U.S. DOT to Publish Its Own Manual on Protected Bike Lanes

FHWA's Dan Goodman pointed to before-and-after images from New York's First Avenue retrofit to show how separated bike lanes can improve safety. Photos: ##http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/First_Avenue_in_New_York_by_David_Shankbone.jpg##Wikimedia## and ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Downtown-First-Avenue.jpg##Streetsblog NYC##
FHWA’s Dan Goodman pointed to before-and-after images from New York’s First Avenue redesign to show how protected bike lanes can improve safety. Photos: David Shankbone/##http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/First_Avenue_in_New_York_by_David_Shankbone.jpg##Wikimedia## and ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Downtown-First-Avenue.jpg##NYC DOT##

Before the end of this year, the Federal Highway Administration will release its own guidance on designing protected bike lanes.

The agency’s positions on bicycling infrastructure has matured in recent years. Until recently, U.S. DOT’s policy was simple adherence to outdated and stodgy manuals like AASHTO’s Green Book and FHWA’s own Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) — neither of which included protected bike lanes.

In 2010, the department developed a policy stating that “every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems” and that they should “go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.” That was the first hint that the agency was looking beyond the Green Book and the MUTCD, which were (let’s face it) the very minimum of standards.

The department’s new strategic plan, released last year, emphasized pedestrian and bicycle safety and highlighted the need to create connected walking and biking networks that work for all ages and abilities, which is also a focus of the secretary’s new bike/ped safety initiative.

Then last year the agency explicitly endorsed “design flexibility,” unshackling engineers from the AASHTO and MUTCD “bibles” and encouraging them to take a look at the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ urban bikeway guide and the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ manual on walkability.

Now, with a secretary at the helm who’s determined to make bike and pedestrian safety his signature issue, the agency is going further. First, the next edition of the MUTCD (expected to be released in 2016 or 2017) will have a slew of new signage and markings recommendations for bicycling. FHWA’s Dan Goodman told an audience at Pro-Walk Pro-Bike earlier this month that the updated MUTCD is expected to have everything from signage indicating how bikes should make two-stage turns using bike boxes to stripes extending bike lanes through intersections — and, of course, guidance on buffered and protected bike lanes.

But perhaps more important than the changes to the MUTCD is the fact that FHWA is publishing its own manual dedicated to the design of protected bike lanes. (Despite the fact that the guide will deal exclusively with bike lanes that are protected from traffic with some kind of vertical barrier — not just paint — they still insist on calling the designs “separated” but not “protected” bike lanes, out of recognition of the fact that even what passes for “protection” in the U.S. these days — like flexible plastic bollards — don’t offer much protection against a moving car. Streetsblog calls these lanes “protected,” however, as a way to distinguish them from regular painted lanes, which are also “separated” from traffic.)

Goodman also pointed to the Dearborn Street bike lane in Chicago as a model. Photo: ##http://gridchicago.com/2012/dearborn-streets-celebrity-status-skyrockets/##Grid Chicago##
Goodman also pointed to the Dearborn Street bike lane in Chicago as a model. Photo: ##http://gridchicago.com/2012/dearborn-streets-celebrity-status-skyrockets/##Grid Chicago##

And FHWA is collaborating with exactly the right people on the project. Carl Sundstrom from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and Ryan Russo of NYC DOT, who presented alongside Goodman at Pro-Walk Pro-Bike, are both consulting on the new guidelines. Sam Schwartz Engineering and Kittelson & Associates, Inc. — firms which have developed specializations in protected bike lanes — are on the consultant team. NACTO and ITE are on the technical work group along with the League of American Bicyclists’ Equity Initiative and some forward-looking state DOTs, MPOs, and transit agencies.

The guidelines will discuss the pros and cons of different intersection designs, one- versus two-way lanes, and different types of protection. Sometimes cities prefer two-way lanes to one-way lanes, or using parked cars as buffers instead of concrete, specifically because those treatments create enough width to allow street cleaning equipment to go through. Hot tips like that from experienced cities will fill the guide.

During their presentation, Russo and Sundstrom genially disagreed about whether separated signal phasing or mixing zones were the best way to deal with turning vehicles. Questions like these are still open to debate. It will be interesting to see how Goodman and his colleagues treat them in the manual — whether they’ll take sides or simply present the options.

In many cases, Goodman said, it’s hard to take a definitive stand on these treatments because there’s simply no data backing up one design over another. He and his colleagues weren’t satisfied with the safety analysis they were able to perform because they simply didn’t have good data to work with. “The data is not good enough to draw specific design conclusions,” he said.

Sundstrom, however, said the little before-and-after data they do have is convincing enough to say protected bike lanes improve safety. In Sundstrom’s study of protected bike lanes, total cyclist injuries did go up, but since more people were biking, the crash rate went down on eight out of nine streets. They also saw that crashes at intersections made up 90 percent of the crashes that did occur — up from 70 percent before the facility was installed — indicating that intersections are where they need to put their focus.

Russo said they found even more striking results in New York, where crashes with injuries went down 17 percent on streets with protected lanes. Injuries to motor vehicle occupants — “wonderful beneficiaries to these projects” — went down 25 percent. And despite the fact that biking in New York has quadrupled since 2000, the total number of crashes is actually down 2 percent, and injuries and fatalities remain flat, making for a 74 percent reduction in crash risk.

The FHWA document will end with a call to action, including a plea for cities to collect before-and-after data when they make changes. But Goodman makes clear that their commitment to promoting protected bike lanes isn’t up for negotiation and that the call to action will urge cities to build them. “One conclusion to draw from our effort is that yes, separated bike lanes are part of the toolbox that you can use to create and connect bike networks,” he said, “and that’s where we’re going.”

  • Joe R.

    Actually, you can but the police misinterpret the law. You can leave the bike lane for any reason at all if you deem it hazardous. One of those reasons could be that you deem it unsafe at your chosen speed of travel.

  • Joe R.

    Yep, I agree that driving behavior changed for the worse once we had legislated speed limits, as opposed to ones set by proper traffic engineering practice. Legislated speed limits fostered a disregard of speed limits in general. This percolated down to a disregard for other traffic laws, as well as for general courtesy. It also resulted in an increasing reliance on moving violation fines to balance budgets.

    I’m frankly surprised livable streets advocates haven’t got behind reversing this trend because it would only help them. Properly set highway speed limits would divert a lot of traffic to highways. That in turn would result in less traffic on local surface streets. Right now what we have in places like NYC is 30 mph arterials where motorists can often drive 50 mph without worry of a ticket, and highways with 50 mph where you can risk a ticket going 55 or 60. Of course, many motorists opt for surface streets even if they’re a bit slower simply to avoid the possibility of a speeding ticket. NYC should raise its highway speed limits to whatever proper traffic engineering practice dictates. So should the rest of the state, and every other state. Forget stupidity like state maximum speed limits. If the traffic engineers use data and decide the proper speed limit is 100 mph, then that’s what gets posted even if some legislators may cringe.

    That interstate with the 65mph speed limit (per your cite) was designed for 4000lb cars with skinny bias ply tires, manual four wheel drum brakes, recirculating ball and joint steering, and leaf spring rear suspensions, etc and so on to cruise effortlessly, safely, and smoothly at 70mph or more. Today’s speed limits on the interstates are ludicrously slow for modern cars.

    Part of the problem is a lot of legislators are old enough to have been driving back when even 70 mph was pushing it given the automotive technology of the time. Often the views you have when you’re young don’t change when you get older. They can’t fathom that modern cars on modern roads can easily, safely go 80, 90, even 100 mph, perhaps even 125 mph in certain cases. That’s why we should let traffic engineers set speed limits, not legislators.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve said this many times but I think part of the reason not too many cyclists run reds in the Netherlands is because much of the bike infrastructure is designed so they rarely encounter red lights. Contrast this to some of NYC’s cycling tracks where a person riding at average bicycle speed will hit a red light every 2 blocks, sometimes every block. I can guarantee Dutch riders on such cycletracks will sooner rather than later do exactly what many NYC cyclists do-start treating the red lights as stops or yields.

    I’m also sure the Dutch make much better use of sensors to ensure signals aren’t red at empty intersections. The combination of fewer traffic signals plus few or no red lights when nothing is crossing means Dutch cyclists rarely have to stop. I’ve read about people doing 30 km commutes each way with one or two stops. Sure, if stopping was that rare in the US most cyclists would obey red lights. You won’t however get cyclists to stop every few blocks no matter what you do. Nor should any well-designed infrastructure require it.

  • Joe R.

    I mostly agree with you on protected bike lanes (the exception being when they can run alongside a road which has few or no junctions). I’m curious how you would feel about completely grade-separated bike highways designed like car highways? Yes, they would be expensive, but if built with at least two lanes in each direction fast and slow cyclists could safely coexist. They would also make riding along (or rather above) arterials safe. I like to ride arterials myself, but I recognize they’re not for novice cyclists. Unfortunately, the way the grid of side streets is broken up, they’re often the only viable way to cycle from point A to point B. Therefore, why not make them safe by putting a bike highway over them? I already know this idea doesn’t exactly resonate with most livable streets advocates but this is probably a uniquely American solution to a uniquely American problem-namely the fact that most useful bike trips here are longer than they would be elsewhere, and many of those trips need to be at least partially done on arterials which are hostile to all but experienced cyclists. They also solve another issue-namely the fact that light timing on many arterials isn’t conducive to bicycle speeds, and therefore many cyclists pass red lights.

  • Joe R.

    Not really. Bikes should be able do whatever the motor vehicle speed limit is under free-flowing conditions. Any bike infrastructure which prevents that is poorly designed. Remember we often talk of slowing cars down to 20 mph or 30 mph in an urban context. And I’m fine with that. However, I’m not fine with the idea that bikes should be stuck with an even lower defacto speed limit due to poorly designed infrastructure. Sure, we don’t want cars going 100 mph on 5th Avenue. And we wouldn’t want bikes going 100 mph either if it were possible for cyclists to reach those speeds. However, many livable streets advocates seem to think it’s OK to ask cyclists to go slower than they might otherwise want to go on principal because we’ve asked the same of motorists. I might agree with that if we had large numbers of cyclists who might want to ride at 40 or 50 mph but we don’t. Indeed, it’s a rare cyclist who can reach, let alone maintain, a 30 mph speed limit. Even maintaining 20 mph is out of reach for many riders. So let’s stop with the double standards. If we post a street at 30 mph for motorists, then any parallel bike infrastructure should be designed for that speed, even if few cyclists will reach it. If we start designing bike facilities which can’t be used at more than 10 or 12 mph, you’ll instead have many cyclists opting for the parallel roadway, with predictable ire from motorists.

    Let’s also consider not just today’s needs but the future. From what I understand velomobiles are increasing in popularity in the Netherlands. They may in the US as well. If they do, it will have been money well spent if we already have 30+ mph bicycle infrastructure.

  • Coolebra

    Oh, really, oooBoo? The endless [American] desire to force everyone to live the way ‘you’ do? Again, you raise a good argument that, upon reasonable consideration, undermines your position, not strengthens it.

    What, precisely, do you call it when public spaces are designed using the baseline assumption that cars should receive priority treatment? that sounds more than a little like trying to force everyone to drive.

    We’re not concerned with vehicles, oooBoo, transit, biking and walking carry more people than single-occupant vehicles using the same amount of space. The more user-friendly spaces we create, the more folks in that 8 to 80 group will feel comfortable using them.

    Sharing is a hard thing for some folks. For others, it comes naturally. We need to share out transportation space, not relegate it to one inefficient mode: Cars.

    I look forward to you raising more issues that undermine your argument in favor of continuing to support cars as the mode of choice in urban areas.

  • Coolebra

    Where is it that you ride that Buick Special, oooBooo? You appear to post an awful lot about Chicago.

    If not Chicago, then perhaps you should stick to writing about where you ride . . . and stop implying it’s Chicago. It could be time to fold-up Matchbox city in the basement and see what is going on in the real world.

    As for 85th percentile speed limits, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

  • Gezellig

    With things like this happening, it’s indicative of a pretty significant culture-change in terms of how we view public throughways:


    (btw hardly anti-car…that thing sits next to 10 car lanes)

    That’s not just lip service to bikes. Lest you worry that’s far more than an 8mph facility.

  • oooBooo

    That’s nice. Meanwhile streetsblog pushes for whatever dedicates large percentages of roadway to bicycling and/or transit. Dedicates. As in exclusionary.

  • Gezellig

    VC is the status quo in terms of roadway planning. To the extent most planners have thought of bikes, “let them act as cars.” Of course, the popo don’t always get this.

    Hah, and as it turns out that graphic is more-or-less a representation of that transit-protected stretch I linked earlier:

    Imagine if all those people on bikes or transit in that video were in their own individual cars. It’d be chaos. You can see in the background that the space for cars is wide open–there’s barely any car traffic at all. This kinda stuff isn’t anti-car. The person who takes transit or bike instead of a car is every motorist’s best friend. Less roadway competition.

  • Gezellig

    Hardly. As Dennis Hindman commented elsewhere on this thread even broad plans such as Los Angeles’s bike plan will only “dedicate” 5% of existing roadway space to bikes. Similar stories in other places even with ambitious bike plans.

    That’s hardly “large percentages” or anywhere near “anti-car.”

  • oooBooo

    Funny, I thought there was a prohibition on personal attacks?

    The website I am following for your information is chi.streetsblog.org (chi stands for CHICAGO) The article above uses Chicago as its example/model. Perhaps this complaint of yours is something you should take up with the streetsblog people? Yes. It is. When someone responds to my comment on a chicago oriented website about a chicago oriented example with a ‘just do it like the Dutch’ guess what’s going to happen? I can either ignore them, discuss how it’s not valid for this locality, or say it will work. Those are the three basic choices. If you don’t want me to discuss it, don’t put it in my face. That’s how you solve this problem for yourself.

    Meanwhile I notice that you haven’t discussed the topic at all with this post.

  • oooBooo

    The funny thing about modern bicycling politics and why I left it so many years ago is this myopic ‘us and them’ mentality. See you think it undermines my position because you can’t even bother to understand my position. You instinctively react with bile and political blather. The previous comment more of the former, this one more of the later.

    Cars have never had ‘priority treatment’. You didn’t read the vehicle code. Since you’re slamming me for a ‘1950s’ attitude, here’s a education film for children from that era which shows you that cars never had priority: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDm6jiQz5BY

    Bicycles are vehicles. My position, since you’ve failed to understand it, is the older version of bicycling politics, where we demand our right to use the road as vehicular traffic. Bicycles _are_ traffic was the common slogan of the day. I resent being shoved off into some protective area where I am forced by poor design (and by bicycle riders who use the facility as a crutch not to develop skills) to move at a much slower pace plus the aggravation of having where I can turn limited.

    One whine in this thread was that without protected bike lanes on arterial roads the beginner would have to walk his bike to a side street. Except with them, I have to ride past a mid block destination or origin and I desire to go the opposite direction of that side of the street, U turn, and go back.

    These structures are best for drivers. Drivers who don’t want bicycle riders out of their way, provided of course it comes without lane reduction.

  • oooBooo

    The big problem IMO with forced separation by grade, walls, etc, means more distance, riding to official junctions and then exiting or doubling back to many, at least 50% of destinations.

  • oooBooo

    Indeed, I prefer riding roads with speed limits closer to the 85th percentile. I used to go out of my way to ride a 50mph PSL 4 lane over a 45mph 6 lane. With 6 lanes the later had much lower traffic density at the times I would have used it, but it was highly unpleasant because I got to deal with 60+mph passing traffic in the right lane. On the 50mph PSL smaller road drivers would largely be able to change lanes to pass me, despite the higher traffic density.

    Beware of one thing though, engineers in government employ are by and large state intellectuals, no different really that those who run the economy and in other things where numbers can be juggled to support the politically desired result.

  • oooBooo

    Read what I wrote again. Then read what you responded to. Note they are two different things.

    As to the mobility of children, that’s another topic upon which I go against the prevailing modern grain. Recently there was some news media experiment which put a child in public places unaccompanied by an adult. It’s message was one of shock that no adult in these public places reacted to it. We live in a society where if a 7 year old goes to the neighborhood playground by himself people call the cops… don’t get me started on how children are confined in today’s world.

    PS: I was in my 20s before I rode arterial roads beyond a few feet at a time. I got around just fine on my own as a child.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    No one is being forced to ride on a separated bikeway. This is entirely in your imagination. People are voting with their pedals that some sort of separation from motor vehicle will get them to ride a bicycle more often. Take that separation away and there will be less bicycle riding.

  • oooBooo

    Oh yes, the Dutch, this hasn’t already been gone over at length or anything in the last few days here. Not at all. If you want that discussion, it’s here to be read.

    As to your argument assignment posed as an if statement, really now? If you have to resort to personal attack and strawmen, you really don’t have an argument.

    If we go by feelings, then we create structures to deal with hit from behind, but because we went from feelings we won’t notice that we’ve actually made collisions at intersections or from ride outs, already the most likely, more frequent. That’s the point. You can either form a rebuttal argument or ignore it, but to react in the manner you did shows that you really want is to silence me or at least not have anyone listen.

  • oooBooo

    Most problems we currently have in the USA is because roads are controlled by politics. The solutions to many of the present problems are already in the manuals. But they are ignored in favor of what feels good.

    As an engineer I am well aware of how engineering processes work and roads are no different than any other product. Standards reflect accumulated knowledge. They can be grown, that’s how they exist. Under government, which took them over for roads, they stagnate and go in the wrong directions because of politics, but they still reflect a great deal of knowledge. Replacing them with political groups’ ideas, what feels right to them, invites disaster. These groups don’t know why some things are the way they are. By ignoring it they could create disaster.

    For instance, a favorite example of mine. Airbags. In the early 1970s the big US automakers developed airbags. They found a number of problems including injury/death being possible for children and small adults. The political process would hear none of that in the 1980s. Hence we got the government unbelted male standard and it has killed people. Government won’t admit its error, so there are workarounds now, but it can still kill people in brand new cars because the workarounds aren’t perfect.

    And that’s what happens by doing things that feel right. Thankfully bicycling is very safe so not too many people lose their lives to the poor results of the ‘feels good’ process.

  • oooBooo

    “Name one street in the U.S. where 50+% of the roadway width was taken
    away from motor vehicles to create a dedicated bikeway for bicycles.”

    Have you been paying attention to the proposals on this website? Many of them are 50%. You must not be paying attention.

    “The point of installing bikeways on major streets is to encourage people
    to bicycle and in no way is it discouraging people from driving. ”

    Have you been paying attention to the language used on this website? Have you been paying attention to the articles as a whole? Clearly not.

    “How do you overcome the evidence of the massive European experiment, in
    which, for decades, millions of cyclists have ridden daily on cycle
    tracks, with crash rates far lower than the United States and at a far
    greater appeal to vulnerable populations such as children and seniors?”

    If you don’t understand the inherent differences between the US and the places in europe held up as examples, I can’t help you. Again, I’ve largely been through that discussion already. I am not sure why streetsblog followers don’t read a discussion before chiming in. Just like to pile on? In any case, I pose the same offer to you. As a trade, I’ll put up with Dutch style cycletracks when bicycling if when driving I get everything the NMA wants fixed, fixed, plus speed de-restricted interstates. Deal? Cycletracks plus american autobahn?

    I’m guessing no.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The Federal Highway Administration is not going by “feelings” when they decide to endorse a particular type of bicycle infrastructure. Their decision is based on studies and data. Its you who is basing your decision on feelings for where you want to ride. The preponderance of evidence is that there is a lower rate of collisions overall with motor vehicles when there is some sort of separation for bicycles.

    What you ignore is that the Dutch were already riding bicycles forty years ago in the manner you believe is the safest. This changed after years of massive protests were made about the alarmingly sharp increase in injuries and fatalities for pedestrians and bicyclists from policies that favored the automobile.

  • oooBooo

    Have you ever ridden a road with a parallel bicycle facility in the general travel lanes?

    I have. Many times. Used to do it daily. Very frequently drivers would ‘inform’ me of the bike path along side this particular road. A glorified sidewalk with blind intersections to driveways and side streets. Usually with dog walkers and other hazards. Totally unsuitable for my speeds.

    The way drivers ‘inform’ me that I am not riding where I should be is either to point, yell, honk, brush pass, run me off the road, try to make me run into their cars, and/or stop, exit the vehicle, and then try to start a fight.

    Sure, it’s not required to use it under the law, but unless I am in the mood for physical confrontation, I’m pretty much stuck using it or taking another road.

  • oooBooo

    50% of a particular arterial road’s width. Not 50% of all roads. Most of all roads aren’t even arterial roads. You understood it the first time yourself.

  • oooBooo

    The status quo is about protecting the interests and power of those who presently have the power and wealth. So I ask, why this sudden caring about bicyclists? Why adopt ever more complicated road systems with the excuse of caring about bicyclists?

    That video is chaos. Thankfully chaos works well in many instances. I can show you uncontrolled intersections in India and other parts of the world where it’s total chaos and yet normally there aren’t collisions and its done with motor vehicles.

    However as I stated earlier in reply to that video, the Chicago lake front trail has peds crossing it like that. It’s the biggest remaining danger on that ‘cycletrack’ (it should qualify for the fancy word). Speed must be limited because of it. Which reminds me, you asked where 8mph speed limit signs are, through oak street beach is where a variety of absurdities have been over the years. Signs of slow speeds to dismounting. I’ve usually ignored them, but slowing was always required not to crash into a ped.

    Chaos can work, but a ‘cycletrack’ with lots of signals, signage, and complex movements isn’t advocating chaos.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I participated more often as a volunteer bicycle rider for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation before and after sharrows study than anyone else. The honking, yelling, brushing past and a car passenger yelling me to get off the f*cking road happened quite frequently. More so on the busiest of the six streets being studies. These confrontations happened where there was no separated bikeways.

    Drivers tend to be annoyed seeing someone riding a much slower moving bicycle in front of them when they want to go much faster. They get upset because the bicyclist is in the way.

  • oooBooo

    Did you read the article?

    It seems that I have hurt your feelings somehow and you have to make these quips. I’ll quote the article for you:

    “Until recently, U.S. DOT’s policy was simple adherence to outdated and stodgy manuals like AASHTO’s Green Book and FHWA’s own Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)”
    “Then last year the agency explicitly endorsed “design flexibility,” unshackling engineers from the AASHTO and MUTCD “bibles” ”

    Now I can repeat everything I’ve already stated about the problems caused when these standards are already ignored or you can go read it. I say the later.

    “What you ignore is that the Dutch were already riding bicycles forty years ago in the manner you believe is the safest.”

    Ignored? You’ve ignored the discussion that already happened and think you’ll just pile on, that’s the ignoring going on.

    It’s amazing how you and others tell me what I believe. Where did I say what I believe is safest? No where. I wrote what is what is safer in the USA in areas where there are frequent intersections. Put a cycletrack along a rural highway. It would be fuckin’ beautiful. But with frequent intersections and typical ‘feels good’ methods that result in things like the ‘model’ in the article, that’s something that would be fuckin’ scary for me to ride. And the data cited in the article backs my existing knowledge. THE DATA CITED IN THE ARTICLE.

    Now maybe the Dutch model works for the Dutch. But it’s overly complex per the example intersection shown and the average american driver has been dumbed down to the level a near-dead cat. Complexity requires attention, knowledge, etc and so forth to deal with. I see disaster. Especially in places that get snow.

    Now can you stop repeating the same points made by others in this thread to which I have already responded to?

  • Gezellig

    Yup. Bad design is bad. Good design can really combat these problems, however.

    The video shows a stretch that now flows much more smoothly than it ever did in the past. I’ve never been held up by pedestrians there, and love not having to compete with the lightrail vehicles and cars. You really just zip right on through there, even during busy times. Done.

  • oooBooo

    Go ride those roads with the facilities but don’t use them. Note the increase in frequency and severity.

    It’s a huge difference. Just the one road I used to ride daily and not use the bike path the confrontations total is probably close to double all other roads combined.

  • Coolebra

    You’ll also find 50’s videos with folks touting the benefits of smoking tobacco, oooBoo. That doesn’t mean they reflect reality.

    As for transportation investments, it is quite evident that there’s a glaring disconnect between the policy commitments we make and the actual investments that support them.

    The naivete of the 50s blossomed into entertaining sitcoms – we laugh at how gullible folks were. PSAs like your “proof” that cars have never received priority treatment may as well be a Leave it to Beaver episode that we look back on with learned cynicism – to the point of it is rising to humor.

    Get real, oooBooo. You really can’t believe the nonsense you write . . .

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I have done that. There was no increase in frequency and severity. The point the drivers are trying to make is that the bicyclist is slowing them down and is in the way. Having no separated bicycling facility doesn’t eliminate that problem.

    As I said we had frequent and aggressive harassment by drivers while we rode our bicycles for the sharrows study. When the video which contained excerpts from these rides were shown to the city council transportation committee there were loud reactions of shock and horror from the room when they saw the numerous close encounters with motorists.

    Oh, and it didn’t get any more comfortable for us to ride at a steady 12 miles an hour in front of fast moving motor vehicles after doing this dozens of times.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Yes I read the article.

    What was not noted in the article was that the FHWA did not previously include on-street protected bikeways in the MUCD as they did not believe this was a traffic control device. They explicitly stated that they had no opinion either way whether cities should install them or not.

    Here’s a excerpt from the above article:

    [In 2010, the department developed a policy stating that “every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems” and that they should “go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.”]

    Doing nothing but saying people should ride in the middle of a busy motor vehicle lane is not integrating bicycling into the transportation system. Not having separated bikeways is keeping most people from choosing to use a bicycle.

    Here’s another part of the article:

    Carl Sundstrom from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center…said the little before-and-after data they do have is convincing enough to say protected bike lanes improve safety. In Sundstrom’s study of protected bike lanes, total cyclist injuries did go up, but since more people were biking, the crash rate went down on eight out of nine streets.

    In other words the risk of a collision went down for a cyclist after the installation of protected bike lanes. The total number of cycling injuries went up, but the number of cyclists went up at a faster rate.

  • oooBooo

    Yes, hit from behind goes down… intersections go up:

    “They also saw that crashes at intersections made up 90 percent of the
    crashes that did occur — up from 70 percent before the facility was

    That’s the point I was making. Intersections are net larger danger. Any drop in rate is likely due to the fact that ride-outs are physically blocked, taking that major contributor out of the equation.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Bicycles are not motor vehicle nor are they pedestrians. Trying to integrate bicycles with the much faster speed and greater mass of motor vehicles is increasing the likelihood of conflict.

    The police give tickets to motor vehicles that are moving at a much faster speed than the posted speed limit. The purpose in doing that is to try and keep a uniformity of speed to reduce the rate of collisions.

    Likewise, cities restrict the use of bicycles on sidewalks to keep the speed difference more uniform among users, thereby decreasing the number of conflicts.

    The speed and mass of bicycles is quite different than a what a typical moving motor vehicle or a pedestrian.

    One of the five safety principles of Dutch roadway design is uniformity of mass, speed and direction. Their OK with putting bicycles in mixed traffic if the speed limit for motor vehicles is 19 miles an hour. Otherwise, they use some sort of separation, mainly protected bikeways. The faster the traffic, the more separation for bicycles by the installation of a concrete buffer zone.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Your guessing what caused the drop in the rate of injuries. Its pure conjecture on your part and not based on any facts or data.

    The largest number of bicycle fatalities in Europe is in the Netherlands, yet the rate of fatalities are lower than other countries in Europe. Even though the Dutch do not wear helmets, reflective vests and commonly bring their small children and babies along with them.

    Your excluding the dangers of riding in mixed traffic. You point out what you see as problems from separation and yet never mention the inherent risks of riding among motor vehicles that have a much faster speed and mass. Turns by motor vehicles are done at a slower speed compared to moving straight and therefore the injuries to bicyclists tend to be less severe than if hit by a motor vehicle that is going straight. The risks while moving in a motor vehicle lane includes rear end collisions. head on collisions, left turning vehicles and right turning vehicles. The vehicles might also be moving on both sides of you.

  • oooBooo

    I love how you wave your hands and attack me personally with a sprinkling of political platitudes all while making and supporting no point what so ever.

    How many people in the USA bike regularly? 4%? 6%? It’s very wasteful to dedicate so much road space to very small minority when there are other more viable non-dedicated solutions. As you point out, you’re trying to force a change in how other people go about their lives, not really reflecting what people are doing or want. You’re really aiming at a minority of a minority. There will never be Dutch level bicycling in the USA short of mass economic impoverishment or heavy handed anti-car political activity.

    Anyway your distaste of the 1950s aside, the simple fact is that there has never been priority treatment for cars under the law in most of the USA. That was the sort of film that used to be shown to school children, in school. It’s not some TV show. It’s not hollywood. When I was in the early grades I had to watch their 1960s and 70s counterparts. Safety walking to school, biking, and riding the bus. I haven’t found them online. They were particularly gruesome, even without showing it explicitly, like the kid who stuck his arm out the school bus window and passing truck took it off. Again, it’s a generational thing. I get the feeling they stopped showing these films sometime in the 1980s when kids started to be driven everywhere. Baby on Board culture.

  • oooBooo

    Except I’ve personally dealt with such situations many times, and no I’ve never hit one yet, but needing to slam on the brakes to not hit a ped? More times than I can count. Trying to mix a controlled route and chaos isn’t the greatest idea in the world and its not good design.

    Back to the lakefront ‘cycletrack’. It used to go in front of the Shed. It has since been rerouted to a longer route behind the shed. Why? Pedestrians. Thick pedestrian traffic in front of the Shed. Masses of pedestrians crossing a bicycle road is not good design.

  • Gezellig


    Step 1) build car-centric infrastructure for decades

    Step 2) observe car modeshare balloon

    Step 3) use “but no one bikes!” excuse to endlessly continue step 1, even though it’s not sustainable (in many senses of the word).


    But as it turns out:

    –> Driving every trip every time is indeed *not* what everyone wants all the time. Many people would actually love to take other modes for at least some trips besides driving if it made sense for their situation.

    –> Studies show there are huge reservoirs of Interested But Concerned residents in any given city who would bike at least sometimes if it were more pleasant or convenient to get around. PBLs are one major way to encourage higher modeshare, and modeshare does tend to skyrocket on stretches that receive upgraded infra.

    You can throw all the VC techniques you want at people, and most won’t touch it. (Btw lots of people here are confident bikers and even many of us are not particularly fond of VCing everywhere. Sometimes it just sucks).

    Cities are rightly pursuing strategies to encourage higher bike modeshare as a way to encourage a healthier, happier population as well as lower road costs. It just makes sense/cents. Sorry-not-sorry, that’s just the way it is.

  • Gezellig

    Agreed, and when space allows it certainly makes sense to reroute peds/bikes away from each other, especially if there’s heavy traffic of one or the other or both. Of course on an urban block this may not always be possible, but it sounds like the lakefront path is now for the better.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The mode share for commuting to work by van, car or truck has been dropping since 2005 in the U.S., while the commuting mode share for bicycling has been rising since then.

    No more than 2.4% of the road space on arterial/collector streets in the city of Los Angeles is devoted to bike lanes and the vast majority of that was left over space where nothing was taken away from drivers. The commuting mode share for bicycling in Los Angeles for 2013 was 1.2%. That does not include bicycling to a transit station. The mode share for bicycling will likely rise again within the next two results from the miles of bike lanes that have already been installed.

    Los Angeles installed 200 miles of bikeways in the last three fiscal years. The bicycle commuting mode share increased 20% in 2013. This can be directly attributable to the large increase in the miles of bike lanes.

    From 2007 through 2013 the bicycle commuting mode share has doubled in the city of Los Angeles. There were 22,000 more people commuting by car, truck or van in that time period and 11,000 more people using a bicycle as their primary means of transportation to work. The mode share for commuting by truck, van and car has dropped by 2.5 percent points in that time period. The bicycle boarding’s at Metro rail stations increased by 42% between 2012 and 2013.

    Very few people will ever be willing to ride a bicycle in mixed traffic on a busy street. There is no other viable option other than to use separation to get much more people riding a bicycle regularly.

    Its not about forcing a change to how people live their lives. Its about given people more transportation choices.

  • oooBooo

    Good for LA. LA isn’t everywhere. What I see here on chi.streetsblog is to take away as much space from driving as possible. Make driving as painful as possible. Actual utility to bicycling seems to rank somewhere well below that.
    And yes, as middle class americans are impoverished they drive less.

  • oooBooo

    Since you’re arguing for me, I’ll leave you to have a private discussion with yourself.

  • oooBooo

    If bicycling in traffic was 1/100th as dangerous you portray it, I died 15 years ago.

  • oooBooo

    Bicycles are vehicles.

    Speed limits are set under the speed of traffic and cops write tickets for revenue and ‘beyond the stop’ purposes.

    If 19mph, then there’s no need for bike lanes in much of Chicago. A driver would be damn lucky to average that for much of the city.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    That’s absolutely not true. Chicago is taking away excess capacity for motor vehicles to install bike lanes. The negative effect on the average speed of motor vehicles is quite small.

    If the intent of installing bike lanes in Chicago was to make it as painful as possible for driving, then the bike lanes being installed would connect into a network. The bike lanes are disconnected because the negative impact to driving would be too great. Its not a one-sided approach in the decisions to install bike lanes. Drivers usually get the priority for storing their vehicles on arterial streets instead of having bike lanes. Having a very negative effect on the flow of motor vehicles is also not acceptable in any U.S. city that I am aware of.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    If people are not given an alternative to driving, then the commuting mode share of driving does not usually go down. Cities that don’t build separated bikeways do not have a increase in mode share for commuting by bicycle.

  • oooBooo

    It absolutely is true. Space is a area of roadway. Roadway area/space is being dedicated to bicycling. Capacity is a calculated value that includes multiple factors.These are two different things and you know they are. Thus you’re being intentionally dishonest and deceptive to readers who don’t understand the difference. You’re also insulting me even to try and pull such a thing.

    This is big part of why I have such a low opinion of today’s bicycling and transit advocates. This is the sort of political lying I expect of politicians with ulterior motives, not of transportation enthusiasts.

  • Coolebra

    BoooHooo, oooBooo. Now you want to cry foul? Seriously, man?

    While the personal attacks you incorporate into your ill-supported arguments and retorts are entertaining and make me smile (thanks), your effort to project your behavior onto others is misplaced. There’s no personal attack in what I’ve written. Your claim of such is obviously a feeble attempt to redirect focus away from the questions you’re asked.

    As usual, you don’t answer the question you’ve been asked.

    Where do you ride, man? If it isn’t Chicago, and you’re apparently unfamiliar with the transportation goings on there, why argue with folks about what is right or wrong for the city?

    Is it that you advocate for only one solution, no matter the locale or circumstance, so your one-size fits all answer is the right one? Sounds like the major investment studies I read, the majority of which read like plagiarized novels:

    The road is past its useful life.
    Crashes are too high.
    Geometric and capacity constraints contribute to crashes.
    Solution: Expand the roadway.

    One does not need an engineering degree to copy and paste, but we pay engineers billions doing just that. Your comments appear to be cut from the same cloth.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I’ll reiterate this once again because you just don’t seem to get it.

    Car manufacturers are required to install safety features for occupants such as safety glass, crush zones, air bags and seat belts. This was done to reduce injuries to occupants that occur while driving in motor vehicle lanes.

    You seem to believe that bicycling in those same lanes gives you a aura of invincibility, that the motor vehicle collisions that happen thousands of times a day across the U.S. is very unlikely to happen to you since your on a bicycle. And if a motorist does hit you at high speed then you’ll be protected with that aura of invincibility.

    However, the much slower speeds of motor vehicles exiting driveways and turning at intersections, which are likely to create much less severe injuries to bicyclists, are to be feared the most by bicyclists, according to your twisted logic.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Again, bicycles are NOT motor vehicles.

    The maximum speed is 19 mph, its not an average. The Netherlands recommends separating bicycles from motor vehicles when the speed difference between them increases.

    Policeman generally do not write tickets as a source of revenue. If a policeman sees someone violating a traffic law, then its their duty to enforce the law and that is frequently by giving out a ticket.

  • mjcrites

    In the “before” picture at the top of the page I have lots of room to ride my bike and can choose to ride it wherever is safest based on conditions and where I’m headed. In the “after” picture I’m squeezed into a little lane on the left and have to deal with pedestrians stepping off the curb and left turning cars that can’t see me because of parked cars.

    I’ll take the before option.


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