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a manifesto on infrastructure

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a manifesto on infrastructure

Old 08-15-13, 05:42 PM
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squirtdad
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a manifesto on infrastructure

Ok not a manifesto but my general thoughts any way

A lot of discussion goes on about infrastructure in A&S, and it is often pretty absolutist with a single solution being the fix for all things wrong with cycling

The infrastructure, using term broadly and with my comments,includes

• Streets/roads. The minimum standard, requires cyclist to be comfortable with the roads ridden. Comfort can vary, many people are ok with riding in wide low traffic neighborhoods, but would not want to ride on narrow shoulders of Highway 2 in Montana.

• Sharrows. Just a road with stencils. I am personally very skeptical about these as most people I ask have no ideas what they are. May make some people more comfortable or ok with asserting right to the road.


• Bike lanes. Part of road, no physical barriers from cars. Clear markings and understanding make it clear to all cylists belong. Quality varies widely primarily due to amount of real estate provided for the lanes.

• Bikeways (many names). Bike only facility some physical barrier separating bicycle traffic from vehicle traffic. Gets great amount of discussion in this forum, with many people believing that this type of infrastructure will bring more cyclist out on the streets. Personally to me many of the designs seem overly optimistic in terms of human behavior in regards to following lights, rules and not having walkers, cars etc in the bikeway.


• Multi use paths. Combined walk, bike, horse etc paths. Often along rivers and associated with parks. May or may not be helpful in bike commuting. Not a place to go fast.

In discussions of increasing ridership, people point to use of physically separated infrastructure as needed to get people cycling who are afraid to bike otherwise.

A different way to look at it is to think about is to think door to door for any trip.

Unless a person put’s their bike on a car/bus/other or has their perfect infrastructure that goes from their abode to their destination, a door to door trip will include bicycling on streets and then on whatever infrastructure is on the way to the cyclist destination.

Except for very limited cases, door to door trips will always include some riding on streets with no infrastructure and people need to be comfortable with that.

Thinking that way, what is the best infrastructure to increase ridership ?

In my opinion expanding bike lanes is more likely to increase riders than adding separated bikeways, because you can put in a lot more bike lanes in for the same money, reducing the amount of “just” streets people have to ride on, which should increase riders comfort.

The target for expanding cycling should not be focused on the lowest common denominator…the person who is afraid to ride on any street, but should be focused on people who are comfortable riding on their block or MUP, but not in more traffic situations, in other words the people who would most appreciate a bike lane.

Bikeways may have some utility in crowded down town city areas, but not as the first choice for bike infrastructure, but otherwise will have low ROI in terms of riders vs cost.
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Old 08-15-13, 06:07 PM
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Except for very limited cases, door to door trips will always include some riding on streets with no infrastructure and people need to be comfortable with that.

Thinking that way, what is the best infrastructure to increase ridership ?
OK my thinking is tainted by what I see in southern California... so as stated, this may not apply everywhere. My biggest complaint is with regard to high speed arterial roads. Here in this area such roads have been speed inflated to 50MPH typically. Throw in a few freeway style wide turns and multilane turns and you have a real problem for all but the most astute cyclist.

So my plan, or rather what I would like to see, is that any such 50 MPH road should have proper separated paths for cyclists and proper separated sidewalks for pedestrians. Lower than 40MPH and bike lanes are fine, lower than 35MPH and we simply share what ever is there. I certainly have no issue with sharing 25MPH roads with motorists... and in fact I find that vehicular cycling works quite well at speeds under 30MPH.

But at 50MPH, cyclists are rolling obstacles, and are easily overlooked, and a thin line of paint that gives a cyclist some mere 4-5 feet of maneuvering room just inches away from 1 ton vehicles moving at 50MPH or faster, well that is just a joke, and not a good one. I see cyclists trying to avoid that issue daily... they ride the sidewalks, or walk their bikes or flat out, they give up.

Recently I have seen some attempts to improve this situation... but I don't know how well this is going to work... the local road engineers have been adding a 2 foot buffer to the 5 foot bike lane... it looks safer, but now motorists are just using that area as their extra lane... only time will tell.
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Old 08-15-13, 06:12 PM
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Oh and regarding "bikeways." I hate the term. This general catchall phrase covers everything from sidewalks pushed to be used for cyclists, to "park paths" meant for 10MPH riders, to bike highways, which are well designed structures with wide radius turns, and on ramps and good signage. There are some dramatic differences in what a bikeway can be... and in discussions I guarantee that everyone thinks of their worst case design.

Also while sidepaths are bikeways, but bike paths do not have to be sidepaths... so again that general term can be very misleading.
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Old 08-15-13, 06:12 PM
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squirtdad
We no doubt ride on the same infrastructure as one another, and I was thinking very similar thoughts on my commute this morning. I sometimes ride on San Tomas Expwy (55mph speed limits, no bike lanes, wide shoulders, few intersections), I sometimes ride on Los Padres (25 mph speed limits, door zone bike lanes) I also moved here from the east - and the biggest difference is not the infrastructure, but the drivers. Driver attitude trumps all, and I don't think that California does enough to encourage safe driving.

Bike lanes like what they have on Los Padres are worse than nothing, since they encourage cyclists to ride in the door zone, and they tell motorists that cyclists should ride in the door zone, and don't have a right to the road.

If I were emperor, to expand cycling, I would dramatically step up enforcement of all safety related moving violations (speed, close passing, etc), and put the money raised into education.

There is no infrastructure that would do so much to encourage cycling as having drivers on the road who respected cyclists and behaved in a safe manner.
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Old 08-15-13, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by sauerwald View Post
squirtdad
We no doubt ride on the same infrastructure as one another, and I was thinking very similar thoughts on my commute this morning. I sometimes ride on San Tomas Expwy (55mph speed limits, no bike lanes, wide shoulders, few intersections), I sometimes ride on Los Padres (25 mph speed limits, door zone bike lanes) I also moved here from the east - and the biggest difference is not the infrastructure, but the drivers. Driver attitude trumps all, and I don't think that California does enough to encourage safe driving.

Bike lanes like what they have on Los Padres are worse than nothing, since they encourage cyclists to ride in the door zone, and they tell motorists that cyclists should ride in the door zone, and don't have a right to the road.

If I were emperor, to expand cycling, I would dramatically step up enforcement of all safety related moving violations (speed, close passing, etc), and put the money raised into education.

There is no infrastructure that would do so much to encourage cycling as having drivers on the road who respected cyclists and behaved in a safe manner.
Quite true. Proper education of all road users which would start in the lower grades and progress just as we teach math, would change the whole environment...
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Old 08-15-13, 10:59 PM
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My primary complaint about "bicycle infrastructure" is dangerous infrastructure that although it may make some riders "feel" safer it actually puts them in more danger. Door zone bike lanes and side-paths that are not properly routed through cross-street intersections are two excellent examples and that the installation of such infrastructure almost always comes with both motorists expectations and usually actual encoded laws and local ordinances requiring cyclists to use such dangerous infrastructure and denying them their rights to ride on the road instead if they so choose. I had a city cop in Kalispell, MT (lcoal ordinance in place that requires use of bicycle infrastructure) try to give me a ticket for using the left hand turn lane to make a left hand turn when I was "supposed to be in the bike lane" which was all the way on the right side of the road on a four lane road with two lanes south-bound and one lane north-bound with a turning lane in-between. The road has a speed limit of 30-mph and I was south bound taking a left hand turn at a signal light intersection into the fair grounds. So, the cop apparently expected me to take a left hand turn from the bike lane on the far right edge of the road crossing two lanes of south bound traffic, the vehicle left hand turn lane, and the single oncoming lane at a signal light intersection !?!?!? Yah, that's going to work out a whole lot better then safely merging over to the left hand turn lane and waiting at the light like everyone else and then just having to cross just the oncoming lane. After I explained the issue to him he respond that I should have just used the pedestrian cross walks at which point I asked him if I would then be in violation of the city's ordinance that bicycles were not allowed on the side-walks and he had no answer for that question. I then pointed out to him that State law specifically gives bicycles the right to make full use of the main vehicle traffic lanes when preparing for a left hand turn and if he though that where the local city ordinance and the state law were in direct opposition to each other which one would stand up in court. He finally walked off and got back in his cop car and left apparently realizing that I knew more about the law then he did especially when I pulled out my pamphlet with the actual state laws and local ordinances in question and read them off to him word for word.

This is the kind of &@&%*#&# ($&##@ %@#&) !$@!#^%&# !%$^& !%$^ I have come to expect as the result of "bicycle infrastructure". The money would be far better spent just giving more high speed roadways decently paved wider shoulder edges. I don't mind a little bit of paint work as well but it needs to be done by someone with actually half a brain in their head that is actually an experienced cyclist that actually rides the roads and has a freaking clue and there needs to be a very clear mandate at at least the state level that use of bicycle infrastructure cannot be mandated and cyclists still retain the right to use the roads. If you build decent infrastructure you don't need to mandate its use for cyclists to make use of it. Only with dangerous and inconvenient bicycle infrastructure do you need to mandate its use to get cyclists to use it.
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Old 08-19-13, 01:59 AM
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Poorly designed / built / maintained bike infrastructure is actually worse than having no infrastructure at all. Unless the community has resources and political will (or legal requirement) to do it properly, they shouldn't do it all IMO. Building good infrastructure is a long term effort, far beyond one election cycle, so it needs wider concensus within the community to succeed.

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