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    Joe R.

    The goal of any form of transportation is ultimately to get where you’re going as fast as possible, subject of course to the particular constraints of the mode and safety. Speed is secondary only to safety for any other mode. I see no reason we should accept otherwise for bicycles.

    Speed and safety are not incompatible when it comes to good bicycle infrastructure. Granted, sometimes the end result is increased cost but in general that’s the price you pay for speed increases in any mode. The nice thing is even great bicycle infrastructure is dirt cheap compared to anything else. The problem is cycling advocates have been so afraid to ask for enough money to build decent infrastructure that we often end up settling for whatever can be done with only paint.

    Room for passing is important regardless of the type of riders you have or else if the path is crowded all riders will be stuck behind the slowest rider. Just as a 20 mph cyclist can’t stand being stuck behind a 12 mph cyclist, I highly doubt your average 12 mph cyclist would appreciate being stuck behind a child cyclist going 6 mph for many blocks.

    There’s another reason for the focus on speed-bicycles are pretty much unique in the transportation world in that stops are burdensome, and any given cyclist can only stop/start a limited number of times in a trip. Any focus on increasing speed, which in practice means limiting the number of stops/slowdowns, will benefit cyclists of all abilities, not just fast ones. It’s not only much more efficient to ride without stopping or slowing, but it’s also a heck of a lot more pleasant. In the end we need to realize travel time factors heavily into a person’s decision of which mode to use. If we map out bike routes where even an average rider can get there as fast or faster than driving (not too difficult in places with heavy motor traffic congestion) then we’ll actually succeed in getting large numbers of people to switch from car to bike. On the other hand, just making biking safer, but very slow, isn’t going to attract a lot of converts. In that case, many of those biking might be former public transit users or walkers.


    Adam Herstein

    It’s all just theatrics.



    Here’s a real patriot – thumbs up to Miller!


    Oregon Mamacita

    I flagged both comments because they are an attempt to reveal the identity of a fellow blogger. I do not know who “Alison Cohen” is. It is intersting, folks, how the only response to my charges of unethical behavior, all the pro-Alta folks can do is make an ad hominem attack on someone named “Alsion.” You have no facts on your side- the facts are clear in Portland. Alta accepted an unearned progress payment. Read the news.



    If you read the paper, you’d see they take into account income differences – wealth doesn’t play a factor in their final analysis.



    Yeah, and what the VC-only crowd seems to miss is that you can go just as fast or faster on good bike-specific infrastructure. For example, with a protected intersection you get a freebie no-stop right turn on a red/stop sign which you never get biking vehicularly. All of a sudden half of all your turns are fast and stop-free.

    I think the VC-only crowd may just not have experience biking on pervasive, good bike-specific infrastructure. The objections sound theoretical to me. In practice it works excellently practically all the time. That can’t be said about VC.


    Phantom Commuter

    More benefits for rich communities


    Fay Nissenbaum

    that makes this much clearer. thx.


    Fay Nissenbaum

    thank you



    and in a more shocking revelation.

    The sun provides light in the daytime.



    Thanks to you as well Richard, for your thoughtful comments as well as for your participation in these important NCUTCD recommendations.

    With regards to engineering institutions being “averse to change”, I understand that need when it comes to federal standards but have always thought that it should be applied as a “lead from behind” approach in terms of how bikeways are designed and built locally. At least here in California, the bike planners I work with are constantly stymied by the legal liability associated with diverging from state standards, and unable to simply use their professional judgement and incorporate progressive bikeway treatments that are known to attract more cyclists and encourage safety. There are usually a number of years between editions of the MUTCD, and then some time before that update transfers to the state edition, and even then new local projects which incorporate the new standards aren’t actually constructed for another few years. In the meantime a lot of things can change, and a lot of opportunities can be missed.

    Instead the trickle-down approach of federal to state to local guidance should be reversed, so that cities with enough staff and resources are allowed to design progressive facilities and standards from the ground up (no, state-sanctioned experiments alone aren’t good enough, as they are limited and require otherwise unnecessary installation phases and data collection). Then, the information gleaned from these local facilities can be compiled into state and then federal guidelines, for the purpose of allowing smaller cities without dedicated bike planning staff to install similar facilities without all of the extra overhead required.

    There is some legislation in the works here in California to give local planners this kind of flexibility, but it is definitely frustrating knowing how many good plans and ideas had to be scrapped along the way.



    Agreed, but the Dutch approach is way more expensive, and in my neck of the woods we are struggling to even get the above sort of designs approved. There really needs to be a sea change on a national level as to how we fund and construct bike infrastructure in urban environments.



    We can only hope that the 8-80 crowd have the opportunity to do all the things you’ve done, Caryn.


    Karen Loewen

    Good bye Streetsblog USA. I stumbled upon you on FB. I’m glad I came but I’m glad I’m leaving too. It’s like sitting in a room with people on other side of the your political spectrum. You spend a lot of time shaking your head. Sad thing is that we are all cyclists butting heads and destroying our cause from the inside. Sad.

    I’m thinking your should change your name to “Sidepaths USA” or “Cyclepath USA” or “Protected USA” or “Buffered USA” so as to not drag in people who are happy to ride in the street.

    Because putting the wors Street in your title is an oxymoron. And quite funny. In a really sad sort of way.


    Karen Loewen

    Thanks for the conversation Romeo. I am not a warrior. I’m a 47 year old woman who rides her bike to work – in traffic. That doesn’t need someone to make special arrangements and build special things for her. That doesn’t think the other drivers are terrible. That took the time to learn what makes her safe. That hopes she doesn’t get forced into some “sense of safety” facility designed and promoted by people who haven’t done the same things she has.

    I’m so glad I got to hear your input. Makes my mind so much clearer.

    Good luck to you.


    Richard C. Moeur

    Joining the discussion a bit late here.

    Thanks to Ms. Schmitt for noting that this is but one step – albeit an important one. These recommendations will now go to FHWA for possible inclusion in the next edition of the MUTCD. Note that these are just the latest in a longer list of bicycle-focused recommendations approved by NCUTCD since 2010 – see for the full list. Also, when the draft MUTCD is sent out for public comment as part of rulemaking, anyone can comment, not just “engineering institutions that have historically been averse to change” (by the way, that careful and deliberate pace of change is usually a feature, not a bug.) :)

    Whether these devices and treatments “make American streets safer for biking” will depend on how well and wisely they are used. The MUTCD will define the sign, marking, or other device and give very basic rules – other design guidance, such as that published by ITE and other reputable organizations, will more thoroughly cover their appropriate placement and application.

    For one example: on streets with a contraflow bike lane, it may not be best to use ONE WAY signs, as the street is a two-way street – just one way for motorized modes. If road users can be given the clear impression that two-way traffic is expected, that could help in reducing the risk of conflicts and crashes based on incorrect expectations.

    And one final restatement of the obvious: if yer gonna disagree, disagree on the issues and facts, and don’t make assumptions as to the character and motivations of the person or organization you’re disagreeing with. We deliberately have a diversity of viewpoints in the technical committee, and one of the things that’s expected is to work the issue based on data, observations, experience, and good judgment, and not be distracted by the person/group/faction. I think we get much better product that way.



    That’s what I’m saying…VC isn’t going to be turning onto a sidewalk that isn’t a drive way, so why are you so worried about getting over there in the middle of the street? There’s no business to get to over there. Only a scofflaw would be trying to get over there without the divider…why are you so worried about allowing the scofflaw over there? This isn’t the holy end-all be-all solution, no one’s ever claimed it ought to be. It works in some places, oh noes!

    And wait a minute…since you disapprove of this horrible device, you’ll be riding the 8 blocks around it, anyway. No one’s made the well-trained warriors who are so clever that they don’t even need to be brave go through here…even if you came on a Bike-to-Work Day Commuter Convoy with your supervisor, you’d still be quite welcome to eschew the contra-flow lane.

    You’re a warrior, you credit it to your well-educated street skills but I bet you are willing to ride where many others don’t, won’t, or will with anxiety and reservation. I bet the 8-80 crowd doesn’t follow in your treadmarks even with a formal class under their belts.

    But I guess you know what’s best for absolutely every conceivable situation; if you like it, you’d better put a car in it.


    Jeremi Czarnecki

    I am not quite sure what the chart above is supposed to represent, but what I am reading from it is that the closer people live to “Connect2″ (whatever it is, not explicitly explained in the article) the more likely they are to use it (DUH!). Secondly, the proximity of said “Connect2″ seems IRELLEVANT for the amount of walking and cycling they get every week.


    Karen Loewen

    I also stumbled upon this blog by accident. It is always good to hear what others are thinking. After conversing with all you nice folks, I am even more sure that I am right in my stance. Thank you. Good luck to you.


    Karen Loewen

    I have never claimed to be a vehicular cyclist. You all made that assumption. You are right. It is not popular. But like any new idea, it grows and expands and new ideas come from it. I am a Savvy Cyclist. We believe that bikes and cars can drive on the same streets together in a compatible manner. We do expect to force anyone to do anything. We learn traffic dynamics and learn how to use them to our advantage. We control our lanes when we have other vehicles around us just like a motorcycle. We believe that slower speeds are to our advantage. We communicate with motorist and treat them with respect. We get respect from them. It’s been years since I had a nasty interaction with a motorist…it’s such a thing of the past, I don’t think about it…ever. As I said in a couple other posts, I believe that being part of the transportation system, as a transportation cyclist, is safe and fun. I am also not super brave or fast or strong on the bike. I am a 47 year old woman who drives her bike to work, to the grocery store, to the movie, to the post office… ANY WHERE I WANT TO GO. My most fearful moments come when riding in a bike lane that I am forced to ride in by folks who said they would be safer but really just wanted to move my butt out of their way. I am a Cycling Savvy instructor who is passionate about empowering people to be part of the transportation system.


    Karen Loewen

    So, you think we should make everyone where training wheels so the new ones can join us? We all started out as beginners. I am not a beast, or especailly fast and certainly not brave. YET, some how I learned to ride confidently and happily in traffic as part of the transportation system. I am not a vehicular cyclist. I am part of the transportation system. And I’m not interested in bringin a whole bunch of new cyclists in there unless they know what they are doing….so they can safely and without conflict with me get to your facilities. :*)


    Karen Loewen

    The vehicular cyclist? ride on the sidewalk?

    So, bottom line is in your protected lane you can’t make turns into driveways or businesses on the other side of the “buffer” ….you have to ride to the next intersection and then double back on the sidewalk to go back to the business you want to go to? Really? This sounds good to you?

    You may be an awesome warrior but I am just a person riding to work. I believe to use the transportation system, I don’t have to be fast, strong or brave. Just have to be educated on traffic dynamics and safe cycling practices.

    You hang in there with that warrior stuff in your buffered with plants bike lane. ;*)


    Karen Loewen

    The intersections at thos sstreets are dangerous…especially if you are out of the system in a bike lane or riding in the gutter. The fixes that you propose do not fix the intersections – they actually make them worse by putting us further out of the system. INVISIBLE to other vehicles in the system.



    Ah MamaCita aka Alison Cohen. Damaged Alta irreparably in NY, got let loose and now can’t bash her own work enough as if she was never there which is just wild. If you hire her new company you will have what happened in NY happen to you. Ethics anyone?


    Truth hurts

    Josh, can’t you stop yourself from posting incessantly on every bike share conversation? You are embarrassing yourself at this point no matter how many names you use. Only people who work in the industry post in these comments anyway. Pretty sad. Maybe you never win contracts because you are such an incredibly hard person to work for or with. I should know since I worked for you. No one wants to deal with this crap which is why Trek dispensed with you. You are a liability.


    John Ross

    The feds no little about P3s. What they do know is what they learned from the States and locals who actually DO P3s. Thus, to say the States can learn from the feds is false. The States learn from each other.


    Truth hurts

    I think it is hilarious that Alison Cohen who is the person who ran Alta Bike Share so poorly as President keeps posting on every thread anonymously because she can’t get her new company off the ground. Alison you are the one who is responsible for the NY mess which is the genesis of all of these problems and then got canned. So you and your friend Josh Squire should stop clogging the message boards with your crap under 12 different fake names and just admit your epic fails.



    A lot of the VCs are just like the car drivers that can’t stand the idea of anything slowing them down, including bikes in the slow bike lane where they don’t have room to pass. Their goal isn’t to increase cycling. It’s just to get where they’re going as fast as they can on a bike.



    What’s so perplexing about VC-as-policy is that even the VC-über-alles crowd tends to acknowledge the need for sidewalks, especially on busy roads. No one much seems to decry sidewalks on an important route as “inferior” or “segregation.” In fact, when someone does, it’s obviously a joke:

    High-quality walking-specific infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks, pedestrian-friendly timing, etc.) does a pretty great job of channeling people on foot.

    High-quality bike-specific infrastructure (e.g. cycletracks, bike-friendly timing, Bike Streets, contraflow lanes, etc.) does a pretty great job of channeling people on bike.

    VC-as-coping strategy is understandable. We all bike vehicularly at times as needed. Yet VC-as-infrastructure/modeshare-increasing strategy has proven to be laughably ineffective.



    I know intersections where bike boxes work, but to me this intersection is crying out for the Dutch design. It is way to complex.



    Vehicular cycling is a myopic yet utilitarian method for coping with crappy infrastructure, but not a realistic alternative to good bike facilities, at least not if one’s goal is to increase the number of people on bikes. Some proponents seem to fall into a sort of anachronistic Stockholm syndrome and argue against any sort of bicycle-specific facilities. VC patient zero John Forrester regularly accuses people who are not content with car-centric street design of having a “cyclist inferiority complex”, seemingly not cognizant that settling for infrastructure which doesn’t specifically address the needs and safety of bicyclists is in itself a self-imposed inferiority.

    It’s like wearing shoes five sizes too big. Yes, your feet will fit in them, but they are not comfortable, you’ll probably trip and get hurt, and you’ll certainly not convince many people to do the same. I get why some older advocates feel this way, as for many decades there was a constant struggle to even maintain a bicyclist’s right to the roadway, but it boggles my mind whenever I encounter anyone under 40 who still subscribes to this mentality.



    Yes, as I explained in the message you are replying to, very few streets where you need this treatment. An example of where the treatment is useful is Union St in Brooklyn between Nevins St and Bond St. If you look at a map you will see there is a body of water there, the Gowanus Canal. The very same thing that makes this treatment useful, no streets going West nearby, also means there is not a single driveway to be concerned about.



    It’s fine and noble to educate people (who are interested) to use the current system, but the percentage of people who are interested on that level is quite small. Good infrastructure goes a long way towards encouraging more of the Interested but Concerned to consider taking up biking to get around. Vehicular cycling has been a multi-decades-long failed experiment in turning all those people off. Thankfully, things like good infra and bikeshare have proven to be big modeshare boosters.



    Whoa, I thought the martyr manuever was from the VC handbook.



    Unable to answer my question, but I’ll answer yours anyway. Since I’m talking about a real thing, not an imaginary straw-intersection, it’s pretty easy to answer how and why this stretch of road works.

    You don’t make mid-block turns out of the protected lane. (VC refrain: Oh noes I’m being repressed!) Nor are the dangerous cars coming the opposite direction allowed to cross it. Guess what, this is strategically located in a place where one doesn’t need to. Were this road 2-way regular traffic, the Vehicular Cyclist would need to ride to the nearest intersection as there are no driveways to turn in to and it wouldn’t be vehicularly legal to cross the opposing traffic lane to ride up on the sidewalk on the other side.

    The signal, which is no different than if the street was 2 way for all traffic, appears to work just fine. I’m sure it was more costly than nothing. Is doing nothing the only thing allowed, now? Odd that the cycling population started increasing in my city when we quit ‘doing nothing’, when people just need to get over it and go use the existing facilities already.

    I, too, am a prime example of a skilled, healthy, urban cyclist who is generally at ease riding around those death monsters with angry, distracted humans at their helms. We are indeed awesome warriors astride our nimble steeds!



    It seems that you are asserting that paint should be put on the roads for car traffic and pedestrians, and *that* paint is important and we should obey it, but any paint put on the road for bicycles is useless and should be ignored. Do you disagree? Should we not ignore the bicycle paint? Should we ignore the car and pedestrian paint?

    And surely you know that it is legal to drive a car (but not a bicycle) on the sidewalks of NY City.



    Citations would be lovely, especially a careful explanation of the differences (that you seem to think are significant). I was an Effective Cyclist for years, I know the dogma well, and you certainly sound like an Effective Cyclist to me, with the exception that you claim to be something else. But except for the label, same ideas.

    My main problem with Effective Cycling is that it is clearly unpopular, and is myopically focused only on crash deaths. The greatest risk of death and disability comes from diseases of the unfit brought on by not-cycling, not from crashing while cycling. For someone my age it’s an order of magnitude difference, for the population in general the mortality rate for non-bicycle commuters is 39% higher, and even for teenagers and young adults cycling (as badly as it is often done in practice) is still safer than driving, even considering only crash deaths. This myopic focus on an unpopular dogma that is alleged to reduce deaths by avoiding crashes costs far more lives overall through pervasive lack of exercise than it can possibly save through crashes avoided. Yet the Effective Cyclists claim to be the guys with the dispassionate and rational approach to risk.



    Karen Loewen

    What’s you name Dr. 2 Chase? Thanks – I am doing a pretty good job! This silly article showed up on my FB feed. I am glad to know that Streetsblog is the martyr blog. Good to know.



    You’re right, I didn’t really answer your question, but it was because I got caught up with the “experts have said cyclists should ride with the flow of traffic” part.
    (Though the original article isn’t a position piece about contra-flow, it’s reporting a change to standards that includes allowing and design specs for them.)

    The advantage of a contra-flow lane vs. what?

    CFL vs Not having a lane: The advantage is that you can legally get through there + all the advantages of having a dedicated, demarked (and ideally protected) lane vs. not having a lane. CFL vs. a bike lane that has a regular traffic lane on the expected side (left US, right UK): Both lanes being equally set out, I’d imagine the regular one would win almost every time.

    No one’s advocating throwing contra-flow lanes in as a replacement for regular bike lanes, on every one-way street, blindly ignoring the likelihood of drivers to understand, etc. But there are cases where this may make a lot of sense and improve cycling access.

    The contra-flow doc is pretty short:

    Heck, they even reccomend NOT using “ONE WAY” signs in such a case, as the road is not one way, it is one way for auto-traffic. They also mention driveways.


    Karen Loewen

    Gee. That’s nice.


    Karen Loewen

    Keep on believing! Mean while wouldn’t it be a good idea to teach folks to use the system we have. I use it every day. Cycling is fun and safe if you are educated. I don’t need paint to think for me. You don’t either.


    Karen Loewen

    How do you make turns off of those protected bike lanes? How do you get across intersections with those 6″ high 3 ‘ wide berm filled plant things? Oh yeah…phased signals. We can’t get bike lanes paid for…they are just chomping at the bit to pay for new signals, aren’t they?

    I share lanes every day….don’t get hooked or crossed….except when I’m forced to ride in a bike lane.

    Please be concerned for yourself….GULP.


    Karen Loewen

    PS: list you real name hero.


    Karen Loewen

    First of all, I haven’t spouted any Effective Cycling anything. I am a CSI and a member of the ABEA…but I have only posted about the rules of movement here – the way our transportation system is designed to work. The basic rules that keep it running efficiently – so we don’t end up with India.

    If you must know, I have been riding my bike for transportation for many years – I no longer drive a car. I have ridden all over the country and some out of the country.

    The ONLY times I have had conflicts with motorists was when I was not part of the system…in a bike lane or on the sidewalk mostly at the intersections. Joining the system has made every ride I have fun and safe.

    Listening to folks like you, who speak of Effective Cycling in a derogatory manner is funny to me. Especially when you support a contra flow bike lane. And comparing EC to CS is truly uninformed. You have no idea what you are talking about and obviously are a gutter bunny martyr that thinks someone needs to treat you special and build you something special so the other 2% mode share can feel special and safe.

    These special facilities in our current mode share are like leading the sheep to slaughter.

    I hate pitting cyclist against cyclist. Part of the reason we can’t accomplish change is because we are at each others throats. I guess my tone contributes to that BUT knowing the dangers or these facilities and knowing that if they build them they WILL FORCE ME TO RIDE IN THEM (JUST LIKE BIKE LANES) I can’t just sit back and watch you and yours make things more dangerous for me.

    Good luck in your contra flow bike lane. Please post the article should you get hit…if you life thru it.

    I call BS!



    You seem to imply that I’m more likely to be hit by a vehicle coming over a 6″ high, 3′ wide berm filled with plants into a contra-flow bike lane than to be hit by a car travelling in the same direction with an unprotected bike lane or shared lane (classic right hook, anyone?).

    That has me concerned. *Gulp* What do you recon the odds really are?



    We’re being Effectively Trolled.


    Karen Loewen

    LOL! Follow the thread. I’m quite sure you feel safer on the contro flow bike lane. But remember, feeling safe doesn’t make you safe. You are not. Hopefully you won’t find out the hard way. And should you find out the hard way, I have a feeling that you will continue to defend them. Just a hunch.



    You haven’t added a single thing yourself; I’ve looked at all your posts, and it’s assertion after assertion, ad hominem, accusations of ill intent and ignorance, yet you have provided not one link and one citation.

    And for all of your spouting of the Effective Cycling Dogma (perhaps rebranded as Cycling Savvy or Bicycle Driving), you don’t know the literature that well, if you didn’t recognize that citation. You claim to have done lots of research — but apparently not as much as me :-).


    Karen Loewen

    You clearly have nothing to add to this conversation. Have a good night.



    The advantage, at least where I ride, is that cyclists can often choose short quiet routes from point A to point B. It’s common in places like Cambridge to create 1-way streets to exclude noisy, dangerous car traffic — it has nothing to do with crashes, except perhaps for the pedestrians who live there. The quietest route to our local high school (and the least hilly, and relatively direct) includes one wrong-way block.

    Another way that gratuitous one-way streets hurt is when designated bike routes are one-way — if they were 2-way, it would be easier to remember the route (only need to know one, rather than two). So for example, in Cambridge the route from Fresh Pond to Harvard Square follows different routes there and back.

    A friend of ours lives in Cambridgeport, is not the boldest of cyclists, would like to put in some miles on a bike nonetheless. Her immediate neighborhood is a rat’s nest of one-way streets, all designed to funnel through-car-traffic into traffic sewers, and her too, if she obeys the law, if there are no counter-flow lanes.