Happy Independence Day! BikePortland is taking the rest of today off to celebrate the country we love, warts and all. We’ll be back first thing Tuesday morning. In the meantime, here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week.
Missing sidewalks: As New York City’s croweded sidewalks overflow into bike and car lanes, some are pointing out that people are basically reclaiming space they had in 1906.
Tour history: The Tour de France, which started this weekend, no longer bans teams, requires riders to make every repair personally or features people trying to slip poisoned wine to contestants.
Job access: Real estate site Redfin has used the number of jobs you can reach by transit and foot within 30 minutes to create a Walkscore-style rating for any address.
Transit cleanliness: Yes, mass transit vehicles are crowded with germs, but they’re mostly the harmless kind we live with daily.
Bike share death: A Chicago woman killed by a right-turning truck Friday was the nation’s first to die on a bike share bike.
Autonomous car death: An Ohio man killed by a left-turning truck May 7 was the first person to die behind the wheel of a self-driving car. His Tesla, in autopilot mode, reportedly failed to detect the truck as it moved into his lane.
Negligence penalty: The case of a woman who killed a 20-year-old on a bike in Iowa while texting behind the wheel has some calling for felony penalties for negligence rather than just intent.
Contributory negligence: In a handful of states and the District of Columbia, you can’t claim any recovery payment unless a court finds you were less than 1 percent responsible for a collision that hurt you.
Safety ruling: In a potentially momentous ruling, a state appeals court in Washington found that cities must provide safe roadways for all traffic, including bicycles.
Party cycles: Amsterdam is banning them from most of its downtown.
Gated cities: A “growing body of economic literature” suggests that zoning laws that drive up prices in prosperous cities are contributing to national economic inequality.
Underground, visualized: Here’s a neat old 3D illustration of a subway station.
Friends like these: As some call for the national transit association to become more progressive, the top story in its most recent newsletter was a happy birthday letter to the Interstate Highway System.
I-5 bridge crashes: The Columbian mapped all Interstate 5 bridge crashes from 2009-2014 by location, year, hour and day of week. One of the 834 was fatal.
Bear death: A grizzly bear killed someone biking through Glacier National Park. It’s the park’s 10th bear-related death since it opened in 1910.
Tiny houses: They’re usually illegal. Sightline looks at the barriers.
Infrastructure exchange: As on-street protected bike lanes spread in U.S. cities, Europe is building off-street bike paths and calling them “cycle highways.”
If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.
Correction 8 pm: An earlier version of this post inaccurately summarized the Tesla collision.
The truck wasn’t merging from the diagram in the article about the Tesla, it turned left across the Tesla’s path. What is being lost in this story is that the truck driver was at fault, this is a classic left cross collision where the Tesla driver had the right of way but the truck driver turned in front of him.
Apparently a failure of a human-controlled vehicle to notice conflicting traffic and obey traffic laws
It’s not newsworthy when a human driver fails to obey traffic laws and yield right of way.
Thanks, Bjorn – you’re right, my error. Corrected.
Last Thursday or Friday, I think it was, I read in the WSJ or the NYTimes, about the Tesla/semi-truck collision, in which the truck driver having turned left across the path of the Tesla, was clearly stated.
The big, more important part of the story though, was that the driver of the Tesla, had been relying on the car’s breakthrough technology autopilot system, to operate the vehicle, part of which involves avoiding common road hazards such as…vehicles hazardously turning across other road users’ direction of travel. The story I read reported that though not yet conclusive, it was thought that the Tesla’s autopilot system failed to detect the semi as it crossed the Tesla’s path.
There’s likely a number of reasons for that happening, one of which may have been the semi driver commencing his turn with too little advance for the car’s system to have recognized the semi being dangerously in its direction of travel. Or…there could be areas in the cars’ autopilot system design, that are yet to be improved sufficient to be able to avoid the unique characteristics that can accompany this type of collision. And of course, the person behind the wheel of the Tesla, may also have made some mistake that contributed to the collision.
They’re blaming the imaging system for not detecting the contrast of the trailer from the bright sky, though in reality several sensor types are used in conjunction with each other.
“And of course, the person behind the wheel of the Tesla, may also have made some mistake that contributed to the collision.”
True dat! Reports I’ve read say that a Harry Potter movie was still streaming to the car’s console after the crash, and that the driver had received eight speeding tickets in six years (is there such a thing as “felony speeding”??). Apparently a Model X also crashed due to an autopilot glitch last week as well, though without injuries.
As a tech professional, I do believe they are rushing to bring autonomous cars to the market without proper safety regulations in place. What enables this technology is primarily real-time software, and other safety-critical systems with real-time software have substantially more stringent regulations in place, such as aviation equipment needing DO-178C certification, or medical devices subject to IEC 62304 standards, and now we also have cybersecurity as a significant concern, with standards slowly emerging to address that (IEC 62443, NERC CIP, APTA, etc.).
I’ve called for federal driving standards in previous comments here, but when you automate driving, that is one place where national regulation completely makes sense. If you’ve ever dealt with medical device compliance on a province-by-province basis in countries like China, I think you’d agree.
A guy getting the axe while watching a Harry Potter movie, when he’s supposed to be driving, or at least making sure his autonomous car is doing the driving it’s supposed to be doing…if that’s true rather than a sick rumor someone started, it’s a little embarrassing. On the other hand, the ability of the driver of a motor vehicle being able to safely watch a lighthearted movie while driving, sounds a bit like the kind of pitch some entrepreneurial companies would use to help relax the public’s natural anxiety about a new technology that seems a little scary.
The article I read, about the incident, included more than a passing description of the person that was driving the Tesla, about his character and spirit, his willingness to try new things…and take risks for things he felt were a good cause. Someone has to take risks involved in eliminating the bugs in new technology…with aircraft development, that’s what test pilots do, knowing what could happen, as this private driver of the Tesla may have known.
Should government be taking steps it could and should be, to oblige development to higher standards that may eventually be inevitable for practical autonomous vehicles? No doubt, this is question that’s on a lot of people’s minds, especially after the occurrence of this collision.
Watching a movie was in no way taking risks to advance technology; rather it was extreme risk taking with no real benefit to anyone except the driver, and, given the quality of the Harry Potter movies, even that is questionable.
I was recently in Japan on business and got rides around from some of our local colleagues. Not only do many of the cars I saw have video streaming into the console, I’m told it’s very common practice to watch TV while driving there. Scary!
And if you think Harry Potter movies are bad, try watching Japanese game shows! 😉
They forgot to mention the Tesla did not have high viz paint and the driver was not wearing a helmet when he was decapitated.
It’s not clear to me that we really know whether the truck was in the wrong. All we know it was making a left turn. But let’s say it was making the left from a stopped position. Looking at Google Maps, it doesn’t appear the road is completely flat. And let’s conservatively guess that the Tesla was traveling at least 60 mph. So, rough estimate, if the driver can see 1/4 mile that means he needs to be able to turn in about 15 seconds.
Here’s a video that shows a truck turning left that’s not completely stopped and it takes longer than that:
And perhaps this truck had more weight in it and so turned slower. Or was larger. Or perhaps someone turned out from the gas station and blocked his path after he started turning left. Or perhaps the Tesla was traveling faster than 60 mph.
It seems like there might be plenty of legitimate scenarios for a truck to be turning left in front of a car on that stretch of highway and the truck is not at fault.
Here’s the Google Maps view from the left-turning truck’s perspective if you’re curious:
Without knowing all the facts, I think it makes sense to withhold judgement.
On tiny houses: First, my perspective is informed by living in a neighborhood that has been overrun by subcode activities, including RV living. Sadly, far too many of our tiny house folks are slobs. They leave behind hypodermic needles/syringes, defecate in other people’s yards and our parks, throw piles of rubbish out for others to clean, create incredibly toxic smoke hazards and are just plain not nice people to live around. This has made me a real fan of enforced zoning and building codes, although I’m not necessarily opposed to thoughtful changes in the codes. I am concerned about creating unliveable neighborhoods in the name of liveability.
Anyway, just a few hundred feet from my home a tiny house development is going in this Fall with twenty-two domiciles. Many of them have been designed and are being built by local architecture firms and the target tenants are people who have been homeless and thus don’t have a rental history (so no one will rent to them). All of the structures are completely code-compliant, so clearly our building codes are not an insurmountable impediment to building tiny homes.
The developer is a local non-profit that has made its bones with subcode tiny houses. At the behest of the neighborhood association, they changed their M.O. and moved to code-compliant structures. The result is that there will be a lot of volunteer construction efforts by the nearby neighbors when ground is broken in a few months. (Oh boy, I get to put on some roofs; hoping for a dry Autumn.) This, in my opinion, is the proper way to do tiny houses. (Further information can be found at Square One Villages, Emerald Village Eugene).
If someone is pooping in your yard it’s probably a sign that there need to be more public toilets. DID YOU KNOW there are no 24-7 public toilets in all of North Portland?
Yep. This is an easy fix – works much better than complaining on NextDoor about homeless people. Portland even has their own line of public toilets! Why aren’t these installed in every park and public spaces? We would also do well to install garbage cans everywhere around town.
Instead of trying to stop the behavior you don’t like that people will do anyway, give people the tools to continue that behavior in a safe and non-destruptive manner.
Easy? How far will people that poop in inappropriate places today (for whatever reason) walk to find a public toilet (assuming they know where it is)? This defines any one toilet’s coverage. If people are pooping in yards on residential blocks, it’s likely that deployment only in parks and public places (as we usually think of them) would not be sufficient to cover every place where this is a problem. So a couple complications here:
1. Needless to say, deployment of public toilets on residential blocks would be controversial with locals.
2. Considering the level of usage public toilets attract, and the cost of maintaining public toilets, there’s a pretty big gap between the level of usage such that a toilet is providing a significant public benefit proportional to its cost (a fairly high level of use) and the level of public defecation that causes a significant public nuisance (a quite low level). Can that gap be covered by “induced demand”? I’d guess not.
Seattle has tried something apparently more reasonable: creating camps for people living in cars and RVs, providing space and basic services that can be accessed in particular places instead of being distributed all over town. Even these sites have been controversial wherever they’ve been proposed, and of course a lot of people don’t want to stay in them for a variety of reasons. But I’d try that approach before trying to build out public toilet coverage literally everywhere, when truly public toilets have had so many problems even in high-use areas.
“Instead of trying to stop the behavior you don’t like that people will do anyway, give people the tools to continue that behavior in a safe and non-disruptive manner.”
Cough, cough… Idaho Stop… ahem… 😉
Hang on– we’re talking about tiny houses here, which, presumably, have proper facilities within the houses themselves.
Are we talking about little residential buildings with no bathrooms? If so, I clearly have no idea what the purpose of a tiny home community is supposed to be. I would have thought that have a safe place to sleep and “take care of business” in private would be the two big things someone would want to a)look for and b) build for.
The ‘sightline’ article http://www.sightline.org/2016/06/27/legalizing-the-tiny-house/ …seems very good, and well researched.
Housing can be expensive, and supply often has difficulty meeting need. That accounts partly for the interest in the tiny house idea, and the interest seems definitely to be increasing. I know about mobile home parks, and living permanently in travel trailers, motor homes and RV’s, but the idea of a ‘tiny house development’, a parcel of land exclusively planned and developed according to some acceptable standardized code, is new to me. I hope to learn more about the features and characteristics of such developments.
I’ve toured a number of tiny homes, and I think this housing form has lots of potential to meet decent, even better than decent housing needs of many types of people that don’t need or want bigger living space than the tiny house offers. In the minds of people thinking in terms of population density needs being best met by multi-story buildings, I would imagine that tiny house developments would not seem to them as being adequately efficient use of land space.
For some areas though, well planned and built tiny house developments could be far superior housing accommodation than apartments, multi-story and otherwise, and support for them could possibly help to renew support of mobile home parks for smaller mobile homes as opposed to mobile home parks that were developed for much bigger mobile homes that have been designed to try on the cheap, to emulate their permanent, stick built and brick and mortar housing cousins.
“One ruling states recklessness can only be proved if a defendant commits a public offense in such a manner that it made it more likely than not the death of another would result and the defendant was aware of the risk.”
Interestingly, driving drunk does not make it more likely than not that the death of another will result. Texting has been shown to be at least as dangerous as driving drunk, yet drunk driving triggers a charge of recklessness but texting does not.
Clearly, I’m not arguing for reducing the charges against drunk drivers to bring them in compliance with the definition of recklessness. We need to change our definition of recklessness to something more like: any action that is known (or should be known) to substantially increase the risk of death or serious injury to another. This would include driving drunk, texting while driving and perhaps some of the other causes of our 40k deaths and 2.4M injuries on our roadways each year (speeding, red light and stop sign running, failing to maintain lane, etc).
The fact that almost all drivers haven’t had any driver training since high school makes is more likely that the death of another would result.
You may have heard that we should drive like there’s a spike in the middle of our steering wheels. We can’t do that, unfortunately, but we can offer substantial legal punishments for each and every collision. Loss of license, jail time, etc.
I shouldn’t have to look for an excuse to do so in your blood, or phone records. After all… a sober, attentive and incompetent driver is at least as responsible as a drunk or texting one.
there is one incredibly effective thing that people can do to reduce their risk of killing a human being or animal. and, amazingly, it does not require driver re-education or driving skill.
SLOW THE F#*$ DOWN!
20 or less is plenty.
How about, to drive the point home, renaming DUI and phoning/texting as “attempted murder?” There seem to be too many weasel words in play–I believe it needs to be described in a more inflammatory way.
my opinion is that driving while not looking (texting, etc) is something that we can all agree will make it likelier that you’ll kill somebody…
“I didn’t see them” means you weren’t looking, which means you knew it’d be likelier that you could kill somebody…
Sometimes “I didn’t see them” means you didn’t see them.
But do you disagree that in the majority of cases we could imagine or recognize as variations on the ones we’ve experienced ourselves, a combination of throttled speed and fuller attention would have allowed the person-behind-the-wheel to see and therefore avoid hitting or killing the person they hit or killed?
Sure, probably. I’m all for reducing driving speeds in urban areas, and I know how to make that happen. I’m less certain I know how to fix human cognition, judgement, and ability to focus on complex tasks for extended periods across entire populations. Ultimately, we need to get people “out of the loop” when it comes to driving.
“Ultimately, we need to get people ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to driving.”
I’m more focused on the here and now, the need to resist the urge to exonerate those behind the wheel from responsibility for their actions. The fact that it is hard to see out of the metal boxes they are piloting is not the responsibility of those out on the roads under their own power.
Yes I agree, but making the shift in attitudes you want to see is likely a slower process than is changing the underlying technology and fixing the problem in that way.
But we probably need to pursue both tracks, and an easy first step would be to ensure all residential and commercial streets (or maybe all streets) in Portland have speed limits of, at most, 25mph. It still shocks me to see that we have streets with higher limits. Lowering them should be straightforward and not particularly controversial. I’ve had success on some near me just by writing a letter to PBOT.
“making the shift in attitudes you want to see is likely a slower process than is changing the underlying technology and fixing the problem in that way.”
You have asserted this before. I’m not at all sure this is accurate, not to mention all the subliminal and not-so-subliminal messaging that would accompany your approach. Besides wouldn’t it make sense to open this fundamental a decision up for public discussion first?
Open the idea of robot cars to public discussion? Of course we should, and that discussion is going on at this very moment, in a variety of forums, and will likely continue and evolve as the technology becomes available.
If the technology arrives and kills 10,000 people per year, that will be a HUGE advance over where we are. I suspect actual numbers will be far lower.
“Open the idea of robot cars to public discussion?”
No, that was not what I was suggesting. Following your earlier post I was suggesting the two strategies: exploring how to change attitudes vs fooling around with technical adaptations should be opened up for discussion.
I suggested we pursue both; I don’t think it needs to be an either-or situation.
HK–lowering speeds to 25 mph on many streets that have higher limits may be a good idea in many areas, but I think it could be quite controversial in many cases.
Plus, if main traffic streets have speed limits equal or just over local streets, wouldn’t that remove one reason people use them, instead of cutting through on local streets?
If there are frequent stop signs on the side streets, and the main streets have freer flowing traffic, I think the main streets would still be more attractive.
Can you name one residential street where 25mph would be controversial? You might be able to find a commercial street, but I was thinking more of streets like Broadway, and not like Powell or Columbia.
HK–I was thinking mainly of commercial streets like Powell or Columbia, not residential streets–a relief, since I don’t know if I’ve ever disagreed with you before!
Pretty much anything touched by ODOT leaves the realm of “reasonable” and “non-controversial”, sadly.
No can do.
As Amory Lovins famously put it: “A society cannot aspire to be both conspicuously consumptive and elegantly frugal. The hard and soft paths are culturally and institutionally antagonistic, and furthermore, compete for the same limited resources.” The Energy Controversy: Soft Path Questions & Answers, 1979. p. 5
Except in this case the courses are not at all antagonistic.
What do you want me to say? I don’t see any incompatibility between doing the slow work of changing driving culture while at the same time welcoming new technology to make driving (as we know it) less necessary.
Well I’ll just say that to me this do both approach is a fool’s errand. You have to pick. Widening streets, automating driving, rounding over the hood ornaments or adding external air bags (a) all fit with our history of workarounds, of our inability politically to continue granting immunity to autodom. If on the other hand you recognize the problem as at base a human/attitude/responsibility/enforcement one (b), then you focus on those things.
But as long as we devote resources to (a) where someone in the private sector stands a change of making money, within our political system you’ll get no traction for (b). Since you obviously disagree I welcome your counterexamples.
How about this — we, here at the city level, can focus on making things safer, while Google and Tesla and the others can focus on automating things, and then we’ll see what happens.
Usually it means, “I didn’t look for them.”
and there’s a reason you don’t see something that’s there… negligence…
There are plenty of reasons why people don’t see things right in front of them. The problem is that in a car, the consequences of missing something are much higher than in other areas of life.
There are not many good reasons.
All the reasons I can think of could be reduced or eliminated by throttled speeds and stiff penalties for not looking.
RE: contributory negligence.
That’s a BS idea if there’s ever been one. The concept is nothing but a way for insurance companies to avoid having to pay out for the things they are being paid to cover.
In my mid twenties a really old motorist crossed left in front of me, on a four lane road, then proceeded to stop in my lane (because there were actually cars coming from both directions). I couldn’t have missed him.
I got zero compensation because the incompetent police (goes without saying) said I was speeding. i was not. I barely got my foot on the brake pedal before hitting the old guy right in his door.
Lost my underinsured car. Paid some hefty copayments and spent weeks on my back with permanent injuries and got no compensation from anyone.
I couldn’t move and could barely breathe and my only interaction with the police was them harassing me over whether I was wearing a seatbelt, as if the purple stripe across my chest wasn’t proof enough.
Just one of the many externalized costs of our auto culture. If people had to pay the full cost of driving (environmental, death and injury, property damage, etc), there would be a lot fewer people driving.
Access to jobs (in the generic sense) is essentially meaningless… far more important is access to YOUR job, or, at the very least, jobs you both qualify for and would consider taking.
Well, sure! But if there’s like a billion jobs in all directions, there’s a better chance you’ll qualify for one of them.
And you’re going to buy a house hoping you’ll snag one of them?
For me this comment highlights the question of permanency in both employment and housing and what our expectations for those things should be. In my own life, I have worked at many businesses around the city as part of my career, and my choice of housing has been based more on where I can afford and want to live. The location of my housing has been much more permanent than my job.
For my sister, it’s been quite the opposite – she has worked at the same location for about 10 years now, and has moved her residence nearly as many times as I’ve moved my job, on both sides of the west hills.
I think the ideal of working close to where you live is nice, but as a reality, I feel like it is much more evasive. Also agreed there is not a simple correlation between jobs density and housing, as the types of jobs available make all the difference to determining what is or is not actually convenient. Leads me to wonder, what is the true value of the Redfin data, if there is any?
I think there is value in the data, but mostly for Redfin, to show that they’re on the cutting edge and all that. Beyond that, I don’t know that job density/proximity, in the generic sense, is terribly useful to the typical home buyer (and that is who Redfin is serving). Maybe it would give some sort of measure of whether an area is “bustling”, but I would think other metrics could do that more directly.
On disappearing sidewalks, Portland has a similar history. Sidewalks on SE Hawthorne (and other east side arterials) were narrowed from the original width of 9 to 12 feet to make room for additional (often substandard width) travel lane in both directions. It happened sometime during the transition from streetcars to motor vehicles, between the 1930s and 1960s.
It’s not just pedestrian space you lose. See all the stoops and lightwell in the NYC picture? Narrow sidewalks can mean giving up cafe tables, outdoor market extensions from storefronts, bike parking etc…a wide sidewalk can comfortably accommodate more than just pedestrian transportation. I bet a decent chunk of the frustration some express with people biking on sidewalks, even when it’s done slowly and considerately, would get toned down if the sidewalks weren’t so narrow.
Houses on Broadway had yards when they were built.
3561 NE Broadway
2015 and 1929.
lop–good point. There are similar historical photos on NE MLK (in fact with same man holding numbered cards). Impact was even worse where houses were higher above street grade than in the Broadway example, because there wasn’t even room for steps up to the entries, so it created a pedestrian-scape of exposed basements and retaining walls.
And sidewalks on many streets in Portland are ridiculously narrow. West Burnside comes to mind. It looks like it also had wider sidewalks in historical photos. Then after sidewalks were narrowed, it still at least had parallel parking at curbs, which gives a much more protected feeling to pedestrians than travel lanes at the curbs.
There are a lot of pictures of ‘number man’ for a reason.
I think it’s a pretty neat bit of history.
lop–thanks. He’s like the Human Google Street View. Too bad we can’t tell the people responsible for those photos what a valuable resource they’ve become over the decades.
west Burnside was widened… many buildings lost their fancy fronts… many were simply torn down rather than restructure the fronts of their buildings…
Spiffy–in the photos I saw (googled “West Burnside historical photos) it looked like the main change was going from one lane each way with parallel parking at curbs, to two lanes each way with no parking. Some sidewalks also looked narrowed, as I recall. I didn’t see evidence of widening the whole r.o.w. so that buildings were affected, although possibly I overlooked photos that showed that. I’ve also never noticed on current buildings evidence they were altered.
Buildings on Burnside were actually narrowed to make room for the roadway widening.
Adam–those are great finds–thanks. The photos I was looking at were all west of the Park Blocks, and the article says W. Burnside was widened only from the bridge to the Park Blocks, so that explains why it didn’t look widened in those photos. The article also reveals why there are arcades on East Burnside–result of converting the sidewalk to an additional lane, and forcing the sidewalk into the buildings.
That makes sense seeing as how there are hitching rings in the curbs on residential streets in the Hawthorne neighborhood.
The article mentions that there have been 10 bear-related human deaths in Glacier NP, but this was not one of the 10 – it occurred outside of the park.
And according to local news sources, the attack was precipitated by the cyclist crashing into the bear-
“Sight visibility at the location of the collision is very limited and the collision [with the Grizzly] was unavoidable,”
Where have we heard this language before?
at least they didn’t call it an accident!
“If people persist in trespassing upon the grizzlies’ territory, we must accept the fact that the grizzlies, from time to time, will harvest a few trespassers.”
Might want to keep an eye on that court ruling in WA state. If it gets to the Suprene Court (which might be back to nine members by the time they get the case) and they uphold it, the Republicans might be forced to pony up money to build the national bike route system as a road-separate network. It might fierce Republican-run states like NJ to pony up money for ped/bike projects at the state and local keveks – that’s something many of these rightwing dimbulbs don’t wan’t to do.
First, it was a state court dealing with a state specific issue, not a federal court. Second, the government’s liability might end up limited to physical roadway conditions, and not extend to cover risks from sharing the road with motor vehicles.
If you read the actual appeals court opinion one of the reasons the court held that “City owes a duty to maintain its roadways in a condition that is reasonably safe for ordinary travel, which includes bicycle travel” is because bicycles are classified as vehicles under state law. I believe if “protected” and separated bicycle facilities become more common a future court could decide that the intent is for bicycles to use those facilities and therefore they are not considered ordinary users of roadways.
“…I believe if “protected” and separated bicycle facilities become more common a future court could decide that the intent is for bicycles to use those facilities and therefore they are not considered ordinary users of roadways.” thomson
Is your thinking that a court may eventually in future, decide that people using bikes for travel would be obliged to use these vehicles ‘exclusively’ on separate and protected bicycle lanes and related facilities? And by extension, come to consider people using bikes for travel, as not being ordinary users of roadways?
As long as ORS 814.420, and similar bike specific road use laws continue to exist, I doubt the courts will ever come to such a conclusion. 814.20 is based on the widely recognized and accepted fact, despite the differing view of some, that people traveling by bike have the need and right to access all roadways, some few freeways excepted.
Bike lanes and off main road bike lane roads have mainly served to help enhance the practicality of biking as a means of travel on the roadways, in turn relieving some of the need, past, present and future, for use of the roads with motor vehicles. This type of bike infrastructure is not provided for a purpose of absolutely or even mostly excluding people traveling by bike, from use of roads.
Construction of bike lanes over the last 50 years has been to no small extent, a ‘catch as can’ provision, sticking a section of bike lane here and there, often barely sufficient for practical travel by bike, though arguably better to various degrees than no bike lane at all. Washington State courts having looked more closely at the state’s obligation regarding the provision of roadway design that is reasonable for practical use of bikes, could hold hope that bike lane infrastructure accompanying roads throughout the state, may be significantly improved over what it is currently.
Agreed. It’s important to note the potential legal threat, but in reality most governments are working to increase bicycling infrastructure for two very important (to them) reasons: congestion mitigation and traffic calming. In many cases we’ve seen bicycle lanes used as the primary mechanism in road diets, and in Environmental Impact Report (EIR) after EIR that I’ve read, local bicycle infrastructure is relied upon as a Level-of-Service (LOS) improvement (although in some cases I’ve seen it argued that removing bike lanes will improve LOS, ironically in our city which has technically outlawed the removal of bicycle infrastructure).
I find myself feeling more and more, that small roads made big, to support increasing use of motor vehicles for travel, is an ‘end game’.
Though people willing and able to travel by bike rather than motor vehicle, do have the right to use of nearly all areas of the road, substantial widening of roads primarily to attempt to satisfactorily accommodate increases in motor vehicle use, causes roads widened as such, to become roads on which people no longer wish to ride; due to increases in danger, noise, congestion, pollution. That’s the opposite result of what road planning, design and construction should be trying to accomplish.
Though we absolutely agree, the irony is that the data – at least in our area – shows that our widest roads are actually the safest to bicycle on. My county’s expressways have very wide shoulders and (rarely obeyed) 45-MPH speed limits, and they are the most traveled by bicycle – not surprising, since they are the critical connectors. Statistically they show the lowest number of (reported) bicycle-car incidents, but unfortunately the few incidents tend to be more deadly. But yes, they are also the least pleasant to ride on, and unlikely to entice new riders.
We’ve seen more than one public hearing about bicycling improvements on these roads, as well. But when repaving and projects get finished, few result in the promised bicycling improvements, and we see the shoulders narrow, reflective warts placed in popular cycling positions, paint bending around slip lanes (instead of dashing to indicate bike lane merges), etc. And then they wonder why some of us bicyclists are such pains in the arse!
Build a road that people are terrified to use and reduce the number of incidents! Then you can also say, “hey, we built bike lanes but nobody uses them, so people must not want to ride their bikes.”
For some history, the roads don’t actually have marked bike lanes on them as we know them, but very wide shoulders. In the early `90’s people successfully fought to get legal access to these roads, and especially the bridges over highways and Caltrain, which were marked “No Pedestrians, Equestrians, or Bicyclists” although they were the only routes over. In 2003 the county put together a Bicycle Master Plan and officially recognized these shoulders as bike lanes, but still haven’t marked them as such but are doing incremental improvements as part of repaving, etc. It’s actually kind of the opposite, driven by need, but yeah, we definitely see that here LOTS – specifically with road diets like Pruneridge in Santa Clara, Hedding in San Jose, and Lincoln Ave in Willow Glen.
“Where are all the bicyclists? I never see any when I’m driving!”… glad you were able to teach the planners and engineers who don’t know how to do counts when they decide upon these things, you expert you.
The ‘LOS’ (level of service) phrase I read from time to time, associated with the designed capability of roads to handle levels of motor vehicle traffic, that I wonder if, is also applied to at least some bike lane infrastructure design.
From a layman’s perspective…that’s me…common configuration of bike lane design, particularly width, suggests that what road designers typically draft for bike lanes, is primarily a ‘catch as can’ affair…not for numbers of bikes anticipated or hoped to be used for travel, relative to neighborhood and area population density, as apparently is done for motor vehicle travel.
So it seems to be that when plans for new road construction or expansion is proposed and developed, bike lane provision is included mainly as an amenity, something included in the design of the road, to provide for what seems to be assumed will be relatively tiny numbers of people biking, rather the large numbers of people that drive.
Word of mouth, I’ve heard that the 158th road expansion, on Nike’s west boundary, will include a 10′ wide MUP, which is certainly better than a 6′ bike lane, but hardly sufficient, I would think, for enabling travel by bike by large numbers of people during commute hours.
Just another quarter mile or so to the west, still two lane, north-south aligned 170th, is set I hear, for road expansion. In contrast to not so many years past, the road sees today, heavy with traffic..commonly, waits before being able to cross or enter the street from unsignaled cross streets, for twenty five motor vehicles to pass. In other words…too much motor vehicle use on this road already…doesn’t really matter that it’s a two lane road, or that it will become a four, five, or six lane road. There’s too much motor vehicle use of this road, for the area, the neighborhoods the road passes through.
Well designed bike lanes should maybe be a high priority step towards congestion relief in road design efforts, encouraging and supporting potentially great numbers of people prepared and willing to ride for travel, rather than being regarded and designed to primarily serve as amenities for recreation or very small numbers of people that ride at present. At present, the provision criteria used by road planners, seems to be backward, in terms of realistically hoping to meet the challenges of road use congestion.
I can’t possibly agree more with your last paragraph. This is what we told the city of Santa Clara when they started planning Levi’s Stadium, which is along a Class I trail (San Tomas Aquino Creek) which they now close for “security reasons” during events. The city is now reviewing draft EIRs for an adjacent ‘city center’ – a huge development which points solely to that trail as congestion mitigation, which is ironic given how much it gets closed.
Despite California ‘doing away with’ LOS as a guiding priority, none of the recent EIRs that our BPAC is reviewing are any different than they’ve ever been. In terms of the provision criteria you refer to, what I’ve observed is that it starts with a city or county master plan, written by a bikey consultant with route input from citizens and BPAC members based on their personal experiences. The lane design then becomes whatever the engineers can fit into the designated and prioritized roads, preferably without removing auto lanes or parking because the city councils don’t want to take that flack. What we end up with are narrow and/or door zone bike lanes, likely not contiguous, and somewhat narrowed travel lanes. If we’re really lucky we get a painted buffer, but God Forbid they paint hash marks along its entirety.
That’s one of two ways that I see bike lanes being born. The other is overwhelming complaints of speeding and near-misses and crashes on roadway stretches by citizens and, yes, police officers. If that reaches a crescendo then city council considers “traffic calming” through the use of changing (typically) a 4-lane road into 3 with a center turn lane and fairly wide bike lanes, often painted green (to show you the city cares about your safety). The police will gather data that repeatedly shows this technique actually does lower speeds and reduce incidents and tickets, the public will write letters to the local paper echoing what Dan A wrote above, and the city council will cower and consider removing the treatment after a heated public hearing in which we cyclists rally and hopefully get some local business owners to help advocate keeping it.
It’s worth noting that Tesla vehicles are neither autonomous nor self-driving. It’s more computer-assisted than anything else.
And, in the case of the crash with the truck, the driver was apparently watching a DVD, so not exactly in control of his vehicle.
So….human error + human error = story that blames the vehicle.