Someplace, Somewhere…they’ve got it figured out

The answer seems rather obvious to me.












17 Responses to “Someplace, Somewhere…they’ve got it figured out”

  1. Dave

    In general, I really like having separate facilities such as those show in the photos above, but there are are several concerns:
    1) What happens at intersections? Cars essentially have to cross two lanes of bikes to make a right hand turn, putting bicyclist at risk of being right hooked by an inattentive motorist.
    2) The bike lane area is too narrow to support both high pace riders and more recreational riders. This is a real concern of mine. For instance, I really don’t like riding on the burke gilman trail, as the speed of riders tends to be slower than the pace i’m use to going. There is nothing wrong with slower cyclist, but the space typically allocated for bikes doesn’t usually leave enough space to pass safely.

  2. WB

    Per your concerns:
    1.) There is a seperate traffic light that allows cyclists to go through the intersections before pedestrians and cars.
    2.) Passing another cyclist is just part of the commute. If that’s the most you have to worry about (I’m going to slow, I need to pass), I wonder how all those folks in cars feel when a cyclist is riding down the middle of the lane? At least you can pass, in the same mode of transportaion, with “buzzing” them, as Dan encountered with the bus.

  3. Matt the Engineer

    You call that a bicycle lane? Now this is a bicycle lane.

  4. celeriac

    That looks like a lot of people put a lot of energy and effort into designing and building special-purpose, segregated facilities for cars.

  5. Spencer

    Ahh the pleasures of a flat city at and below sea level. The Dutch take advantage of their resources.

  6. dan bertolet

    WB, I think most would agree with you that separated bike lanes are ideal. But no city will have them on every road, so there will always be situations when cars and bikes have to share the road.

    Also, since it will be a long time before we see separated bike lanes in Seattle (if we ever get them), I’m much more interested in how to deal with the car/bike road sharing issue.

  7. Josh Mahar

    The truth is that bike lanes AREN’T ideal. Contrary to popular belief, most information says that bike lanes actually increase bike fatalities and severe injuries (but they do decrease crashes overall). This truth is still heavily debated and horribly under-studied, but in 2007 the Cycle Campaign Network, the largest cycling advocacy group in the UK, officially took the stance that there is, “no evidence that cycle facilities and in particular cycle lanes, generally lead to safer conditions for cycling”.


    This is generally understood in Europe. Unfortunately, they found this out after they had spent a lot of time and money building intricate bike path networks. Here in Seattle we have the ironic opportunity of not having made this same mistake.

    Now, I’m not arguing that bike trails don’t have their place (great for scenic, relaxing joyrides) but we shouldn’t waste our time advocating for seperated bike lanes which cost money, and perhaps more importantly, space, when what we really need to do is advocate for more education and awareness.

    A few steps I believe are important:

    1.) Heavily increase the amount of bikers on our streets (the most important burden is on the citizens!)
    2.) Teach a section on “cars and bikes” during driver’s ed
    3.) Educate bikers on smart and safe practices*
    4.) Minimize vehicle speeds on popular biking routes
    5.) Continue the uber-biased city campaign for bikes (i.e. biking incentives, bike subsidies, bike-share, biking events)

    As Mumford pointed out, language is the oldest and most important method of cultural coherence. If we build a cultural understanding of how to bike and drive harmoniously tensions will ease and saftey will follow.

    *while I believe this would involve teaching bikers the importance of traffic signals, I don’t advocate for increasing violation policing.

  8. Wholy Macaroni

    Bike lanes are LESS safe than combining bikes and cars on the same pathway? This is the sort of alternate reality that the Bush administration has pushed Americans into thinking they exist.

    So what Josh Mahar is saying is that if all roadways were suddently turned into all bike lanes with no cars or pedestrians, bikers wouldn’t be any safer?? Seems like an unsolvable solution then – where cycling is just inherently dangerous by itself and no infrastructure could solve it.

  9. Frank and Beans

    Dan, you’ve got to start somewhere. Developing an effective mass transportation system like a subway takes time, but it’s a solution for decreasing car depedency. Just like seperated bike lanes would be terrific for this city – it just takes time. By your rational we shouldn’t do anything because it wouldn’t immediately solve your problem. You’re coming off like the typical Seattlelite – no wonder nothing gets done around here. Seems like in the mean time for bike commuters like ourselves, we need to be level headed and cautious.

  10. rbj

    best of seattle what?

    Best New Urban Scold…

  11. wes

    Spencer, some of those pics aren’t just from Holland. Quick glance, I see two from our very own NY. However, Holland rocks. The place to be for the non-spandex/helmet clad relaxed cyclists. Don’t assume you are going to be traveling at 25 mph on your rickety barely 3-speed in this country. A nice pace that doesn’t get your work clothes all sweaty will do the trick. My fav.

  12. Brian

    Wholly Macaroni: There is increasing evidence that the safest streets are those where modes are mixed, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, automobile speed is kept very low (15 mph) Some German towns are experimenting with eliminating signalized intersections, eliminating even sidewalks, etc. The key is very slow speeds by mototrized traffic.

    Sadly, as American culture is more violent, and as the American automobile is an extension of our manhood (did anyone see those vile Hummer ads), and the American motorist has a unique sense of entitlement (and is infuriated when said entitlement is impacted in any way) then it wouldn’t work here.

  13. Steve

    Slow speeds for motorized traffic are very easy to get in this country — all you need to do is replace the smooth pavement with cobblestones.

    Anyway, I read somewhere that the Dutch design bike lanes for a mom carrying her kid and a bag of groceries on a bike. A lane is safe enough if and only if that mom will feel safe in it. I’d like to see this focus here, too — the key to getting respect for bikes is to have a lot of drivers who know what it is to be a cyclist, and the way to get that is to make it easy for *everyone* to ride.

  14. Sabina Pade

    I like WB’s post. And I agree with Wholy Macaroni that suggesting separated bike lanes reduce safety is tantamount to advocating a Bushian alternative reality.

    Restricting vehicles generally to very low speeds does demonstrably improve safety, and is practicable in some cases. Let’s however not pretend that even cyclists are going implement a 15mph limit over more than a tiny portion of a sprawling North American city.

    As a longtime former daily user of separated bike lanes, I remain 100% enthusiastic about them. It’s not because separated bike lanes eliminate accidents. They don’t; only thoughtful behaviour can. But separated bike lanes massively reduce stress and the concomitant road rage, for cyclist and motorist alike.

  15. Bob

    The issue of safety, while important, is almost secondary to the fact that separated bike infrastructure will get people out riding bikes who won’t ride in painted lanes mixed with traffic. i.e. chicken cyclists like me.

    The european bike facilities attract all kinds of cyclists – seniors, moms/dads with kids, young folk, etc…. everyone feels comfortable. How many of those people would cycle with traffic with buses buzzing by them??

    If we want to seriously increase the number of people cycling in cities in the US and Canada – we need to build bike lanes that scaredy-cat cyclists will use. Period. All the training and education in the world isn’t going to make me want to ride in a lane I share with buses right next to aggressive, impatient drivers.

    (Vancouver, BC just got its first on-street, separate bike lane, and its a beauty, they went all out: unfortunately it’s less than 1km long)

  16. wes

    Wow, that is really nice Bob. Where is this beauty at? Will go check it out the next time I’m in Vancouver.

  17. Bob

    It’s the Carrall Street Greenway. I don’t think it’s 100% done yet – a block or two to go still.

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