Sunday, September 25, 2011
"PM, why do you hate bike lanes?"
Here's one reason. The reality of bicycle lane installations (because it's always a political decision and never an engineering solution) is that they almost always involve placing them within door zones in urban environments.
It is of no small irony that the so-called "safe passing" laws that are being pushed past state legislatures without much thought, make it legal (by specifically omitting cyclists from the "safe passing" requirement) for a cyclist to pass a vehicle within 3'... well inside the door zones of motor vehicles.
By the way, the AASHTO recommendation for Shared Lane Markings ("sharrows", or SLMs) places them within the door zone of parked motor vehicles, and states that the SLM indicates the recommended lateral placement of the bicyclist... directly in the door zone of anything other than a FIAT 500 or Mini Cooper.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
...to make bike lanes safer.
By painting a stop bar and a stop sign stencil at each intersection (controlled or not), many of the egregious design faults of bike lanes could be minimized. Right hooks and left crosses would now have a designed-in counter measure to protect the not-so-Swift cyclists from the unexpected.
After all, bike-lane cyclists never run stop signs.
Hat tip to LAB Bicycle Friendly Community Flagstaff, Arizona (which has a law requiring bicycles to yield to oncoming "real" vehicles) for this great idea.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
September 14, 2011
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
284 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Dear Senator Hutchison,
As a retired Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Planner, and as a bicycling safety instructor, I am greatly concerned about the safety of those who use bicycles. Unfortunately, much of the money spent on bicycling infrastructure is worse than wasted. Many of the projects actually introduce hazards.
I urge you to SUPPORT any move to eliminate dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, and to OPPOSE an extension of the federal transportation act SAFETEA-LU.
My experiences since the institution of the original ISTEA legislation has shown the vast majority of Transportation Enhancement projects have little or no impact on transportation, and are exceedingly wasteful, costing up to five times as much as they would otherwise cost to construct. I have actually seen the City of Dallas build projects twice as fast without using Enhancements money, and for little more than the 20% local match they would have spent using Federal dollars. Claims that bicycle projects create more jobs than all-purpose roadway projects only underscores the inherent waste in these inefficient programs.
Until "bicycle advocates" stop pushing for all segregated infrastructure, no matter what hazards they produce, these projects should be stopped.
Their is a need for bicycling education - teaching people "defensive driving," to recognize and avoid potential dangers. But the current programs instead reinforce dangerous fallacies while they build hazards into the highway system.
Thank you for supporting real safety for bicycling. Please oppose these unwise projects.
Monday, September 12, 2011
A man riding his bicycle crashed into a car on University Way on Saturday night, and later died from his injuries.
The incident happened around 6:18 p.m. According to Seattle Police spokesman Mark Jamieson, the bicyclist, who was delivering food from the nearby Jimmy John's, was riding south on University Way when a car started to turn from Campus Parkway north onto University. The man wasn’t able to stop his bike in time, and crashed into the car.
The impact threw the man from the bicycle and onto the pavement. An ambulance crew, which had been taking a patient to the University of Washington Medical Center, was at the scene when the crash happened and started performing CPR on the bicyclist immediately.
The man was then rushed to Harborview Medical Center. Jamieson said the man died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Jamieson said that the driver of the car was not impaired at the time of the crash.
Editor's note: The motorist failed to yield right of way to an oncoming vehicle. The "sharrow" failed to provide any more protection than any other paint application can.
Friday, September 09, 2011
From the Monterey County Herald, a letter to the editor:
Rights, not arrogance
In his Aug. 14 letter, Mark S. Morgan wrote, "There is a fine line between riding a bicycle 'confidently in traffic' and 'arrogantly in traffic.'" I think that view is based on an incomplete understanding of the history of the rights of bicyclists.
In the early 1900s, what later became the Vehicle Code specified that bicycles were vehicles and bicyclists were "operators" of vehicles. When lanes were invented in the 1920s, bicyclists had the right to use them just like other drivers.
But then, in 1963, a new restriction on bicyclists appeared: they had to ride as far right as practicable. The result was that bicyclists lost the right to use a full lane.
In 1975, however, I helped craft exceptions to the "as far right as practicable" law, partially restoring the right of bicyclists to use full lanes when necessary (in particular, for their own safety). Some people, however, still think that bicyclists who use a full lane are being arrogant.
It's not arrogance for any driver, including a bicyclist, to use a full lane when legally allowed. What is arrogance is for another road user to question a bicyclist's right to do so.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
photo by Marcus Beasdale
One of the difficulties I used to encounter in doing bicycle facilities planning is best exemplified by a comment I had to address at a city council-member's Town Hall meeting once. A citizen asked the council member to have me in attendance because they had concerns about the Dallas Bike Plan.
The citizen (seemingly a native of the Northeast based upon his accent) followed one of the routes on his bicycle, and discovered that it took him to (!) south Dallas. The concerns that he wanted me to address were: A) How could the City be so irresponsible as to have bikes routes that led to "bad" parts of town, and B) people in those "bad" parts of town might use those same bike routes to come marauding into "better" neighborhoods.
People will be people. Always.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Photo by Russ Henderson of the Alabama Press-Register, used for illustration purposes only.
There was an incident on the Santa Fe Trail last week where a cyclist was crossing Munger (IIRC), which is a 4-lane divided thoroughfare with low to medium traffic volumes. The cyclist in question stopped at the crossing, and a car in the outside lane (closest to the cyclist) stopped unnecessarily and waved the cyclist across the road, thinking they were being helpful. They weren't. A second car pulled in behind the first car, creating a visual blockage of both the trail head from oncoming traffic and the inside traffic lane from trail users.
As the cyclist continued across the road, a truck came through the open INSIDE lane and hit the cyclist. Thankfully, her quality bicycle was the only casualty, but it could have been much, much worse. The truck driver continued without stopping (a serious violation), but the cyclist is guilty of failure to yield right of way. Just think of it as pulling out of a driveway onto a multi-lane street when your vision of oncoming traffic (and your visibility by said) is blocked by a parked vehicle.
This is the same type of collision.
Two cyclists were killed in the identical situation (queued up motorists waving them into a blind opening), on two different occasions where the White Rock Trail used to cross Greenville Avenue before Royal Lane was built. Never, ever allow a car to wave you out into a traffic lane you can't see... either on a mid-block trail crossing, or on a sidestreet intersection crossing.
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Trails lure otherwise competent and knowledgeable cyclists into taking risks they wouldn't normally. They too often become an "Alice In Wonderland" alternate reality, sort of a Bizzarro World where the rules we know so well begin to morph into a dangerous sense of both immortality and privilege. I've felt it work on me when I ride trails.
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Suppose the unfortunate cyclist had been riding instead on the closely paralleling, very low volume, Santa Fe Avenue instead. Rolling up to a stop sign, would they have accepted a motorist's offer (an automobile driver who was holding up traffic by inexplicably stopping where there was no stop sign) to pull out blindly in front of them? Almost certainly the answer is "no", because the competent cyclist on a public roadway will maintain their identity as a vehicle.
But on a trail, that identity begins to morph from vehicle operator into one as playground user.
"Come and play," said the spider to the fly. Resist the temptation.
P.S. Who's the idiot responsible for the Santa Fe Trail? If by responsible, you mean the person who conceived it, pushed it for fifteen years, and secured funding for it from multiple sources... that would be me.