By Sonya James
Posting in Cities
Even flimsy plastic barriers could keep cyclist safer and drivers more relaxed. Turn to Europe, and the United States looks like a chump.
There is something so refreshing about do-it-yourself public behaviour experiments. Imagine a world where most people felt inclined to find out for themselves - the streets would transform into delightful mayhem.
Last week Doug Gordon, author of the Brooklyn Spoke blog, decided to try a bike lane experiment using nothing but red plastic Solo cups (a.k.a keg party cups) and duct tape.
The question driving the experiment is one cyclists and city planners have been arguing about for over three decades. Should we build bike-specific infrastructure, or is it safer for cyclists to integrate into road traffic like motorized vehicles?
Inspired by Toronto bike advocates' Trashy Bike Lane, which was installed after a pregnant woman named Jenna Morrison was killed by a right turning truck, and a one-man fight to stop Brooklyn police from parking in a local lane (pictured above), Gordon taped the red plastic cups along the outer edge of a painted bike lane.
While entirely unscientific, his hope was to see if drivers would be deterred from drifting into and parking on the bike lane - a common occurrence along Franklin Street.
"In addition to their small size and low cost, they offered some other advantages," Gordon wrote about the plastic cups. "The red color would make them more visible against white thermoplastic and black pavement. They could be easily driven over by a fire truck or other emergency vehicle. [And] if hit by a car, the only damage would be to the cups."
It worked. At least, for the time Gordon observed before going to pick up his daughter from daycare (DIY experiments do tend to suffer from, well, the goings-on of everyday life).
"The message? Physical barriers, even small ones, have a greater effect on driver behavior than painted lines," writes Sarah Goodyear for The Atlantic Cities.
And it is not just driver behaviour bike advocates fight to change. Separate bike-infrastructure also encourages more cyclists. At least, this is the argument advocates against the "vehicular cycling" approach use.
"I also have come to believe that the more physical separation that can be achieved between bikes and cars, the better. I’ve seen all too often how little protection a stripe of paint offers," Goodyear writes.
Look to cities like Sydney, Australia, and the case for physical separations is made even stronger. The city has seen an 82 percent increase in cycling over the past two years.
Let me just repeat that: an increase of 82 percent in two years.
Related article: Worldwide Cycle Superhighways raise the bar
Images: Brooklyn Spoke
via: The Atlantic Cities
Aug 27, 2012
The inspired stuff keeps me reading this blog and I think cyclist will look unique in motorized vehicles. http://www.certaproloudoun.com/interior-painters-sterling-va/
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An interesting experiment in driver behavior, but it would be pretty hard to implement for real, at least in northern winters -- the plows would make short work of anything fragile, and if it were something permanent, how would you clear the roads?
As most of us who ride motorcycles say: " Better to be wrong, yield and get out of the way rather than to be dead right". If I remember correctly - in Colorado a bike rider must occupy as far right as is possible on the pavement and single file if there is no bike lane. There is a 3' distance requirement for passing cars (including being able to move left over the centerline if need be). Some bike riders pay attention (usually the business commuters), but a great many of the wannabe racers seem to occupy anywhere - even on very narrow two lane.
Rules of the road work, but as mentioned, most cyclists (and way to many motorcyclists) either don't know them, or ignore them. A bicycle is considered a vehicle. Means riding against traffic is riding the wrong way, period. They have the right to the entire travel lane. They can right in the center, or even the left side of that lane. And they have the right to ride 2 abreast, as do motorcycles. However, there is a concept of driving courtesy that many riders rudely ignore. Ride to the right, single file, when automotive traffic is present or coming. You're almost always slower than the cars. You don't like it when people block your travel, don't do it the the cars. Speaking of cars, no bicycle EVER won a contest of strength, power, or who goes first with a car. Physics Rules! Which is one reason why New Hampshire and a lot of other states require at least 3 feet between car and bicycle. Cyclists need to obey traffic light and stop signs scrupulously, or they deserve to die. The only exception is an electronic controlled intersection where a bike may not be able to trigger the sensors embedded in the pavement. In that case, stop, look both ways, and don't proceed until it's safe to do so. No lights, or inadequate lights at night is an invitation to die. Sissy Sue is wrong about one thing. Bicyclist helmet laws are just about useless. It's been proven with several studies. The only people who really benefit are the ones who sell helmets, and they are the ones who lobbied for the laws for their own profit, not to keep Johnny and Susie safe. There IS one peice of safety equipment that does make a difference; and that's a highly visible, reflective vest (flourescent green, yellow, or orange preferrably.) Over 90% of all car-bike accidents are because the driver didn't see the bicycle. (Only took me two accidents to beat that lesson into my brain, and it wasn't my head that got hurt in either.)
...because the drivers don't know that they are only cups. "Those red things could have something in them that might puncture my tires. Better not run them over. Oh look, there's a bicyclist."
Would be ok....if they licensed bikes and used the fees to pay for them. But...as with the folks in the thread are saying - might keep the cars out but if it's anything like the riders in Boulder, CO - it would make no difference - they pay absolutely no attention to stopsigns/stoplights or any of the other traffic laws - even speed limts and I've seen as many as 6 abreast. I've even seen riding with no hands and texting! Time after time if they blow a light and get hit by a vehicle, it's the driver that the officers issue the ticket to. It's the driver that gets sued. Fascinating concept.
I've noticed many think they're walking as they ride on the highway against the traffic.. It can be a bit scarey when you're coming up aganist a bicycle on your left and a car on your right.. I just stop and let them figure how to get around me...
I have seen many bumper stickers on bike owners cars that state that we should give bikes 5 ft. and then they ride 4 abreast! Ride single file like cars have to and you will have your 5 ft.!
I am all for dedicated and separate cycling lanes where practical, like Miami, but cyclist must obey traffic signals. Especially where cycling paths cross vehicle traffic. Too many riders feel laws and common sense do not apply to them as they play a dangerous game of chicken with oncoming traffic by running stop signs and red lights. A recent cycling fatality in Wellesley MA may have been the result of the rider running a traffic signal. The problem is so bad that a cyclist interviewed as he was dropping flowers at the accident scene proceeded to run the red light after the interview was over. The whole thing was caught on camera. That reporter nearly got an exclusive on another fatality as a truck just missed the guy.
I've lived in Melbourne, Australia (where there are mostly painted bike lanes) and Copenhagen (where there are mostly physical separate bike lanes) and there is a reason why I stopped riding my bike in Melbourne while pregnant but continue to ride while pregnant in Copenhagen - physically separate bike lanes are much safer. The difference in driver behaviour is obvious when you ride in both places, I'm sure it's down to more than just the bike lane differences, but I think they make a huge difference.
In L.A. many bikes ride on sidewalks. If you think that riding against traffic is bad, picture bikes jumping out in front of you where you don't expect them. Even adults do just, not just kids. The police seem to look the other way. Too much paperwork?
Thanks for mentioning the No #1 reason why I am against bicycles. I understand that bicyclists are expected to obey that same rules of the road that motorized vehicles follow. And yet, I have never seen a bicyclist pay the least attention to traffic laws. They drive however they want and expect the rest of the planet to make allowances for their carelessness. They know that no police officer will ticket them, and they expect drivers of motorized vehicles to bear all of the responsibility for THEIR actions. In a nation of people who drive on the right side of the road, they will drive on the left, go through red lights, fail to stop at stop signs, ride two or more abreast in the middle of a residential street, drive at night without illumination, disobey the bicycle helmet laws, fail to wear any safety equipment at all, and never get prosecuted for doing the wrong thing and putting themselves at risk. They know that it is the driver of the motorized vehicle, and not they, who will be raked over the coals if they get hurt. Until law enforcement starts cracking down on careless and irresponsible bicycling behavior, I have only this to say about sharing the road with bicyclists: NO! NO! NO!
In 2011 a group of several lawyers representing a local bicycling club they were members of pushed to get a certain town outside of Boston to pass a cycling ordinance setting up the creation of bicycle paths on certain major roads in town. Shortly after the first path was created one of the lawyers was stopped on his bicycle by a cop for running a red light. The lawyer laughed at the cop when given a verbal warning and proceeded to run the next red light right in front of the cop. The cop pulled him over again and gave him a ticket, per the ordinance. The lawyer laughed again and said in effect 'Ill have your job for this.' The judge had the last laugh when he told the lawyer to ';pay up and shut up. You wrote the ordinance'. Many cops and judges will not stand up to them.
Bikes are not the biggest problem on the road, cell phones, drunk, and generally inattentive drivers pose a much greater risk than bikes. I agree, bike riders, as well as pedestrians, ignore traffic controls, such as stop signs and traffic lights. It is also unacceptable for drivers to think they do not need to share the road with bikes when they are riding single file. Flying by at speeds in excess of the speed limit laying on their horn while going down a four lane road that allows the car room to move over a lane is the same selfish inconsiderate attitude as that accredited to bike riders. The bottom line is we all need to be considerate of each other. Not that there is much hope for that.
...is their selective choice of which traffic laws apply, depending on the moment. For example, when moving about automobiles, they assume they are considered a "pedestrian", meaning that they get the absolute right-of-way over automobiles. The same applies when they encounter stop signs and traffic lights, which they blithely ignore. On the other hand, they are happy to consider themselves equal with automobiles when those laws better suit the moment.
Justice, at least in this case was served. I'd suggest it's the exception rather than the rule though.