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  1. #1
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Speaking of traffic calming...

    In another thread, SBHikes wrote regarding John Forester:

    The group that hired him is against traffic calming...
    To my personal frustration, many cycling advocacy groups and individuals are against traffic calming projects. Many times, it's local cyclists who completely derail traffic calming efforts. The most effective tools in a traffic calming 'toolbox' are unloved by activist cyclists: traffic circles, bulb outs, on-street parking, narrow lanes and so forth. That leaves engineers with almost useless traffic calming measures such as stop signs and speed bumps -- studies show that motorists actually drive faster between these measures!

    I personally like traffic calming engineering in neighorhood streets -- I look at streets as a system with multiple users, and anything that adds interest is good for the safety of all street users, even in the United States.

    Examples that I'm personally aware of:
    • Atlanta cyclists killed East Wesley Road traffic calming project (2007)
    • Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition advocates removal of Mary Avenue bulb out (2007)
    • In Longmont, Colorado, cyclists worked with motorists to remove 'dangerous' traffic circles on Mountain View Avenue (2005)


    RFM

  2. #2
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    To my personal frustration, many cycling advocacy groups and individuals are against traffic calming projects. Many times, it's local cyclists who completely derail traffic calming efforts. The most effective tools in a traffic calming 'toolbox' are unloved by activist cyclists: traffic circles, bulb outs, on-street parking, narrow lanes and so forth. That leaves engineers with almost useless traffic calming measures such as stop signs and speed bumps -- studies show that motorists actually drive faster between these measures!
    Amen.

    The inverse of traffic calming is traffic "uncalming", measures that cause traffic to "speed up", which "bike advocates" often support:

    • removal of onstreet parking
    • adding a painted buffer at the edge of the road (a.k.a "bike lanes")
    • road/lane widening
    • dedicated turn lanes

  3. #3
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I find many traffic calming devices/designs to be cycle unfriendly and while some do slow traffic, they don't neccessarily calm it or cause drivers to be more aware of other road users.

    Here is a start at one cities attempt to catalog traffic calming designs and rate them for how they impact a wide range of roadway users:

    http://www.tempe.gov/traffic/NTMPDraft_1.22.07.pdf

    I very much recommend anyone wanting to discuss traffic calming designs read section 4.

    Al

  4. #4
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Thanks for pointing to that. I've seen similar documents. The chart at the begining of Section 4 is a good one.

    The point is that effective traffic calming often seems to increase bicycle and pedestrian traffic, in the U.S. as well as Europe. Berkeley, California, for example, removed bike lanes when they narrowed Milvia Street, and bicycle traffic DOUBLED. The street became much more cyclist (and pedestrian) friendly because traffic moves closer to bicycle speed. I see the same thing every day on University Avenue in Palo Alto.

    The bulb-out in Sunnyvale I mentioned earlier is understandable -- Mary Ave is not part of a comprehensive traffic calming project. The city added a bulb out at one intersection and called it good. The result is that traffic still moves too quickly, but now cyclists have to merge into that fast traffic to get around the choker. Traffic calming is not easy, but when it's done right it works very well.

    One solution I've seen is a median that's like an inverse bulb-out -- instead of forcing the cyclists to merge into the car lane, the median forces the motorists to merge toward the right of the road. Motorists at this location must wait for cyclists in the bike lane.

    RFM

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    fritz, is your avatar a photo of you waiting on a bike in traffic next to a clear bike lane? seems you might want to get out of your 'bicycle driving' paradigm and use a bike like it is a bicycle....
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    The most effective tools in a traffic calming 'toolbox' are unloved by activist cyclists: traffic circles
    The traffic circle they built on my commute route recently isn't very well loved by myself or any other cyclist - the greenery they planted actually reduced visibility of the other traffic as compared to the old intersection, and the drivers blow through the thing with no concept of ROW. 4 cyclists were hit in the first 3 months as compared to only one in the entire previous year. I like traffic circles, but introducing poorly designed circles in an area where the drivers are not used to them, combined with stupid shrubery tricks, can be a recipe for disaster.
    Last edited by chipcom; 02-12-07 at 02:51 PM.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Bike advocates in my area are not against traffic calming. We believe in making our streets safer for all users. It's the car advocates in my area that are against traffic calming and they use "dangerousness" to bicycles as a ruse to get people to be sympathetic to their cause, especially when it comes to mini traffic circles and bulbouts. We cyclists counter that those devices are supposed to reduce your speed to something closer to bicycle speed so that there should be no safety issues for cyclists. The only danger comes from those who insist on going 40mph through the calming devices.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  8. #8
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist, in an attempted Threadjacking, wrote:
    fritz, is your avatar a photo of you waiting on a bike in traffic next to a clear bike lane?
    Nope, no bike lanes on that street (U.S. 287 through Longmont, Colorado). Its taken from a left-turn lane. Full size is below.

    Back on topic: This is a U.S. Highway and arterial through a commercial part of the city, so lots of traffic calming is probably not appropriate for this street. Unfortunately, there also isn't much in the way of good north-south bike routes in this city. I only rode on Main Street if my destination was actually on Main Street.

    FWIW, I suggested bike lanes for this street and the city considered restriping for three lanes (one in each direction plus middle turning lane) after they repaved it.


  9. #9
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    Bike advocates in my area are not against traffic calming.
    I'm very glad to know that. I hope to see more of this kind of thinking as we move forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    (regarding traffic circles) 4 cyclists were hit in the first 3 months
    Was this a traffic circle, or a roundabout? Roundabouts are indeed dangerous for cyclists, but these are used to move car traffic through an intersection more quickly. Also, I can imagine that poorly designed traffic circles can be more dangerous.

    The only cycling advocacy group that I know of that supports the use of traffic circles is the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

    RFM

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Amen.

    The inverse of traffic calming is traffic "uncalming", measures that cause traffic to "speed up", which "bike advocates" often support:

    • removal of onstreet parking
    • adding a painted buffer at the edge of the road (a.k.a "bike lanes")
    • road/lane widening
    • dedicated turn lanes

    I definitely favour onstreet parking - there's many a road that could benefit from that. However, I'm referring to parallel onstreet parking - diagonal onstreet parking is a cycling nightmare! I used to ride past a few blocks of on-street diagonal parking to work (in the dark too).

    Why would cyclists (or pedestrians) advocate for dedicated turn lanes? Anything that allows/encourages cars to turn at high speeds is incompatible with cyclist/pedestrian safety, with the attendant lane changing or traffic crossing that is required.

    One highly effective traffic calming measure that works in my neighbourhood in toronto are traffic humps (i.e. speed bumps that allow cars with a good suspension to take at speeds of 20mph [30km/h] or less). The only disadvantage for cyclists is there is an increased chance of the cyclist rear-ending a car that freaks out suddenly when they encounter a speed bump (that'll teach me to draft cars!).

  11. #11
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rajman
    I definitely favour onstreet parking - there's many a road that could benefit from that. However, I'm referring to parallel onstreet parking - diagonal onstreet parking is a cycling nightmare! I used to ride past a few blocks of on-street diagonal parking to work (in the dark too).
    I was speaking of parallel onstreet parking. Diagonal parking can be a problem for cyclists, but it's easy to deal with - just move further left. Also, back-in diagonal parking is an interesting alternative.

    Why would cyclists (or pedestrians) advocate for dedicated turn lanes?
    It allows for the beloved bike lane to the left of the right turn only lane, for one. It also provides a refuge for left-turning cyclists who are uncomfortable stopping in a left-or-straight lane.

    Anything that allows/encourages cars to turn at high speeds is incompatible with cyclist/pedestrian safety, with the attendant lane changing or traffic crossing that is required.
    Logic and reason rarely form the basis for "bike advocacy".

  12. #12
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rajman
    The only disadvantage for cyclists is there is an increased chance of the cyclist rear-ending a car that freaks out suddenly when they encounter a speed bump (that'll teach me to draft cars!).
    They do get annoying to go over on bicycle every 100yrds. They don't slow one down, they don't cause any impact, but the cumulative efffect of going over a sequence of 8-10 of them is annoying, especially on a hot summer day going home.

    The other annoyance is that they slow cars down to 15-20mph, who then speed up to 30-35 between them, often resulting in the car traveling at a near or slightly slower average speed than me on bicycle. So like you point out you catch the car at the humps, use brake to slow down (overtaking will just result in being overtaken again after bump) repeat, repeat.

    Al

  13. #13
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    What I like best is streets where they only allow you to exit at one end and enter/exit at the other, yet are two way as no sign of a one way. Of course bikes have a special curb to enter on.

    Or streets with barriers to stop short cuts.
    My Youtube Cycling Videos Here

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    It allows for the beloved bike lane to the left of the right turn only lane, for one. It also provides a refuge for left-turning cyclists who are uncomfortable stopping in a left-or-straight lane.
    Around here, right turn lanes are seen by cyclists as simply part of the shoulder to use to travel down arterial roads without getting in the way of motorists. I've been yelled out by a cyclist (driving his car, but I know he's a cyclist because I've rode with him) for not using the turning lane to go straight, putting myself in the middle of a busy road (his words paraphrased). I guess the turn lanes are seen as a win-win for cyclists and motorists. I personally see the discontinuous shoulder as the big nuisance though. I'd rather it just be removed (I could go either way on the right turn lanes themselves) which, as I've seen on a perpendicular street setup this way, makes for a much better cycling experience.

  15. #15
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with removing parking. It makes it easier for everyone to see.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    Nothing wrong with removing parking. It makes it easier for everyone to see.
    And thus to drive faster, and allows for that wonderful process of driving around for 15 minutes to try and find a parking spot.

  17. #17
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Under certain conditions - particularly when there is a lot of fast straight traffic, and no right turning traffic, and the outside lane across the intersection is wide enough to be shared - I will go straight from the right turn lane. I'd do the same if driving a very slow moving motoroized vehicle, like a tractor.

    But I encounter those "certain conditions" fairly rarely... maybe once a week.

  18. #18
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Streetsblog posted a story today about "second generation" traffic calming at an intersection in New York. A "mental speed block" -- a sculpture in the middle of the road -- was erected in Brooklyn. The intent of this kind of traffic calming is to create "intrigue and uncertainty" along the roadway.

    "The reason great intersections work is because of the creation of a pedestrian realm where the cars know this. When streets become unsafe, it is almost always when the pedestrian realm does not exist."

    In the name of mobility, transportation planners have forgotten to create and support destinations, and have instead often degraded existing destinations along the way. Mobility may be increasing, but we are accomplishing less and less while moving around more and more.

  19. #19
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    As far as East Wesley Rd in Atlanta goes, it appears you're incorrect. This from the local neighborhood newsletter:

    <begining>

    From: GH Town Crier
    Sent: Feb 10, 2007 5:49 PM

    Subject: East Wesley - latest development

    Greetings from the Garden Hills Town Crier

    On Friday afternoon, Commissioner of Public Works David Scott informed Councilman Howard Shook that the City has decided that the East Wesley project would be completed as originally designed (with bulbouts and no particular provision for cyclists) and approved. The Commissioner said that we should expect to see full-scale work resume on Monday morning.

    An alternate bicycle route through Garden Hills (not yet completely agreed-upon by staff) would be shown on a revised official Atlanta Bicycle Route plan. The said newly-designated route would not legally require and therefore does not contemplate special on-site signage, striping, or parking prohibitions.

    <end>

    Personally, I think traffic calming is a bass ackwards way of dealing with the problem. Attempts at engineering the roads to psychologically persuade people to behave only work for a short while.

    What we need is driver education. It's a proven fact that driver education drastically reduces the number of collisions. It's a long term solution, and it is the only solution that works everywhere, all the time.

    Az

  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    driving a tractor, or riding your bike, helmet? i figured you as a once a week bike commuter.


    sorry, this is about traffic calming. there are ways to mix bicycling and traffic calming measures effectively. there are also ways to stripe roads to the benefit for all public space users.

    using a road diet to rework existing 4 lane roads into pedestrian, traffic calmed 2 lanes+center turn lane+bike laned roads can have positive effects on public rights of way. road diets can increase ADT, increase pedestrian safety, increase bicyclists visibility, AND calm streets.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Under certain conditions - particularly when there is a lot of fast straight traffic, and no right turning traffic, and the outside lane across the intersection is wide enough to be shared - I will go straight from the right turn lane. I'd do the same if driving a very slow moving motoroized vehicle, like a tractor.

    But I encounter those "certain conditions" fairly rarely... maybe once a week.
    How would you handle a series of right turn lanes (where the other side of the intersection begins as a merge lane)? What if these intersections saw relatively frequent merging traffic (turning right onto roadway to go the same direction as you) but not much right turn exitting traffic?

  22. #22
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    you know the anwser to that, joey!
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    you know the anwser to that, joey!
    Hey, I'm just curious. I might learn something new. You should try it sometime

  24. #24
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    from the great armchair cyclist? naw, he's a bit timid in traffic.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  25. #25
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    How would you handle a series of right turn lanes (where the other side of the intersection begins as a merge lane)? What if these intersections saw relatively frequent merging traffic (turning right onto roadway to go the same direction as you) but not much right turn exitting traffic?
    The default is to eschew the right turn lane for going straight. I would only do so in the exceptional case, where not only was there no right turning traffic from my direction, but also a lot of straight traffic, and the sight lines are good enough to rule out your concern - right turning traffic coming from the right.

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