A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that physcially separated, bicycle-specific infrastructure can lead to much lower risk of injury for people riding bicycles.
Here’s more on the study from Atlantic Cities:
As it turns out, infrastructure really matters. Your chance of injury drops by about 50 percent, relative to that major city street, when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. The same improvement occurs on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. And protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent.
Intuitively, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to find that research shows separating people on bikes from motor vehicle traffic leads to fewer injuries. But there’s a group of people in the U.S. who feel that people on bikes are safest when they mix with car traffic. Even in comments here on BikePortland, it’s common to hear from folks who don’t like the idea of being locked into using separated bikeways (either by design or by law) when they’d rather “take the lane”.
In the past, I’ve heard that one reason for City Hall’s reluctance to push for more physically separated bikeways was precisely because there seemed to be infighting from the “bike community” about whether they were wanted or not. (Unfortunately, local politicians still seem to wait for a mythical, 100% consensus from the “bike community” before they push for bike-specific projects.)
This new research should be welcome ammunition for advocates and city planners who support more separated bike infrastructure.
Here in Portland — despite knowing for years that separation is imperative to reach our cycling usage goals — we’ve had a bit of separation anxiety. While we do have some bright spots of separated infrastructure, it has happened primarily where it was politically and technically easy to pull off. The plans to revamp NE Multnomah through the Lloyd District with more protected bikeways are a positive step forward. That project is great sign of progress and a promising omen for the future; but even that came only after major public outcry from people who wanted better bike access than PBOT originally proposed.
Last year, when I asked Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ transportation policy director Catherine Ciarlo about our progress toward more separation, even she acknowledged our effort was only good for “bronze”. Instead of pushing for fully separated, connected bikeways in the urban core, Ciarlo’s response was very telling. “The challenge is to figure out how to achieve separation in creative or economical ways,” she said. Ciarlo cited neighborhood greenways (which are shared environments on residential streets) as an example of this creativity. She also cited progress on signal timing as one way PBOT is separating bicycle traffic.
Bike boulevards and bike-oriented signal technology will only get us so far. The unmet challenge in Portland is to map out a network of streets in the central city that have dedicated and physically separated bicycle access. The City has an obligation to provide the same level of comfort and convenience for people riding bicycles as they currently offer people on foot and in cars, buses, streetcars, and light rail trains.
As evidenced by PBOT’s recent revelation that collisions have gone way up at several downtown intersections where they opted to use only paint as a means of separation, this research couldn’t have come at a better time. Of course, all the knowledge in the world means nothing unless it’s acted upon.
“Even in comments here on BikePortland, it’s common to hear from folks who don’t like the idea of being locked into using separated bikeways (either by design or by law) when they’d rather ‘take the lane’.”
Unless I’m reading the comments wrong, the above is almost always in reference to exiting non-physically separated bike lanes, especially at intersections.
I don’t think anybody here would argue that physically separated bike paths with dedicated signals wouldn’t be much safer and more fun to use while riding around town.
Going back to the BTA brown bag last week, I think the answer is simple. The only direction that Portland can take if it really wants to be a “world class” cycling city is to create an extensive network of physically separated bike paths.
I don’t know exactly how to interpret either one of you, but I’m absolutely against planters and parked cars as block-long “buffers” for narrow bikeways.
We all move at different speeds, and I’m typically one of the faster people.
The last thing I want is constantly awkward situations typical of the central city bridges, where passing is a risky and/or rude proposition, if we are to hold ourselves to the same 3+ foot passing rule we expect from people in cars. And as rarely as it’s heeded, I’m inclined to think that Bell is a dead language.
On Interstate, I’d go mad being trapped behind every rider who insisted on barreling down the hill into the red light, rather than timing their descent for green. Likewise, there are a lot of people who go up that hill who should maybe take Williams instead.
I think maybe the problem is that when we thinking about cycling infrastructure in Portland, we limit ourselves by thinking too narrowly. Picture separated bike paths that are wide enough to comfortably ride two abreast in both directions, paths that are wide enough to pass slower riders, and wide enough such that slower riders don’t feel intimidated or in the way. Would you still be against separated (from cars) bike paths if this was the case?
It’s hard to picture the city actually doing this, but if we don’t set our goals high enough we’ll never come close to having a world class cycling city.
Your vision of separated infrastructure sounds nice but PBOT and their commercial surrogate often publicly complain about high bicycle speeds. Alta even proposed a laughable 5 mph speed limit for a bike path in SF. In fact, I believe that recent separated infrastructure in PDX has been expressly *designed* to slow bicycles down. In the Netherlands they are building bike “highways” while in PDX we are building bike “sidewalks”.
Totally agree. Two approaches that do work and which I would like to see implemented in Portland are:
– two-way cycletracks (example: a cycletrack along the eastside of Naito Parkway would not only eliminate any bike/car conflict along the west side of the road, but also offload and reduce bike/ped conflicts along the Waterfront Park Trail);
– bike/ped-friendly intersections featuring “traffic islands” (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HDN9fUlqU8 for examples of various implementations).
I’m fine with that Utopian vision, but the money’s not there, and some things simply aren’t feasible under any budget.
I’ve got my own wish list, but it’s a little more pragmatic. It’s about routes that are calmer, easier to follow, and and smoother. Lights on the Springwater (so people have enough faith to build Sullivan’s Gulch). Those dreams alone are pretty damn expensive.
“We all move at different speeds, and I’m typically one of the faster people.”
Maybe you should just slow down and relax, then. I’d much rather be “trapped” behind a slower rider in a narrow separate bikeway than have to deal with the anxiety of riding in car traffic. Other cyclists can make me nuts sometimes, too, but they’re so much less dangerous and obnoxious than cars that it’s more than a fair trade.
Do you also tell motorists to slow down and relax? For me, cycling is not primarily about “relaxation” but about getting from point A to point B efficiently.
And the false dichotomy you created is ridiculous. The choices are not limited to: A) cycle track or B) cycling in the middle of “car traffic”.
Just a few of the other options:
C) Bike lane
D) Buffered bike lane
E) Traffic-calmed shared infrastructure
My favorite separated bike infrastructure? Springwater corridor along the Willamette.
My favorite separated bike infrastructure is NE Cully. I would love to see this infrastructure extended from NE Cully to Broadway and then all of the way to PSU.
I’d even prefer to see NE Sandy, MLK/ Grand, and other major streets become go-to destinations for cross town cycling. Bring on the Cycle Tracks!
nope, that’s a multi-use path, not a bike path, not separated…
I have yet to see separated bike infrastructure in Portland… all of the separated paths here in Portland allow pedestrians across them mid-block…
Leaving aside the issue of whether separated facilities are “better” for a moment, they certainly cost a lot more, both in money and in political capital. We need to focus on making sure we have at least bike lanes everywhere people want/need to go.
Not necessarily Dave. We just lack the creativity and flexibility to try new things. A good amount of separation can be achieved by using inexpensive things like plastic bollards, planters, small curbs, and so on.
But yes, I agree in most respects that it will take money to do this… especially because a key is adding signal priority and bicycle-specific signal phases. The good news is we have the money! We just choose to spend it the wrong way. We are paving roads and expanding highways so that people can have a faster, more pleasant place to drive. I think we need to reconsider our spending priorities and give more priority to projects that will promote the type of behavior that saves money in the long run (bicycling) instead of doing things that encourage the most expensive behavior (driving) that is draining our resources faster than we can replenish them.
the graph in the atlantic article indicates roughly the same level of safety for a “major street with no parked cars and a shared lane” as for a “bike only path.” most of the high safety stuff was on “local streets.”
there was an outlier for “cycle track,” which i guess was kind of the point, but without direct access to the underlying research paper it is not clear whether this refers to something that might be placed on a “major street.” in other words, i don’t know whether they are saying planters and bollards are going to yield these lovely results on a “major street.”
Separated bicycle facilities cost less per user/mile than an automotive facility does per user/mile.
We can argue the “need” for automobiles until the cows come home but the simple fiscal fact is that lighter vehicles (bicycles) make for a cheaper longer lasting tax investment in roads than do roads for single occupancy automobiles.
What does it cost to maintain the status quo? Providing safe places to engage in self-transportation and not leaving bikes/peds at the whim and mercy of motor traffic will encourage many more to ride ( that 50% ‘interested but concerned’ the BMP identifies). Economic development by transportation investments is not limited to light rail. Weekly it seems another business related to cycling opens here in Portland. But even not-bike businesses benefit from the fact that a dollar not spent on gas is a dollar for a movie, a meal, a garden shop. The fact remains that as long as folks fear ‘sharing the road’ with motor traffic, the numbers of riders will not significantly increase. What is the social cost of not building safe facilities in injury and death at the hands of motor traffic while encouraging cyclists to coexist in a realm where they are the guaranteed victim?
How well does this work in Sun River, OR with it’s extensive MUPs but also bans bikes from many of the roadways altogether? Honest question.
That’s a unique situation… But it works quite well in my opinion. And tons of people ride bikes there as a result (and they save a lot of money by not having to maintain their roads as often).
It is also a 100% vacation area that has few people riding to get to work or the store. I’ve only been to Sun River during the off season, when there was almost no one there, and the paths were nice to run on. But if I was FORCED to ride on them with my road bike for a training ride, I would be a lot less impressed for sure.
This is the gist I got from my one visit there too. I certainly wouldn’t go on an exercise ride on them. And if I was a commuter there, I have a feeling I’d have lots of MUP conflicts with dogs and pedestrians and the odd mixed with parking lot entrances conflicts I encountered.
Springwater is essentially an MUP.. so is the 205 path, but somehow they work as transportation routes for many. So does a separated trail have to have a “recreational” or “transportation” designator? It really boils down to how well it works for an individual using it for a specific use. If this rec/trans trail was next to a river, would birders not be allowed to use it because its not a ‘birders’ trail? Of course not.
Once built, it organically would be deployed for the best use.
getting tired about how people want to make bicycling safe without any conversation about taming the very thing that’s making bicycling unsafe: motor vehicles…
let’s give blah blah to cyclists…
we don’t want it! we just want people to stop killing us, and to be held accountable for killing somebody when they do…
we don’t want special signals… we don’t want special roads… we just want our right to life…
tired of this BS political charade where they pat each other on the back about all the good they’ve done while killers go free…
Didn’t Portland just agree to lower speed limits on 70 miles of roads?
Spiffy’s got a really good point.
(1) Separated infrastructure is EXPENSIVE and takes time to build. By the time we’re 2% there* we may discover that the existing infrastructure now clogged with cars is less clogged. Good to keep at least one eye on some plausible futures when plotting these sorts of things.
(2) Why not simply reduce speeds on more streets? I think the effect would be at least as noticeable in terms of the wellbeing of people bicycling, and it would be (much) cheaper and quicker. Anyone got a study that tries to compare these two ‘solutions’?
*Given that we have a full set of roads already, where exactly is this separated infrastructure supposed to go? And what happens when the separated piece ends and we have to bike in traffic again? Something which is not a glitch but is integral to this approach as I understand it.
I hear you 9watts. I think we need an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to bike access. I think it’s dangerous to get fully wedded to the idea of European cycle tracks.
I’d like to see some pilot programs that designate certain streets downtown as being bike-only. Or, on larger streets, let’s make certain lanes only for bike during peak hours. Or, how about lower speed limits on main streets like Alberta, Hawthorne, Mississippi, 28th so people on bikes can safely take the lane (and maybe people in cars will go so frustrated they’ll simply use another street).
I’m all for flexibility and finding a solution.
Sometimes I think it is that we don’t know what we’re missing.
My friends in Germany ask incredulously, ‘What is with you American’s, do you really not want healthcare?’ I have to point out that we here have no experience with real healthcare, with a functioning system where you are actually covered: everything, always. Same with biking. I have rarely biked here on streets that were limited to 20mph and where those driving cars abided by those speeds. Biking is a whole ‘nother experience when you’re going the same speed as cars, and not because everyone is stuck in traffic but because that is the law. The uncertainty, the risk, the whole experience is different.
Separate infrastructure is fine with me in theory, but in practice I just don’t see it as the best way to spend our money (better than the CRC for sure, but no one’s actually proposing spending $4B on separate bike infrastructure).
Of course, all such efforts would be only as effective as their enforcement.
a lot of (self) enforcement comes from cultural expectations. you don’t see a whole lot of people pissing in the streets.
+1 on there not being enough ROW space in the inner city to add separated bike infrastructure without taking significant ROW space away from motor vehicles.
If you think the past fights over removal of small amounts of curbside parking for bike facilities were ugly, wait until it’s proposed to take multiple travel lanes away from motorists for separated bike facilities on long stretches of busy arterial streets.
Self driving cars.
Then pass laws allowing victims to sue a violator’s insurance for anything and everything with civil suit levels of burden of proof.
Watch as insurance rates skyrocket for anyone wanting to drive manually.
It doesn’t stop people from owning a car, just driving it.
Because the problem isn’t autos, its the drivers.
There’s an assumption there that the entire problem is motor vehicles and drivers which isn’t remotely accurate.
I don’t know about the entire problem, but if you took away the cars, I think ~95% of the carnage would also disappear. And that includes the assumption that those who had been driving are now getting around by other means including bikes.
But why don’t you tell us what you think is accurate.
If you took away the bikes, all the auto/bike carnage would disappear as well. Drivers tend to accept the high cost of, both in terms of money and lives, of being able to drive.
I get you are looking forward by looking back to the late 19th century by abolishing the private automobile but that’s completely and totally unrealistic.
It’s not accurate to say that drivers are the cause of bike/car accidents. There are just as many, if not more, poor cyclists that are at fault in those kinds of accidents.
“If you took away the bikes, all the auto/bike carnage would disappear as well. Drivers tend to accept the high cost of, both in terms of money and lives, of being able to drive.”
I think you are in denial about how this works. Did you get Sam Adams’ memo yesterday about all the people who died on Foster Rd over the past ten years? Those were not deaths due to bikes or pedestrians, my friend.
“I get you are looking forward by looking back to the late 19th century by abolishing the private automobile but that’s completely and totally unrealistic.”
Where does this ‘abolish’ language come from? My point to you was meant to illustrate the dominant role that cars play in the violence on our streets, not as a policy prescription. I thought that was obvious. As for how unrealistic the 19th Century is to us today, don’t be too quick to dismiss it. It may come (back) sooner than we think. And those rings for tying up your horse are still attached to our curbs. Someone was thinking ahead.
“It’s not accurate to say that drivers are the cause of bike/car accidents. There are just as many, if not more, poor cyclists that are at fault in those kinds of accidents.”
Show me the data.
We’ve learned here in these pages that where this has been studied the majority (anywhere from ~60-85%) of injuries and deaths where both cars and bikes are involved have been found to be the fault of the driver.
So you ask for data regarding car and bike accidents and then point to a memo showing ONE area of accidents and imply it’s always the drivers’ fault. Don’t give me an anecdotal stat and then ask for the “data.” And lose the condescension while you’re at it. Just because you think you’re better than “motordom” or drivers doesn’t make it so.
Do you have a car? Do you drive? I’m genuinely curious.
“So you ask for data regarding car and bike accidents and then point to a memo showing ONE area of accidents and imply it’s always the drivers’ fault. Don’t give me an anecdotal stat and then ask for the “data.”
I never said ‘always.’ The point is that most of the time it is. If you think otherwise then I invite you to document this somehow. I’m not just pointing to Foster Road and Sam’s memo yesterday but to other studies profiled here on bikeportland that show this preponderance. I have no doubt that some people riding bikes or walking behave very recklessly and are at times at fault in crashes, though the injuries that result are disproportionately their own.
“And lose the condescension while you’re at it. Just because you think you’re better than “motordom” or drivers doesn’t make it so.
Do you have a car? Do you drive? I’m genuinely curious.”
I apologize if I seemed condescending. It was not my intention. I also don’t mean ever to suggest I am better than anything. I do happen to think that bicycling has a future and motordom does not, but that has very little to do with me.
FWIW, I do not own or drive a car. With one brief exception I’ve not owned one for the past fifteen years.
“if you took away the bikes…”
True, and there would be about 500 or so yearly deaths prevented nationwide. Meanwhile, 30,000 or more drivers, passengers, and pedestrians would continue to be killed by cars every year. We can’t focus on getting rid of “the other guy”, we have to focus on what truly makes people safer, which just judging by sheer scale, would be less driving.
And how are you going to obtain the very vague goal of “less driving?” Americans drive nearly 3 TRILLION miles a year. Compared to that number, what’s considered “less driving?”
It’s well underway.
2.9 Trillion? “less than” is a very well-defined mathematical concept.
“Drivers tend to accept the high cost of, both in terms of money and lives, of being able to drive.”
Can you explain what you mean by that, Help?
I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. Other than maybe yourself and some other deluded people, I don’t see a huge movement towards the elimination of the motorized automobile.
“Other than maybe yourself and some other deluded people”
Weren’t you just accusing me of being condescending?
Perhaps my point wasn’t as clear as it might have been. I don’t see drivers actually bearing the costs of driving, at least when it comes to maiming others (Wanda Cortese runs over Christeen Osborn and pays $240); social costs of pollution, expanding impervious surfaces, infrastructure subsidies from non-drivers, military presence to ensure continued flow of cheap oil, climate change, etc. Most people I know agree that the paltry fees for registration and miniscule gasoline tax or fines meted out by law enforcement don’t begin to cover these costs.
as a logical proposition, it seems obvious that if a car were not in motion, it could not strike a pedestrian or cyclist, no matter how careless the pedestrian or cyclist might be
Check this out. An example that might warm the cockles of your heart.
discussed in the Monday Roundup here:
No accidents! How on earth did they accomplish this?
That would be your assumption.
I was saying that fallible, distractable, unfocused human beings are really unsuitable for piloting a heavy vehicle at speeds higher than we were ever evolved to operate at while attempting to dodge threats (vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, buildings, animals, weather, road debris) more numerous than our soggy brains are capable of tracking continuously and reliably.
Saying that motor vehicles are to blame instead of human drivers is akin to blaming a firearm instead of the human pulling the trigger.
I’m not sure if I love or hate the debate that ensues here on Bike Portland when bike paths/cycle tracks are brought up. I thought that the popularization of http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com and http://www.bicycledutch.wordpress.com would settle the argument of what’s better for safety and bicycle mode-share. It seems the biggest sticking point opponents have is the “right” to the road.
The way I see it, it’s not about cost of protected bike lanes or their short-comings – it’s about priorities. LA spent $1 billion widening the 405. The LA region could have made many miles of safe, high quality, 10ft wide cycle tracks if that was a monetary, political, and social priority.
“what’s better for safety and bicycle mode-share”
Sure. All else being equal. But all else is not equal. I don’t think we have thirty years to pour more concrete. I’m all for copying models that work, but in this case we simply waited too long to start.
Why not face the music, accept that we’re experiencing the twilight of the automobile, and draw some policy conclusions from that.
+ Encourage folks to retire their car sooner rather than waiting
+ Reward those who don’t use a car already (we can think of ways to do this)
+ Clarify to which modes the City pledges allegiance, which modes have a future, which modes solve budgetary problems, which modes correspond with better health, etc.
Without some parameters that clarify what we can’t afford/won’t work anymore how can we hope to make any sense of these alternatives?
Here’s my response to your link: http://www.archive.org/details/TripDown1905
San Francisco 1906: every conceivable mode all mixed up. But everyone’s going at a pretty leisurely clip by today’s standards….
I’d be fine with at– though you point out something anti-cycle track folks hate “everyone’s going at a pretty leisurely clip by today’s standards”. I certainly don’t mind that a shared space environment where I can go as slow, and leisurely as I please without feeling pressured to change my positioning or speed by other modes or fellow cyclists
If you’re on a public right of way it’s courteous to share the space equitably with other members of the public. Some people like to go faster than you, and if you are blocking their progress when you could be not blocking their progress and still doing your own thing safely then I feel you are in the wrong. Keeping slow traffic to the right is not an unreasonable request.
I make note of wishing to cycle as I please “without feeling pressured”. I’ll gladly move aside if need be, but the feeling I get under current conditions is that of pressure.
When I cycled in Malmö, Sweden – whether I was on a cycle track or on a calm street – the environment was not hostile. People were courteous to different speeds and properly accommodated them but nobody was hostile, shouting “on your left” or following too closely. Everyone got along just fine and knew when to move without needing to be told or pressured to do so.
In fact, with my style of riding, I was often the one passing others and riding single file (even when cycling with others) simply because I was so used to doing that here in California. At one point my brother said explicitly to me that it was okay to relax and ride two-abreast.
I’d love to be able to bike down a one-lane road without an impatient motorist trying to get me to pull over and stop so that they can continue to be in a hurry…
Right now we engage I think in a fairly adversarial inter-modal dance on our streets, which is reflected in comments on blogs and media websites. There is plenty of antagonism, resentment, finger pointing at the margins. My guess is, and it is only a guess, that in 1906 on Market Street the lower speeds and the very modest inter-modal speed differentials accompanied, facilitated (were borne out of?) a less adversarial street culture. I’m pretty sure that the anonymity that is facilitated by speed, tinted windows, and the hermetic enclosures of today’s automobiles, and what we now call road rage both postdate that period.
If we want to get back to something less dangerous and less adversarial we’ll all need to make some concessions. I’m someone who likes to get where I’m going at a good clip and am in the habit of passing others to keep the pace. But I have long favored a universal speed limit of 15 or 20mph in pursuit of a more amicable streetscape, and I’d abide by it too.
They could have given $1 billion to poor people as well. There are a lot of good uses for a billion dollars. The ELECTED government of the city or county chose to spend it in this way.
Yet another study from another country with very different cultural attitudes towards driving, auto ownership, driver responsibility, land use planning, and urban development. Having both driven and ridden in Vancouver B.C., the difference between Portland drivers and Canadian drivers is night and day and the cityscape is utopian compared to Portland’s hodge-podge.
If someone can study an AMERICAN city with its mix of road user density, attitudes towards transportation modes, etc. then it would be more useful and cogent for Portland. Until then, this is just another “cheerleading” article about how golly, gosh darned awesome Canada (or Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, …) is. NYC, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC have more diverse bike infrastructure than Portland with similar drivers and denser traffic. Perhaps PBOT should study those cities since we already know how wonderful Copenhagen and Utrecht are.
Jonathan is correct in stating that PBOT should be bolder and find new solutions on its own. Why not develop a “Portland School” of thought on bike infrastructure rather than aping what others have done? I sense a great deal of passion at PBOT but very little real creativity. Ultimately, I feel that PBOT is a den of timid bureaucrats unwilling to take risks or think big. More thermo paint! That’ll make us a super-platinum-cubic-zirconia city!!!
Separated or not, I always like to see more bike infrastructure.
On a related note, its good to see that Washington County has been adding buffered bike lanes (Tualatin Sherwood Rd, SW Edy Rd)
And PBOT is (right now!) installing them on SW Barbur with their new repaving job (SW Hooker to the SW Naito cutoff)
Any facility that limits motor-vehicle access is clearly safer (at least within the boundaries of the separated infrastructure). Nevertheless, research in Denmark has shown that overall accidents rates on cycle tracks are higher due to increased risk at intersections. The fact that the authors did not give numbers based on adjusted intersections is interesting. (Bike lanes tend to have more intersections than cycle tracks.) Moreover, the “n” in this study is very low (n =10) and the CIs suggest that the difference between cycle tracks and bike lanes is not statistically significant. I have no idea why the authors did not perform multivariate analyses.
The monthly stoking of this debate irritates me a bit when it is so blatantly polarized by portraying vehicular cyclists against advocates for separated infrastructure. It’s akin to the “bike vs car mentality” that is specifically blasted by posts on this very blog. Let’s please talk about realistic solutions after we’ve solved the political debate about how to get the government to actually spend anything more than pocket change on bike infrastructure. As it stands, we can’t even hardly get a piece of a measly $31 million allocated to be spent 6 years from now.
The biggest danger to bicycles in the public right of way is automobiles, i think we can all agree on this much. One of the biggest differences between Europe and the U.S., or Canada and the U.S., is that drivers in those other countries are simply more attentive and cautious when they operate their vehicles. Culture, licensing processes, expense of driving and yes, infrastructure, all contribute to safer roads and more comfortable riders.
We need to focus on those aspects which will make the biggest difference for the fewest dollars in the here and now. Fighting for crumbs from the table to lay more and more concrete smacks of transportation politics from the decades gone by. It may be surprising how much ignorance there is in the general public about these issues, but that is how media exploit people’s opinions. We need positive public campaigns which educate people about the benefits of cycling, even for those who don’t ride. We need to better train drivers not only about what the rules of the road are, but why they are what they are and why it’s important that people actually follow them. We need to train drivers about common situations that cause danger for cyclists, such as right hooks, driveways and doorings. We need to send bad drivers back to driver’s ed, and hold notoriously bad drivers accountable or deny them the right to the road. We need to share our stories and tell people why we ride and why we love it and stop focusing on every scumbucket that cuts you off on the road.
We can’t lay enough pavement to get bikes everywhere they need to go without sharing at least some road with cars. Do we really need more concrete covering the city? Let’s talk about what infrastructure logically makes the interaction of cars and bikes on the road easier after the majority of people’s attitudes reflect a respect for the choice of cycling.
resopmok for TOBP fo fiehc!
even in comments here on BikePortland, it’s common to hear from folks who don’t like the idea of being locked into using separated bikeways (either by design or by law) when they’d rather “take the lane”.
i do not think this is a fair characterization of the vehicular argument. the sidepath into which i do not want to be segregated is demonstrably less safe [html tag emphasizing “less safe”] than taking the lane. you do not have to dig very far into your own archives to find examples of people who have been injured or killed cooperating with this infrastructure.
i take the lane because it is the sensible thing to do, not because i have some defective switch in my head that tells me i would “rather.”
okay, yes, i also do not use MUPs, except on a couple of the bridges, and that is a question of taste, but thus far no one has tried to “lock me in” to an MUP, because these do not (yet) fall within the statutory definition of a mandatory sidepath.
“MUP[s]…do not (yet) fall within the statutory definition of a mandatory sidepath.”
Really? That would be good news–what excludes them? I’ve always thought that it is just proximity that might work as an excuse to avoid them (i.e., define “adjacent to or near”). Is it the possible lack of official signs or markings?
” 801.160 “Bicycle path.” “Bicycle path” means a public way, not part of a highway, that is designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law. [1983 c.338 §24]”
814.420 refers specifically to a “bicycle lane or bicycle path.” these are defined at 801.155 and .160 as places “designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles.” my interpretation would be that an MUP is not so designated, since these are also for use by persons doing something other than riding bicycles. but i could be wrong.
As far as I’m concerned, they can build all the separated bike facilities they can afford, as long as:
1. They apply interim solutions like sharrows until a permanent facility is constructed (i.e. on arterial streets), and
2. ORS 814.420, the mandatory sidepath law, is repealed, so cyclists who choose not to use the separated facilities still retain their legal right to use the rest of the street if they want.
“…2. ORS 814.420, the mandatory sidepath law, is repealed, so cyclists who choose not to use the separated facilities still retain their legal right to use the rest of the street if they want.” BURR
Not ‘ if they want’, but ‘ if they need to ‘. The text of ORS 814.420 acknowledges and supports the right of people that bike to full use of the street.
Separated biking facilities can be good, or not so good, depending on many variables. Up-thread a piece, 9watts says: “…*Given that we have a full set of roads already, where exactly is this separated infrastructure supposed to go?…”.
That’s a valid question that touches on an irrefutable obstacle to separated infrastructure many places in-city or elsewhere development has already been established. Street right of way is basically locked in to serve travel needs of road users, close to 90 percent of which are said to travel by motor vehicle.
Proposals for new, separated bike infrastructure on existing street right of way face the challenge of somehow fitting projects into that existing right of way. There are other possible ways such as securing additions to existing to the right of way, or reducing road users need to travel by motor vehicle, sufficient to create additional space on existing right of way for bike infrastructure expansion.
And of course, if general knowledge and skill of people that bike were somehow raised to allow them to be more effective in legally and safely using their right to full use of the road, that would also help make streets safer for biking; without having to wait for a lot of elaborate separated bike infrastructure to be developed.
Some people will feel they really need separated bike infrastructure if they’re going to be able to consider biking rather than driving. To a large extent though, I just don’t think big players are inclined to spur and support the kind of planning and development that’s essential to the realization of extensive separated bike infrastructure.
robert says (again), “the text of ORS 814.420 acknowledges and supports the right of people that bike to full use of the street.”
it becomes tiresome to come on these boards day after day to contradict robert on this point.
814.420 requires a cyclist to use a designated sidepath unless. the exceptions do not begin to encompass anything resembling “full use of the street.” in particular, there is no exception for leaving the striped bike lane to discourage an overtaking motorist from passing too close.
Here is a link to the text of ORS 814.420:
This law specifically acknowledges, with the words ‘other hazards’, that people biking have a right to leave the bike lane to travel in the main lane for all manner of hazards:
“…(2)(c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions. …”
People, this is the law. Know it and use it to your advantage.
sorry, but that wimpy exception offers cyclists no legal refuge. contrary to the magical thinking of many cyclists, this exception does not allow cyclists to ride outside of bike lanes to avoid dooring risk. its clearly intended to allow cyclists to avoid highly localized hazards (e.g. grates, pot-holes, garbage, sand, glass). once that hazard has been passed cyclists are legally obligated to re-enter the bike lane.
“…this exception does not allow cyclists to ride outside of bike lanes to avoid dooring risk. …” spare_wheel
ORS 814.420 (2)(c) does allow riding outside of bike lanes to avoid dooring risk, or at least far enough away from a car or other motor vehicle such that a door opening would not be in the path of people on bikes in the bike lane.
(2)(c) isn’t limited to hazards on the roadway surface of the bike lane, but also includes the air space above the bike lane people on bikes ride through. A vehicle door opening and entering into a bike lane is just as much as, actually…is far more of a hazard to people on bikes in the bike lane than is gravel, glass, etc, on the surface of the bike path. So too, would an overhanging branch, and other things such as misplaced dumpsters, piles of leaves, etc, be covered by (2)(c).
People riding bikes are legally obliged to ride in the bike lane, only if it’s completely free of obstacles and hazards, and if they’re not needing to use other lanes of the road to prepare for left turns and so on.
a vehicle door opening, okay. but what about a line of parked cars on which doors are not opening at this moment.
yes, people, know what “other hazardous conditions” means, use it to your advantage, and be prepared to explain to the friendly motorist who has not participated in the same late night philosophical discussions, and more especially to the traffic court judge, that a line of parked cars to your right and a twelve foot travel lane to your left is itself a “hazardous condition” requiring you to occupy the travel lane. go for it. robert says it is obvious.
Argh. So, what if I am puttering down the separated path (since puttering at 10mph about all one can do on such paths) when I suddenly encounter an obstacle, or a hazard, or somebody going 5mph that I want to pass? ORS 814.420 does indeed grant me the legal right to leave the bike lane or path to avoid such. OHhhh–but these darn planters/parked cars/curbs/muddy riverbank/flooded grassland/name-your-separator-of-choice is/are now physically preventing me from leaving this hazard-strewn, separated bikeway.
Bike lanes are one thing, because one can actually leave them. If a bike lane is blocked or damaged, a cyclist can then use the rest of the street to go around. If there is something wrong with the rest of the street, where cars normally travel, you can bet the farm that it will be fixed forthwith, because we cannot afford to impede the progress of cars. If a separated path or cycletrack, or whatever form it takes becomes damaged, there is no way around, and you can just about bet the farm that it won’t be fixed any time soon because it is not essential for freight and doesn’t boost the economy, and is just for recreation, after all, since that’s what bikes are for…..
“…So, what if I am puttering down the separated path….. ….. when I suddenly encounter an obstacle, or a hazard, or somebody going 5mph that I want to pass? ORS 814.420 does indeed grant me the legal right to leave the bike lane or path to avoid such. …” El Biciclero
What someone should know to do when riding in a bike lane, is to be looking ahead an appropriate distance relative to the speed they’re traveling, for hazards and potential hazards or in the bike lane, whether it’s glass, rocks, car doors (open or closed), branches or whatever.
As hazards and potential hazards detected ahead in the bike lane make the bike lane unsafe to ride, that’s probably time for someone on a bike detecting them to signal for a transition from the bike lane to a main lane of travel. To avoid the door zone, depending on the width of the bike lane and other issues, by riding the line, often, that allows enough distance away from opening doors, making it not necessary to entirely leave the bike lane.
With caution, riding the line dividing bike lane from main lane can often work, although many of the people driving and passing someone on a bike riding the line may not understand why the person on the bike isn’t riding the center of the bike lane. Better, more readily distributed road user information could help the reasons why become more common knowledge.
There’s no way people on bikes can reasonably be expected to risk their safety on bike lane obstacle courses of busted glass, flinty rocks, doors open or potentially opening, when just to the left of the line designating the bike lane from the main lane, may exist pavement that’s relatively free from hazard. ORS 814.420 acknowledges the need and supports right of people on bikes to leave bike lanes to avoid things posing a threat to the their safety.
I think you missed my point. Although we disagree somewhat on when a cyclist is legally free and clear to ride outside a bike lane, at least I’m not physically barred from breaking the law on occasion by leaving a bike lane to avoid hazardous conditions known to me, but not generally accepted by inexperienced non-cyclists. With a physically separated, e.g., by parked cars, curbs, planters, or what-have-you bikeway (NOT a bike “lane”), I am physically prevented from even following the law in the event a hazard presents itself–because I physically cannot leave the bikeway unless I do something radical such as stop, dismount, pull my bike onto the sidewalk and walk around those milling pedestrians who don’t realize it’s a cycle track, or the delivery van that sneaked in at the last intersection, or the trash bin somebody knocked over (or just left in the way), or that passenger door opening up in front of me. You describe very well the procedure of scanning ahead for impedance and monitoring gaps in car traffic to plan for possible bike lane departures, but with physically separated bikeways, the alert cyclist would have to scan an entire block ahead and exit the gauntlet at an intersection (assuming that was even possible) in anticipation of some hazard a block ahead. The only way to mitigate that, really, is to consider such infrastructure a hazard unto itself and never enter it in the first place. Then you are breaking current law.
plus one. this is my quarrel with some of the proposed changes on multnomah.
but to get back to robert’s more general point, the striped bike lane on, for example, williams north of fremont to about skidmore is per se unsafe in its design (five foot bike lane sandwiched between parked cars and a narrow travel lane) and i use it only as an occasional refuge, having already established my presence in the travel lane itself.
the law says i am required to use the bike lane. robert imagines that the law does not say that, or else he imagines that the facility on williams is safe, not sure which. in either case, he is mistaken.
i will choose safety, and i will expect someday to maybe have to defend that choice in traffic court, and i will not expect to necessarily escape the fine. repeal the mandatory sidepath law.
Many thoughtful points of view expressed here…
About SunRiver: Bikes are the lowest element on the transportation totem pole, as they must give way to pedestrians on the paths and to cars at grade-level intersections with roads, as indicated by “sharks’ teeth” pointed into the MUPs. Once, when the Beaver Drive path was torn up for rebuilding, I had to ride into the Village on the road itself–very smooth and much faster! But the path system works extremely well for a recreational development, with the added effect of instructing cyclists in basic manners, as well as excluding them from traffic circles.
About PDX: When I am Mayor JM will run the Bureau of Transportation, and we shall enter Phase 3 of cycling for FUN and PROFIT in our fair city:
First up, the left lanes of 5th and 6th will become EXCLUSIVE BIKE LANES; buses will be the only motor vehicles on the Transit Mall. (The Mayor will not be able to get to his EXCLUSIVE PARKING SPACE, but that is a VERY small price to pay.)
Second, major repaving of all other downtown streets–more like rebuilding to the standards of the Transit Mall–will be undertaken. The current state of pavement on downtown streets is appalling, uncomfortable for motorists, dangerous for cyclists.
Third, SHARROWS will be everywhere there is no separated bicycle infrastructure, and the City will offer a free program to instruct cyclists HOW TO RIDE THEIR BLEEPING BIKES IN DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC. (Extra credit for those who master fixies!) Speed limits will be lowered and signals retimed for cyclists.
Fourth, Separated point-to-point bike-only infrastructure both east-west and north-south will be established at 20-block (1 mile) intervals, even if access to motor vehicles must be restricted. A motorist might have to go around the block to reach her driveway, but that will be TOUGH APPLES FOR SUV QUEENS. (Complaints will be referred to Emily Finch.)
Fifth, major intersections will be rebuilt according to the Dutch IMPOSSIBLE RIGHT-HOOK STANDARD, but with YELLOW PAINT instead of green.
NOTE BENE: No innovation, vision, creativity, empowerment will be required. No stroking of interest groups by the mayor’s office will occur. No positions for self-involved activists will be available on the Mayor’s staff. We already know what to do, so we shall simply do it.
Separated infrastructure (as typically done in the U.S.–even in Portland) = gilded cage.
Drivers have their choice: share the streets with pedestrians and cyclists, or take separated routes where they don’t have to share and go faster (unless those routes are choked with other drivers).
Cyclists have their choice: share the streets with cars and a few pedestrians, or take separated routes where they have to share with more pedestrians, [illegally] parked cars, and garbage cans and go slower. Oh, wait–cyclists in Oregon don’t have a choice as long as a “bike lane or path” exists; using their already inherently slower mode of travel, they must go even slower because they are caged in behind the slowest of the slow, must negotiate obstacles, and must make all-pedestrian turns and crossings all the time–and more of them.
All I’m saying is if we provide express routes for cars that let them go twice to three times as fast as other drivers, there ought to be the same alternatives for cyclists who are going somewhere, not just plodding along. One man’s two-mile trip is another man’s two-mile segment of a 10-mile trip.
I also think the first separation job we ought to do is separate the cyclists from the pedestrians. MUPs should not be considered bikeways. I mean, really–we ban sidewalk riding because it’s supposedly so dangerous, but then tell cyclists to go ride on glorified sidewalks. Come on!
I know, I know–“vroom-vroom”, “windshield” mentality…why can’t I just relax…If my 15-mile one-way commute is too long, why don’t I just move–or get a different job…why do I have a speed fetish…what’s wrong with always going 8mph everywhere…is getting there half an hour earlier really worth the safety risk of sharing roads with cars?!…think of the children!…what about the “interested-but-concerned”…8-80…
Sorry to be so grumpy, but the greatest ideas in the world for separated infrastructure that makes everyone happy (16-ft-wide, two-way cycle tracks with phase-separated signals at intersections?) are virtually guaranteed to get value-engineered down to an 8-ft MUP or 6-foot (3 feet usable) door-zone bike lane (or nothing), or over-engineered to the point of being incomprehensible and less safe than nothing faster than you can say “freeloader”.
slowest common denominator infrastructure.
Spot on! Too much time and money wasted wringing hands, too little progress making bikes a truly viable form of transportation. No one expects all riders to be fit, fast lycra clad rockets but bicycles will NEVER be accepted by more than the early adopters already on them if riders are forced to use a confusing patchwork of “solutions” designed for an “optimum” safe speed that is just a touch faster than jogging.
For example, a reasonably fit cyclist with a flat and unobstructed route down Sullivan’s Gulch and with sharrows along the arterials and bridges could get from Gateway to downtown in 20-30 minutes. That’s competitive with traveling down I-84 via car during rush hour and doesn’t require a racing bike, monster quads, spandex, or a high VO2 Max. This could be a game changer that gets people out of their cars but, PBOT spends countless hours and dollars studying how to remove parking on NE Multnomah and bike pundits get practically orgasmic over the possibility of three whole blocks of car free pedaling at 6-8 MPH in a commercial district.
This IS our problem. Advocates gripe about not enough infrastructure and then sell out at the possibility of getting a crumb or two. This is why BTA and many Bike Portland fan faves are basically impotent when it comes to making any real change.
“down Sullivan’s Gulch and with sharrows along the arterials and bridges could get from Gateway to downtown in 20-30 minutes”
i think that quite a few of those who are orgasmic over 3 blocks of separated infrastructure are hostile to the idea of funding sharrows or bike lanes.
Translation: Anything, even if it totally sucks, is better than nothing.
Sadly those that design bike facilities don’t themselves ride bikes so anything they design is highly likely to be dangerous until enough American Departments of Transportation develop a lexicon of what works and what doesn’t.
Should our DOTs learn from the mistakes and successes of Europe and others: of course.
Politically we have a “`Murica’s always RIGHT!” philosophy that hobbles our ability to not repeat other’s failures.
I guess you are right: it is a fail. And we seem destined to fail our way slowly towards what works.
First we need to make large portions of downtown/pearl, large portions of neighborhoods and school zones 15 mph districts. Install updated speed signs limit as needed–maybe a green 15 mph speed limit sign with a sharrow graphic. 15 mph districts are the top priority because they provide for the safety of bikes, peds and cars. Next imagine these green districts connected together by routes with different types of bike/car separation depending on speed differential and according to our bike plan.
For a Green Lane Project post today, I dug a bit further into this study to get to some of the other surprising findings:
1) Multi-use paths are more likely to result in serious bicyclist injury than almost any type of road, marked or unmarked.
2) Neighborhood greenways are only safer than other local streets if they include traffic diverters to cut car volume; if they don’t, they’re more dangerous. If they do, they’re as safe as cycle tracks.
3) In general, this study found that separated bikeways are just way, way safer than any other type of bikeway.
I’m especially proud of the infographic on this post.
“It was a very small sample size,” concedes Teschke. “But because the effect was so strong, it was statistically significant.”
Outlier effects are common with small sample sizes.
I also noticed that rather than cite a study from Copenhagen (with far higher “n”) the authors chose to *re-analyze* the data.
And a few lines later they comment:
“Relative risk estimates likely vary because of differences in study design (particularly methods of adjusting for traffic volumes and exposure to risk) and differences in comparison infrastructure.”
First of all, when you re-analyze someone else’s data you are no longer citing that study but rather your own re-analysis. Secondly, discussion of how adjustment for traffic volumes and exposure to risk (e.g. intersections) might affect outcomes was curiously absent from this study. The unwillingness to cite the original Copenhagen study is likely explained by Jensen et al.’s finding that cycle tracks were associated with increased risk at intersections.
I think its common sense that fully separated infrastructure will be safer than riding in heavy traffic. Nevertheless, there needs to be a balanced assessment of any new risks created by north american-style cycle tracks. This study did not come across as balanced.
Some interesting things to note from Michael’s link:
“‘[North Americans] tend to make [Multi-Use Paths] interesting,’ Teschke said. ‘So they make them very curvy. The sight lines are poor. Sometimes they put a bollard in the middle. … In Holland, the major bike paths are usually straight as an arrow. They know that people use them to get where they need to go. They aren’t concerned with making them cute.'”
This, this, this, and this. “They know that people use them…” wait for it, it’s delicious… “to get where they need to go“. Wow, and wow; I cannot understand why, oh why, oh why Americans continually fail to grasp the notion that people out on bikes aren’t just killing time recreating. I also don’t understand why anyone thinks a 6-ft-wide path is appropriate for two-way shared use. The best example of a usable separated path in my geographical area is the US-26 MUP. It follows the freeway, so is as direct a route as cars have, and is uber-wide–wide enough for two bikes and a pedestrian to all pass each other at once. The only issue with this path is the minor bumpiness of the concrete joints (it’s constructed like a gigantic sidewalk). Unfortunately, this path is all of about two miles in length. To get the rest of the way into town from the West side, cyclists must either take actual US-26 from the Zoo to Jefferson (not exactly a low-stress, separated route) or wind their way farther up onto the twisty roads of Washington Park or around Council Crest.
The other interesting thing that Michael’s article linked to was the study that discussed how far out of their way cyclists were willing to go to find and use separated bike paths. If I am reading this article correctly, the average is 26% of trip distance cyclists are willing to detour if a longer route will take them part of the way on a separated path. So we’re apparently willing to take an hour trip and add 15 minutes to it by detouring to find a separated path? I have mixed reactions to this finding. On one hand, it demonstrates the desirability of well-designed separated paths (I’ll often take a longer street route to avoid some of the poorly-designed or non-maintained separated paths along routes I travel). On the other hand, it gives planners and designers the apparent ability to herd cyclists onto routes that planners and designers would rather build instead of accommodating cyclists with routes that are convenient and direct for cyclists. Hm…
“I cannot understand why, oh why, oh why Americans continually fail to grasp the notion that people out on bikes aren’t just killing time recreating.”
I hear you.
This is the source of my occasionally voiced misgivings about Travel Oregon’s surveys, and the sometimes considerable attention that bike tourism gets here. I completely understand and even agree that bike tourism is its own thing and is an economic motor, and so on and so forth, but in *this* context, where bikes-as-transportation are (still) not taken seriously I think we would do well to be more careful about differentiating these two broad categories, clearly separating what many who do not bike see as something wealthier folks engage in for pleasure on weekends or while vacationing, and the less glamorous, workaday, urban biking scene which as you point out we’ve not yet succeeded in elevating to the same level of recognition among the wider public.
I’m sure there are other, perhaps better, ways of thinking about this.
why is the text of the underlying study hidden behind a paywall?
I’m guessing that the additional safety factor of protected bikeways (assuming it still holds true with a larger sample size) is not just because they planted a few bollards between the bike lane and the car lanes.
It’s probably because opportunities for cars to turn across the bike lane are greatly reduced, and mediated by separate signal phases in many locations.
Based on their re-analysis of Jensen et al. I think its likely that they stripped out intersection data entirely.
“and mediated by separate signal phases in many locations”
The new cycle tracks in downtown Vancouver allow right “hook” turns and do not have separate bike signals.