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Old 09-15-05, 11:49 AM   #1
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Big news in a small town: Durham is hiring a consultant to "create a comprehensive bicycle plan that could eventually lead to more bike lanes, connected bike paths and more bicycling"

Anybody out there in 'BikeForums land' have experience with something like this? (Ron? Steve?)

I'm a bit apprehensive myself, being a natural cynic - but I'd like to hear if anybody has anecdotal evidence of such a venture yielding positive results. Durham had created a "comprehensive plan" years ago, and we're still struggling with some of its consequences.

Full story: http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-646762.html

Consultant firm's page: http://www.greenways.com/
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Old 09-15-05, 12:30 PM   #2
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Yeah, I'm a cynic too.

I would hope that the bicycle coordinator is actually a cyclist and the ped coordinator is actually a ped.
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Old 09-15-05, 12:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
<snip>I would hope that the bicycle coordinator is actually a cyclist and the ped coordinator is actually a ped.
Actually, the town's Bike&Ped coordinator is a very good friend of mine of ~10 years, and she is both.
I'm not worried about her... she's definitely 'one of us'
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Old 09-15-05, 02:37 PM   #4
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Bikepaths designed for recreation can make useful transportation routes for bicycles if they are linked into the rest of the transportation network. The rest of the transportation network can be made more bicycle friendly, by providing wide outside lanes and removing storm drains from the edge of the bike routes.
Provision for taking bikes on buses and trains would also encourage bicycle use by the less athletic people.
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Old 09-15-05, 03:16 PM   #5
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I would just do my best to get the word out to as many cyclists as possible. The more interest and voices the more likely that the plan will be usable by the bike community.
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Old 09-15-05, 04:17 PM   #6
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Alison's an LCI, too, isn't she?

The primary danger I see with a greenway planning company doing bicycle transportation is their likely bias toward segregation, bolstered by surveys of non-cyclists who claim that the reason they don't cycle is lack of enough segregated facilities. This could result in segregated facilities that don't perform well for transportation by those who actually cycle, don't increase cycling by non-cyclists, and take money away from projects that would benefit those who do or are most likely to cycle.

If, instead, they survey frequent transportation cyclists and ask them what they like, and survey crash statistics to find which facilities and operating behaviors have the lowest injury rates, then they may have a solid basis for recommending engineering improvements to facilitate better bicycle transportation.

I think a key component is to get lots of real-world transportation cyclists involved in the process, so that there is a strong voice in favor of better roadways for cycling, to counter the unfortunately popular voice of non-cyclists who state preference for any kind of ill-conceived path as long as it isn't in the roadway. Providing recreational cycling opportunities in linear parks for people who rarely cycle is fine, but it cannot be the backbone of a usable bicycle transportation network. This may seem alarmist, but in a lot of communities, the bicycle transportation plan is defined as the greenway plan.

-Steve Goodridge
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Old 09-15-05, 04:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
Alison's an LCI, too, isn't she?
Yup. We offered 'Road 1' classes this summer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
The primary danger I see with a greenway planning company doing bicycle transportation is their likely bias toward segregation, bolstered by surveys of non-cyclists who claim that the reason they don't cycle is lack of enough segregated facilities. This could result in segregated facilities that don't perform well for transportation by those who actually cycle, don't increase cycling by non-cyclists, and take money away from projects that would benefit those who do or are most likely to cycle.
My thoughts, exactly...

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 09-15-05, 04:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Goodridge
The primary danger I see with a greenway planning company doing bicycle transportation is their likely bias toward segregation, bolstered by surveys of non-cyclists who claim that the reason they don't cycle is lack of enough segregated facilities. This could result in segregated facilities that don't perform well for transportation by those who actually cycle, don't increase cycling by non-cyclists, and take money away from projects that would benefit those who do or are most likely to cycle.
I agree, though I would add that this danger has a very high liklihood of coming to fruition.
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Old 09-15-05, 05:23 PM   #9
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A bicycle coordinator CAN be a very good person to have. Just make sure you get some serious transportation cyclists organized to lobby the individual to emphasize things we really need:
1) bike-sensing traffic lights;
2) bike racks on transit;
3) traffic calming at high-speed intersections;
4) motorist training;
5) bicyclist training (EC course, not "hug the curb," etc.);

and to avoid pushing for things we don't want:
1) mandatory segregation to sidepaths;
2) bike lanes to the right of right-turn-only lanes;
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Old 09-16-05, 05:37 AM   #10
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Cary hired consultants (with Wilbur Smith Associates) to assist with the creation of its comprehensive transportation plan, which included a Bicycle Element:
http://www.townofcary.org/depts/dsde...n/chapter4.pdf

Prior to this effort, the town did not consider bicycling transportation issues outside of the scope of its greenway plan. But the consultants surveyed actual cyclists, particularly frequent cyclists, and found that over 80% of the cycling miles in town were done by avid cyclists on roadways. The consultants also surveyed crash data and best practices in road design for safer cycling. Working with a citizen stakeholder group, the consultants recommended wide outside lanes as a standard for all new and improved thoroughfares.

This was a Copernican revolution for the city, and some people did not like it. Originally there was sentiment that cyclists should stay off the thoroughfares, but the layout of through streets in Cary made avoidance of thorougfares impossible for most useful trips, particularly commuting, and all the safety research and publications urged accommodation on the roadway and not on sidepaths. Some individuals on the greenway committee did not like the shift in focus to roadways because they felt this took away from what they were doing with greenway development, largely because greenways had been seen as THE bicycle transportation network, and now they were given little attention.

The consultant recommended wide outside lanes over segregated striped lanes on thoroughfares, which are maintained by the state, primarily because avid cyclists who use the thoroughfares most said they didn't want the striping. But Durham's plan (is it the county plan or the city plan?), that I have seen, calls for segregation striping on thoroughfares. I'm sure Alison is aware of the problem of debris accumulation on striped bike lanes and the need for sweeping. How does she or other Durham officials see this problem being addressed on state-maintained roads?

-Steve Goodridge
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Old 09-16-05, 09:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sggoodri
I'm sure Alison is aware of the problem of debris accumulation on striped bike lanes and the need for sweeping. How does she or other Durham officials see this problem being addressed on state-maintained roads?
Not too sure about that issue.

I just emailed Alison, addressing my concerns, and she replied:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Durham's Bike and Ped coordinator
Point well taken, though Greenways, Inc also has experience with bicycle transportation planning both locally and nationally. To view a resume on transportation-related projects, visit http://www.greenways.com/pages/transportation.html.

They worked on the 1993 Regional Bike Plan for Durham & Orange Counties (http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/...%20plan_93.pdf), which means they have a working knowledge of our existing infrastructure and previous planning efforts. They also live/work (and bike commute) in Durham, which is a plus. In addition, they’ll be working with Alta Planning + Design (www.altaplanning.com), a bike/ped specialty firm based in California and renowned as one of the best in the country.

While I’m on the topic……we’ll be forming a steering committee to help guide these bike planning efforts. If you or anyone else on the list is interested in getting involved please let me know. We should begin work on the study in October and the whole process will run 9-10 months. The committee would probably have a kickoff meeting in November and meet approximately 6 times during the overall planning period.

I think we can have a great product and action from this planning effort, especially with community involvement from local cyclists and would-be cyclists.
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Old 09-16-05, 02:59 PM   #12
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Be wary of any job title or consultant that lumps the interests of bicyclists and pedestrians together. Cyclists drive vehicles on the road, pedestrians use sidewalks. Bike Ped groups tend to get the two mixed up. What we need is a car-bike coordinator.

That said, make sure she also looks for anti-cyclist laws, for example, laws that bar cyclists from roads that have bike lanes or nearby bike paths. Here's an example of what the Ohio Bike Federation is doing on a statewide level. Here's an article about problematic local laws.

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Old 09-16-05, 03:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by * jack *
Consultant firm's page: http://www.greenways.com/
Well if a picture is worth 1k words, I think the consultants web site says it all:






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Old 09-16-05, 11:40 PM   #14
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Jack,

I've read over the consultant's web site, and I would be very afraid.

They are landscape architects, not traffic engineers. They view bicyclists as pedestrians on wheels, and view bicycle facilities as fancy pedestrian facilities. They are qualified to build pretty pedestrian facilities, not safe roadways, and so allowing them to meddle with traffic engineering issues affecting cyclists could be a serious problem.

It is clear from their web site that they view segregation as the ultimate safety tool, regardless of the real-world safety data or the operational problems reported by bike commuters.

I would expect a consulting firm like this to end up recommending lots of sidepaths (where else can you fit all the greenways required for useful transportation but in the ROW of streets?) and segregation-striped facilities anywhere else. I think this firm may have useful expertise in pedestrian facility design, but their project descriptions suggest that they have little or no experience with the science of bicycle traffic safety, and so to hire them for the stated purpose would seem to me to be a colossal mistake. I suspect they won the contract merely because they were a the lowest bidder and were local.

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Old 09-17-05, 04:18 AM   #15
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There is a nationwide push for cities to develop "real bike plans." In those advocates' minds, this means a plan that requires paying tens of thousands of dollars to a consultatant with the goal of getting cyclists out of the way of drivers (off the road) and onto bike lanes, side paths, and bike-ped trails.

You should be concerned.
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Old 09-17-05, 06:36 AM   #16
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Thanks to all for the advice and suggestions.

I will take part in the steering committee (as the voice of opposition, it seems). I need to start compiling some key points for argument in the next month. I am not looking forward to debating my concerns with neighbors who might blindly support the recommendations of this consultant firm.
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Old 09-17-05, 06:48 AM   #17
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Jack,
glad to hear you will be part of the process! Good for you! I will be interested to see how it all turns out.

Hickory, really needs some attention in the ped and bike ways....for instance, just within the past 5 years, a city ordinance mandated that all new business construction must include installing a sidewalk. a sidewalk! having lived in various big cities (austin, long beach, reno), i guess i took sidewalks for granted. I get to Hick-town and was shocked at the lack of side walks for walking and the narrow little streets with no shoulder when I rode my bike...augh! we will eventually become part of the 21st century....maybe in 2300!

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Old 09-17-05, 07:51 AM   #18
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jack,
90% of advocacy is showing up for a lot of long meetings. It sounds like you're on the right track. Look to things that you can persuade them of. For example, ask that the scope of the committee include laws, and fight for laws that maintain the right of cyclists to use the whole road. If they want to build lanes on a road, insist that they show final drawings showing exactly where the lanes will be before approving them. That way, you'll either stop bad bike lanes or you'll make them better.

Be wary of plans that inist on a specific bike facility on a given road before designs show that it is feasible. That's a strategy some bike-lane-everywhere'ers use. It results in lanes being shoe-horned into where they don't fit.

Finally, always propose alternatives. You will not be respected if you only offer critical comments to the ideas of others.

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Old 09-17-05, 08:00 AM   #19
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Hi,
best thing that ever happened around here was Biketown.
Talk to her about your concerns, and contact Bicycling and see if they are still doing it. We had one of those consultants for years, and
nothing really changed, the Bicycling guys rolled into town and turned it upside down. This is a much better place to ride now.

Note- we were the first Biketown, and they really did it right to show they could help. Last year when they did a bunch of Biketowns I wondered if they could be as effective in so many places at once. YMMV.
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Old 09-17-05, 11:34 AM   #20
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Check out Palo Alto surrounding Stanford. One of the most bike-friend towns I've seen.
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