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Old 01-03-2008, 08:39 PM
columbusite columbusite is offline
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Default What would you change about this city's biking infrastructure?

Hi! I'm a newbie here and as my name suggests I don't live here, but Portland is looked to as the pinnacle of a bike-friendly city nationally. Here in Columbus there is a bikeways plan (large .pdf) that will be finalized on the 11th. So as a city that has an extensive network of roads and trails for bikes, what would you recommend? I'd definitely like to hear what people think of bike lanes. Hopefully I can include some input and send it to the company in time before they end the opportunity for public input. I did a detailed criticism of it here (yes, it's my blog, but it's relevant), if anyone's interested enough.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:18 PM
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wsbob wsbob is offline
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What do people in Portland think of bike lanes. What do I personally think of bike lanes?

Those questions have complicated answers. That's my impression at least, and my own feeling about them for now. Given events of the last year in particular, I'd wager that quite a lot of people in Portland have a love-hate regard for bike lanes, in no small part because at least two people on bikes in bike lanes were run over and killed by motor vehicles where bikes and motor vehicles were at an intersection together. In fact, because of those tragic deaths and the flaws they pointed up related to current bike lane design, many people have no love at all for bike lanes, and think of bike lanes as the cyclist's enemy.

Bike lanes can be really, really good where there's clear separation of both motor vehicle and bike at pinch points such as intersections. Often this hasn't been adequately accomplished because the concept of bike lanes introduced into existing street infrastructure is for the most part, an adaptation of existing street infrastructure originally conceived exclusively for motor vehicles. It's not uncommon for the final result to be not much more than an afterthought that's not safe or very effective in terms of accomplishing many of the goals they're intended to accomplish.

There's a real lack of clarity and consensus as to whether bike or motor vehicle has right of way at an intersection where the bike lane is located furthest to the right of the roadway. This, as well as general lack of a good street design that effectively incorporates the presence of both bike and motor vehicle in such situations presents amazingly dangerous situations, such as the right-hook.

There are lots of good things about bike lanes though, just a few of which I'll mention. Bike lanes get cyclists out from behind noxious internal combustion vehicles, whose exhaust, despite all those vehicles pollution equipment, still seem very nasty and unhealthy to inhale. Especially considering the numbers of cyclists currently riding as commuters, there aren't too many bike traffic jams...yet. That pretty much makes a bike lanes an open road for cyclists. It's great motivational psychology too for the motor vehicles drivers stuck in their cars as bikes zip by them during rush hour.

Bike lanes as part of the general street infrastructure, are an evolving thing. They've got to get better at safely mixing bike and motor vehicle then they are now, but it seems to be quite clear that everyday, bikes are becoming more appealing to people as a transportation option, in no small part because bike lanes are inviting to cyclists in that they offer an element of safety and freedom that didn't exist before. How planners and bike advocates will eventually work out the challenge posed by the bike lane's inherent flaw of the right-hook at intersections is a wait and see situation. Generally though, my own feeling is that bike lanes have definitely helped to initiate the era of the bike as commuter transportation for Portland.

Last edited by wsbob; 01-03-2008 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 01-04-2008, 02:41 AM
ChipSeal ChipSeal is offline
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I am now reading section 3.6.2 existing conditions and recommendations.

Horrible! Awful! They are contrary to the stated goals of improving safety!

An example:

"Many of Columbusís arterials are not comfortable for bicycling, due to high speeds, numerous driveways and heavy traffic. Improving these roadways for bicyclists generally means providing a separate lane or right of way for bicyclists. Modifications can range from reducing lane widths to provide bicycle lanes, adding bicycle lanes as part of a road diet, to developing an access control plan and parallel shared use path."

If there are driveways present, bike lanes become more hazardous for cyclists by increasing the opportunity for right hooks.

There is a picture the pdf uses to illustrate this section. The cyclist pictured is riding in the gutter and it is clearly unsafe. He should position himself where the license plate of the green car is.

Where I live, we have plenty of roads like this and they are great to ride on! Three to four lanes each direction with a narrow right lane. The entire right lane is my bike lane! It is a 10' to 12' bike lane. Motor vehicle traffic merges to go around me (as they would any other slow vehicle) and I am never right hooked.

It would be contrary to the interests of cyclists to add bike lanes here. It would trade cyclists safety for the convenience of motorists.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:35 PM
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Simple Nature Simple Nature is offline
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Bike lanes are great... but they need to be contiguous. The problem in the PDX metroplex is that cities depend on development to build the infastructure for cyclists. That means that established communities do not get public funds dedicated to them for establishing the bike lanes unless the city instigates a major public roads program for the existing road.

If you have an opportunity, make sure the law includes "connectedness" in the bike path development language. Regardless of who pays, you want to know that a stretch of road is bike safe from one end to the other.

Edit: Also make sure that signs like "bikes on roadway" or a sign pointing to the sidewalk saying "bike route" are not a valid excuse for not doing the work needed to keep a cyclist safe.

Edit 2: I see no special wording for recumbent trikes (parking) or even upright adult delta tricycles.

Last edited by Simple Nature; 01-04-2008 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:58 PM
agramsci agramsci is offline
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Default theory vs. reality

I like the "theory" of bike boulevards that has been developed and partially implemented here in Portland. But my experience with their reality has been disheartening. What have I found?

Well, they don't actually expedite travel. They don't even necessarily create safer routes either. It is as if whoever devised them never actually rode their whole length or consulted anyone who ever did.

A perfect example is to be found with the "bike boulevard" running down Southeast 41st-2nd-3rd (it takes some jogs, as do the northsouth streets around here). It crosses major thoroughfares numerous times. And at each of those crossings is a dangerous intersection with a "level of service" of approximately "F" in my opinion (ie, no provision for the safety or convenience of cyclists AT ALL). The result is that a cyclist may feel "safer" during the course of his/her journey down these lower traffic streets, but at every major intersection they are left to their own devices, and would have been better off having taken a higher speed parallel arterial road with controlled intersections.

Of course, precisely the same problem applies to multiuse trails (like our Springwater Corridor here). Except that there the situation is even somewhat worse, since they are narrower and shared with a wider variety of slower traffic (joggers, walkers, etc).
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:39 PM
columbusite columbusite is offline
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Thanks for your input, I passed it on to the regional planning committee. I'm hoping the bikeways plan will turn out well.
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