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Old 03-30-08, 11:29 AM   #1
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Ragging on Portland

At a not so local bike meeting yesterday the revisions to the MUTCD by the NCUTCD-BTC (Bicycle Technical Committee) was presented along with how and why the processes works. Most notably the question needs to be answered does a new or experimental TCD actually perform as expected? Is the statement "It should work to improve things" more valid then "We studied all the variables and found that this TCD made the following difference..." I think mosts cyclists would agree that having our facilities verified that they do actually work is a good thing. But it seems that Portland is throwing the experimental and verification processes out the window. First they install bike lane stripes all the way up to intersections against design guidelines and have discovered problems (well no duh.) And in attempt to fix the problem of going against design guidelines they are going even further adrift by throwing more new experimental stuff at the problem by installing green bike boxes. This might be well and good if green bike boxes where actually shown to work and could eventually make it into the MUTCD but Portland has elected to not go through the experimental process by only changing one variable at a time (what's the effect of bike boxes and what is the effect of the color green) and is more or less doing whatever it thinks should work rather then relying on provable data by the scientific method.

Personally I think whether you are a bike lane advocate or a anti-bike lane advocate the processes (and the "think" behind the changes) going on in Portland needs to be corrected and I strongly encourage Portland to work with NCUTCD-BTC.
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Old 03-30-08, 11:39 AM   #2
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I always agree with you but on this issue I diverge.......
In my experience, and the reason I take issue with theorists
Forester, HH, et al is that scientific data and theorizing rarely
proves to be reality as they apply to bicycles due to too many
variables that cannot apply across the board to all areas.
I applaud Portland for jumping right in and taking active measures
right from the start and bypassing the usual unproductive, time consuming
laboriousness of the 'collect data' process. The measures taken by Portland
will show what needs to be tweaked through actual usage, not hypotheticals and theory.
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Old 03-30-08, 01:05 PM   #3
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I have empathy for Łem in Pa's position but while the government process is extremely slow but it is not unproductive. But the fact remains most of the US will NOT implement experimental designs so if what Portland is doing is cool and makes a difference it is going to stay in Portland and that's a shame and very sad.

Keep in mind I think a compromise position is that Portland study some non-green bike boxes so I believe it can still have some green bike boxes as well, so I think there is a way to accommodate everyone here.

Locally we had a bit of a hard time trying to get sharrows into our bike master plan. While the selling point was trying bring some of the Portland bike excitement to Baltimore but what sunk the deal was the fact that sharrows are in the final stages of being adopted into the MUTCD. Without that point we would not have sharrows here. If the desire is for better engineered bike facilities for all cyclists we need to encourage the process.

I well also note that data "theorists" that are part of my discussion are not JF, HH et al but the typical government bureaucracy that is overly concerned about liability issues when doing anything bike related.
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Old 03-30-08, 01:29 PM   #4
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At a not so local bike meeting yesterday the revisions to the MUTCD by the NCUTCD-BTC (Bicycle Technical Committee) was presented along with how and why the processes works. Most notably the question needs to be answered does a new or experimental TCD actually perform as expected? Is the statement "It should work to improve things" more valid then "We studied all the variables and found that this TCD made the following difference..." I think mosts cyclists would agree that having our facilities verified that they do actually work is a good thing. But it seems that Portland is throwing the experimental and verification processes out the window. First they install bike lane stripes all the way up to intersections against design guidelines and have discovered problems (well no duh.) And in attempt to fix the problem of going against design guidelines they are going even further adrift by throwing more new experimental stuff at the problem by installing green bike boxes. This might be well and good if green bike boxes where actually shown to work and could eventually make it into the MUTCD but Portland has elected to not go through the experimental process by only changing one variable at a time (what's the effect of bike boxes and what is the effect of the color green) and is more or less doing whatever it thinks should work rather then relying on provable data by the scientific method.

Personally I think whether you are a bike lane advocate or a anti-bike lane advocate the processes (and the "think" behind the changes) going on in Portland needs to be corrected and I strongly encourage Portland to work with NCUTCD-BTC.
Is it possible that what is being tried in Portland is that which is not sourced from the MUTCD, but from Eurepean cities? I believe the bike boxes are mentioned specifically somewhere (it might be in this video... ) as being "something from Europe" and are being tried here for the "first time."

Consider that the US is not exactly known as "bike friendly;" so perhaps, better bike friendly ideas might occur out of the US... Someone has to test those ideas here, before the MUTCD group will even consider them.

Now you do mention the NCUTCD-BTC. Are you saying that MUTCD is NOT working with any sort of bike group/committe to test and evaluate changes to bike infrastructure? Or that Portland is going ahead with untested stuff?
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Old 03-30-08, 01:30 PM   #5
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I think the bike people in portland should be the subject to a few lawsuits.

If a traffic engineer made two traffic lanes and put a possible right turn lane to the left side of a possible straight thru lane and my family member was killed I would sue.
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Old 03-30-08, 01:59 PM   #6
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Personally I think whether you are a bike lane advocate or a anti-bike lane advocate the processes (and the "think" behind the changes) going on in Portland needs to be corrected and I strongly encourage Portland to work with NCUTCD-BTC.
So when you wrote the traffic engineers in Portland about their attempts to work with NUTCD-BTC, what did they tell you about their experience?
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Old 03-30-08, 02:19 PM   #7
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I happen to be acronym free. When throwing around lots of acronyms, please explain them. Including but not limited to:

MUTCD
NCUTCD
NCUTCD-BTC
TCD
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Old 03-30-08, 02:29 PM   #8
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I do hope I am reporting this correctly but my impression is that traffic engineers in Portland are not working with NCUTCD-BTC on the green bike box issue and that concerns me a great deal.

We have procedures to try European designs here and while the procedures may not be the easiest to follow but if followed the designs that work can be adopted for application elsewhere. If the procedures are not followed I have no idea what kind of Pandora's box gets opened with that but its not something I would like to see encouraged.
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Old 03-30-08, 02:34 PM   #9
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I happen to be acronym free. When throwing around lots of acronyms, please explain them. Including but not limited to:
MUTCD - Manual Uniform Traffic Control Devices
NCUTCD - National Committee Uniform Traffic Control Devices
NCUTCD-BTC - National Committee Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bicycle Technical Committee
TCD - Traffic Control Device
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Old 03-30-08, 02:40 PM   #10
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So when you wrote the traffic engineers in Portland about their attempts to work with NUTCD-BTC, what did they tell you about their experience?
I am curious to know if any of the NUTCD-BTC rides a bike regularly... Beyond being a "park rider."

I wonder who these folks are.

Edit, actually that info was quite easy to find... http://members.cox.net/ncutcdbtc/members.html

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Old 03-30-08, 02:42 PM   #11
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I do hope I am reporting this correctly but my impression is that traffic engineers in Portland are not working with NCUTCD-BTC on the green bike box issue and that concerns me a great deal.
And the traffic engineers in Portland personally told you this?
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Old 03-30-08, 03:13 PM   #12
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And the traffic engineers in Portland personally told you this?
No a member of NCUTCD-BTC did.
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Old 03-30-08, 03:19 PM   #13
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No a member of NCUTCD-BTC did.
I see. Are they a family member or close friend of yours that you believed them without reservation?
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Old 03-30-08, 03:26 PM   #14
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I am curious to know if any of the NUTCD-BTC rides a bike regularly... Beyond being a "park rider."

I wonder who these folks are.

Edit, actually that info was quite easy to find... http://members.cox.net/ncutcdbtc/members.html
Oh, this is interesting. It seems the Chair of the NUTCD-BTC is pretty dead set against bike boxes or even bike-specific traffic signals. So traffic engineers in Portland want to try something the Chair of the NUTCD-BTC opposes and someone on that committee subsequently expresses the opinion that Portland isn't "working with" them? My goodness, that sure sounds like typical Federal Government behavior to me.
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Old 03-30-08, 06:09 PM   #15
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I see. Are they a family member or close friend of yours that you believed them without reservation?
What are you implying? Is the VC crowd trying to assert an unduly influence into the process? That could make for an interesting conversation. The link you provided is certainly fodder for a conspiracy of some sort. If the problem of cars not stopping for bike boxes is a "known" problem by US standards then a green bike bike box is a reasonable solution to study.
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Old 03-30-08, 06:47 PM   #16
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What are you implying? Is the VC crowd trying to assert an unduly influence into the process? That could make for an interesting conversation. The link you provided is certainly fodder for a conspiracy of some sort. If the problem of cars not stopping for bike boxes is a "known" problem by US standards then a green bike bike box is a reasonable solution to study.
You seem to be just taking one person's word for it without even asking for the other perspective. I generally don't make assumptions about a situation until I hear both sides of a story. I look forward to hearing both sides of this story.

Conspiracy is a pretty strong word and not one I would use in this situation. I'm more of the opinion that federal bureaucratic agencies are simply resistant to most kinds of change.
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Old 03-30-08, 07:57 PM   #17
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I'm more of the opinion that federal bureaucratic agencies are simply resistant to most kinds of change.
While the above is a given there is still a process for change that we should support and should be under our scrutiny. There is a major problem it seems with too many things in regards to bicycling and the (Federal) Government that the processes is not transparent. I understand your comment but it is not my failing that the processes is not transparent so I can only report one side. This is an open forum and anyone with better information is free to chime in and I wish they would and no I am not making a long distance call to Portland to get the full story that is a bit much to ask of me IMHO.

While I support your desire to hear both sides of the story attributing the lack of not presenting the other side to my personal failings is a bit much.
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Old 03-30-08, 08:21 PM   #18
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Barry,

I don't know much about Portland moving forward with bicycling accomodations in excess of federal guidelines, I live 200 miles further north. However, anecdotally,

40 years ago, no one even knew what a bike lane was.

I watched a presentation from some Danish transportation engineers. their official approach was to just build it, and watch and measure the results IN PROCESS. I think it has led to well accomodated communities with very high bicycling modal shares.

Portland is likely approaching in the same way- faced with no official mandate on design, and an interest in change and progression of accomodation R&D, it's a work in process.

That paper Donna referenced was a thinly veiled VC propaganda piece - sounds like the NCUTCD is loaded with fanatic forosterites- Really,the audacity of the chair of the NCUTCD to proclaim 80 percent reductions in accidents thru cylist training? Wonder where he got THAT rotten, unverified goose egg from....

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Old 03-30-08, 09:59 PM   #19
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I watched a presentation from some Danish transportation engineers. their official approach was to just build it, and watch and measure the results IN PROCESS. I think it has led to well accomodated communities with very high bicycling modal shares.
It is this process of watching and measuring results results that I want to support. Unfortunately I have observed two major errors in the states:
  • Bikeway advocates that support a design that should work even though it has been shown that it does not (or they don't care to do any sort of proof.)
  • VC advocates that oppose a design that should not work even though it has been shown that it does work (or they don't care to do any sort of proof.)

Right now my suspicions are that one of these errors (or a slight variant) are in play right now in Portland.
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Old 03-31-08, 10:55 AM   #20
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I am curious to know if any of the NUTCD-BTC rides a bike regularly... Beyond being a "park rider."
I know the chair has been cycling regularly for decades.

Al
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Old 03-31-08, 08:09 PM   #21
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I think the bike people in portland should be the subject to a few lawsuits.

If a traffic engineer made two traffic lanes and put a possible right turn lane to the left side of a possible straight thru lane and my family member was killed I would sue.
Bingo! The only through traffic to the right of a right-turn-optional lane is pedestrians, and, trust me, this is a bad enough situation. Putting a through bike lane to the right of a right-turn-optional lane treats cyclists as pedestrians, rather than as vehicle drivers.

I am not rabidly VC (e.g., I am never too ashamed to execute a two-part left turn or to ride contraflow for one block on a sidewalk to avoid making two successive left turns), but let's at least be logical in how we organize traffic flow on our streets. I am convinced the safest way to handle right turn conflicts is to slow and calm right-turning traffic and to integrate it with bicycle traffic, permitting all parties involved to execute a proper "weave," in which the traffic formerly on the right, i.e., the cyclist, becomes the traffic on the left.
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Old 03-31-08, 09:07 PM   #22
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Portland will likely be the first large American city to breach the %5 modal share and it will have gotten there by reaching beyond conserative traffic engineers with a 'cars first' mentality.

attempting to ensure %100 vehicularilty in bike accomodation is perhaps the wrong way to go about increasing bicyclist numbers and safety- European countries that adopt a 'facilties heavy' model have both more cyclists across age, sex & socioeconomic spectrums AS WELL AS lower accident rates for bicyclists than the USA-

why SHOULDN'T Portland look to increase safety and numbers of bicyclists thru a series of innovative engineering designs PROVEN TO WORK in other industralized western countries? is it because american bicyclists need to think of motorists first and foremost when seeking design of more bikeable communities?
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Old 04-01-08, 03:40 AM   #23
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I know the chair has been cycling regularly for decades.

Al
The author of the linked paper has the following biography:
Richard C. Moeur, P.E.
Traffic Engineer I
Arizona Department of Transportation, Traffic Group
* * *
Richard is a member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and
the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, and is a certified Effective
Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. Richard is an Associate
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Old 04-01-08, 07:09 AM   #24
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that guy is a VC tool, a forestorite anti-facilities plant. He proclaims something overlooked in facilities design is cyclist training ???????, and "cyclist training leads to 80 percent reduction in bike accidents" a highly dubious, unverified forestorism. What an effin TOOL! (and these people are entrusted with design of public road space?)

Since these applications have been PROVEN to work in other countries, Barry, why shouldn't Portland move past the conservative, antifacilites slant of the NCUTCD, design and implement infrastructure in excess of minimum NCUTCD standards?

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Old 04-01-08, 07:41 AM   #25
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I do not think anyone can logically accuse me of being a VC tool. I support bicycle-specific facilities where traffic speeds and potential for movement conflicts are high (the ultimate scenario being the access ramps of limited-access freeways -- I support freeway shoulder access for cyclists but acknowledge the need to loop up off and back on at each ramp set), but I support full integration of all traffic modes at residential and business district speeds of 25 mph / 40 kph. I generally support traffic calming and speed limit reductions.

As for the effect of cyclist training on the rate of cycling-related incidents, one has to look only at the at-fault statistics compiled by various cities. I would argue that proper cycling technique would have eliminated almost all of the incidents in which the cyclist was at fault, plus a significant fraction of those in which the motorist was officially at fault, but which the cyclist could have prevented through proper defensive driving.

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