On the Right Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

TULSA – You can already ride your bike down Tulsa’s Cincinnati Avenue, Harvard Avenue, 11th Street (Route 66!), or even 71st Street near Memorial. It’s perfectly legal. But does it feel safe? Is it a pleasant experience? The answer for most people is likely no, which is why you rarely see anyone doing it.

In fact, according to a research study published in 2011 and conducted in part by the Harvard School of Public Health, the chief obstacle to bicycling, especially for women, children and seniors, is the perceived danger of vehicular traffic. We didn’t need a study to know why most people elect to travel busy Tulsa streets by motor vehicle instead of bicycle. It’s not rocket science, people are scared.

Imagine now if some of these busy Tulsa streets had cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes. Many more people would likely be willing to venture out on their bikes because cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes offer an environment more suited to bicyclists of all ages and abilities, especially the many bicyclists who aren’t comfortable riding in mixed traffic. The video above from Portland, OR explains the cycle track concept as well as buffered bike lanes.

Cycle tracks are basically bike lanes that swap spaces with the parallel parking lane. Instead of cars parking next to the curb, cars park a distance away from the curb, allowing a bike lane to be placed between the parked cars and the curb. The parked cars provide a physical buffer between bicyclists and passing motor vehicles that can improve bicyclists’ safety and level of comfort. A cycle track can also be created where there is no parallel parking by installing a physical barrier such as a curb or a narrow median between the cycle track and the travel lane.

Those who oppose cycle tracks often do so on the grounds of safety, making the claim that cycle tracks put bicyclists in more danger at intersections. To improve visibility at cross streets, parallel parking can be prohibited within a defined distance from a cross street so turning motor vehicles will have a clear line-of-sight that enables them to yield when a bicycle is approaching.

But is riding on a cycle track more dangerous than riding in the street? If a city installs a cycle track, are they really sending unsuspecting, untrained, newbie bicyclists into a bike lane instrument of death?

The aforementioned Harvard study sought to determine the risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street. The study examined six North American cycle tracks located in Montreal and compared them to reference streets without cycle tracks.

Cycle tracks were found to have a relative risk of injury 28% less than bicycling in the street. Source: injuryprevention.bmj.com

Turns out, the overall relative risk of bicycling on a cycle track is 0.72, which means the rate of injury on cycle tracks was 28% less than the regular street. What’s incredible about this result is that all the cycle tracks examined in Montreal for the study were two-way cycle tracks, which are thought to be more dangerous than one-way cycle tracks. So you might expect the relative risk of bicycling on a one-way cycle track to be even better.

What’s more, 2.5 times more bicyclists used the cycle tracks than the regular street. The findings of the study showed that separated cycle tracks are safer at best and no more dangerous than bicycling in the street at worst.

The study also mentions that in The Netherlands, where cycle tracks are prevalent, 27% of Dutch trips are made by bike, 55% are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 0.14 injured per million kilometers traveled. In the United States, however, only 0.5% of commuters bike, 24% of adult bicyclists are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 26 times greater than in The Netherlands.

Earlier this month in a City Council Public Works Committee meeting, Planning Director, Dawn Warrick said, “The comprehensive plan, through the PlaniTulsa process, really did talk to the community about the concept of Complete Streets. It is prevalent throughout the document that there is a desire for us to fully utilize our infrastructure and provide choices for people when it comes to how they get around the community. So there is public support for this type of concept.”

Given the public support for Complete Streets and the results of this study showing that separated cycle tracks are, at worst, no more dangerous than bicycling in mixed traffic, what are we afraid of when it comes to cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes?

  1. Bike Soup says:

    That animation doesn’t look promising. The cyclist going through the intersection is still at risk of the right-hook. Cyclists are now even more vulnerable, behind the row of parked cars. Motorists already watching out for pedestrians while making right? No wonder everyone except me has seen Santa cycling on the Broken Arrow Expressway. What next? Drunken, cycling Easter Bunny?

    If you must insist on bike lanes, how ’bout traffic circles too? Confusion as traffic control device.

  2. Allan Crawford says:

    Thanks for sharing this. We have had cycle tracks in Long Beach, Ca for about 9 months. We did a study of the tracks at the 6 month mark and compared it with data from before the tracks were installed. The results: we saw an over 10% increase in the number of cyclists using the corridor with a 50% increase in some areas. And no increase in the number of bike or car accidents on the corridor. The data were collected over three two hour periods. 7-9 am, 11:00-1:00 and 5:00-7:00. And what is particularly significant is that the pre install data were collected I in mid June (warm and long days ideal for riding) while the post install data were collected in mid November (chillier and between 5:00 and 7:00 it is dark), but the numbers still went up.

    Allan Crawford
    Bike coordinator
    Long beach, ca

    • Bike Soup says:

      Short of actually visiting that particular facility, I would love to see video surveillance of cyclists and motorists movements. If the actual facility looks anything like the animation, I am suspicious of the data.

  3. Brian D. Potter says:

    Imagine you’re a pedestrian standing on a busy street. How frightening is the prospect of stepping out in front of a car? Now imagine you’re sitting behind the steering wheel of one of those cars? Suddenly, that busy street doesn’t worry you. You’re part of the flow and you know what to expect. When bicyclists are trained to drive their bikes in traffic, they have the second experience, not the first. But an irresponsible article like this one relies on warm fuzzy language to imply that common misperceptions about what “feels safe” and what might be “pleasant” ARE the reality. The real purpose of this article is to discourage people who have never even tried proper bicycling from ever actually trying it. Instead, you are supposed to endorse bikewalktulsa.org’s efforts to secure millions of dollars so that Tulsa can be put on a road diet: traffic lanes taken away from parking or from cars, bikes and buses to be re-distributed for bikes only. Selfish, dangerous, unnecessary.

    It’s sad to think some people will fall for the article’s deception without ever doing any independent research on the subject. A Harvard study appears to back up the conclusion that cycle tracks are safer, contrary to every previous study ever done on separate or semi-separated cycle tracks. Harvard never, ever gets it wrong. Right?

    Still, one might recollect the old saying–there are lies, outrageous lies, and then statistics. Lie #1: the 2-hour bike count. The proper count for traffic is ADT: Average Daily Traffic count (every 24-hour period summed over a year interval and divided by 365). ADT tells us how busy a street really is, while a 2-hour bike count can be recorded one time or even a handful of times with widely divergent sums. Imagine a Saturday morning on the Rivertrail vs. Monday night around 11 p.m. Which two hour period will register more bike traffic? And that’s the same travel route. Two parallel roads will be even more divergent.

    Outrageous Lie #2: the idea that reference streets are somehow equivalent. Any two parallel streets will rarely be identical in properties, ADT, peak traffic, sites of interest, parking, connectivity to other routes, such as highways and thru-roads. The study purposely chose nearby parallel streets. However, it is well-known that bikeways are selected because of popular demand. Probability tells us each street that received a cycle-track treatment was already a bicycling corridor known for being calmer than neighboring streets–what is needed is not a parallel street comparison, but an analysis of the same street before and after its conversion to a particular kind of bikeway. By being named a bicycling corridor, ADT of bicycles will go up, inflating the numbers and subtracting numbers from parallel streets. But the real rationale behind street selection is an attempt to disguise an increase in injuries on bikeways corresponding with increased traffic.

    The outrageously misleading statistic is that somehow these 2-way cycle-tracks (a highly dangerous concept completely in disrepute) managed to test 28% safer than their counterparts without cycle-tracks. Injury accidents are recorded over a 9-year period and are not broken out by type–the implication is that they are car-bike collisions, but over 50% of cyclist injury accidents are caused by solo falls. No more than one-seventh of injury accidents involve a motorist striking a bicycle with the motorist at fault. We are not told anything about the kinds of accidents occurring, but the imputation is that they are car-bike collisions, which is incorrect. Moreover, the only kind of car-bike collision a cycle-track is designed to reduce is being hit from behind, which is the least common kind of car-bike collision, and is most often caused by the bicyclist swerving in front of a motor-vehicle. But this study tells us nothing about the behavior of the vehicle operators, bicycle or otherwise, who instigated the crash. What previous studies would predict is an increase in car-bike collisions at points where the cycle-track crosses driveways and intersections. Interestingly, this study suggests that, too.

    Unfortunately for proponents of special bike facilities, the cycle-tracks had 340 injuries over a 9-year period, while the parallel streets without cycle tracks had only 191. By failing to compile a total bicycle count on all the streets, we do not know the injury ratio (or how many accidents per cyclist) and therefore how dangerous each road is comparatively. We do know that even by the study’s own standards, four of the cycle-tracks were MORE dangerous than the reference road. But the study is so fatally flawed that no meaningful conclusions can be drawn. Since the data are highly unreliable, the statisticians chose to compile it in a way that distorts the reality, using 2-hour counts to disguise the lack of hard data about overall cycling traffic.

    Please think hard before swallowing such obvious balderdash, even if it seems intuitive.

  4. Brian D. Potter says:

    The video is a shameful misrepresentation of what really happens on the road: no worries about riding next to parked cars when doors suddenly open. No worries about motorists turning at intersections to hook cyclists because “We didn’t see them.” Shoot, if it were that easy, there’d be no need for bike lanes to begin with because people could be easily educated to drive the right way, doing everything necessary to be and feel safe. If we can educate people so easily, we can do it cheaply without paint and pavement solutions. If we can’t educate people, then bike lanes, which are more complex, cannot even be made as safe as simple roadways. To the utopian, however, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds (even if that’s not THIS world). Pie in the sky for the weak-minded and the gullible. Get out your pocket-books.

  5. Tulsa Rider says:

    How is this article a lie? This article is pointing out the fact bike lanes do not come with any greater inherent danger.
    How is designating a portion of the road for bike lanes dangerous? Greenwood Ave. near OSU Tulsa has about a mile of designated bike lane. What’s wrong with it? How does this type of thing cost more or put anyone in danger?
    There are risks to riding a bike just like there are with cars. You assume those risks any time you use any type of transportation. Getting clipped by some turning right could happen. You have to be paying attention. Riding a bike, car, walking, etc…
    You could also have someone drunk out of their mind plow through a redlight and kill you. What rules are in place to prevent that? None.
    The goal is to get more people biking, walking, exercising, etc… The fatter and unhealthier Oklahoma gets the more it will cost you in insurance premiums and other medical costs.
    Imagine getting 1-2% of the population to actually use bike lanes. Imagine 1-2% of the population not being at risk for diabetes or heart disease b/c they are no longer sedentary.

  6. Brian D. Potter says:

    Hi Tulsa Rider,

    You’ve asked all the right questions. Have you looked for the answers yet? Did you read the analysis? I will start by agreeing that bicyclists assume the risks of operating their vehicles, just as motorists do. Responsible lobbying for a responsible transportation policy would result in designs, guidelines, and laws that make road users SAFER, not LESS SAFE. So let’s look at the data:

    1: 80% of car-bike collisions are the result of crossing and turning movements, not rear-enders or overtaking movements. 2% of car-bike collisions involve a motorist rear-ending a cyclist. That’s 2, not 20.

    2: A bike lane does nothing to reduce crossing and turning movements. In fact, it aggravates turning and crossing conflicts by placing the cyclist at the side of the road–less visible yet (often suddenly and surprisingly) in the way of people not going straight. What should we actually worry about? The two most common motorist-caused car-bike collisions: car turning right in front of the cyclist and car turning left in front of the cyclist. Both are visibility issues. The most common cyclist-caused car-bike collision: turning left from the curb or rightmost side of the road across the path of motorists going either direction. Why? Because the cyclist who does not know how to operate in traffic does not understand the legal obligation to merge left in the traffic lane before turning, staying in the bike lane until the immediately before the left-turn. The bike lane does not magically teach cyclists the absolutely necessary skills for negotiating traffic. In fact, it complicates the matter.

    3: The least common kind of car-bike collision: being hit from behind. Bike lanes are designed to protect cyclists from the kind of collision they are least likely to have–the one in which a motorist, who is typically looking for obstacles directly in front of him, rear-ends the bike. Again, this is only 2% of car-bike collisions.

    4: The research from Copenhagen, Denmark, home of the most over-engineered bikeways in the world: bike lanes and cycle tracks cause a 15% increase in car-bike collisions at intersections (major intersections, side-streets, and driveways). Do you know any roads without intersections, side-streets and driveways? The very study cited by the article with which I am taking issue shows a greater number of cyclist injuries on cycle-track, but because of sheer incompetence by the researchers, makes it impossible to determine which streets were more dangerous. Such a report cannot possibly confirm an increase in safety.

    5: We pay to put down the paint. We pay to widen the road. We pay for the congestion caused by narrowing roads to only one-lane in each direction when we don’t pay to widen the road. We pay for the pollution of single-file motor traffic sitting at stop lights for longer periods of time. We pay for the gas. We pay for the perception that bicyclists are not permitted to ride where there isn’t a bike lane. We pay with the loss of legal rights when someone accepts a mandatory bike lane law in order to get the bike lane installed (witness OKC only a few years ago), after which cyclists are not only harassed for not using inferior bike facilities, but are subject to tickets, fines, jail, and confiscation of their vehicle for failure to ride in the prescribed place. We pay with the increased road debris and inferior road surface near the curb. We pay with decreased parking for residents.

    A drunk driver is a non-sequitur. Nothing protects us from drunk drivers. Being out of control makes them dangers to everyone not in a cement building. Bike lane or no bike lane, a drunk driver can zero in on you. An acquaintance of mine, Christa Voss, was riding on the shoulder of HWY 51 when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The paint did not protect her or her bike buddy, Matthew. Nor did bike lanes protect the many people killed in Portland, Oregon during the last few years.

    In essence, by lobbying for bike lanes, we are asking for a facility that does not improve safety, does not address our greatest risk factors in any positive way, actually increases the risk of collisions, and puts us in the most undesirable part of the roadway. We are expected to lobby and pay for this privilege. If even a fraction of this money were spent on education, do you believe we could not increase the bicycling mode share? If road-widening costs millions of dollars per mile and paint costs tens of thousands per mile, how much would 1,010,000 (or less than a mile of street widened for bike lanes) purchase in education? At $50 per person, CyclingSavvy courses could be provided for 20,200 people. What an excellent rate of exchange–5% of Tulsa’s population for the cost of one mile of bike lane. Legislation, which costs nothing but the time of legislators we’re already paying, could better support cyclists rights and punish motorists who infringe upon those rights. Law enforcement officials, whom we are already paying, could visibly support cycling by ticketing motorists who drive unsafely near cyclists. And by not harassing law-abiding cyclists, law enforcement positively reinforces the presence of cyclists on the roadway. All of these things cost next to nothing.

    Cyclingsavvy.org has some excellent educational materials to address the misinformation disseminated by lobbyists for bike lanes. Keep in mind at all times that bike lanes address only one problem: fear of traffic. They make people less afraid while giving them more reasons to be actually afraid.

  7. Allan Crawford says:

    Brian,

    What you say is true. Those are the statics. And those of us wonks who look at the statics recognize where most of the accidents occur and what causes them. BUT…that is not the perception of most people. Most people are afraid to ride in traffic. And their perception is their reality. So no matter how much you would like them to understand the statistic or take the road 101 course most will never do it.

    Providing people an environment where they feel safe encourages them to ride. Once you have them riding you can reach out to them to teach them riding skills. We are starting a women-on-bikes program in Long Beach, where Chris Quint is going to train 12 women as LCI’s. There job will then be out reach into the community to get more women and girls on bikes. But first they have to have a place they can feel safe riding. And by providing bike lanes, bike boulevards and cycle tracks we are giving then what it takes to get them started.

    Of course we are closely monitoring the statistics on all of our facilities. If they are unsafe for bicyclists or motorists we will change them. But so far what we have seen is the accident rate has gone down while the ridership has gone up..

  8. Stephen Lassiter says:

    I’m hoping we can discuss this in a respectful way. I may be hoping for too much.

    With the understanding that we all want safe means of riding bikes on city streets, and that I understand the fear of right-hooks/doorings with certain bike lane designs, and we all want to ensure any bicycle accommodations are well thought out and well-designed, and we all don’t want mandatory bike lane or sidepath laws, and whereas I am thinking extremely hard about how to accommodate the interests of those who wish to bike in shared lanes as well as the interests of others who would prefer some separation…

    I’d like to get some opinions on the following article:
    http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/26/portland-had-zero-bike-fatalities-in-2010-again-46743

    This is an honest question that I’m asking so someone can provide some insight: If bike lanes are significantly more dangerous than shared lanes, how has Portland had 6 different years since 1999 with zero bike fatalities? Portland has a huge number of bike lanes and many many many more bicyclists than Tulsa. Seems to me if bike lanes were significantly more dangerous than shared lanes, Portland should be one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike in the country. Yet, Portland has had 6 years since 1999 with zero bike fatalities and ranks in the top 5 safest cities to bike in the U.S. according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2012 Benchmarking Report released on Monday. I can’t reconcile the notion that there’s “blood all over the streets in Portland” with these safety records.

    Yes, let’s make sure to do what we can and provide design guidance to mitigate right-hooks and keep bicyclists out of door zones. But I think vehicular cycling and bicycle facilities can co-exist. There are valuable techniques in vehicular cycling. And there are valuable aspects to bicycle facilities. I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. Too often this thing becomes an “us” vs “them.” We don’t have to be OKC. We can provide the means for both to exist in Tulsa and allow bicyclists to choose for themselves what they feel is best in any given situation. Let the bicyclists vote with their bikes.

    Tulsa already has an example of accommodating both vehicular cyclists and non-vehicular cyclists in the same corridor. There are currently “Share the Road” markings on the 23rd Street bridge over the Arkansas River. Right next to these shared lane markings is a multi-use path connected to the RiverParks trail system. Bicyclists can cross the bridge by choosing which route feels safer for their abilities and experience. This is causing zero problems. Many bicyclists choose the side path, some choose the road. I’ve ridden on both, depending on which suits my destination better. If this works now, it can work going forward. Bicyclists should continue to demand the right to choose any lane.

  9. Stephen Lassiter says:

    Additionally, no one is advocating widening streets for bike lanes. Bike lanes are usually achieved simply by reallocating space in the right-of-way, which is not as expensive. Doing so also acts as traffic calming that slows traffic down and improves safety for all modes along the street.

  10. Brian D. Potter says:

    I agree a respectful conversation is needed. Ample evidence and statistics have been provided on one side of this conversation, at least so far. The other side has been mostly about feelings and questions, concluding with “we can have it both ways.” This imbalance is telling. Bicycle driving, or operating your bicycle in the safest way possible, on a street according to the rules of the road, is fundamentally incompatible with pedestrian-biking, in all of its forms. They do not co-exist.

    To those who actually addressed these points of concern, thank you. To those who are ignoring the argument, I’ll leave the field with the following assertions:

    To the first and major point: education. The fact that people will not seek out bicycling education is a massive failure of bicycling advocates, USDOT, FHWA, OKDOT, and every regional transportation planning organization nationwide. Ninety percent of federal funding, as re-organized from ISTEA into Safe Routes to School, is aimed at paint and pavement. Ten percent is “other,” and of that “other,” most is spent on administration (salaries for planners, costs of planning, bucks for bureaucrats)–only a fraction gets spent on real education, training by experienced road cyclists, trainees on actual bikes learning rules of the road through direct application. Almost nothing is spent on this. This is shameful. Once the money is spent on facilities, what little education occurs as an aftermath is more in the form of REMEDY to the new problems generated by increased bike traffic on less safe facilities.

    As for what that education should look like, I would not teach the Road 101 Course if they gave it away for free–it was re-designed from Road I (BikeEd) when John Forester rescinded his permission for the League to use his curriculum, and with each re-design, it has been more and more watered down (diagrams, language) to the point of being not quite but almost useless. It has been rendered not as a best practice, but as a series of hopeful recommendations. For those of us paying attention, it’s painful to watch. The League has been co-opted by those who use fear-based advocacy. I know because I have met and attended meetings with the organizations who promoted this type of advocacy over ten years ago: Bikes Belong, America Bikes, The Thunderhead Alliance (re-named because of its bad reputation as the Alliance for Biking and Walking). Fear, numbers, and cash have been their primary goals–they give seminars in how to use people’s anxiety to bolster support with legislators for infrastructure enhancements (i.e., pork barrel spending). They demonize anyone who threatens the cash or attempts to reduce the fear through education, saying instead facilities are the only way to take away everyone’s fear, that education only works for “die-hard elitists.” If you’re part of this Pedestrian Paint-and-Pave group, please place a collect call to your conscience–if you make contact, Stop and Yield the Right-of-Way.

    What I would teach: Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson have had enormous success getting a diverse group of bicyclists to ride on the road with CyclingSavvy. When people’s perceptions are wrong, we can either reinforce the error (which is unethical) or we can work to change the perception. Ms. Caffrey and Mr. Wilson include NO politics in the curriculum, just straight up best practice for bicyclists. This kind of education is right on target for people who don’t care how the problem gets solved–they just want to enjoy biking–NOW. Building facilities to address non-existent problems is just unethical–misleading people for the sake of increasing mode share is WRONG. It’s also fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. If many people are not open to the best we know about cycling, then we should reach out to those who are open, not cave in to irrational and irresponsible demands. The same people who are barely riding now will barely be riding after we build them the multi-million dollar facilities. Even in “Bike Friendly” cities, one out of twenty wants to do it and 19 out 20 don’t.

    About Portland: Oklahomans suffer from West Coast envy because they fail to understand the realities of that culture (or its self-promoting propaganda) and do not realize the natural advantages we already have–low urban density, wide, highly accessible streets, excellent commute times, direct routes to places of interest, many alternate routes with varying traffic levels, and relatively low accident rates. Portland has gone out of its way to mention specific years they had NO cycling related fatalities, omitting years with a multitude of fatalities and ignoring altogether the fact that these fatalities overwhelmingly occurred in bike lanes. Oklahoma reports a 1% cycling mode share; Tulsa has more than once reported a 2% mode share, much higher than any other major city in the region; Portland reports a 5% mode share. Oklahoma has, over the past twenty years, averaged 1-2 fatalities per year, with rates higher than that (3-4) occurring only after the enormous leap in gas prices sent many novice cyclists with NO TRAINING onto the roads and sidewalks trying to save money. [PLEASE try to keep in mind that on-street non-facility accident rates reflect mainly UN-trained pedestrian-style cyclists riding on sidewalks and being hit at cross-streets–a collision even modest training and enforcement could prevent.] Oregon, however, has managed, on average, 12+ fatalities per year over the same time period (see Riley Geary’s numbers), or 4-12 times more deaths but only 2-3 times more cycling.

    Let’s file Portland under Lies, Outrageous Lies, and Statistics. I suppose how one defines “Portland” depends on municipality (545,000) verses metro-area (2.3 million), but for most of us, Portland is the populated part of Oregon (2/3rds of the state). Tulsa(1/9th or 1/4th of the state, city-to-metro) registers many years without a cycling casualty as well. If we ignored our metro area, we would still often be at zero, while Portland ignores its metro to exclude the bulk of bike fatalities in Oregon. Keeping up with the lies of statisticians is exhausting. I think they count on a public that doesn’t question where they get the numbers. Despite the statistical haze, Oregon’s cyclist fatality rate (per million) has exceeded the national average for quite some time.

    “In 2008, there were no fatal bike crashes in the City of Portland. After a tumultuous 2007, when we had six fatal bike crashes (two of them very high-profile)…” (http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/05/zero-bike-fatalities-in-2008-a-q-a-with-greg-raisman-12893) In other words, in 2007-08, Portland had as many accidents as the entire state of Oklahoma.

    “Even in Oregon, however, cycling can be dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 10 cyclist deaths in Oregon in 2008. Nationally, between 700 and 800 bicyclists die each year, most of them in accidents involving cars or trucks. Those 10 Oregon deaths represented 2.4% of the state’s road fatalities, according to NHTSA – a figure significantly above the national average of 1.7%.” (http://www.mdkaplanlaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1627270.html)

    http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/advcycschubert.pdf

    http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/12/one-fatality-one-serious-injury-in-se-portland-hit-and-run-57581

    As for “blood all over the streets,” is that necessary to settle this argument? Let’s say you ask me for a solution that costs $50 per person and reduces each one’s risk to 1/11th the national average (or 1/40th the rate for sidewalk/sidepath bikers, or 1/50th the rate of wrong-way riders)– we’ll call this solution Bicycle Driving, to be folded into Drivers Education, and to be started in late elementary school as part of P.E. At current rates, its budget will be no more than 1/100th the cost of special bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

    Now let’s say Ped-Man asks us to spend a million dollars per mile on a paint-and-pavement solution that, at its absolute best, statistically has NO EFFECT on safety, when minimally integrated into an urban environment, increases cyclist risk by 10-20%, and when over-engineered or constructed as a cycle-track, sidepath or sidewalk, catapults risk by factors of 2.5x, 4x, or even 12x, depending on the speed of the cyclist–let’s assume for the moment that with cycling transportation, speed might actually matter to folks GOING somewhere on a schedule. We’ll call this Pedestrian Advocacy or PnP (Paint-and-Pave). Or we could even call it Context Sensitive Solutions or Complete Streets. Any of these tags will do.

    So, chump change for big gains or big money for chump gains? Huh. Who invests like that? There’s the Ponzi scheme in a nutshell. The Education model doesn’t have to show “blood all over the streets”–that’s the PnP tactic. All it has to do is show that you’re wasting taxpayer money for little or no improvement in safety, loss thereof when people compromise (such as not adding width, or using road diets to choke and congest existing traffic, packing more and more bodies into tighter and tighter spaces). But again, pedestrian planners don’t want you to notice. Hence the shell game.

    If you say we can have both specialized bike infrastructure and education, you’re asking education to rectify the damage done by the infrastructure. And like Portland, the net effect will not justify the expenditure. Can we increase the safety and enjoyment of cyclists through a sure-thing like education? Have we even tried?

  11. Brian D. Potter says:

    A side-note to Stephen:

    I was on the committee that prevented the city from adopting a pedestrian USE SIDEWALK approach to ALL of the on-street routes in town. I urged the city to adopt SHARROWS on the integrated on-street route IN KEEPING with MUTCD/AASHTO guidelines. The City of Tulsa Department of Public Works wanted to direct cyclists on to sidewalks at 17 locations city-wide as part of the overall design.

    It is completely disingenuous to use 23rd St. as an example of co-existence IF one realizes that

    1) the trail riders have no roadway access for transportation purposes for literally miles because of the wall and other RiverTrails design features (so these are not equal access facilities);

    2) the RiverTrail is a recreational Multi-Use Path with little transportation value, offering a circuit or out-and-back connectivity to a small minority of locals–most users thereof DRIVE their bikes to the trail to ride and then DRIVE them home again;

    3) the walled-off Multi-Use Path pre-dates the on-street route–the multi-million dollar wall approach was considered necessary to reduce an already substantial risk posed by sidepaths, but now confines bicyclists to competing with pedestrians for a narrow corridor (which elevates bike accidents to a rate of roughly 2.5 times greater than the adjacent roadway);

    4) the on-street route is NOT a bike path or a bike lane. It is a full-use integrated road facility;

    5) the on-street route on 23rd (or 21st or 41st or Hudson or 56th or 36th or Pittsburgh or virtually anywhere else) would not exist at all if the pedestrian contingency had prevailed–because they just KNEW riding in the road was too dangerous, despite any data to the contrary.

    How then, does mentioning 23rd St. and a walled-off sidepath further the argument for bike lanes? Such an assertion is incoherent.

    Have the ped advocates not done enough damage already? If we agree that, for safety’s sake, linear trails like the RiverParks should remain separated from the roadway to prevent an increased risk at intersections, we have effectively removed them from the rest of the transportation network for recreational purposes only. If we want to build places to play, that’s fine–but it’s not a TRANSPORTATION policy issue. It’s a Parks & Recreation issue. Transportation cyclists have MANY places to go not located along the river corridor. They need real skills.

  12. Bike Soup says:

    Keeping up with Bikeportland for over 5 years, it’s not difficult to discern some lessons learned. In 2007, there were two major deaths that involved right-hooks in the bike lane, Tracy Sparling and Brett Jirolimek. http://bikeportland.org/2008/10/22/one-year-later-remembering-tracey-and-brett-9638

    Sparling and Jirolimek were on the complete opposite ends of the cycling spectrum. Both were in the respective bike lanes. Both crashes were the classic right-hook. Both offending motorists say, “I didn’t see him/her.”

    Of course, there’s something to be said for encouraging more new cyclists by making them feel more comfortable. But, do we really want to put clueless, new cyclists in motorists’ blind spots?

    Portland Bureau of Transportation(PBOT) KNOWS the design flaws of bike lanes. 1) Cyclists in motorists’ blind spots; 2) Significant risk of death and serious injury due to right-hooks crashes; 3) False sense of security; 4) Door zone.

    From 2007 to present, Bikeportland is a great source of PBOT’s reactions: 1) Bike boxes; 2) Public education campaign on right- hook dangers; 3) And, now the left-turn box.

    If the real problem is motorists criminally speeding just to catch the next red, scaring new cyclists, maybe they should simple lose the traffic lights, and combine the bike boxes and the left turn boxes into traffic circles? Naaaaaaaaaaah. NOT a chance. http://www.bikewalk.org/pdfs/trafficcontrol_backtobasics.pdf http://trafficcalming.org/

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