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Old 03-09-09, 11:42 AM   #1
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I grew up riding in bike lanes and paths in the Netherlands

I lived most of my teenage years in Limburg, the southern "tip" of the Netherlands, riding in bicycle lanes and paths. I was convinced that one needed a separate lane - that was just how it was done! The only streets without separate paths were neighborhood side streets.

I am now in Chattanooga, TN (home of the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference in 2010!) and was walking to work for a number of months (2 mile commute, by foot "only" ~40 minutes). I had been thinking about getting the old bicycle out and riding it to work - but, once again, I kept thinking "...if only there were bike lanes..." Well, one day I had an "epiphany", and realized that I could simply ride in the travel lanes!

So, since then, I've discovered "vehicular cycling", and wonder why this isn't more common throughout the United States? In the Netherlands "vehicular cycling" just isn't necessary, due to their VERY extensive bike lanes and paths, but the most important difference is fact that the motorists are simply bicycle riders behind the wheel of a motorcar.

As a transportation planning professional, I am shocked (SHOCKED!) that "vehicular cycling" is unknown, but the advocacy for bike lanes and paths is overwhelming. In reality, what better "bike lanes" do we have than our own city streets?
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Old 03-09-09, 12:24 PM   #2
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Indeed.

Basically, if you simply make the right lane just a little wider, there is plenty of room for bicycles on the roads, even if you don't mark them as bike lanes. I think as little as 3-5 feet extra is all that is needed.

Marking off a bicycle lane such that cars are prohibited from using it has a negative effect on cyclists in that without motor traffic in that area, debris tends to build up. When cars drive through debris it's scattered and the area is cleared. If there isn't a clear bike lane marked, cars will drive through the edge of the lane enough to clear the debris.

As a transporation planner, are you familiar with "sharrows"? They are basically shared-lane designators to alert cars that bikes can be expected to share that lane. They are starting to use them here and I think they are better than bike paths in many cases.

Also, if you haven't gone there yet, I suggest checking out cyburbia.org, the urban planning forum. I'm not an urban planner, but I kind of like lurking there from time to time.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-09-09, 12:45 PM   #3
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As a transporation planner, are you familiar with "sharrows"?
Yes, I am now. Like I said, it is all rather shocking that I knew so little of bicycle transportation planning, other than "build bike lanes and paths". This was all I have been taught, that is, until I took it upon myself to contemplate riding my own bicycle in a city that is more or less "bicycle friendly" (i.e., a lot of places to park your bicycle, and racks on all of the buses), but with no real system of separate bicycle lanes.

I plan to make larger sharrows a part of the "toolbox" for planning for bicycle commuters. Currently, the few that I can think of here in the City are all rather small, on the "official" bicycle routes. The sharrows should be reminders to the motoring public that bicycles are on the street, in the travel lanes, and belong there.
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Old 03-09-09, 01:40 PM   #4
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Basically, if you simply make the right lane just a little wider, there is plenty of room for bicycles on the roads, even if you don't mark them as bike lanes. I think as little as 3-5 feet extra is all that is needed.
Oh, is that all it takes? Any idea where that extra 3-5 feet is simply going to come from in dense urban areas?
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Old 03-09-09, 01:49 PM   #5
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No need for wider lanes.

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Oh, is that all it takes? Any idea where that extra 3-5 feet is simply going to come from in dense urban areas?
There is no need to make the lane wider. Any lane that can accommodate one motorcar can accommodate at least one or two bicycles.

In my years as a transportation planner, I have never even HEARD of a cyclist being run over by a motorcar driver directly from behind. Time and time again, I've read about right hooks and truck operators saying such things as "he came out of nowhere!" As a vulnerable cyclist, it makes NO SENSE to be off to the side, out of direct sight of a motorist. I want them to see me. These are basic traffic engineering concepts that I had learned at an early age in regards to motorized vehicles, and why they are seemingly NOT applied to non-motorized vehicles is a bit strange, to say the least.
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Old 03-09-09, 02:04 PM   #6
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When I say make the lane wider, I'm thinking in terms of making it wide enough to allow most motor vehicles to safetly pass a cyclist. Almost all lanes are already wide enough (i.e., if a car was stopped in the middle of the lane, would a cyclist have have enough room to get around him without going into the next lane? Of course.... look at lane splitters at red lights). It's just a matter of leaving enough room for cars to pass without scaring the bejeebus out of a cyclist.

Yes, in urban areas, space is at a premium. To get extra space out of existing lanes on a multilane road, one might make the other (non-shared) lanes a foot or two narrower. Also, in a dense downtown grid area, shared lanes might be routed every third or fourth block, preferably on streets that already see less car traffic. This is what they are doing in Fort Worth.

As for being off to the side versus taking the lane, I disagree that a cyclist should always take the lane. Why should one cyclist doing 15 mph slow up a whole lane of cars in a 45 mph zone? Just give me a little extra room and there are no problems with cars passing.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-09-09, 02:28 PM   #7
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Don't "move over", get off the road!

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Why should one cyclist doing 15 mph slow up a whole lane of cars in a 45 mph zone?
Because 45 MPH is a MAXIMUM, not a minimum, nor even an "ideal" speed.

Should a cyclist hold up a line of cars? Of course not.

What should be his reaction?

My opinion: COMPLETELY yield the road (i.e., go to the sidewalk/shoulder and dismount the bicycle) to clear traffic.
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Old 03-09-09, 08:10 PM   #8
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...As a transportation planning professional, I am shocked (SHOCKED!) that "vehicular cycling" is unknown, but the advocacy for bike lanes and paths is overwhelming. In reality, what better "bike lanes" do we have than our own city streets?

As a cyclist who has been around bike advocacy since the early 70's I am shocked (SHOCKED!) that a transportation planning professional thinks that "vehicular cycling" is unknown. What rock did you just climb out from under? Had you been involved at all in transportation planning over the past 4 decades I don't see how you missed the fact that it has been dominated by vehicular cyclists like John Allen and John Forester- "bike experts" often to the detriment and in direct opposition to bicycle infrastructure in this country.

The United States, unlike the Netherlands, covers a vast and diverse topography and one size fits all solutions don't necessarily work every where. What is working in American cities like Portland and NYC is an introduction of infrastructure- it may not be for every town or city in the US but it's working there. And BTW I ride vehicularly with great regularity and think it has tremendous merit but the simplistic thinking expressed in phrases like "what better 'bike lanes' do we have than our own city streets?" just doesn't match up with any reality I've seen that makes such a blanket statement the least bit plausible.

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In my years as a transportation planner, I have never even HEARD of a cyclist being run over by a motorcar driver directly from behind.
You might want to do a little research on that little misconception you seem to harboring there.
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Old 03-09-09, 09:47 PM   #9
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Buzzman, I had a detailed response but it got lost in outer space somewhere, so I'll boil it down to this:

A vehicular cyclist has 4 conflict points at an intersection and cyclist in a bicycle path has 5.

Four is safer than five.
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Old 03-10-09, 12:14 AM   #10
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I think a fair amount of american cycling actually IS 'vehicular cycling, Patrick.

US communities that seek to accommodate cyclists thru infrastructure enhancements do not conflict with vehicular cycling.

every community with a bike master plan officially recognizes on-street cycling.

riding on public streets is the foundation and will remain a backbone of american bicycling transportation policy.

you're in transportation planning, eh? you haven't been fired for gross incompetence yet?

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Old 03-10-09, 12:26 AM   #11
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Buzzman, I had a detailed response but it got lost in outer space somewhere, so I'll boil it down to this:

A vehicular cyclist has 4 conflict points at an intersection and cyclist in a bicycle path has 5.

Four is safer than five.

And I'll boil my response down to this:

I ride 8 miles of my 10.2 mile commute to work in downtown Boston on a bike path. In the 8 miles of bike path I cross 6 intersections. When I take the streets route I cross 88 intersections in the slightly under 9 mile trip.

Do the math: Street's Route- 352 "conflict points."

Bike Path Route- 30 "conflict points."

According to your "theory" 30 is more than 10 x's "safer" than 352.

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you're in transportation planning, eh? you haven't been fired for gross incompetence yet?

+1

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Old 03-10-09, 05:48 AM   #12
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you're in transportation planning, eh? you haven't been fired for gross incompetence yet?
No. Everywhere I have worked, there has been no real "planning" for bicycles, other than painting bicycle lanes, building MUPs, off-road trails, and installing bike racks. The consideration of bicycles actually being on the city streets has always been "taboo" - bicycles should be in/on their separate facilities has been the mantra. Granted, I haven't lived in the most "progressive" of places, but the most "progressive" of places never tout their excellent vehicular cycling planning, i.e. Portland, the Netherlands, etc.
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Old 03-10-09, 05:51 AM   #13
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And I'll boil my response down to this:

I ride 8 miles of my 10.2 mile commute to work in downtown Boston on a bike path. In the 8 miles of bike path I cross 6 intersections. When I take the streets route I cross 88 intersections in the slightly under 9 mile trip.

Do the math: Street's Route- 352 "conflict points."

Bike Path Route- 30 "conflict points."

According to your "theory" 30 is more than 10 x's "safer" than 352.
Yes, that separate facility is safer than the street. However, not every route has it's own separate facility. This is my point.
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Old 03-10-09, 06:09 AM   #14
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However, not every route has it's own separate facility. This is my point.
Really? Well, I'll be danged. Thanks for the "point." Who wudda thunk it?
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Old 03-10-09, 06:23 AM   #15
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Really? Well, I'll be danged. Thanks for the "point." Who wudda thunk it?
Yes, in the beginning I noted that I grew up riding on separate facilities, but shied away from cycling in America because there were not separate facilities, until I realized that one could bicycle safely on city streets by using your bicycle as a vehicular.

Bike lanes and paths will remain marginal - not because they are unsafe (they may or not be, it all depends on how much thought and design has been put into them) - but because the vast, vast majority of the United States will not build them [safely].

Not everywhere is Portland, and not everywhere will BE Portland. Portland did not shape it's residents as much as its residents shaped it.
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Old 03-10-09, 07:33 AM   #16
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Because 45 MPH is a MAXIMUM, not a minimum, nor even an "ideal" speed.

Should a cyclist hold up a line of cars? Of course not.

What should be his reaction?

My opinion: COMPLETELY yield the road (i.e., go to the sidewalk/shoulder and dismount the bicycle) to clear traffic.
My opinion- provide a slightly wider right lane that gives plenty of room for cars to pass. Taking the lane doing 15 mph and stacking cars up behind you, simply because you can, is a terrible idea because it adds to congestion and pollution. Giving some ground and actually being courteous to drivers seems to work much better for me.

A friend I sometimes ride with is big on taking the lane. It seems to me all he does is piss off drivers. I don't want drivers pissed at me, I want them to think I'm being as accommodating as possible to them. Good manners can be infectious.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-10-09, 08:15 AM   #17
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My opinion- provide a slightly wider right lane that gives plenty of room for cars to pass. Taking the lane doing 15 mph and stacking cars up behind you, simply because you can, is a terrible idea because it adds to congestion and pollution. Giving some ground and actually being courteous to drivers seems to work much better for me.

A friend I sometimes ride with is big on taking the lane. It seems to me all he does is piss off drivers. I don't want drivers pissed at me, I want them to think I'm being as accommodating as possible to them. Good manners can be infectious.
Yes, this is why yielding the lane is the best thing to do. Of course, if the lane or shoulder is wide enough to continue cycling safely, there may be no need to dismount. However, these wide lanes and shoulders are more rare than they are common. Just as a courteous motorcar operator will "pull over" to let the faster drivers by, so should the bicyclist. Without a separate facility, the bicycle shares the road and follows the same rules as any other vehicle. When there is a separate facility, the rules change - and in those ruled changes is where the danger lies, especially among a public that has only ever driven motorcars.
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Old 03-10-09, 08:23 AM   #18
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Not everywhere is Portland, and not everywhere will BE Portland. Portland did not shape it's residents as much as its residents shaped it.
I'd guess that 99% of the cyclists who do not live in or visit Portland are not all that concerned about the shape of Portland or its cycling environment. Believe it or not, Portlandis not the center of the cycling universe and neither is California or any other specific location despite what some strident experts may claim.
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Old 03-10-09, 08:27 AM   #19
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a cyclist that thinks they should yield to traffic overtaking from behind by completely leaving the roadway has a few more things to figure out about 'vehicular' cycling.

troll.
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Old 03-10-09, 09:41 AM   #20
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a cyclist that thinks they should yield to traffic overtaking from behind by completely leaving the roadway has a few more things to figure out about 'vehicular' cycling.

troll.
Hey, that's what I do in a motorcar, why does it not apply to a bicycle?

Or, is a bicycle not a vehicle? Are there a separate set of "rules" for bicycles?
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Old 03-10-09, 09:49 AM   #21
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Do you get off the streets during rush hour, patrick? how long have you been riding 'american style'?

if you rode a bike like that in traffic you'd never be able to get anywhere. that traffic system fails miserably as an accomodation model for bicyclists.

so does plugging or attempting to plug a significant number of bicyclists onto american road infrastructure.

10 percent bike rider share along a narrow laned, high ADT, high speed road with curbs and those motorists will be frustrated to say the least- if a community could actually induce that much ridership along that type of high-demand corridor.

that traffic system fails miserably as well.

further accomodations are desired when considering bikes in the transportation mix along american road networks.



care to discuss the difference in participation rates between cyclists in the netherlands versus the US?

what cause the differences between senior citizen rider participation between Germany or the netherlands versus the USA, transportation planner?

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Old 03-10-09, 10:14 AM   #22
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Do you get off the streets during rush hour, patrick? how long have you been riding 'american style'?
No, I don't get off the street. I also do not make the mistake of riding outside of downtown. If you ride on arterial highways designed for high speeds and high AADT, that is your own mistake. An even bigger mistake would be to ride to the right, "out of the way" on such streets. Too many people are hit from the side; riding to the right of such traffic is flat out dangerous. Most American streets outside of the low volume, low speed city streets are too dangerous, not only for bicyclists but for motorists as well. I am not about to say otherwise.

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care to discuss the difference in participation rates between cyclists in the netherlands versus the US?

what cause the differences between senior citizen rider participation between Germany or the netherlands versus the USA, transportation planner?
Land use causes the difference. In the Netherlands and Germany, cities are built for people. They continue with thousands of years of Tradition. In America, Tradition has been thrown off to the side - here it is a Brave New World of the motorcar and suburbia.

This: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/1779043.jpg

Versus this: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1099/...3f4fc4.jpg?v=0
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Old 03-10-09, 10:47 AM   #23
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My opinion- provide a slightly wider right lane that gives plenty of room for cars to pass. Taking the lane doing 15 mph and stacking cars up behind you, simply because you can, is a terrible idea because it adds to congestion and pollution. Giving some ground and actually being courteous to drivers seems to work much better for me.

A friend I sometimes ride with is big on taking the lane. It seems to me all he does is piss off drivers. I don't want drivers pissed at me, I want them to think I'm being as accommodating as possible to them. Good manners can be infectious.
Think they will ever rip up Camp Bowie Boulevard to "provide a slightly wider right lane?"
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Old 03-10-09, 11:10 AM   #24
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I also do not make the mistake of riding outside of downtown.

Huh? I guess I make that mistake quite often, as I don't live "downtown."
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Old 03-10-09, 11:14 AM   #25
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Most American streets outside of the low volume, low speed city streets are too dangerous, not only for bicyclists but for motorists as well. I am not about to say otherwise.
Patrick,
Are you actually paid for being a "traffic planner" or you just studying/dabbling in the field? I find it hard to believe anyone pays real money for the plans from someone so wrapped up in dogma.
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