A Brief History of How American Transportation Engineers Resisted Bike Lanes

Street design guidance from AASHTO has been eclipsed by the work of American cities. Image: AASHTO
Street design guidance from AASHTO has been eclipsed by the work of American cities. Image: AASHTO

Try to picture American cities if they had started building world-class bike infrastructure en masse in the 1970s, instead of 40 years later. How much safer would our streets be today? How much more active would we be? How many more years would people have enjoyed instead of getting their lives cut short by traffic crashes or chronic cardiovascular disease?

It’s not that far-fetched a scenario. Davis, California, began to build protected bike lanes in the early 70s, drawing significant interest from other cities. But instead of embracing these street design concepts, American transportation engineers shunned them for a generation.

A new paper from Bill Schultheiss, Rebecca Sanders, and Jennifer Toole of Toole Design Group looks at what led the engineering establishment down this path and “delayed the development of urban bicycle transportation networks in North America for decades” [PDF].

In the 1970s, the Davis bike network did inspire other cities, especially in California. It also highlighted the need for engineering design guidance, so the innovations in Davis could be refined and then replicated in other places.

In 1972, the engineering firm DeLeuw Cather surveyed people in Davis and found they preferred to both bike and drive on streets with bike lanes than those without. Few crashes occurred in the bike lanes, but the study noted some difficulties that will sound familiar today: potential conflicts caused by passengers opening car doors, or between cyclists and pedestrians on sidewalk-grade bike lanes, for instance.

As more California cities installed bike lanes and paths, a few municipalities passed mandatory side path laws, which required people to ride in a bikeway if one was available. This provoked a reactionary movement among some cyclists, led by the engineer and amateur bike racer John Forester.

Forester and his followers were worried about being confined to sidewalks where they couldn’t ride fast. A mandatory side path law that accompanied bike infrastructure installed in Palo Alto inspired Forester to write “Effective Cycling,” a book advancing his credo that “bicyclists fare best when they act as, and are treated as, drivers of motor vehicles.”

To discredit California’s emerging bike infrastructure, Forester conducted personal “experiments” where he attempted left turns off sidewalk-level bike paths at high speeds.

Forester “published his account of this ride as ‘the one valid test of a sidepath system’ that proves sidepath style bikeways were ‘about 1,000 times more dangerous than riding on the same roads,'” Schultheiss writes. Although Forester’s experiment was obviously anecdotal and highly subjective, his credentials as an engineer helped lend a scientific veneer to his ideological campaign.

By the mid-1970s, the data on bike infrastructure “were consistent with modern-day research on bicyclists’ preferences and safety,” writes Schultheiss. “Bicyclists preferred separation, there were fewer crashes between bicyclists and motorists on streets with bike lanes compared to streets with shared lanes, and facilities that require bicyclists to move in the contra-flow direction resulted in more crashes.”

Forester sapped this momentum. He seized on some of the safety issues pointed out by DeLeuw Cather and others as evidence that, as Schultheiss puts it, “all methods of separation were unsafe, failing to acknowledge the studies that had found that streets with bike lanes were safer than streets without.” By gaining leverage over influential guidance in the street engineering profession, Forester stunted bikeway development around the nation.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials produced the first edition of its bikeway guide in 1974. It was surprisingly progressive by the standards of the time, with recommendations about protected and unprotected bike lanes. Although it cautioned against protected bike lanes, the 1974 guide advised cities where different types of bikeways are appropriate, taking into account factors like motor vehicle speed and volumes.

By the late 1970s, Forester was president of the California Association of Bicycling Organizations, which shaped the Caltrans Bicycle Guide in 1978. That document, says Schultheiss, “codified vehicular cycling as the primary method for accommodating bicyclists.” When AASHTO wrote its next bicycle guide in 1981, the 1978 Caltrans guide “was used as a starting point,” according to Richard Lemieux, an engineer who was the FHWA bicycle program manager at the time.

Dedicated bike infrastructure was out, riding a bike like you drive a motor vehicle was in.

Another version of the AASHTO bikeway guide was not produced until 1991. Interest in bike infrastructure was flagging, and the 1991 guide did not contain many changes.

It took another wave of research funded by the 1991 federal transportation bill for the engineering establishment to question the conventional wisdom that had hardened around Forester’s vehicular cycling philosophy. That decade, the FHWA oversaw a number of studies examining the safety of bikeways, and some of the findings indicated that on-street bikeways were indeed safer.

Successive versions of the AASHTO guide showed marginal progress, but it wasn’t until cities took the initiative and began implementing protected bike lanes in the 2000s that American bikeway engineering caught up to where Davis had been in the 1970s.

As Steven Higashide recounts in the Atlantic, urban DOTs in New York, DC, Chicago, and other cities filled a vacuum left by AASHTO and popularized protected on-street bike lane designs independently. By banding together as the National Association of City Transportation Officials and producing an Urban Bikeway Design Guide, they have led hundreds of other cities to implement the type of bike infrastructure that John Forester disdained.

Since 2010, the overwhelming preponderance of research has shown not only the people prefer to ride in dedicated bike infrastructure, but that these street designs improve safety for everyone.

From the National Association of City Transportation Official's Bikeway Design Guide. Photo: NACTO
From the NACTO Bikeway Design Guide.

337 thoughts on A Brief History of How American Transportation Engineers Resisted Bike Lanes

  1. Marven Norman claims that bicycle activists have on numerous occasions proved that analysis according to standard traffic-engineering knowledge, collision statistics, and traffic law does not apply to bicycle transportation. That is a most remarkable claim; I have never seen it made. Therefore, Norman, provide the evidence to support your claim.

  2. The bike boom was already on the decline when the energy crisis of 1974 occurred, see http://truewheelers.org/research/studies/aaa/02users.htm#usa

    I rode with Critical Mass in San Francisco in 2008 to see what it was like. It was safety in numbers, like in a herd of bison or school of fish, because there was such a large crowd of bicyclists that anyone who wanted to cross the street — motorist, bicyclist, pedestrian — had to wait. Intersections were corked — traffic in side streets was stopped — with people holding bicycles over their heads. There was a loud sound system blaring music, towed on a trailer behind a bicycle. Critical Mass wasn’t throwing off the shackles of vehicular cycling ideology, it was a parade without a permit. The police had no ability to control the phenomenon and had to allow it to happen and accommodate to it rather than try to stop it. Many of the people who participated, I’m sure, enjoyed the ride and enjoyed taking over the street, for once. There was a considerable amount of backlash both during the ride and in general..

  3. “Stop blocking the research-backed Dutch solutions and things would get better.” That’s probably true. Step one might be to stop the weird American fashion of bi-directional cycle tracks in streets! Granted, Colville-Andersen isn’t Dutch, but he’s astounded that Americans build those things. See http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/06/explaining-bi-directional-cycle-track.html

    The major trouble with other Dutch solutions is, of course, their cost; and that includes not only direct construction costs, but right-of-way acquisition, engineering design costs, ongoing maintenance, the costs associated with traffic delays from separate signal phases, etc.

    There’s a reason the Dutch government is willing to invest all that expense. The Dutch always were cyclists. Their one move away from bike transportation was quite brief, less than one generation, and even then their bike mode share absolutely eclipsed America’s. Thus the vast majority of citizens readily accept bike-related spending. If they didn’t, their politicians would be voted out of office.

    The vast majority of Americans will always drive cars, and have lately been yelling “No new taxes!” so it’s the opposite for American politicians. If they spend too much on bike facilities, they will be voted out of office.

    The result for the foreseeable future will, like it or not, be half-… um, half-baked bike facilities.

  4. What happens in Holland does not happen in the USA. The Dutch had to go through a complete anti-motoring revolution, after they discovered the problems of trying an automotive society in cities where it could not work, before they adopted their current system. America will not go through such a rejection of motoring in order to achieve the Dutch system. That’s as simple as I can say it.

  5. I use the type of address that is proper for scientific discussions, proved by centuries of experience to keep the discussion, and the discussants, informed of what is going on.

    Maggie claims that in 1972 I argued that ebikes are illegal in NYC because of their maximum speed. I can make no sense of this claim because ebikes were not discussed in 1972. Nor did I ever argue that cyclist speeds should be limited to lower than the speed limit of the traffic in which they are operating.

    Maggie asks whether I have adjusted my views because of the appearance of shared-use bicycles. Why should I adjust my views? Who owns a bicycle is irrelevant; what is relevant is how the user operates. If he(she) obeys the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, then it is OK. If he(she) disobeys the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, then that operation is probably dangerous.

  6. Most of America’s road ways are exquisite to ride a bike on. But a single bad road is like a drop of poison in a bucket of freshwater; you just wouldn’t drink from it. As I see it, every major city needs just a few dozen miles of decent grade separated bike infrastructure to fix the biggest problem spots. It’s an investment on the scale of tens of millions, which is like a single cloverleaf interchange or an unnoticeable highway bridge over a creek, i.e practically nothing in the grand scheme of things.

    So let’s get that built, then in 10 years we can see where we are.

  7. Please feel free to address me like we’re just having an online conversation. I don’t like being referred to in the third person.

    In 2018, professional cyclists are paying $500 fines after their ebikes are confiscated on the streets of NYC, because there is the belief that bicycling at speeds of 30 mph is dangerous.

    Does that trouble you?

  8. Maggie asks me whether I am troubled by the NYC ordinance (or whatever is the name of that type of statute in NYC) that prohibits ebikes because they may be driven at 30mph. That ordinance is wrong; as I have already written, the issue is not speed but method of operation. If the driver obeys the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles, that is OK. If he disobeys those rules, then he is probably operating dangerously. Considering the fact that very few American cyclists obey those rules, then I conclude that most NYC cyclists are operating dangerously, whether their power comes from electrons or the physiological cycle.

  9. Unfortunately Dyer can’t do that as he’s too busy accusing rules of the road cyclists of “white privilege”

  10. Hi, I’m still here. Please don’t refer to me in the third person again. I’ve asked politely. You are being rude. It won’t be hard to be polite. I’m sure you can do it. Again, please do not refer to me in the third person, at all, ever. It is rude.

    Thank you for considering the ebike question and stating your opinion that most NYC cyclists are operating dangerously.

    Again, for politeness, if you’d like to reply, please do not refer to me in the third person. Thank you in advance for the courtesy.

  11. Hi, I’m still here. Please don’t refer to me in the third person again. I’ve asked politely. You are being rude. It won’t be hard to be polite. I’m sure you can do it. Again, please do not refer to me in the third person, at all, ever. It is rude.

    Maggie should expect to be disappointed.

  12. I use the form of address that is used in scientific discussions, to keep straight who claimed what or asked what question. We are not participating in a private conversation, but in a discussion that is open to the whole world. I can’t help it if you are ignorant of the normal method of participating in such discussions. I suggest that you learn better.

  13. Make the curb lane on multi-lane roads 20 mph, paint it yellow and let all wheeled vehicles share the lane. Unobstructed Improved Sidewalks for low powered wheelchairs, baby carriages, shopping carts and pedestrians only.

  14. The ELF out of N? Carolina is available commercially, for less than many high end bicycles. Covered, but upright velomobile..designed to be comfortable and practical, not for speed. CycleTrains! on monorails could easily achieve highway speeds with an electric motor assist for hills, or from stops.

  15. How would people on bikes be able to bypass congested lanes of car traffic? Should they ride as lane-splitters?

  16. Cycling in the 70’s was just as dangerous, with sometimes violent hostility to cyclists daring to share the road. Forester was and still is correct about bike lanes, which will prove to be unsafe, frequently unusable, and a misguided attempt to provide equity. Loved by engineers and pavers. Separate and equal paths can be a success in certain situations, but they are extremely expensive (not compared to road lanes) to build and maintain properly.

  17. I still advocate vehicular cycling, (although I don’t bicycle regularly anymore), and was certified by you in 1981, but I was hit by motor vehicles twice while riding legally and visibly. Both at low speeds fortunately. One was an overtaking collision, where tired driver ‘never saw’ me. Used my mangled bicycle as visual prop to successfully lobby for separate path along high speed St. Route 84 in 1977. Other time was at an intersection, while using full lane of two lane road, due to rolling “stop” of sausage truck, who also never saw me, even though I looked right at his eyes and believed he was looking at me. Instead he was looking for motor vehicle traffic and I was the only vehicle in the lane, Cloak of Invisibility. Used the insurance settlement to move to California in 1983.

  18. I’ve been saying the same thing around here for years. Glad to see I’m not the only person who feels this way.

    Yes, a few dozen miles (or maybe in NYC something in the low hundreds of miles) may cost a lot compared to what we’re used to spending on bicycle infrastructure, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing. Suppose NYC spent $1 billion on grade-separated bikeways over 10 years. That’s $100 million annually, or about 0.1% of the city budget. Or put another way, every citizen of NYC would need to pay about $12 a year for ten years if you required equitable contributions. That’s pocket change. And yet once built, such a network would revolutionize getting around by bike. You would have nonstop travel free of cars or pedestrians for most of your ride. The remainder could be done on low-stress side streets given that the logical place for these bikeways is over major arterials.

    I absolutely agree about let’s build them, and see where we are ten years from now.

  19. Actaully, I’ve suggested that, say, one in five crosstown streets in Manhattan be configured as a bicycle boulevard/neighborhood greenway. North-south is more difficult. Perhaps two avenues could have signals timed to amke them into slow streets. There are already the Hudson River Greenway on the east side and a (less imposing) bikeway along the East River.

  20. Unfortunately, the whole “let’s slow down bikes” movement which was partially responsible for the e-bike ban, and touting the slowness of bike share bikes as a desirable feature instead of a bug, has little basis in rationality. It was the product of anti-bike cranks who complain about “speeding” cyclists but seem to ignore motor vehicles regularly going twice the speed the fastest cyclists ride.

    When you do the math and look at the momentum changes of a bike-ped collision versus a motor vehicle-ped collision this entire meme about slowing down bikes gets even more ridiculous. We generally consider 20 mph or less to be a fairly “safe” speed at which to drive motor vehicles in cities based on the injuries a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle at the speed would incur. Now let’s do the math. For all intents and purposes, the pedestrian suffers nearly 100% of the momentum change (this is what produces injuries) in a motor vehicle-ped collision. In a bike-ped collision where both parties are of roughly equal mass, the pedestrian and cyclist each suffer about half the momentum change. The pedestrian may suffer a bit more due to the mass of the bicycle, but for all intents and purposes both suffer about the same change in momentum. Basically then this means a bicycle traveling at 40 mph is about as dangerous to a pedestrian as a motor vehicle traveling at 20 mph. Now e-bikes are somewhat heavier. Perhaps that might drop the equivalent speed to 30 mph or so, which incidentally is about what the fastest e-bikes do.

    Bottom line, it’s time to bury the entire idea that bicycles should go a lot slower than cars in cities. It has no basis in science or logic. Once we do that, then we can embrace 25 or 30 mph standards for bicycle infrastructure instead of designing for slower speeds on the flawed idea that such speeds are dangerous to pedestrians. That would eliminate one of Forester’s complaints about mandatory sidepaths.

  21. In reality the cyclist safety issue is one one of mass differential, not speed differential. That’s why it makes sense to segregate bicycle traffic in many (but not all) situations. True that there is no minimum speed requirement for traffic (except on some limited access highways). The reality is that drivers often consider the speed limit to be a minimum speed, and will bully anyone out of their way who is going slower. Nothing short of major driver retraining and stricter licensing, neither of which have a prayer of being implemented, is going to change this. That’s why cyclists are unwanted in normal traffic. Drivers will try to bully them out of the way, often even when the cyclist is able to keep up with the traffic flow. If a collision occurs, the cyclist will bear the brunt of it due to their much lower mass.

    I fully agree with you that segregated cyclist facilities should be designed for cyclists of all abilities, not just slower ones. And the Dutch have proven it is possible to do exactly that. Also, you don’t need separate facilities everywhere, only on the roads with faster, heavier traffic where trying to operate like a motor vehicle has a high likelihood of getting a cyclist injured or killed.

    As for obeying the rules of the road, the primary one cyclists disobey is stopping at traffic signals or stop signs. This doesn’t automatically make them unsafe. Suppose those same intersections had yield signs? If we can trust in the ability of a cyclist to yield if instructed to do so by a yield sign, why would the presence of a stop sign or red light make them any less able to yield? Arguably, as smaller, lighter vehicles with greater visibility bicycles should have less restrictive rules than motor vehicles. Cyclists don’t obey rules which make no sense for their mode of travel. If this made them unsafe there would be hundreds of dead cyclists every single day in places like NYC. That’s obviously not the case.

  22. The usual answer I get to that one from VCers is to sit in the traffic lane and breathe exhaust fumes. The kind of defeats the purpose of being on a bike in the first place but that’s the answer I’ve often gotten.

  23. I don’t know enough about the Joe Lavins fatality to comment on it. A truck ran over him but I don’t know how their paths converged. If anyone has good information, I’d be interested in knowing it.

  24. “Segregated” reflects my deep white privilege?? What nonsense! You’re showing more about _your_ mindset than about mine!

    Here’s a quote regarding a “National Plan for Cycling” in Britain: “The plan said Stevenage was ‘a place where _segregated_ traffic –
    motorists and pedestrians and cyclists – has led to increased
    convenience all round…’ ” (Emphasis mine) That can be found on this site: http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/stevenage/ The horrid word “segregated” is also used many other times by the strongly pro-bicycle designer of the network, Eric Claxton, as well as by others who favored segreated bike facilities.

    It’s well worth reading the entire article on that site, since it illustrates what’s probably the best that can be hoped for in a car-centric society: 2.7% bike mode share. For example “The low use of Stevenage’s cycleway network is also probably the fault
    of Claxton, and his colleagues, because they failed to spot that cycling
    was a mass mode of transport in the Netherlands for reasons other than
    provision of infrastructure: culture, history and politics were – and
    are – major factors.”

    The main “other reasons” described in more detail are that in Netherlands, cycling has _always_ been normal; and Netherlands works to reduce the convenience of motoring. But in Britain as in the U.S., cycling has never been the normal way to get around. And neither country is apt to impose serious restrictions on motor vehicle use.

    One might say “Build it as lavishly and expensively as possible, and a maximum of 2.7% of them will come.”

  25. 30 km/h is 19 mph and 40 is 25, rounding to the nearest integer. The Netherlands is famously flat. So the Dutch speed standards for bikeways are little different from the AASHTO ones, accounting for the absence of hills.

  26. Why did NYC ban (and confiscate) ebikes? Because the culture of ebike users includes riding on sidewalks. Which is illegal but the police didn’t enforce that so the city banned ebikes instead. ebikes are as fast as most street traffic in NYC and are environmentally friendly. Where does this nonsense end? My more detailed comments; http://john-s-allen.com/blog/?p=7109

  27. Any assessment of fatality rates vs. time must factor in the advances in medical knowledge and medical technology. Fatality rates have dropped steadily for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m sure they’ve also dropped for equestrians, hikers, tennis players, etc. As just one example, we now have 3-d imaging methods that 1970s physicians could only dream of.

  28. “It sounds like the idea of 8-80 infrastructure for cycling doesn’t resonate with you.” As the concept is being used in the U.S., the idea of 8-80 infrastructure is worse than a fairy tale. It’s a completely dishonest propaganda gambit.

    People are pretending that (for example) a bi-directional cycle track stuck between parked cars and a sidewalk will allow cycling in perfect safety, with no knowledge or skill. But experience shows that those facilities generate a combination of overconfidence plus chaos. Here’s a video of one such facility:

    Would you let your 8-year-old ride there?

    And again, in the #23 (June 2013) issue of _Bicycle Times_, Carolyn Szczepanski told what you have to do for “Staying Safe in Protected Lanes.” Based on her own bad crash, she said you must:
    Slow down at any place pedestrians may be tempted to cross;

    Slow down at intersections, because you’re often “outside the position
    cars might expect me on the road”;

    Use bright colors to make yourself as visible as possible;

    Cover your brakes to be ready to stop at any intersection;

    Look all around you – including backwards to the right – at any

    intersection;

    Never disobey any traffic signal [even those that give bikes a red
    when all other traffic has a green];

    If the signals are confusing, look for a sign telling you what to do;

    Use “box turns” [two stage turns] when they are easiest;

    Give other cyclists a safe berth;

    And don’t try to get anywhere fast. “If you’re intent on racing home
    as quickly as possible, choose a different route.”

    That’s much more than what an 8-year-old can be expected to know, and more than what most cyclists would imagine after being told they are “protected.” Szczepanski was a cyclist who worked for L.A.B. and she didn’t know at least some of those until she crashed.

  29. I’m not going to take up your valuable time arguing with you. Thank you for sharing the June 2013 thoughts of a LAB employee, and the video of a bus blocking the box at 15th and K Street in DC. Appreciate it. Those are helpful pieces of information about your argument against infrastructure designed for the 8-80 year old crowd.

  30. The “all ages and abilities” argument was always an impossible sham; it ain’t possible. Even the Dutch have not achieved it; they give their cyclists years and years of training, and are proud that they do.
    To operate according to the rules of the road one has to know how to obey them. But that’s not difficult, no more difficult that learning how to obey the rules for soccer or baseball. That was proved thirty-five years ago. 15 class hours on real roads in real traffic with 20 students per instructor produced elementary-school cyclists who were far better at obeying the rules of the road than were the adult commuting cyclists in the surrounding cycling-popular Silicon Valley cities, proved by actual observation of students and of adult commuters.
    Why hasn’t America adopted this system? Its rather simple. For seventy years Motordom has had its program for frightening cyclists off the roads, and for the last thirty-five the bicycle activists have wanted bikeways instead of safe cycling.

  31. Joe R. makes several cogent arguments that have long been discussed. The first is that militant motorists bully cyclists. Well, in California anyway, that is being treated as assault with substantial prison penalties. Joe’s second argument is that the Dutch have been able to produce, in some locations but not generally, bikeways suitable for high speed cycling. As I have written before, this requires Dutch views of society and of motoring and the society that they produce. It won’t get done in American cities. Joe’s third argument is that yield signs work as well as stop signs. Indeed even traffic engineers know that we have far too many stop signs and badly-written stop-sign laws. To go along with previous arguments, how would an untrained person “all ages and abilities” know how to obey a yield sign? After all, the design cyclists are not supposed to have any traffic abilities! But indeed, running stop signs is one of the major causes of car-bike collisions. So Joe’s concerns have been well discussed and dismissed before this.

  32. You could probably find these answers if you and the other bikeway advocates stopped attacking old white male strawmen all the time as being the reason your Dutch utopia hasn’t arrived in a country with completely different laws, driving culture, urban layouts, etc.
    Your Dutch fantasyland is never going to happen in the US no matter how hard you try.

  33. One the first point, good for California if they actively prosecute drivers who bully cyclists. Yes, it is assault and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case nationally. NYC is famously lenient towards motorists who mow down cyclists and pedestrians, even if there’s evidence that it was intentional. In fact, NYC is famously lenient in general enforcing most traffic laws, except against cyclists whom they have no problem giving tickets for both actual and imagined offenses (i.e. riding without a helmet, riding outside the bike lane).

    On the second point, the Dutch had a 40 year head start on us. Nobody expects American cities to resemble Dutch ones anytime soon. However, with the coming of autonomous vehicles, it may all be moot anyway as those vehicles would be programmed to avoid colliding with cyclists or pedestrians. They also would adhere religiously to any speed limits. Both would be significant improvements over what exists now, perhaps to the point segregated cycling facilities are no longer considered necessary.

    As for the third point, the so-called 8 to 80 infrastructure which many seek still requires knowledge of how to competently ride a bicycle, and also requires some knowledge of traffic laws. The Dutch do in fact educate children on this. No reason US schools can’t do something similar.

    Also worth mentioning is what some call 8 to 80 infrastructure really isn’t. Case in point are protected bike lanes on streets with cross traffic. These protected lanes require just as much traffic sense at intersections as regular street riding, perhaps more because they create the additional hazards of cars merging into the lane to turn, and pedestrians intruding into the bike lane. True 8 to 80 infrastructure would be protected lanes on roads with no crossings, or completely separate bike paths away from motor traffic roads altogether.

    But indeed, running stop signs is one of the major causes of car-bike collisions.

    Except I’m not saying anybody should run stop signs. Rather, I feel it is safe for properly trained cyclists to treat them (and red lights) as yield signs. Note the words “properly trained”. Unfortunately, because we never legalized this practice, few cycling organizations are able or willing to train cyclists in this matter. Doubtless if it were legal, LAB instructors and others would train cyclists on how to safely treat red lights and stop signs as yields.

    Cyclists get in collisions due to a combination of poor driver training and nonexistent cyclist training.

  34. Yeah maybe you’re right. 8-80 doesn’t resonate with me because I use objective facts, logic, and science to back my opinions on cycling, not feeling and identity politics.

  35. There was a thread last year where one said exactly that. Basically, he said bicycles shouldn’t filter forward to the right of traffic but should remain in the lane instead, even if traffic is backed up.

  36. White men cycling get harassed by cops and motorists who are not tolerant of cyclists too. Women and racial minorities don’t have a monopoly on getting the shit end of the stick in every facet of society.

  37. Joe R. correctly states that the official American policy for bicycle transportation, all ages and all abilities cannot work. Which is what I have been saying for decades. But then Joe argues that because the Dutch have been able to make their system work in Holland there is no reason why Americans cannot do the same for themselves,. This is pure fantasy. Joe either ignores, or is ignorant of, the enormous differences between the two cultures in history, urban shape, distances, urban design, and sociology. Please inform us, Joe, when you have achieved a duplicate of the Dutch system in any significant part of the USA. If you accomplish this, you will deserve an award,.

  38. Why should we bypass congested traffic? We are not special. We are vehicle drivers.
    In stop and go or red light to red light traffic, what difference does it make? Or are you going to jump the red light too, besides lane splitting?
    I am told traffic might be less congested if more people were using bikes.

  39. I remember many of my classmates riding to grade school on bikes in the 60’s. Long before bike infrastructure. The reason we don’t see that now is the fear-mongering used to convince people that bicycle riding isn’t safe unless there is special infrastructure for it. That’s really just motordom kicking cyclists out of their way.
    I seem to recall some videos of some fairly young people riding on the Cycling Savvy site.
    There is good reason why we don’t let eight year-olds drive cars and make them wait until 16. But if their helicopter parents were teaching them to ride a bicycle by driving it and following the rules of the road, instead of telling them to use paths and sidewalks, they’d be much better drivers when they reach their teens and get behind the wheel of a car. They might also give cyclists a little more respect than they get now.

  40. Okay. Sorry we couldn’t find common ground. Here’s the conclusion of the article. I thought it was interesting.

    “Since 2010, the overwhelming preponderance of research has shown not only the people prefer to ride in dedicated bike infrastructure, but that these street designs improve safety for everyone.”

    It’s too bad your city installed doorzone bike lanes. I really empathize.

  41. Doc Wu, you asked what difference it makes whether cyclists stop in car traffic or bypass it. Midtown Manhattan’s average motor vehicle traffic speed is 8.2 mph. In the core it’s 5.2 mph. Does that change your mind? I’m struggling to get your scenario where bike lanes don’t make sense.

  42. True, anyone who uses that stupid neologism, mansplaining, deserves to be completely ignored.

  43. Actually, you are wrong on two counts.

    Firstly, if “don’t like it” is based on a reasonable perception of the matter, it is absolutely valid. After all, if enough people don’t like, say, a bike lane, they will not use it and then what’s the point? Being able to quantize and scientifically enumerate is not always the sine qua non.

    Secondly, common sense is precisely what’s lacking in most “bureaucratic” organizations and decisions. It shouldn’t be. Like incomprehensible building codes, not everything is prescriptive. In the US, our over-reliance on “scientific studies” (which are valid until refuted by the next one.) both prevents us from trying new things and makes it incredibly more costly to implement.

    And if really believe that sidepaths don’t reduce collisions, you’re being wilfully obtuse.

  44. Not bad. You have to admit, though, that in Copenhagen, most people aren’t biking to their jobs purely because of their love of two wheels. They have no choice. In the world’s happiest and most prosperous and freest nation, most of the under-40 crowd can’t afford a car.

  45. We don’t have a great sense of financial scale, especially when dollars are spread across many budgets & jurisdictions. My state does an annual calculation of public education spending across all budgets, fed, state and muni (about 10 billion annually). But there is no comparable analysis done of car-oriented infrastructure spending. I’ve tried to estimate it but it’s a total accounting mess. The State DOT – which is state and most of the pass-through federal dollars spends $3.5B. But that’s really just the trunk network and not our local & county streets & highways. If we included that, the spending total would double. So we’re at $7B on road spending, before considering all the other public institutions and their direct car spend – roads & parking in our parks, library & school parking lots, gvmt lots & parking garages, police & sheriffs on highways, first responders to accidents, etc. And that still doesn’t consider all the government mandated spending (off-street parking, requiring residents to have paved driveways & 2 car garages, etc) that is absorbed by the private sector. When it’s all pieced together its either our biggest public expenditure or very close to it.

    1% of that spend (about 70 – 120M) for 1 year could give us a coherent, trunk bike network in our 3 biggest metros. A decade at that level of spending (still just 1%) would be entirely transformative.

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