Confirmed vehicular cyclist moves to segregated infrastructure side of argument.
I have been reporting on bicycle infrastructure without making comments pro or con, I have quoted from some articles in the past, but I tried not to come down on one side or the other. In my wreck avoidance techniques I used Vehicular Cycling as a guide on how to use the infrastructure as it is on the ground now.
Well, what we have on the ground now doesn’t work. I’m not going to say it can’t work or won’t work, but to make it work as it exists would take at least a generation, probably more, of education combined with really draconian legislation that would make hitting a vulnerable road user a major felony, with large fines, and prison time and possibly the death penalty for killing a vulnerable user. I don’t see that happening.
Start by making assumptions:
1. All bicycle trips are like car trips, most begin at home, go someplace and then come back home.
2. People on bikes want to go pretty much the same places as people in cars.
3. People on bikes want to feel safe as they go places.
4. People on bikes want the same access to places as we give to people in cars now.
Using the built environment we can satisfy conditions 1 and 2, but the rider has to have a great deal of experience as a VC and have a bit of MacGuyver in finding a place to lock up so that they will have a bike for the return journey. The built environment does not meet conditions 3 and 4 with any regularity, especially condition 3.
So, using the guidelines of permeability and segregation, how do we transform suburbs from next door to Hell to heaven on Earth? What I do see is creating a network of infrastructure that works as well as driving a car, that doesn’t cost as much to build as car infrastructure or anything close to the costs to maintain car infrastructure. Even here in the suburbs
fromof Hell most of the existing infrastructure can be easily modified to work with all modes, by working on permeability and segregation. Permeability could be insured by using alleyways and cutting through cul-de-sacs (which would require condemning 6 to 8 foot wide strips of land between houses for access to alleys and streets on the other side that cars can’t use). Segregation could be insured by grade separation of bike paths from arterial streets, and also from pedestrian paths.
Thing is I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a civil engineer, I’m an enthusiastic amateur, entirely self-taught, mostly by observing what doesn’t work. One thing I know doesn’t work is narrow bike lanes squeezed in to high-speed arterials without taking any space, or as little space as possible, from motor vehicle traffic. Cyclists are better off with taking the lane than bike lanes like those. To use a culinary analogy, cyclists are like people with peanut allergies, and narrow bike lanes on high-speed arterials or taking the lane on high-speed arterials is like a choice of peanut-butter sandwiches or granola bars, either way sooner or later you’re going to die.
Another thing that doesn’t work but most likely won’t be seen where I live is squeezing the bike lane between a line of parked cars and moving traffic so the the bike lane is entirely in the door zone. Here in Garland there is less than 100 feet of parallel parking in the entire city, all of it on one block in Downtown Garland.
That is the thing that has to be guarded against: Bad bike infrastructure is as dangerous as no bike infrastructure.
One thing that has to be addressed early in the process is bike parking. As it is now cyclists lock their bikes to anything they can get a lock around that (hopefully) can’t be moved. imagine if this was the condition for cars, hoping to find someplace that you can get a car in and out of near where you have to go when you get there.
I don’t know what will work for transforming Garland into a city with transportation mode choice, I just know what we have isn’t working and very quickly will get much worse.