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NYC on track for first-ever separated bike lane

Posted by on September 21st, 2007 at 1:33 am

Configuration of a cycle track.
(Graphic: Streetsblog)

Bicycle and transportation advocates in New York City are ecstatic that their Department of Transportation plans to install a physically separated bike lane (a.k.a. “cycle track).

The news comes from Streetsblog:

“The Department of Transportation revealed plans for New York City’s first-ever physically-separated bike lane, or “cycle track,” at a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last night…Unlike the typical Class II on-street bike lane in which cyclists mix with motor vehicle traffic, this new design will create an exclusive path for bicycles between the sidewalk and parked cars.”

Plans also call for the 10-foot wide bike lane to have bike-only traffic signals.

Streetsblog has been at the forefront of pushing the DOT to build a cycle track. Last winter, they published a compelling film about them titled, Physically Separated Bike Lanes. So far, the film has been watched 28,814 times (including some NYC DOT officials!).

According to Streetsblog, NYC planners consulted with a Danish urban designer on the plan.

Portland has toyed with the cycle track idea for some time now and I’ve heard them come up as an option in various projects. Back in January I asked for your opinion about them.

Currently, I’m not aware of any plans to build a physically separated bike lane in Portland.

I’ve heard concerns about the safety of cycle tracks at intersections (especially collisions with right-turning cars). However, a recent study from Denmark (which I can’t find at the moment) showed that they have an overall net positive effect.

Researchers found that although the installation of a cycle track led to more collisions, they also increased the bike mode share, which decreased the overall crash rate, reduced single-occupancy motor vehicle trips, improved health, air-quality, congestion, and so on. (I will update post with link to the study ASAP).

I am impressed that NYC is taking this bold step. I hope it spurs Portland (and other cities) to do the same.

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Comments
  • ben September 21, 2007 at 3:10 am

    judging from the picture, it just makes me think i\’ll be doored from the other side.

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  • Paul September 21, 2007 at 7:13 am

    It seems odd that they\’d show an example of a one way and place the track on the left side.

    I\’d also be nervous about turns by autos where our abiity to see each other is limited by the lane of parking in between. Seems a cycle track would need to be in place of parking – not in addition to.

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  • Anonymous September 21, 2007 at 7:39 am

    What did that doofus Republican say about bikes? A 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem?

    Well he better get himself to that backwater city of NY and tell them how it\’s done.

    Paul, not sure what you mean about the location of the track (R or L), since there is parking on both sides of the street. So left or right side doesn\’t really matter. The parking serves as part of the physical barrier and is what they do in Amsterdam I believe. And they obviously have a head start on us as far as figuring out what works.

    And as hard as it was for the powers-that-be to make this happen, it would have been DOA if they had attempted to eliminate a lane of parking. In NYC parking is at a premium.

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  • Klixi September 21, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Guarantee that won\’t work. Too many oversized vehicles will bulge into that bike lane, and all the people opening their doors without looking for cyclists. If those were in downtown PDX I definitely would not use them.

    Car door bait.

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  • tonyt September 21, 2007 at 7:58 am

    What did that doofus Republican ad say about bikes? A 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem?

    Well they better get themselves to that backwater city of NY and tell them how it\’s done.

    Paul, not sure what you mean about the location of the track (R or L), since there is parking on both sides of the street. So left or right side doesn\’t really matter. The parking serves as part of the physical barrier and is what they do in Amsterdam I believe. And they obviously have a head start on us as far as figuring out what works.

    And as hard as it was for the powers-that-be to make this happen, it would have been DOA if they had attempted to eliminate a lane of parking. In NYC parking is at a premium.

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  • John Boyd September 21, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Seems like a good way to increase the bike share, but systems that keep traffic modes separated just increase risks for when they are not. Systems that mix it up and force cars to deal with the physics of cyclists in their path — to slow cars down — seem like the better long term planning approach.

    See: Brasilia

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  • Tbird September 21, 2007 at 8:29 am

    \”I’ve heard concerns about the safety of cycle tracks at intersections (especially collisions with right-turning cars). \”

    -Only if motorists are not required to yield to cyclists at all turns/intersections. This is the key to making it work.

    This is great news.. C\’mon Portland lets get separated!

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  • a.O September 21, 2007 at 8:40 am

    I love that people feel no compunction about speculating on the safety outcomes of this mode of engineering. I share some concerns, but the beautiful thing is that this is an empirical question. We\’ll find out from the experience in NYC whether this is a good idea for Portland (or anywhere else in the US).

    Jon, can you provide any more information on how intersections are handled?

    This seems to be the critical point for safety. If the traffic control devices for the cycle track were integrated with those on the motor vehicle lanes, it would probably go a long way toward mitigating safety risks.

    At this point, given that we have this difficulty of getting the \”interested but concerned\” on their bikes because of the perceived dangers of riding in motor vehicle traffic, perhaps separation will ease some of those anxieties and help make our upward ridership curve even steeper.

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  • Greg Raisman September 21, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Here\’s a photo I took of a similar type facility in St. Michiels, Belgium (early in the morning, little acitivity)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/84977575@N00/1173911327/in/set-72157601548174072/

    The thing I noticed about it is that they have curb separated extenstions at the intersection that would force the drivers to slow down significantly into the turn.

    This is a photo of the same intersection, only what incoming traffic sees as it approaches the road with the cycle track:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/84977575@N00/1173911103/in/set-72157601548174072/

    The diagram on Streetblog looks to do the same sort of thing with their \”planter/buffer\”

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  • Dabby September 21, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Bike lanes, and even more, physically separated ones, are against the whole principle of sharing the road, and will only serve to push cyclists off more roads in the long run.

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  • SKiDmark September 21, 2007 at 10:03 am

    So basically the bikes are up on the sidewalk? You emerge at intersections from behind a row of parked cars, and nice tall parked SUVs. If you are up on the sidewalk then you have to go up and down a curb cut at every intersection, likely reducing your speed. You still have the same dooring issue with cars that are parallel parked.

    This is a system that someone would come up with if you view bikes as recreational rather than transportation. I think in a city bicycles travel closer to the speed of cars than the speed of pedestrians. I appreciate the gesture of trying to accomodate bikes, but not in such a way that it impedes traveling on a bike.

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  • SKiDmark September 21, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Oops, I am way off base. SHould have looked at the architectural elevation before going off.

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  • BURR September 21, 2007 at 10:06 am

    It is most definitely a bicyclist-as-pedestrian solution, something PDOT seems way to fond of these days…

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  • Jeff September 21, 2007 at 10:15 am

    I think the key part of the design is some barrier, no matter how small or narrow between the bike path and main roadway traffic. It\’s true that drivers need room to open the door and get out which may increase the chances of getting doored if there\’s not enough room. Think about how much quieter the sidewalks will be when they are immediately next to bike lanes, and beyond that a row of parked cars. A row of parked cars would be a pretty good barrier between the bikes and the rest of traffic.

    In the cities of the Netherlands, typical of many European cities, intersections of more than two streets makes your head spin as a driver. It would be a traffic planner\’s nightmare, yet it is handled gracefully with even with physical separation between bicyclists, pedestrians and automobiles. Surely we can handle the separation with the basic grid design we have here.

    Phased lights for bikes and pedestrians are the norm where this separation is common as well. I have a friend who finds cold comfort in the paint of a bike lane. The painted bike lane does give me confidence as a rider that I have my place on the road, but I\’d rather not have to be right next to the cars, buses and trucks.

    While at the Foster Street Fair, I was thinking Foster and Powell would be ideal candidates for this kind of separation because the road is huge. I forget that separated bike paths are the norm in cities in the Netherlands where the roads are very narrow by American standards.

    A physically separated path for bike on Foster and Powell and other wide streets would bring them back to human scale. I say we identify some streets and get going on it!

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  • Richard S September 21, 2007 at 10:17 am

    So, I\’m looking at this, and thinking: How would this go on my afternoon commute? I typically ride 21 miles – sometimes more. It looks as though it would slow me down. I\’d have to watch for car doors, as well as pedestrians. While there are fewer passengers who will open a door, they won\’t be used to cyclists on the inside. I\’d have to take more care through intersections – no going the speed of traffic while the light is green – unless we get our own lights.

    I already spend a substantial amount of time each day bike commuting. If that time goes up, I\’ll either use the road anyway, or not bike commute.

    So, I believe it\’s important to recognize that for many bike commuters, speed is important.

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  • pushkin September 21, 2007 at 10:18 am

    If you support this cycle track I suggest you read the article very closely.

    Here\’s the crux of it and the devil in the details: \”Researchers found that although the installation of a cycle track led to more collisions, they also increased the bike mode share, which decreased the overall crash rate.\”

    Therefore the cycle track caused crashes. The reason that the crash RATE decreased is because there were more people riding. It doesn\’t change the fact that the design was responsible for a NEW type of collision and MORE collisions than there were before the installation.

    So you trade off increased ridership and its attendant advantages for a new opportunity to crash and get injured and injur motorists exiting their cars as well. I think there must be better ways to increase ridership without causing the ways to crash to increase as well.

    Even if this were not an admitted danger, do we even have roads wide enough to accomodate this design? pdx drivers have problem enough staying in their mammoth sized lanes as it is.

    I am waiting for Dabby\’s view on this.

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  • a.O September 21, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Probably one side effect of public expenditures to create bike-specific infrastructure will be push-back by right wingers to restrict use of bicycles on standard roads (e.g., no more creation of new bike lanes). That\’s something that needs to be considered thoughtfully before people start seriously advocating for cycle tracks.

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  • JHB September 21, 2007 at 10:23 am

    \”I think there must be better ways to increase ridership without causing the ways to crash to increase as well.\”

    Uhh dude which scenario is preferable:

    100 people are riding and 2 of them crash.
    200 people are riding and 3 of them crash.

    You are claiming that if crashes go up to 3 then design is bad, even though your odds of crashing have gone down??

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  • pushkin September 21, 2007 at 11:02 am

    JHB-

    Wrong. I am claiming that the design is inherently causing more crashes of a particular type that didn\’t occur before. The study says as much: \”installation of a cycle track led to more collisions.\” I didn\’t make that up.

    The stats only mean that the percent of people crashing as they relate to the whole has decreased only because more people are riding.

    Your odds of crashing are based on the pool of obstacles that cause crashes. The track has added to that pool.

    Your scenario is wanting. I said there must be ways to increase ridership and reduce injuries – I don\’t think many people would disagree with that idea. Your position is that more injuries (and preventable ones at that)are preferable to fewer people riding. How can you be so cavalier about other people\’s safety? Dude?

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  • Jeff September 21, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I have to admit I posted in excitement before watching the movie from streetsblog on Physically Separated Bike Lanes (link above in the post).

    I have been thinking about this a lot because I have ridden extensively in countries that have implemented physically separated bike lanes. They are terrific. They facilitate the flow of bikes, and do it safely.

    Watching the movie gave me even more ideas about where the physically separated bike lanes can be helpful here in Portland.

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  • Seth Alford September 21, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Yecch.

    In addition to the problems noted above, I\’ve got another: litter, debris, and junk.

    As we head into fall, let\’s think about trees dropping leaves into the cycle tracks. And cars blowing more leaves from the street into the cycle track. How is the street sweeper going to clean it up? Go around the parked cars on the sidewalk? Not likely. Prohibit parking on the day that the street is swept? That might happen, but it will also mean that the street is swept less often. So, you say, it\’s only a problem in the fall? What about the glass shards and other junk that will accumulate in the cycle tracks?

    Again, yecch.

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  • Paul September 21, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    My concern about track on the left side of a one way is that you are then dooring the whole track with no where to swerve (presuming a curb for the sidewalk.)

    My main concern would be blind intersections – I would have to stop at each one to feel safe. Lets just jump to bike only streets – that is where we need to be in the future, soon hopefully.

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  • Resident September 21, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    This doesn\’t address the actual PROBLEM…which is that people do not pay attention. They don\’t even pull over for emergency vehicles anymore…and when they do they definately forget that they just passed a cyclist and run my boney but off the road. This cycle track just looks like its a 10fold increase in my possibility of getting tatered out there.

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  • Doug September 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    There are certainly some valid concerns being brought up here, and the idea should certainly be pursued in Portland cautiously. However, the impact that more separate paths could have on inviting more potential cyclists onto the road could be huge. This is especially true in the busy, and potentially intimidating downtown area.

    The main concern I would have is that cyclists not be absolutely required to use a facility such as this when it exists. If an individual feels confident moving with the flow of traffic, they should be so allowed to do so, while those less confident and moving at lower speeds can stick to the separated paths. The slower riders would have significantly lower chances of conflict with other road users, simply by virtue of their lower speed.

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  • Geoff September 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I read all of the comments so far then I watched the video. NY is definitely addressing the problem of getting doored. The whole key to this idea is not that the parked cars are the physical barrier, but that something else like cement pillars, planters or even a curb as wide as an open door are the barrier between the parked cars and the bike lane.

    Watch the video before you make a judgement.

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  • Mike Perrault September 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    We have a block or so of this kinda thing down here in Eugene(13th and Alder+1 block east). It is the biggest pain in the ass because pedestrians understand it to be an extra bit of side walk, people getting out of their cars stand and futz with the parking meters in the bike lane and turning left is really really really difficult because you have to make yourself visible to traffic that is going straight/ turning and then merge. With the constant row of parked cars, simply merging into traffic isn\’t an option. While I like the theory of separated bike lanes, what I have seen of them seems pretty lame. Maybe using cycle tracks as a sort of boulevard/hwy for bikes(in a long constant track) would work better, but using it in areas where turning is something that needs to happen doesn\’t seem to work.

    Also, in a city like New York where the sidewalks are always crammed how will the cycletrack be kept separate? In a lot of ways I would rather cars in the bike lane than pedestrians because they can only travel in a few certain ways rather than a ped who can turn around instantaneously walk backwards etc.

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  • hanmade September 21, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    We don\’t spend enough money on bike lanes as it is compared to Europe. Spread the money farther with integrated bikelanes, not costly seperated ones. We will get more miles per dollar that way. And that is how we get more people on bikes, and drivers used to dealing with bikes, more bike lane miles.

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  • N.I.K. September 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    It is the biggest pain in the ass because pedestrians understand it to be an extra bit of side walk, people getting out of their cars stand and futz with the parking meters in the bike lane and turning left is really really really difficult because you have to make yourself visible to traffic that is going straight/ turning and then merge.

    This isn\’t exclusive to Euguene\’s facilities. We have plenty of this sort of behavior in Portland\’s existing bike lanes; imagine the behavior when people have a completely car-free asphalt-paved section of road which is literally shielded from through traffic and adjacent to the sidewalk – can you say \”unloading zone – moreso\”? As Resident points out in another post above, the problem is INDEED that people don\’t pay attention. Until we see PPB step up enforcement against non-bike traffic in/non-bike uses of the existing bike lanes and get people to stop pulling this kinda crap, cycle tracks will have to wait.

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  • Clar...er...Sasquatch September 21, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Hey guys,

    Make sure to read the Streetsblog article when debating what NYC is doing, the presentation by the DOT is very good and is trying to address the turning conflicts. It\’s a good first try.

    Yes our video has been watched 28K times on Streetfilms, but if you add our YouTube watches plus our older web site before March 07, and the estimated # of people that have seen it at festivals, the video has been watched over 70K+! Impressive to say the least.

    But I think ultimately when I post a video on the Cyclovia (just came back from Bogata) I think that will surpass all of our films.

    Clarence

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  • Todd Boulanger September 21, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    I have used these \’separated by parking bike tracks\’ in Europe and int eh NW…they are often quite superior to what we have here. The Eugene OR example is not the best…but could be improved upon.

    Go up to Seattle\’s Alki Beach (West Seattle) and check it out before all this doom and gloom. (Many of you sound like car drivers who have never tried bike riding in a bike lane. ;-)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chasbot/23670117/

    Yes there would be many different things to get right in a good effective design and would require different and more maintenance by the City crews. (Are we not worth it and are they not reaching for Platinum? Should we all just go home and give up?)

    Remember that this type of facility is not the total solution but another tool in the tool box.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 21, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    In case this point as been missed…

    The NYC example is likley on the left in order to minimize interaction of transit patrons (aka bus riders) and the dreaded right-turn-on-red conflicts.

    A right side of the oneway street design could be done effectively but it would take more reconstruction and traffic enforcement.

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  • BURR September 21, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    it looks like portland really doesn\’t need this sort of thing at all, the cyclists are just taking over the roads these days….

    ;-)

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  • Javen September 21, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Just make wider bike lanes. I don\’t like to ride too close to parked cars anyways because it\’s easy to get doored. I\’m not sure how helpful a physically seperated bike lane would be if you wanted to take a left-hand turn.

    But hey, if they work in Denmark, then great!

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  • Taco Bueno September 22, 2007 at 12:08 am

    here is a good video on the subject to get a better idea of it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONS2ptAR4mo

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  • Dabby September 22, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Does anyone else understand that separating the bike lane is not sharing the road? It goes against the whole idea….

    It also will probably result in a requirement to use said \”cycletrack\” where it is present instead of the road that we now sorta share.

    Also, the addition of the obvious technicalities involved in turning either direction. (this on top of the difficulties we already have with drivers and other bikers not heeding the proper right of way)

    Driver and pedestrians crossing and using such lanes (as in in and out of cars, loading and unloading with the doors wide, using it as a sidewalk) will obviously be a problem, and with a lack of enforcement on jaywalking already, this would seem to suffer from the same thing.

    And the stats (I hate stats, but the numbers do tell the story) that show they are more dangerous. Even one more death is 8 too many.

    Take all this and put it in a curbed off area on a major or minor street, and you will have me going blocks out of the way to avoid it.

    Let\’s get back to productive conversation on sharing the road, and being more like Portlandians than Europeans.

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  • brettoo September 23, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Why are Americans so averse to learning from other countries? Whether it\’s single payer health insurance or bike lanes, we should pay attention when somebody else figures out something that works better than our system. I just got back from three weeks in Holland, and I saw first hand how separated bike lanes totally change the culture from car-centric to bike- and ped-centric — even in the suburbs. In Utrecht and Amsterdam, dozens of bikes go by every minute, and it\’s regular people — elderly couples, business-suited types, families… everyone, not just the relatively tiny subculture of lycra-clad riders we have in the US.

    Most of us reading this are pretty comfortable taking the lane, but most of my non-biking friends will never ride regularly if they have to share with cars. In fact, even my Dutch friends who were staying in our place in Portland refused to ride in the streets here — didn\’t feel safe.

    The only way to really make Portland a bike- and ped-centric city is to provide separated lanes. Within a year, we\’d have several times the number of riders, and within a few years, we\’d far outnumber drivers in the central city. And that would eventually transform the city.

    But the separated lanes need to happen on a large scale, not just a few streets at a time, if you want to really attract the great majority of Portlanders who don\’t ride. (What makes you feel secure in Holland is knowing you\’ll NEVER encounter a car in your lane.) It\’s going to take some gutsy political leadership to make that happen. If it could happen anywhere in the US, though, Portland\’s the place. We already have a lot of advantages, like a compact central city, great bike friendly public transit, etc.

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  • Joe September 23, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Agreed brettoo! This site in particular attracts the opinions of a relatively small group of bikers that are more confident riding in mixed-traffic situations than most. I will ride reluctantly in mixed-traffic, but I\’m not comfortable doing so and long for a separated pathway, even if a bit slower. I\’m tired of racing on the streets to keep up with traffic. Separated lanes, when implemented in the appropriate locations and all conflicts have been appropriately thought out, have the potential to increase bike mode share and the presence of biking in a community.

    It\’s good to identify issues from the more confident riders, but this tool is far from the doom and gloom predicted by most comments on this post. When implemented on certain streets where there are few or no driveways, intersections, and pedestrian conflicts, this could work well. Like Todd said, this is one tool in the toolbox. It might work well in some situations where other tools don\’t work.

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  • N.I.K. September 23, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Why are Americans so averse to learning from other countries?

    If I had to wager a guess, my first response would unquestionably be, \”pig-headed nationalism,\” though I think that\’s scarcely relevant to most of the comments posted questioning blind embrace of the cycle tracks concept. Raising concerns about things such as design issues, present disregard of extant infrastructure by non-cyclists, and impact on our already-present inter-modal solutions are perfectly valid points, and I believe that they\’re being raised so that there\’s discourse: the way you avoid doing something intended for the common good the wrong way is through talking about the idea beforehand and considering it from multiple angles.

    What makes you feel secure in Holland is knowing you\’ll NEVER encounter a car in your lane.

    And a big part of that has to do with the fact that the bicycle infrastructure in Holland has been in place for a good long while – everybody there\’s already used to dealing with them. Cycle tracks in Portland will not literally mushroom overnight, nor will citizens awaken that hypothetical morning after the first few are completed and opened for use and be aware of how to deal with them. When considering transportation infrastructure solutions, it\’s important to carefully consider them relevant to the locale and make efforts to make sure they\’re planned and implemented accordingly.

    Now, if you want to go ahead and call out people who *are* being vehemently \”Dutch bastards!\” about things, go ahead. But don\’t do that thing where you make a generalization to avoid calling people out and wind up lumping in many other targets besides. It\’s even more counterproductive than explicit finger-pointing.

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  • zilfondel September 24, 2007 at 11:55 am

    28th Ave on the Eastside would be another excellent candidate for a \’bike track,\’ as it receives a huge amount of cyclists moving cross-town (N-S), with lots of mixed traffic, such as semis trailers, SUVs, motorcycles, and the like. There is ample space on the street, with parking on both sides – but drivers make wide berths around cyclists and end up almost running into oncoming traffic, or squeeze cyclists against the parked cars. This is more prevalent than many other streets in Portland due to the sheer traffic volume it gets.

    Also, virtually none of the cyclists wear helmets – probably less than 5%. (I live on the street)

    However, cross-traffic will be a problem with these separated bike lanes – Portland has the shortest block lengths of any major city in North America, which means more cross streets – and more opportunities for cars to pull out and squish you. Perhaps a possibility for major streets would be to close off the side streets (like you see in NE 28th near the Fred Meyer) to streamline major bicycle route streets.

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  • brettoo September 24, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Sorry, NIK, wasn\’t trying to avoid discussing how we localize the lessons of Europe. Just was feeling that some folks were dismissing some potentially valuable Euro lessons simply because they were Not Invented Here. I agree that, now that we know how well separated paths work there, we should focus the discussion on how to make it happen here. All I\’m saying is that judging by what I saw there, I\’m guessing that we won\’t get dramatic change in ridership without dramatic change in infrastructure, though piecemeal changes may be more politically realistic. But then if we do change a few streets, like NYC is doing, and there\’s no immediate big jump in ridership, will the naysayers say it can\’t happen here? That\’d be an unrealistic test.

    So, does anyone know the history of Dutch cycle infrastructure? I heard that it\’s really not been that long since they adopted the system, maybe 20-30 years, and I\’d like to know how long it took to achieve such a dramatic increase in ridership. Anyone have any statistics?

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  • N.I.K. September 24, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    All I\’m saying is that judging by what I saw there, I\’m guessing that we won\’t get dramatic change in ridership without dramatic change in infrastructure, though piecemeal changes may be more politically realistic. But then if we do change a few streets, like NYC is doing, and there\’s no immediate big jump in ridership, will the naysayers say it can\’t happen here? That\’d be an unrealistic test.

    And that risk is all the more reason we need to take care in discussing the idea in-depth…not just from a *how* to make it work for here angle, but also from an *if* (lesser emphasis) and *when* (greater emphais) perspective. If the public doesn\’t see substantial measurable results in a projected period of time from such a project, the anti-alternate-transportation-mode crowd out there might start sounding more credible. Just think: \”Wholly separate infrastructure, and nobody\’s using it! Damned free-ridin\’ free-loadin\’ cyclists! User pays!\” We *don\’t* need to fuel that, um, \”argument\”.

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  • Todd B September 24, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Hey Dabby…Please help a Vancouverite…and describe a Portlandian? And how they operate a bicycle that is different than their cousins from Euroland?

    Thanks.

    PS. And yes…Portland does have short blocks…good point so you have to choose the locations for biketracks carefully…oh and Amsterdam has short blocks too…hmmm…I guess it can still be done.

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  • a.O September 24, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    It comes down to the fact that some people are deeply fearful of change. But humans are too curious not to experiment a bit. Given all the civic involvement in PDX, I\’m sure we couldn\’t help but get a highly deliberative process in designing new infrastructure. I think there can be little realistic doubt that, if we design something that effectively gives the perception of safety by separating cyclists from motor traffic, people will use it.

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  • Mary Arneson October 7, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    So, does anyone know the history of Dutch cycle infrastructure? I heard that it\’s really not been that long since they adopted the system, maybe 20-30 years, and I\’d like to know how long it took to achieve such a dramatic increase in ridership. Anyone have any statistics?

    The history of the Dutch fietspaden is nicely laid out at:

    http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fietspad

    Of course, it\’s in Dutch. It describes a period of increasing bike path development in the Netherlands and Germany in the first part of the last century: \”Around the 1930\’s more and more bike paths were laid out — also in Belgium, Denmark, France, and Switzerland. The first generation of bike paths was sometimes controversial with many cyclists because of the mediocre quality.\” In 1926, Germany required cyclists to use the separate bikeways, but bike path use was not mandatory in the Netherlands until the German invasion during WWII. As automobiles became more popular in the 1960\’s, Germany — and to some extent the Netherlands — began to tear out bike paths to build wider highways. This led to the founding of the Fietserbond (Cyclists\’ Union) in the Netherlands.

    There is a link on the Wikipedia site to another history of cycle paths (in English) at:

    http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/history.html

    When I visited the Netherlands in 1970, I was enchanted by the bike freeways full of cyclists, but there weren\’t bike paths along all the streets in Amsterdam. I don\’t remember seeing huge numbers of bikes in Amsterdam in the mid-1980\’s either. The big increase seems to have come more recently.

    From the \”Masterplan Fiets\” 1998 report (page 40 – http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/Eindrapport%20Masterplan%20Fiets.pdf ) there are some clues — and some graphs that you can look at even if you can\’t read the Dutch: \”Bike-use statistics are available since 1978 through the Study of Transportation Methods in the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS-OVG). The trends that are relevant naturally begin earlier. Before and after the second World War, the bike was the most important means of transportation. Up to 1960, the Dutch traveled more kilometers by bike than by car. After that point, automobile use exploded, and at the same time, the use of bicycles plummeted. In 1974, it was down to the level of 1950. Around 1975, there was an upturn in bike use. The period from 1980-1990 saw an increase of 30% in bike kilometers traveled. Since 1990, bicycle use has not grown. Stability is the trend. But bicycle ownership has continued to climb. It\’s estimated that there were 5 to 6 million bikes in the Netherlands between 1950 and 1960. In 1980, the number had climbed to more than 10 million. At this point, 85 percent of the Dutch population have at least one bike, and the total number of rideable bikes is roughly equal to the total population: almost 16 million.

    Judging from the wall-to-wall bikes in Amsterdam, and from the big increase in separated bikeways there since the mid 80\’s, I think that much of the growth is, in fact, recent.

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