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Old 07-18-14, 12:45 AM   #1
Aznman
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What Would It Takes to Build a Bicycle Freeway?

There are limits as to how large highways and freeways can be build. With increasing population, this means that cars would have to be smaller and more fuel efficient.

Global Traffic Congestion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CAnq5DyNG0

However, bicycles use mostly only human fuels and give great cardio exercises. If cars are going to become smaller, then bicycles for single to 4riders can be just as great in certain circumstances.

Why don't we start the trend now? 2020 is only a relatively short while away. Should we persuade the federal government into reserving one protected highway/freeway lane throughout the country (each direction) only for bicycles?
This will serve 2 purposes:
1. Make people realize that highways/freeways would no longer (and can no longer)be expanded in width. This would explode the number of cyclists.
2. It would be a great alternative to secluded Bicycle Paths.

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Old 07-18-14, 07:01 AM   #2
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to be perfectly honest, I hope we stop building new freeways. We should be building railroads. In 100 years, the freeways will be an anomaly.
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Old 07-18-14, 07:20 AM   #3
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To be frank, I think that if it were done it would stir up resentment to bike facilities. The bike lane would always look empty to autoists; even if it were heavily used (which I doubt it would be) it wold still look empty to someone stuck in traffic.
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Old 07-18-14, 08:41 AM   #4
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The fact is that along most existing freeways there is a fairly wide strip of land that could be used to make a bike freeway. Almost all freeways have a buffer zone of some sort between the actual road and the surrounding property... and that zone could be used to make something like an 8 foot wide bike path. Or a 4 foot wide path on either side of the freeway...

There would have to be some fancy engineering where the path has to cross or merge with ramps, but with the right funding (something similar to the National Highway Act of 1956) a vast network of bike freeways could be built. The thing is, such a network should concentrate on access across the local town or city... thus allowing cyclists in that city quick transit locally.

But who knows, over time maybe such a thing doesn't even need to be built due to changes in car culture from such things as robot cars, and the diminishing supply of oil. Maybe just dedicating room on existing roads would be enough... if the balance shifted from so many people driving cars to many many more riding bikes.

Either way... none of it will happen soon.
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Old 07-18-14, 09:05 AM   #5
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We are a very very long way away from cycling being a large enough mode of transport to warrant such a drastic move.
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Old 07-18-14, 10:41 AM   #6
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Specific to freeways, not other roads, Not practical even if you removed every car

Limited on off access. freeways are designed for fast, longer trips and therefore have limited on and off access. The distance between these access points is often more than even dedicated riders will do.

Related to the above.....does not bring cyclist to desired locations. Again freeways are designed for higher speed longer trip sections. Works find with a car where you get off at one of the limited access points and then drive more miles to your destination.

IMHO the place to focus on increasing ridership is trips of under 5 miles.... errands, school, commuting.

But this will not happen until it is more convenient to bike than drive.

Convenient means a combination of takes less time total, is less hassle, is less expensive, has tangible benefits that every on appreciates.

So what increases convenience?: Gas cost to some degree ( but it probably will take an increase to 7,8,9 $ a gallon to hit any tipping point), easier to park a bike than a car, safe place to park a bike, cheaper than parking a car, feeling safe on the roads, among other things

Most of this will not happen without government intervention, instead of requiring x number of parking spaces for new construction, require fewer parking space and covered bike parking, require companies to charge employees for parking, build up bike infrastructure, tax cars on short trips, etc.

things like making desirable location bike friendly are probably a middle ground that will help. In my area downtown willow glen is growing destination place for restaurants..... make it bike friendly (single car lane on weekends, bike valet parking)would probably attract more cyclist than it now does
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Old 07-18-14, 11:51 AM   #7
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If you have ever ridden on a freeway then you know why this is a nonstarter. They're loud, smelly, debris-filled abominations that suck all the pleasure out of cycling. (Yes, I have quite a few freeway miles in the saddle, but I would have gladly used any other route if there had only been one.) Then there's those joyous on/off ramps.

If we want bike freeways, let's build them, but let's build them away from the current freeways.
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Old 07-18-14, 12:21 PM   #8
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The purpose of a freeway is to allow vehicles to sustain high speeds to save fuel and time for long distance travel.

Most bicyclists can't go faster than 40 km/h on a flat road for more than 5 minutes. In fact, most bicyclists can't even keep up with cars on a road with light/medium traffic. I don't understand the point of a bike freeway when an overwhelming majority can't go fast enough on normal roads...

It is bad investment because the gain is non-existent.
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Old 07-18-14, 12:49 PM   #9
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It was attempted in Pasadena in 1900, even had a toll booth, but didn't get very far.
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Old 07-18-14, 01:24 PM   #10
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We are a very very long way away from cycling being a large enough mode of transport to warrant such a drastic move.
I guess it somewhat depends on what one calls a bike freeway.

I'd say one actually exists at UCSB. Or perhaps more then one. I'm only sure of one leading into campus.

I can think of a couple other places where one might think a bike freeway is justified.... As long as they checked on a summer weekend day.

But in general there are few places that would justify such. Simply not even close to the traffic load needed to justify.
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Old 07-18-14, 01:33 PM   #11
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Specific to freeways, not other roads, Not practical even if you removed every car

Limited on off access. freeways are designed for fast, longer trips and therefore have limited on and off access. The distance between these access points is often more than even dedicated riders will do.

Related to the above.....does not bring cyclist to desired locations. Again freeways are designed for higher speed longer trip sections. Works find with a car where you get off at one of the limited access points and then drive more miles to your destination.

IMHO the place to focus on increasing ridership is trips of under 5 miles.... errands, school, commuting.

But this will not happen until it is more convenient to bike than drive.

Convenient means a combination of takes less time total, is less hassle, is less expensive, has tangible benefits that every on appreciates.

So what increases convenience?: Gas cost to some degree ( but it probably will take an increase to 7,8,9 $ a gallon to hit any tipping point), easier to park a bike than a car, safe place to park a bike, cheaper than parking a car, feeling safe on the roads, among other things

Most of this will not happen without government intervention, instead of requiring x number of parking spaces for new construction, require fewer parking space and covered bike parking, require companies to charge employees for parking, build up bike infrastructure, tax cars on short trips, etc.

things like making desirable location bike friendly are probably a middle ground that will help. In my area downtown willow glen is growing destination place for restaurants..... make it bike friendly (single car lane on weekends, bike valet parking)would probably attract more cyclist than it now does
Bolding mine.

I agree. I live in Los Angeles, home of the oldest freeway in the world, the northern part of the Pasadena Freeway. The point is that there is an oldest. The current freeway system came late in the game for cars, first there were local roads, then highways, then a few freeways.

The same holds for bikes. There needs to be local infrastructure first, be it bike specific or just roads a typical bike user feels safe on. A bike freeway with no web of routes when it ends is the equivalent of a football field. Not at all useful for utilitarian users.

This does not mean there are not a few places where short sections of 'bike freeway' might be useful.
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Old 07-18-14, 07:31 PM   #12
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lots o' cash monet.
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Old 07-18-14, 09:27 PM   #13
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lots o' cash monet.
That is certainly true
I think you guys are right. Bike lanes on freeways is a bad idea.

The best option seems to be a completely separate trail for bicycles. In fact, a Trans-America highway for bicyclists and hikers already existed (American Discovery Trail).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpOqNaudqco

The problem is that the security patrol seems rather insufficient. How can we solve this problem?
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Old 07-18-14, 11:57 PM   #14
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But in general there are few places that would justify such. Simply not even close to the traffic load needed to justify.
I'm not necessarily for or against some sort of bike freeways, but your line of reasoning is sometimes reworded as, "We'll build the bridge when enough people are swimming across the river."
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Old 07-19-14, 12:15 AM   #15
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Whatever you decide is the right way to expand the bike infrastructure, someone has to pay for it. That's the 1000-lb gorilla in the room - governments are simply not going to dramatically up the budget for building bicycle infrastructure without funding that is directly generated from the users of this infrastructure.

- Mark
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Old 07-19-14, 11:29 AM   #16
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I like the idea in concept, but I also like solar roads as a concept too. There are budget and design considerations such as grading, drainage, entry and exit points that make it a logistical nightmare for a lot of places that are already well built-up. You have very fast traffic interfacing with very slow traffic, so the facilities would have to have entry/exit points away from car-freeway entry/exit points to prevent a mix-up. My guess is most city budgets won't allocate enough to bike funding for design & risk studies, engineering, construction and upkeep - they will see it as a luxury expense. I know they kind of have facilities like this in places like Denver and L.A., (maybe Portland?) but frankly those are demographic anomalies for cycling modal share. In the U.S., we need to increase modal share by a good amount... say 20% (New york has about 18%), before this type of facility were taken seriously by planners on a citywide or even downtown scale. Freeways exist to address capacity issues - there are no capacity issues for cycling in the U.S. - except in maybe in a few NY boroughs. Seems to me urban MUPs serve the purpose of an off-street city to city arterial fine for a lot of cities already - I say just improve those with a dedicated cycle side. If you want to go fast, streets with bike lanes exist and don't present a different safety threat from car driving despite the regular fearmongering.
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Old 07-19-14, 04:52 PM   #17
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Whatever you decide is the right way to expand the bike infrastructure, someone has to pay for it. That's the 1000-lb gorilla in the room - governments are simply not going to dramatically up the budget for building bicycle infrastructure without funding that is directly generated from the users of this infrastructure.

- Mark
Since something like 60% of the roads budget comes from non-user fees, this hurdle is clearly not in place for unhealthy, polluting means of transportation. I believe you are correct that securing funding for any public benefit works is insanely difficult, but it is a shame that we don't use the same sauce for the goose as the gander.
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Old 07-19-14, 07:42 PM   #18
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In Detroit we have about 2 miles that was once railroad, called Dequinder cut. It is kinda like a bicycle freeway, but it is away from roads and freeways. It is really cool and will be extended soon.
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Old 07-19-14, 08:26 PM   #19
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Since something like 60% of the roads budget comes from non-user fees, this hurdle is clearly not in place for unhealthy, polluting means of transportation. I believe you are correct that securing funding for any public benefit works is insanely difficult, but it is a shame that we don't use the same sauce for the goose as the gander.
Okay, taking your number at face value, would you be in favor a set of bicycle user fees which would pay for 40% of the cost of an expansion of dedicated bicycle infrastructure?

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Old 07-19-14, 08:52 PM   #20
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Okay, taking your number at face value, would you be in favor a set of bicycle user fees which would pay for 40% of the cost of an expansion of dedicated bicycle infrastructure?
Seems fair. Joys of cycling on a road separated from noisy cars and trucks aside, we're saving on gas and vehicle wear-and-tear. Maybe the advocacy groups should try tapping health insurance companies to help with funding, as cycling regularly would help to keep their clients healthier (resulting in less expenses for them). Local hospitals might also be a possibility, but most don't have the monetary resources to help.
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Old 07-19-14, 09:02 PM   #21
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Seems fair. Joys of cycling on a road separated from noisy cars and trucks aside, we're saving on gas and vehicle wear-and-tear. Maybe the advocacy groups should try tapping health insurance companies to help with funding, as cycling regularly would help to keep their clients healthier (resulting in less expenses for them). Local hospitals might also be a possibility, but most don't have the monetary resources to help.
Pizza makers, breweries and taverns as well as all kinds of fast foot outlets should be tapped as funding sources since all the healthy and hungry cyclists will be gaining big appetites for Real Bicycle Fuel. Makes as much sense and seems just as likely.
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Old 07-19-14, 09:13 PM   #22
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Pizza makers, breweries and taverns as well as all kinds of fast foot outlets should be tapped as funding sources since all the healthy and hungry cyclists will be gaining big appetites for Real Bicycle Fuel. Makes as much sense and seems just as likely.
I get a hint of sarcasm from you, but I'm serious. Many health insurance companies are funding and encouraging initiatives for preventive medicine. They make money when you're healthy and paying them for those "just in case" scenarios; they don't make as much money when you're picking up insulin and anti-hypertensives from the pharmacy on a regular basis.
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Old 07-20-14, 08:14 AM   #23
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I get a hint of sarcasm from you, but I'm serious. Many health insurance companies are funding and encouraging initiatives for preventive medicine. They make money when you're healthy and paying them for those "just in case" scenarios; they don't make as much money when you're picking up insulin and anti-hypertensives from the pharmacy on a regular basis.
I don't doubt that you are serious. Could you provide any credible evidence to support your proposal of the relationship between construction of bicycle freeways and lower health costs? Please note that funding proposals supported at best by spacey guesswork or WAG extrapolations usually do not get considered serious or gain much traction with the money sources.
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Old 07-20-14, 09:40 AM   #24
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I don't doubt that you are serious. Could you provide any credible evidence to support your proposal of the relationship between construction of bicycle freeways and lower health costs? Please note that funding proposals supported at best by spacey guesswork or WAG extrapolations usually do not get considered serious or gain much traction with the money sources.
If I were to play devil's advocate I could shred through any publications that showed such a link. However, I'll link to two here:
Pubmed, from the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives (I don't know the impact factor for this journal): Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks? (open-access journal, everyone can access the full article)
A long PDF pamphlet from Cycling England: Cycling and Health: What's the evidence?

The reason why I say that such arguments can be dashed is because people can't be controlled (and it's always easy to argue a counterpoint). The argument in favor of it is that building more bicycle paths would encourage (and possibly enable) more people to use bicycles regularly. We already know and have numerous guidelines for the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise, so by extension the bicycle paths would help there. The problem is that, just as building a gym doesn't convert those nearby into gym rats, there's no guarantee that building more cycling paths will result in an increased number of cyclists. There's also a bit of an odd chicken and egg problem: if there are few cyclists, who's to say that a cycling path will create new cyclists? If there are already many cyclists, then is the bicycle path necessary? And who's to say that people will cycle in a manner that hits the American Heart Association guidelines; what if they just buy electric bikes and cruise along the paths?

So the evidence isn't a one-two punch type of deal. If I spent more time on it I could put together some more convincing arguments (comparing data with other countries and splitting populations into groups, identifying social factors, and so on), but I don't work for a bicycle advocacy group and only suggested the health insurance route as a possibility because even at a glance, there's decent evidence available.
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Old 07-20-14, 09:59 AM   #25
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If I were to play devil's advocate I could shred through any publications that showed such a link. However, I'll link to two here:
Pubmed, from the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives (I don't know the impact factor for this journal): Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks? (open-access journal, everyone can access the full article)
A long PDF pamphlet from Cycling England: Cycling and Health: What's the evidence?

The reason why I say that such arguments can be dashed is because people can't be controlled (and it's always easy to argue a counterpoint). The argument in favor of it is that building more bicycle paths would encourage (and possibly enable) more people to use bicycles regularly. We already know and have numerous guidelines for the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise, so by extension the bicycle paths would help there. The problem is that, just as building a gym doesn't convert those nearby into gym rats, there's no guarantee that building more cycling paths will result in an increased number of cyclists. There's also a bit of an odd chicken and egg problem: if there are few cyclists, who's to say that a cycling path will create new cyclists? If there are already many cyclists, then is the bicycle path necessary? And who's to say that people will cycle in a manner that hits the American Heart Association guidelines; what if they just buy electric bikes and cruise along the paths?

So the evidence isn't a one-two punch type of deal. If I spent more time on it I could put together some more convincing arguments (comparing data with other countries and splitting populations into groups, identifying social factors, and so on), but I don't work for a bicycle advocacy group and only suggested the health insurance route as a possibility because even at a glance, there's decent evidence available.
How about if more paths and other cycling facilities were built AND it became more difficult to use an automobile... such as through prohibitive fuel prices or other inconveniences (such as restrictions and lack of parking) that cyclists themselves often face.

What if somehow, the car was not "king." Heck even John Forester... "the father of "effective cycling" has called the automobile "one of the greatest inventions of the last century." I mean if John thinks that way... no doubt the average "could be riding a bike" American is in love with their car.

I wonder what reducing access to and for automobiles would do to the general health of the nation.

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