Skip to content

Recent Comments

RSS
  1.  

    Gezellig

    There’s a good TED Talk on how problematic mandatory helmet policies are and how detrimental such policies are to overall bike safety:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07o-TASvIxY

    Helmet policies are not based on good data or science, but culturally based faulty assumptions/lack of direct experience with the activity. Even though driving is far more dangerous statistically, many more people drive than bike so they have the sense that it’s comparatively a safer activity. Meanwhile daily reports of car carnage persist as mere background noise because we’re so used to it.

    Again, the Dutch proved the way that works. Though they had an injury/death rate 2.5x as high as the US in the 70s it’s now many times lower than the US. Right about the 70s-80s is when they really started implementing pervasive separated infrastructure.

    Meanwhile a handful of English-speaking countries (parts of the US, parts of Canada, all of Australia, etc.) started focusing on helmet laws and Stockholm-Syndrome-y vehicular cycling advocacy, both of which have been a dismal failure in terms of encouraging more people to bike and bike safely.

    If you think about it it’s pretty messed up to say “we as a society created this dangerous environment–now the burden is on YOU, bike person, to keep yourself safe. And if you do get hurt it’s probably your fault” whereas the Dutch approach pragmatically acknowledged if you change the infrastructure you greatly reduce possible conflict points in the first place and it makes the rules clearer for everyone. Our current status quo is still effectively victim shaming.

  2.  

    oooBooo

    You didn’t question my analysis in the previous post, you attacked the site hosting the image. The article it was in, which I did not link, has nothing to do with transportation.

    Once again you veer off into tangent, getting a bit insulting so at the very end. Why can you not answer my very basic question? As people are impoverished, as their wages have less and less buying power, as more and more people are dependent on government subsidy to survive, as driving declines as it is intentionally made more and more expensive, how is transit to be funded?

    I could follow your lead and ask loaded questions, but I am tiring of this thread, because I started out with a question and all I get is diversion away from it.

    Here is an article with a lot of charts showing our impoverishment:
    http://www.epi.org/publication/why-americas-workers-need-faster-wage-growth/ The impoverishment which streetsblog, it’s followers, and its foundation funding cheer for and want us to love because it forces us to give up driving.

    How are you proposing to squeeze blood from this turnip to realize your transit utopia when decreasing driving means decreasing revenues in road coffers to take? When general tax revenues fall because people are no longer buying tires, gasoline, oil, parts, repairs, auto accessories, etc. When traffic enforcement no longer turns a profit. You can let the interstate system and rural highways go into a world without people agenda 21 final solution, but you’re still going to be left with the costs associated with urban road systems. The monies that can be diverted will vanish.

    Where is the money going to come from to support the transit utopia?

    PS: I already know the answer, and that’s why no one will answer, you ultimately know it too.

  3.  

    Bolwerk

    Well, that link ought to be enough to tell you Alon’s averages are terrible.

    But the studies jive with each other quite well. CR uses 12,000 miles as a baseline, which is a survey average. and AAA uses 15,000, so of course AAA will be a bit higher. It may actually be more realistic when considering suburban areas too. I selected a vehicle based in part on @anon_coward_12:disqus’s scenario, mind you, probably being charitable to his argument. I even said I was cherrypicking (like him).

    Anyway, even going by the cheapest vehicle listed there, you still need to net thousands of dollars/year over housing savings over transportation. And both those studies still make troubling assumptions, like treating vehicle storage as free, which is certainly a factor when comparing urban metro areas.

    And your assumption about getting lightly used cars may work sometimes, but it’s hardly a panacea for macro-level transportation policy given good lightly used models are probably the hardest used models to get.

  4.  

    Joe R.

    Why? They’re kids. Their balance is poor. They make poor decissions. Sometimes they simply topple over.

    I wonder then how me and every single kid I knew survived to reach adulthood back in the 1960s/70s when bike helmets didn’t exist? The idea that children need helmets to ride a bike is ridiculous. At best such helmets prevent a very small number of injuries/deaths. However, they cause many more deaths than they prevent by creating a disincentive for kids to ride, which in turn may translate to a lifetime of obesity/poor health. I can say with certainly I would never have had any interest whatsoever to ride a bike as a child if I had to wear a helmet. I can also say with certainty that without riding, I would be in my middle age weighing 300+ pounds, and probably with heart disease. Cycling helps keep my weight in check. It also helps clear my head. I pity the kid nowadays who may never discover the joy of feeling free, wind in their hair, because of overprotective adults who think they know better.

    Let’s end mandatory helmet laws for children. They’re misguided at best, harmful at worst.

  5.  

    Coolebra

    Yep. And it isn’t all that ironic; it actually makes sense.

  6.  

    lop

    http://consumerreports.org/cro/2012/12/what-that-car-really-costs-to-own/index.htm

    Alright, this is more realistic than AAA. One thing to note is how much costs decrease after year one. If you were buying a used car just one-two years old, you wouldn’t pay nearly as much for depreciation, and would not get hit with massively elevated operating costs. And if you really want to be cheap, if you look you can find a car that is full of dents from getting stuck in a hail storm, but otherwise in perfect condition, that you can get for a bargain. Keeping a car for 8-10 instead of 5 years is perfectly feasible and cuts costs significantly as well.

    You can get a cheap car if you need one. Plenty of people do.

  7.  

    Gezellig

    “Once, not wearing one to ride to a social gathering, I had a slight acquaintance grab me by the arm and loudly exhort me to “Wear a f***ing helmet!” …as her cigarette dangled from her free hand.”

    Yep! I’ve had similar experiences. People have a really skewed perception of how dangerous biking is, when it really isn’t that dangerous:

    http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/injury_and_death_statistics/Documents/2014-Injury-Facts-43.pdf

    In the US you’re more likely to die choking on your lunch than you are to die on a bike. And you’re way likelier to die walking around. And neither of those, still, is anywhere near as likely as dying from heart or lung-related diseases, which are incredibly common.

    Yet this is how skewed our culture is–a smoker, no less, feels the need to chide someone riding a bike. That’s some crazy cognitive dissonance/denial.

    “I have very limited experience bicycling anyplace that isn’t Austin, so I can’t speak to the rest of the U.S.; but bicycle helmets here, while not mandated, are expected. Shop ride rules always stipulate that you wear one. Letting your kid ride down a quiet street without one could quite possibly lead to your neighbors calling Child Protective Services on you.”

    It does look like Austin requires helmets for people under 18, though they are thankfully not mandated above that age.

    “the local news station’s “balanced” reporting on this facility included interviews with parents in cars who were frustrated at losing a convenient place to park while dropping off their kids.”

    Haha, yeah, when most of those kids probably live within biking distance. Ummm…unless there’s a special reason you generally don’t *have* to drive your kids 3 blocks to school, people.

  8.  

    Gezellig

    Actually, after some initial training kids are pretty good at it.

    Non-helmeted kids going to school on a 100%-bike route:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrQ-d2PBUto

    These kids live in a place that has one of the if not the the lowest bike injury rates in the world. This suggests the pervasive protected infrastructure is what really protects people.

  9.  

    Bethany Gillette

    I grew up in Lakewood and we definitely walked to school. In middle school my mom wanted us to go to the one that was 1.5 miles from our house so we rode our bikes and if it was really cold took the RTA bus down Detroit road (only because I had asthma) heck even when I moved back for a while after college I would walk to and from the bars to avoid DUIs! :) I live on the east side now and am pregnant with my first child. I am trying to convince my husband that we should buy a house in Lakewood because I want my kids to have the same experience I did.

  10.  

    BBnet3000

    Those kids in the Netherlands only have grass between them and the cars! Physical separation is important, but I don’t think it need be so strong that cars cant physically cross over. A design that ensures that cars DONT cross over is the important part.

    As for the helmets, most places in the US require that kids wear them, and its generally part of the biking/parenting culture here regardless.

  11.  

    ELS

    I have very limited experience bicycling anyplace that isn’t Austin, so I can’t speak to the rest of the U.S.; but bicycle helmets here, while not mandated, are expected. Shop ride rules always stipulate that you wear one. Letting your kid ride down a quiet street without one could quite possibly lead to your neighbors calling Child Protective Services on you.

    Once, not wearing one to ride to a social gathering, I had a slight acquaintance grab me by the arm and loudly exhort me to “Wear a f***ing helmet!” …as her cigarette dangled from her free hand.

    I don’t agree with the attitude, but that’s what it is. That lane is extremely safe by Austin standards – those knockdown sticks clearly delineate the set-aside space as belonging to cyclists in a way that mere paint, forget about the presence of a cyclist, does not; so the use of helmets merely reflects the attitude that cycling itself is inherently dangerous.

    All that said, facilities like this boost cycling and are a great way to change that attitude. (Though it’s worth mentioning that the local news station’s “balanced” reporting on this facility included interviews with parents in cars who were frustrated at losing a convenient place to park while dropping off their kids.)

  12.  

    Jass

    Oh please, the use of helmets means they dont think the rotue is safe? The route could be 100% bike only for miles and kids would still wear helemts.

    Why? They’re kids. Their balance is poor. They make poor decissions. Sometimes they simply topple over.

  13.  

    Dan

    Racing helmets are widely believed to be necessary in biking in the US. I never wear them, nor have I ever had a head injury on my bike in my entire childhood or the year or two I have been riding as an adult.

    I agree the pollards are cheap though.

  14.  

    Joe R.

    The real enemy isn’t opposition to the bike infrastructure; it’s out-of-control property speculation that leads to people moving way outside the zone where they’d be able to have a reasonable commute distance.

    That’s part of the problem, but even if it were solved people are still going to want to take trips between boroughs for a variety of reasons. That’s where a bike highway network would come in.

    And yes, given NYC’s horrible track record on any bike infrastructure which involves more than laying thermoplast I’m not holding my breath waiting for this. It will take a sea change in the way this city is governed, plus another sea change in how we approach major infrastructure projects, to get this done. Right now if NYC embarked on building out a bike highway system, it probably still wouldn’t be finished in my lifetime (I’m 51) given the glacial pace other construction projects move at. By then the first parts might start falling into disrepair, but of course NYC wouldn’t repair them until they actually fell apart. Even then, it would most likely be a half-assed repair which would need to be redone constantly, as they’ve done with that sinkhole on the West Side Greenway.

  15.  

    Kevin Love

    Although better than nothing, the use of the knockdown sticks really does not warrant calling this a “protected” bike lane. As the name implies, the knockdown sticks are designed to knock down and actually provide zero protection.

    There do exist bollards that are designed to withstand the impact of a motor vehicle. If those bollards had been used, then I would agree with calling this a protected bike lane. Otherwise, no.

    We can see from the photographs that the children and their parents themselves do not believe that they are safe on this route. They consider it so unsafe that many of the children have been inspired to wear racing cycle helmets. That is a clear vote of non-confidence in their safety.

    For an example of a route to school that really is safe, please see this video. Note the bridges and bridge approaches.

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/cycling-to-school/

  16.  

    Bolwerk

    What studies are claiming that? And what does it have to do with anything I said?

  17.  

    Bolwerk

    Ironically, public transit is one of the few public investments we’ve been able to make that has a reasonably high positive return. APTA cites $4 of economic activity generated by every $1 invested in public transit.

  18.  

    anon_coward

    all you have to do is walk some purely residential streets in the outer boroughs to see they are full of parked cars and full garages? do it for a few days and you see the same cars in the same spots for days. do it at 7am -8am and most of these cars don’t move either when they are supposed to be driven into manhattan

    why aren’t these people driving into manhattan like all these studies say?

  19.  

    Bolwerk

    Uh, no. Alon is usually good with the quant shit, but even for the point he’s trying to make that’s a really terrible way to calculate those costs because it doesn’t look at the distribution at all. Just think: wealthier households probably can spend more in absolute terms on their transportation, but have it come out to a smaller percentage of household income. Less wealthy households might have to eschew using transportation because it’s too expensive for them. Assigning the same proportion to either as you do to middle-middle income people is going gets you an invalid result. Somehow averaging or normalizing that distribution, however you do it, and multiplying it by another average (household income) is even sillier.

    We need a fundamentals analysis here. Though they make some assumptions about average use that I might dispute, AAA and Blue Book at least try to look at the fundamental costs. A transit pass is a fundamental cost. Those are the things we should compare.

    Now, maybe Alon does hit on a little point most people here are probably missing: transportation habits are not uniform. Some people own cars and don’t really use them much. Some people fly everywhere. Some people (me) use transit 3-4 times a week and walk or bike everywhere else.

  20.  

    Coolebra

    It isn’t the data I’m questioning – it is the analysis of it, particularly as applied to the discussion in this thread, oooBooo. There are actually some folks that look beyond the graphs prepared by others and attempt to place the information in context rather than regurgitate it; they weave data points into a tapestry constituting a framework for action.

    So, you’re saying that a declining labor participation rate (and a slowdown in economic growth over the long-term when compared to prior decades) leads to less need for public transit, walking, and biking? And further, that these same trends translate into the need to have the same roads serving the same purpose they always have, and that per capita VMT will continue to grow irrespective of declining rates of workforce participation and a slowdown in economic growth?

    Where does that lead your analysis, i.e., what is the call to action? Maintain the status quo? Don’t spend money on alternative transportation, just keep building roads well beyond the time they have continued to be the right thing to build?

    Hmmmm.

    Some might argue that declining labor participation and a slowdown in economic growth translates into an urgent need to rethink how we spend the money we still have or anticipate getting.

    Some might argue that growth in the urban population calls for a re-prioritization of how scarce resources are allocated.

    Some might argue that the same types of investments we’ve been making for the past several decades are no longer relevant in a vastly different landscape. Over 85% of federal funding is allocated by formula to road construction and reconstruction. The State of Illinois arbitrarily shifts by formula 55% of transportation funding downstate — away from one of the nation’s largest economic and population centers.

    Some might argue that relying on cars as the primary mode to move goods and people around increasingly dense urban environments doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Some people simply seem to have a better grasp on the bigger picture.

  21.  

    JamesR

    I ended up on blood pressure meds despite putting a few thousand miles year on the bike, and I’m convinced that dealing with these sociopaths on the road had something to do with it. The doctor was like, ‘with your BMI and activity level, you shouldn’t need these’. I mean, I’m out there riding to work and for pleasure in part so that I can be fit and healthy. It’s absolutely infuriating.

  22.  

    Bolwerk

    If anything, a cheap used car has higher operating expenses. That’s a, if not the, major reason why it’s cheap. Not to mention the used market isn’t as cheap as it used to be.

  23.  

    anon_coward

    it’s not cheaper because you have to park and you can’t park almost anywhere in manhattan for free. the lots will cost your $300 or more per month.
    honda civic will run you $100 a month in gas or more. and at least another $200 for tolls so you don’t sit in the parking lot around the Koch bridge.
    and there is traffic. i’ve driven from chelsea back to forest hills and it takes 90-120 minutes compared to 30-45 for the subway and 20 on the LIRR

  24.  

    Brandon

    Consider a cheap used car, makes NYC seem awful. I hate driving but real data shows that its is cheaper.

  25.  

    Brandon

    They factored income in

  26.  

    Brandon

    Some central cities are large and contain vast areas of single family houses. Other central cities are small but there are still vast areas of single family homes but they are within a another jurisdiction.

  27.  

    Guest

    Not a bad comparison since if you get a median job in NYC you’ll be paid based on the regional median income. Many of the people living in the suburbs work in the city.

  28.  

    anon_coward

    not to manhattan. almost everyone i know with a car takes the subway or bus. i’ll drive into manhattan once every few months and it’s pretty bad.

    transit is cheaper for weekends, but only in NYC and then you can spend as much as 3 hours going one way. and once you figure out of city trips you are talking close to $100 transportation per trip

  29.  

    anon_coward

    i hated denver. some walkable but you have to drive between the walkable areas. boulder has crazy construction laws and crazy prices to go with it but very walkable and very nice. you can park close to downtown and walk around for hours.

    larimer county is next door to boulder, much more affordable, newer homes, lots of good schools, nice outdoors stuff to do, faster internet than large parts of NYC, not as walkable but everything is 10-15 minutes away or less.

  30.  

    anon_coward

    you get paid more than half of NYC salaries and i’ve driven in rush hour there just to see what it’s like and you can still make it home in 15 minutes or so. about an hour if you have to drive to Denver. and the traffic is always moving so you don’t burn up gas in stop and go like here.

  31.  

    MrBadExample

    Joe R–don’t disagree with you about need for dedicated cycling infrastructure. But the city still hasn’t fixed parts of the Greenway path around Plum beach two years after Sandy. And Bloomberg turned down a couple million in federal money to put a dedicated bike path/ handicap access lane along Coney Island. I really don’t expect NYC to ante up for the project you envision. Portland might, but the culture is radically different, and drivers don’t see bike infrastructure as ‘the enemy’ the way they would in New York. The real enemy isn’t opposition to the bike infrastructure; it’s out-of-control property speculation that leads to people moving way outside the zone where they’d be able to have a reasonable commute distance.

  32.  

    Joe R.

    You also have to look at salaries. If you end up being paid half what you would be doing the same job in NYC, suddenly Fort Collins doesn’t look so great any more.

    There are intangibles which are worth something. Forest Hills is 20 minutes from midtown. I don’t know what a typical commute in Fort Collins might be like but you’ll be at the mercy of traffic. It’s also nice being able to walk to store to get things. That’s particularly true in colder weather. Would you really want to spend 30 minutes cleaning snow off a car just because you need to get a few groceries? Not to mention after you do that you’ll still need to drive for x minutes each way. While it’s true walking is slower after a big storm, the closest store is only 3 blocks away. I’ll be there and back before someone can finish cleaning off their car.

  33.  

    MICHAEL

    Even Modi himself was advocating cycling (e.g., “Cycle to Work Once a Month / http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/cycle-to-work-once-a-month-narendra-modi-107157.html). Now only actions have to follow words. However, as at the grass route level there is quite some advocacy activity, (at least in Bangalore to were i moved recently from New York), this should maintain pressure for actions. And even though the few bike lanes here do face the problem of parked cars (not unfamiliar to NYC :-), riding a bicycle overall is IMHO already easier here as mutual respect and collaboration among traffic participants is (much) better than in NYC (you just have to be assertive and get used to the flexible interpretation of traffic laws ;-)…

  34.  

    lop

    If you have a car it’s often cheaper to use it than other modes. Cars have pretty high fixed costs. It can be a much bigger pain to take transit, especially with a family, but if you were able to get rid of your car completely, not just leave it at home for a long trip, the cost difference would be closer, and transit may end up cheaper.

  35.  

    lop

    No I meant they overestimate the cost of cars, not underestimate it.

    http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/how-much-does-driving-cost/

    Closer to 5400 per car. Though it can easily be less if you have an older small car.

    Cars have massive externalities, but drivers don’t pay them so they don’t count when you are comparing cost of living.

  36.  

    Justin

    If only San Francisco Business leaders saw it the same way as well, just imagine the difference it would make, but no they’re still stuck in status quo mentality

  37.  

    Bolwerk

    Yep, I figured they were lowballing. Makes the point well enough though.

  38.  

    John C Miklos

    Now, if we could only get a cross-town cycletrack on Smithfield…

  39.  

    Guest

    It’s a confluence of more than just rivers.

  40.  

    TimP.

    GOP is dying off??? Are you an angry liberal?

  41.  

    lop

    AAA cost numbers aren’t great.

    http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/more-on-driving-vs-transit-costs/

    Colorado in the mountains you might need a truck and sometimes to just stay home but denver, fort collins, boulder a car is generally fine. Don’t know fort collins as well, but denver and boulder are pretty doable without a car, though you’d want to be in a more in demand area and would probably pay more than the 1150 anon_coward heard about.

  42.  

    jarendt

    I think the school segregation is a cause of sprawl, not a consequence. The court rulings allowing municipal areas to sidestep integration by integrating within districts but keeping city and suburban districts separate encouraged White flight. After rich, educated families left, city district test scores got worse. Because of the bad test scores, the White flight was followed by middle class family flight regardless of race. A few cities have turned their urban districts around, but in many U.S. cities, anyone with kids who can afford it moves out to the suburbs to the best school district they can afford.

  43.  

    The Good King

    Here’s what folks should be focusing on with respect to that map: if you draw lines around the “Excellent” school districts, as rated by the State, and all of the other schools districts, the two categories of school districts are clearly distinguished by race. Some might not view that as a big deal, but Ohio purportedly has a constitutional “common school[]” system, which some might view as separate but unequal. Another consequence of sprawl.

  44.  

    Maggie

    Cycling infrastructure is an awesome idea for India. They really spelled the report title Peddling, though? Really??

  45.  

    oooBooo

    Government uses CPI for inflation. CPI is heavily flawed and does not state the real effect of monetary policy. Anyway my point is that monetary policy is what is doing the harm. It does not matter what transportation infrastructure you want to fund, it will be undermined by monetary policy. Which goes back to my question, who’s going to pay when drivers can’t?

    BTW, transit and bicycling is a 19th century solution. From the age of buggy whips, not that there’s anything wrong with that, your 21st century solution line is simply silly.

    But it does look like we are headed back to the 19th century where we will live in the shadow of our corporate employer’s building.

  46.  

    oooBooo

    The plot is from the Federal Reserve. But you could probably learn something from the articles on the site where I could easily find this plot hosted. You did know that’s what FRED is right? The Federal Reserve’s Data division right? If you want to attack the source, try attacking the right one.

  47.  

    Angie Schmitt

    Pittsburgh, IMO, is awesome. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s a weird mix of Appalachia and rust belt, but a little east coast too.

  48.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    I should probably plan my visit for before the place freezes solid.

  49.  

    Michael Andersen

    Pittsburgh’s been doing a pretty good job of selling itself!

  50.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    You guys have been doing a pretty good job of selling Pittsburgh this year.