Which came first... the chicken or the egg? Is the culture a result of government... or was government created to benefit the people.
Which came first... the chicken or the egg? Is the culture a result of government... or was government created to benefit the people.
As to the larger scale planning discussed in the article, yes some things can be built "incorrectly." For example., the cul-de-sac communities probably worked for a lot of people because gas was cheap when they were built, but the design did not foresee rising energy prices and health problems from the resultant decrease in active transportation (e.g. walking) whereas the grid layout of Manhattan has effectively moved people around for centuries and has been able to adapt to changing trends.
More of a bad thing doesn't magically make it a good thing. If the field of dreams concept were valid some bike infrastructure would lead to some increase in ridership. In that case, it could be argued that we see a correlation and could test it by seeing of more or better infrastructure leads to yet more ridership.
The premise that a lack of evidence of correlation can be talked away with the "you just didn't do it right" argument is a classic attempt to talk ones way around failure.
As a micro example, Broadway Street is the main street running through the center of Oakland (my hometown). From the base of the hills to the waterfront, the dedicated car lanes and the sidewalk both run continuously for the entire length of the street. But the bike infrastructure transitions several times, from bike lane to bike sharrow to nothing at all. This puts the cycling infrastructure at a distinct disadvantage, and it's hard to gauge its effectiveness when it's not nearly equal to other infrastructures.
I consider pedestrian connectors between cul-de-sacs and enclosed neighborhoods an excellent urban planning option that's not used nearly enough. Here in Westchester, I can cite dozens of examples where one has to go 2-3 miles or more to go between two houses 50 yards apart.
Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
First, US census data only captures people who commute >50% by bicycle.
So, it leaves out anyone who commutes to a subway/train station by bicycle, then completes the rest of the route by, uh subway/train, and walking, if the rest of the route is just a bit more than bicycle.
You think that doesn't happen in the real world? Think again.
Oddly, the secure cages at Alewife filled as soon as they built them. The added another secure cage this year, and it's filled.
BTW, in the United States, we spend more per capita on AUTOMOBILE PARKING then we do on bicycling. So don't make me laugh about the "billions" we spend each year on bicycle infrastructure. We spend about 1 billion per year year on bicycle infrastructure. That includes U posts BTW. (And five inch paint line that would have been painted anyway.)
A MUP to a transit station is a HUGE win - yet the folks who post the most think it doesn't matter.
Okay, I'll bite. (as usual).
I made reference in an earlier post to a discussion I had with an urban planner (currently working for HUD), who is interested in developing infrastructural changes on Cape Cod that would include and prioritize bicycling and walking in various villages, towns and neighborhoods.
This impetus is a direct outgrowth of the Rails to Trails Cape Cod bike path which runs up a good portion of Cape Cod. The Rail Trail began as recreational use trail and became wildly popular within years of having been built. So, as far as recreational riders, absolutely, "Yes, if you build it they will come." happened here. BUT that is only the beginning. After a few years, locals, seasonal residents and seasonal workers began using the path for transportation between towns. Wait staff at restaurants, kitchen help, all the summer workers, often of student age come to the Cape without cars and the path became the way to get around. Tourists began to favor summer rentals right on the bike path or near it and would make many of their daily forays to the beach and nearby locations by bike as opposed to struggling with Cape traffic nightmares on Route 6.
Suddenly bikes were in every town that lined the path but the problem is that many of the roads on the Cape are not conducive to cycling. They are narrow, twisty, lots of sand on the shoulders, poorly lit at night and populated in the summer months with clueless, distracted and often inebriated tourist drivers.
The problem is Cape Cod is ideal for cycling for scenery, milder winter weather with relatively flat roads but has poorly designed infrastructure so bicycling tends to be limited to the bike path and some adjoining roads and streets. The plan is to begin to add more bike lanes, make more connections with separated infrastructure and extend the rail trails further down the Cape. Add to this plans for a bike share system that will tie into a new rail system as well as making sure buses and trains can accommodate bikes.
Maybe you, and others, don't see it this way. But I see this kind of thinking and these kinds of changes as a direct result of added infrastructure. None of the above changes would have been conceived of without the Rail Trail and the thousands of cyclists it attracts yearly. Cape Cod is now considering making itself even more of a "cyclist destination" because of the positive economic benefits that come with it. How will they attract more cyclists? More infrastructure!
The metric I prefer is one that measures whether separated paths, mostly MUPs, are getting light, medium or heavy usage. Infrastructure is built and either people are choosing to use it or they are not. Comparisons to auto usage are interesting and worth considering but my primary focus is on path usage. I would also point out that MUPs are not exclusive for bikes. In measuring the level of usage, all modes must be counted.
I can't speak to bike paths all over the country. Taking the Boston area's Minuteman Bike Path, I can tell you I avoid it on nice weather weekends in the summer. The traffic is often very heavy. According to this website, http://www.brucefreemanrailtrail.org...012/index.html, a one-hour peak that was counted during September, 2012 found there were 462 users. In my view, that is the defining "mode share" metric we should care about.
If you build it will they really come? The answer, at least for this bike path, is clearly yes.
And one additional point about segregated bike paths. Our local bike club frequently includes a nearby MUP on our route. The MUP is roughly one-half of our overall ride. We have many novice riders who will not come with us on the roads. They take their cars and meet us for a ride on the bike path. By incorporating a MUP into our route, we see ourselves as being more "inclusive". Also, while on the path, the demographics are significantly different than road-riding cyclists. We see many more walkers. We see way more kids and families. This has nothing to do with "mode share". This is about people who are out getting exercise in a place they find enjoyable and safe. Would you argue that we should not have parks because they haven't been shown to proportionately decrease auto usage? MUPs are like parks.
As for discussions of whether governments are competent or inept, I would only say that if you see poor cycling infrastructure design (and I do), do something about it ... or at least try to. I truly do not understand all the negative energy in this forum. For experienced cyclists to be arguing against safer, more extensive infrastructure to buffer young kids and novice riders from cars is the height of elitism. "I do fine riding on the roads and if you can't handle it then take up knitting" is not the battle cry I think we should be rallying around.
Finally, if your primary objection to increased infrastructure is that "the metrics aren't there", what's your plan to get more people interested in cycling ... or is that someone else's job?
In that "golden age" of bikes in Davis, there wasn't really a contiguous bike infrastructure. There was a side path on the main drag that was the site of most of the injury-accidents I knew of and then there were three north/south bike lanes and two east/west bike lanes. Riding in town was pretty evenly split between roads with bike lanes and roads without. However, it really didn't matter since there were almost no cars in use. Starting in the late '80s and continuing to present, there has been a massive build-out of bike facilities of varying quality.
Yeah, in Davis, they built it and the bicyclists not only didn't come, they left. That said, I'm sure most communities would feel invaded by bikes if they had the 15% that Davis currently enjoys. It's just that 15% is quite low compared to the historical use in that locale.
I don't generally buy into the build it and they'll come concept, but believe that the existence of infrastructure probably influences ridership at the fringes, namely that segment willing and maybe even eager to ride to work, but seriously uncomfortable in traffic.
I don't think this i a large segment, but know of some individuals that fit the criteria.
OTOH-whether infrastructure makes a difference is difficult to prove because it's so prone to statistical bias. If you survey an avenue before and after adding infrastructure, you'll see an increase. But you don't know if it's simply a diversion from the nearby streets. Likewise but opposite if you survey a street where infrastructure was added to a nearby parallel.
IMO- the field dreams concept does hold in isolated cases, namely where it makes bicycle commuting possible where it hadn't been before. Case in point NYC's East River crossings. Prior to improvements in bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure only a few brave souls would take them on. Some bridges had no access, others had poor access or ended in very intimidating (being polite) neighborhoods. After NYC made serious improvements the bicycle mode across the East River expanded exponentially.
I'd suspect you'd see comparable changes in CA if a bike path were added parallel to some freeways that are the only through narrow passes, and going by bicycle would be a large detour around the choke point. Therefore IMO, probably the best bang for the buck will be building infrastructure to break through these bicycle barriers, rather than just to make now passable roads more attractive.
Disclaimer, the above is opinion, so feel free to disagree.
Second, with regard to your statement about "the topic of this thread", I think it's fair to say that there are at least two topics being discussed. The first topic, at least as it relates to the OP, is as you stated. The second topic, however, is whether infrastructure increases ridership and whether we should therefore invest in more infrastructure. This second theme, which as I stated should be the criterion we use to determine whether to build more infrastructure rather than using "modal share", has also been a key part of the discussion in this thread.
All sorts of things would have to change to make huge progress on modal share. To suggest that segregated bike paths have failed because they have not, as an isolated factor, converted more car commuters to cycling commuters is an unreasonable expectation. All kinds of other physical, psychological and cultural changes are needed to end America's auto worship. Just building a segregated bike path will never be enough.
Again, though, building segregated paths creates a resource for many riders who would not otherwise ride or who would ride much less. It seems like some on BF don't agree with that and don't value it as an objective. I almost never see kids cycling on the roads where I live. It seems like we've lost an entire generation to our toxic car culture. I see plenty of kids on the bike paths, though. Seems like a good thing to me. Perhaps someday a few of those kids will become cycle commuters. We have to start somewhere. The pessimists around here seem to think it's time to give up because the experiment has already failed.
Year: Total including Hudson River Greenway, (Hudson River Greenway)
2000: 5072, (0)
2001: 4343, (0)
2002: 4949, (1056)
2003: 6207, (1490)
2004: 6088, (1304)
2005: 5532, (1129)
2006: 7253, (964)
2007: 8878, (1852)
2008: 9027, (2775)
2009: 12947, (3573)
2010: 15379, (3610)
2011: 15055, (3567)
2000 is included to show the effects of 9/11/2001. The total number of people entering at the 60th St screen line did not reach its 2000 level until 2008.
I wonder if a more important question is—if you don't build it, will they come?
Will 8-year-olds ride to school without safe segregated infrastructure? Will the average mom or grandma ride to the store for dinner stuff?
All the other cyclist I've met and talked to... also seem to have a love for cycling. People of my age remember the pure joy of cycling before the expenditure of taxpayer treasure. We cycle because we love to cycle.... not because government has gifted us with infrastructure. Cyclist built the sport, hobby, habit of cycling..... not politicians.
With the exception of high speed expressways there isn't a road, lane, or street on the entire planet that doesn't have cyclist pedaling on it. Yet.... the infrastructure crowd thinks that cyclist will (magically somehow) benefit if they are pushed onto MUPs? I think some people are just... afraid of traffic... and are trying to high-jack alternate transportation to cater to their own fears.
However.... nearly 80 years ago my father received a ballooned tired Roll Faster [brand] bicycle from his stepfather under the condition that Dad would repay his stepfather for the bicycle from his earnings from delivering newspapers. Dad also rode his bicycle to school. Over a half a century ago... I also rode my bicycle to school. My brother rode his bicycle to deliver newspapers as well as cycling to school. THERE WAS NO INFRASTRUCTURE.
My wife and I do bicycle together (and yes the grandkids do call her grandma).
And some of the kids also bicycle.... all of the grandkids enjoy bicycles. Although I am the serious cyclist of the bunch. The grandkids think of bicycles as more of a toy... and so do their parents.
So the answer? Yeah... a percentage of a few.... have loved bicycles for over a century. And likely will a century from now. Some of us will be commuters, students, kids and/or grandparents. Cycling will both rise and fall in popularity as a sport and as a hobby. There might even be a period of time when alternate transportation becomes popular and trendy... for a while.
But ON ONE.... looks for more energy wasting ways to cook, clean, raise kids, or get from here to there. People bicycle... because the love cycling. Those of us who cycle realized we will always be a small percentage of the population.
When I grew up in NYC, schools had bike racks, and they were used. This is before anyone spoke of separate infrastructure. In most communities children ride bicycles on their residential streets, they ride to the park, library and so on. No infrastructure needed.
OTOH- if there's a residential separated from the school with 1/4 miles on a 4 lane artery as the only route, the answer might be no.
People used to let their children ride bicycles with little thought of the danger, though most parents made some effort to teach about traffic. Bicycling's image as dangerous is a very recent phenomenon, partly brought about by increased participation, and the constant hammering about helmet use.
Let me be clear, more participation doesn't change the rate of accidents, but it raises the number. So when the sport was unpopular we didn't hear about that many accidents, but with higher numbers everybody has a third hand story about somebody's death on a bike.
Years ago I was deeply involved in the hosteling movement. Our organization sent thousands of kids on bicycle tours all over and across the USA and Europe. (before cell phones, the internet, and FAX, or bicycle helmets) The death and injury rates we saw were very comparable to those of summer camps (we had crashes, they had drownings).
Despite what people believe, bicycling is safe on non-arterials, and while some infrastructure may be indicated, it's the icing, not the cake. Infrastructure doesn't lead to more bicycling, bicycling leads to calls for infrastructure. If there weren't already large numbers of bicyclists, nobody in politics would be spending tax money to accommodate them.
In that case I, too, would call your attention to similar paths leading in and out of DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and the Hudson Greenway in NYC. And I am only too happy to point out that places like Falmouth on Cape Cod have areas of population density that could constitute a definition of "urban" and those are some of the areas that urban planners are looking at adding bike infrastructure to revitalize those areas.
These MUP's are attractive to large numbers of riders often initially for recreational purposes but eventually serve as corridors for bicycle travel of all kinds. And there is no doubt that they not only draw riders to them but they are a gateway to cycling for thousands of new riders every year.
And @Dave Cutter needs to brush up on his history especially with respect to bicycle riders and "the government". Read the history of the League of American Wheelmen and how their early advocacy led to governmental investment in our roadways and what eventually became our entire highway system. Who does he thinks pays for those roads that cyclists ride on? Who does he thinks builds those roads? Not the government?!! And that it doesn't get political around highway expenditures? It's all politics. Please, those of us who've been around long before all this infrastructure talk hopefully have the wisdom to know that.
And, Dave, when I started riding, racing and touring in the late 1960's there were less than 200,000,000 people in the United States driving 85,000,000 cars there are now more than 310,000,000 people driving 285,000,000 cars on roughly the same number of roads. Think that might contribute to the desire for bike infrastructure?