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If you build it, they will come.

Old 08-08-08, 07:32 PM
  #1  
FlyingAnchor
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If you build it, they will come.

I don't want a debate about bike paths vs road but this is related as you will see.

Remember the movie "Field of Dream"? The whole premise was if you build the field the people will come.

Same premise regarding the building of roads, the building of roads doesn't really alleviate congestion, it promotes it. When you build a road to alleviate congestion more motor vehicles show up to make use of them.

Why can't this work for bikes, just make tons of paths (planned of course) and more people will ride on them.

Please don't get sidetracked on the road vs bike path endless debate ok.

Steven
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Old 08-08-08, 07:58 PM
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I'm all for bike paths. I regularly see more (cyclists) in a few minutes on one than I do throughout the sidewalks all over town. The safer they feel, the more likely they are to ride.
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Old 08-08-08, 08:57 PM
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The USA has been so Auto-centric for so long, it is unknown how many would use bicycle facilities. I for one, think that a whole bunch of people would take advantage of it. And if they didn't, then I would just have to enjoy it even more to make up the difference.

But people aren't willing to try commuting unless they can avoid the automobile traffic. I know lots of people who would try out cycling, if they could be protected from cars.
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Old 08-08-08, 09:04 PM
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Hmm...if there was a bike path or rails to trails route between me and work (current commute is 15 miles one way) that would really rock. However, I think something like this is better for more concentrated areas where they can be better utilized. Stinks for me but I would still ride them for leisure.
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Old 08-08-08, 09:16 PM
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I think that a variant of Metcalfe's Law applies. The value of the bike network is proportional to the square of the number of safe and useful routes. If you have one safe route, that's nice. If you have safe routes to everywhere you want to go, there's a good chance you'll bike.
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Old 08-08-08, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyingAnchor View Post
Please don't get sidetracked on the road vs bike path endless debate ok.
So I HAVE to to agree with you then?
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Old 08-08-08, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyingAnchor View Post
I don't want a debate about bike paths vs road but this is related as you will see.

Remember the movie "Field of Dream"? The whole premise was if you build the field the people will come.

Same premise regarding the building of roads, the building of roads doesn't really alleviate congestion, it promotes it. When you build a road to alleviate congestion more motor vehicles show up to make use of them.

Why can't this work for bikes, just make tons of paths (planned of course) and more people will ride on them.

Please don't get sidetracked on the road vs bike path endless debate ok.

Steven

It's not necessarily building bike paths or lanes that is the problem particularly here in Houston, but maintaining them. Some of the them could be pretty good if the city would come though and sweep and repaint the lines as needed. However, most paths get the most use before 6am and before 4:30 pm when most people are either still home or at work so the average Joe Taxpayer doesn't realize that there are people gaining benefit from the lanes.
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Old 08-08-08, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyingAnchor View Post
...just make tons of paths (planned of course) and more people will ride on them....
...let's concrete over more green stuff next to/near perfectly good roads that can be ridden on.
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Old 08-09-08, 12:28 AM
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I'm not saying that we should pave all green spaces, but if we paved some of the abundant green spaces it would get more people out of their cars and on a bike.

My commute is 7 miles one way or 20 miles one way, with the last mile or so off of the freeway, I have plenty of pavement to ride on but it is on a freeway. On the 20 mile commute the five miles closest to home is on a hwy (Avenue of the Giants) with a speed limit of 55 mph. I feel safe on these roads but not everyone does.

My thought is like I stated above, the more bike "roads" available the more people will ride, and eventually we will (hopefully) wind up with a lot of places where the more trepidatious will ride.

And no you don't have to agree with me, that is not a requirement. Shakes head......

Steven
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Old 08-09-08, 12:50 AM
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My entire route to work is bike path. I just have to ride along 1, maybe 2 km of regular road and get back on the bike path again. Whole route is 25km, so go figure. With this amount of bike paths more should be already using their bike, if sticking to your theory.
Doesn't work that way, unfortunately. People are lazy by nature. They get to work with the least amount of physical work, so that they can start their lazy day jobs at their desks (stereotyping, obviously... I know it doesn't always work like that). People just aren't gonna hop on their bike and drive it for more than 10km, it's just that simple.
To be honest, I recognize myself in the above as well. I'm not a regular commuter. I would love to do it, but some things are just holding me back. I have the annoying tendency to use anything as an excuse, so I don't have to ride the bike to work. 25Km isn't really that far, takes me 1:05 on the new commuter bike. Once in a while, when the weather is good, I decide to ride it to work for a change, but I as well am lazy.

Right now I'm off for a 3 week vacation. Hope to get some biking exercise during those weeks, so I can start fresh after vacation. I still want to ride to work every day, but I'm not sure if I can convince myself to actually do it....
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Old 08-09-08, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by markhr View Post
...let's concrete over more green stuff next to/near perfectly good roads that can be ridden on.
I say just convert the existing road and leave the all-to-few green spaces alone... it would solve BOTH problems; fewer cars and more bikes all in one!
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Old 08-09-08, 06:49 AM
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It takes you getting involved and making your desires known. If nobody pushes for bike lanes then you don't get them.....that simple.

Everyplace has planning commissioners. They have meetings. Show up with a bike group and make yourself known. Often the municipality can get some $$$$ from the feds to put in bike lanes.

Here is Humboldt's list of planned projects. Get with your commissioner and push for bike lanes to be included in these projects.
https://co.humboldt.ca.us/pubworks/
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Old 08-09-08, 06:49 AM
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Stepping back a bit - I suspect "normal" people would like non-auto ways to get where they're going.

Our current local greenway path seems specifically designed not to go anywhere. Sort of "we could put a path here" rather than "cyclists and walkers need a way to get from here to here." That's really quite stupid. I don't mean ignorant, or thoughtless. Have to be STUPID to make a facility that isn't functional.

Ordinary people would also like a way to go that's safe. Narrow with 2 way, blind turns, bizarre intersections, and other standard features of many paths aren't safe.

Ordinary people would also like routes that aren't horribly difficult to ride. So sudden right angle turns on wood, sudden 25% grades, really odd camber, and paths that cross hump bridges, narrow to go through piles of barriers and the like don't do well.

Sort of like people want with roads.

I suspect a combination of dedicated bicycle roads, roads with calming devices that are shared, wide shoulders or better yet, outer lanes, and normal low-traffic roads would work nicely if bicycle specific markings were clear on the surface and in signs. I don't believe this would take much construction. It's mostly soft stuff. Planning and the like. I'd like that job.

And dedicated routes could indeed exist.

I can imagine from here that I could take my little feeder roads down into Friendsville, turn left on the hardpack MUP along the old rail ROW (that didn't get built) and happily pop over to the Pellissippi Parkway, take the parallel path that crosses the bridge over the Tennessee River (the path that didn't get built), and then slide into WOL arterials (which didn't get built) and be in Knoxville safely and easily. I suspect many people would find this safe, pleasant, and easy. But we didn't do it.

In many cities, we've got excess capacity on all but the major roads. Realigning use isn't difficult. Just pisses off the people who used to drive 35 by houses and now have to deal with calming devices and all those bikes.

But this is easily doable. With signage and PSAs and a few minor connectors, I could make our local MUP connect to the rural roads to make a useful network. Except the local MUP is deadly. Doesn't need to be, but that's the way it got built.

The other MUP in Lenoir City does the usual junk - winds all around for no reason, introducing blind curves. They've also decided that mile markers should be slightly elevated metal plates on the surface. Mega-stupid. And the path simply ends in a parking lot with no signage. Very obscure. Made to meet some other goal than transportation. But it doesn't need to be that way. It could be integrated. It happens to go to my in-laws with a bit of jinking around, but I would not expect most people to be able to figure that out. I couldn't give directions that would make sense! Cut through the parking lot here, take this and that. That's not a transportation system!

So. We have a deadly highway into downtown Knoxville, Alcoa Highway. Top end solution - put another highway above it for bicycles. There's certainly room. Just make it 14 ft wide with a barrier in the middle. Roof it over. Put ramps every mile. Run it across the bridge over the Tennessee and connect it with the cycle path system over there. I would anticipate that within 5 years 1000s of commuters would be using it, and congestion on the highway would be reduced. So would pollution etc. But it's not going to happen. Less expensive solutions are unlikely to, either, if they require much new construction.

It's pretty easy to think of connectors unique to bikes, but they're expensive in land, maintenance, and the like. The need exists in bottlenecks and complex car-rich areas, but for the most part, simply marking and modifying existing streets works. The key is that marking plus connectors through the bad parts.

And I think it's a great thing to do. I can pop up to 35 mph, merge with traffic, signal left, brake hard, track stand, and then whip into a feeder street. I don't expect anyone else to be able to do it really, and I'd have a hard time doing that with groceries onboard!
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Old 08-09-08, 06:58 AM
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Let me begin by saying that in central VA, we have no bike lanes or bike paths, and the area right of the white line is about 1 foot or so; so anything would be an improvement...

However, who would finance these bike paths? In my state the highway department has a yearly battle just to get funding to keep the roads, bridges, etc. in repair.
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Old 08-09-08, 06:58 AM
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As someone who lives where there are lots of cycle paths, I can tell you the lane marking thing is pretty much pointless. After a while the car drivers start to ignore it, or use it for parking, dumping wrecks, rubbish, etc, and it seems to be the place of choice now for digging up for pipes and cables.

The thing that works is trees. Planting trees down the lane divider, too close to allow cars to park easily between them. Planting trees also appears pretty much a disincentive to go digging up the cycle path too, they then dig up the road instead. Trees separating the cars and trucks away makes cycling so much safer. Car drivers give trees a lot more respect than they would a cyclist: at least three times the passing gap in my experience, even for saplings.
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Old 08-09-08, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by markhr View Post
...let's concrete over more green stuff next to/near perfectly good roads that can be ridden on.
It's either that or reduce the speed limit throughout town to 20mph 24/7, while banning parking on roads less than four lanes wide. The bottom line is that if people don't feel safe, they won't ride. These are two ways to do it.
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Old 08-09-08, 08:22 AM
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Here, city governments takes care of the greenway, road restriping, etc. Waiting on the state, much less the feds, is a waste of time. Coordinating on the county level might work though. It helps that the mayor bikes, and he was just reelected decisively.

The greenway follows the Huron River and for the most part is as straight as the geography allows. It's scenic and works for transportation. Some parts are better maintained than others but the same goes for the roads, which often feel like they've been used as parade routes for M1 tanks a few too many times.

The biggest problem I have right now is finding safe ways to cross I-94 and US-23. There aren't many. They left many of the old roads bisected by the highways rather than put up bridges, which given the perpetual inattention to maintenance may have been wise. 2-3 pedestrian bridges would fix this but I probably don't want to know how much that would cost.

Paths alongside the railroad tracks might be nice, though I'm not sure how practical riding alongside trains whose engineers can be overly fond of their air horns is.
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Old 08-09-08, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
Stepping back a bit - I suspect "normal" people would like non-auto ways to get where they're going.

Our current local greenway path seems specifically designed not to go anywhere. Sort of "we could put a path here" rather than "cyclists and walkers need a way to get from here to here." That's really quite stupid. I don't mean ignorant, or thoughtless. Have to be STUPID to make a facility that isn't functional.
They've done the same thing around here. They're being cheap. Every greenway I can think of runs through some buffer area that couldn't be built on, typically a creek or lake. Sometimes, they're able to tie two creek trails together, but they still don't necessarily go anywhere. I don't necessarily blame them. These trails were purely recreational. There's still talk of tying them together and making them run to the next town, or whatever, but it still wouldn't be very useful.

I'm in the process of trying to buy a house near the largest stretch of greenway in Raleigh. It would actually be useful for us from a recreational, trip to the mall, ride to a restaurant type of way. It's nothing I would use if I was in a hurry to get somewhere though.

The next town over has a rail to trail running right from downtown to the biggest center of employment in the area (minus one key bridge). It's an accident that it worked out this way, but it is certainly an excellent transportation opportunity for many. It's slow-moving though, and the key bridge is still many years away.
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Old 08-09-08, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by FlyingAnchor View Post
I'm not saying...we should pave...green spaces, but if we paved...green space...
O. K.

Originally Posted by himurastewie View Post
I say just convert the existing road and leave the all-to-few green spaces alone... it would solve BOTH problems; fewer cars and more bikes all in one!
Who needs conversion?

It's not stopping people now, if anything, high petrol prices and the threat of recession has done more for cycling than magic paint bike lanes (because paint will keep you safe) ever has. Economic penalties and practical traffic safety education are key to getting more people out there, i.e., if you use this your bills will be less, you may lose weight and, yes, it's not just a toy.

The older folks who've had it reinforced from an early age that a car is for transport and roads and a bicycle isn't, under any circumstances, are probably lost causes. However, I'd hazard a guess anyone younger than 18 has been taught ad-nauseaum about global warming and being green so giving them practical training on cycling for transport and road safety might be a good start.

Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
Stepping back a bit - I suspect "normal" people would like non-auto ways to get where they're going...
Seems to me"normal people" just want the easiest method. That, as proven by years of motor traffic congestion, isn't always the fastest or cheapest but what could beat sitting on your ass in slow traffic for 2 hours a day?

Building more isn't going to help. I'd also hazard a guess that after years of positive, but failling, reinforcement by "advocates" that until there is more practical education and more, higher penalties (as a start fuel prices and recession, if available) then "normal people" will stick to what they know and what fits into their path of least resistance mindset.

Originally Posted by på beløb View Post
As someone who lives where there are lots of cycle paths, I can tell you the lane marking thing is pretty much pointless. After a while the car drivers start to ignore it, or use it for parking, dumping wrecks, rubbish, etc, and it seems to be the place of choice now for digging up for pipes and cables...
Exactly, magic paint doesn't help. People are selfish and don't look at themselves, they look at everyone else and try, generally, to choose the option that affect themselves the least, e.g., drivers seeing anything else as a slowing hazard, pedestrians dropping litter in the road, people convinced that roads are for cars trying to get cyclists off them in anyway they can.

Originally Posted by uke View Post
It's either that or reduce the speed limit throughout town to 20mph 24/7, while banning parking on roads less than four lanes wide. The bottom line is that if people don't feel safe, they won't ride. These are two ways to do it.
While the speed limit idea might be worthwhile (removal of road furniture and signage seems to have a similar, cheaper to implement, effect) why would you need any of the rest? Once road users have had practical cycling safety instruction, just get out there and ride in a safe and legal manner, surely?
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Old 08-09-08, 10:09 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by markhr View Post
While the speed limit idea might be worthwhile (removal of road furniture and signage seems to have a similar, cheaper to implement, effect) why would you need any of the rest? Once road users have had practical cycling safety instruction, just get out there and ride in a safe and legal manner, surely?
Because it doesn't matter how safely cyclists ride unless they're riding in safe environments. It isn't enough to follow every precaution if there's still a good chance of being run over. That's why in every city/town with a significant (20%+) cycling population, one of two methods are invariably in place: either networks of separate bike lanes/quality sidewalks run throughout, providing equal access to virtually everywhere roads go, or the roads themselves have safe (20mph or less) and enforced speed limits throughout the town, with severe penalties for exceeding such limits. Those are the only two proven methods of increasing cycling populations beyond trivial (5%) levels that don't require banning cars altogether. Telling car drivers to follow the rules does nothing. Teaching cyclists to ride safely does nothing. Without the infrastructure, whether in the form of method one or method two, cycling in the US will remain a rare and dangerous activity few partake in for the foreseeable future.
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Old 08-09-08, 09:50 PM
  #21  
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So, did we answer the question that if we build them they will come? I was actually thinking huge, like maybe increase the bikable areas by maybe a 1,000 percent. Take some roads out of use for cars and only let bikes on them, make more bike centric roads and eliminate motor vehicles. Pipe dream for sure, but if this were to happen, would more people ride?

Call me a dreamer but I was daydreaming the other day and came up with this.

New movie, "Road of Dreams"

Steven
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Old 08-09-08, 09:51 PM
  #22  
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Field of dreams? I saw that and was quite disappointed. Read the original book... Shoeless Joe!

Personally I just want a few bike only roads... it would be nice.
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Old 08-09-08, 10:31 PM
  #23  
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Recreational MUPs attract recreational riders.

I see more and more commuters on bikes.

I am convinced that clear signage and additional lane markings would let cyclists and motorists know what's expected and reasonably safe at the difficult parts.

I am completely against "bike lanes" if they're like the typical idiocy.

I am convinced that if the infrastructure is there, people will begin to use it. The number one question interested people ask me about is interaction with cars. They don't know how to deal with cycles mixing with cars from either side. Signage that takes the guesswork out and treats each with parity would do very well.

How about this trip, from little to bigger:

1. No special markings, just country road.
2. Intersection with slightly larger road - one with actual road markings. I'll settle for "No passing" signs at the stupid spots.
3. Intersection with 4 lane road. Signs indicate "Bicycle route" "Watch for cyclists" "Cyclists remain on shoulder" "No right turns ahead of cyclists" and the like.
4. Approaching town, blue lane markings and explanatory picture signs to guide cyclists around right turn lanes. Blue Box approach at intersections. Then into WOL.

That takes almost no new paving. Just signage and a little road marking.

And would make expectations and rules so much more clear. I ride that way anyway, but without the markings. I get the impression that motorists have no idea what I'm going to do! I would prefer that they know.

Rather than a few ideal paths, I'd rather have a wide network of markings and minor mods making travel easier. We're seeing the increase and we will continue to see cycling grow. The trend is clear.
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Old 08-10-08, 12:22 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by FlyingAnchor View Post
Why can't this work for bikes, just make tons of paths (planned of course) and more people will ride on them.
Because it just doesn't work. There are only two circumstances in which people will consider cycling to work. They either have some basic desire to do it in the first place, or the other options become less enticing. The trouble is, simply building a path is not going to create this desire out of thin air. Sure, it MAY entice someone who already wants to ride -- if it happens to be one of the 0.1% of paths that is actually better than the existing roadway, but this is rarely the case.

I think the problem really stems from the "build it and they will come" approach. The assumption seems to be that a local authority can construct a path that goes nowhere, suffers from poor surfacing, poor signage, accesses very few of the places a commuter cyclist will ever need to vist, and passes through areas that aren't safe for reasons other than automobiles (there were more **** attacks on Brisbane bike paths last year than there were cyclist deaths on the roads). So essentially the inevitable result of such misguided thinking is the newbie who tries cycling to work one day, finds the experience doesn't live up to their expectations, then ends up telling all and sundry about their bad experiences, and local authorities then giving up on cycling completely because nobody was using the "facilities".

What's really needed is to get right away from the "facilities" mentality completely, and focus more on training and enforcement. Offer training for cyclists who want to take up commuting in areas such as acting predictably in and around traffic, ensure that motorists are taught how to behave around cyclists when obtaining a licence, and serious law enforcement (bordering of fascism if need be) for anyone who fails to comply. At present, most people think riding to work is just a matter of balancing and turning the pedals, and those of us who actually do commute everyday know there is a lot more to it than that.
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