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  1.  

    corbett french

    Of course. Don’t fix the roads. Don’t look after the budget. Don’t ford up the police or fire dept that have been financially strained. Lets pay attention to this. And telling people they can’t smoke in parks. Or try to pass LGBT legislation the majority of Houston said was a stupid idea in the first place. Mayor Porker ladies and gentleman. The moron herself. At least she’s not Bloomberg?

  2.  

    Justin

    It be great to see more of the pop up/ pilot projects like these in a city like San Francisco. Really this is what the city along with other city agencies like SFMTA, DPW and so fourth should be doing, piloting or using the “Pop Up” method to bring these improvements to light and giving the public the chance to see what the designs would be like in the physical world. And of course sneaking in a public meeting to check it out. I just wish San Francisco did more of this instead of the usual wasteful traditional methods of EIR studies and virtual studies that waste time and money

  3.  

    Greg Costikyan

    I know that Streetsblog doesn’t generally go the party-political route… but it most definitely applies in Missouri. St. Louis and Kansas City need better transit, and are Democratic; the rest of the state is suburban-to-rural, reliant on roads, and Republican. This is coming up in 2014, an off-year election, meaning poorer, Democratic voters turn out less reliably than they do in a national election. They’ve set the conditions up pretty well for approval.

  4.  

    Thomas R Shrout Jr

    Finally an article that makes the NO case for people who favor transportation investments — just in the right way. Great blog post.

  5.  

    Erica_JS

    One thing that is notable about that Community Cycling Center survey is that the African respondents were all immigrants, and the Hispanic respondents were primarily immigrants. Many people in both groups would have grown up in countries where adults cycling for transportation is common, whereas the African American respondents grew up in the US.

  6.  

    ajp

    Black people get SHOT AT by racist hillbillies EVERYWHERE. It is dangerous for blacks to be riding bikes. There are hard core racists out there that want to KILL black people. HELLOOO It happens every day. If some redneck (and that redneck could be wearing an Armani suit in Manhattan) sees a shot he could take, he takes it. It is too dangerous, blacks are moving targets for racists. Personally disgusting and abhorrent, but its true.

  7.  

    Jeff Knowles, AICP

    I think the biggest takeaway for other areas of the country is that the city was able to embrace a vision for a larger trail network, acquire 500 miles of ROW with one deal and act to resolve liability for the utility. Typically trail developers have had to negotiate piecemeal with the utility one easement at a time.

  8.  

    Khal Spencer

    …grin…

  9.  

    Khal Spencer

    Neat idea. These are generally pretty straight shots along utility corridors, so should be ideal for setting up as high speed bikeways suitable for serious bicycle transportation. There will have to be some enduring public rights to these easements once the city puts in millions in development costs as well as legal rights for the utility owners to temporarily close down or restrict passage during major repairs or other work requiring safe conditions be maintained. Hopefully, some smart minds will work it all out.

  10.  

    Andy B from Jersey

    The Seattle Metro area has a few trails and bike paths on utility ROW that work wonderfully. The Chief Seattle Trail and the Redmond Powerline Trail both run under transmission lines.

    The Tolt Pipeline Trail makes no real provisions for walkers or cyclists (steep grades and no river or highway crossings) The Seattle Water Dept. has simply opened the existing maintenance road to the public. People walk and bike on it all the time and it creates a convenient shortcut or place to stroll in many of the neighborhoods it passes through. I wouldn’t call it a major transportation corridor however, but its nice for local use.

  11.  

    John Hanson

    I said obvious solution, not best solution. Having said that, pre-processing would be required.

  12.  

    andrelot

    It depends a lot on liability laws, and also whether provisions still guarantee ample rights to the utility to manage a ROW (example: being able to close a bike path indefinitely, without any further assessment or authorization by city, should they need to make works on the power lines or pipelines nearby; absence of creation of easement rights should they decomission lines and want to sell the ROW for other purposes etc).

    In some states, law would all but guarantee a right to sue on basis that, once installed for years, a bike path over a privately-owned utility ROW would amount to a public easement that couldn’t be taken out of the community use.

  13.  

    Khal Spencer

    Jeeze, John. Do you really want to mess up good concrete?

  14.  

    Khal Spencer

    The jurisdiction could lose its shirt if successfully sued over an experimental design, and the engineer of record could be in hot water as well with his or her professional license. One of the reasons engineers are so conservative is that they are protecting themselves from being attacked when something unanticipated goes wrong. Using well established engineering guidance is good lawsuit-proofing.

    In addition, it means some other jurisdiction’s engineer gets the heat for scraping up the bodies when an experiment goes wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the first guy out of the trenches.

    Therefore, when one can use a NACTO idea in conjunction with existing (i.e., AASHTO, etc) guidance, one is better protected against litigation. We did that in one location in my town, where we combined an AASHTO and NACTO idea to solve a vexing problem. I found an example in the NACTO guide that seemed on point, and our engineer found a way to finesse it with existing engineering guidance. It works pretty well, so far, where the original design was a death trap.

  15.  

    Khal Spencer

    The FHWA guidance is to use NACTO in conjunction with existing guidance, since the NACTO is neither comprehensive or at times, rigorous. That seems like good guidance to me.

  16.  

    John Hanson

    The obvious solution is to aggregate lawyers into the concrete mix.

  17.  

    John Z Wetmore

    One thing that can help is to have small local parks adjacent to the right of way. When it’s time to take a break, you go a few steps off the main trail to some picnic tables under shade trees.

    Another thing that can sometimes help is to run the trail close to the edge of the right of way that will get the most shade from trees outside the ROW.

    On really hot days, you might see a pattern of people using the trails early or late, rather than midday when the sun is highest and the temperature is hottest.

  18.  

    Justin

    Theres quite a few of these in Dallas

  19.  

    entropos

    Giggity. I can’t wait.

  20.  

    Payton Chung

    I certainly appreciate that a power-line corridor trail is vastly better than no trail. However, shade trees are a wonderful element to have along trails — especially in a hot climate like Houston’s.

  21.  

    Andy B from Jersey

    Ahhh… Okay. That makes more sense. Had me wondering. It sure looks like from the photo that the rocks are at trail level but on second look I can see that they might not be.

  22.  

    RedScare

    Andy B, that is a retaining wall, not a crash hazard. And I have no idea what mik is talking about. Our bayou trails never close. Some do get pretty dark at night, given that most of the trails are not lighted. For those of us who live near the trails, they are fantastic. The trail pictured runs right into downtown Houston.

  23.  

    neroden

    Like everything else he got right, unfortunately he changed his mind later. :-(

  24.  

    neroden

    This is good. However, the FHWA has never been the major problem; state DOTs have been the major problem. Perhaps this FHWA announcement can be used to get state DOT officials to change their mind?

  25.  

    neroden

    This doesn’t even surprise me, unfortunately. We know about harassment *by police* for “driving while black” and “walking while black” — why would we be surprised to see harassment for “biking while black”? :-( There has to be some way to make it stop, though.

  26.  

    Black Ice

    In America, the niggers would steal that bike in a split second.

  27.  

    tooter turtle

    I am an avid and experienced cyclist, yet even I tend not to ride in high crime areas or in places where the infrastructure is overwhelmingly unfriendly for cycling. Why should people of any racial or cultural background behave differently in this regard? I am fortunate to live in an area with only moderate crime and pretty decent streets for biking. If I lived in some parts of this city, I might be very reluctant to ride anywhere or spend any money on a bike that is just destined to be stolen.

  28.  

    Jym Dyer

    Oakland is home to Red, Bike and Green, check them out. Also, Baybe Champ has turned scraper bikes into a flourishing crew.

  29.  

    Andy B from Jersey

    Many cities and metro areas could benefit from building trails in their old utility corridors but most of the utilities say NO!!! Hopefully the naysayer utilities will learn a lot from this project.

    Also let’s hope the trails are also useful by design and not more fluffy overdesigned, feel-good stuff that becomes dangerous at speeds over 10mph.

  30.  

    marcotico

    That’s a good point, but the smaller the roadway the less need there is for infrastructure, because the vehicle speeds should be slower and more eye contact occurs between users.

  31.  

    Gezellig

    There’s more than one kind of street addressed in the guide.

  32.  

    Streetsblog Network

    It’s 140 linear miles of bikeways on the utility corridors. Plus the Bayous plan is another 300.

  33.  

    JimthePE

    Zap, Wikipedia says that the inner loop, I-610 is over 38 miles around. So, yeah, that could be pretty huge.

  34.  

    Gezellig

    Berkeley is a great example of the failure that is relying on Bike Blvds as your bike strategy. It’s had Bike Blvds (to the exclusion of any bike lanes on most arterials) for decades. They often look like this:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/berkeley-bike-boulevards.jpg

    Yet drivers still seem unaware of them and they don’t have enough street-calming to be truly effective. They’re still used as through routes for cars, who get incensed at having to sit behind a bike that dares not to cower over to the right in the door-zone.

    I’ve been and seen others verbally harassed all the time biking on Berkeley’s Bike Blvds–it’s so ugly the city has a specific anti-harassment ordinance in place now but it still doesn’t really change the day-to-day, which must be accomplished through better infrastructure.

    Sure, I know I’m not doing anything wrong by using them, but it certainly is far from pleasant, to say the very least. And that’s *precisely* how you keep modeshare in the single-digits and ironically more people in their cars directly or indirectly contributing further to the problem.

    For shared space to work, it really must be accompanied by the following:

    –> road diets. The average American suburban street (such as that Berkeley example above) is still very wide, giving visual cues to drivers it’s safe to speed. You can’t just slap a Bike Blvd stencil on a road and call it a strategy.

    –> very frequent dead-ends for cars, but go-throughs for bikes/peds. You can’t just have a planter every half mile. At any point a driver should be seeing a dead-end ahead where they will have to either U-turn or turn right/left or something.

    –> very low speed limits

    –> ideally, upgraded status to a true Bike Street where bikes have legal priority with signs indicating Cars As Guest and more robust visual cues such as continuous green paint/sharrows across the full width of the road. Basically the US version of this:

    http://img.emailnewsletter-software.net/5v66_Fietsstraat.jpg

    We also need to accept that above certain speeds and vehicle counts per day shared space is not viable, in which cases physical protection via cycletracks is required.

  35.  

    Cameron

    The only way to “take back a road” is to redesign it with cyclist safety in mind. No amount of sharrows or signage will keep you safe if a car isn’t looking for you. Minimizing car-pedestrian interactions is the best way to do this, which cycletracks accomplish in spades.

  36.  

    R.A. Stewart

    Boondoggle, boondoggle, boondoggle. There, I stocked up on some extras in case they’re needed.

    One of the few things George W. Bush got right, in my opinion, was his initial opposition to DHS.

  37.  

    Zap

    That greenway map would benefit from a scale. That network looks huge.

  38.  

    Anne A

    This morning I was riding the bus along 95th St. (far south side of Chicago). I watched the progress of an African American man riding his bike along the sidewalk for a mile and a half. I occasionally see people riding in traffic on 95th St., but that’s rare, because it’s a wide busy street with lots of bus and truck traffic. Since it’s a major commercial truck route, there are lots of 18 wheelers.

    Folks I know who opt to ride on 95th or similar south side streets often do so either due to fear of crime on side streets, because smaller streets don’t connect to where they need to travel, or a combination of the two. I almost always see men, rarely women.

  39.  

    hatguy

    Is the Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place Conference open at all to college students? I’d love to go and experience this workshop!

  40.  

    Nick Manta

    Biking in a skirt

    I disagree. The design also accounts for the situation that you describe. If you look ahead there is a second curb preventing cars from making a right before cyclists are visible.

    Here is a link describing this design. http://vimeo.com/86721046

    Saying that Cycletracks kill is silly. Obviously, cycle tracks are not ideal for every street. Maybe even the street pictured above would be better off with some speed calming devices and sharrows, however, there are many streets in many cities that would benefit from protected bicycle lanes and intersections.

  41.  

    Gezellig

    The first photo was a very temporary pop-up of this design:

    http://vimeo.com/86721046

    Right hooks are virtually null under such a design. They’re specifically addressed by this design and talked about in the video.

    “I would be much less stressed out with some nice lane-centered sharrows, ‘Bikes May Use Full Lane’ signs, and a 20mph speed limit. Really take back the roads for people.”

    That can (and should) work on a lot of quieter streets, but cannot form a city’s entire bike strategy, especially when it comes to busier routes such as arterials.

  42.  

    John Z Wetmore

    Trails have been built along high tension lines in many places:
    http://www.pedestrians.org/topics/row-gallery.htm
    Like other trails, they tend to be quite popular.

  43.  

    Biking in a skirt

    Benches, plazas, greenways – I’m digging all of that.

    But in that first photo, can you see the car hidden on the left (not pictured) that’s about to right hook you? Can its driver see you and stop in time? I didn’t think so. Cycletracks kill.

    I would be much less stressed out with some nice lane-centered sharrows, “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs, and a 20mph speed limit. Really take back the roads for people.

  44.  

    Social_werkk

    Indeed.
    I even sometimes feel this way when I’m waiting for a train or bus. It’s like, “Oh, by the way folks in cars-I CHOSE to not have a car even though I can afford one.” There is still stigma about taking public transportation, even in cities where it just doesn’t make sense to own a car if you don’t HAVE to.
    There is that stigma because apparently ONLY poor people (see, Blacks and “White” trash [because apparently everyone else is trash by default....]. Look at the battle in Ohio over the street car or MARTA in Atlanta-White folks don’t want minorities having easier ways of getting around the city because apparently all they do is create crime and steal. Segregate them and let them fend for themselves.

    Perhaps I’ve set off too many truth bombs in one post.

  45.  

    Social_werkk

    You definitely hit the nail on the head when it came to poverty, shame, and cars as a status symbol.
    I used to live in Arkansas and it doesn’t matter where you are in Arkansas, the mass transit sucks, if there even is any. It makes sense-it’s not a very dense state. In Arkansas you pretty much need a car or a driver to live a reasonably good life-unless of course you can afford to live in donwtown Little Rock and shop at the really expensive corner stores for groceries and such, buy your clothes online, and live really close to your job in downtown Little Rock.

    Even in Chicago, a city with decent transit choices, the best transit choices, the safer bike lanes, etc. are in the parts of town with the most White people. Being around White people is diserable…for White people and since White people have more wealth, net worth, etc…..well, it makes sense for them to typically have the CHOICE to decide whether or not they want to own a car to get around.

    I’ve had to make strategic choices about my money, my job/career, etc. to be able to live car-free in Chicago. I currently live in an area where there definitely more Whites than Blacks, more police officers trolling Black and other visible minorities rather than the White residents….but I’m honestly much happier and less stressed now that I don’t have to own a car. It is freeing. I wish more of my peers of color had that option.

  46.  

    Michael Andersen

    Lots of great stuff here, Jame. Thanks.

  47.  

    Jame

    I sat on the fence about riding a bike in the city (again) for at least 10 years. I rode my bike growing up, like most kids. I lived in suburbia. And to visit my neighborhood friends, or our community pool, the bike was the way to go. and like everyone else, I dropped my bike when I learned to drive. But driving was the only way at that age, the distances were too great, and we didn’t have bike lanes or sidewalks in most places.

    By college I pondered getting a bike to get around campus, but it was too hilly so I didn’t. And into adulthood? I acquired a bike from a former coworker for cheap. And on the first day I rode to work, I had a minor accident. A car wasn’t looking out for people in the bike lane as he exited the driveway from the parking lot. I ended up with minor scrapes and grease stains on my clothing. To be honest, the scrapes didn’t bother me. The grease stains did. And I retired my bike.

    The universe intervened with my desire to ride a bike on many levels. I started to hear about Dutch bike culture. See people riding their bikes in normal clothing. And finally winning a dutch styled bike in a raffle.

    From my own perspective, there are a few cultural and educational barriers to deal with. Like everyone else, there are plenty of appearance related items on the list. Getting sweaty, appearing proper at work and so on. But for black women, particularly ones like me with relaxed hair, there are extra logistics to deal with when you “get sweaty.” For your average white cyclist, your hair will return to the state it was when you left your home after a few minutes, with minimal fuss. Not so for me, so I want to avoid sweating like the plague. For ladies with natural hair, or even a fro, finding a helmet to fit is downright impossible if you have big hair. How do you address that?

    But let’s go a little deeper on this appearance thing. Growing up, I always had white peers who were dressed sloppily. You know the person I am talking about: they don’t comb their hair or iron their clothing. In most cases, this has no impact on how they are treated day in and day out. Black people here in the US do not have this luxury at all. We all know how young black males are perceived when they wear hoodies. I don’t have the luxury of going to work in yoga pants, without people making certain assumptions about me. I notice a difference in how I am treated when I am out and about when I am wearing a preppy outfit of jeans and a t-shirt. Being black in america means you have to be a lot more cognizant about how you will appear in public.

    A male friend of mine who occasionally wears an afro mentioned how he dresses extra polished on afro day (no hoodies!) because he doesn’t want to be perceived as a “thug.” I know another (black) guy who was biking at night, and didn’t have lights, biking in the suburbs, who was stopped by the cops because “he looked like a drug dealer, since dealers ride bikes.” Being on a bike, particularly as a black male, puts you in more risk for being stereotyped than a white hipster faces.

    And lastly, let’s talk about the stigma of being perceived as being poor. Or the whitewashing of the environmental movement. These two things go hand in hand. Black families (particularly in the south) have been gardening organically for decades. And growing their own healthy produce all the time. We don’t call this being green and helping the planet. We call this being poor and not having options. Growing up my parents (and grandparents) recycled all of the plastic containers and jars we used to reuse them for other food stuff: pickling, canning, or food storage. Now we call this “reducing your footprint.” But when black people do it, we don’t perceive this as being environmentally friendly.

    There is a social stigma to being poor in the is country, and being perceived as such. The last thing anyone wants to be is broke. And when the ongoing stereotypes about black people revolve around being poor, not having opportunity, and generational poverty, when you have an opportunity to show you have “arrived” (like having your own wheels) you’ll keep that appearance up. We have made it cool and environmentally friendly for white people riding bikes, but the so-called invisible cyclists, like the latino restaurant workers or whoever else, only bike because they are poor. Not because they care about the planet.

    We have lots of structural things to deal with to get more types of people cycling. Some have to do with mass media representation. Others have to do with societal stereotyping and stigmas. Some are related to infrastructure and access. And some of it is as simple is choosing our language and imagery wisely when we talk about biking.

  48.  

    Jame

    Not that I bike around SF, but bike riding in Oakland is pretty diverse. I’d say pretty close to the overall population ratios. I see plenty of black people on their bikes (depending on neighborhood of course).

  49.  

    Jame

    Did you see the study about how cars are less likely to stop for black people in the crosswalk? This would easily translate to cars giving you less space on your bike.

    I would like to see a more precise study about this phenom tool.

  50.  

    lop

    >If anything, it’s better to be above the fray

    Destinations aren’t in the air. Street life depends on destinations. You don’t have to remove cars to make streets better for pedestrians and bikes. You’re talking about reconstructing almost every building in Manhattan to put in second floor retail. The cost would be in the tens of billions at the low end.

    >stop minimization is crucial for bikeway design

    Like with car travel, it depends on distance. Given the massive cost and impact of viaducts, for an average trip length in the citibike area of under two miles local streets together with improved river greenways would be plenty. Most people going further are traveling parallel to a subway line, or if their origin was in another borough they are entering Manhattan near the river, so almost everyone has a convenient way to make their trip.