Engineering Establishment Sets Out to Purge Deviant Bikeway Designs

This is the masthead for the website of the bicycle committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Apparently this group's attitudes about bike infrastructure are not much more advanced then its website. Image:
This is the current masthead for the website of the bicycle committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Image:

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices might be the most influential group of American bike policy makers you’ve never heard of.

The committee shapes street design standards in the United States to a large extent. Their recommendations become part of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a guide to street markings, signs, and signals that many professional engineers treat as gospel.

The NCUTCD consists mostly of older engineers from state DOTs. In recent years, its bikeway design orthodoxy has been challenged by a new wave of engineers looking to implement treatments that the American street design establishment has frowned upon, despite a proven track record improving the safety and comfort of bicycling. Most notably, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has released guidance on the design of protected bike lanes that the MUTCD lacks.

NACTO’s guidance is gaining adherents. Dozens of cities have implemented protected bike lanes in the past few years. The Federal Highway Administration endorsed the guide in 2013.

All this progress doesn’t seem to sit very well with some members of the old guard. In January, the NCUTCD passed a resolution [Word file] establishing a “task force” to investigate “interest groups that may not be part of the NCUTCD” that promote street designs which don’t conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

The MUTCD is supposed to allow for flexibility and deviation from the standard when conditions warrant, which often applies to “bicycle facilities in complex urban environments,” said Joe Gilpin, an expert on bikeway design with Alta Planning. NACTO designs are, according to Gilpin, “for the most part… created from standards already provided within the MUTCD, even if it’s being put together in a different way.”

But the recent resolution is a not-so-veiled attempt to impede that flexibility.

Not every member of the NCUTCD wants to hinder change. Bill Schultheiss, a consultant with Toole Design Group and a long-time member of the committee, was alarmed by the resolution. He says the structure of the committee leads to unnecessary foot-dragging.

“The majority of the NCUTCD members have no familiarity with bicycle facility design,” he said. “Thus when presented with new bike treatments, they insist they be proven safe through rigorous research which isn’t funded, even though the process allows people to use engineering judgment to consider changes to the manual.”

For example, Schultheiss said, before the committee moved to approve dedicated bicycle signals, it spent a year arguing about whether it would be appropriate to use red, yellow, and green colors out of fear motorists would be confused.

Some members of the NCUTCD’s Bicycle Technical Committee have resisted street treatments that are now gaining wide acceptance. The chair of bicycle committee of 10 years, Richard Moeur, was a career engineer at the Arizona Department of Transportation. He keeps a blog where he raises questions about the safety of bike-specific signals.

We reached out to Moeur for a comment on the resolution. But he deferred to other members of the NCUTCD. Other members have not responded to Streetsblog’s queries.

Though the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and the League of American Bicyclists each nominate one member to NCUTCD, its composition is mainly dictated by other groups, like the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which each get to make eight appointments (Moeur is one of them). According to the group’s bylaws, a two-thirds majority is needed to approve recommendations, so AASHTO and ITE support is essential for changes to the MUTCD. Once members are appointed there are no term limits, leading to infrequent turnover and a dearth of younger members.

“The 1950s era bylaws are structured to preserve the suburban and rural highway agency perspective of the council and to slow the pace of change in the manual,” said Schultheiss. “Very few of the council members bicycle or walk for transportation purposes, thus their comments tend to be from a motorists’ perspective. This greatly impacts the understanding and acceptance for bicycle and pedestrian treatments.”

1145 thoughts on Engineering Establishment Sets Out to Purge Deviant Bikeway Designs

  1. A major part of the VC-only resistance to separated infrastructure appears to be the fear that they will be “forced” to use such infrastructure. However, in many cases a range of user needs can be accommodated–especially with the wide rights of way we commonly have in the US.

    Attached at the bottom of this message are some Street View screenshots from a recent road retrofit in Marin County (where MAMIL-style biking is popular, though certainly not the only kind of biking going on).

    Attached some images here:

    1) At this intersection of Magnolia and Doherty in Larkspur there’s a nascent protected intersection going on (cross street Doherty is set to receive a protected path in the future). There’s also an on-road Class II bike lane at the intersection, but it quickly tapers off and becomes sharrows (see last picture) after the intersection for those who prefer VC.

    2) Same intersection, this time looking back. Notice the separated, wide, smooth track of asphalt behind the protective concrete curb for people who want to bike away from cars. The concrete sidewalk also clearly delineates where pedestrians should be.

    3) Street View picture of that same intersection several years ago before it was retrofitted. Notice how the old style only accommodates people biking in the middle of merging traffic and also puts other vulnerable users of bike infrastructure (such as people who use mobility scooters) at risk.

    4) Quickly after the intersection, the Class II bike lane disappears and sharrows are placed firmly in the middle of the lane, reinforcing to drivers that despite the adjacent separated Class I path they should also expect to share the road with faster vehicular cyclists (speed limit = 25mph) controlling the lane there.

    Btw, these updates to the intersection were done when it came up for regularly scheduled repaving/ADA upgrades/etc. This is a great example of upgrading infrastructure to accommodate a wider range of user needs when a road comes up for scheduled repaving/maintenance upgrades anyway.

    Google Maps Location:

  2. Jensen’s paper makes clear that there were trends afoot that would have affected the crash counts whether or not the cycletracks were installed. His research method attempted to predict the expected results of those trends if no cycletracks were installed (the “Expected After” columns) and compare with the observed results (“Observed After”). According to Jensen, those are the proper comparisons. As shown at figure 3 in my link
    those are columns Jensen used to get his 10% crash increase for _all_ vehicles. Cycletrack advocates accept the 10%, but are pretending that was just for bikes. It was not!

    The numbers for just bike and moped crashes (Jensen’s data doesn’t differentiate mopeds) are in link
    taken from Jensen’s table 4. That should clearly show that the B/M crashes increased by 30%. (Well, 30.54%.) That’s more than the increase in cycling, which is why Jensen said, and _never_ retracted, “Bicyclists’ safety has worsened due to these facilities.” And that matches the results of several other studies I’ve referenced that show more danger from sidetracks. Please don’t pretend you don’t understand!

    If New York City data shows something different, that seems to be unusual. But AFAIK we don’t have all the details on NYC; we’ve got more of a set of publicity slides put together by the facility designer. It may be that we’d learn more – i.e. the reason for the unusual NYC result – if we got more details.

    Now, to paraphrase your question above, you seem to be saying “What’s the point of telling the truth about these facilities? We need them to get people to ride.” But to me, there are two consistent fibs coming out of segregation fans: 1) That riding a bike is really dangerous without some sort of segregated facility; and 2) that all these segregated facilities obviously make riding very much safer, so much so that their use cannot be questioned.

    Again, both ideas are false, and I believe segregation fans should be honest. Also false is the idea that if we build enough facilities in America, car use will drop tremendously, pollution an energy consumption will drop as well, and nobody from 8 to 80 will need to know anything about how to ride on ordinary roads.

    Understand, I don’t disagree with promoting cycling. I _do_ disagree with the fear mongering used by segregation advocates, and with the claim that only one strategy – a very expensive and difficult one – is worth pursuing.

  3. This has got to have set a record for Streetsblog comments and brings to mind some of those epic, and yet unproductive, discussions we used to have 15-20 years ago in the newsgroups.

  4. First, Maggie, that post was a great improvement over the silliness of the “carry my Focus up the stairs” one.

    Unfortunately, in this post you’re demonstrating either misinformation or, perhaps, the straw man argument technique. I’ll hope that it’s the former, and attempt to correct the misinformation.

    Segregation fans frequently pretend that vehicular cyclists want bicycles and motor vehicles to always, no matter what, be treated exactly the same; and that VCs never, ever want any transportation facility to provide extra accommodation for bikes. Those ideas are simply false. As I’ve mentioned (although you may have missed it) I’m solely responsible for one bike/ped facility in my town, and I was on the committee that generated another one. These are two routes that are closed to motor vehicles, and would be not be open to bikes (or pedestrians) without our work. Also, when a bridge over a nearby freeway was being rehabbed, I led (and won) the fight to get bicycle and pedestrian accommodation that was not there before, at a very significant increase in expense. (You might not approve the accommodation because it isn’t segregated enough, but your version would have been flatly refused.)

    As part of another group, I led the hard fight (which we lost) against a very dangerous and ultimately fatality-causing facility in our area. But it wasn’t that we wanted no bike facility; instead, we wanted one without collision hazards, road surface hazards, blind spots for head-on collisions and mis-education of novice cyclists. Unfortunately, despite numerous crashes and one fatality, there are still cyclists who think it’s good. (For those people, any bike facility is a good bike facility.)

    On the bridge whose photo you linked, I’d absolutely lobby for bike access. And incidentally, since such a bridge can have no crossing conflicts (the major bane of city or suburban cycletracks), I wouldn’t argue against a request for barrier separation.

    Before you demonize vehicular cyclists’ positions, be sure you know what those positions are. And try to represent them honestly.

  5. If New York City data shows something different, that seems to be unusual. But AFAIK we don’t have all the details on NYC; we’ve got more of a set of publicity slides put together by the facility designer. It may be that we’d learn more – i.e. the reason for the unusual NYC result – if we got more details.

    If you prefer a more technical white paper on the subject (and not just confined to NYC) the info’s out there. For example, this technical white paper cites lots of very engineery technical sources for verification:

    • An evaluation of six cycle tracks in Montreal compared the streets with cycle tracks to parallel streets without bicycle facilities, and found that the streets with cycle tracks have a 28% lower injury rate over the parallel streets without bicycle facilities.

    • Researchers examined crash rates on 19 US cycle tracks physically separated from vehicle traffic by a buffer and distinct from the walking paths compared to reference streets without cycle tracks. The overall crash rate for cycle tracks was 2.3 (95% CI = 1.7, 3.0) crashes per million bicycle kilometers. For vehicle-bicycle crashes on roadways, the overall published crash rates per million bicycle kilometers ranged from 3.75 to 54, and from 46 to 67 in the US and Canada respectively. These “results suggest that, in the United States, bicycling on cycle tracks is safer than bicycling on roads.

    • A study of 690 bicycling injuries in Canada across all types of bicycle facilities showed that cycle tracks had the lowest risks, about one-ninth the risk of the reference street: a major street with parked cars and no bicycle infrastructure. Bicycle lanes were found to have about one-half the risk as the reference. Busy streets are associated with higher risks than quiet streets, and bicycle-specific facilities are associated with lower risks.

    • The Prospect Park West New York City cycle track case study found that all crashes decreased by 16%, injuries decreased by 63%, and injury risk decreased by 50% post-installation. The study also reported there were no reported injuries between bicyclists and pedestrians.

    • Researchers surveyed cyclists in two buffered bicycle lanes and one cycle track in Portland about their perceived safety and route choice (cycle track and buffered lane vs. on-street, all other). About 45% of cyclists agreed that they chose to ride on the cycle track more often. Additionally, women significantly felt safer on the cycle track than men (94% [of women] vs. 64% [of men]).

    • Researchers in Portland measured air quality on the driver side and passenger side of a parked car to compare particulate matter found in a typical location of bicycle lane vs. the typical location of a cycle track. Air quality was found to be 8% to 38% better in the cycle track location than the bicycle lane, and researchers also found that the highest differences between the two facilities corresponded with higher traffic volumes, supporting the conclusion that the distance created by a physical barrier between a bicycle facility and moving traffic affects air quality and bicyclists’ exposure to ultrafine pollutant particles.

  6. Evidently, you don’t know how to add.

    The MV and B/M collision totals on the chart are:


    Rear end–MV hits B/M___________173________57
    Right hook–turning MV & B/M______81_______282
    Left cross–turning MV & B/M______120_______161
    Doorings–B/M hits parked MV______94________46


    That’s a 16.7% increase in MV and B/M collisions.

    The volume of cycling increased 18-20%.

    Therefore there was not a greater rate of bicycle/moped collisions with motor vehicles per volume of cyclists after the installation of cycle tracks.

    As I previously stated you just grasping at straws trying to find anything that will support your preconceived ideas on the safety of cycle tracks. None of the studies you have mentioned backs your claim that cycle tracks are dangerous.

  7. “Evidently, you don’t know how to add”??

    I suppose I _could_ say something about reading ability, but I’ll refrain. Perhaps you’ve never bothered to read the entire Jensen paper, nor my post just above. So let me just repeat something you seem to have missed:

    Jensen’s paper makes clear that there were trends afoot that would have
    affected the crash counts whether or not the cycletracks were installed.
    His research method attempted to predict the expected results of those
    trends if no cycletracks were installed (the “Expected After” columns)
    and compare with the observed results (“Observed After”). According to Jensen, those are the proper comparisons – NOT the “Observed Before” and the “Observed After.”

    You’ve added well, Dennis. Unfortunately, you’ve added and compared the wrong columns.

    And you’ve forgotten that Jensen has _never_ retracted his statement that “Bicyclists’ safety has worsened due to these facilities.”

  8. As for reading comprehension Soren Jensen very clearly stated in the link I previously posted:

    “There are several reasons for the increase in accidents, however, the most dominating one is that construction of cycle tracks on main roads often leads to a parking ban on these roads, which then leads to many automobiles being driven onto sidestreets and being parked there – and this leads to many more accidents at intersections between main roads and side streets. If parking is not banned on the main road then there most often is no change in safety when cycle tracks are being constructed.”

    He also stated:

    “But I do not know if an increase in bicycle traffic in Dallas will lead to better or worse safety overall (total number of road deaths etc.) – but I do know that it will lead to better safety for the bicyclists.”

  9. Jensen has a problem, in that he’s obviously in favor of cycletracks, but his research obviously shows them to be more dangerous. Again, in the conclusion of his paper, he said “Bicyclists’ safety has worsened due to these facilities.” And despite your frequent claims, he _never_ retracted that statement.

    But in that paper, he later said that since there were more bicyclists, there “must have” been benefits of “less air pollution less traffic noise, less oil consumption, etc.” And he said those positive benefits may have been worth the increased danger to cyclists.

    It’s an odd argument to make – essentially, “It’s OK to put cyclists at more risk for, you know, the good of society.” At the very least, it hints strongly at bias on his part, bias in favor of cycletracks.

    His stated opinion on Dallas seems to be further evidence of bias, and perhaps a way of regaining favor with other cycletrack fanatics. Note that his opinion did not come with any scholarly justification. It’s an opinion out of the blue.

  10. Funny how the Jensen study is held as proof that cycle tracks are dangerous by vehicular cycling cult followers and yet the overwhelming amount of other studies, data and research that indicate otherwise are dismissed as junk science, propaganda and bias. Vehicular cycling fanatics have not been able to stop bike lane installations after decades of trying.

    The number of U.S. cities installing cycle tracks is growing as traffic engineers gain knowledge from installation in other cities and increasing endorsements from state agencies such as Caltrans and the FHWA of NACTO cycle track guidelines. The FHWA intends to release its own guide for cycle track installations.

    I learned monday night that the LADOT has a goal of installing 10 miles of cycle tracks by the end of 2015. The first one will be installed in April.

    The insular dogmatic beliefs of VC advocates have been increasingly unsuccessful in stopping the installation of separated on-street bikeways after years of fear mongering. These are blatant attempts of VC adherents to force people to either ride in mixed traffic or don’t ride on streets at all. VC proponents are losing this battle as the miles of bike lanes and cycle tracks in the U.S. continues to grow.

  11. And the important thing here is it’s the data-driven approach that’s guiding the acceptance of this sea change.

    The Never-Infrastructure crowd can cite every cherry-picked study from 1975 they want or twist the findings of one study in Denmark, but that doesn’t change the now large corpus of high-quality, quantifiable, recent, peer-reviewed and most importantly replicable hard data on the before/after safety and modeshare benefits protected infrastructure has brought to North American cities.

    It’s not just some feel-good marketing campaign but one inherently grounded on quantifiable research:

    I think it’s time for the VC-only crowd to admit that for whatever reason they simply just don’t *like* bike-specific infrastructure–even of the highest quality, best-practice kind–instead of continuing to pretend such a position is grounded in actual data.

    As it turns out, there may often even be ways to accommodate the < 1% that don't wish to use bike-specific infrastructure while providing good infrastructure for everyone else.

    See my comment and pictures below about how a recent road retrofit in the Bay Area made this possible:

  12. “Funny how the Jensen study is held as proof that cycle tracks are dangerous by vehicular cycling cult followers…”

    What’s funnier is that cycletrack advocates hold up Jensen’s study as “proof” that cycletracks are safer than riding on roads; whereas any honest reading of the Jensen paper (including Jensen’s own clear statement) shows the opposite! Cognitive dissonance seems to be an important skill for a segregationalist!

    “…data and research that indicate otherwise are dismissed as junk science, propaganda and bias.”

    Well, it’s clear that some of the pro-cycletrack propaganda is all of that. Example: Comparing one Montreal high-traffic, high speed, frequent driveway street with another low traffic, low speed, infrequent driveway cycletrack street and pretending that all the difference was due only to the cycletrack. Example: A pro-cycletrack study whose cycletrack data was taken (without mention in the paper) _entirely_ from an intersection-free cycletrack on a high level bridge.

    There are others. For example, I know of one research project in which a transportation department wanted to examine cyclist behavior before and after their new “innovative” road treatment. Unfortunately, too few cyclists were passing by to generate data. So they had their own employees ride the segment repeatedly, and counted them as if they were random cyclists! (This was told to me by a former employee of that department.) So yes, junk science and deception in favor of bike segregation is not hard to find.

    And that’s true of those citing studies as well. You keep mentioning the supposed “overwhelming” number of studies that indicate much greater safety from segregation. I suspect you don’t really go looking for (let alone read) studies that disagree with your statements. Here are a few, in the link below. Why not acquire some and see what they say? A librarian can help, if necessary.

  13. I think we’ll only reach that point after they’ve all died of old age. Which is fine with me – I hope they all enjoy long and happy lives… and get to see lots of modern bike infrastructure built all over US cities!

    “[Scientific] progress advances one funeral at a time.”

    — Niels Bohr

  14. The only people who repeatedly keep mentioning the Jensen report as proof of anything is the vehicular cycling cult.

    You claim that any honest reading of the report shows that cycle tracks are dangerous.

    Its that so…

    Dr. Kay Teschke, who conducts epidemiological rescyclrch at the University of British Columbia concluded that the Jensen reports raw data shows a reduction in risk for cyclists and moped riders.

    Dr Teschke goes on to state that Mr. Jensen made some adjustments that completely reversed the crude results. That requires a level of trust in the adjustments that hard to justify given the difficult to follow description of the methodology and the many assumptions involved.

    The Dutch and Danes have had decades of data, research and millions of people riding on cycle tracks every day, yet the VC cultists claim that this is inherently dangerous. That all of these people in Northern European countries are being fooled into believing that this is safer when in fact its not. Yet, cyclists in the Netherlands continue to ride with no helmets and with their babies.

    The vehicular cycling advocates continue to try and impose their will on others by claiming their superiority and greater knowledge about the subject. That’s fine if you want to ride in a different manner than the masses, but don’t go trying to force people into making a choice of riding in mixed traffic or not riding at all.

    A justification for that VC thinking is the idea that motorists are trying to force the cyclists to the edge of the road. In actuality, its the VC advocates that are trying to force the cyclists to only ride in mixed traffic on streets. When given a choice of riding in mixed traffic or riding on a on-street separated facility, cyclists are voting with their pedals to ride away from motorists.

    All of the links that I’ve seen from you are to VC cult sites. Try doing a Google search to get a better idea of the research that has been done on cycle tracks.

    You and other VC believers and followers dismiss any data, reports or research that does not fit into your preconceived beliefs.

    The two reports that VC followers keep mentioning as proof of how dangerous cycle tracks are is the Jensen study and the Berlin police report. Its a leap of faith to believe either of these prove that cycle tracks are very unsafe. Millions of people cycling everyday on cycle tracks in the Netherlands and in Denmark with injury and fatality rates far lower than in the UK or the U.S. makes it very clear that saying cycle tracks are dangerous has very little basis in fact.

  15. Yes, actually I have. One road I often ride on is 40mph with parallel parking, but also two lanes in each direction. I feel perfectly safe riding on that road.

    My belief in VC only gets stronger the more I ride.

    I was always afraid when I was an edge rider. Am I going to get doored? Am I going to get right hooked or have someone pull out in front of me? Not to mention all the close passes. The only time I get close passes these days are when I’m riding in a bike lane.

    I don’t feel afraid while riding anymore. The fact that I don’t have close calls while riding in the middle of the lane is exactly why I believe in it so much.

  16. oh, gotcha. I was referring to roads without parking in the right-hand curb lane. I guess I’ve talked about 8 roads now with Google maps street view shots, and Amsterdam Ave in NYC was the only one that has streetside parking. Manhattan has its own design needs, in part because so few customers are driving and parking (it’s usually 3% to 5%) but so many are boarding buses or hailing cabs.

  17. Ok, thanks for the reply. You’re maybe aware that the word segregation is fraught with racial context in the US. If you don’t mind me asking, is there a reason you assign it to someone else’s position? While asking us to avoid straw man arguments?

    Overall, three principles I’d advocate for: 1) bikes are different from cars, from a design and engineering perspective.

    2) cyclists and drivers deserve road design that is accommodating to both

    3) we do now, but ideally shouldn’t have to waste time and energy negotiating bike facilities one lane at a time, the same way traffic control engineers don’t battle anew over traffic light design on each road.

  18. Why do people continue to keep perpetuating this belief? It’s totally possible to ride fast through intersections on the edge, I see people doing it all the time.

  19. You don’t need to rebuild the whole suburbs. Just build cycletracks on the arterials and put restrictions on through traffic on the smaller roads. Most people continually complain about cut-through traffic in the neighborhood anyway. After that is done, education will go ten times further since people will be more willing to ride. Beyond that, a lot of the driving that is done, especially in suburbs, is to ferry around kids who could easily ferry themselves if their parents felt that it was safe for them to do so. That is utilitarian cycling at its finest.

  20. Even a good number of the studies that John Franklin summarizes there support cycletracks even though he tries to twist their conclusion to say that they don’t. And they’re all relatively old by now. Newer research such as this study found that cycletracks are safer on distributor (aka collector) roads. There are several others, start in the reference list and have fun.

  21. “The only people who repeatedly keep mentioning the Jensen report as proof of anything is the vehicular cycling cult.”

    Now it’s a “cult” to be competent on the road and knowledgeable about traffic engineering? Wow.

    Anyway, Dennis, _you_ referred to the Jensen study quite a bit when you were mistakenly interpreting its columns in a way that you claimed “proof” of cycletrack safety. Now that you were shown to be wrong, we should ignore it? Sorry, that’s more evidence of bias.

    And now you claim Teschke found a way to re-analyze Jensen’s data so it shows more safety? Hmm. In the link you gave, I see Teschke did only what you did: look at the before vs. after column, and say that she didn’t know what other adjustments Jensen made, so she didn’t trust him. Personally, I think her real motivation may be that just like you, she didn’t like Jensen’s results, so she didn’t trust them. (And note, BTW, there’s still no word from Jensen saying he retracts his findings.)

    The real significance of Jensen’s paper is that he is obviously a cycle track fan. Again, he’s saying they should be built even though they’re more dangerous – to sacrifice some bicyclists in order to reduce air pollution and traffic noise. (!) When such a fan admits the increased danger, it’s significant.

    And Teschke? Another cycle track fan, one enthusiastic enough to publish a paper claiming amazing safety for cycle tracks – but failing to divulge that the main (or perhaps only?) cycle track used in computation was one on a high bridge, where crossing conflicts were completely impossible! See How odd that she complains that Jensen didn’t sufficiently explain his work!

    That bridge reference brings up a related point: I don’t have much objection to a cycletrack where crossing conflicts are impossible, because that does remove a great source of danger – providing, that is, that it’s properly maintained, plowed of snow and swept of gravel, has good visibility, is wide enough, doesn’t squeeze opposing-direction cyclists together at high closing speeds, doesn’t promote conflicts with pedestrians, and isn’t promoted by claiming riding on ordinary roads is too dangerous. But the “cycletracks (almost) everywhere” crowd ignores all those problems, plus the much bigger one of crossing conflicts.

    As that link notes, the cadre of people pumping out pro-cycletrack papers are public health experts. Like Jensen, their main motivation is not safety for cyclists; their main motivation is getting people out of cars. Significantly, their areas of expertise are things like epidemiology and “planning” rather than traffic engineering.

    Isn’t it odd that people who have documented competence, skills and knowledge – i.e. professional traffic engineers and cyclists who have learned to ride properly – are mocked and derided here?

  22. Regarding the word segregate: It’s used in many contexts. It seems concise and perfectly descriptive in this context. If separate-but-not-equal bike facilities remind you of bad times in the American south, perhaps you should propose a synonym that won’t make you feel bad.

    Regarding your point #1: Bikes are different from cars. And compact cars are different from SUVs, which are different from motorcycles, and tractor-trailer rigs, school buses, mail trucks, UPS trucks, Amish buggies, mopeds, farm vehicles, fire trucks, delivery trucks… Yet all have legal rights to the road. That’s the fundamental nature of roads. Almost all roads work well for all those users once they learn to use them properly. Can’t we try some education before we resort to this?

    Because (point #2) those of us who have gotten just a little relevant education do find that roads are accommodating to us. The fear mongering of cyclepath promoters hampers that education.

    Regarding #3: As every traffic engineer should know, the reason for the “negotiating” over cycletrack installations is that they _do_ violate traffic engineering principles! They place straight-ahead vehicles to the right of right-turning vehicles. They sometimes place opposite-direction vehicles on the right side of the road. And they frequently obscure the view of those weirdly-placed road users, placing them at increased risk. Those are _fundamental_ violations of rules that have been in place since at least 1900.

    The rules are logical, and they work. Why throw them out before trying education?

  23. Then why not start with the easier component? The modified “smaller roads” you’re describing are frequently called “bicycle boulevards.” In my experience, they work very well. They are much less expensive than cycletracks, they don’t introduce extra crossing conflicts, they humanize neighborhoods where kids play. They’re at least as important as cycletracks in other countries.

    In my area, many people assume that one can get places only on busy roads. Yet minor roads exist for almost all destinations, and are fine for cycling right now. A little expense to make some of them official bike boulevards, plus some mapping and publicity to highlight them, could be completed almost immediately.

    Where’s the bike boulevard movement in this country? Why are cycletracks soaking up all the advocacy energy?

  24. I’m sorry, but I call bs. Segregation is a loaded word and you’re not doing your argument any favors by using it for positions you disagree with. It’s an obvious rhetorical dog-whistle. Plus bikes are fundamentally different from cars, in terms of the protection they provide to the cyclist or occupant in a collision, in a way that is not the case for the racial segregation you’re dredging up.

    We’ll agree to disagree on the other points but I appreciate the info to consider.

  25. One problem with SWOV documents is that their practices are certainly not being followed, and generally not even being advocated, by U.S. cycletrack fans. From that document:
    “On 50 and 80km/h roads, almost two thirds of the fatal bicycle crashes happen at intersections,” which is where cycletracks complicate matters.
    ” Another guideline for the application of bicycle facilities (CROW, 2006) is that they should not be located adjacent to parking spaces so that conflicts between parking vehicles (manoeuvres, doors opening and passengers getting out) and passing cyclists are avoided…Finally, a one-way bicycle track is to be preferred to a two-way bicycle track.” Yet U.S. installations routinely violate those rules.

    “At other intersection types a lower speed must be enforced by speed reducing measures, like traffic humps just before the intersection or a raised junction.” That’s an example of motorist control absent from U.S. advocacy.

    “A median guardrail or a median island enables cyclists to cross a busy road more safely.”
    “…an inward or an outward curve of the bicycle track the bicycle track curves towards the
    carriageway or indeed away from it. This increases the cyclist’s visibility…” But again, U.S. installations generally don’t even consider such measures.

    Instead, we’re getting half-assed things like cycletracks behind parked vans hiding fast downhill cyclists until they pop out to surprise turning motorists (as in one Chicago example). If Americans are to copy the Dutch, they need to copy the entire system, not pretend any vague copy of just one feature will be just as safe.

    I suggest starting by copying Netherlands’ restrictions on motorists.

  26. Frank, you and other vehicular cycling devotees are repeatedly trying to prevent people from riding on streets unless they do so in mixed traffic. The vast majority of people have shown no willingness to ride in mixed traffic. In other words, you are encouraging them to seek out another way of traveling other than bicycling. Fortunately the vehicular cycling crowd is losing its grip on preventing the installation of cycle tracks.

    You have a very neanderthal, insular and dogmatic way of looking at bicycling. Your only referring to websites that promote your narrow viewpoint.

    Dr. Teschke and I used S. U. Jensen’s raw before and after data to come to our conclusions. That’s not bias. Mr. Jensen stated that the reason for the increased bicycling collisions after the cycling track installations was the removal of on-street parking which caused more motorists to seek parking by turning right.

    “As that link notes, the cadre of people pumping out pro-cycletrack papers are public health experts.”

    Is that right? You seem to be just getting all your information on vehicular cycling websites.

    This study is about the separation of bicycles from motor vehicles by the use of bike lanes:

    Its authors, Li Chen and Claire E. McKnight are with the Department of Civil Engineering, City College of New York, New York NY. Cynthia Chen is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle. Raghavan Srinivasan is with the Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Reid Ewing is with the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Matthew Roe is with the Division of Traffic and Planning, New York City Department of Transportation, New York NY.

    The results of this study are that bicycle lanes do not lead to an increase in crashes, despite the probable increase in the number of bicyclists. The most likely reasons for the lack of increases in crashes are reduced motor vehicle speeds and fewer conflicts between motor vehicles and bicyclists after installation of these lanes.

    Another report evaluating protected bike lanes in the U.S. was partially written by Jennifer Dill Phd, professor, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. Director, Oregon Transportation, Research & Education Consortium. Director National Institute for Transportation and Communities.

    The voluminous findings were from a wide-ranging study of protected bike lane intersections in five U.S. cities. It’s based on 204 hours of video footage that captured the movement patterns of 16,000 people on bicycles and 20,000 turning cars; on 2,301 surveys with people who live near the projects; and on 1,111 surveys of people using the protected lanes.

    The following report about the risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus the street has co-contributions by Peter G. Furth, Department of Civil and Enviornmental Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston MA. Also by Walter C. Willett, Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    Although researchers are mainly in the fields of medicine, environment and public health from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada that worked on Bicyclists’ Injuries and Cycling Environment (Bic)e Study, and collected data of 690 cyclists injured in Toronto or Vancouver and treated at a hospital emergency department . The researchers then compared the route characteristics at injury sites to randomly selected control sites.

    Contributors to the study were also:

    Conor C O Reynolds, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    Peter A Cripton, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

    The following study entitled: Comparing the effects of infrastructure on bicycling injury at intersections and non-intersections using a case-crossover design had co-contributions by:

    Conor C O Reynolds, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    Peter A Cripton, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Colubmia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

  27. Cycletracks are “soaking up all the advocacy energy” because the bulk of the energy is being focused in busier cities where a bike boulevard just won’t fly. Bike boulevards won’t work everywhere, so cycletracks are the obvious alternative for the situations where that occurs. Such as six-lane arterials. Additionally, newer suburban development has finally gotten the whole functional classification thing figured out, but that means that the streets where a bike boulevard makes sense are cul-de-sacs and empty onto a collector or arterial where the same approach will obviously not work.

  28. Residential streets were not designed as a connected network to go every place to need to get to. Barriers such as freeways, cul-de-sacs, hills, busy streets, waterways and railways make it extremely difficult and more expensive to connect residential streets into a connected network of Bicycle Boulevards. There frequently would need to be traffic calming, traffic diverters, and traffic signals installed. The estimated average cost in the 2010 LA Bicycle Plan is $300,000 per mile for Bicycle Boulevards and $50,000 per mile for bike lanes.

    The DOT of Portland Oregon is heavily emphasizing Bicycle Boulevards. Other large cities that are still mainly focused on installing separation for bicycles on major streets have been gaining ground on Portland in the last six years in terms of bicycle commuting mode share. Perhaps this is mainly due to installing separate bicycle facilities on major streets where most commuters want and need to go.

  29. That’s not a problem with SWOV, that’s a problem with advocates. Don’t confuse the two. However, it’s worth noting that advocates who ask for many of the measures recommended by SWOV have almost certainly run up against engineers who won’t approve them. Which is of course the crux of this whole article. For better or worse, a lot of the measures would require a very forward-thinking application of the standards which unfortunately means that garbage continues to appear. Also, those treatments can be pricey when it involves retrofitting the bikeway into the existing environment. As such, I can understand, though by no means see as complete, the more lackluster designs that are done as part of road diets or other reconfiguration projects. For enough people, they are a real improvement. However, brand new construction or major renovation both offer the chance to do it right from the beginning, so I’d expect raised intersections and other such treatments to be used in those situations because there is no reason to not do so.

    Also, the Dutch restrictions on motorists are not as drastic as people like to believe, especially outside of the city centers. Generally speaking, trips by car are just as easy biking, the biggest difference is that biking in those areas does not require riding next to a high volume of speeding motorists.

  30. I used to do it all the time and roughly every 1000-2000 miles of riding I would have a close call with a right hook where I was slamming on my brakes hard and moving into the curb. That never felt safe. It was actually so close it was terrifying a few times.

  31. I have close calls from people passing way more often than once every 1000-2000 miles. Removing 90% of riding stress sounds like a good idea, maybe I should start riding near the edge.

  32. I don’t have close calls from passing when I’m riding in the middle of the lane.

    Maybe your close passing happens because you’re edge riding? I used to get them all the time too when I was an edge rider.

  33. “You have a very neanderthal, insular and dogmatic way of looking at bicycling” is undiplomatic in the extreme – the kind of thing that often comes from someone who’s running out of logic. Now really, which of us has been saying that cycling is safe, that _right now_ its benefits greatly exceed its risks, that one can easily learn to do safely on existing streets, that there are many ways of promoting cycling, but that some facilities can be useful? And which of us is saying that ONLY cycletracks are acceptable?

    No, I am not trying to prevent anyone from riding on streets. Quite the contrary! I’ve done a considerable amount to _enable_ people to ride on streets, using education. And FWIW, I’ve also done articles, given talks and taught classes to tell people how to deal with the _extra_ hazards that occur when they use things like bike trails, sidewalks, cycle tracks, and even parking lots. I’ve done what Carol Szczepanski (as Communications Director of LAB) did in her _Bicycling Times_ article. But I suspect you think any such warnings are heresy!

    And contrary to what you’re probably thinking, I’ve never told anyone not to use those facilities. Instead, I tried to make sure they knew that they _cannot_ just relax and daydream because they’re away from the cars. Again: Heresy, right?

    ISTM that you, however, are working to convince people that bicycling cannot be safe unless a cycle track exists. I’m amazed that you can’t see how that limits bicycling, and prevents people from riding right now!

    (Regarding the Jensen paper: It’s too bad that you’re not acknowledging the entire point of the paper. Perhaps you’re so dedicated to selling ONLY one mode of cycling promotion, that you’re unwilling to admit that mode may have certain shortcomings. Or perhaps you simply don’t understand that paper.)

  34. Perhaps bike boulevards won’t work everywhere, but certainly, cycle tracks won’t work everywhere! “Busier cities” are no barrier to bike boulevards. Look at street maps of Chicago, Cincinnati, Portland, Cleveland, even Los Angeles – especially in the older parts of the cities, there are dense networks of parallel streets, and vast numbers of possibilities for bike boulevards. In fact, parallel quieter streets are a standard way for many bicyclists to get around right now. But there’s ZERO publicity being given to the possibility of developing or improving that network.

    I’ve ridden in Zurich, Switzerland. The city had wayfinding signs enabling cyclists to use quiet streets (and a few little bike-path connectors) to get to places like the airport, rail station, shopping centers, etc. I found them to be very handy. Why is nothing like that tried in America? Is it because cycletracks are soaking up the funding, like they’re soaking up the advocacy energy?

    In Switzerland, our friends told us about the (then) recently enacted strict liability laws for motorists. They said they immediately made motorists much more cooperative and careful. They claimed it “transformed” walking and cycling. Why do we get no advocacy for that in America?

    Until such legal changes, why are there no publicity campaigns – billboards, public service announcements on radio and TV, magazine ads, etc. to educate motorists that cyclists have full rights to the road _now_? And why no campaigns to get cops on our side, supporting our rights?

    Why doesn’t every bike sold in America come with a local map, showing the lesser-known, quieter roads that can be used to get around most cities? That’s a pennies-per-copy effort that could enable people to use their bikes more practically right now.

    Regarding cul-de-sac developments: Why not zoning rules that require “leak through” connector paths for bicyclists and pedestrians? That’s an example of a much less expensive facility that would do kids and timid cyclists tons of good. (Example: There’s a large park near me, with expensive housing developments abutting it; but no connection between the two for kids to use. How is that logical? And is the solution really a cycle track on the nearby busy road? Why not a simple connector path?)

    I see very little being done now except to call for an impossibly expensive solution, one that can be applied to only a few streets in America, for cost reasons if nothing else. And more weirdly, the “advocates” pushing for that solution are doing it by saying one dare not ride elsewhere! It’s backwards advocacy.

  35. I meant one problem with using SWOV documents for an American example is that their practices are not being followed; so the poor American copies of Dutch designs are often crappy and dangerous. Yes, it _is_ a problem caused by U.S. advocates, who (again) seem to think any bike facility is a good bike facility.

    And you’re right that many U.S. engineers won’t install all the features that aid safety in Dutch facilities. The reason is pretty obvious. All engineers have budgets! And America is in the grip of a Tea Party driven “No new taxes” mania. Transportation engineers in much of the country are sweating over paying for pothole repair, after sweating over soaring prices for road salt. And they worry about major bridges that are in dire need of repair, among other things. Asking them to divert a few million for really good cycletracks will very seldom fly. Unlike the Netherlands, there isn’t the public demand or potential clientele, despite Dennis’s pie-in-the-sky predictions.

    True story: I attended a public meeting about a proposal for bike lanes, paths, etc. to connect a certain school to a certain large park. The consulting firm that did the presentation showed beautiful sketches of a path suspended over the banks of the river.

    I pointed out that such a path would be hugely expensive, and completely unnecessary, because the parallel street one block away was almost traffic free and very pleasant. In fact, our bike club uses it at least weekly for the “beginner” rides.

    Afterwards, one of the city traffic engineers came up and thanked me personally. He said the engineers jaw dropped when they saw the proposal. They knew it would have eaten up the majority of their annual budget.

    I’m sure that consulting firm still got a nice fee for their watercolor drawings, though. And I’m sure that some bike advocates are still wistfully daydreaming about a pretty path suspended above the river…

  36. I ride farther left than just about anybody I know, including LCIs. But maybe you could point out to me exactly what part of the left tire track is the edge riding. Here’s a good place to start:

  37. Looked closer to center than left tire track, maybe a little left of center, which is pretty much where I ride.

    The SUV appears to have pulled fully into the next lane, at least by the time that they passed you. Were they closer before they were in view of the camera?

    Yes, I get people honking at me. I’ll take full lane change passes of 5 feet or more over the less than 1 foot passes that I get while edge riding.

    BTW, I am an LCI.

  38. Looks like they changed lanes, but they close passed me in my lane before doing so. Also, nitpick about two inches if you want, but my position is clearly nowhere near the edge, made all the more evident by the actual edge rider who also starred in the film. These types of passes happen to me far more often than once every 1000-2000 miles of riding, even when riding in the manner exhibited here.

  39. I agree it was nowhere near the edge. However, you say you get lots of close passes. I got lots of close passes when I was an edge right. I hardly ever get them while controlling the lane.

    One way that I used to get close passes was when someone would slow and honk behind me rather than change lanes. I find that a bit of wobble to the left tends to discourage those. I haven’t had a close pass while controlling the lane in over 10,000 miles.

  40. Some of it is budgetary. A lot of it is just due to incomplete standards and lack of knowledge. I can’t tell you how many engineers I’ve sat down with who are hearing the words ‘bike boulevard’ or ‘road diet’ for the first time in their multi-decade career. Even many who are cyclists often have never looked farther than a standard bike lane are often quite proud when they say that they don’t count the gutter pan for their measurements of said bike lane.

    Meanwhile, the whole “it’s too expensive” excuse is another largely invalid escape hatch. Like I said before, I could certainly understand if a town is unwilling to rip up good sidewalks tomorrow to put in a quality cycletrack. That doesn’t mean that the idea can’t be incorporated into more long-term planning and maintenance for when funding does become available.

    Furthermore, not everything is already built. There are hundreds of new developments under construction at this very moment. These developments often require the developer to either pave an entirely new road or substantially widen an existing one. In other words, the ideal situation for building quality infrastructure because the money is already being spent anyway. Yet, that is an opportunity that I see continue to be passed up. Thus far, I’ve only seen two plans that even come remotely close in my area. The rest keeps putting out garbage like what is pictured below that is brand new when they could be doing it right to begin with, also pictured.

  41. I’m not against bike boulevards and neither are any advocates that I know. I’m familiar with the general layout of several of the cities that you mentioned. Certainly, some of those streets could definitely be developed into bike boulevards that are an integrated part of the bikeway network. However, like I said before, they still leave a lot to be desired and are less useful in newer areas.

    As for cul-de-sacs, modern “best practice” for them does generally leave the ends open. However, most are usually still lined up against at least a collector, maybe even an arterial. I completely agree that more could be done to connect them together with bikeways to promote healthy transportation. Hopefully, they can slip under the radar of the police and make it into good community design soon. Then by providing a connection of these internal connector bikeways to more robust separated bikeways along the major arterials that provide connection to the rest of the world.

    Strict liability is probably one of the more misunderstood things about European biking. From all the information I’ve seen, the laws tend to come into place after other measures are already being done to improve the number of people on bikes, including the installation of cycletracks. I’m sure that a fair amount of advocates have limited-to-no information about those strict liability laws, but even those that do know probably do not see a massive benefit in pushing for them. Additionally, the response from all corners of the auto industry would be swift and far larger than just about every advocacy group could sustain. The same or similar goes for the other proposals as well. Billboards would be nice, but absent a major sponsor, they would suck up a lot of the meager dollars from advocacy.

    People are not not riding bikes because they don’t know that they can use the full lane, are worried if the police won’t cite a motorist who hits them, or because a motorist’s insurance might not pay. Potential riders who are “interested but concerned” are concerned about getting hit. Designing a transportation system that minimizes the hitting, both actual and perceived, is far better than saying we’ll sometimes hold the drivers responsible for the hitting if you get hit.

    No one is pushing for a single solution. Advocates are well aware of the possibilities and options that are available. The interest in cycletracks is not to put them on every single street, it’s merely to have them also available as one more option in the toolbox that can be used. The true result of the dawdling is that projects where a cycletrack would clearly be a good fit continue to move forward without them because they’re “not approved”.

  42. Regarding lack of engineer’s (um… and “planners”) knowledge: Yes, I’m sure that many traffic engineers haven’t heard of bike boulevards. But I’d say that emphasizes my point: Advocates should not be putting all their advocacy eggs in the one most expensive and difficult basket! If those lobbying for a better biking environment presented a range of choices, I believe a lot more would be happening on the ground.

    About budgets and “not everything being built”: I happen to live in an older community that had one of its 2-lane state highways explode into a 5- or 6-lane shopping mecca, a concrete zoo with hundreds of disconnected plazas, a huge mall, 40,000 cars per day, clotted traffic, etc. The local Sierra Club once did a protest hike to highlight the lack of sidewalks, a lack which forces adjacent residents to drive instead of walk even short distances to these stores.

    So, the 2-lane state highway perpendicular to that mess was due to be widened, because the commercial development was obviously going to go that way. Some of us immediately lobbied for sidewalks as part of that project, and did so again at the public open house that showed preliminary designs. The response? There was no budget, and there was no need, because people obviously don’t walk to places like this. And sure enough, the widening was completed without sidewalks. (And this was a few years ago, before the “No new taxes!” Tea Party.)

    Can you imagine the response if we’d asked for cycle tracks as well?

    More on the “not everything is built”: In this area, almost all the new residential construction is all happening a few miles out of town centers. The area has a dense network of former farm roads. Developers buy old farms and put in mushroom developments of McMansions on cul-de-sacs. It’s a lousy system, but its roots go deep into property laws, zoning regulations and cultural expectations. It’s absolutely impossible to run a cycle track even two miles along an exurban road to serve maybe 50 to 100 families. Heck, our town’s high school moved about a mile out into the cornfields about 40 years ago. The first sidewalk to that school wasn’t completed until last year!

    My main point is that magic cycletrack solutions are not going to fix this any time soon. The current biking and driving environment is going to look much like it now does for the next 50 years. I think it makes much more sense to educate cyclists and drivers so they can use this environment cooperatively. Contrary to some people here, it’s not impossible.

    And meanwhile, let engineers and “planners” know that there are options other than pie-in-the-sky cycletracks everywhere.

  43. I’m sure that advocates are not against bike boulevards. My point is that the current fashion in bike advocacy is to heavily emphasize “protected” cycle tracks. So much that they are seen as the _only_ satisfactory treatment. For example, on a recent trip to Seattle, John Pucher rode a downtown street marked with sharrows and bike lanes and said ““I found it extremely dangerous. It’s an accident waiting to happen. We
    almost got doored several times; there were people trying to parallel
    park their cars right into the bike lane,” he said. “What is there now
    is more dangerous than nothing.” His point? Only cycletracks work.

    (BTW, if a cyclist “almost gets doored,” I count it at least partly as the cyclist’s fault. Two hours of cycling education _should_ have taught Pucher to ride out of range of parked car doors!)

    And I agree with you that strict liability laws probably arose _after_ cyclists and peds had the numbers to demand them; but _not_ after the proliferation of cycletracks. For example, Zurich, AFAIK, had zero cycletracks when we visited, but they got the laws. In fact, cycletracks themselves arose in Europe (to the degree they exist) only after there were enough cyclists to justify the huge expense. And those cyclists existed primarily because the cycling culture reached back into the 1920s, at least!

    Incidentally, about your British link (where police advocated no connection between cul-de-sacs): This type of institutional neglect for non-motoring transportation is a bigger problem than most understand. A few years ago, _Bicycling_ magazine had a (rare) good article titled “Why Johnny Can’t Ride” – to school, that is. See

    As they noted, “For middle schools, the Council of Education Facility Planners
    recommends at least 20 acres of land plus another acre for every 100
    students—a policy that, according to the NTHP, amounts to ‘the
    construction of giant educational facilities in remote,
    middle-of-nowhere locations that rule out the possibility of anyone
    walking to school.'”

    That policy comes to us from “Planners,” BTW.

  44. There’s not a lot of talk about bike boulevards because they don’t work everywhere. (Most of the current installations are in areas that would be impractical at best to convert into a bike boulevard. Temple City can’t do it to CA SR-19, DC can’t do it to “L” St., Chicago can’t do it to Dearborn.) For the places where they won’t work for one reason or another, advocates want to be able to bring planners and engineers another tool to use, that tool being a cycletrack. No one is saying that cycletracks are the only solution for everywhere. It’s just that they are only tool that still requires jumping through hoops to use.

    Just because your area is behind the times doesn’t dismiss the fact that building a cycletrack (or for that matter, even just a sidewalk) while the entire road is being widened is far cheaper than coming back later to rip up curbs, demolish trees, and dig up driveways to install it. Perhaps next time, it would be helpful to drag in the studies showing that people arriving by foot and especially by bike tend to spend more and heap those on top of the safety benefits. If all that doesn’t work, take it to court. Especially if someone gets KSI in the area where stuff was not included even thought it was specifically campaigned for.

    Additionally, I doubt many people would say that a 50-100 home development must have a cycletrack serving it, but it really all comes down to the characteristics of the road(s) serving it. A development that small barely needs a road that is paved. It certainly doesn’t need to be served by a road with two lanes, a median/two-way center turn lane, and paved shoulders, yet many similar developments continue to spring up with roads that size or even larger. Such a facility could easily carry the traffic of a development 25x larger and also fosters a driving environment that is not very friendly to biking and will almost certainly need a cycletrack. To make matters worse, the rage nowadays is to put bike symbols on the paved shoulder (aka bike lane) then pat themselves on the back for having a “complete street”.

    As far as I’m concerned, they have two options for that situation.
    Either they build roads that are for such small-scale access as bike boulevards such as this:

    Or they provide a separate cycletrack if they decide to go with state highway standards, such as this:

  45. “In fact, parallel quieter streets are a standard way for many bicyclists to get around right now. But there’s ZERO publicity being given to the possibility of developing or improving that network.”

    There are more miles of Bicycle Boulevards in the 2010 LA Bicycle Plan that there are miles of bike lanes. The fact that you have never heard of it does not mean that this has not gotten publicity. Its widely known in the bicycle planning world what Portland and European cities have done to make bicycling easier on residential streets.

    It was much faster, less costly and easier to emphasize installing bike lanes at first in Los Angeles than it would be for Bicycle Boulevards. Again, $50,000 per mile for bike lanes and $300,000 per mile for Bicycle Boulevards according to the 2010 LA Bicycle Plan.

    In the report of 2013 bicycle counts in the city of Los Angeles that were done by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (city of LA does not count bicycles) it states “When given an option, bicyclists tend to prefer riding on dedicated facilities compared to streets with no bicycle facilities, sharrows are correlated with 22% more ridership, bike lanes 86% more ridership and bike paths 391% more ridership. Signed bike routes with no painted markings are not correlated with increased bicycling.”

    “Bike paths are particularly well love by angelinos. Despite accounting for only 8% of count locations, over 25% of bicyclists counted were on paths.”

    Los Angeles is installing an average of 20 miles of sharrows per year–mostly on residential streets.

    Frank wrote:

    “I’ve ridden in Zurich, Switzerland. The city had wayfinding signs enabling cyclists to use quiet streets (and a few little bike-path connectors) to get to places like the airport, rail station, shopping centers, etc. I found them to be very handy. Why is nothing like that tried in America? Is it because cycletracks are soaking up the funding, like they’re soaking up the advocacy energy?”

    Bicycle wayfinding signs are used in cities such as Berkeley, Seattle, Portland etc. Los Angeles will be installing several hundred of them very soon. Cycle tracks are not soaking up the funding. Parking protected bike lanes (cycle track) have only been around only since 2007 in the U.S. when NYC first installed one. Good Lord Frank you are ignorant!

    Incidently, Seattle and San Francisco are very hilly and yet these cities are in the top five for most amount of bicycle commuting for the largest cities in the U.S.

    The Los Angeles County MTA recently did a ad campaign that took up the entire space on the back of buses that stated every lane is a bike lane. There was another ad campaign on bus shelters and buses where it was stated give three feet when passing bicyclists.

    There is also a anti-harassing of bicyclists law in Los Angeles and a state law that mandates a three-foot passing distance that motorist must give bicyclists. Both of these passe due to the work of bicycling advocates.

    Los Angeles has also recently passed new bicycle parking regulations. Again, due to the work of bicycling advocates.

    Frank stated:

    “I see very little being done now except to call for an impossibly expensive solution, one that can be applied to only a few streets in America, for cost reasons if nothing else. And more weirdly, the “advocates” pushing for that solution are doing it by saying one dare not ride elsewhere! It’s backwards advocacy.”

    You seem to be living in a cave Frank.

    There is nothing impossibly expensive about installing 391 miles of bike lanes in Los Angeles at a cost of less than $20 million. Nor is it impossibly expensive to install cycle tracks. If a city wants a lot more bicycling, then it needs to provide separation of bicyclists and motorists on major streets. Cities that provide little separation of motorist and bicyclists on major streets have much less bicycling that those cities that provide it.

    The only people that I am aware of who are stating you dare not ride elsewhere are vehicular cycling advocates who keep insisting that the way most people ride or want to ride is dangerous and that the vehicular cycling way (which few people would ever do) is safe.

    The vehicular cycling method is an idea that is straight out of the car culture of the 1950’s where the only place to ride a bicycle was in mixed traffic or on the sidewalk. That’s not progression, its stuck in a 1950’s mindset that won’t get a significant increase in the amount of people bicycling. Its an ideology that’s going nowhere, but it has been very effective in stopping bicycle infrastructure from getting installed that would get much more people to bicycle. In other words, vehicular cycling has been very effective in making sure that few people use a bicycle for their daily trips.

  46. “There’s not a lot of talk about bike boulevards because they don’t work everywhere… For the places where they won’t work for one reason or another,
    advocates want to be able to bring planners and engineers another tool
    to use, that tool being a cycletrack.”

    Sorry, but I’m _not_ seeing statements like “We examined a bike boulevard concept here, but it won’t work. We tried an education campaign for motorists, and educating schoolkids in their phys ed classes, but there were still too many car-bike crashes. We tried regular bike lanes and sharrows but there were still too many crashes. We tried lower speed limits and traffic calming, but it didn’t work. So as a last resort, we’re begging for the most expensive option, a cycletrack.”

    Instead I’m seeing calls for cycletracks as _the_ solution, _the_ tool to use. I’m seeing papers of very dubious honesty saying cycletracks (on bridges!!!) don’t have crossing conflict crashes. I’m seeing letters to editors and online comments claiming bicycling won’t be safe until we have segregated facilities.

    And of course, I’m seeing pointers to the Netherlands, as if the most car oriented nation in the word – the U.S. – will magically generate the political will and tax money to build facilities that exist only in the most bike oriented nation in the world. That is, in roughly one nation out of 200.

    Yes, I know you can point to a specimen cycletrack here and there in non-Netherlands locations. But outside NL they are few and far between. No other nation has the total transformation that radical segregation fans call for. You won’t get them to any great degree in America for the foreseeable future. Nor will you get huge percentages of Americans giving up cars for bikes. That, too, is a pipe dream.

    It’s time to be more reasonable.

  47. I highly doubt that Pucher is actually against other approaches. However, on a downtown street of a city the size of Seattle, it’s completely likely that only a cycletrack will work. This is not Main St. of Anytown located somewhere in the Midwest where the street (in this case, 2nd Avenue) is the main street with lots of low-stress alternatives one block over. Seattle’s downtown streets are designed as a system of one-ways to maximize capacity. Do you really think that they’re going to introduce the volume management necessary for a bike boulevard to be successful on any of the streets in that system?

    As for the strict liability laws, the Swiss one might’ve come prior to its cycletracks, but then again, Zurich isn’t exactly known for being high on the list of cities in bike modal share either. Sure, they may have more than most American cities, but really not that high compared to Danish, Dutch, or even some German cities. The Danish and Dutch laws definitely did not precede the construction of cycletracks at all, but neither have the cycletracks been an enduring and integral part of their society since the bicycle was invented. Even though both countries did have decent bike cultures about a century ago, they both also had a period of several years where they definitely did not do anything for bikes and modal shares plummeted. The overwhelming majority of the bike infrastructure in both countries is around 30 years old at most. However, the strict liability laws didn’t come until the 1990s, which is after the cycletracks reappeared en masse, after stuff like the national bike plan, and after ‘Sustainable Safety’ became the modus operandi for designing [Dutch] roads.

    Additionally, the law deals only with the financial consequences of a collision. No one goes to jail because of Art. 185 WVW, you just get a new bike. Or maybe a disability settlement. While that would certainly be nice to have, the likelihood of it getting passed is minuscule in modern America, especially given the stigma that is already attached to biking. Advocacy organizations realize this and since as far as I know, none have unlimited budgets, they wisely choose to put their dollars into more productive pursuits such as reducing the likelihood of getting hit in the first place. While such a law might be useful in the future, the same goals could be accomplished by states raising the minimum insurance requirements to reflect modern realities. Something that could likely be done without legislation anyway.

    While I do agree that planning can have a detrimental effect on healthy transportation options, developments such as are referenced in the article do not preclude biking. The real failure there is not the amount of land that is “required” by the planning guidelines, but the failure to provide the options to access the land by anything other than a motorized box. A bikeway/shared use path that connects the school to the town(s) in question needs to be included when projects like that are constructed if one does not already exist. As can clearly be seen in this video, where children are obviously on their way home from school:

    Putting in a standard for when bike infrastructure should be provided (i.e. like this: might even be enough to convince some districts to reconsider the location of the school sites.

  48. John Pucher is in the 60% of adults who are interested in bicycling but concerned. There is no way that anyone is going to convince him that riding in front of motor vehicles is comfortable or safe, he’s very traffic intolerant.

    Traffic engineers were afraid to install cycle tracks in the U.S. until very recently. New York City had the first parking protected bike lanes in the U.S. installed in 2007. AASHTO discouraged cities from installing many road treatments for bicycling, including cycle tracks. So Janette Sadk-Khan realized that there was interest among city planners and engineers to implement many more types of road treatments for bicycling and that inspired them to create NACTO. They essentially went past the blockade of AASHTO and now the NACTO Bikeway Desgin Guide has been approved by the FHWA.

  49. You keep making up this false dichotomy of bike boulevards as an alternative to cycletracks as if everyone keeps shunning one for the other. That usually is not true, but since you’re so convinced that it is, here’s a list of most, if not all, of the protected bike lanes in the country. Do us all a favor and go through it to identify exactly how many of those streets were either good candidates for the speed and volume management necessary for a bike boulevard or at least have a parallel street within two blocks (1/8 mile) that offered that opportunity.

    As for education and awareness campaigns, most places are nowhere near that point. The message goes counter the infrastructure. People are not not riding because they don’t know how to balance or don’t know what a stop sign means. They are not riding because they don’t trust people driving machines that weigh 15-600x more than they do at speeds four-ten times faster to maintain control of those machines and don’t feel comfortable having a lot of them pass them close or creeping up behind them. Survey after survey continues to back up what can be seen on the streets: people don’t want to ride in traffic.

    The reams of existing research on cycletracks by and large show improvements in safety and ridership, especially the ones that have been done recently. They also don’t have to be the most expensive option, with a road diet that puts in floating parking-protected cycletracks as part of a repaving project being practically free. Sure, not all have been that lucky, but the cost of most bike projects still comes out as rounding error in most transportation budgets. All that of course is just talking about the existing system. Just because mistakes have been made in the past doesn’t mean that they have to continue going forward. Future construction can do a far better job of both planning and implementing the appropriate bikeway from the very beginning, which in itself can provide people with a viable alternative to driving that they would be willing to use, thus lowering the need for other infrastructure. But of course, if people keep blocking them even in clear situations where they would be beneficial, then it should be no surprise to find that American specimens are “few and far between”.

  50. Marven, I’m pointing out that most people heavily promoting cycletracks are effectively shunning not only bike boulevards, but almost everything else! If they are working for bike boulevards, they are seldom mentioning it. They don’t seem to be promoting more ordinary bike lanes, nor sharrows, because their spiel (like Pucher’s) is that those facilities are not safe enough – despite over ten million miles ridden between fatalities on ordinary roads! They are not promoting cycling education at all. (More on that in a minute.) They aren’t promoting strict liability for motorist, lower speed limits in residential areas, traffic lights that reliably detect waiting cyclists, bike parking, bike maps, wayfinding signs, infill development as opposed to schools in cornfields, shortcut bike/ped access paths from neighborhoods to adjacent traffic generators, education of police officers, “rights to the road” campaigns addressed to motorists, or the very notion that it IS safe to ride a bike right now – in fact, given the benefit-to-risk ratio, it’s safer to ride than to NOT ride! Instead, they whine that they need “safe places to ride” – defined only as paths and cycletracks.

    You’re arguing against me, but you’re giving evidence that my position is correct. For example, you link almost only to the Netherlands for your acceptable facility examples. And your link to “People for Bikes” verifies what I’ve just said about advocacy projects: Lots of press about cycletracks. Lots of “gee whiz” about getting more of them. A special list of every cycletrack they can find in America. But where are the lists for the bike boulevards? Where are the lists for the other items I mentioned?

    Oh, and education: I’m afraid you’re showing how little you know about bike education. Competent bicycling is _far_ more than balancing and stop signs, just as competent driving is far more than steering, throttle and brake. Unfortunately, America doesn’t successfully teach kids (or adults) even the very basics, like which side of the road to ride on, or to use lights at night. People aren’t taught to avoid door zones (as Pucher proved in his quote). Proper left turns? Those are considered as difficult as advanced calculus! Yet I’ve taught kids 12 or younger to ride competently in all reasonable situations.

    Far too much of American bike advocacy is rooted in an “8 to 80” concept, meaning that the world must be re-designed so bicycling takes even less thought than walking in a city. Unfortunately, the “turn off your brain” idea fails when a downhill cycletrack flies a hidden cyclist into a turning motorist’s path. Face it – people will always need to _learn_ to handle themselves on ordinary streets. If cycletracks exist, they will also have to learn to handle their additional hazards, as Carol Szczepanski’s article pointed out. Why not start with education, instead of starting with calls for an expensive fairyland that can’t possibly arrive in the next 50 years?

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