Innovative Bike-Transit Concepts That Work

Bike lanes are the wrong approach that end up marginalizing cyclists argues Will Campbell.

"By law, my bicycle is considered a vehicle with the same right to the road as your car or truck. Bike lanes provide an arguable buffer zone of safety (as well as a great place for people to put their garbage containers on trash day), but they marginalize cyclists and reinforce their status as second-class commuters who shouldn't be on the road."

"Our city and county transportation agencies should be trying out fresher bike-transit concepts, such as shared-use arrows, known as sharrows, and bicycle-priority streets, also called bike boulevards."

Full Story: More bike lanes? No thanks

Comments

Comments

Bicycle Friendly Community is best

Get a copy of the the March/April 2007 American Bicyclist to see pictures of a bicycle friendly community. Or check bicyclefriendlycommunity.org.

I've bicycled to work and errands in excess of 100,000 miles. The bicycle friendly community evaluation looks like an "adapt to local conditions" workable approach.

A couple suggestions:

1. Davis, California, the only platinum city, has intersection crossing buttons where cyclists can reach (most cities have them in far off the road, forcing cyclists to dismount, run over, hit the button, run back, remount.) Now we could incorporate electronics in cellphones that would serve the same function automatically. (Not a special pass, but the same response as pushing the button.)

2. Cars are becoming more automatic (see 2008 Lexus LS 600h L evaluation in June 2007 Popular Science). We need a contest, like at GuardianAngelCars.org, to ensure the automation is bicycle and pedestrian friendly. MECapron

Bicycle-Activated Loops

"Davis, California, the only platinum city, has intersection crossing buttons where cyclists can reach"

In Berkeley, there are loops in the street that change the light when bicycles ride over them. There is a little bicycle icon to show you where to stop to activate the loop.

Charles Siegel

The Conflict Over Bike Lanes

There has always been a conflict over bike lanes.

Macho bicyclists, who are accustomed to riding in traffic at 20 miles per hour or more, don't want to be "marginalized" by bike lanes.

Most people are not willing even to try bicycling in traffic. Bike lanes and paths are essential to promoting a mode shift among these people. The very safe European-style bike lanes that Alan Durning describes in his current article will, of course, promote the biggest mode shift.

Unfortunately, the machos don't seem to care about promoting a mode shift.

This article says: "A network of seven bike boulevards has been used to great effect in Berkeley." As one of the activists who helped plan this bike boulevard network and push it through city government, I can assure everyone that 1) it has not been completely implemented and so has not had much effect, and 2) in the denser parts of the city (eg, Channing south of campus), the bike boulevards do have striped bike lanes.

The best model for shared space is the short section of a bicycle boulevard that is a "slow street," with speed humps to slow traffic to 15 mph, slow enough to make novice bicyclists feel safe. But when we were getting this through city government, some of the loudest objections came from a couple of macho bicyclists who typically bicycled at 20 mph and did not want to slow down to 15 mph.

Charles Siegel

He does not speak for me

I do not want "sharrows" or any of that nonsense. If you want more people to ride, give them a reason to feel secure. What is a better attraction for new riders? A separate lane, where one can relax, or a busy thoroughfare where you are force to compete with 4,000 pound hunks of steel flying by you at triple your speed?

Give me a separated bike lane, thanks.

Dedicated lanes

A bike lane is just a type of dedicated lane, and it provides a higher level of service (when designed properly). Nobody would suggest we start removing HOV lanes because they some how "marginalize" carpoolers. It's no different with a bike lane.

That doesn't obviate discussion about proper design. I agree there are some locations where adding a bike lane makes conditions more dangerous than leaving cyclists in general traffic. But the idea that separating different types of traffic somehow "marginalizes" the set of users that benefits from the improvement is just misguided.

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