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Fri Jul 11, 2014, 11:30 AM

Scared of Biking in Traffic? These Cities Are Making It Safe

This article originally appeared at On the Commons.

Scared of Biking in Traffic? These Cities Are Making It Safe
To get people on bikes in big numbers, cities are finding that it's essential to separate bike lanes from traffic.

by Jay Walljasper
posted Jul 10, 2014

[font size="1"]Cyclists use a protected bike lane in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Paul Krueger / Flickr.[/font]

You can see big changes happening across America as communities from Fairbanks, Alaska, to St. Petersburg, Fla., transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just for cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users (through) busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians, and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means—and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.

Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

The continuing evolution of bicycling

Protected bike lanes are standard practice in the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made on bicycles. That’s because more women, kids, and seniors feel comfortable biking on the streets—along with out-of-shape, inexperienced riders. Dutch bike ridership has doubled since the 1980s, when protected bike lanes began to be built in large numbers. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/scared-of-biking-in-traffic-these-cities-are-making-it-safe

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Reply Scared of Biking in Traffic? These Cities Are Making It Safe (Original post)
marmar Jul 2014 OP
liberal N proud Jul 2014 #1
roody Jul 2014 #2
happyslug Jul 2014 #3

Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Jul 11, 2014, 11:33 AM

1. I am not a cyclist but I cannot believe how drivers pass bikes

They just can't wait that few seconds until traffic is clear and then pass in the other lane. Cars and trucks will squeeze past the bicycles.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Jul 11, 2014, 12:49 PM

2. Europe is so ahead on this.

I spent some time in Munich on a bike. All the cars cede to a bicycle. Many bike lanes were well away from the street and separated from pedestrians also.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Jul 13, 2014, 06:09 AM

3. "Protected bike lanes" not just "Bike Lanes", but the problems of intersections remain.


The Article fails to mention the differences between those two terms. The biggest problem with Bike Lanes is they tended to be put in a danger zone, the area within door length of park cars. When you tell people the number 1 source of Auto-Bicycle accident is in the "Door Zone", the area between when cars are parked and the length of such car's doors when open, they are shocked. One reason for this is most Bikes lanes in urban areas are in the door zone AND people continue to open their doors into the zone, when bicycles are in that same zone.

A second problem is Autos turning right. If the bike lane is on the right, such turns must be made over the bike lane. It is recommended that when cars make such right turns they enter the bike lane and turn from it. People have NOT been trained to do so yet and this has cause all types of problems. Thus intersections are the biggest problem when biking with auto traffic, NOT biking with auto traffic going in the same direction.

Now, "Protected Bike Lanes" are suppose to be better. The article mention the one in Munhall PA. I had to go to web site and found out they meant the bike lane between two parts of the Great Allegheny Passage (that is otherwise a rails to trails bike path) that goes around where the old Homestead works of US Steel use to be. This was redeveloped into a suburban type retail area and to fit the Trail it, they made what had been a extended lane, into a "protected bike lane" by painting a line AND not permitting parking. I am not impressed.

I see the City of Pittsburgh will install "Protective bike Lanes" within the city, and that almost scares me. One of these will be downtown Pittsburgh. The old joke about Downtown Pittsburgh is that is was designed for you to canoe to it down the Allegheny or Monongahela rivers (and Canoe up the Ohio), tie you canoe to the shore and walk into town. Streetcars starting in the 1890s were a good retrofit, cars, starting after 1900s, were a terrible retrofit. On many a street, people crossing the streets gets permission to cross at the same time people in cars are given permission by the same system to turn into the cross traffic of pedestrians. It is so bad, it is safer to jay walk then to go with the signals (It is so bad, the last two pedestrian killed down town, made the mistake of waiting for a walk sign to say walk and when the sing light up "Walk" they started to cross the street, and ended up underneath a bus that had a green light at the same time).

Into this mess, they want to add a separate lane for bicycles? Thus someone driving downtown will have to cross two lanes of traffic, one made up of cyclists, the other of pedestrians, if he or she is turning? It is a recipe for disaster.

Now, it looks like the protected bike lanes will NOT have cars parked next to the lane, and that is a big improvement over traditional bike lanes why not just leave bikes and car mix. I have been biking Pittsburgh since the 1970s and in most cases the streets are good enough to share with cars.

Now, the three Pittsburgh bike lane will be something else. First two of the three are in Parks or Park like settings. i.e no right turns by cars. Those are the ones in Schenley Park and on Saline street.

The final one will be the one to watch. It is on Penn Avenue in the Downtown Section of Pittsburgh near the Allegheny River. This is an area where parking does not occur (no space, and if they was any they be filled all the time, thus the sides of Penn are limited loading zones for the businesses on those streets not for anyone else. Penn would be reduced from two lanes in one direction to one lane in one direction, so not a big change. Liberty Avenue, which runs Parallel one block over is twice as wide and has twice the traffic (Liberty Avenue had Rail lines running down its length in the late 1800s, thus its wide width compare to other streets in Downtown Pittsburgh, it is one of only three four lane roads in Downtown, the other being the Boulevard of the Allies, a 1920 slum removal project that eliminated Pittsburgh China Town and other slums on the Monongahela River side of Downtown, and Stanwix street, built in the 1950s to connect the other two four lane roads by a short about 1/2 of a mile stretch of road that goes from the Monongahela to the Allegheny Rivers).



Thus the Pittsburgh Protected Bike Trails, are not much to brag about. They will NOT increase people using bikes as transportation (The Great Allegheny Passages that ends up with two routes coming up on each side of the Monongahela River provides much more such opportunity, along with the bike path along the Allegheny River to Downtown Pittsburgh). I heard one plan is to make Penn Avenue one lane its whole length from the Strip District to downtown, but I have not heard if they just want to expand the side walks (The Strip has a lot of pedestrian traffic) or add a Protected bike lane or maybe a combination of both. That may relieve some problems in the Strip District (restoring the old Penn Incline Plane, in my opinion, would do more for that opens up parking in the Hill District for use by people who would use the incline to go from the car to the Strip District).

As to other routes in Pittsburgh, the problem with right hand turns by Automobiles keep coming up. Pittsburgh has a lot of narrow one lane in each direction roads, but has some narrow four lane roads built in the 1900-1930 period. Such roads can be converted to one lane in each directions, with a turning lane in the middle and two narrow bike lanes on the sides. The problems of turns remain. On Second Avenue you could install a protected bike lane, for the only real right turn coming from Pittsburgh is the 10th street bridge, then the Hot Metal Bridge for the old B&O railroad line is also to your right. The problem is the old B&O Railroad line is a bike trail, so why have the bike lane next to it? Please note the trail goes UNDER the 10th Street Bridge and over the Hot Metal Bridge intersection, so it is by far a better solution and it exists today.

Penn, Liberty, Centre, Fifth and Forbes are good candidates, but each have many right turns. Wylie is another one, but is was terminated at the old Civic Arena in the 1950s, prior to that it extended to the County Jail, thus not to Downtown. On the other hand all of these are bikable today, thus I see no advantage to them have protected bike lanes.

Just a comment, that this is an attempt to save what is becoming clearer and clearer, bike paths are a waste of time and money. Bike trails do work, for they separate bikes from auto traffic, but bike paths can NOT do that, especially at the worse place for such interactions, intersections. You have to address the problems of intersections before anything else, and Protected Bike Paths do NOT do that.

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