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  1. #1
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    Are Bike Lanes worse for the environment?

    And here in the Bay Area we have:


    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1219...hpp_us_pageone

  2. #2
    jur
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    This guy thinks riding a bike is for freaks. But if you read between the lines of his own lifestyle, he's the freak.

    Clearly he didn't think what might happen if all the cyclists took up driving - less traffic jams?? Duh.

    Clearly he didn't think about peak oil either.

    When you communicate, it is very hard not to reveal one's own ignorance. With so much ignorance such as his, it must be impossible.
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    While Mr Anderson's motivation is obviously unsavory I don't see anything wrong with requiring the city to do their homework.

    The environmental impact should be reviewed. Perhaps it will spur the city to increase bicycle facilities even more.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Foldable Two's Avatar
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    More people are walking & bikes riding around here.
    Have to agree with his conclusion - As a "liberal elite" I do bike to the store to showcase my lifestyle. If I were the typical 65 year old, I would be drive there in my Cadillac or Buick.

    I never imagined riding my bike would hurt, not help, the environment. Who knew!

  5. #5
    Explorer CaptainSpalding's Avatar
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    Without knowing the details of the San Francisco plan it's impossible to say whether Mr. Anderson is right or wrong. It is certainly possible to add a bike lane without sacrificing an automobile lane in many places. Some roads, though, can't afford the space for a bike lane and still provide for the same amount of car traffic.

    That said, even if car traffic is impinged by bike lanes, it could spur even more drivers out of their cars and onto bikes, and hence the net effect could be a reduction in pollution.

    A little editorial though: I just returned from Belgium, where every accommodation is made for cyclists. Because of those efforts, it is safe for everyone to cycle. But not all accommodations are the same. A 75 year old woman on a Dutch bike is perfectly safe riding on her own dedicated bike path in Liege. But that same woman on a narrow strip of pavement between whizzing cars and parked ones on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A. is in mortal danger. My point is that probably those who would be served by San Francisco's plan are only the most fit and aware, and that the pool of people from whom new cyclists could be drawn is shallower than one might think.
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  6. #6
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    It's rare to find a bike lane that takes away a complete lane of traffic. Almost all bike lanes are created with either excess road or placed right next to the door zone thus taking away no road lanes.

  7. #7
    hubgears BB49's Avatar
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    The city should have appealed that ruling

    Critical Mass should stop making enemies. I can understand someone wanting to stick it to them

    It would be great for us if CM switched to skateboards.
    Last edited by BB49; 08-24-08 at 12:31 AM.

  8. #8
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    The stuff coming from Anderson is absolute drivel. It's like 'all cyclists are basta*ds and all drivers are angels. With people wrting pontificating views like that, who needs fools lol?
    Last edited by mulleady; 08-23-08 at 03:59 AM.

  9. #9
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainSpalding View Post
    That said, even if car traffic is impinged by bike lanes, it could spur even more drivers out of their cars and onto bikes, and hence the net effect could be a reduction in pollution.
    Let's assume the worst case according to the anti-bike-lane folks, i.e. that lanes are taken away from the cars.

    Taking lanes away from cars does worsen traffic congestion and emissions.

    Traffic congestion and pollution will not be alleviated until the number of cars decreases enough to reduce the (now greater) congestion.

    History shows us that traffic congestion does little or nothing to reduce the number of cars on the road.
    Stronger disincentives are required to change motorist behavior: fees to drive inside the city (forgiven if the vehicle is hybrid-engine or non-polluting), parking surtaxes, alternate-day driving to encourage car-pooling and public transport (cars with non-polluting engines exempt).

    Those revenues should be applied to maintaining and improving public transportation systems and bike paths.

    Regards
    T

    P.S. The "plan" submitted for environmental impact study must be multi-faceted so that its net overall effect is to reduce emissions; it should not be an isolated question: "Bike lanes, good or bad for the environment?"
    Last edited by timo888; 08-24-08 at 07:04 AM.

  10. #10
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Hi Timo888,

    Actually, the "history shows us" comment is incorrect. I don't claim to be an expert on this subject, but my partner certainly is. She is a graduate of MIT's urban studies program. There is an extensive research literature showing that increased congestion dramatically reduces automobile usage.

    Through the 1970s, the idea behind urban planning was to keep making room for cars. We subsidize their use, build expensive roads and bridges, and spend a lot of money maintaing them. But the more rapidly we build, and the more we subsidize, the more rapid the uptake of private versus public transit.

    Increases in congestion are inevitable in NYC as PlanNYC removes parking spots to make way for bike lanes. The same is true in San Francisco. But this very rapidly gives way to fewer cars and cleaner air.

  11. #11
    Senior Member JosephLMonti's Avatar
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    I agree with pm124's comments 100% and will take the idea even further - You have to make car usage "painful" in urban areas to get people to stop using them. We can believe that all the people we see biking, walking or using the bus/subway/train are doing it for noble reasons but the truth is that humans are creatures of convenience and very sensitive about their wallets. In other words, the more inconvenient and expensive car usage is made, the more you will see people seeking more convenient and less expensive alternatives.

  12. #12
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    JosephL and pm124,

    My point in arguing for financial disincentives and alternate-day driving was that congestion alone is not enough to cause people to abandon their cars in numbers large enough to make that congestion go away. History shows us that traffic congestion does little or nothing to reduce the number of cars on the road. The best that can be said for congestion is that it acts as a limit upon the rate of increase.

    True "dramatic" progress, IMO, would be indicated by a reduction in the absolute amount of gasoline (ethanol etc) pollution. If the number of gasoline-burning cars on the road grows or even remains constant, it doesn't represent an improvement (as far as my lungs are concerned) however many people are choosing other forms of transportation.

    I agree with PM124 that building more roads won't solve the problem and am not an advocate for building yet more lanes for cars. And, JosephL, I think we agree when you say "we have to make car usage 'painful' in urban areas to get people to stop using them....the more inconvenient and expensive car usage is made..."

    I wrote: Stronger disincentives are required to change motorist behavior: fees to drive inside the city (forgiven if the vehicle is hybrid-engine or non-polluting), parking surtaxes, alternate-day driving to encourage car-pooling and public transport (cars with non-polluting engines exempt).



    Regards
    T
    Last edited by timo888; 08-24-08 at 10:42 AM.

  13. #13
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Sorry Timo888, I didn't mean to sound challenging. I just meant to correct a small mis-statement in pointing out that there is an inverse correlation between congestion/other barriers and the number of drivers. I think your conviction is admirable.

  14. #14
    Explorer CaptainSpalding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
    Stronger disincentives are required to change motorist behavior: fees to drive inside the city (forgiven if the vehicle is hybrid-engine or non-polluting), parking surtaxes, alternate-day driving to encourage car-pooling and public transport (cars with non-polluting engines exempt).
    Whether or not those fees are levied, and how they are biased, makes a big difference to me. If the goal is to reduce congestion, then don't give hybrids a break. In my neighborhood probably 10% of cars on the roads are hybrids.

    In fact, in L.A. I am against artificial disincentives altogether. It isn't right for city planners to build a city that can only practically be navigated by car, and then punish residents for using one. Before that happens, I think it's only fair that there be practical public transportation (which there is not), and measures to reduce the population of the city or at least keep it contstant - stop issuing building permits for previously undeveloped land. In town, no more tearing down single family dwellings and replacing them with multi-family units. Punishing residents for using the transportation system the way it was designed is heinous and unreasonable.
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  15. #15
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    Sorry Timo888, I didn't mean to sound challenging. I just meant to correct a small mis-statement in pointing out that there is an inverse correlation between congestion/other barriers and the number of drivers. I think your conviction is admirable.
    Challenging is fine Congestion certainly doesn't stop the drivers who are creating the congestion in the first place.

    Regards
    T

  16. #16
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainSpalding View Post
    Whether or not those fees are levied, and how they are biased, makes a big difference to me. If the goal is to reduce congestion, then don't give hybrids a break. In my neighborhood probably 10% of cars on the roads are hybrids.

    In fact, in L.A. I am against artificial disincentives altogether. It isn't right for city planners to build a city that can only practically be navigated by car, and then punish residents for using one. Before that happens, I think it's only fair that there be practical public transportation (which there is not), and measures to reduce the population of the city or at least keep it contstant - stop issuing building permits for previously undeveloped land. In town, no more tearing down single family dwellings and replacing them with multi-family units. Punishing residents for using the transportation system the way it was designed is heinous and unreasonable.
    I believe your points about controlled development are valid. But all of these things should be happening contemporaneously, or they may never get going. You can't wait for public transportation infrastructure to be in place before you begin creating incentives to use it and disincentives for those who persist in not using it. You need public demand for public transport before the taxpayers will vote to spend money on it, and to spur that demand along, you may need to use the whip of higher parking fees, alternate driving days, fees to drive in the city, and so forth. Such disincentives are the lesser of evils and in that sense, not heinous.

    Regards
    T

  17. #17
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    With the NYC congestion pricing plan, everything was supposed to happen at once. There were plans to expand existing express transit infrastructure to the neighborhoods that needed it most. Of course, the infrastructure here is already very good, so it wouldn't take much work.

  18. #18
    Explorer CaptainSpalding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
    . . . You can't wait for public transportation infrastructure to be in place before you begin creating incentives to use it and disincentives for those who persist in not using it . . .
    How does that make sense? You'd have the government fine me for not using a system that doesn't yet exist?

    You need public demand for public transport before the taxpayers will vote to spend money on it, and to spur that demand along, you may need to use the whip of higher parking fees, alternate driving days, fees to drive in the city, and so forth. Such disincentives are the lesser of evils and in that sense, not heinous.
    First off, when the system is working as it should, "voters" don't vote to spend the money. Legislators vote to spend money. Legislators refrain from voting when they fear a vote either way will make them look bad, and then they cower behind the now-so-perverted referendum process.

    Using punitive fees to artificially stimulate a demand is about as valid as rendering a confession under torture. And when the government tries to spur demand with punitive fees, they give up the moral high ground because now they get something out of it.

    Take for example a recent move to levee an SUV tax in California. It makes no sense at all to demonize the SUV while there are luxury cars and minivans that use up just as much roadway and fuel. It makes the whole thing seem like a money grab rather than something constructive. If SUV's are that bad, California should set new-car standards for size-weight-fuel economy and forbid the sale of any vehicle not meeting those standards (which I would wholeheartedly endorse, BTW.) That's the only way to deal with the issue and still hold any credibility.

    Your methodology of turning the screws on the public who, because of prior planning policy and through no fault of their own, couldn't acquiesce to your wishes even if they wanted to, in order to create an outcry from the public to get you to do what you wanted to do in the first place - that's a little Machiavellian for my taste. Oh - and it's also heinous.
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  19. #19
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainSpalding View Post
    Using punitive fees to artificially stimulate a demand is about as valid as rendering a confession under torture. ... Your methodology of turning the screws on the public who, because of prior planning policy and through no fault of their own, couldn't acquiesce to your wishes even if they wanted to, in order to create an outcry from the public to get you to do what you wanted to do in the first place - that's a little Machiavellian for my taste. Oh - and it's also heinous.

    Capn, I do believe you are fond of hyperbole

    "Bring out the Comfy Chair!" Oh, the excruciation!

    Seriously, I believe you are overlooking the benefits and focusing too much on the pain in whichever thigh or buttock your wallet is pressing against.

    If the fee for driving in the city were high enough for single-driver/no passenger scenarios, and lowered enough for car-pools and non-polluting vehicles, it would encourage car-pooling and demand for non-polluting vehicles. A substantial fee would also stimulate the use of other forms of transport -- park and ride for people who live outside the city and commute into it, bicycles, and multi-passenger shuttles (preferably hybrids).

    Lung disease and the financial costs associated with it are not sufficiently linked in peoples' minds to the number of polluting vehicles on the road; the drive-inside-the-city and related fees, and alternate-day driving laws raise that level of awareness, and improve air quality for all.

    These fees and related limitations can also have the effect of enhancing neighborhood self-sufficiency by encouraging the renaissance of the small local shop.

    Regards
    T

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Eliminate bike lanes and build bigger cars. That should solve the problem.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  21. #21
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
    History shows us that traffic congestion does little or nothing to reduce the number of cars on the road.

    Stronger disincentives are required to change motorist behavior: fees to drive inside the city (forgiven if the vehicle is hybrid-engine or non-polluting), parking surtaxes, alternate-day driving to encourage car-pooling and public transport (cars with non-polluting engines exempt).
    Is that right?

    I have never seen any detailed scientific study on the topic; although I have seen summaries of studies. Essentially what I would expect is that people will choose the mode of transportation that optimizes some mix of expense, time, and convenience. So if you observe things as the conditions slowly change, one probably is making observations that are already in equilibirum making it difficult to identify the effect.

    I recall that some natural experiments in the DC area -- one that comes to mind is some construction on the F. Douglas Bridge -- that would increase congestion resulted in few people commuting by car.

  22. #22
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainSpalding View Post
    Whether or not those fees are levied, and how they are biased, makes a big difference to me. If the goal is to reduce congestion, then don't give hybrids a break. In my neighborhood probably 10% of cars on the roads are hybrids.

    In fact, in L.A. I am against artificial disincentives altogether. It isn't right for city planners to build a city that can only practically be navigated by car, and then punish residents for using one. Before that happens, I think it's only fair that there be practical public transportation (which there is not), and measures to reduce the population of the city or at least keep it contstant - stop issuing building permits for previously undeveloped land. In town, no more tearing down single family dwellings and replacing them with multi-family units. Punishing residents for using the transportation system the way it was designed is heinous and unreasonable.
    In large, I agree with the assessment. Essentially, I think that fees/taxes/tolls should be levied in proportion to the negative externality -- the smog, congestion, noise, oil dependence -- they create. Ergo, this is not punishment per se, but simply the true costs of an individual's actions.

    Consequently, if city planners created a crappy system, they should hear it from the constituents in a hurry.

  23. #23
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    ... I would expect ... people [to] choose the mode of transportation that optimizes some mix of expense, time, and convenience.
    Pragmatism? Rationality? You are forgetting something:

    "America's love affair with the automobile"

    Regards
    T

  24. #24
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
    Pragmatism? Rationality? You are forgetting something:

    "America's love affair with the automobile"

    Regards
    T


    Yeah ... that is pretty funny ... but, much of the US is designed for auto transportation. So I don't know if the statement is true versus a practical reality for many people; i.e., most people are not commuting 20 miles one-way by bike. But even if they love their cars, the argument is still the same. As conditions change, people on the threshold between alternatives change.

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