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Old 03-10-14, 06:33 AM   #1
Fargo Wolf
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Another Calgary Sun Story

According to a story in today's Calgary Sun: Build it and they won't come. Both Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR have both built extensive bike paths, but, very few cyclist are actually using them.

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Old 03-10-14, 07:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Fargo Wolf View Post
According to a story in today's Calgary Sun: Build it and they won't come. Both Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR have both built extensive bike paths, but, very few cyclist are actually using them.

I stopped reading at "peddlers." Not an auspicious barometer for the rest of the piece.
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Old 03-10-14, 09:03 AM   #3
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I've always felt that infrastructure is built to accommodate existing travel patterns, rather than to drive them. There are many factors that determine whether people will take up bicycle commuting, including cost, convenience, distance, age, and life situation.

With exceptions, cycle commuting is the province of young urban singles. When folks marry and have children, family needs often make the bicycle lifestyle impractical, or at least more inconvenient, so people adjust. They may also move farther from work and then the bike gives way to alternatives.

So it shouldn't surprise anybody that the number of cycle commuters plateaus, as most of all likely to do so are, and others aren't interested no matter what the infrastructure is.

Also, consider that there's an attention span (for lack of a better word) factor wherein people take up cycling, do it for a few years than move on to something new. This has always been a few years for cycling, and it makes sense that it's similar for cycle commuting. So for a few years the idea is new, and trendy and lots of people take it up. After a while the novelty is gone, fewer people are taking it up, and more people are dropping out through normal attrition.

However, the plateau or slight reduction isn't necessarily a reason to abandon infrastructure. It's more a matter of setting reasonable expectations and goals, and basing decisions on that.
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Old 03-10-14, 01:38 PM   #4
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That's not a news 'story,' but an opinion piece, clearly labeled as such. That's not to say the information is wrong or invalid, necessarily, but it does mean that it's written from a certain point of view and the writer may well be very selective about the 'facts' backing up their argument. Many comments on it are from the 'cyclists are elitists' and 'they need to get off the road' crowd, to whom it is presumably addressed.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:43 PM   #5
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The writer's characterization of Portland's bike infrastructure is a bit inaccurate. It is fragmented, particularly when one eliminates door-zone bike lanes and intersections in what are supposed to be main bike routes that give absolute priority to motorized cross traffic from the maps. They built it, primarily for motorists, and people stayed in their cars in droves.

Portland is a victim of the rise of the sort of segregationist who gets very excited about a short, disconnected stretch of segregated infrastructure but isn't worried about the worst parts of the total journey. That's not to say they haven't done a lot of good work (bridge crossings, signal timing), but the need to not inconvenience cars coupled with a sense that the further out of the way bikes are placed the better has caused the plateau, IMO.

Eugene, OR, where I live, has a similar set of problems. As illustration, let me recount some driving I did last week. My sort-of-adopted daughter called. Everyone in the house was sick and she needed me to drive all over town for supplies and to pick up her husband from the hospital. These trips involved 55 miles, of which 20 were on the freeway. Out of boredom and curiosity, I began counting the number of seconds I was required to wait at intersections. I waited 84 seconds total at 24 intersections, which is less than four seconds per intersection, or one and one-half seconds per mile. The following day, I had some errands of my own to do. As is my custom, I got on a bike and chose the fastest routes that still met my safety preferences. In ten miles I waited ten minutes at twenty intersections, for an average of thirty seconds per intersection or a minute per mile.

As long as we prioritize motorized travel, we should not be surprised that people choose to travel by car. And this is a one-sided game of waiting. When I ride longer distances, I often keep track of how long I have to wait for cars and how long any motorists have to wait on me. I've never had a ride in which motorists wait anywhere near as long for me as I wait for them. For example, today's ride involved me waiting 110 seconds for motorists and one car waiting two seconds for me.

We've built part of something, and they haven't come. I think it's premature to dismiss the benefits of properly designed and implemented infrastructure (we have so little), but we desperately need to improve what we are building in the way of cycling infrastructure, both the physical infrastructure and the enforcement regimes that are required to make it work.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:23 AM   #6
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Semi-literate gomer gets his knickers in a twist on the idiotorial page of the local fishwrap/used car flyer.

In other news, dog bites man.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:47 AM   #7
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The only thing I found interesting on that page was the "Sunshine Girl."
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Coffee is already a good antioxidant and it should be like a good cycling kit - black.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:56 AM   #8
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Portland has issues...

The cycling infrastructure is well developed, particularly in the core and attracts great numbers of cyclists but as you move outward there are communities that are still waiting for sidewalks and paved streets.

Economic conditions in Portland also mean that the largest number of low income families live in this areas and there are some demographics where cycling is only seen as an option for people who are too poor to drive.

Portland is not as well off as Calgary or Edmonton but also does not suffer from 6 months of winter... we have a ridership rate of 1% in the nice months and this will drop off in the winter a great deal and feel that no matter how nice the infrastructure is, the weather poses a barrier to most.
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Old 03-11-14, 12:14 PM   #9
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I'm all for continuing to improve the cycling infrastructure, but seriously doubt it will ever have a serious impact motor vehicle use outside urban centers. How people live will need to change before they change how they move about.
Most people who use a bicycle for transportation do it because its their only choice, are cycling enthusiasts, or as part of their personal beliefs.

For me, road suitability and distance aren't an issue, its terrain, long steep hills beyond my abilities and desire to deal with after a days work.
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