“Death by dangerous cycling law gets government support”
— From the U.K. Seriously.
Here’s the news that caught our eye this week:
– In the UK, in the wake of a tragic crash, the government is moving to pass a law to handle traffic fatalities caused by people bicycling.
– A new report takes a look at the demographics of cycling and busts some myths about race and class.
– Is Twitter changing traffic?
– In automotive news, gas prices are nearly back up to their 2008 peak. More New Yorkers are owning cars. And in Texas, it will soon be legal to drive 85mph on the freeway, the highest speed limit in the country.
– In New York City, a woman says that while bicycling home from work a plainclothes police officer opened his car door in her path and then chased her down and arrested her.
– Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, police reports are called out for bias against people on bicycles.
– What if we stopped writing traffic tickets for bicycling through a stop sign and changed the infrastructure instead?
– A bike ride in Cardiff, Wales drew attention to the number of cars parked in the bike lane.
– An extremely thorough evaluation of the most important women’s cycling issues–that is to say, the anatomical ones.
– Some thoughts about shifting bicycle habits, attire, and even identity upon moving from the U.S. to Copenhagen.
– In San Francisco, profiles of families who bike to school in the city.
– A look at why a bicycle might be the best vehicle in a disaster or evacuation.
– A photo essay on the longest bicycle race in Asia, the Tour de Pakistan.
– An Oregon teacher fends off diabetes by bicycling.
– The general manager of Boston’s T metro system has gone carfree.
– A few bicycle-eye-view observations about carfree life in Kansas City, Missouri.
– A comedian on a child’s tricycle was able to get across town faster than the bus in a Queens, New York challenge.
While the Texas speed limit is pretty high, don’t forget that the freeway speed limit in Holland is 75mph (120kph), and there is no freeway speed limit in Germany, and both are still bike-friendly. There’s not necessarily a rigid link between freeway speed limits and bike-friendliness.
Keeps cars on the freeways where they belong! Segregated car lanes, after all….
The difference being that in Germany (which does indeed have freeway speed limits around cities) and the Netherlands is that the cost of getting a license is much higher, overall car ownership is more expensive, and at least in Germany speeding tickets and the like have a cost in proportion to the person’s income.
I just don’t trust the “let even the lowest common denominator have a license” style of vehicle ownership in America with speeds of that nature.
Another difference is that they enforce that slower traffic must keep to the right and passing ONLY on the left. This makes high(er) speed traffic much safer.
No doubt. Just look at Dallas’ local cycleway network. I think they may be attempting to shame Portland.
I remember that back when I was still healing from being hit by a car (Broken fibula, torn MCL, and a non-displaced tibial plateau fracture), I had a need to
(damn keyboard)… plateau fracture), I had to race home one night after work, the bus had two bikes on it already, and wouldn’t allow me to board with my bike.
I raced that bus home, and even with the two broken bones and torn ligament, I still managed to beat the damn thing.
I too have found that my bike is almost as fast as public transit. I’m just over 70, in poor health & can rarely average more than 9mph. In spite of this I can routinely do as well in a 25-mile commute across town to OHSU by bike as by taking public transit. If we hope to ever get people out of cars & onto transit and/or bike we’ll have to improve efficiency of the system. I’m retired & can afford to waste that kind of time. Most cannot.
Man…you’re doing pretty good for 70, commuting up the hill from across town. Relatively few people far younger can work that into their schedule, burdened as most of them are, with long lists of chores to do in addition to simply getting themselves to work.
Just how much faster can inner city mass transit be expected to be? The nature of mass transit implies that it has more than one person to transport, as opposed to most bikes transporting a single person, or perhaps kids and groceries in a trailer. Mass transit has many stops to make, many people to pick up and let off. So the comedian on the trike was funny and all, but he didn’t have to pick up and drop off passengers, allowing him to beat the bus despite his very slow, impractical mode of transportation.
The real answer to reducing transit times, is to get people to, or allow people to…live closer to their jobs. The ongoing tradition in current day U.S. living, is to not do this, but rather, live far, far away (by walking, riding, or mass transit modes of travel.) from the job or home. If everyone had to commute to work by Big Wheel, that would probably change, like…really, really fast!!
42nd Street from 8th to Madison goes through Times Square at Broadway/7th. It is one of the most congested stretches in NYC. The bus did have to stop for people, but the traffic congestion and lights were much bigger issues in the ‘race.’
The article said:
“… Wearing a bicycle helmet, he made sure to obey all traffic signals as he rode in the street. …” NY daily news
It also said he had “…a team of camera operators following him as he reached speeds of 4.7 mph. …”. In the comments to that story, one person speculated the stunt’s crew may have held traffic back and kept the bus from arriving sooner. No report to that effect in the story though.
At periods during rush hour, that speed seems about the speed of motor vehicle traffic traveling between the Vista Bridge Tunnels and the Sylvan overpass. Going up that hill on a Big Wheel might be tougher than mid-town NYC.
Mass transit connections to OHSU are, for me, a complete fail:
bike — ~45 min (round trip)
bike+tram — ~55 min ”
bus — ~120 min “
“Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, police reports are called out for bias against people on bicycles.”
BikingInLa’s initial story on apparent bias from the Torrance (CA) police was reconsidered in this post:
From the first item ‘Death by dangerous cycling’:
“The number of pedestrian casualties brought about by cyclists each year is tiny, whereas the risk posed by cars is, statistically, much greater. So greater deterrents are needed for motorists, because it’s much more important for everyone’s safety that motorists are made to think twice before driving dangerously or carelessly.”
This sounds familiar.
“If we hope to ever get people out of cars & onto transit and/or bike we’ll have to improve efficiency of the system. I’m retired & can afford to waste that kind of time. Most cannot.”
hats off to you. I’d only add that many, perhaps starting with Ivan Illich, have calculated the true speed of someone in a car vs on a bike. By this argument, the extra hours the car driver has to work per year to pay for the car, insurance, gas, etc. must be added to their speed, or rather subtracted from it. When you figure it that way, you and others who eschew the car may actually be as fast or even faster–if that is a desirable goal, which I’d not want to assume for all.
I think if you go there with this line of reasoning, you have to keep digging. If it were this simple, you’d think more people would just take lower paying jobs closer to home, or buy a home closer to work. But most people don’t have the choices available them in order to minimize their commute time/costs as they would if the issue existed in a vacuum.
A similar example might be childcare. Childcare costs can be high enough that a lot of working parents have to take second jobs in order to to pay for childcare during their regular job. Say daycare is $8/hr and you can make $12/hr at your second job. Taken out of context, it doesn’t make economic sense to work for what is effectively $4/hr, less than minimum wage. But if you need another $200 a month to make ends meet, you have to do some contortions.
The same goes for the commute. If the only job that pays you enough is 30 miles away by freeway, you have to have a car to get there, period, even if there are diminishing returns on your net income after the expense of owning/operating a car.
A lot of folks in middle/lower middle class don’t have the financial flexibility or security to change jobs or move in order to minimize commute costs. This is an issue we need to acknowledge when we’re trying to get people to change their mode of transport.
The story about the comedian on a child’s tricycle, racing a mid-town NYC bus, was funny. Other than it being a funny stunt though, from a practical standpoint addressing the need for improvements in public transportation, what is the value?
The ‘race’ was only a mile in length. The bus made the distance in 15 minutes and 20 seconds. The comedian made the trip in 12 minutes and 42 seconds. For a mid-town NYC trip, how does 15 minutes and 20 seconds rate for trip time compared to that required for a more reasonable form of transportation other than a Big Wheel, such as a taxi, a car, or a limo?
Seeing the pic of the comedian on the Big Wheel with its tiny skateboard wheels on the back end of the trike; that looks painful. There’s an idea for some of these lamebrain DUI road users. Confronting them with the promise of being obliged to travel on one of those for awhile to get where they need to go… .
I see your point, Elliot, and agree that transaction costs can be substantial. My point wasn’t that with this knowledge everyone would soon be selling their cars. Rather it was meant as an interrogation of Jim’s argument that ‘he could afford to waste the time biking.’
With enough time and this economic insight into some of the less obvious costs (financial and temporal) of relying on a car, some folks just might find themselves making different choices in relation to the job-housing-commute-mode of transport set of issues.
Put another way, those who don’t have a car, who manage to take care of business, family, obligations without one in fact face a different set of terms than perhaps many assume. The money saved, the time not spent working to pay for the car they don’t have, is real.
From the NYPD doors cyclist article:
“He didn’t say he was a cop and I thought, ‘This guy’s crazy, he’s attacking me!'”
Truly disgusting. I can confirm this sort of dubious plain-clothes officer behavior as systemic in NYC. I hope Christina gets some justice in court.
Systemic of cops, in general. Didn’t one of own PDX officers pull a stunt like that recently .. except he was on the bike and he terrorized and scared an old guy in a truck (just to flip the “spin”). He didn’t identify himself as a cop, attacked the old guy’s property and then charged him with ‘running away’ from a nutcase?
I was quite bored with the american in copenhagen piece but another post from the same blog was (unintentionally) hilarious:
Find out what happens when you try to bike more than 5 km on a alloy steel danish bike.
Yeah, I think that story speaks more to inadequate equipment than anything. That’s like pulling a 40 year old car out of an indian reservation junkyard, fixing it just enough to get running, and trying to take it on the Oklahoma Turnpike. (Hint: It’ll probably get you arrested on charges of stopping on the turnpike).
I read the story. It was interesting. The concept of ‘bike superhighway’, used in the article, is one that I don’t think is well known or understood around Portland. Where’s the closest ‘bike superhighway’ to Portland?
Pics of the ‘bike superhighway’ in the article show something that looks like a MUP, such as the Springwater Trail. The writers of the story note early on that they feel the ‘bike superhighway’ designation doesn’t really much fit path they rode on; isn’t “technically built yet”.
What do people imagine a ‘bike superhighway’ would be, and what reasons might they have for thinking they should exist? In certain places, done right, ‘bike superhighways’ are probably a very good idea. A few of them around here would be handy.
Can’t help feeling bad for the people writing this article. They ride one of those full fendered bikes, and allow themselves to be in a situation where they aren’t prepared to quickly fix a flat on the spot. No wrenches or patch kit in the pannier? Sure it’s cold, but walking the bike 2k, because you don’t want to stop on the road and fix the flat?
They ask: “… Why would anyone want to ride 10-15 km (30-45 minutes) into town on a path that is far from any grocery, day care, or bike shop and feels unsafe at night? …” . 10k? …I guess that’s about 7 miles. For a straight, motor vehicle free, uninterrupted commute, seems like a lot of people would find such a route option very appealing.
Something similar to what the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is slowly implementing on the Creek Turnpike Trail. Ultimately, this trail will be pedestrian-free or pedestrian-segregated (similar to how the Riverparks East trail is currently), grade separated, featuring freeway-style ramps to cross streets. One segment is also divided, with two lanes each way instead of one.
I’m certain the only reason the Creek Turnpike Trail isn’t more popular already is because Tulsa has really focused on crosstown connections while utterly neglecting the last mile. So, once you’re on one of Tulsa’s ten bicycle highways, the going is awesome, but getting on or off it might require taking the lane on a six-lane divided boulevard for a few miles.