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Old 01-13-17, 12:36 AM   #1
Mark Stone
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Lookie what they're Doing in El Paso!

As part of a voter-approved "Quality of Life" bond, the city of El Paso, Texas is building wide multi-purpose paths next to busy city streets. The one pictured below is 2 blocks from my house and looks to be 10 to 12 feet wide, intended for both bicyclists and pedestrians. They are not only installing paths like this all over town, they are landscaping around them too. For a city like ELP, which is definitely not bike-centric, this is a great step.

I don't know how extensive this will become, or if it will evolve into a network suitable for cross-city bike transportation. It's at least a good start.

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Old 01-13-17, 12:48 AM   #2
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12' is the proper minimum standard for a MUP. But the most important part is how they handle intersection and driveway crossings.

Keep a heads up that they do not pass a mandatory use law.
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Old 01-13-17, 07:53 AM   #3
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Lucky you!
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Old 01-13-17, 08:05 AM   #4
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pedestrians aside I like how it is a protected bike path, meaning w/ a hard divider from the auto traffic
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Old 01-13-17, 09:03 AM   #5
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I would gladly use that MUP even if it was mandatory. Looks to be nice and smooth and a good alternative in an area that looks like there will be a lot of traffic due to shops and what not.
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Old 01-13-17, 10:11 AM   #6
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But the most important part is how they handle intersection and driveway crossings.

Most definitely. A few years ago in the Philly 'burbs an MUP was built along a busy stretch of highway. I have heard numerous stories of accidents and very close calls on certain parts resulting from numerous business driveway crossings and intersections.


In Hamilton, MT, along U.S. 93, the is a "bike trail" that is really just a glorified sidewalk. For a stretch there are countless business parking lot driveways that cross the "trail" along with some streets. Closer the center of town, the road shoulder disappears, but having ridden through there 3 times in the last 5 years, I still haven't decided whether if the path is safer than the road due to all the cars turning into parking lots.

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Old 01-13-17, 11:31 AM   #7
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Good to see this happening in Texas. Any infrastructure is a step in the right direction. It is definitely a good start!
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Old 01-13-17, 12:23 PM   #8
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Most definitely. A few years ago in the Philly 'burbs an MUP was built along a busy stretch of highway. I have heard numerous stories of accidents and very close calls on certain parts resulting from numerous business driveway crossings and intersections.


In Hamilton, MT, along U.S. 93, the is a "bike trail" that is really just a glorified sidewalk. For a stretch there are countless business parking lot driveways that cross the "trail" along with some streets. Closer the center of town, the road shoulder disappears, but having ridden through there 3 times in the last 5 years, I still haven't decided whether if the path is safer than the road due to all the cars turning into parking lots.
That's what I don't like about cities that think bike paths are just sidewalks with signs. Like Denver - some good stuff going on there, but a lot of times they just put up a sign and call a generic sidewalk a "bike route". One of these paths (in Lakewood) was responsible for a couple of broken ribs, a broken wrist, a concussion, and an AC separation when silly me thought a "bike path" meant it was a "bike path"
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Old 01-13-17, 12:29 PM   #9
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Nice

The trees are good, but I think they have too many of them, and it may obscure visibility around driveways.

You didn't post any street crossings.
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Old 01-13-17, 01:24 PM   #10
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Yup, it is the intersections that are the issues... let's see how they handle those.

Finland used under road tunnels... which worked quite well, even offering peds and cyclists a place to shelter in a sudden burst of weather. I suspect that ELP will use crosswalks and signal lights. But I'll have to wait and see.
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Old 01-13-17, 01:41 PM   #11
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First, CliffordK said:
Quote:
You didn't post any street crossings.
Then genec followed up with:
Quote:
Yup, it is the intersections that are the issues... let's see how they handle those . . . . I suspect that ELP will use crosswalks and signal lights. But I'll have to wait and see.
Yes, street crossings on this path are indeed crosswalks/signal lights. This can be an issue, however in this context it may not. For roadies and fitness riders, the street crossings may be a PITA because - hey - who wants to stop and wait for a Walk signal? But I'm thinking that paths like this can be lifesavers to sedentary people that need to get out and get their bodies moving and exercising. I think that's what thrills me more than anything else about these paths. This gives them a super-safe place where they can discover what an aerobic HR feels like, and also can possibly introduce them to what a utilitarian cycling lifestyle can offer. This path runs along a long series of businesses - imagine me and the wifey deciding to go out to eat on this street, and we have the safe option of using our bikes to get there instead of the car? Wowsers.
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Old 01-13-17, 01:43 PM   #12
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While they look great, my issue with this type of Bike Path is they rapidly become MUP's. and riding on them becomes not only slow and fragment but somewhat riskier due to pedestrians, children and pet walkers.
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Old 01-13-17, 02:20 PM   #13
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First, CliffordK said:Then genec followed up with:Yes, street crossings on this path are indeed crosswalks/signal lights. This can be an issue, however in this context it may not. For roadies and fitness riders, the street crossings may be a PITA because - hey - who wants to stop and wait for a Walk signal? But I'm thinking that paths like this can be lifesavers to sedentary people that need to get out and get their bodies moving and exercising. I think that's what thrills me more than anything else about these paths. This gives them a super-safe place where they can discover what an aerobic HR feels like, and also can possibly introduce them to what a utilitarian cycling lifestyle can offer. This path runs along a long series of businesses - imagine me and the wifey deciding to go out to eat on this street, and we have the safe option of using our bikes to get there instead of the car? Wowsers.
We've got a local median strip MUP with a few lights. I think the biggest issue is that they haven't designed the lights for bicycles.

I.E, I'd like to see a bicycle light activated with every light cycle, not just when the button is pressed, some of which are placed in odd locations. Some kind of a rolling sensor? Maybe give a longer yellow than normal for bike specific lights.

As it is, if I approach the light with a "Don't Walk" (I'm not walking). Then I check lights for side, turning, and cross traffic. There is also a parallel bus lane with lights. Anyway, if there is no legal cross traffic, then I go. But, it can be difficult to predict changing lights. The bus light helps.

Anyway, some thought and care in designing bike signals would be good.
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Old 01-14-17, 12:00 AM   #14
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Looks darn fine to me. And yet the IamAcar crowd stll booos. LOL..
It doesn't look much like a gathering place for dog walkers.
I was there a night, with my car and bike, in spring 1997. I rode down the hill and back.
I had to think about bringing my bike in the big motel or not.
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Old 01-15-17, 01:00 AM   #15
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Looks darn fine to me. And yet the IamAcar crowd stll booos. LOL..
I think you are misunderstanding the objections. While these side paths do provide some protection from being hit by an overtaking motor vehicle, a risk that is overplayed imo (yes, I'm aware of the data and it appears to be mostly crap in an urban/suburban environment). At driveways, anyone proceeding on this path on a bike will find themselves out of sight, out of mind of most motorists who want to pull in or out of those businesses. Things can go south at those intersections in a hurry, partly because motorists mis-estimate cyclists speed by a large margin and partly because many of them don't really care.

Then there's the actual intersection issue. Cars making right turns are almost certainly not going to be looking for bikes coming along and cars making left turns are scanning the travel lanes, not several degrees further out, and also will often not notice the presence of bikes proceeding straight. The most dangerous place, intersections, just got more dangerous. These side paths effectively double the number of roads interacting at an intersection.

Lastly, there's the trip time thing. If one has to ride like a six-year-old in order to not be taken out at every driveway and must wait two minutes at each intersection, it's going to take a looooong time to get across town. Might as well drive if you have to go slower than a jogger.
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Old 01-15-17, 01:05 AM   #16
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Looks to be nice and smooth and a good alternative in an area that looks like there will be a lot of traffic due to shops and what not.
Quote:
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Nice

The trees are good, but I think they have too many of them, and it may obscure visibility around driveways.
Those trees, which will block motorists' view of cyclists, and vice versa, are also going to make that nice, smooth surface an absolute nightmare in just a few years. Even cobblestones are smoother than asphalt with adjacent trees. I hope they budgeted for lots of root planing and repaving, otherwise these side paths may be useless before they attract any users.
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Old 01-15-17, 05:21 AM   #17
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Why is it that I suspect this was built not to "benefit" cyclists, but get them "out of the way." And that is the only goal.
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Old 01-15-17, 06:42 AM   #18
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Lucky you!

YOWZA!!
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Old 01-15-17, 07:59 AM   #19
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I think you are misunderstanding the objections. While these side paths do provide some protection from being hit by an overtaking motor vehicle, a risk that is overplayed imo (yes, I'm aware of the data and it appears to be mostly crap in an urban/suburban environment). At driveways, anyone proceeding on this path on a bike will find themselves out of sight, out of mind of most motorists who want to pull in or out of those businesses. Things can go south at those intersections in a hurry, partly because motorists mis-estimate cyclists speed by a large margin and partly because many of them don't really care.

Then there's the actual intersection issue. Cars making right turns are almost certainly not going to be looking for bikes coming along and cars making left turns are scanning the travel lanes, not several degrees further out, and also will often not notice the presence of bikes proceeding straight. The most dangerous place, intersections, just got more dangerous. These side paths effectively double the number of roads interacting at an intersection.

Lastly, there's the trip time thing. If one has to ride like a six-year-old in order to not be taken out at every driveway and must wait two minutes at each intersection, it's going to take a looooong time to get across town. Might as well drive if you have to go slower than a jogger.
All of these are valid points. As to the purpose for these paths, I suspect they are more intended for "locals" (like me) -- meaning people that live in the area that want to utilize these routes to go to local eateries, etc., or for people that want to just get out and exercise a little. Cross-city commuting types and roadies are still in the street and not up on these paths. My hope, as stated in the OP, that they develop into a cross-city bike transportation thing, will probably be dashed. This city does not plan that well, and never has.

For me personally, I live in this area and it has become a "whole city" to me. What I mean by that, is my home - my work - my friends and family - the businesses I shop/eat at - etc. - are easy walking and biking distances from each other. I'm currently car-light, and could easily be car-free if I wanted. Thinking in that mindset, these paths are ideal because speed is not an issue, and distances I need to travel are short. I'm perfectly happy dismounting and walking the bike when the "Walk" light comes on.

I guess my joy in the OP is that this city is doing something, when it traditionally has done nothing.
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Old 01-15-17, 08:01 AM   #20
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Those trees, which will block motorists' view of cyclists, and vice versa, are also going to make that nice, smooth surface an absolute nightmare in just a few years. Even cobblestones are smoother than asphalt with adjacent trees. I hope they budgeted for lots of root planing and repaving, otherwise these side paths may be useless before they attract any users.
Not gonna happen. This is El Paso. These trees are going to die soon.
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Old 01-15-17, 09:20 AM   #21
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Those trees, which will block motorists' view of cyclists, and vice versa, are also going to make that nice, smooth surface an absolute nightmare in just a few years. Even cobblestones are smoother than asphalt with adjacent trees. I hope they budgeted for lots of root planing and repaving, otherwise these side paths may be useless before they attract any users.
If they actually grow.

I've always wondered if they haven't created a special hybrid 'developer' tree that never really grows. When you see the artist's rendition of what a commercial development will become, the trees are always large and lush and beautiful. But in reality, they put in those small trees and they seem to never actually grow. Twenty years later, they don't look much different from when they were planted. I don't know if it's the trees themselves or if it's just that with all that pavement the root system never develops properly due to lack of oxygen and water, but there are dozens of developments around here over a decade old where the trees have just never really taken hold. They're still alive, but they never grow any larger.
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Old 01-15-17, 10:02 AM   #22
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go El Paso.
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Old 01-15-17, 08:09 PM   #23
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I think you are misunderstanding the objections. While these side paths do provide some protection from being hit by an overtaking motor vehicle, a risk that is overplayed imo (yes, I'm aware of the data and it appears to be mostly crap in an urban/suburban environment). At driveways, anyone proceeding on this path on a bike will find themselves out of sight, out of mind of most motorists who want to pull in or out of those businesses. Things can go south at those intersections in a hurry, partly because motorists mis-estimate cyclists speed by a large margin and partly because many of them don't really care.

Then there's the actual intersection issue. Cars making right turns are almost certainly not going to be looking for bikes coming along and cars making left turns are scanning the travel lanes, not several degrees further out, and also will often not notice the presence of bikes proceeding straight. The most dangerous place, intersections, just got more dangerous. These side paths effectively double the number of roads interacting at an intersection.

Lastly, there's the trip time thing. If one has to ride like a six-year-old in order to not be taken out at every driveway and must wait two minutes at each intersection, it's going to take a looooong time to get across town. Might as well drive if you have to go slower than a jogger.
You made one error in your post.

Might as well jog if you have to go slower than a jogger.
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Old 01-15-17, 08:17 PM   #24
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If they actually grow.

I've always wondered if they haven't created a special hybrid 'developer' tree that never really grows. When you see the artist's rendition of what a commercial development will become, the trees are always large and lush and beautiful. But in reality, they put in those small trees and they seem to never actually grow. Twenty years later, they don't look much different from when they were planted. I don't know if it's the trees themselves or if it's just that with all that pavement the root system never develops properly due to lack of oxygen and water, but there are dozens of developments around here over a decade old where the trees have just never really taken hold. They're still alive, but they never grow any larger.
Trees take in CO2 and expel oxygen. Higher CO2 levels make trees stronger and grow better.


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Old 01-15-17, 08:18 PM   #25
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How about we get Mark to ride the whole thing and post the video. I call BULL on it being slower than 16 to 18 mph if someone is trying.
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