Friday, October 31, 2008
...or Panther City becomes a pussy cat.
Either way, they have succumbed to toy-vehicle thinking, and have allowed the cycling-inferiority theory to reign supreme. It's sad to see a city that has built its reputation on an Old West/Can Do persona to now emulate effete east and west coast trends.
Less BBQ, more tofu, I suppose.
This is the new way of thinking about traffic flow and right-of-way in Fort Worth. This sign indicates how traffic right-of-way is now being defined there (see the looming intersection in the picture above).
Perhaps you think I protest too much, as this only applies to bicycles. Well, the sign below is the next step, ladies and gentlemen, and that's where "this only applies to bicycles" leads to.
I love Fort Worth. It's one of the few cities I'd like to live in. But it's been infected now. Will I have to issue her a personal quarantine?
Edit(11-03-2008): It's worse than I thought in Fort Worth. This is a bi-directional bike lane on one side of the street that feeds to a sidewalk. Shame Foat Wuthers, shame.Thanks for the tip from a surly printer in Ft. Worth.
The second grade-separated crossing along the East Dallas Veloway (Santa Fe Trail section) went up last night/early this morning. This is over Haskell Boulevard, between I-30 and Main Street, near Fair Park.
I'm a baby boomer, a child of the '50s and '60s. I grew up in suburbia, where houses sprang up where horses and cattle had grazed only a year or two before. It was a sad time.
Most of the kids at my elementary school rode their bikes to school, using the same streets that cars drove on. Many of us didn't even have sidewalks for a safe route to school. The bike racks outside school where always overflowing. Somehow, our parents didn't understand the danger we were in.
Seems like it was on an almost weekly basis that a rack space would suddenly be empty. "Where's Sid?" someone would ask. At first, no one would answer. Then someone (a girl usually) would say she heard he'd transferred to another school, or his dad got a new job and they moved away. We didn't know the horrible truth. Sid was dead, crushed under the wheels of a car, another victim of inattentive parenting.
But soon, a new bike would take the old bike's place, and we quickly forgot about Sid (or Barry, or Julie). When the afternoon bell rang, we jumped on our bikes and rode off, the cool kids with Schwinn Sting-Rays popping wheelies (I wasn't one of those... I had a Sears three speed "English Racer" made in Austria by Puch... I was not a cool kid), usually stopping at a convenience store for some sugar-packed energy drink (Dr. Pepper) or an Icee.
I'll never forget the Bomb Drill we had one day in 4th Grade. The bell rang four times. Miss Jackson had us all stand up by our desks, and walk out row by row into the hallway, where we would kneel down facing the lockers and cover our heads with our hands (duck and cover). That's when I saw them for the first time... the "special" kids.
Every school had a whole class (or two) of kids who the rest of us called "retarded". These were the children of unloving/uncaring parents who had suffered head injuries. They stared blankly into space and spoke slowly and thickly. These were the "great secret", the children who had fallen off their bikes and swing sets, and had been damaged for life. These were to become "The Lost Generation".
Today, as I realize I'll be eligible to retire in a few more years, I know that billions of dollars of tax-payer money is being spent to house and feed these victims of childhood "accidents". Ward after ward, filled to capacity (much like the killer-bike racks had been in my youth) with these zombie-like boomers, incapable of even the simplest task and requiring 24 hour care. Our current economic crisis is a direct result of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the care of these neglected victims.
When I was a child, Death was my constant companion. Somehow, I was one of the lucky few who survived a childhood of playing outdoors unsupervised and riding my bike all over town without a bike trail, bike path, or even a bike helmet. I know just how lucky I am... do you? Death's still waiting, inviting you on a bike ride today. Boo who!?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Found in my government issued in-box:
In keeping with our promise to celebrate the successful community bike rack pledge drive, the Alternative Transportation Committee and the Make Store are holding the event "Bikefaire on Bishop!" on November 16th, from Noon to 4PM, in the Bishop Arts District. Bicycle vendors like B&B will be on hand, along with food from Oak Cliff's own, Spiral Diner. We'll also hold special workshops for kids to bring awareness to bicycle advocacy in our community. Please join us for this family friendly event, and be sure to bring your bikes!
If you or someone you know would like to have a booth at the event, please contact Julie at the Make Store at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with cooler weather, Autumn brings other changes. For example, it's darker longer.
Bicycle/bicyclist illumination is an often misunderstood topic. The government's Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) requirements for bicycles are laughable. The side-visible spoke reflectors are useless, and the front and rear reflectors are not much better. I do happen to like the pedal reflectors bikes are supposed to come with, but that are too often deleted at delivery. The up-and-down pattern the pedal reflectors make is surprisingly visible to an overtaking motorists, and always communicates to me that there is a cyclist ahead (long before my headlights illuminate the rider). Most higher-end pedals lack these reflectors. That's a bad thing.
Headlights serve two purposes. First, they SHOULD illuminate the road in front of you (some are so pathetically powered that they're doing good to even illuminate your front tire), and the speed you ride plays an important factor here. In darkness, I like my headlight to illuminate the road for two seconds ahead of me: one second to recognize the open manhole, another second to maneuver my escape. The faster I ride, the more power I require. I'm needing less power now than I used to.
Secondly, they tell people you're coming. Back in the very early 1980s, when I was young and stupid (as opposed to now being old and dumb), I was on an autumnal pre-dawn ride in East Dallas (commuting back to my house from my girlfriend's house, I believe), wearing blue jeans, a navy turtleneck sweater and a watch cap. I passed through an unlit, tree-covered residential intersection heading south (Alderson at Llano, perhaps), when another cyclist going east came out of nowhere. Both of us were moving pretty fast, and we JUST missed each other. Neither of us had any lights. We were like Ninja cyclists in the dark, and we darn near took each other out. We were lucky (if you believe in luck).
So if the first purpose of a headlamp is to illuminate your path, the equally important second purpose of a bicycle headlight is to let others know you are coming their direction.
But I believe that reflectors and reflectorized accessories and clothing are even more important than head lights and tail lights. A good S.A.E. (Society of Automotive Engineers) approved reflector sends more light back to a following car than does all but the most expensive bicycle lighting. The picture of two of my bikes above shows rear led blinky lamps, CPSC approved reflectors, reflective material on bags, and S.A.E. reflectors from the auto parts store. The best one of the bunch is the 4" diameter reflector I've attached to the rack on the bike on the left.
With the exception of one blinky light, all of the lights and reflectors on these bikes have been attached with zip ties and plumber's straps. For some bizarre reason, the bicycle industry is moving away from the universal mouthing brackets they use to use for rear lights and reflectors to new styles that aren't very adaptable. Plus, just try and find a big reflector at a bike shop.
(Note: As is mentioned in the Comments Section below, the reflectors appear to be amber, they are all red, with the exception of the white on the panniers. The flash was reflected back with such intensity the camera was fooled.)
When I ride at dark, I also wear a safety lime-green mesh vest with wide stripes of 3M reflective tape. I am visible to both overtaking and approaching motorists, and with my helmet and vest, I look like a construction worker in the roadway, which is a bonus. Why is that good? Because the motorist's brain will issue an alert to be prepared for road construction. PsyOps is a cyclist's friend.
You don't need to be afraid of the dark when riding your bicycle, and you don't need to spend $500 for lighting, either (although if you can, that's cool!). You can easily make sure you can both see and can be seen.
Please do it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It's approaching Halloween.
Time to drag something up from the crypt.
The Texas Department of Transportation recently sponsored a “Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Accommodation” workshop put on by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The course was put on for TxDOT engineers and Safety coordinators, as well as local law enforcement officers and transportation planners. The presenters were Dan Burden (previously the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation) and Kirby Beck (Effective Cycling Instructor, bicycle police officer from Coon Rapids, Minn., and a board member of I.M.B.P.A.).
The three-day course is an informative, if shallow by necessity, overview of bicycle/pedestrian transportation issues. There were many great case studies of bike paths, lanes, wide outside lanes, tunnels, bridges, and other treatments to make cycling safer and more convenient -- including bike helmets and “conspicuity” (I love that word -- it sounds like something my grandfather did that required him to keep a spittoon handy). But there was an over-riding (although beneath the surface) message that needs to be addressed.
By focusing so much attention on safety, we are communicating an entirely different message -- one that has been picked up by cycling’s foes. The unintentional message that we are sending is this: “Bicycling is an unsafe activity.” Add to that message our preoccupation with expensive gadgets and highly specialized equipment (not to mention Lycra shorts), and we are reinforcing the all too common belief that cycling is a remote and esoteric activity.
A local city councilman, in explaining why he was voting for a mandatory bicycle helmet ordinance for all ages, compared cycling to skydiving! See if you can follow me on this: jumping out of a plane a couple of miles above land and hoping that a glorified bed sheet will stop your fall doesn’t require a law making the skydiver wear a helmet, but getting on a bicycle to ride a mile to the local 7-11 does. If that doesn’t make sense to you, just look at the visual similarity between a cyclist dressed for a winter ride and a skydiver preparing to jump out of a plane at 20,000 feet. Goggles, gloves, bright colors, helmet, and tight-fitting clothes are all common between the two. But is the attitude?
I always find it ironic for a bicycle/pedestrian expert to show slide after slide of cyclists in Europe and Asia safely using bicycles for transportation, but who then launches into a warning about the dangers of cycling by showing all the hazards that exist here. The irony is compounded when they offer the magic elixir of bike safety; a bike helmet (or as some more accurately prefer to call them, a bicycle crash helmet). I too have been guilty of pushing bike helmets beyond their reasonableness. I won’t launch into this except to point out that the design speed of bike helmets matches the safety requirements of life on the bike path (mirroring the conditions of European and Asian cycling, oddly enough), not life on the streets. If a bike helmet offered real protection from automobiles, it wouldn’t say inside it, “Not for use with motor vehicles.”
The simple fact is that such a lightweight helmet (lightweight by design and necessity) can only offer protection from low speed crashes. But don’t mistake low speed for low danger. At relatively low speeds, the sudden stop caused by a head hitting a concrete curb at only a few miles per hour can cause severe trauma to the brain. Falling off a bike while standing still, if the head strikes a hard surface, can be very dangerous. On rare occasions, it can even be fatal.
Very rare occasions, it turns out. But we are reacting like death is at our door, inviting us along on a bike ride! If bicycling was as dangerous as many wish us all to believe it is (cycling professionals as well as politicians and pro-helmet activists), our political and economic tensions with Communist China, Japan, and Asia would be greatly reduced. There wouldn’t be anyone to threaten us (perhaps those bodies in Tiananmen Square were only cyclists who had died while riding around the square).
Because the rhetoric is so intense, it’s easy to be misunderstood on this issue. But we need to look at the monster we have created in “bike safety.” I have even heard one nationally prominent cycling advocate compare bike safety to gun safety. “There we go again,” equating bicycles with life threatening activities, when we should be emphasizing (both to cyclists and non-cyclists) the health benefits of cycling.
When did cycling begin to be seen as a health threat and not as a healthy activity? In talking to some friends in the bicycle retail industry, it seems that it was the aftermath of the 70’s Energy Crisis that sparked “the great fear.” Recall how an existing bicycle boom was fueled even faster by the gasoline price shocks. Nationwide, people who otherwise used bicycles only to define ceiling height in their garages, began riding their bicycles to work, school, and on errands.
Where does an inexperienced bicycle commuter ride their bike? On the same streets that they drive their cars (it’s the only route they know). These inexperienced cyclists soon found that mixing with high speed automobiles on multi-lane thoroughfares and on crowded, narrow roads, wasn’t much fun. It not only felt dangerous, without the proper skills it was dangerous.
When fuel supplies increased (and gasoline prices decreased slightly), these people abandoned their bikes for the “safety” of their cars. The bike boom went bust. A panicked cycling industry began looking for reasons for the bust and identified “safety” as a prime suspect. Two solutions were adopted; bike lanes to protect bicycles from cars, and bike helmets to protect the cyclists.
The great irony here is that “safety” didn’t fuel a new cycling boom -- mountain bikes did. And how were (and are still) mountain bikes advertised? As gonzo fun toys for death-defying, risk-takers! But what was the real appeal? An upright, stable riding position. In a classic marketing campaign borrowed from the automobile industry, consumers were shown gonzo wild-men (and wild-women) flying through the air coming down Mt. Tam in Northern California. In the store, however, the vast majority of consumers were buying low-pressure, fat tired, upright riding bikes that have about as much in common with pro racing bikes as your Chevy in the driveway has to do with a NASCAR racer (very little).
Do you see what we are doing? We are promoting bicycles to gentle people by showing them how dangerous they are as part of the advertising. Their experience is that cycling is safe and fun, but we are telling them that it is dangerous. People all too often believe what they are told by ad agencies more than what they learn from experience. How many guys with beer guts and a six-pack of Bud pick up super-models in thong bikinis? How many young women become successful by smoking Virginia Slims? That’s advertising overcoming reality.
Here’s the message we should be sending out; Cycling is safe and fun! Very safe and very fun. Crashes happen (and can be avoided), and a helmet is a very good safety precaution. I never leave home without mine, because it is pretty cheap insurance. But cycling must be put into relationship with other risks. Statistically, stairs are a far more dangerous place than bicycles. Bathtubs are a far more dangerous place. Jungle Gyms? Give me a break (no pun intended).
How much more dangerous are stairs, bathtubs, swing-sets, and riding in a car than riding a bicycle? I don’t know, because the Head Injury Prevention lobby won’t release that data for fear of showing that their demands for mandatory bicycle helmet laws are unjustified (the chairman of the local bike helmet law advocacy group withheld that information because he felt that the data would, “be used against mandatory helmet laws.”)
Now say after me, “Cycling is safe and fun.”
“Cycling is safe and fun.”
That’s the point that the League of American Bicyclists makes in Effective Cycling. Effective Cycling courses teach cyclists how to be prepared for most any conditions they will meet on the road: how to behave in traffic, how to dress for the weather (cold, rain, and heat), how to keep your bike in good mechanical condition. Why it’s a good idea to wear a helmet. These are the skills that prevent crashes, not just mitigate the danger. And perhaps more importantly, there is no false sense of security imparted in developing Effective Cycling skills, only the confidence gained from understanding your environment.
Obey the laws, wear your helmet, don’t be foolish (riding at night without good lighting is about as smart as working on your toaster without unplugging it), and have fun. Live long and prosper.
Repeat after me. “Cycling is safe and fun.”
“Cycling is safe and fun.”
“Cycling is safe and fun.”
“Cycling is safe and fun.”
Now let’s shut up and ride!
Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said he was surprised that the accident happened on R Street, saying he bikes there frequently. He called it "one of the better roads to bike on" because it has a long bike lane. The accident took place about a block from his Connecticut Avenue office.That's the kind of attitude that leads to dead cyclists... pushing unsafe designs because of an irrational fear of automobiles and a lack of faith in the ability of cyclists to learn how to ride their bicycles as vehicles.
It's called "enabling", and it's what most "cycling advocacy" groups shamefully do. Imagine if AA groups decided to improve the lives of alcoholics by getting group discounts on booze so their habit wouldn't be such a great financial strain? It's not that dissimilar.
The video and the newspaper have differing versions of the events. The Post has the cyclist in the bike lane, the TV report has her on the sidewalk. The Post's report has been updated more recently than the TV report.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Yes, it's an exceptional event, but so it is ANY TIME a cyclist is struck from the rear... especially in daylight. Notice also the obligatory comment about the rider not wearing a helmet, and the false assumption that 8 ounces of styrofoam will save lives.
False assumptions are deadly, and yet we readily grab for them because they seem easy.
Going where angels fear to tread, Tom Vanderbilt looks at bicycle crash helmets.
I wear a helmet almost every time I ride. I wear a hat almost every time I go outdoors. I've worn bike helmets sine 1984, when I got my Bell Biker, followed by a Skid-Lid in 1986. I currently have a red helmet, an orange helmet, a gold helmet, a purple helmet, and a green helmet. I like my helmets, but...
Quite frankly, bicycle helmet effectiveness has been vastly overstated due to research and lobbying efforts paid for by front groups for helmet manufacturers. Whether they did this out of honest zealousness or commercial callousness is open for debate.
But like "bike lanes" and "bike paths", "bike helmets" have become a vehicle for us to express our fear of bicycling, both by cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Today is Reformation Sunday to many Protestant Christians. Reformation Sunday commemorates the day Marin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle Church.
Reform is a good thing, an important thing, a vital thing. Re-form. Re-turn. Go back.
Reformation is vital to the life of any organization. Without "re-forming" – returning to its founding principals – any organization calcifies and risks becoming the very thing it was organized against. So it is with the League of American Bicyclists, an organization that was founded on securing the rights of bicyclists to have full use of public roadways, but now seems dedicated to seeing that bicyclists are segregated from public roadways.
Reformation is a good thing, and highly desirable. Cyclists, reform NOW!
Andy Clarke, President/Director of the League of American Bicyclists and renowned proponent of trails and bike lanes over shared facilities, recently posted on the League Cycling Instructor listserve that vehicular cycling won't work because "motorists can be expected to do the wrong thing 98% of the time" (para-phrased).
John Forester posted the following commentary yesterday, commenting on an ongoing discussion on the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition's email list (where Andy's sentiments are expressed by others).
It's a keeper.
Thanks to Serge Issakov for forwarding it.
The discussion that we have been having has many similarities with many other discussions around the nation, in that it shows the contrast between vehicular and cyclist-inferiority modes of thought.
The c-i (cyclist-inferiority) cyclist does exactly what he thinks he should be doing, and rides into trouble. Because the trouble occurs when he thinks that he is riding properly, he thinks that the trouble is unavoidable and is caused by others.
On the other hand, the vehicular cyclist recognizes that he is just another part of traffic. This enables him to both operate with greater flexibility and to recognize the need to do so whenever the traffic situation suggests. Certainly, traffic does not always operate properly, but the vehicular cyclist both recognizes this and accepts its minor errors as just normal. So he avoids the consequences without worrying about it.
In a way, the c-i criticism of vehicular cycling, that vehicular cycling doesn't work because traffic cannot be counted to operate properly, reflects just this difference. The c-i cyclist thinks that traffic is supposed to operate according to his ideal view of the rules, and complains when reality steps in, while the vehicular cyclist accepts reality and works around it. So we get annoyed idealists and pragmatic realists.
-- John Forester
Friday, October 24, 2008
A swashbuckling story about a man who grows tired of being told "where to go" just because that's "how they do it" on the far side of the world, and so he investigates the vehicular cycling technique (and attitude) and learns quickly how to command his lane and be master of his route and fate (as much as that's ever possible).
The inspiring story of a determined "under dog" vehicular cyclist who stubbornly resists a national bicycle advocacy organization's attempts to stripe bike-lanes throughout his town and limited his mobility. Can the "little guy" stand up to the "paint 'n path organized crime league" to defend his right of access to all roads? Inspired by a true story, or two.
City of Dallas representatives will be in Washington tomorrow and next week, and will be testifying before a House Committee about using stimulus funding on transportation projects.
We were asked to identify at least two projects that they could talk about. The parameters are:
- Surface Transportation Program (STP) eligible
- Plans are done – project can begin construction within 90 days of funding approval (about March 2009?)
- Project can be finished within one year of beginning construction
City of Dallas
Transportation Project Recommendations
The following projects have been designed to state and federal standards, and have been environmentally cleared. The design work is complete or nearly done and they can be let for construction in early 2009. The City of Dallas has the funding to provide the local match on these projects.
1. East Dallas Veloway Phase I: This is a multi-use path partnership project between the City of
The City of
The total cost of East Dallas Veloway Phase I is estimated to be $2,822,400. Federal funding is needed to cover $2,257,920 of the project cost. The City’s local matching funds were provided in the 2003 Bond program.
The City of
The total cost of Katy Trail Phase IV is estimated to be $4,812,000. Federal funding is needed to cover $3,849,600 of the project cost. The City’s local matching funds were provided in the 2003 Bond program.
The design for this project was completed several years ago under state and federal design guidelines and right-of-way needed for the project has already been acquired.
The total cost of the
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Are you a Londoner? Do you own a bike? Do you ride it with style? Do you know someone like this? If so, I'd love to hear from you. LondonBikeStyle is a project by photographer, Marcus Ross, photographing the great and the good of London's cyclists. If you have an interesting or unusual bike, or you ride you bike with a sense of style and panache, get in touch. LondonBikeStyle will consist of 100 different people with their bikes. I am particularly keen to find a interesting cross-section of people, from all walks of life, with a great age range. LondonBikeStyle will culminate in a book and an exhibition. If you would like to be part of this exciting project, please get in touch with your contact details, and a photograph of you and your bicycle. Likewise, if you know of anyone who you think would be worth photographing for this, I would be very grateful if you could pass on my details.
To see some of the project so far, please visit my website at http://www.marcusross.net/pages/menu.html
For those on Facebook, you can join the LondonBikeStyle group at http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=26539724143&ref=mf
Thanks very much and I look forward to hearing from you all.
Marcus Ross Photography
A one-way street in Montreal, Quebec, with a counter-flow bike lane, marked with sharrows. As remarkably stupid a design as I have ever seen, this is obviously the work of Québécoise Separatists, who either:
1) Want to kill visitors from English speaking Canada (sort of a bike-lane bomb), or
2) Separatists who wish to be "separated" from their mortal coil and released to a French-speaking afterlife.
...or perhaps they suffer from "Alta+Envy".
Perhaps the problem with the design isn't obvious to you (that's understandable). Perhaps you are thinking what could be wrong with this? Or perhaps that "killer" is too strong an adjective.
To begin with what's wrong, the sharrow usage shown here is a mis-application of the design. It's supposed to be a symbol indicating a "shared" lane for cars and bicycles, yet here it is being used as a bike lane symbol.
As I recall, Montreal began utilizing this symbol for bike lanes prior to their being adopted more widely in North America. Montreal imported the design from Europe when they hosted Velo Mondiale in 1992, using it for temporary cycle-tracks they installed around Mount Royale. They kept using them (inappropriately) after that, and now they are established. So what? Well, what if Montreal decided a red octagonal sign ought to mean "YIELD", not stop. Can you see the problem?
It's usage here is dangerous because it suspends the universal understanding of the traffic marking. A non-Québécoise driving in Montreal might see the sharrow on a one-way street (as the example here) and proceed down the street in the wrong direction in the bike lane. Cars honk, cyclists yell, fists pump. Chaos ensues, followed by a collision.
But what's worse about this design is what's visible on the right side of the street: a car (an SUV... the most evil of all "evil-cars") pointed in the opposite direction of the bike lane. How did it get there? It pulled across on-coming bicycle traffic to get to the parking space. How will it leave? It will pull across the same on-coming bicycle traffic. Years of driving experience will condition the driver to look over their right shoulder to see if any traffic is passing on the right, not to look straight ahead for oncoming traffic.
That's a "killer" application.
Would it be better if was a two-way street again? Yes, it would, where bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities of other vehicles. But by making exceptions, that right, that status, is slowly eroded and replaced with facilities that are actually far less "safe" than the previously existing roadway.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This is a bike lane in Cedar Park Texas, adjacent to the contagion of these designs in Austin, and obviously infected with MPS (Magick Paint Syndrome). When I lived in Austin (and when I visit Austin still), this is an all too common sight.
This street would function much better (and more safely for cyclists) as two 14' travel lanes (easy sharing) with two 8' parking lanes. I'm guessing this is a 44' wide street (hard to tell due to the wide angle lens and camera position, but the 6' bike lanes gives some scale).
If it's 40' wide, the WOL doesn't function. Sharrows 12' out from the curb face would be a better solution for everyone (edit: The more I look, the more I think this is a 40' wide residential), or just do nothing (best all-around solution).
A tip of the hat for the tip goes out to MTB*LAW*GIRL.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Here’s a schematic for a proposed re-striping of Mockingbird Lane. The re-striping would include:
- Reducing Mockingbird to two lanes on the West Lawther overpass (similar to what occurs where Mockingbird passes over the old UPRR right of way a mile to the west),
- Reduce speed limit on Mockingbird to 35 mph (from the current 40 mph) from Williamson to Buckner (the same as from Central to Williamson),
- Flex-stakes along Mockingbird to prevent direct access to the Dog Park from Mockingbird Lane through lanes,
- The outside lanes will now function more as slip-lanes for exiting the park, and entering it on East Lawther,
- Dynamic Speed Monitors on Mockingbird,
- Cantilevered overhead signs on Mockingbird to direct traffic to the through lanes, and to the park and DART Station.
All Dog Park access will be from West Lawther. East bound access will exit Mockingbird prior to West Lawther, go down to the 4-way stop, and proceed east to the Dog Park. West bound access will be as it is now.
The estimated cost for this project is $60,000, with a contingency budget of $75,000. Public Works and Transportation has no available funds for this.
This is essentially a neighborhood traffic calming treatment for the benefit of all users of Mockingbird Lane that will reduce speeding and make the road safer for all users. The need for this treatment is a result of the increased traffic that goes into and out of the Dog Park. No traffic studies were done by the City prior to the Dog Park being constructed. The conflicts that have resulted have been numerous and often very serious.
This will resolve most of the safety conflicts on Mockingbird, both the historic ones, and the new ones created by the Dog Park, making Mockingbird safer for through motorists, park users, and through cyclists.
LCI Keri Caffrey shows how it is done.
Note: The wide angle lens makes the speeds look greater than they are.
This is Friday's bike lane movie... every lane is the bike lane.
The only part of this otherwise excellent video I disapprove of is the ending. I would never recommend passing a queue of cars on the right with so little clearance. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it in certain circumstances, but I would never recommend it. Passenger doors DO open sometimes, and usually when you aren't expecting them to.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
(03-09) 20:42 PDT Cupertino -- A rookie Santa Clara County deputy sheriff patrolling a winding Cupertino road Sunday morning veered into the opposite lane of traffic and struck three bicyclists, killing two, including a rising star in the Bay Area cycling community, authorities said.
Authorities did not release the names of the riders who were killed, but friends identified them as Kristy Gough, 30, of San Leandro and Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco. The third cyclist, whose name was not released, was listed in critical condition Sunday night at Stanford University Medical Center.
The unidentified deputy was driving northbound when his white cruiser accidentally crossed over the double yellow line between Montebello and Ricardo roads and hit the cyclists, said Sgt. Don Morrissey, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department.
The deputy, who has worked for the department for about 18 months, immediately began to offer assistance to the bicyclists and called for medical aid, Morrissey said.
"The deputy is very distraught over this right now," Morrissey said. "It's devastating for everybody involved." Morrissey did not know whether Stevens Canyon Road is a route the deputy normally patrols.
As is customary when a local law enforcement officer is involved in a fatal crash, the deputy was placed on paid administrative leave and the California Highway Patrol is conducting the investigation.
Peterson, a member of the Roaring Mouse Cycles racing team, was pronounced dead at the scene. Gough died several hours later at Stanford University Medical Center, where the third rider, a 20-year-old, was admitted with major injuries, according to CHP Officer Todd Thibodeau.
Roaring Mouse Cycles on Irving Street in San Francisco, a bicycle shop that sponsored the team to which Peterson belonged, posted word of his death on its Web site. His death was confirmed by David Parrish, president of the Roaring Mouse racing team.
Two of Gough's friends, Dave Mayer and Anthony Borba, rode with her on the Third Pillar Amateur Road Racing team but were not present on Sunday's ride. They spoke with her family and said that she died as a result of head injuries and internal bleeding and that she also suffered a severed leg.
Borba said his racing team regularly uses the road for training rides because it is considered safe.
"It has a large bicycle lane that is safe," he said. "That's why we ride that route every weekend."
Editor: This is old and tragic news from somewhere I used to live. I post this with some reluctance, but do so because of a brief exchange I had with a bicyclist who lamented the loss of his favorite bike lane, and therefore a degradation of his perceived "safety". He couldn't have been more mistaken.
This is my bike lane picture of the day.
You are approaching an intersection in your car. The light is green. You are in the right lane, intending to continue straight. There is a large truck in the lane to your left. You see this sign.
How comfortable are you with this design?
This came off the NYC Bike Maps website. This is supposed to be a good example for bike lanes and community activism. I'll be using this photo as an example of two of the serious (and deadly) problems that installations like this have designed INTO them.
First, notice the dedicated left turn pocket that turns across the dedicated straight though bike lane. Oh, you say, but the cyclists will show proper caution and yield to the left turning cars...
Second, notice the position of the cyclist, and then notice the signal light phase. Did this cyclist show proper caution? Act like a vehicle? Designs like this (and the blue lanes in Portland) encourage cyclists to "lock" their vision on the point where the lane's lines converge in their sight, ignoring crossing traffic. This design creates an "alternate reality" that is a mere illusion. A deadly illusion.
This installation was done purely for political reasons. People who don't understand traffic design, but only their own demands for primacy, made enough noise that the Mayor of New York City (who doesn't understand traffic engineering) commanded this installation to appease a noisy constituency.
Can you see anything else? Where are the hundreds (dozens?) of cyclists forgoing other means of transport and flocking to the lane? The problem is it's based on the "Amsterdam Model", but American cyclists aren't. American cyclists seem almost incapable of operating in the low-speed style that cyclists in Amsterdam do... partly because Dutch cyclists don't think of themselves as "cyclists" the way Americans do, with all the expectations that word conveys. Studies have shown that the average American cyclist in an urban setting travels at almost twice the speed of a Dutch cyclist. So, the problem becomes changing behaviors of American cyclists, and if that's the solution, why not just teach them vehicular cycling instead? Why indeed.
There may well be a problem in Manhattan, but this sure isn't the solution.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Because some of us are stupid. Really stupid. Lance "I did it my way" Armstrong included (at least in this case). I guess once you've knelt by the side of a road with a cyclist as his life literally drains out, your tolerance for this stuff just goes away. If it doesn't, it should.
Very impressive riding, I admit. But if you think it's cool, imagine this video with cafe racer motorcycles instead, or tricked-out Honda Civics... or pick-up trucks with Confederate flags in the rear windows. Do you get it, yet?
P.S. A tip of the hat to meligrosa for the link. Not sure we're on the same page, but we're on the same team. She does good stuff. Coffee and bikes.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
(Washington DC) - The League of American Bicyclelane's vision of a Bicycle Friendly America has taken a major step towards making every road in America officially Bicycle Friendly. "While cities like Portland and Madison have rolled out the proverbial red carpet for cyclists, now every cyclist in America can roll out their own 'black carpet' " said League of American Bicyclelanes President Nigel Lark-Ascending. "The number one thing surveys have shown that keep the US from abandoning automobiles for bicycles (after level roads, cool but sunny skies, and a permanent tail wind), is the lack of bike lanes. As of today, there is nothing to hold American cyclists back."
Commissioning Portland's Awful+Design Group, the LAB's Lark-Ascending urged them to continue their groundbreaking work in importing the most dubious of European designs, and making them uniquely bad for America. "Our courageous work with blue and green bike lanes was being thwarted by having to get committee approvals around the country" said Awful's principal, Hope Itzo. "Obstinate old men wearing woolen cycling gear kept bringing up quaint notions like safety and liability. Modern trends have passed them by, and they just won't accept that they are simply scratchy woolen dinosaurs in a stretchy lycra age."
To get around professional objections to their innovative designs, Awful presented the user-deployed "MagickCarpet™ Bike Lane" to Mr. Lark-Ascending. He was immediately struck by its brilliance. "Brilliant!" he said, "Absolutely brilliant!"
Drawing its design from World War II anti-tank minefield clearers, every cyclist can now have a rolled up, one meter wide bike lane attached to their bicycle. As the cyclist rolls along previously bicycle unfriendly streets and roads, s/he is proceeded by 100 feet of bike lane, and trailed by by an equal one. "Like magic, all the cars and trucks stay out of the proceeding (and receding) lane. Everywhere cyclists ride, they can now have their very own 200 foot bike lane" explains Ms. Itzo, "protecting them from all dangers to the rear, and paving the way to a bright blue-green future."
Production MagickCarpet™ Bike Lanes will be available in either blue or green, although the prototype shown was availble in any color you'd like, "as long as it's black." Itzo and Lark-Ascending both said that problems with "curling" experienced at the "unrolling" in Washington DC will be "ironed out" prior to consumer manufacture. Expected retail prices have yet to be announced, although Ms. Itzo was confident the price would be considerably less than paying for an SUV's gasoline for a year.
With a look to the future, the former lobbyist Mr. Lark-Ascending said, "To maximize the safety benefits the MagickCarpet™ Bike Lane affords, LAB will be looking into whether or not their use should be made compulsory in LAB designated Bicycle-Unfriendly cities." MegaBikeCo has been announced as the sole manufacturer of the MagickCarpet™ Bike lane.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Us vs. Them: Level One
Far too many cyclists and non-cyclists alike subscribe to the theory that public roadways are killing zones for cyclists. They see bicyclists as wheeled pedestrians, and motorized vehicles as dangerous killing machines inevitably drawn to running over cyclists. Many "gutter-bunny" cyclists fit this bill, as do the "Get off the street!" motorists. Their primary motivation in supporting their actions is fear: the cyclists' being afraid of getting run over, and the motorists' fear of doing the running over. The streets are seen as combat zones, with cars hunting down cyclists.
This attitude leads to the belief that segregated facilities are required for bicycles at all times. The head of the largest bicycle advocacy group in America (and former Exec. Director of the Rails To Trails Conservancy, tellingly perhaps) promotes this mindset when he says things like, "you can count on cars doing the wrong thing 98% of the time..." regarding bicycles operating as part of the normal traffic flow of streets. Alta+Design in Portland Oregon sells this theory to cities and individuals, as does anyone who says, "How they do it in Amsterdam is how we should handle bicycles." Fear-based decision making seldom results in good decisions. Ask an ostrich.
This mindset is especially attractive to the forces that want bicycles removed from public streets.
Us and Them: Level Two
The second level moves people to the idea that "separated but equal" is the best solution. While not necessarily agreeing with Level One's fear-frozen approach, the thaw in approach is minor. Whereas Level One believes bicycles can only operate on totally separate facilities like bike trails, cycle tracks, and side paths, Level Two believers are brave (or foolish) enough to believe in the salvific qualities of paint (stripes and/or solids). Level Two supporters recognize that for cyclists to truly have a role in the transportation mix, they can't rely on expensive and rare totally separate trails. They need the mobility provided by local streets and roads. But they can't shake their fear of cars.
Striped Bike Lanes become the answer to their concerns, even though the one safety concern they address (the rarest of serious cyclist injury causes: cyclists being struck from the rear by an overtaking motor vehicle) is more than offset by more than quadrupling the exposure to the MOST common cause of serious bicyclist injury and death (crossing/turning movements).
Utilizing recent innovations like Blue Bike Lanes and Green Bike Boxes, Level Two advocates even backslide toward Level One thought, with a resulting increase in cyclist fatalities and serious injuries. Fear and Distrust are still the guiding emotions. Levels One and Two both lean heavily on the "In Loco Parentis" idea of how schools used to handle minors, viewing ALL cyclists as children, regardless of age.
As in Level One, Level Two finds cycling "advocates" aligned with anti-cycling agencies.
All of Us: Level Three
Level Three sees the roadways as PUBLIC roadways, for the use of all vehicles equally, while recognizing the simple fact that "self-selection" will dictate to a large degree what roads various vehicles will find appropriate to their operating levels. I've long used the analogy of a farm or ranch pasture (revealing the observations and experiences of my childhood, no doubt).
For those who have not had to put up with my ideas before (and as a refresher to those who have... please, no rolling of the eyes), my basic premise is that the street grid of a city functions much like a farm-ranch pasture. The animals in a pasture choose routes that best fit their operational ability as they forage for food and water. Rabbits (always in danger of predators) move under cover from hawks and coyotes as much as possible, changing directions frequently, and staying out of sight as much as possible. Sheep, more immune to these dangers, choose easier, more direct paths, while avoiding the most direct (and most exposed). Horses and cattle go where they like, the most direct way possible, with the exception that they, due to their size, can not physically travel the same routes as the smallest animals.
Self-selected route planning is what cyclists do in Level Three. With a minimal amount of training and experience, cyclists quickly move from traveling "under cover" to traveling out in the open, moving freely amongst vehicles that Level One and Two users might see as predators.
Only in Level Three, the "Us" scenario, do cyclists achieve true mobility, and earn the respect of all other road users. As Keri Caffrey puts it so well, join "the dance" of bicycle mobility. A One, and a Two, and a Three!
"There, there. Did the big, bad car scare'ums? This will make it all better. Let Mommy* appeal to your insecurities."
Cars can be dangerous. There are also coyotes and cottonmouth water moccasins in my neighborhood, but I don't hesitate going out in my shorts and sandals.
*Municipal Oligarchy Managing Many Yokels.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
They ask elected officials: "Just who the hell is this P.M. Summer guy, and what makes him think he knows a damn thing about biking?"
Friday, October 10, 2008
This is a confirmation that you have just renewed your membership in the League of American Bicyclists --- thank you! We'll be in touch shortly to keep you informed of the latest progess in our goal of creating a bicycle friendly America. If you have any other questions, or would like more information, visit us at www.bikeleague.org or call 202-822-1333.
Thanks for renewing your League Cycling Instructor certification. By remaining an active LCI you have exclusive access to the online LCI Instructor Corner where can update your contact information, add your courses to the League website, and download the latest teaching resources such as BikeEd Group Riding curriculum with student guide, new Parking Lot Drills Guide and Bike Ed Brochure, as well as eligibility to be covered by the League's liability insurance coverage. The Instructor Corner is at https://www.bikeleague.org/cogs/members/instructor/login The BikeEd program is reaching hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. LCIs are teaching in schools, community centers, adult education programs, YMCAs, family health fairs, corporate security fleets, universities, bicycle tours, and youth summer camps.
To order the latest LCI and League materials please visit www.bikeleague.org/store Thank you again for all of your hard work. BikeEd email@example.com
Behold the "Vertical Lift Bridge Bike Crossing" on the East Dallas Veloway. Cyclists and runners will arrive at the base of the raised bridge (which will be its normal position to allow traffic to move on Peak Street), and will actuate an "on-demand" command. The bridge will then lower to grade level on it's four screw-posts, creating a sealed-off crossing of the street that pedestrians and cyclists can then proceed across. After the trail users have cleared the span, the bridge will rise again to allow traffic to pass.
Another glorious innovation in bicycle segregation infrastructure design.
We use the word "skill" too much in describing vehicular cycling, and thereby we perpetuate the myth that vehicular cycling is hard to do.
The only skill required is to ride in a straight line.
Remember: visible plus predictable equals safe. If you can do that, you can ride vehicularly.
What added skills do is give you more vehicular options. If you can turn your neck, use your mirrors (if you choose to), you can merge and make a vehicular left turn.
The farther to the right one rides, the more skill (and stress) required.
Let's integrate this thought into our rhetoric.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
According to some "bicycle advocates", yes. Why? Because you can see cars in the pictures.
The cover of Franklin's book could almost be used as a poster for "bad cycling practice" by "bicycle fear advocates". No helmets, shoe laces in the breeze, cars within sight, oh the horrors.
BTW: Excellent book. It's about empowerment over fear.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Being green can save you some green!
The cool weather has arrived here in Dallas and we are celebrating with a transportation kick-off at this month's Green drinks:
-EAT: The bar is offering a Free appetizer to anyone who arrives at Greendrinks by non-car!*
-DRINK: It's also happy hour so come grab a drink and chat with other folks interested in green living, green industry, green M&Ms....
-BE MERRY: Anyone is welcome so invite your favorite skeptic, call on a colleague, forward to a friend and come for an informal meet-up
-and BE INFORMED: Milling amongst us will be PM Summer of Dallas City Hall to share maps and helpful info about bike commuting
Build the Board: We need folks to submit information/postings for the bulletin board. This months theme is COMMUTING.
Find and print an article/tip/idea/question regarding Green commuting, BE SURE to do a little FACT CHECKing and SITE YOUR SOURCES. Then post it up and help your fellow Greenies stay informed. If you can, please shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know we can count on you for a Green board pin up!
When: October 8, 2008 6pm to 8+
Where: Cafe Rembrandt, www.caferembrandtdallas.com (use the website maps as the location is tricky with all the one-ways)
Who: YOU and the bike you rode in on (and anybody you passed along the way)
What (is this all about?): Did your crazy friend email you this invite with no explanation? Great! We are a new local branch of the International Group Greendrinks. It's an informal, no charge meet-up group to connect folks interested in any aspect of Green living, working, and being. More info at greendrinks.org---click FIND CITY and check out Dallas
Come on by and check us out!
SOMEONE WILL BE WEARING GREEN....
*We'll trust you all to find a clever way to prove you came to the bar via your own muscle power or by public transit.
I found this sign posted at an intersection exiting a popular park used by cyclists. Something about it didn't look quite right, so I stopped and took a closer look.
It's a hand-made sign, painted onto plywood. Public Works didn't do it. The Park Department claimed innocence. I presume that a citizen, fed up with cyclists blowing through (and rolling through) the stop sign, made it, or had it made.
Public Works removed it immediately. Why? Because it's not a legal sign, and it makes a very dangerous statement. The implication one could draw from this sign is that the "cyclist" must stop, but not the motorist. This sign modifies the legal stop sign, and could appear to apply to cyclists only.
Several years ago, the Police Department asked for signs like that at White Rock Lake Park. We declined, for the reasons I mentioned, and instead posted the very popular (based upon their frequency of theft) "Bicycles Are Vehicles" sign (see below). Time to crank up the machinery and get some more made, I guess.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- Several people in West Austin are upset about a city proposal to restrict parking along Exposition Boulevard. The city recently resurfaced a stretch of road along Exposition, from Windsor to Westover streets. By city policy, the city must re-stripe the road to include bicycle lanes.
However, many neighbors along Exposition Boulevard have parked along the street for years. The City of Austin sent out a letter to neighbors restricting parking along the street. The West Austin Neighborhood Group has scheduled a meeting with city officials Monday to talk about the proposal. Rob D'Amico, president of the League of Bicycling Voters, said his group is pushing the city not to allow more parking than already allowed on the street.
"We're not entering the fray, unless the city tries to put more restrictions on it," said D'Amico.
D'Amico said many of the neighbors along Exposition have circular driveways that allow for ample parking off the street.
Editor's note: Shorter Mr. D'Amico, "Let them eat cake!"... with a similar longterm result.
Editor's second note: I've removed the annoying automatic video player. You can see the entertaining video by clicking HERE.
Sec. 551.103. Operation on Roadway.
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway; or
(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
Ladies and gentlemen, that makes bike lanes mandatory. If there is one, you may not use the travel lane, but must use the gutter lane.
I just returned from a weekend in a Texas city renowned for its bike lanes and "bicycle-friendly" reputation. The weather was beautiful. As usual, I saw no one in the bike lanes away from the downtown/campus area (big institution of "higher" education). I did see one cyclist straddling the outside stripe of a bike lane, and two runners jogging against traffic in a bike lane.
But what I did see (but my family wouldn't let me get out and collect specimens of and/or document... "Don't do that! You might get arrested for mocking their bike lanes!") was a three foot wide "bike lane", including a one foot gutter pan, making it a two foot wide bike lane. The "lane" was filled with straw, glass, car parts, and torn down signs. The road was a fairly narrow, heavily trafficked (by cars and trucks) six lane divided thoroughfare, named something like "Massacre Road". It was posted 40 and 45 MPH. Where it was 45, it narrowed to two 11' lanes, with no bike lane. Cyclists appeared to be expected to use the sidewalk (and I did see one casual cyclist on the sidewalk).
BFMA (Bike Friendly, My Arse).
Here it is:
Waco has left a new comment on your post "They ask questions. Good ones, too.":
Thanks for an excellent post and for addressing my questions.
I am surprised to know that trip-mode share is as high as 4% anywhere in Dallas, but then I don't often get much further South than The Cedars. Perhaps that's why?
I've moved from Highland Park to Dallas, close to the bike route that runs along Welch. Along this route, I now see the occasional cyclist who looks like a commuter, and many more spandex warriors. I also see families out for "around the block" rides in the neighborhood. I have to say though that it still freaks me out to see so few bikes or bike racks at schools, and I have never seen another bike at my local Starbucks or Whole Foods. That's just plain wrong!
After some months now reading your blog, I can say that I have "drunk the cool-aid." You have me pretty well toeing the Effective/vehicular cycling party line. "Discovering" the Dallas bike route system and better understanding the negative aspects of segregation has made me feel that Dallas is somewhat more "bike friendly" than I felt before.
Thinking about this "friendliness factor" I realize that for me at least, the actual transportation infrastructure, while obviously hugely important, feels less so than cyclist ubiquity and the overall built environment when it comes to a place feeling "friendly." In terms of ubiquity--if there are other bikes everywhere, it just feels "right." (Perhaps part of the appeal of White Rock Lake, even for the spandex crowd?) As for the broader built environment, the lack of density in Dallas and the generally suburban strip mall character of things doesn't seem to lend itself well to a sort of thoughtless integration of cycling into daily life. (In much the same way that Dallas doesn't lend itself to pedestrianism, cafe culture, life on the streets, etc.)
Perhaps if we can make improvements in the area of cyclist/driver education and get more bikes on the road people will also begin to see the economic, social, and environmental value of a built environment that is not designed primarily around the automobile.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Portland has been getting a lot of attention from folks who fear riding their bikes in the public right of way, and who wish for cities to develop special "bike friendly" designs to segregate themselves from cars and trucks.
Always at the forefront of innovation, Portland has now come up with truck-side "bicycle guards" to keep from crushing cyclists who hide in the truck's blind spot while the truck makes a legal right turn across a bike lane (two deaths in the last twelve months, one serious injury, and multiple brush-backs). These are being installed on City trucks, and a mandatory requirement is being considered for all other trucks operating on Portland streets and roadways.
I presume these designs will be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists, by awarding Portland a "Bicycle Friendly Platinum Plus" rating for designing truck guards that scrape cyclists off the streets like an old locomotive's cattle guard.
I can't decide whether to call these "Birk'n Skirts" (after the former Portland Bicycle Coordinator and current principal of Alta Design), or "Clarke's Wallabikes", after the LAB President who has been so effusive in his praise of the deadly innovations Portland pushes on an unsuspecting public.
Anyway, my hat's off for yet another amazing safety design meant to mitigate the carnage that other "safety designs" have caused. I can only imagine what might be next. Cars covered in external airbags? Elevated bikeways? Bicycle-nannies at every intersection to wipe cyclists' noses and tell them what to do next?
P.S. I am sorry to report that this is not a joke.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
We're still working on lane position. But notice we went straight to the street. No sidewalks, bike-path, or bike-lane riding for my grandson's first bike ride.
However, at the present time, he's showing some signs of CIC. His comment on seeing his first car coming his way was... "AAAYYYYYIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!", followed by taking his hands off the handlebar and feet off the pedals.