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    Michael Klatsky

    How is eliminating the Federal role in transportation a bad thing?? Federal Highways were the initiators of sprawl and to this day, mandate wide roads and dangerous subdivisions. Left to local funds, we will see a much different development pattern – a return to the traditional development seen in every pre-war town in the country.



    Would You Pay 13 Cents an Hour for On-Street Bike Parking?


    Joe R.

    You’re right that bikes are more accepted now, and we probably have the bike lanes to thank for that. I recall starting one summer job during college which I could only get to by bike. The job lasted one day. They looked at me like I had two heads when I walked in with a bicycle. I walked out the same day.

    On the other hand, I had a job in 1987 where I asked the boss beforehand if he would mind if I kept the bike in the office. He had no problems. Funny thing was he almost shit his pants when he saw I had something like 25,000 miles on my odometer. Anyway, even back then there were small parts of the city which accepted bikes, mostly the poorer sections.

    As for riding in Manhattan, remember I’m not physically able to repeatedly start/stop or change speeds as would be needed in order to ride around there. I recall a trip I took to a friend’s place in Coney Island on a Sunday afternoon. Traffic was heavy enough in places such that I couldn’t pass many red lights even if I wanted to. I think I stopped at least 20 times going there. Going back wasn’t as bad since it was at 1 AM but the damage was done. I bonked on the climb after Hillside Avenue from the strain caused earlier in the day. I took me about 6 months before my legs felt normal again after that ordeal. Bottom line-I do serious damage to my body, including pulled ligaments, with repeated stopping/starting, so I won’t be going in or near Manhattan until I can be assured I’ll only need to stop at most a few times (and the trip takes 30 minutes or less each way).

    I might say we’re at the start of a Golden Age of bicycling if we take the next logical steps. Remember I’m not against surface bike lanes. In fact, I see them as a very necessary part of a complete bike network. I just feel a huge city like New York needs more than surface bike lanes. If NYC were only 2 miles across then the type of bike lanes we have now would be perfectly adequate but it’s not. Sure, the city did the right thing building surface bike lanes before even thinking about an elaborate system of viaducts. It should now complete that surface system and also get started on a system of bike highways to supplement it. Even the Netherlands is building something like this for travel between towns. NYC is really a collection of little “towns”, aka neighborhoods, if you think about, so this would make perfect sense here as well.


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Like you, I have been riding all around the City since long before I ever saw a bike lane. If you had asked me back in 1981, when I was 16 and rode to Manhattan for the first time, whether I “needed” bike lanes in order to ride, I would have said no. But I could not have imagined the difference that they have made.

    Not only is each street with a bike lane much more pleasant, but the aggregate effect of the appearance of bike lanes is that drivers now expect us. (They hate us — but they expect us.)

    Bike lanes have been a smashing success in New York City, most especially in Manhattan; and bike-riding has boomed in response. And the knock-on effects are undeniable: when we were kids, it was difficult to bring a bike into a bodega; I’d get chased out more often then not. Nowadays this is accepted without a qualm. 

    I bring my bike into bodegas, fruit/vegetable stores, anywhere that has room; and no one complains. Recently a new supermarket opened across the street from me on Jamaica Ave. I had gone there several weekends in a row, and got to know one of the cashiers. I commented to her that I can come only on weekends, because on weekdays I have my bike as I return from work. She said that of course I could bring my bike in. I was sceptical; but I tested it out one day. And, sure enough, I rolled my bike in, and leaned it against the carts (right in front of a manager); and all was well.

    The ultimate expression of this cultural shift came last year when I visited the upscale hat store Flight Club on Broadway. Figuring that they would be too uptight to allow my bike inside, I leaned it against the glass outside, and stepped a few steps into the store to look around. Whereupon a store employee *invited* me to bring it in!

    We now live in a different world to the one in which we grew up. And this is due to bike lanes. Bike lanes work; bike lanes are the answer to our problems. Even the imperfect ones (non-protected, or with other flaws in design) have a distinctly positive effect on our quality of life, both on the road itself, and in society in general. (This is why I get so angry at the bicyclists who threaten to screw it all up with their highly visible lawbreaking, as this bad behaviour causes resentment to bicycling, incites opposition to bike infrastructure, and is likely to lead to the loss of these wonderful lanes and to a screeching halt to all the progress that we have seen.)

    Any avid cyclist who avoids riding in Manhattan or in the bike-lane rich sections of Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Downtown) is just spiting himself/herself. Manhattan in particular has gone from jungle to bike wonderland in a few short years. And now is the time to enjoy it, because right now is the Golden Age of bicycling.


    Joe R.

    To reply briefly, a lot of what I propose hasn’t been done anywhere because until now, bikes haven’t really been on the radar anywhere as serious transportation for short to medium distance (up to ~15 miles) trips. Bike mode share will always at best remain in the single digits for longer trips(>15-20 miles), no arguing there, but we’re not even past the low single digits for <15 mile trips. Obviously a lot more can be done. I offered a bunch of ideas. If you think about, many thought the idea of a subway was loony when it was first proposed. Thankfully a hard core few managed to get those first subways built. After that, everyone wanted one.

    I'm not sure London's system is what I might have in mind. Paralleling railways is good (I've proposed that myself), but going 50 feet in the air is unnecessary most of the time. Also, the proposals for London look a lot like a car highway with long entrance ramps, many lanes, etc. Frankly, it's gross overkill even for a large city. Something along the lines of a 15-20 foot wide viaduct resembling a pedestrian overpass is probably sufficient for most of what would be needed here.

    Yes, local streets will still be needed for trips so that's a valid criticism. I should point out that I've mentioned many times it's mostly on arterials where the viaducts would be needed for safety/speed reasons. In many cases, the side streets you would take to finish the trip can do just fine as is. In some cases you might need a regular or protected bike lane but that should be it. You only need viaducts on a roughly 1 mile square grid to make a really useful system which puts everyone within about 1/2 mile of one. If you want to build the surface stuff first that's fine with me, but it shouldn't be the only thing you build.

    I'll point out that roads like Northern which you say are too narrow for a viaduct are also too narrow for anything on the surface. Northern, Union, Hillside, etc. are all two fairly narrow traffic lanes each way (both needed given traffic levels much of the day), with the sidewalk lane devoted to a combination of parking and bus stops. There just isn't any place to fit in a bike lane, so a viaduct is the only feasible thing. I wouldn't worry about shadows here. You can largely build the thing of transparent plastic. Even the roadway surface could be translucent, textured plastic. That would let most of the light through. At night it could be lit dramatically. Overall I think such a thing might enhance the appearance of streets, not detract from them.

    Sure, I absolutely agree bikes aren't appropriate for all trips. The thing is I firmly believe in a robust, redundant transportation network. By having a system which makes biking possible in a reasonable time frame, even for 15+ mile trips, it's now an alternative if the subway system fails, or the roads are impassable due to snow.



    >The places where bikes have a big mode share spend tons more money on bike infrastructure. They also do most or all of the things I mention.

    What city with a substantial mode share for bikes has a network of elevated bikeways fifty feet in the air like the one proposed for London?

    >I’m still not getting where this stupid 12 mph figure comes from because bikes go that fast just coasting

    When people bike for transportation every day most of them will only want to coast, not work hard. That’s where it comes from. I’m not talking about most cyclists, but rather most people. If you want them to bike instead of drive, possibly from further away, then you have to accommodate them.

    >12 mph cruising plus typical red light delays equals 5 or 6 mph average speeds

    The idea is that in much of the city, even most of Queens west of the Van Wyck, you could set up one way streets with timed lights at 12 mph, and get typical travel speeds about 10 mph. Typical walking speed is about 3 mph, travel speed when walking might be 2 or 2.5 when you consider all the times you have to stand and wait. So biking is already more than twice as fast, and could be four times as fast.

    >On the other hand, why not design paths with the aim of offering at least 15 mph average speeds for most riders, >20 mph for ones in decent shape?

    Where has that been successful, with say ten percent of trips being made by bike? If you have lights you time them at 15 or 20 to the detriment of slower riders. If you have cars still then it’s less safe and comfortable for slower riders being passed by large vehicles, and there are more potential slow bike riders than faster ones (>15). If it’s on your elevated bikeways then west of the Van Wyck you don’t have many places for it, in Queens say the Grand Central, maybe Astoria blvd, northern might be too narrow, QB, LIE, a couple rail lines, Woodhaven, Atlantic, Linden, belt, and Ocean.

    I’m ignoring roads that are too narrow for an elevated structure because it would block out the sun too much. Most have poor or overcrowded transit, and since there aren’t any other areas where an elevated rail line could be put they would have to be considered, and would probably need to be given priority over a bike way. So which road(s) would you put one on, and why wouldn’t transit there be more appropriate?

    And more importantly since there won’t be a grid of them, local streets are still needed for all trips, and we don’t have bike facilities there yet. Why not build them first so that the people on your bikeways would have somewhere to go when they get off? Without better surface facilities the bikeway would be great for recreation, like existing greenways, but that’s not worth spending billions of dollars on (based on anticipated costs in London)

    >using roofed viaducts to channel prevailing winds into tailwinds,

    This doesn’t exist. Where does it exist?

    >Bike infrastructure done right is great, but it’s funny how 30 or 40 years ago some people were able to use bikes for transportation without it.

    Yes at about a less than one percent mode share. The point is to allow more people to bike instead of drive.

    > I was running 20, 30, 40 mile errands on bikes on streets with no bike lanes probably before you were born.

    Most people don’t want to do that daily. Is there anywhere that has ten percent of trips of that length being made by bike?

    > After all, someone making $10 an hour servicing the 1% can really afford $2500 a month rents if only they budget their money better.

    The new urbanism movement generally seems to have in mind the middle class and up, it’s a fair criticism. But when someone says people should move closer in they probably have in mind getting rid of low density zoning and historic districts closer in to bring prices down. Without that trip length will remain too long for most people to want to bike on surface streets, and probably on bike highways as well. And with shorter trips travel speed becomes less of an issue, and there is a subway system for longer trips, to reduce the importance further. Faster increases mobility as you point out, but at a cost to the area you’re speeding through. The goal for many isn’t to bike everywhere, but to make those areas more pleasant, and biking is a means to an end in that the impact is lower than people driving, even if it still exists. NYC, even it’s denser core, is physically larger than most other cities with a high bike share as you point out. The idea is that those longer trips that would still remain wouldn’t have to be accommodated on the surface when there is already a speedier grade separated way to get around, so the cost that comes from reducing travel speeds is minimized somewhat. Not every trip has to be best served by bike.


    Joe R.

    Why do you seem to have an issue with the ‘bias’ for protected lanes yet advocate so forcefully for grade separation?

    My only “bias” here is to safely allow bikes to freely travel at average speeds close to whatever cruising speed the rider is capable of, whether that’s 8 mph, 30 mph, or anything in between. That’s the only real way to greatly increase bike mode share. If there were a way to do that on surface streets already filled to the brim with pedestrians and motor vehicles I would be all for it but I’m just not seeing it. Solutions which might be appropriate in places where the “inner city” is only a km or less, such as protected bike lanes or traffic signals timed for 20 to 30 km/hr, aren’t really applicable in huge cities like New York which have miles and miles of very high density. Slow infrastructure in that case can add many minutes, even hours, to journeys. Even for a relatively short bike trip of only 3 miles, if you can make it at an average speed of 15 mph instead of maybe the 6 mph typical on crowded surface streets, you’re saving 18 minutes each way, 36 minutes on the round trip. That’s huge. Indeed, even time savings of 2 or 3 minutes are considered very significant for other modes.

    The real solution is of course to just get rid of 100% of private cars and taxis so we have a sane level of motor traffic but that’s politically unfeasible right now. Part of my strategy here is to change that. If you tell people you have two alternatives if you really want to make bicycle travel mainstream-either build an expensive network of viaducts , or just reduce motor traffic by 90 to 95%, they might take the latter a lot more seriously.

    NYC has already tried protected lanes and other things. They’ve been largely a failure as far as I’m concerned as bike mode share is still in the low single digits. It’s time to realize that’s all we’re going to get unless we try another strategy. Many avid cyclists, including me, won’t even consider riding to Manhattan, or even the more crowded parts of the outer boroughs, simply because it’s not pleasant, it’s really slow, there’s little safe bike parking, and there are alternatives which are faster, or at least as fast, most of the time.

    Car travel took off before highways. The highways were supposed to get cars off the roads.

    The highways made cars a lot more useful. Prior to when we had highways, a 50 mile car trip might be a 2 or 3 hour ordeal on local roads. After the highways were built, that same trip could be made in well under an hour. As a result, many more such trips are made. Cars were mostly used for short local trips prior to highways. We can of course argue over whether or not more and longer car trips is a good thing but the fact is without highways that wouldn’t have happened. In fact, it’s a central tenet to our position of not being able to build our way out of congestion that highways do in fact end up generating traffic which otherwise wouldn’t exist. It would be much the same with bike highways, except in this case bike traffic is desirable.



    >>car travel never really took off until cars got highways.

    Car travel took off before highways. The highways were supposed to get cars off the roads.

    >> nothing is preventing you or anyone else from continuing to ride at street level should you choose to do so.

    Best way to keep bikes and pedestrians safe is to have more of them. There’s no epidemic of cars plowing into crowded crosswalks. It’s into the crosswalk around a blind turn where they never see pedestrians. Getting bikes off local roads makes it dangerous for those that remain.

    Why do you seem to have an issue with the ‘bias’ for protected lanes yet advocate so forcefully for grade separation?



    From my experience it really depends on the type of street. On single lane roads the stop rate is very high. Add another lane going each way, though, and fewer than half the drivers will stop for a pedestrian. With three or more lanes each way, though, you can forget about crossing at an unsignalized location if traffic is heavy, it just isn’t going to happen.

    Additional treatments like high-viz crosswalks, signage, rapid flashing lights in the pavement or on signs, or raised crosswalks helps, but the rate of failure to yield is still very high. When I’m biking I always look for and yield to pedestrians at every corner and crosswalk. When I see one I try to make a big deal out of slowing, and signaling a stop so people behind can see it, but usually a couple drivers will still blow past in the next lane over. If the occasions when I can get traffic to stop I often get a hearty “thank you!” from the pedestrian, as though I was doing them a special favor.


    Joe R.

    You’re entitled to your opinion but consider that car travel never really took off until cars got highways. To date something similar for bicycles has never been implemented on a large scale except in parts of the Netherlands, and I personally feel that’s one big reason bike travel isn’t a lot more popular. You’re taking the same absolutist position on grade-separated bike infrastructure as VCs take on any bike infrastructure and that’s what I really object to. If an idea is studied, or better yet tried repeatedly, and it continually fails then it’s a bad idea which should be discarded. However, discarding ideas which have never really been proposed, much less tried on a large scale, makes no sense. If everyone thought like that we would still be living in caves.

    On your other concerns, the ramps could be switchbacks which have acceptable grades while still taking up a minimal amount of space. As far as shadows go, you don’t necessarily have to build these things above sidewalks but I mentioned protection from rain as a potential benefit. Being in shadows may be a drawback in the colder months where being in sunlight has a warming effect but it would certainly be welcome during summers, so I would say overall that’s a wash. It’s also worth noting that with tall buildings everywhere, most of Manhattan is in shadow for much of the day anyway.

    On the whole thing of experiencing a city, nothing is preventing you or anyone else from continuing to ride at street level should you choose to do so. Bicycles have a legal right to ride on all streets except highways. Grade-separated bicycle infrastructure wouldn’t change that a bit. Remember that quite a few people couldn’t care less about experiencing what gives you a thrill. They want to get from point A to point B as quickly and safely as possible. And who knows, down the road the viaducts might take on a life of their own. You might get businesses with second floor entries off the viaducts (and bike parking). Remember the viaducts are analogous to highways but they’re really not exactly like them. Even for fast cyclists, it’s perfectly feasible to notice things of interest and stop along the way. In some Asian cities for example, elevated pedestrian skyways have all the life of street level sidewalks. It could end up being much the same with bicycle viaducts.

    Yes, traffic signals are the biggest reason there is a serious need for this, but it’s far from the only one. Even without traffic signals, there is enough congestion and obstacles at street level to significantly increase travel times during much of the day. And a huge second reason here is the awful condition of the streets. I’ve never seen the surface streets in NYC in good repair in my lifetime. I doubt I ever will. However, a separate network of bike routes which see only bike traffic could provide cyclists with a safe, smooth place to ride. There’s also a health angle here. Right near traffic instead of above it, preferably in a totally enclosed viaduct, you’re exposed to a lot more exhaust fumes. Indeed, that’s one big reason I can’t stand waiting at red lights. I know I’m taking many days, even months, off my life breathing in all that crap from idling cars.

    In the end the fact is we need something a lot better than what we have. If we can find a way to do it without grade separation and not compromise the primary goals (safety and speed) then I’m all ears. And indeed maybe in large swaths of the outer boroughs we can in fact do this with only a bicycle bridge or underpass here or there. I’m not seeing however where there is room for such a thing in a place like Manhattan other than along the shores where greenways (albeit with issues of their own) already exist.

    (The only “grade separation” that would make even theoretical sense would be to send all auto traffic underground, and to leave the streets to bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s fun to fantasise about such a thing; but even this is entirely unrealistic, given the realities of what is already under ground especially in Manhattan.)

    Um, maybe not. Consider if we start building a system of bicycle viaducts. Later on we realize parallel viaducts for pedestrians would be useful to them for the same reasons (speed, safety) so we build those. Gradually second floor retail springs up. This isn’t all that far fetched because many retail establishments in NYC already have several floors. It’s just a matter of putting an entryway in at viaduct level. The end result of this would be that auto traffic is effectively “underground”. OK, it isn’t in the strict sense, but now all ped and bike traffic is above, and completely free from, auto traffic. I know this all seems kind of Blade Runner-esque, but it may well happen as we run out of space on surface streets as urban populations continue to grow. A secondary benefit is peds and bikes are now 15-20 feet higher above sea level. As sea levels rise, this could make the difference with a major storm bringing the city to a standstill or not.


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Regarding bike infrastructure, the wholesale rejection of grade-separation makes good sense. To be frank, the very idea is absurd.

    Your imagined grade-separated bike network would blight the landscape with a huge number of aerial structures, with entry ramps at every intersection, that would severely harm the visual environment.

    You sometimes claim that these structures would provide pedestrians with protection from rain; this is a clever way of avoiding mentioning that they would afflict pedestrians with constant shadow. This detrimental effect on street life alone makes the idea worthy of rejection.

    But consider what such monstrosities would mean for bicyclists. The ramps to get on to this bike skyway would either be long serpentine paths which would eat up lots of street space (thereby providing more things for cars to crash into), or, if they were compact, they’d be impossibly steep. Unacceptable in either case.

    And worst of all is that these kinds of structures would remove us bicyclists from our natural environment, the city streets. There is no better way to experience a city — most of all our City, the greatest of them all — than by biking through it. Even after multiple decades of experience, I still feel this thrill every time. To even think of robbing future generations of this pleasure by exiling them X number of feet in the air is criminal.

    Your frequent observations on the clumsiness of traffic signals are useful. By the insistence on some kind of elaborate grade-separated bike network describes a nightmare and a diminution of quality of life for everyone — bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.

    The best solutions are the ones that are in fact being implemented: protected lanes such as those found on First and Eighth Avenues, and bike boxes such as those found at the intersections of many two-way streets. Traffic lights continue to be a bane; the only solution is to time them to typical bike speeds of 10-to-15 miles per hour.

    But “grade separation”, as applied to bike infrastructure, is utterly loony.

    (The only “grade separation” that would make even theoretical sense would be to send all auto traffic underground, and to leave the streets to bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s fun to fantasise about such a thing; but even this is entirely unrealistic, given the realities of what is already under ground especially in Manhattan.)



    I think doing nothing other than educating drivers/cyclists is the best solution 90% of the time.



    Were they all white? I’d like to see a minority try to do this in a small town.



    “. Between 2006 and 2011, the share of households with two or more vehicles decreased 2.9 percent “.
    This is not that meaningful without information on changes of the composition of households, especially its average size and presence of statutory non-drivers, also known as children and early teens.

    Beware of the non-zero base of the y-axis. This is considered bad practice when one wants to convey information about the magnitude of changes on a zero-defined scalar variable. At the very least they should notice it graphically on a y-scale.


    Alex Brideau III

    While it’s true that CA drivers don’t follow the letter of the yield law, it’s quite a bit of an overstatement to say that cars “almost never” yield to crossers. I find that when crossing in a marked crosswalk (though, of course, its marked status shouldn’t matter), cars almost always yield to me … eventually.

    In contrast, back in DC, I got stuck several times on a bare double-yellow line with neither side of traffic willing to let me finish crossing! That’s never happened to me here, thank goodness.



    A lot of them ‘close’ after dark. They aren’t about transportation, rather recreation. And giving criminal records to those on foot or bike who want to get around after dark but think the roads are too dangerous.


    Andy B from Jersey

    Great question Angie! There are several great trail networks being built around the country that have limited utility because the minute one leaves the trail the roadways are difficult to navigate by bike or foot to say the least.

    Also, what the hell is with the crash hazard built into the trail in the lower photo?!?! Does anybody who designs this stuff actually ride a bike?!?! Image you’re riding this at night and swerve to avoid a raccoon or something only to crash on those rocks. Talk about “Dangerous by Design!”



    The ideal transit trip has fewer miles in it than an equivalent car trip. This is due to lower average velocity of transit interacting with the relatively static ideal time spent commuting.

    The useful measure to compare driving to transit measures trips, controlling for passenger miles.


    C Monroe

    In Michigan, crosswalks where cars must stop for pedestrians are marked different than normal crosswalks. This includes signs, painted yellow striping intermingled with the white stripes.



    Streetfilm on Houston coming soon! With bayou footage!!



    VC-Only-As-Policy is the magical thinking of bike advocacy.

    Decades have proven it just doesn’t work, especially if the goal is getting more than small percentages of people to choose to bike.

    Meanwhile even the admittedly hardscrabble solutions implemented in the past few years have yielded impressive modeshare and safety increases.

    In that sense VC-centric-policy is increasingly looking like global-warming “I got mine” denialism in the face of ample evidence to the contrary.



    Wow you win VC absolutist Hyperbole of the Day Award. Saavy Cycling is VC as practice which is good. Your position is VC absolutism, which is VC as policy prescription which has been an abject failure. You completely disregarded the proof that the Netherlands was once a car-centric roadway system and took time and collective will to develop into the system there today. The one that confuses me about VC absolutism is that you guys (yes you’re getting lumped in with them) have never advocated for large scale education which is shame, because that is one of the things you’re right about. Along with that infrastructure dutch kids receive cycling training from a very young age. If VC absolutists had spent as much time lobbying for bicycle driver training through state DMVs as they have spent fighting bad, and good infrastructure over the last 30 years then maybe you wouldn’t be getting laughed out of the room when the new generation of bicycle advocates get together. A colleague of mine calls VC absolutists the Tea Party of Bicycle Advocacy.


    Rich Purtell

    I think a lot of corruption can be traced to “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”



    Great……Wi is overpopulated anyhow.



    Isn`t that dealyed either? Check nextbike`s Glasgow system launched in June. Also uses smart bike technology liek SoBi.


    David Sucher

    Goes way back into the 1950s.

    Drivers would stop for pedestrians instantly whether it was at cross-walk, corner or even mid-block, even on (as I remember) very wide University Avenue in Berkeley.

    Definitely amazing.



    The amount of rules that most drivers (even police) aren’t aware of could fill its own handbook. What we really need is a required Drivers Ed 2.0 that specifically deals with all the topics related to driving around non-motorized road users in a modern, urban setting. We need to push the reset button on driver testing in this state, as the DMV has been making quite a mess of it so far, and even well-meaning people who took their training decades ago don’t have the knowledge, skills, and appreciation needed for dealing with the larger number of bicyclists and pedestrians on the streets today.



    While painted crosswalks are great for arterial streets, for many neighborhood streets, painted center divider lines and crosswalks may actually raise the traffic speed, as drivers come to believe that the street belongs to them exclusively instead of something that is shared amongst various users. For these non-arterial streets, calming measures such as bulb-outs and reduced speed limits would probably be more effective at forcing drivers to feel that they are driving in a shared space and behave appropriately.

    A few years back the street in front of my building was center-striped, and crosswalks painted on about every second or third street. What was a relatively slow and sedate street suddenly became dangerous, with drivers racing through and honking at any pedestrian who dared cross at an intersection that was not marked. Fortunately the center stripes have again worn away, and traffic speeds have now become much more reasonable.



    While you are correct from a legal standpoint and despite the unmarked crosswalk being mentioned in the California driver’s handbook, this is one rule that I suspect most California drivers are not aware of (like the 3-foot rule for overtaking cyclists), especially since virtually all reports of injuries that are the “fault” of the pedestrian seem to mention that they were not crossing at a “marked” crosswalk.

    I suspect that money spent on public education as well as on additional paint would be money well-spent.



    Intersections like this are all around SF I really think the design is to give priority to the all mighty car and the only way they get any safer is if pedestrians avoid them entirely. The street design is a joke and the pedestrian is the punchline.



    I don’t think I would attribute this to any personal traits of Californians versus people from other parts of the country. After all, many of us moved here from there. Personally, I noticed that at least in San Francisco, you don’t NEED to jaywalk as often because the signal cycles are shorter and usually automatically include a pedestrian phase, which is in direct contrast to my experience as a pedestrian on the East Coast.



    The difference is that at least in California most people cross at crosswalks, and drivers are more likely to yield in crosswalks. In the midwest very few people are willing to walk the extra distance to a crosswalk and just tend to jaywalk. People are always surprised to hear that people in California get tickets for jaywalking since it is standard behavior in the midwest.



    A $500 dollar first time ticket and a month of driver education school will make them think twice.



    Bob Gunderson has a “Pedestrian’s guide to getting along with vehicles” lol



    I’ve had that actually happen to me a couple times now in SF. Ran the stop sign, swerve and almost hit the curb but kept going in front of me.



    I do have to admit, in SF I’ve noticed more cars giving peds and bikes the right of way of fairly recent.


    Elias Zamaria

    One thing not mentioned: the race of the pedestrian. I wonder how that compares in significance with the other factors.



    Except that the police never enforce California’s yield to crossers rule, so cars almost never actually obey that particular law.



    The federal gas tax is 18 cents. Perhaps you should do some actual reasarch before trying to discredit the article.



    Here in California at street corners (minus alleys) the invisible extension of the sidewalk into and through the street is a crosswalk where the pedestrian has the right of way, regardless of whether or not the intersection has a signal, and regardless of whether or not the crosswalk is painted. Therefore an “un-signalized crosswalk” is usually one that is painted at a location without a stop sign or traffic signal, and an “un-marked crosswalk” is at any non-alley sidewalk corner without a painted pedestrian crossing.

    When one considers that pedestrians legally have the right of way at all these types of locations, not even just painted crosswalks, the amount of violations on the part of drivers is astounding.


    Adam Herstein

    In Chicago the rule is:
    Swerve to avoid the person without slowing down, even if it means running over the “stop for pedestrians” sign.


    Alex Brideau III

    A good point, and I feel the momentum issue is directly related to the speed limit on that street. Wide street = higher speed limit = more sudden braking when a pedestrian is spotted.

    That said, I’ve found that some drivers are fairly decent about yielding when an adjacent driver does the same. If I’m driving and brake for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the car next to me might not do the same, but often the car behind that one receives “enough warning” to yield.

    What I think way too many drivers fail to realize is that all intersections have crosswalks, whether they are marked or not. In general, most drivers unmarked crosswalks as not crosswalks at all, to the point that when I’m crossing, I can’t get drivers to yield to me, or worse, they honk at me as if I don’t have the right of way.

    IMHO, every intersection, no matter how major or minor, should have marked crosswalks on all sides unless crossing is specifically prohibited. (I’ll be happy to host a bake sale for the extra paint costs!)


    Alex Brideau III

    Also, I believe different states have different rules for yielding to crossers. I think CA requires drivers to yield to a pedestrian anywhere in a crosswalk while WA only requires a driver to yield when the pedestrian in on “their side” of the yellow dividing line (or so I’ve heard).



    Driver education has to be a big part of the regional difference. In BC, where I learned to drive, passing a pedestrian waiting to use the crosswalk (still on the sidewalk) is an automatic fail in the driving exam. In Chicago, half the crosswalks have parked cars blocking visibility of pedestrians, driving exam routes avoid heavily pedestrianized streets, and I’m not sure failure to yield to pedestrians is an automatic fail.


    Joe R.

    This is actually an excellent concept. I can tell you right now that one issue anyone taking the so-called 10 mph challenge would encounter in a place like NYC is that they would hit traffic signals probably every 2 or 3 blocks. If you’re simulating the relatively inability of new cyclists to repeatedly get back up to speed, that would pretty much mean most bike routes are neither comfortable nor safe (i.e. pedestrian intrusions are a big issue here on protected bike lanes, particularly with slow riders whom pedestrians aren’t afraid to cut off). Moreover, I doubt you would average much above walking speed under these conditions, so that means there would be literally no point to taking a bike instead of just walking.

    As far as urban biking speeds, a lot of people in big cities like New York, even the locals, only consider the central parts “the city”. Sure, I probably wouldn’t go much over 15 mph in a place like Manhattan most of the time because there are too many obstacles which literally pop up out of nowhere. The exception to this might be if I take a traffic lane on an Avenue and just keep pace with motor traffic.

    In the outer boroughs it’s a different story. Technically they’re still urban, but most streets are perfectly comfortable biking on at 18 to 30+ mph. Again, there are exceptions, but those tend to be short segments, like downtown Jamaica, downtown Flushing, etc. I honestly think the reason some people have problems with fast riders is because many simply don’t understand how to keep things in context. Bombing down a hill at 55 mph is just fine in suburban settings, or perhaps even in parts of places like eastern Queens which resemble suburbia, but it’s wholly inappropriate in places like the hills in San Francisco. For what it’s worth, I’ve never had a pedestrian yell at me for going too fast, but then again I’ve made a point of never bombing by pedestrians inches away at high speeds. I either give them a wide berth, or slow down a bit if I can’t. Same thing is I happen to see someone walking a dog. I realize dogs are unpredictable. They may bolt into the street even if on a leash. Many dogs also love to chase bikes. Therefore, I swing a lane or two over before hand in case that happens. It’s all common sense really, and I wish safe, common sense cycling practices like this would be taught in high school or junior high school.


    Tanya Snyder

    On wide streets, I think drivers are less likely to stop because a) they don’t want to lose their momentum and b) they don’t think the car next to them is going to stop so what’s the point?



    an unsignalized pedestrian crosswalk is a street crossing for pedestrians that is not controlled by a signal. the right of way details at these crossings depends on the jurisdiction. here in DC for example, all vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians in an unsignalized pedestrian crosswalk. a crosswalk that exists at a junction controlled by a traffic signal (“stop-light”, “blinky crosswalk”, etc) would be considered a signalized pedestrian crossing.



    I’ve ridden a number of well-designed contraflow lanes that feel perfectly safe. It seems you haven’t – or you’re being an extreme “vehicularist” or a troll.



    Please define an “un-signalized crosswalk”? Is it a cross walk that exists at a stop-light or does it also encompass a blinky crosswalk?



    I can bike fast. When I’m on long rides along rural routes with little traffic and few intersections I bomb down my fair share of hills (within reason) and push my physical limits.

    Biking in the city for daily trips and commutes is a different animal. I rarely go above 15 mph, as biking any faster reduces my reaction time and raises my adrenaline level so that I end up making worse decisions. When I feel compelled to speed up by the traffic around me, that usually means I actually need to slow down and relax.

    My take is that if an urban route can not be biked comfortably and safely at 10mph, then it is broken. I challenge anyone who thinks about urban bike issues to take the 10 MPH Challenge, and do all of your regular biking for a week while never exceeding 10 mph (unless you are coasting). Try keeping a log of your experiences that you can refer to later when thinking about infrastructure challenges. Also try keeping your bike in the highest gear all week so as to simulate a loss of knee strength.

    You can check out for more details, and for some posts from my own week of 10 mph bicycling.