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Old 09-18-06, 12:44 PM   #1
banerjek
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Best way to get people biking

I just returned from a couple weeks in London. They've really got the right idea there. Here are a few things I saw that we could really use in the US.

1) Bike racks everywhere
2) Bikes can ride in bus lanes and there are many bike lanes
3) Public messages everywhere encouraging people to bike
4) $7/gallon gas
5) "Congestion charge" (i.e. a fee you have to pay just to drive downtown) -- $15/day. There's talk about upping the charge to almost $50/day for gas guzzling SUV's though they are not very popular thanks to the cost of gas
6) Friendly drivers that actually pay attention on the roads.

I wonder if the Londoners on BF know how good they have it.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:26 PM   #2
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I'm an engineer. I'm trained to identify problems clearly before jumping to solutions.

The problem we are trying to solve is what? Not enough people taking up cycling? Cyclists not cycling enough?

Whatever it is, we have to look deeper - the root causes for the problems we want to solve.

WHY are more people not taking up cycling?
WHY are cyclists not cycling more?

Is lack of racks really what's keeping a significant number of cyclists from cycling? Maybe, maybe not? Or is there something else?

In short, I think all of your "solutions" address marginal causes of lack of cycling.

I believe, the biggest cause (among those we can do something about, potentially), by far, is the widespread perception that cycling in traffic is inherently too dangerous.

As to 6):
6) Friendly drivers that actually pay attention on the roads.

We already have that. What we don't have is the perception that we have that.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:31 PM   #3
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I had a really nice 22 mile ride before I went to fire practice last night. It took me to some of the nicest views of my city that I've ever seen. I had to work my butt off to get to those views, one part with about a 304' climb in 1.86 miles (according to routeslip.com).

When I told one of my friends about that workout for that reward, she got jealous. A bit more raving about that kind of thing and I may have a riding partner!
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Old 09-18-06, 01:34 PM   #4
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I did a bit of cycling last July while on vacation in London. I found all drivers including taxis and buses most considerate. However I did not do any riding in the rush hour.
I think more people would cycle if there were better provisions for bikes on buses and trains.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Is lack of racks really what's keeping a significant number of cyclists from cycling? Maybe, maybe not? Or is there something else?

In short, I think all of your "solutions" address marginal causes of lack of cycling.

I believe, the biggest cause (among those we can do something about, potentially), by far, is the widespread perception that cycling in traffic is inherently too dangerous.
I agree it's all petty stuff, but that's what catches peoples' attention

I think people don't ride because they think it's too much bother and they perceive it as being less safe than it is. However, if we had $7/gallon gas, I'll bet a lot more people would think about the real costs of driving and decide that it's convenient and reasonably safe (even though increasing the gas price wouldn't actually affect the price of driving as much as people think).

I have very few problems with drivers, but my biggest fear is distracted drivers which we seem to have a lot of since many people treat their car as a "home away from home". Hostile drivers are annoying, but I don't think they're that dangerous -- they want to scare, not kill you.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:59 PM   #6
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"Whatever it is, we have to look deeper - the root causes for the problems we want to solve."

Laziness is the real problem. I think if American cities had all six of the things listed above (plus showers at work and tax breaks for cycling to work) you might get another 2-3 pecent of the country commuting by bike. It is a mindset that we as avid cyclists have that the average person does not. And you can't force them to have it. They have to WANT it. How do you convince them to want it? That is the question.
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Old 09-18-06, 02:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SingingSabre
I had a really nice 22 mile ride before I went to fire practice last night. It took me to some of the nicest views of my city that I've ever seen. I had to work my butt off to get to those views, one part with about a 304' climb in 1.86 miles (according to routeslip.com).

When I told one of my friends about that workout for that reward, she got jealous. A bit more raving about that kind of thing and I may have a riding partner!
And we have a winner! Enthusiasm about our sport/transport will go much much further to getting more involved than anything I can think of. I do this all the time, and know for a fact that I have convinced many people to at least start cycling (and one person, damn him, now puts way more km on his bike a year than I do! curses!)
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Old 09-18-06, 02:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banerjek
I just returned from a couple weeks in London. They've really got the right idea there. Here are a few things I saw that we could really use in the US.

1) Bike racks everywhere
2) Bikes can ride in bus lanes and there are many bike lanes
3) Public messages everywhere encouraging people to bike
4) $7/gallon gas
5) "Congestion charge" (i.e. a fee you have to pay just to drive downtown) -- $15/day. There's talk about upping the charge to almost $50/day for gas guzzling SUV's though they are not very popular thanks to the cost of gas
6) Friendly drivers that actually pay attention on the roads.

I wonder if the Londoners on BF know how good they have it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
In short, I think all of your "solutions" address marginal causes of lack of cycling.
I ususally don't wade into A&S threads as they tend to get oddly devisive, but none of these seem in the slightest bit marginal to me. There is likely no magic bullet in getting Americans on bikes, but these seem like they would help a great deal (esp. gas at $7/gal.)
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Old 09-18-06, 02:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banerjek
I agree it's all petty stuff, but that's what catches peoples' attention

I think people don't ride because they think it's too much bother and they perceive it as being less safe than it is. However, if we had $7/gallon gas, I'll bet a lot more people would think about the real costs of driving and decide that it's convenient and reasonably safe (even though increasing the gas price wouldn't actually affect the price of driving as much as people think).

I have very few problems with drivers, but my biggest fear is distracted drivers which we seem to have a lot of since many people treat their car as a "home away from home". Hostile drivers are annoying, but I don't think they're that dangerous -- they want to scare, not kill you.
Petty stuff works though. Sometimes.

What I would like to see is much higher gas prices personally. I drive a car, yes, and it would hurt me. But I drive a very efficient car, and much higher gas prices would make me think not once but several times before I turn the key and start it. I think higher gas prices would spell the end of the suv class of vehicle.

But that is not going to do it alone! One major problem North America has is lousy urban planning IF you go carless. Inner cores of cities are ok, but if you cannot or will not live there, where the public transit is, and are forced into a suburban hell, you are toast for getting around. Yes, you can use a bike, but in many cities, this is not as easy as it sounds when urban sprawl outstrips the effectiveness of the road infrastructure and public transit is not funded adequately.

What would help is intensifying the development in the inner parts of cities, and making the cities interesting to be in again and places that people want to live. This gives people access to transit, and makes urban utility cycling more attractive. Effective transit needs a certain population critical mass before it starts working well.

Here, where it gets cold and damp (not to mention cold and snowy and icy) for a significant chunk of the year, transit matters if you go carless since winter cycling (while doable) is not as safe or reliable in the winter months. (As much as I like cycling, I am NOT riding from my home at the edge of the Great Lakes snow belt zone over 15 to 30 km to work each way -depending on where work is at that time - in snow that is 30 to 60 cm deep at times - and yes, with the wind here, we get drifts that big fairly regularly. Even confined within city limits, there is often too much snow for efficient travel by bike - hense the need for good transit.)
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Old 09-18-06, 02:16 PM   #10
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The cyclist in London are transportation. Most cyclists in the US are recreational.

I think the $7 gas would be a start but in London, I read that the bus/train terror bombing made a huge impact on commuter cycling. The 'congestion charge' is a great idea.

But, prying US residence out of their cars is going to be a monumental undertaking. 75% of the fat-assed US drivers could not walk 1/4 to a bus stop even if there were a bus stop within a quarter mile.
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Old 09-18-06, 02:51 PM   #11
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I dont know that it has anything to do with getting people to ride or not.
But I know I dont ride to the grocery store or Walmart, or the city library, here because of a lack of a place to lock my bike.
My wife and I were discussing this just recently.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:02 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by R-Wells
I dont know that it has anything to do with getting people to ride or not.
But I know I dont ride to the grocery store or Walmart, or the city library, here because of a lack of a place to lock my bike.
My wife and I were discussing this just recently.
You don't need a bike rack. In a suburban setting, you can lock a bike bike to cart corrals, sign posts, and light posts (to name a few). Usually in the vast parking lot, between cars. I prefer it this way, as I'm of the belief that the less visible a bike is, the less likely it is to get snatched; out in front of a store for everyone to see ... not so good.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by bbonnn
You don't need a bike rack. In a suburban setting, you can lock a bike bike to cart corrals, sign posts, and light posts (to name a few). Usually in the vast parking lot, between cars. I prefer it this way, as I'm of the belief that the less visible a bike is, the less likely it is to get snatched; out in front of a store for everyone to see ... not so good.
I have tried to convince myself that I could do that.
I just cant get comfortable with for some reason.
But I am trying
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Old 09-18-06, 03:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sgtsmile
But that is not going to do it alone! One major problem North America has is lousy urban planning IF you go carless. Inner cores of cities are ok, but if you cannot or will not live there, where the public transit is, and are forced into a suburban hell, you are toast for getting around. Yes, you can use a bike, but in many cities, this is not as easy as it sounds when urban sprawl outstrips the effectiveness of the road infrastructure and public transit is not funded adequately.

What would help is intensifying the development in the inner parts of cities, and making the cities interesting to be in again and places that people want to live. This gives people access to transit, and makes urban utility cycling more attractive. Effective transit needs a certain population critical mass before it starts working well.
yup. here in Phoenix, things are so spread out and so many people live so far from their jobs that bicycling to work would seem to be a monumental task. I'm not sure I would even commute if I didn't live so close to work. distances and public transit as well as road accomodations are all factors.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:43 PM   #15
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yup. here in Phoenix, things are so spread out and so many people live so far from their jobs that bicycling to work would seem to be a monumental task. I'm not sure I would even commute if I didn't live so close to work. distances and public transit as well as road accomodations are all factors.
Huh? Most live 15mi or less from work. Road are flat, well maintained, weather great year round. Sure some work 30mi, some 20mi, but most are less than 15. Lack of showers/lockers seems to be the only reasonable excuse I hear most often.
But the real reason is that not taking ones car is considered more inconvienient.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:54 PM   #16
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My commute is 17 miles to my new far campus I would love to commute it full time , but their are two things that keep me from commuting full time one I have work before, and after school therefore no time to take the hour to ride their. Second it is commute on rural roads I am scarred of those more then heavy travelled roads. My reasoning if a dunkard or a someone with a suspended license or non license situation. They hit me I bet you 100 dollars they wouldn't stop to check they would just keep on fleeing. Second rural roads have long stretchs with no stop signs, intersections, and no cops so almost anything over 55mph is acceptable. Even the volunteer fire fighters wing past you so much for safety eh?
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Old 09-18-06, 05:21 PM   #17
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People are not going to ride as long as they have cars and cheap gas. Most Americans have become programmed to think they have to drive Johnny and Janie to school when the bus stop is 1/2 mile down the road. Even if Johnny and Janie do ride the bus, they will have to be driven that 1/2 mile to the bus stop. It's no wonder we have a problem with people being fat in this country. And, yeah, a lot of these people are the "manatee people".

The best thing that could happen on several fronts is if the federal government would do away with the subsidies on the price of gas at the pump. Let people pay the real price for a gallon if they want to drive so bad.

But the politicians will never let this happen. At least not until things get truly dire. They like holding office.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:26 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I'm an engineer. I'm trained to identify problems clearly before jumping to solutions.

The problem we are trying to solve is what? Not enough people taking up cycling? Cyclists not cycling enough?

Whatever it is, we have to look deeper - the root causes for the problems we want to solve.

WHY are more people not taking up cycling?
WHY are cyclists not cycling more?

Is lack of racks really what's keeping a significant number of cyclists from cycling? Maybe, maybe not? Or is there something else?

In short, I think all of your "solutions" address marginal causes of lack of cycling.

I believe, the biggest cause (among those we can do something about, potentially), by far, is the widespread perception that cycling in traffic is inherently too dangerous.

As to 6):
6) Friendly drivers that actually pay attention on the roads.

We already have that. What we don't have is the perception that we have that.
One-trick ponies don't make for very good problem solvers.

There are tons of alternate explanations that you have totally discounted.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:27 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by bkbrouwer
"Whatever it is, we have to look deeper - the root causes for the problems we want to solve."

Laziness is the real problem. I think if American cities had all six of the things listed above (plus showers at work and tax breaks for cycling to work) you might get another 2-3 pecent of the country commuting by bike. It is a mindset that we as avid cyclists have that the average person does not. And you can't force them to have it. They have to WANT it. How do you convince them to want it? That is the question.
Bingo.

EDIT: Well, bingo, sort of. People aren't just lazy, they're also busy, and a car is faster, which means they get to where there busy schedule takes them that much sooner. But they're also lazy.

Then add in the fact that they arrive at work in a sweat, have nowhere to stow their gear when they get to work, plus the other factors listed, and it's just easier to drive.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:35 PM   #20
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^^
Been a long time since I was in London, but I'm sure one thing hasn't changed. On a lot of the subway lines the walk from where you leave the street to where you board your train is MUCH longer that the majority of Americans seem willing to walk.

I don't see this as the only problem with making biking popular, but if this one does not change it does not matter if everything else is ideal.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:35 PM   #21
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Bingo.

EDIT: Well, bingo, sort of. People aren't just lazy, they're also busy, and a car is faster, which means they get to where there busy schedule takes them that much sooner. But they're also lazy.

Then add in the fact that they arrive at work in a sweat, have nowhere to stow their gear when they get to work, plus the other factors listed, and it's just easier to drive.
Yeah, its inconvienient.
Look at page ix, conclusion #4 in this study:
http://www.valleymetro.org/Rideshare...rmat%20doc.pdf

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Old 09-18-06, 05:39 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterRun
People are not going to ride as long as they have cars and cheap gas. Most Americans have become programmed to think they have to drive Johnny and Janie to school when the bus stop is 1/2 mile down the road. Even if Johnny and Janie do ride the bus, they will have to be driven that 1/2 mile to the bus stop. It's no wonder we have a problem with people being fat in this country. And, yeah, a lot of these people are the "manatee people".
I bet if you talked to those people though, their kids are probably more than willing to bike to the bus stop or even all the way to school but the parents won't let them because it's too dangerous. And the parents probably would like to lose some weight as well and might even know that cycling is a great way to do it, but again will tell you that it's not safe to bike the mile to the grocery store. Laziness is a big part but I think often people use laziness as an (possibly subconscious) excuse for their irrational fear of traffic.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:44 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by banerjek
I just returned from a couple weeks in London. They've really got the right idea there. Here are a few things I saw that we could really use in the US.

1) Bike racks everywhere
2) Bikes can ride in bus lanes and there are many bike lanes
3) Public messages everywhere encouraging people to bike
4) $7/gallon gas
5) "Congestion charge" (i.e. a fee you have to pay just to drive downtown) -- $15/day. There's talk about upping the charge to almost $50/day for gas guzzling SUV's though they are not very popular thanks to the cost of gas
6) Friendly drivers that actually pay attention on the roads.

I wonder if the Londoners on BF know how good they have it.
I am generally one of those who argue that cyclists must obey the traffic laws (and thus, shouldn't run stop signs). But somebody here on BF took the position that bicycles should be treated as privileged vehicles (because they don't pollute), and that one of the perks of bicycling should be to treat stop signs as yield signs. I'm convinced, whoever you are. Cities could, and should, encourage bicycling by treating bicycles as a privileged class of vehicles. That can mean allowing bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs (which might mean changes to the vehicle codes), but it can mean so much more than that. It could mean safe parking facilities; traffic laws that protect and privilege cyclists; bicycle-and-pedestrian-only areas in core downtown areas; shower, locker, and bike rack facilities in businesses (this requires cooperation between the private sector and government); bicycle transit facilities (bike routes, bike lanes, bike highways) that physically separate bicycles from motor vehicle traffic and door zones... the list of things that can be done is only limited by our imaginations, and by our will to see them implemented.
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Old 09-18-06, 06:08 PM   #24
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I bet if you talked to those people though, their kids are probably more than willing to bike to the bus stop or even all the way to school but the parents won't let them because it's too dangerous. And the parents probably would like to lose some weight as well and might even know that cycling is a great way to do it, but again will tell you that it's not safe to bike the mile to the grocery store. Laziness is a big part but I think often people use laziness as an (possibly subconscious) excuse for their irrational fear of traffic.
Perhaps some, but by and large I think lazyness is the real issue. Pay attention for a couple of weeks (assuming you drive). Unless you never shop or have made adustments I'll bet you get held up waiting in a parking lot for someone waiting for a car to pull out so they can get a 'good' parking spot. I've seen it happen too often in cases where anyone can see scores of empty parking spots starting just 2 or 3 places farther down. Yet cars will wait while someone is loading a full shopping cart into their car.

Sometimes the unsafe part is more real than others, and proposed solutions are often no solution. From my parents house it is only 4 blocks to the local grocery. The problem is that there is no good route. The store is the other side of the freeway. The one you would take by car is on a really nasty road. Oh for me it is no real problem, but it really does change the feeliing of a trip to the store. It would not be a nice easy relaxing trip. It is a make sure you make it alive trip. There is a pedestrian tunnel one could take. You go a block out of the way (meaning 2 blocks each way), but they are flat, no big deal. You still end up on a majot street and have a moderatly nasty left turn each way, but those are managable. BUT the pedestrian tunnel is usually full of broken glass (and often smells or urine). One could get to within a block on very reasonable roads then take the sidewalk. Otherwise you have to add an extra mile each way.

As to kids riding to school. From what I've seen of parents who are droping off their kids I think having concerns about your kid riding to school are well founded unless there is a route to school that is parent free.
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Old 09-18-06, 06:24 PM   #25
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Hey, I am man enough to admit that lazyness is a huge issue for me.
And while fear is probably not a good excuse, it is real hard for a parent to send their children out on the roads after hearing about so many deaths and injurys.
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