on their own facilities. They are attracted to riding in Portland because there are streets that have been redesigned to make them work well for bicycling. They appreciate bicycle lanes and
    bicycle boulevards.

    –> A much larger demographic, representing the vast majority of Portland’s citizens, are the “interested but concerned.” These residents are curious about bicycling. … They like riding a bicycle…and
    they would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride.
    They don’t like the cars speeding down their streets. They get nervous thinking about what would happen to them on a bicycle when a driver runs a red light, or guns their cars around them, or passes too closely and too fast. Very few of these people regularly ride bicycles—perhaps 2,000 who will ride through their neighborhoods to the local park or coffee shop, but who will not venture out onto the arterials to the major commercial and employment destinations they frequent. There are probably 300,000 in this group, representing 60% of the city’s
    population. They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways—if cars were slower and less frequent, and if there were more quiet streets with few cars and paths without any cars at all.

    Topo maps of Berkeley and Portland:



    You don’t understand the order of magnitude of difficulty in getting the space to put bike lanes on major streets in Los Angeles. The city council member in whose district the protected bike lanes on Reseda Blvd were installed stated to me at the grand opening that no motor vehicle lanes can be removed on Reseda Blvd. If the DOT could not find a way to install the protected bike lanes without removing a through motor vehicle lane then the protected bike lanes would not have been installed. That portion of Reseda Blvd had more than adequate off-street parking for the businesses on one side of the street and that enabled on-street parking to be removed to reallocate space for protected bike lanes. Repaving the street had nothing to do with the final decision on whether the protected bike lanes were installed.

    The Netherlands hit a low of about 20% mode share for bicycling in the early 1970’s and Amsterdam hit rock bottom at a 25% bicycle mode share during that time. That level of mode share makes it a hell of lot easier politically to reallocate roadway space to bicycling. Its a completely difference scenario when you try and take traffic congested motor vehicle lanes away in Los Angeles to create even a five-foot wide conventional bike lane. Getting the additional six-feet of space needed for parking protected bike lanes greatly limits the places that these can be installed due to the added width required.


    Jym Dyer

    The labels are driven by trendoid journalism rather than actual demography and don’t have consistent meaning. Just look at the age ranges in the chart, that’s the substantive data.


    Jym Dyer

    I can assure you that the print media uses the term to this day, as does online media.


    Andy B from Jersey

    I love your analysis Gezellig but could the hilly nature of both Portland and Berkeley be really what’s holding back the “Curious but Concerned” and keeping these two towns’ mode shares at 6 to 7%?

    All the higher mode share cities that I can think of in the US and Europe are much more flat.


    Marven Norman

    The Dutch protests were centered around the rise in traffic deaths, especially of children, not angry bikers demanding more space. The Dutch modal share was dropping handily at that point as bike infrastructure was being ignored and even removed to make room for cars. It wasn’t until the government switched to find solutions to their safety problem that bikeways started appearing again, but even large-scale inclusion of them didn’t really begin until the 80s.

    Also, the travesty of the American experience is that it continues to measure biking using commute share, but even most Dutch do not bike to work. Bikes are generally used for short trips to stores, friends, or as a first-mile/last-mile solution that doesn’t get counted. As a result, numbers continue to come in abysmally low even when it’s pretty obvious on the street that a lot of people actually are riding. So we continue to hear that “no one bikes so we can’t spend money” even though that doesn’t make much sense intuitively.

    Additionally, bikeway programs can benefit greatly from leveraging ongoing maintenance. Even parking-protected bike lanes can be orders of magnitude cheaper to install when done as part of a repaving project, such as the opportunity taken by LADOT on Reseda.

    The other necessary step to bring costs down is to update the standards. There likely isn’t very much empty space left in somewhere like LA for a large-scale development, but hundreds of other new projects going up around the country in empty fields. They have the opportunity to do things right from the very beginning, but don’t due to lackluster standards. At best, a generally lackluster collection of disjointed “trails” and bike lanes slapped next to six-lane arterials are the extent of biking accommodation. As a result, modal share remains low, even for short trips, and any efforts to improve infrastructure gets everyone complaining about cost and parking.

    What’s needed is establishing volume/speed-based criteria into planning guidelines which ensure that the mistakes of the present aren’t cemented for decades into the future. David Hembrow has written several pieces about bike connectivity and Kloosterveen [PDF], a new suburb of Assen. It’s by no means really unique, other new developments all over the country also make a concerted effort to include comprehensive and sensible bike infrastructure from the very beginning. (Take for example the Leidsche Rijn development in Utrecht.) Doing the same here would result in much higher modal shares than are currently seen.


    R.A. Stewart

    I certainly do when driving (which by necessity is how most of my traveling is done now) and have taught my kids the same–they and I have biked on city streets and know too well how harrowing close-passing traffic can be.

    But I think most drivers in my city follow the FLAPINTIAIIHTGUFMSLETN rule (Far Left As Practicable If Not Too Inconvenient And If I Happen To Glance Up From My Smartphone Long Enough To Notice).


    Andy B from Jersey

    Good point Marven but then you take a book out of Seattle’s playbook and install mini-roundabouts and other neckdowns for traffic calming. Speed bumps too if needed. A bike lane is not always the best solution.



    Correction: the 2010 NJ Transit rail fare hike was much more than 10% – it was 25% for peak fares and 50% increase for off-peak fares since off-peak fares were eliminated with that 2010 fare hike. Maybe monthly fares went up 10%, but single trip fares went up 25% for peak and 50% for off-peak. It was a huge hike. At the same time, Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo rushed to reduce proposed bridge and tunnel toll increases and made sure the proposed increases were lessened, were phased in over many years, and were fairly mild. This meant the plan for the 2nd Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan, which was needed since there are not enough gates for demand, had to be cancelled. Meanwhile Gov. Christie let this huge 25-50% increase on single rides on NJ Transit rail go in effect without any protest.


    Marven Norman

    While they’re at it, allow contraflow biking on them.


    66 City

    Now and then, I talk with cops. We should not leave them out of the conversations that happen (and need to happen) on the street. The more we talk to each other and to cops, the better our communities will be. The more we can speak with other on the street, as life is happening, the fewer situations we’ll have where shit escalates into confrontation, video clips, or courtrooms.


    Marven Norman

    The CROW manual doesn’t include explicit mandates for a network of bikeways, but they do recommend that a basic network mesh be no more than 250m in urban areas and main routes as most necessary and logical. Of course, there are also the 30 KPH zones all around the country as well as fietsstraaten (bicycle boulevards), both of which are also crucial components of the bike network grid of The Netherlands that aren’t actually identified as bike infrastructure.


    Michael Andersen



    Generation Y???? Ummmm… millennial has been common parlance for about 10 years now. LOL


    Marven Norman

    I can understand how they can be “scarier than a moderately busy street” because they often lack a uniform traffic pattern. A moderately busy street might be moving at 30 MPH, but it’s a constant speed. Meanwhile, a lower-use route can often have people flying down the road because there’s no one else out there.



    Bravo. I’d forgotten about the TSTC graphic. It’s really telling.



    A few years ago, part of the Gen Y cohort were still too young to be buying cars. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people born in 1994 are buying more cars this year compared to a few years ago.
    The author is right to point out that the issue is whether people of the same age were more likely to buy cars in previous years.


    Ian Mitchell

    The fact that the scar still remains is a big issue, however.


    Ian Mitchell

    Freeways emptied cities, I don’t see that tearing them down would have the same impact.


    Ian Mitchell

    How many hundreds of miles of abandoned or underutilized rail right-of-way does greater Philly have?



    I’m still waiting for a U.S. city to roll this out…


    Joshua Strayhorn

    Here is an example of 1 of 3 Colored Lane Treatments offered by Ennis-Flint!



    Car rentals should also be considered.



    Ah, drive-by trolling.

    If you have any meaningful critique, share it.


    Robert Jarman

    Nick Falbo*s design the standard for signal intersections (which by the way you can modify things like the widths, the number of lanes, which arms of the intersections have bicycle crossings, if they are bidirectional, and this intersection model also works if you have an unsignalized intersection. Add yield to bicycles by turning traffic signs, and assign which direction gets a yield sign, and poof. You can transition a bike lane or a regular road into a cycle track by adding the type of smoothness you have from ramp to freeway and back again.



    John is a hack of a “journalist” who begged for months to keep this site going. And he has the audacity to criticize Bloomberg?
    John- you should really look for another “job”.



    Yes, Costco’s selling it by the vat now.

    Either that, or maybe Minneapolis won’t need to use much.



    Is the cost of magic green paint coming down?



    Gen Y here. I have a car, but I only bought it because the city I’m from pretty much makes it a necessity to live. Yeah, it’s not a good assessment of much.



    All this could be determined far more usefully by surveying people about their transportation choices, car ownership, etc… Presumably that data exists somewhere? It would get around the many flaws in this kind of study by focusing on what people actually do, rather than just looking at car sales figures.