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    I live in an urban area of Dallas, and as a relatively young city, an area like ours (loft buildings and murals and “art”) is constantly subjected to everything from engagement photos to “models” to newborn babies being held against the industrial background of the old ford factory. Is hilarious to see on a regular basis and it makes you wonder what they’re going for. This is hilarious for those of us who just want to say, “you’re not a model” as we excuse ourselves walking by the baby being propped against the same wall that our local transients hang out at. That. Is satire.



    But to tell people you can’t/shouldn’t live where you want to live, own a car/must take transit, is like saying to me yeah your refrigeration uses too much energy get an ice box and a daily ice delivery.

    Tax everyone more to get the social change you want. But understan the people like me will feel I am being taxed out of a city I love, I have to acccept less or pay more, meanwhile people in upper brackets will still have the bucks to get eveything they want.



    No one is idealizing the era. They are just pointing out this one way in which it was different from our era.



    I say will tell ODOT to got hell. The citizens don’t want this and I am sure our tax dollars pay their bills. Let’s cut them off.



    But to use this photo to present a case for all was right with the system back then is rather disingenuous. Why did kids play in the street? Because there was nowhere else. And it wasn’t this consistently dreamy picture of darling children in their best clothes frolicking.

    Wanting to shift priorities back to urban living, means there needs to be a significant increase in spending on schools, parks, hospitals/healthcare, police and fire, and many other city services. And as the population grows, you may need less cars, but you will need more trucks, because things need to be delivered, tradesmen/women need to do their jobs, and all the transit you will need to absorb the loss of car use means more large vehicles like buses.

    To idealize this era without looking at many of the detractions is rather silly.



    I feel like you are having a very separate conversation from the one that I am, and are assuming that underserved communities will always categorically oppose bike infrastructure (hence the silly question about whether people’s neighborhoods should never be improved).

    I never said that and I don’t think other equity advocates would argue that either. As I’ve written about extensively, communities want to be partners in their own development. And that it is incredibly important (particularly in gentrifying neighborhoods) that those on the margins be included in the planning process so that they can benefit from and take advantage of any infrastructure that comes into their neighborhood. You may be able to cite trip percentages on Watts, but clearly have little understanding of just how incredibly contested that public space is… there are 25 gangs within a 2 mile radius, and every square inch of space is accounted for by somebody. Perhaps you’ve never been unlucky enough to live in a community under siege, but I can tell you how incredibly effective even the rumor of an impending shooting can be in clearing the streets for days and months at a time. Parents generally don’t allow their kids to even play in their front yards, and that’s when things are going well. And the relationship with law enforcement, while improving, is still incredibly toxic. Particularly thanks to the Sheriffs. The Sheriffs even stopped me for riding my bike because they found me and the act of riding around suspicious. They do much worse to the community members that live there (including, in some cases, pilfering money from some of the youth I know, tossing racial epithets at them, humiliating them, roughing them up, etc.).

    Much, much more than bike infrastructure is necessary for Watts to be a safe environment…and I say that as someone who deeply, deeply loves that community. It doesn’t mean people don’t want access to their public space or won’t benefit from things like bike lanes being there, but it does mean there must be programming around that infrastructure for those lanes to be accessible (clubs like Los Ryderz and ESRBC work tirelessly to help reclaim public space, but they can’t do it on their own). And, having spent too many hours sitting in my friend’s bike shop on Wilmington in Watts, I can tell you that bikes can turn out to be expensive for the poorest of the poor. Because they often begin with second or third-hand bikes that were not that great to begin with (from Walmart, for ex.), they break down often and an $8 repair can set people back, especially if they are breaking down more than once a month and they have to travel long distances to get to a bike shop (which it is hard to find time to do when they are working 2 jobs or don’t have access to transportation). That may sound crazy to some, but that’s how deep poverty can run in some areas of town.

    I’m going to stop the conversation here because, again, I’m still not sure what your original argument against my first comment was, other than the assumption you seem to have projected onto me–one I do not hold–that underserved communities don’t like infrastructure. And I don’t see anything controversial in suggesting that planners do a better job at engaging those on the margins to ensure they are part of a community’s future, especially in communities where they have deliberately been left out of or harmed by development decisions in the past. But I’m sure we’ll take this up again on SBLA at some point.


    Kevin Love

    It is my opinion that the public health harm caused by the use of cars in cities greatly outweighs any transportation benefit provided.

    If you disagree with this, please be so kind as to indicate why you believe that the large number of deaths and injuries due to poisoning and crushing people is worthwhile.



    Agree. That’s a far cry from Kevin’s usual rants, which is to simply say that he disagrees with anyone who points out that there are plenty of good uses for motorized vehicles. I still am not even convinced he’s been to the Netherlands.



    Extreme solutions are rarely the right solutions.


    Kevin Love

    An example of this trend is the City of Hamburg, which is systematically removing car infrastructure to eliminate car use. See:


    Joe R.

    Yes, they route private cars around the city center. Strictly speaking, the analog to doing this in NYC would be to keep cars completely out of Manhattan, and also out of much of the outer boroughs. Overall, the discussion doesn’t need to be a binary choice to keep cars or not keep them. We still need delivery vehicles and buses and emergency vehicles, even in cities. In rural areas, it’s hard to see anything but the car being the primary means of transportation. However, in cities it really needs to be a binary discussion of whether or not to keep private autos as they exist today.

    There just isn’t the room in cities to shoehorn in private autos for everyone who wants to use them. That’s exactly what we’ve tried to do since WWII. The end result is large parts of the city being turned over to parking. This fundamentally changes the city into something else-basically a collection of parking lots which sometimes have things of interest in between. If instead you just restrict auto use instead of ban it in order to make the number of cars manageable, you’ll end up having to decide who gets to keep driving, and who doesn’t. Based on the way these things usually work (i.e. fees and taxes on driving), it’ll end up being the wealthy who get to keep their cars. Any society where the wealthy gain special privileges to do something which negatively affects everyone else just by virtue of having the money is not a just society. Therefore, it makes more sense to just say you can’t use private autos, period, in the centers of our cities.

    Once you ban private autos (and taxis which cause many of the same issues), you’ll find that the streets can be easily reworked to allow safe, efficient travel by other modes. Even in transit poor parts of the city, the bicycle or velomobile will now be viable ways to get around. Eventually you can add transit as well. Without cars, there will be a lot more demand for it.

    I think you’d be surprised by how many people own and use cars in the Netherlands. It’s just that when they make trips to urban centers, the need for one diminishes greatly.

    The trend in much of Europe is to just ban private autos altogether from city centers. It’s not that the need for one when going to the urban center is greatly diminished. It’s that the option just doesn’t exist. If you keep the option open, all it takes is a small percentage of people driving to city centers to make life very unpleasant for everyone else.


    Kevin Love

    If there was only one car in NYC the number of poisoning deaths caused by it would be rather low.

    That’s like saying: “There’s lots of background radiation, so why do you object to someone setting up a nuclear waste dump in NYC.”

    Every car taken off the road reduces the danger. So many cancers start with just one fine particle. If we can eliminate that one car trip that put out that one particle we’ve just saved someone’s life.

    There are plenty of other people than the Dutch who have been successful in reducing car use. Japan is another example.



    So if there was one car in all of NYC your theory would still hold? Asthma, cancer, hundreds of dead people? Watch the video you linked to. It shows plenty of cars, they just are kept outside of the city center and subject to roads and rules that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists.

    The point is that when cars are an alternative form of transportation and not the default means of travel, the poisonous effects they have on children and everyone else are statistically insignificant.

    Your answer to everything seems to be, “Look at the Netherlands!” But even you don’t understand how the Dutch manage and use automobiles. Have you even been there?


    Kevin Love

    Who said poisoning innocent children is demonic?


    Kevin Love

    “There is nothing wrong with cars being an alternative form of transportation.”

    You may believe that there is nothing wrong with poisoning innocent children. However, I do not share that belief.

    Each of the fine particles put out by car pollution can be viewed as a lottery ticket. Breathe one in and you are playing the “car driver’s death lottery.” Grand prize: An agonizing death by cancer.

    Second prizes include major surgery! And let’s not forget the heart and lung disease, asthma and bronchitis.


    Kevin Love

    “…the cable guy or the plumber is never going to show up on a bicycle.”

    Except when they do. See:


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Right, there are not “plenty” of uses. In a city, there are precisely three appropriate uses for motor vehicles: 1) government services; 2) shipping/delivery of goods; 3) mass transit.

    If you are not engaged in one of those things yet are driving in a city, then you’re part of a serious societal problem.



    That’s silly. Some people in Groningen & Hertogenbosch still have cars and find plenty of legitimate uses for them. It’s just that the city keeps them out of the center as much as possible. As a result, they’re able to use that space more efficiently and safely. There is nothing wrong with cars being an alternative form of transportation. The point Norton seems to be making is that the binary choice between all cars all the time and no cars ever seems to damage any attempt at an honest discussion over how and when to use the tools we have.

    I think you’d be surprised by how many people own and use cars in the Netherlands. It’s just that when they make trips to urban centers, the need for one diminishes greatly.



    Point being? Pretty sure no one here is arguing is favor of a return to horse-transport, just a shift is priorities towards urban living, based on walking, biking, and transit.



    Cars are tools, and demonizing a tool is counterproductive. We need to understand where cars are useful and design our cities and infrastructure to accommodate those trips. The problem right now, is that car trips are prioritized over everything else, often resulting in situations where cars are the only convenient means of travel. Yes, this has had horrific consequences, but demonizing all cars and car drivers will relegate liveable streets advocates to the fringes. The way to address the problem is to figure out what should actually be prioritized and then to go about making the changes to our cities to improve them.


    Justin Nelson

    “I think there are plenty of uses for cars” is not the same as “I think there are plenty of uses for cars *in cities.*” There are vast swathes of rural America that will never be conducive to transit, ever, and for those folks it’s either the motor vehicle or a return to horse-and-buggy. The car will also probably be the vehicle of choice for most folks heading to our national parks and wilderness areas, although some of the more popular ones could probably support bus service. Even in cities, utility workers and the like are probably going to be best-served by continuing to drive– the cable guy or the plumber is never going to show up on a bicycle.

    These uses are the exception, rather than the rule, for the majority of folks today– but they are valid uses, and they should be taken into account when we imagine our future cities.



    If you look closely at this photo you will see a smooth concrete street. Its all nice and clean. So clean that little girls could play in their party dresses.

    Was this the norm, or just a nice photo taken out of everyday context. Or was this a wealthy community that had the paved streets and not the rutted side streets many cities had.

    When the City of Chicago finally decided to lift the ban on outdoor cafes, the law was on the books because of the dried horse dung that would cloud the air. On rainy days it was a swill of horse manure.

    Someone once told me in New York on any given day there were 1,000 dead horses on the street.

    Rose color glasses.


    Kevin Love

    Peter Norton: “I personally, just as one person, think there are plenty of good uses for cars.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I disagree. Why?

    To the best approximation that I have been able to determine:

    1,421 people in New York City are poisoned and killed by motor vehicle drivers every year.

    5,491 people in New York City are poisoned every year by motor vehicle drivers and injured so seriously that they have to be hospitalized.

    Children in New York City experience 3,876 acute bronchitis episodes every year because they are poisoned by motorists.

    Children in New York City experience 219,640 asthma symptom days every year because they are poisoned by motorists.

    Costs of people being poisoned by motorists in New York City is approximately $7.4 billion per year.

    There are also significant issues with motorists crushing and killing people.

    Let us end upon a note of hope. Here is a before-and-after video of a city that managed to change from a car-clogged nightmare to a prosperous and liveable city. They changed. We can too.



    You could say the same about most of the US, given how the TBTF banks weren’t broken up, an updated Glass-Steagall bill wasn’t passed, nor were the banks in any real way penalized for their reckless and negligent activities. There have been some civil suits lately but I doubt if any damages awarded will equal the profits made during the bubble years.

    You’re right about Hillsboro though, it’s a town that loves its heavily subsidized airport. Aviation, particularly private aviation is heavily subsidized in Oregon, utilizing federal, state and local subsidies to function. If Hillsboro doesn’t continue to subsidize its airport (despite environmental and health costs to those living nearby), will it continue to flourish? What if aviation fuel costs go up more? I’m aware that there’s been some research in changing the composition of jet fuels to including other then fossil fuel components (to decrease soot & other pollutant production) but that won’t do much for all the small aircraft. Including the ones that use avgas or leaded fuel. There’s been some effort to introduce fuels w/less lead but it remains unknown how well that will go. Most other developed nations have phased out aircraft that requires leaded fuel.

    But if the subsidies end and big folks can’t fly their private jets everywhere they want to go will they stay? Or is Hillsboro just another “house of cards”?



    Having separation from cars is an issue for the majority of people who would consider bicycling. Installing a simple separation from motor vehicles with stripes for bike lanes on relatively calm streets that are connected into a closely network may encourage more people to ride. Bike lanes not only separate bicycles from motor vehicles, its also a form of traffic calming. Putting bike lanes on wide residential streets is not going to be repeated elsewhere in the city, but traffic calming on residential streets for bicycles is.

    A connected network is supposed to be the most important aspect for getting people to use a bicycle for transportation. These bike lanes in Wilmington are almost all connected into a compact network. Having bikeways conveniently located nearby is also supposed to have an impact on whether people choose to bicycle. That’s also the situation for at least part of Wilmington.

    Your assumption seems to be that that these closely knit network of bike lanes in Wilmington won’t make much of a impact increasing the rate of bicycling for various reasons. My guess is that it probably will based on averages of bike lane installations in other large cities in the U.S. and experiments that took place in the Netherlands. Its certainly not an ideal layout of mostly short bike lanes for a community, but not getting a perfect network (or any network at all) is the norm, rather than an exception for the U.S.

    The bicycle commuting rate in Wilmington is about 20% above the average for the city of LA. Crime, pollution and police harassment can certainly be deterrents to bicycling and that’s another reason why having all these bike lanes installed there will give a good indication of whether this will make a significant change in the rate of bicycling. If it works in Wilmington, then its likely that it would work in most areas of LA.

    If this does make a significant difference, then it should show up in the Census Bureau household survey results for bicycle commuting. This is about the only way to make the most accurate comparisons between communities or cities. If the zip code for Wilmington has a significant increase compared to other zip code areas in LA, then the five-year average results by zip code should reflect that. Unfortunately, it could take 2 or more years before that can be determined as the results are of the primary means of transportation to work. Just going by average results of other cities from bike lane installations, the bicycle commuting rate in Wilmington should at least double as a result of the miles of bike lanes installed.

    The LADOT put a large amount of bike lanes in Wilmington because it was looking to install a large amount of bike lane miles and Wilmington had the space to put them in. There really wasn’t any other reason than that. Mayor Villaraigosa had a goal of having more bike lane miles under his administration than all the other mayors previous and that’s the main reason why the DOT looked any and everywhere for places to put them. The council member for the area seems to be supportive of of putting in the bike lanes–which certainly helps since some of the streets required a road diet to put in bike lanes, though the streets had excess capacity which enabled the LADOT to put them in without necessarily getting an individual council member approval.

    I really don’t get it when someone mentions all of these other things that are required to get people to bicycle in a poor area besides infrastructure. Having a bicycle is the first thing you need, but without a place to ride, that item is pretty useless. Infrastructure is really the most important part of the equation.

    The fact that about 3/4 of the commuting trips in areas such as Watts or Boyle Heights are done in a car that probably cost at least $7,500, rather than on a $75 bicycle, seems to be completely ignored. Also, monthly transit passes are over $100, or $1,200 a year–the cost of using a bicycle is a mere fraction of that.

    You stated that access to co-ops or affordable bikes and repairs can be a key and that for some of the poor, even minor repairs can really set them back. Most of the workers in these communities are commuting in cars that cost them thousands of dollars or hundreds of dollars per year in transit costs. Co-ops, affordable bikes and repairs will naturally occur once the infrastructure to ride a bicycle on is in place and people take up bicycling in greater numbers.

    Here’s an example of a high crime and very high poverty city where bikeways were installed and made a significant difference in people’s lives–Bogota Columbia:

    Don’t expect communities to suggest that bike lanes or paths are what they need to better their lives. To most communities in the U.S. bicycles have very little relevance to their lives, its just not an important subject to them. Its fighting an uphill battle to get bikeways installed where it takes away space from motor vehicles. Getting community support for bicycling in any area where car travel dominates is difficult.

    You state that low income Latino residents are concerned about gentrification. In other words, if improvements are made to their community, then it will make it more desirable to live there and likely run up the cost of housing or businesses. So what’s the alternative, do nothing to improve their living conditions?

    Bicycling advocacy involves a very small amount of people. Expecting it to cure all of the social ills before it can succeed at getting a significant increase for bicycling in poorer areas is simply not true. Just getting bicycle infrastructure installed has been shown time and time again to get more people to bicycle. The population density of an area is much more of a indication of the rate of bicycling that can be expected, rather than the income or crime level of an area.

    The fact that people who tend to advocate and go to meetings are usually more educated is not a detriment. Rising water floats all boats. Getting more people to bicycle does the same thing. CicLAvia provided some of the political motivation to set aside Measure R money for pedestrians and bicycles. The higher costs involved with bicycle sharing might be seen as an extravagance for more well to do people, but if it gets more people trying bicycling for daily trips, it will then break down some of the resistance of installing bicycle infrastructure.

    Asking communities what designs they want or need to improve transportation is expecting them to be traffic engineers, which they are not. Again, bicycle infrastructure will rarely be on their list for transportation that will improve their lives.

    Here’s an example of a change in intersection design that had not been tried before and the community seemed skeptical that it would work, but without it the community might have disappeared:



    It’s already been done with modern motor vehicles and modern traffic levels.
    This video shows it done at an intersection where one road was 12,000 vehicles a day:

    There’s another video out there somewhere which shows an area entirely congested and backed up with all sorts of traffic control devices. Once they were removed and the roads modified appropriately the congestion vanished.

    Most of the thick traffic, the congestion, as we know it today, is due to two related problems. Traffic control devices and a lack of swift acceleration that destroys throughput. The third is a subset of these two, people who don’t pay attention to their surroundings. Vehicles build up in the system. Keep them moving and congestion drops. Force people to pay attention to what they are doing. The system as it is today builds better idiots. The solution to every problem is to dumb things down so people are attracted to more distraction.

    “I should note that although conventional private autos are absolutely the wrong tool for the job in urban areas,”

    That’s your opinion, it’s not a fact. I don’t want to get mired into a argument of the merits of private automobiles, it’s all opinions. But free people should choose as they see fit. The problem is that people want to legislate their opinions and force them upon others through the political process. Someone who does so for mopeds or chainsaw engine bicycles or pogo sticks or buses or anything else is no better than those who do so for automobiles. Hence the political battle to reserve spaces. Let the government legislate buses as the primary movers and the result will probably be as or more miserable than the present. The problem isn’t the mode, it’s the principle that political power decides.


    Joe R.

    My idea of fast is the same as yours-minimize the need to stop by getting rid of traffic control devices. The problem is unless we take active steps to discourage auto use in urban areas there will be too many vehicles to let us get rid of traffic control devices. If you look at that 1920 picture, note there are actually enough natural gaps in traffic for people to get across the street. Would a street like that work in midtown Manhattan at today’s traffic levels? Absolutely not because the traffic volume is too high. There would be times when people just couldn’t get across the street. Or if drivers were polite enough to actually slow or stop to let that happen occasionally, you’ll essentially be back to the stop-and-go which exists now.

    The only solution is to get rid of the least space efficient type of traffic in dense urban areas-namely private autos and taxis. Now this still doesn’t necessarily preclude not having traffic levels which are too high for uncontrolled intersections but it makes it a lot more likely. Moreover, suppose eventually you get, say, too many bikes. Bikes are fairly light, so it’s relatively cost effective to put the bikes on an unobtrusive viaduct so they stay in motion. That in turn reduces traffic levels down below back to where you wouldn’t need to install traffic controls.

    If on the other hand, you have too many large motor vehicles, what are your solutions if you want “1920″ surface streets? In theory you could put them above or below the streets but that’s extremely costly. It also won’t necessarily help much because eventually all these motor vehicles will need to leave the highway to reach their final destination. Nor would it help with air pollution (another issue when you have large numbers of motor vehicles in a small space). And then where do you park all these vehicles? That uses up a huge amount of street space to benefit a really small number of users. Really, there are no viable solutions here to allow large numbers of autos in urban areas and still have streets with no traffic controls. It only worked in 1920 because auto ownership, particularly in urban areas, was relatively rare. We really didn’t see very high levels of urban auto ownership until after WWII. Remember also, even in 1920, traffic levels were starting to get high enough in places to necessitate traffic cops, and eventually traffic signals.

    I love the concept of uncontrolled roads. I also realize the concept totally breaks down when traffic exceeds a certain level. Indeed, that fact is true even with pedestrian traffic. I’ve been in “pedlock” in places like Rockefeller Center around the holidays, although this could have been alleviated if the decision were made to close the adjacent streets to motor traffic so pedestrians could use them. The bottom line though is space constraints force us to make a decision as to which types of traffic get priority in urban areas. I would love that it wasn’t so, but it is. I suppose we could eventually redesign our cities with multiple levels to get around this issue. Right now the money doesn’t exist for that. Neither does the political will. Also, there is the weird opposition of many livable streets advocates to any type of grade-separated infrastructure, even when it’s the best solution.

    I absolutely agree here control freaks are the reason uncontrolled streets aren’t used more often, even in places which have low enough traffic levels for them to work. Indeed, you hear opposition whenever it’s suggested deactivating traffic signals in places like Central Park at times when cars aren’t allowed in the park. I’ve also heard nonsense about replacing the flashing yellow “yield-to-peds” lights which exist on some bike lanes running adjacent to parks with regular traffic lights “to get bikes used to stopping”. That’s not about safety, but about control. If we both want uncontrolled streets, a good first step might be to ensure that traffic signals don’t continue to be used in places where they’re really not needed. It would also be nice to start having unneeded traffic signals removed to gradually get motorists used to the concept of uncontrolled intersections.

    Finally, I should note that although conventional private autos are absolutely the wrong tool for the job in urban areas, there’s not necessarily anything fundamentally precluding the use of “motorized” vehicles. Think e-bikes and e-velomobiles. Both take up no more space than their human-powered counterparts. Both offer the same door-to-door convenience. Neither pollutes. Human-sized motorized vehicles can have a big place in our future cities. They’re perfectly compatible with uncontrolled streets. Once they leave the city center they can potentially move at much higher speeds than their human-powered counterparts. Indeed, a 750 watt e-velomobile could easily move at 60 or 70 mph if suitable infrastructure existed for it.



    So you would simply change the domination based on your opinion of what’s best. And that’s the fundamental problem. There’s no principle behind it, just opinion and political power. It’s the same thing we have now, but the dominating opinion, the dominating political group changes (on the surface anyway).

    There’s nothing revolutionary about taking over the political levers and prioritizing roads based on your own opinion over the opinion of those that were displaced. It’s the same thing at the level of principle.

    As to speed. I like to walk fast, bike fast, and drive fast. But I have a different idea of fast than most people here for urban travel. Minimize time from a to b. That usually means maintaining a speed between 15 and 30mph. Maintaining meaning not needing to stop every few feet, no queuing, etc. Stopping every few feet requires moving faster when moving. If always moving the necessary velocity is lower.

    I started reading this article figuring it would be the usual nonsense, but as I am on occasion I was surprised. In this case to see that 1920 photo. The idea of shared space which leads to near constant movement because the traffic control devices are gone. The problem with it is that it doesn’t work for control freaks. People who want to prioritize their opinion of what’s best. Road use is boiled down to the most simple mutually agreed upon rules and that’s it. Spontaneous order, that is Anarchy, the control freak’s worst nightmare.

    Ultimately that’s why we are told we must pick a side. Because it doesn’t matter what side wins, just so long as one of them does. So long as people accept the principle that the political structure dictates, that’s just fine be it automobiles, buses, trains, bicycles, or pogo sticks. So long as we accept the principle behind the idea that the winners’ opinion gets shoved down our throats.


    Mike Dunlap

    An art museum, an old, pretty park, a building with architecture… you know, stuff with beauty and substance that can’t be found in the cul de sacs.


    Kevin Love

    “Investments in people and programming around infrastructure can be important in making residents feel it is safe for them to be in the streets.”

    This is what is called “Social Safety.” For example, when entering a cycling underpass it should always be possible to see through to the other side. That way I know that nobody is lurking there.

    Yes, this is addressed by the CROW standards and proper Dutch infrastructure. See:

    An excerpt of social safety infrastructure rules:

    “You should always be able to see out of any tunnel as you enter it.

    Blind corners on paths are not acceptable.

    Cycle paths should be wide to allow cyclists to move out of the way of others.

    A low crime rate and a good conviction rate are needed. Cyclists should not feel that the police do not take their complaints seriously.

    Areas that are clean, litter free, graffiti free, where grass is mowed and plants are not allowed to overhang the cycle path have a better feeling of social safety.

    Cycle paths should be lit at night so that you can see potential muggers, obstacles on the path etc.”



    Anecdotal, but I’ve been bike-commuting in NYC for the last ten years, and there’s been an amazing difference in car-driver behavior the last 2 years. Twice this summer, I’ve had a car slow down to let me into their lane so I could pass another bike – unimaginable 3 years ago. Drivers now routinely treat me the same as a car at 4-way stop signs, which still confuses the heck out of me, after 10 years of feeling completely invisible. It’s night & day compared to just a few years ago.



    One could find a lot of pretty spots in the pre-1920 suburbs, you certainly could in the Bay Area. The pre-1920 suburbs were also built around streetcar lines or commuter rail stations. It’s the post-1950 auto only suburbs that give us much more of the parking and asphalt above all esthetic.



    I’m assuming this post is responding to me, but I’m not clear on what your point is or what I said that you are responding to? Or if it is that you have an issue with the equity report? And your examples are rather confusing… the case of Wilmington, for example, is problematic in that it seems to have been a case of the lowest-hanging fruit and a way for agencies to claim bike lanes were striped, even if they were on very wide streets where no community process/street adjustments were necessary, safety (from cars) was not necessarily an issue, and don’t really enhance connectivity (going mostly north-south, but not connecting effectively to each other). It is also a bit ironic that in a port zone with some of the worst air quality — so bad that there are days people are warned not to go outside — that they have all these lanes to help them get “healthy.” Community advocates made some of the same complaints I did above, which were that, in addition to the air issues, gang activity and police harassment keep cyclists from feeling that they could actually access the infrastructure. They also felt like the lanes were a way for the city to be able to say they had done this positive thing for them without actually making a move to deal with the deeper environmental issues and neglect their community has endured over the years.

    The Cedillo example is not helpful either — just because he’s Latino doesn’t mean he can’t be as dumb and obstinate as any other politician. His reasons for opposing a bike lane are responding to his own weird logic, not any clear commitment to the community. He claimed to want to promote ped. safety first, but the pedestrian conditions along, say, Cypress, or around the area where they are rebuilding the Riverside bridge, are absolutely abysmal. Half or more of the lights are out on Cypress and the sidewalks are narrow, cracked up, and missing curb cuts. And, there are genuine concerns in that community among the longer-term, lower-income Latino residents about gentrification and the rapid turnover seen along York potentially taking hold along Figueroa. And it’s not something the bike advocates really addressed in that first round of battles with Cedillo (not that he genuinely cares about these himself, for the record). “Bikes mean business” is a favorite mantra, but the truth is that they don’t mean business for everyone, and it is often the immigrant-owned businesses that lose out in an area undergoing gentrification. There are a lot of great folks fighting the good fight for the lane there, and they’re working to broaden their base now…hopefully that will bear fruit and strengthen community relations at the same time.

    Again, I’m not sure what you were responding to but my main points in my first comment were that infrastructure is important, but that infrastructure alone isn’t enough –either to count as equity or to reap the same results as they might in a different location, or to fit the different visions different communities have for what constitutes livability. And its why it is important that efforts be made to ensure that everyone have a place at the table.



    Thanks for this interview. I loaned my copy of Fighting Traffic to someone, and it is gone. Just ordered a new copy. :-)


    Joe R.

    I think this sentence needs a little qualification:

    The prioritization of speed is a driver’s priority. In cities, if we value speed excessively we end up transforming the city into something that’s not a city. I think we’ve suburbanized our cities in ways that make bad suburbs and bad cities.

    I think prioritization of speed in cities, particularly large dense megalopolises, is extremely important, but the modes which should be prioritized are rail, buses, bikes, and pedestrians. Also to a lesser extent we should make things relatively fast for delivery vehicles. There should be no effort made to prioritize speed for private automobiles unless this can be done without impacting other modes. In most dense cities it can’t be. A lot of automobile traffic means traffic signals. Those in turn can double or triple travel times for pedestrians/cyclists. You should be able to make any trip in a city by bike or foot at an average speed close to whatever your walking/cycling speed is. Travel times by bus or train should be determined mainly by the number of stops and the vehicle performance characteristics. There should be minimal or no delays from other sources. It should be accepted that getting around by private auto in cities will be slow, circuitous, and inconvenient compared to public transit or biking or walking. Private autos have their place, but after 100 years we can safely say they have little or no place in urban transportation. They’re the wrong tool for the job. That’s really the best way to explain to those who see the movement to restrict auto use in cities as some sort of agenda. It isn’t. Would you use a sledgehammer to push in a thumb tac? We don’t need millions of people driving figurative sledgehammers putting big cracks in the urban landscape.



    I have read this book when it first came out. Use parts of it in developing our RTP. Its chronology of cultural attitude adaptation and the development of a science “out of thin air” continue to play out today. In demanding “complete streets” and streets for all people we are echoing the voices of people 100 years ago. Would recommend this book to those who challenge the auto-centric norms. Why? Undoing the socialization of the auto over the last 100 years will require understanding the history of it all. We need this understanding going forward so as not to create a same but different future.


    Mandie Haberman

    Now THAT is awesome.


    Anne A

    That’s been my experience in Chicago. Majority white neighborhoods got the biggest bike infra projects first. I live in an integrated, diverse neighborhood on the far south side and have formed partnerships with black advocates in majority black neighborhoods to push for more/better bike infra in those neighborhoods. This year we’re starting to see results in a big way after years of advocacy work.



    Most people do most of their driving during their commutes, so if they’re transit commuters that just run errands by auto, they already drive far less than the average American. And once you’re in a suburb designed for easy parking, keeping an additional cheap car around is pretty low cost in money & effort.

    Even in ‘walkable’ suburbs, adults don’t do all that much walking without trying to. But they don’t drive huge distances, and their kids can walk to school & friends’ houses & stuff. And walkable suburbs are generally pretty bikeable, too, even if biking isn’t common there yet. That’s something I can see becoming a lot more significant as the millenial generation ages into needing family-sized spaces, which are usually more affordable in the suburbs. Even since I left 8 years ago, a lot more people have started biking in my parents’ streetcar suburb, and they apparently just laid down green lanes and bike boxes on a local main drag:

    Most of ‘urban’ Portland has a pretty similar layout to other 1900-1940 era streetcar suburbs, and was pretty easily retrofit to a nontrivial bike/transit modeshare. It’s not full-bore traditional walkable urbanism, but it’s a lot less car dependent than the postwar norm, and can densify to have urbanized nodes if the zoning permits.


    Andy B from Jersey

    You’re totally missing my point. I’m not saying that LAB has to ONLY represent the needs of the 2%, just the contrary! They NEED to represent the needs of the 2% AND all the other potential and/or transportation cyclists out there! In my opinion the are failing miserably at representing the needs of the enthusiast who are their membership base. And without a membership base, you don’t have an organization!

    They claim to represent 57 million Americans who ride bicycles but they only have 25,000 paying members (a pathetically low number). They also claim to have 300,000 affiliated cyclists.* These are people who are members of various LAB sanctioned cycling clubs from all across the nation, almost all of whom would be considered enthusiasts. What have they done for the 300,000 lately? Not much in my opion but leach off their membership dues as they go off on their still well meaning and admirable “political correctness” campaign!

    Again, I do not disapprove of the LAB’s campaign of making cycling more accessible to all Americans. They just need to remember who their membership base is again.

    * – Source: American Bicyclists Sep. – Oct. 2014



    Which makes you wonder, what does everyone else know that this driver doesn’t? Massive earthquake in 3…2…



    Andy B – the problem with your approach is the the number of ‘super commuters’ or people who have high end bicycles represents a very small fraction of the population. Yes, they are passionate about bicycling, but it means *nothing* if you are trying to influence the political process to make significant safety changes on streets or promote bicycle access. If only 2% of the constituents of a councilor, supervisor, or legislator are in that demographic then they aren’t going to do anything to help, even if the only thing you want are laws to preserve access to the streets by vehicular cyclists.

    Read the comments below – when you have people like the Latino councilor refusing to endorse removal of a car lane to slow down traffic that’s not a failure of enthusiasm, it’s a failure of advocacy, because that person doesn’t see any reason to help people who ride bikes. They are simply not part of his constituency. Building broad based support for bicycle improvements helps everyone, though – even those that ride the high end bicycles, because the more people you have out riding, the safer it will be, and the broader support there will be for changes that will make cycling safer for *everyone*.




    Kenny Easwaran

    No one is actually color blind in the relevant sense you mention. We all form implicit associations around people based on all sorts of visual characteristics, including race. Just as a driver will pass you closer if you’re wearing a helmet than not (even without realizing it), we’ll all interact differently with people if they look like they fit into a different social class. Pretending to be color blind means that you completely ignore these differences.


    Kevin Love

    Since you mentioned Mr. Hembrow…

    Here is his look at immigrant communities cycling. See:

    Note that almost all immigrant communities have double-digit cycling mode share. A close miss is the Turkish community with “only” 9% cycling mode share.

    This is probably due to Islam discouraging women from cycling. Here is a quite disturbing article about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to discourage women cycling:


    Kevin Love

    You are looking at whether or not neighborhoods have infra. Which is indeed a class/racial issue.

    The article talked about what kind of infra to use. That is most emphatically not.

    For example, putting a bike lane in the door zone of adjacent parked cars makes that bike lane the most dangerous place on the entire road in which to ride a bicycle. It makes no difference if the cyclist is black or white or blue or pink.


    Ali Atif

    Perfectly written piece of information. Managed Parking Gatwick aslo makes the airport more attractive and nice.
    meet and greet parking



    So what are bike advocates doing to exclude non-whites?



    Ironically, these pictures are very romantic.



    In computer terms, you’re correct. In practical human terms, being noninclusive does equal exclusive, especially when history is excluded.