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  1. #1
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Fascinating Story of NY Barrier Bike Lanes

    Here's a 5+ minute video of "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz about the rise and fall of separated bike lanes in New York City. Schwartz was NYC's tranportation bigwig in the early 1980's. He's for the lanes, but he does a pretty fair job of summarizing almost all of the arguments for and against.

    He said that when they put in the barrier lanes, more experienced riders refused to use them. A NYT article I read said that this made the mayor so mad he put up "Use them or Lose them" signs. Also, there were more ped-bike confrontations, caused in part by peds using non-barrier lanes as sidewalks and part by less experienced cyclists enticed onto the street. The confrontations were exacerbated by three ped deaths by cyclists that were not related to the bike lanes. Peds regularly complained to the mayor about cyclists.

    The final straw on the camel's back was a comment that an opponent of the mayor made to the President when he was visiting the city. Words to the effect of "See how Mayor Koch is wasting your money."

    Edit: I just noticed that there are another 28 minutes of interviews with Schwartz on this topic on YouTube. I haven't watched them, but they are here:
    Part One
    Part Two
    Part Three

  2. #2
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I haven't watched it yet. Can you (or someone) summarize the argument for barrier bike lanes?

  3. #3
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    The pro and con policy arguments are the same that you have heard here repeatedly. The lanes make less experienced cyclists feel safer. More experienced cyclists don't want to be corralled into special needs lanes.

    I think initial the video is less important for the pro-con arguments (which we all have heard and rehashed) than for the history of why the lanes were put in, the reactions to the lanes, and the reasons that led to the lanes being removed.

    One fact that seems reasonable--cylists who don't use bike faciltities put the continuing existence of the faciltities in jeopardy (for better or worse). When we have done polls, there is little support here for making bike lanes mandatory. The only support I read here for mandatory bike lane laws is that they have exceptions, and that mandatory-use laws with exceptions are the best we can realistically hope for.

    Mandatory use laws may be a price for facilties like striped and barrier lanes. The question becomes, are the lanes worth the price? You can only make that decision by weighing the value of the lanes and the value of the freedom not to use them.

    Facilties skeptics should be honest enough to admit that not using facilities undermines public support for the faciltities. Facilities proponents should be honest enough to admit that the existence of some faciltities does decrease the right of cyclists to ride in the traffic lanes.

    Edit: Typo corrected ("opponents" to "proponents")
    Last edited by Daily Commute; 02-23-07 at 04:26 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    A lot of stretching going on here. Personally, I don't see it. I don't even know what a separated bike lane is or the environment which led up to them being unused. This was in the 80's yes? I think that on-road cycling facility technology and engineering has advanced in 20 year's time. The road has to be designed with cyclists in mind for any on-road facility to work. I don't know of anyone who advocates for bike lanes for bike lane's sake or any advocate for cycling who is willing to trade the right to the road for the sake of some bike lanes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daily commute
    Facilities skeptics should be honest enough to admit that not using facilities undermines public support for the facilities. Facilities [supporters] should be honest enough to admit that the existence of some faciltities does decrease the right of cyclists to ride in the traffic lanes.
    The problem is that I've no experience with the alleged decrease of the right of cyclists to ride in the traffic lanes. I use bike lanes when they are useful, and I use the full width lanes when I need them. You will come back with all the theories and the news last summer of a few tickets given out in Portland for not riding in the bike lane (which will soon get sorted out if it hasn't already, you know, the laws changed recently, so I think the officers were simply confused), but this is not in my experience. I've never been much bugged by anyone, whether police officer or civilian vigilante, about my use of a full width lane when a bike lane is present.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  5. #5
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daily Commute
    One fact that seems reasonable--cylists who don't use bike faciltities put the continuing existence of the faciltities in jeopardy (for better or worse). When we have done polls, there is little support here for making bike lanes mandatory. The only support I read here for mandatory bike lane laws is that they have exceptions, and that mandatory-use laws with exceptions are the best we can realistically hope for.

    Mandatory use laws may be a price for facilties like striped and barrier lanes. The question becomes, are the lanes worth the price? You can only make that decision by weighing the value of the lanes and the value of the freedom not to use them.

    Facilties skeptics should be honest enough to admit that not using facilities undermines public support for the faciltities. Facilities opponents should be honest enough to admit that the existence of some faciltities does decrease the right of cyclists to ride in the traffic lanes.
    Well ... my answers to these questions is that it depends on how they are applied and where they are applied.

    I think that in general, your first sentence is correct. However, I think that it what advocacy groups are for. In reference to this thread, to represent the cyclists' standpoint on issues and to inform the public. Unlike others, I don't think that the public is full of idiots. They might be self-centered. But if a good argument for or against an issue is presented in an effective way--talk to some Marketing MBAs--then I believe that positive things are more likely to happen.

  6. #6
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Unlike others, I don't think that the public is full of idiots.
    But surely you agree that there is a lot of ignorance in the public, and even among cyclists, even experienced cyclists, about what are the best practices for riding a bike in traffic, don't you?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    But surely you agree that there is a lot of ignorance in the public, and even among cyclists, even experienced cyclists, about what are the best practices for riding a bike in traffic, don't you?
    The public; perhaps since they haven't put a lot of thought to it. Certainly not because they are idiots.

    Other cyclists? I don't share your sentiments that there are long time and successful transportational cyclists who are somehow "ignorant" of "best practices" for riding a bike in traffic. There may be long time and successful transportational cyclists who disagree with your ideas, but that doesn't imply that these people are "ignorant" of "best practices." Rather, it implies that your ideas of what "best practices" are is either wrong or incomplete.

    Experience breeds expertise by definition.
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  8. #8
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    The public; perhaps since they haven't put a lot of thought to it. Certainly not because they are idiots.
    Agreed, certainly not because they are idiots.

    Other cyclists? I don't share your sentiments that there are long time and successful transportational cyclists who are somehow "ignorant" of "best practices" for riding a bike in traffic. There may be long time and successful transportational cyclists who disagree with your ideas, but that doesn't imply that these people are "ignorant" of "best practices." Rather, it implies that your ideas of what "best practices" are is either wrong or incomplete.

    Experience breeds expertise by definition.
    Ok, allow me to illustrate what I mean about there being a lot of ignorance about traffic cycling best practices in the public, and even among experienced cyclists, with one specific example of what I consider to be a best practice.

    Would you agree that a best practice for cycling in traffic is to look back over your left shoulder any time you approach a place where a right turn is authorized, to check for potential right hook conflicts? One may choose whether or not to merge left based on what he observes when looking back, but the point here is that the best practice is to at least look back so that you can take into account potential right hook conflicts in your decision of whether to merge left, maintain course, or what. Agreed?

    One of my hobbies is to observe cyclists, especially at intersections. I specifically look for cyclists who follow this best practice. Once in a while, I'm pleasantly surprised to see someone do it, but it is a genuine surprise every time because I see it so rarely. In the vast majority of cases, cyclists maintain their midblock "as far right as practicable" lateral position all the way to and through the intersection, even when doing so causes them to enter and ride straight from a right turn only lane, or to ride straight from the space in a right-or-straight lane which is normally used only by right turning drivers, with not even a hint of a glance back over their left shoulder. When I raised this issue on our local advocacy email list with respect to a specific intersection where several cyclists have been killed, someone (a very experienced cyclist that I know personally) responded: "why should I look back when I'm not changing my lateral position?"

    Of course there are long time and successful transportational cyclists who have developed the habit so that it is so ingrained that they are virtually unable to not look back as they approach any intersection, but such cyclists sure seem quite rare to me, definitely in a tiny minority of the cyclists I observe in and around San Diego and places that I visit.

  9. #9
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    But surely you agree that there is a lot of ignorance in the public, and even among cyclists, even experienced cyclists, about what are the best practices for riding a bike in traffic, don't you?
    Yes.

    I do not think people are idiots. But I do believe that it takes practice and effort to properly assimilate information to a complicated question. I also believe that you also have to convince people that a problem is worth their effort. That is where the MBA Marketing people come in ...

  10. #10
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Experience breeds expertise by definition.
    I would like to add, however, that some methods of gaining experience are more efficient than another. In other words, some people might do more with their 10 years of experience than others.

  11. #11
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    I would like to add, however, that some methods of gaining experience are more efficient than another. In other words, some people might do more with their 10 years of experience than others.
    Not to mention that one can learn something from a book or a class in a few hours that takes 10 or more years of experience to learn.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    I would like to add, however, that some methods of gaining experience are more efficient than another. In other words, some people might do more with their 10 years of experience than others.
    Yes, but 10 years of experience is still 10 years of experience on a subject where one incident can end the whole thing. Anyone with 10 years experience has significant expertise in the subject.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Not to mention that one can learn something from a book or a class in a few hours that takes 10 or more years of experience to learn.
    Perhaps, but give me the person with 10 years experience over the person with book knowledge any day. If they are equally as smart, and equally skilled, but one has 10 years experience and the other has read a book and took a $60 class, the 10 year guy still knows more.

    This is why an engineer with 10 years of experience in a field but with only a bachellor's degree will get paid more than a fresh, young engineer with a MS but no experience.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  14. #14
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    One of my hobbies is to observe cyclists, especially at intersections.
    One bad practice I see all the time when passing cyclists is not looking back over shoulder when riding across side streets on marked and unmarked crosswalks (as most a sidewalk riding). Not even a quick shoulder check to see if a car may be turning.

    I noted when I posted a video that you noticed this behavior in a cyclist who I passed - evidence of your 'watching other cyclists' hobby.

    Al

  15. #15
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Perhaps, but give me the person with 10 years experience over the person with book knowledge any day. If they are equally as smart, and equally skilled, but one has 10 years experience and the other has read a book and took a $60 class, the 10 year guy still knows more.

    This is why an engineer with 10 years of experience in a field but with only a bachellor's degree will get paid more than a fresh, young engineer with a MS but no experience.
    OK, but you can make this fuzzier right? Compare an engineer with 2/7, 3/8, 4/9, 5/10, 6/11, 7/12, and so on years of experience. At some point you are going to look at things other than experience on their resume.

    Maybe a better way to state this is that experience is really a proxy for something else strongly correlated with experience. Taking a few classes or active thought on the subject matters too. Just in case you ask, I do not have a good assessment of what is equivalent; i.e., one class is worth X years of experience. I sense that there is an interaction between the two.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    OK, but you can make this fuzzier right? Compare an engineer with 2/7, 3/8, 4/9, 5/10, 6/11, 7/12, and so on years of experience. At some point you are going to look at things other than experience on their resume.

    Maybe a better way to state this is that experience is really a proxy for something else strongly correlated with experience. Taking a few classes or active thought on the subject matters too. Just in case you ask, I do not have a good assessment of what is equivalent; i.e., one class is worth X years of experience. I sense that there is an interaction between the two.
    Actually, experience eventually trumps any sort of education in professional fields. What education gets you is a higher starting point. Once an engineer has 10-15 years or more of experience, then it is all about qualifications other than schooling. Continuing ed classes certainly affect things though, but it is still no replacement for actual experience.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  17. #17
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Actually, experience eventually trumps any sort of education in professional fields. What education gets you is a higher starting point. Once an engineer has 10-15 years or more of experience, then it is all about qualifications other than schooling. Continuing ed classes certainly affect things though, but it is still no replacement for actual experience.
    Sort of ... it certainly depends on what you have experience in and other specific projects/papers you have accomplished along the way. Time, in my opinion, becomes less important as opposed to other qualities typically lumped under the umbrella of experience. I think that two engineers with 15 and 20 years experience are probably on equal ground in that the 15 and 20 years have little meaning by themselves. I should have been more specific, but this is the point I am trying to make.

  18. #18
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Actually, experience eventually trumps any sort of education in professional fields. What education gets you is a higher starting point. Once an engineer has 10-15 years or more of experience, then it is all about qualifications other than schooling. Continuing ed classes certainly affect things though, but it is still no replacement for actual experience.
    Traslating this to cycling then ... we could have a cyclist with 10 years of "normal" riding versus an otherwise identical cyclist with 5 years of "commuting" plus active learning on safe riding. It isn't clear to me who will be a more safe rider.

  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I'd take a 6mo. experienced daily commuter who has researched (i.e. book learned) all they can about cycling in traffic over the average 10yr experienced club cyclist.
    Al

  20. #20
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Schwartz seems to be lookiong back through rose colored goggles. Two of the bike lanes he mentions, on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, are the worst in the city. They're extremely narrow - no more than three feet wide - so the chances of getting dored are cosiderably higher than elsewhere. and there're constantly blocked by double parked cars , trucks, cabs, and dimwitted pedestrians.

    Granted some of the newer and considerably wider protected bike lands have been quite successful because they can keep cars at bey. Even so, the idea of herding cyclists into a lane like the one in this video, with the addition of a physical barrier, was absurd.
    http://www.transalt.org/e-bulletin/2...ebikelane.html

  21. #21
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    I'd take a 6mo. experienced daily commuter who has researched (i.e. book learned) all they can about cycling in traffic over the average 10yr experienced club cyclist.
    Al
    I agree with you on this, but only because the daily commuter probably has accumulated more experience with riding in traffic than has the club rider. I remember once riding to a restaurant with an experienced triathlete and bike racer, and, in traffic, she was a menace to others and especially herself.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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