The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes

The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes (8:30 running time)

As an outgrowth of the fabulous Streetsblog, which challenges people to rethink the auto-centric street design, Streetfilms takes the experience to another level.

One of the best diagrams in the video is this, which shows the revolution in design needed to get NYC's biking numbers into the 20-30% range like Copenhagen.

This is just one of their videos. Other good videos are:

Portland's Safe Routes to School

Chicago Transportation Commissioner Meets Project for Public Spaces

Donald Shoup on Parking Policy

Could not agree more regarding the need for dedicated bike lanes! One fact that really, really bothers me is that the majority of the civil codes that require bicyclists to ride on the street were written around 1910 when the average bicyclist was fairly capable of maintaining a compatible speed with traffic.

Riding on the streets of any sizeable city is simply a recipe for disaster. All it takes is that one careless driver or p*ssed off individual having a bad day and someone winds up in a wheelchair, or possibly a zipper bag. 200 lbs of man and bike is simply no match for 2+ tons of moving metal.

Yes, I am an unapologetic sidewalk rider. I obey the pedestrian signals relgiously and I match my speed to the amount of foot traffic present. I dismount and walk if there are simply too many people. In 10+ years of riding this way I have never had a collision with another pedestrian or cyclist. Even if I did ride in a less controlled manner the most likely bad outcome is some bumps and bruises, at worst a broken leg.

In college I was fortunate enough to attend school that had a compact campus, wide, wide sidewalks, some mixed-use and dedicated bike paths, and a police force that had better things to do than ticket bikers.

The city I live in now is a less fortuitous situation. The sidewalks are very narrow. They are cut up by many, many sidestreets, and drivers will simply block your travel or roll up on you as you cross the street even though they have a STOP sign. The one key advantage is that nearly no one walks on these sidewalks.

Better yet, the newspaper recently ran a story about the local police staging a 'crackdown' on people who ride sidewalks in the downtown area. Apparently a few bad apples have spoiled it for us all.

Perhaps I should just suck it up, get my deathwish on, and start riding the streetz to reduce my already fairly small carbon footprint!

Sidewalks are not safe above walking speed. A cyclist can't see around hedges, mailboxes, posts, plantings, all sorts of obstructions that are built right to the edge of the sidewalk paving. Pedestrians (and dogs, cars in driveways, toddlers) are not watching for anything coming down the sidewalk faster than a jogger.
Don't ride on the sidewalk. You endanger everyone,including yourself.

This depends entirely on the sidewalk and the amount of walking traffic. When I biked to work in Charlotte, NC I used the sidewalks religiously, where they existed. The only roads that are not cul-de-sac housing developments are insanely crowded, suicidal for bikes and with very fast moving traffic and lots of blind curves and no shoulders. In the two years I biked, I maybe saw pedestrians on the sidewalks twice, and they were waiting for the bus at bus stop signs. I would have endangered myself extremely by biking exclusively on the roadway.

Roadways have to conform to engineering codes and the important one in this case is visibilty. For sidewalks anything goes. Unfortunately bike paths are also usually anything goes.
If you want to claim that you have a spot where there's an exception to the rule be my guest. I break rules too. Just be aware that behind every tree and fence and shrub there is unpredictable and random interference and that your available reaction time is one small fraction of what it might be in a more standard right of way. I call sidewalk riders ER admissions.

As far as I know, roadways do not have to conform to any standards regarding bicycle traffic. Sidewalks that are straight and unobstructed by any of the things you describe are vastly safer for the bicyclist than the high traffic roads that I am referring to. Obviously a level of care is needed wherever one rides. I have been bicycling for over 40 years without ever colliding with a pedestrian and the only serious accident I ever had was misjudging some railroad tracks. The choice for sidewalk riding in the case I describe was more than obvious to me, maybe it would have been different to you. My point is that it is inappropriate to cast moral aspersions on a bicyclist who judges it better to 'hit the sidewalks' especially without knowing anything at all about the context.

Moral aspersions? I don't think we are talking morality here, but rather what is safe and appropriate. I agree with "Old Hippie", that sidewalk cycling is not nearly as safe as many people suppose it to be. But I'm sure you're right, ET, to point out that conditions vary from place to place. Fortunately I live in a town where cyclists have asserted their right to be on the road. So, I would never consider using the sidewalk.

Okay, you guys come to my city and ride the four lane to my workplace where speeds exceed 50 mph on a daily basis and tell me how 'safe' that is.

Nuff said.

What city is it? If it's close, I might. I bike on five lane arterials every day. Everybody who doesn't bike in traffic thinks their roads are too dangerous for it.

Fair enough. I challenge you to come to my town and ride a bicycle on the roads between my home and my workplace for several days. At the close of that period please explain to me how 'safe' riding it is to ride on the roads here versus the sidewalks.

Thank you.

Obviously, I can't comment on how things are in your town. But Old Hippie pointed out prettly clearly the perils of sidewalk cycling. If motorists are so reckless and aggressive that they run cyclists they can plainly see right in front of them, I doubt that they are going to be watching out for bikes on the sidewalk as they whip around a corner. True, a slow and cautious sidewalk cyclist can anticipate these perils, and thus avoid disaster. Many don't, though, because they believe just being on the sidewalk is all the "safety" they need.

I think someone already pointed out that you have to vigilant no matter where you are. I agree. If you are an alert, experienced sidewalk cyclist, and the traffic culture in your town is hostile to cyclists who dare to use the road, fine, do as you think best. Where I am, sidewalk cycling is not a good practice.

Thanks for that defense. I was tired of it.
But now I'll throw in some more. The notion of cyclist/motor vehicle interaction leading to body bags is drastically overblown. A cyclist hit by a car - or truck or bus - does not even necessarily fall down. I don't. I can't possibly count how many times I've been hit but if I gave up each time I did this post would not exist. When you do go down there's no presumption you will be hurt. Many falls have no damage report whatsoever. If there is damage it is more likely to be paint polish or fabric than skin. When there is injury most cycling injuries are minor and heal. Collar bones and ribs predominate. Cuts, bruises, road rash. The occasional punctured lung. Yes there are severe injuries but they are not the norm.
My injury report for 300,000 miles is 3 stitches and a mild concussion (years before helmets) for injury accident #1, 50 stitches for injury accident #2. Most drivers do worse.

And yes I've had to crash the curb and lay the bike down in the road to avoid sidewalk riders blundering into the crosswalk. They think they're going as slow and being as cautious as pedestrians but they are not. And after you save their stupid butts for them they just act self-righteous and braindead.

The notion of cyclist/motor vehicle interaction leading to body bags is drastically overblown.

The notion of cyclist on the sidewalk danger from a car coming out of a driveway that is blocked by bushes is drastically overblown.

The only time I have been hit by a car while riding was when I was riding on the sidewalk. A driver pulling out of a gas station knocked me sideways onto the pavement. I got up, walked over to the car, and shook the driver's hand through the open window. He thought I was going to slug him. I was probably in shock, but he was more shook up than I. The bike was fine, and I was bruised but OK. And I (re)learned my lesson.

ca 1968: I was in the right shoulder of a two lane road in Damascus MD when a car turned right just in front of me, and I hit him.
ca 1974: On a rural road near Laytonsville MD, someone threw a beer or soda can at me, for no particular reason.
ca 1982: I was in the right lane of a four lane divided road in Four Corners MD, a guy in a pickup truck pulled up next to me screaming, "Use the sidewalk!"
ca 1983: I was riding my moped in right lane of the big loop on the VA side of the Key Bridge. A car changed lanes and knocked me over.
ca 1988: On the bike path near the 17th Street Bridge, I was crossing traffic turning onto the bridge from the GW Parkway. Some woman was looking behind, drove through the crossing and broadsided me. I lifted my legs and rolled over her hood, but the bike's wheels were ruined.

The code in my town is no bicycles on sidewalks but that is no problem since almost all roads with lots of traffic have parallell bike lane/roads. Most of the bicycle lanes/roads are walk and bike.

The odd thing is that some are ok for mopeds and other are not. I guess mopeds will be banned in the long run since they get more and more like motorcycles for each year. I also guess we will get some head scratching about light two wheeled EV:s in a few years. And there are at least two segways in town. :-)

I agree with "Cyclists fare best when they ACT and are TREATED as vehicles".

And here are some statistics:
"bike paths" more dangerous

anti-car stats:

bike lanes:

Many of the links from the above links support bike lanes (as distinct from separated paths, multi-use paths, ...).

Separated bike lanes may work well in NYC where they would probably be well maintained (kept free of snow, debris, tacks, pot holes repaired), but they are not the answer in every case (as enough of the people did say during the video).

I'm well into my second year as a cyclist - only 4000 miles, but after donating my car, I'm in it for the long haul. I routinely ride with intense traffic. I aim to be visible and conspicuous -- and I often am performing a holy grail of transportation cyclists - left turns in multi-left turn lanes.

I'm getting better at waving (with a smile) at drivers that honk at me (one time the driver had two lanes to pass me, but felt it necessary to honk multiple times).

I too wish for cyclists to get in the road, away from pedestrians (and obstacles like mailboxes, signs, poles,...) ride faster, and at least statistically, safer.

In Portland I've heard it's a ticket offense (never gotten one...) to ride in the downtown area on the sidewalks... but everywhere else... that is, in most of the city.... riding on the sidewalks is legal.

That seems reasonable. If I ride with my kids in the neighborhood we ride on the sidewalks. When I commute to work, I ride in traffic.

But Portland Oregon is a different world maybe...

I'm not going to dive into the bike lanes or no bike lanes morass. Nope, not going there today.

But I will state my opinion that it is our car culture that is the strongest deterrent to the rise of transportation cycling in the US.

So whether we build bike lanes or not, the situation won't change much until we change the culture.

Of course, Peaksters know changing behavior and culture by a different name - Demand Destruction.

Peter Wang
League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor
Petroleum Geophysicist

I guess the question is: how do we change the car culture?

Yes, agree on this, bike lanes don't change anything.

People that take up cycling have to learn how to stare down car drivers. Aggression works when dealing with cars and you should never back down. Aggression is the car culture and you have to deal with it on those terms.

I have seen some hideously placed bike lanes, located in the middle of the street to the left of the drivers. The drivers are not used to the placement and they take out bikers who think they have safety in terms of some painted lines on the street.

So I say stay aggressive and defensive at the same time. I never wear a helmet (unless I am forced to for a road race or triathlon) and I think this helps to show the drivers who is actually the boss of the road.

And if you believe any of this, you are as crazy as I am.

In my home town Linköping with about 130 000 people in the whole municipiality we have about 400 km of bike lanes and I am absolutely sure that it matters to fill in gaps in a bicycle lane network.

The map is unfortunately 5 years old and outdated:

Dotted lines are mixed traffic and small circels are tunnels or bridges for bicyclists. The largest numbers of bikers are students, the second largets are engineers and workers at the Saab plant where the Gripen fighter is made.

The plans for the new railway station that mostly will be built for a new high speed train to Stockholm will probably include about 2000 indoor and 2000 outdoor bicycle parking places.

Next year we will change the bus network into a denser one with slight more frequent busses that probably will look like this:
If I remember it right it will mostly be 20 min traffic
All in town busses and most taxis run on locally produced biogas:

But the largest investments before the new railway station will probably be some new car roads to fill in missing links and a new parking house in the central town. We realy need all three networks to work well in parallell to make our town nice to live in and to work well comercially.

The longer range plans also include a possible tram line and the new train station will be built for a 3x increase in collective travel and to accomondate trolley buses and tramlines if such will be built.

Now we only need 10-15 more good years to build all of this. Linköping is slightly ahead of most other Swedish municipialities. The Swedish bid for EU decrease in CO2 emissions were 30% to 2020 wich probably reflects our "no mobilization" ability to economically decrease oil use since export of nuclear electricity etc isent counted in that.

In part by keeping up pressure for things like dedicated separate bike lanes. With enough good examples around, when real demand destruction hits for gasoline, there will be an important part of a solution (silver BB) there that has been well thought out and shown to be workable.

Be patient. It's going to change! Involuntarily. Be there to pick up the pieces.

The take back the street/critical mass rides cause awareness and attract some people to bike activism. However, those groups are often lacking in polish, to put it kindly, or some of the people come across very kooky at times. Someone with some really good marketing skills should come up with some schemes to attract other large market segments to cycling. If the celebrities du jour all loved cycling, there'd be a revolution almost overnight, for example. The freaks who like to cycle are weird/intimidating enough to turn off many people. Just telling it like it is (coming from Vancouver and considered weird and freaky by many myself).

So, maybe invite your local movie stars and celebrities to support the cycle culture. The car culture is *very* easy to slam, but we should go easy on that, as it turns people way, way off. Better for it to be criticized with a more politic tongue. I have a motor vehicle, because I need it in this hick town and for canoeing, but I actually hate the car culture and the way it dominates our landscape and soundscape. I find it extremely oppressive.

I agree, Peter. I don't want to wade into the dedicated bike lanes controversy either. I use bike lanes, sidewalks, the road -- whatever's available and looks safest.

For pure pleasure, dedicated bike paths can't be beat. Quiet, safe, non-stressful. No worry about drunk drivers, drivers on cellphones with sun in their eyes, teenagers showing off...

Several of my friends have been seriously injured by drivers who weren't paying attention. As a result, I no longer suggest that people take up bicycling on city streets.

I look forward to the day when streets and highways are closed to cars, and made into gigantic bike paths that take you right where you want to go. Hundreds of bicycles and human-powered vehicles streaming past, quietly, safely, with only an occasional tinkle of a bicycle bell or squeaking of a rusty chain.

Energy Bulletin

What controversy? You are making stuff up.

The video is quite clear: swap the bike lane with the parking lane - done. I was recently in Barcelona where the traffic is incomprehensibly bad... but biked everywhere due to separated lanes. Same cost and safer, it will just take a while to percolate to all the traffic engineers. This is simply a no-brainer.

Argue all you want about "bike only" roads or riding on sidewalks but that is just FUD and a straw man attack cast toward this quite simple to understand video presentation.


For an intro to the controversy, see Wiki on:
Segregated cycle facilities
Cycle path debate


...drivers on cellphones with sun in their eyes...

But there are people who call while cycling... despite the fact that it's far more difficult to brake with only one hand on the bars (and I doubt they practice that skill). Of course that only proves that there's some people like that in any large group.

(But there sure are a lot of them around my location... I actually met one guy who was convinced cycles have the right of way over powered vehicles at all times and that traffic signs don't apply to them - he'd just barely escaped a collision after running a stop sign.)

Edited to add:

And that layer of parking in the digram is an important buffer: a co-worker of mine was almost hit in a curb-separated cycle lane (without intermediate parking) by a driver swerving to avoid a pile-up ahead of him.

In 300,000 miles on two wheels I've been injured by motor vehicles twice. First time the driver was drunk and was exiting a blind enter-only alley at speed. I got the ticket (as I'm being loaded into ambulance!) and the drunk got a pass. Second accident I got hit in a separate dedicated bike lane, a one-way bike lane. The post office truck was coming the wrong way down a bike lane and was still parked in that position when the California Highway Patrol arrived. That driver also got a pass. It later turned out that driver was using a fake green card and a fake driver's license. The simplest roadside check could've determined that on the spot.

Police simply hate bicycles. They see us blowing stop signs and otherwise being scofflaws and know they can't spend the time to enforce their standards of proper behavior. When a cyclist is injured they will not blame anyone in a motor vehicle. Make motorists liable for what they do and the streets will get safer.

I can't stand the cyclists that blow through traffic signals. My simple rule is this: when on the street obey vehicular signals. When on sidewalks obey pedestrian signals.

There is no pick and choose, there is no, "Hey, that light is red but I don't see any cars nearby so I'll just blow through it," allowed. If me people rode like this and set a good example I think that law enforcement would adopt a friendlier attitude toward cyclists.

Now that Chicago has real fulltime career bicycle police it's conspicuous that the police blow all the stop signs and most of the stoplights.

I don't blow stoplights, only four way stops when there is not another car there first. It's just too tempting. You have such great visibility and it is so much work to start a bike from a dead stop compared to a slow roll.

300,000 miles? That's pretty good. I thought I was intense but 300K would mean I would have had to ride 27 miles a day for 30 years.

I cheated. I've been a rider 48 years now.

Florida made it a felony to hit a biker. They coupled that with an educational campaign to teach drivers to leave at least 3 feet between them and the biker. Also, if they were passing a biker on a double yellow road they could ease over the line to leave me room. It has made a difference where I bike. I noticed it right away, after the TV news shows had a few blips on the new rules.

Basically, I stay on the sidewalks where I can and am as careful as possible when I need to go on a road. Never ride at night; that is just asking for trouble. No wrecks so far. A car will make you feel like a hockey puck no matter how careful they are.

I commute to work on a bike. Nobody hates me. I'm pretty sure of that.

Here is a column I wrote last year on the same subject: Guess what kind of resopnce I got in small town midwest!?

Columns > Natural patriotism

Consumption lifestyle endangers our country, future

I was coming home from work the other day. It was a beautiful sunny day. I was minding my own business when a large SUV flew by me very close. He honked and yelled, “Get off the #$@%ing road!”

I ride my bicycle to work as often as I can.

I get this a lot. And it’s too bad. As someone who is all about conserving natural resources I feel that I am doing the right thing. The patriotic thing. Yes, I consider myself a patriot.

I am a patriot because I believe in the democratic process. Unlike what is going on in our county today. I am a patriot because I work to protect this process through words and deeds. But the point I’d like to make now is - I’m a patriot because I conserve energy.

Doesn't sound very romantic or heroic, does it? But that’s what I do. You see, that SUV that flew by me was burning away our future. The very act of filling up our cars, heating our homes, even doing the things many of us do at our jobs is supporting the very “petro-authoritarianism” that is at the root and the financial backing of all this hate directed at us.

(“petro-authoritarianism” - Thomas Friedman "Foreign Affairs" columnist for The New York Times)

You want to be a real patriot? I’m talking about doing something for our country. Not armchair quarterbacking an illegal war. Try walking or biking to work. Get a smaller or a hybrid car. Get a smaller house and keep the thermostat set as low as you can stand it in the winter or as high as you can in the summer.

We have a finite supply of non-recoverable energy on this little planet and the people that control most of it are not us. The quicker we learn to power our future with safe, clean, renewable energy the sooner we can live in peace. Yes, really - in peace.

Our gluttonous ways have only fueled (no pun intended) the waves of hatred and terrorism we now face. Policies set in play by our administration for the benefit of the oil and military industries have repressed, choked and all but destroyed any hope of working together with the nations that control most of the oil.

Right now we need to start conserving everywhere in our lives. We have to reduce our consumption-period. That includes unnecessary highway projects, another plastic toy, driving land yachts, etc... Mostly we need a government that can not only see this future, but actually spend as much time working on a solution as they do lining their campaign contributor’s pockets with no-bid contracts.

We have to start investing individually, corporately, and mostly civically in alternative (non-nuclear) renewable energy, like solar and wind, to fuel our tomorrow. I do. The value of my IRA has almost tripled in the last year. I only invested in alternative energy companies. Not bad for a tree hugger?

Becoming an energy independent America will take an effort like we’ve never seen or done before. It could take 30-40 years. It could be too late already! But it’s the most patriotic thing we can do!

So, the next time you see someone on a bicycle don’t get mad and yell at them. Slow down, move over and think hard about the patriotic gesture that they are making. Or better yet, join them.

Shoot, I was hoping you'd enlighten us about the response you got...didn't want to just leave it up to my sordid imagination.

one of my favs...

"And I'll tell ya one thing, if he gets in my way on his pansy bicycle, he'll get an earful from me too. Mr. Cocchiarella is no patriot. He's a pathetic excuse for an opinion columnist. Do us all a favor Nino, move to San Francisco or somewhere like that so you can maybe be able to live happily in your made up utopia."

Shoot, I was hoping you'd enlighten us about the response you got...didn't want to just leave it up to my sordid imagination.

If you go to the link in the person's post, to the published article, you'll see the comments there:

Thank you. BTW, since we have no bikes lanes to speak of, much less any talk of separated one, in our vehicle-addicted carscape here, this thread is both highly entertaining and mental masturbation for me...

People like your friendly SUV driver in the anecdote above are one of the main reasons that I will not ride on the streets if other options are available. There are simply too many crazed, hate-filled people like that in this world. He could have just as easily sighed to himself and gone around you instead of letting loose with a threat.

I commute to work on a bike. I'm pretty sure that nobody hates me for it.


Fantastic column. You can always tell you've found a strong and logical message when the people who disagree must resort to attacking the messenger rather than trying to debunk the message. Those angry responses were enlightening and at the same time humorous.

I agree totally with the photograph. I have done my best in England to cycle to work for a decade.
Its dangerous,
Too many Cycle paths are on pavement(side walks) as above. maybe only 3ft wide. And supposed to be shared by two cyclists.
I am fit, I will be travelling at 10-30+mph, to use English cycle paths is in general dangerous to other users, and pedestrians, I really have lost patience. I use the road, I am sworn at by cars, hooted by buses(even at 30mph in 30mph limits), cut up daily, it is now a game of wits, rather than the risk i sought when younger. I jump lights, as i stand so that I can see the opposing lights change and go on the turn a second before mine change. That means I am not wobbling when overtaken. I think thats what should be allowed, Makes no diiference in a car.
Problem is the UK is not the USA, we have little space, land costs a bomb and property a fortune. Any discussion is good, but I'd never use the UK as an example.
Goto Germany, goto Netherlands, Belgium, anywhere else but UK.
we do have a good range of MTB tracks appearing in our national forests but hey, thats tourist trade.

Geez, not only is there a stand in the middle of the bike lane, but all the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road!!! Talk about dangerous!!! 8^)

I can see where physically separated bike lanes can be helpful in many situations.

In places where car traffic is especially dense the physical separation seems most important.

I ride on streets, but I ride a bigger rig than most bikers -- a cargo trike or pedicab (Organicengines SUV) and often have boxes of tools and supplies with me. This makes me a bit more visible to car drivers somehow.

You can see photos of the SUVs here:

We need to make this point also: Bikes are legal and safe on all city streets. Car drivers need to learn to share the road, "Same rights, same roads, same rules."

People who park in bike lanes deserve a hefty ticket for endangering bikers, IMO.

RE Police attitudes:

I've noted that some police officers despise bike riders who they view as "young and rebellious" or who come across as especially anti-establishment. I've talked with some police officers who like bikes and even encourage bike riders. The latter type of officer seems a bit in the minority in my city of Minneapolis, MN, USA.

One more thought: as gas becomes more pricey, more people are biking and walking more in my town. I think this trend will continue. The topic of bike/ped infrastructure will become more important, but so will educating all to the "Share The Road."

Superb post from TOD:NYC!

The cyclocity program in Lyon needs to be part of the city infrastructure to get people cycling.

People can hire the bikes for a small fee. Forless than 30 minutes its free.

More on this from Wikipedia

This may be of interest as well on plannng

Architect peddles idea of cycling city

My bike is my primary transportation. Cambridge MA is not ideal biking terrain. Too many narrow streets and high traffic volume. It's not really the drivers' fault, and in fact most drivers are quite good about respecting my safety. The infrastructure just isn't set up to accomodate bicycles separated from traffic. Although it is getting better, with some dedicated lanes demarcated on existing streets, and bike advocates making themselves heard when road alterations are planned.

In general, my experience is that mororists will respect my right to the road if they (a) see me, and (b) understand what I'm going to do. I consider it my responsibility to make sure that those conditions hold, or at least to preserve a safe exit in case they don't.

One thing that ticks me off is the large number of cyclists who wantonly break the law. If you've checked and there's no cross traffic, I guess I don't really care if you run the red light. But all the time I see cyclists trying to beat cross traffic when they don't have the right of way. It's dangerous, and it casts cyclists in a bad light. Most of the motorists who disrespect cyclists probably developed that attitude because some cyclists disrespected them.


A couple of months ago we had a 13 year old boy killed in our town while biking to school. He had a pretty long ride, about 3 miles, and some of the streets were busy. The boy was going in the same direction as the car that hit him, and he was pretty far over on the road, but apparently the low morning sun blinded the driver and he never saw the kid.

That's typical. "I was driving at an unsafe speed for conditions, since I couldn't even see the road in front of me. However, since I'm a motorist, it isn't my fault." And of course, the prosecutor agreed. The problem is the legal system. If you can't see objects in the road ahead of you you are required by law to slow enough to be able to avoid problems. The motorist should have been convicted of manslaughter and sent to jail for five years. A few cases like that and motorists will get the idea.

FWIW, that's one of the few conditions where I do recommend that cyclists watch their back. When you have a hard time seeing the road ahead of you, expect motorists to plow ahead without paying attention. A few minutes difference in time and you avoid this altogether; these conditions tend to be seasonal, on East/West roads near the equinoxes; and you can see a clueless motorist coming quite a ways back in a rear-view mirror.

Are you saying that pedestrians and other motorists aren't in danger from motorists driving poorly?

Seperate bike lanes are not just inane but unsafe, a waste of resources and counter productive.

Read Effective Cycling by John Forrester. Talk to him and learn from his wealth of experience.

Personally I don't like bike lanes - they "shove" the bike "off" of the road and then the drivers just ignore you. I've had auto-morons grind me into the curb as they pull up beside me and just pull over.

I've been hit by oncoming drivers turning into me, ones coming out of a side street accelerating into me - overtaking turning right into me. To be honest they only look at the street and a bike lane ain't the street.

Cyclists should be on the street observing the same rules.
It's the best use of the streets as they're often direct ways to get there. Up here we also have this thing called winter and those people who love dangerous, dog, kid and who-knows-what cluttered pathways thru parks and you've got to ride on the street in the winter as that's the only place to ride during those 3 to 4 months.

If you've driven or ridden a bike in Europe - it's very different than North America. We have insanely wide lanes ( a massive waste of the former farm land and oil/pavement) and we have drivers who seem unable to keep their pollution belching dragons within a lane that is 1.5 to 2x as wide as their vehicles. I've cycled in Europe in countries where there are bike lanes and ones where there are not. I am more psychologically comfortable with the wider roads here but the drivers there are, on average, much better.

The John Forrester book is great. Was trying to think of it earlier. Talks a bit much like an engineer at times but that should be OK around here.

Cyclists should be on the street observing the same rules.

But who will bell the cat? IE who will teach the 80% or more people out there who are clueless on the road on their bikes? Making cycling easier and safer will attract all sorts of people who otherwise wouldn't cycle. I think that's why some safe space is needed.

The cycling activism group in my town ran a monthly ride around town, stressing it would be law abiding. Nuh-uh. They weren't strict. Even the bike activists couldn't keep their shit together in this place. I was embarrassed, when I joined them one time.

Cyclists should be on the street observing the same rules.

But who will bell the cat? IE who will teach the 80% or more people out there who are clueless on the road on their bikes? Making cycling easier and safer will attract all sorts of people who otherwise wouldn't cycle. I think that's why some safe space is needed.

The cycling activism group in my town ran a monthly ride around town, stressing it would be law abiding. Nuh-uh. They weren't strict. Even the bike activists couldn't keep their shit together in this place. I was embarrassed, when I joined them one time.

Who will teach the clueless? That's a problem.
When I was 12 years old I had the great good fortune that I began to meet these guys from Italy and Belgium and Germany who rode bicycles. Adults who rode bicycles. In 1964 that was not done. And I rapidly discovered that I knew nothing. I'd been riding half my life but did not know a damn thing. I got taught. Somewhere else on this thread someone offers that cyclists get injured on average every 17.000 miles. Sounds right. I don't. I was taught how to ride.
I ended up spending some years racing. And didn't get injured doing that either. I quit racing when the injury rate went up. Which coincided totally with the decline of Euro influence on American racing and the rise of smug a**holes who figured they knew everything about bikes cause theirs cost ten grand. And anyway who needs skill, much less grace, when you can buy HGH and 'roids? Where bike races were once beautifully composed songs in three dimensions they became fourth rate hockey matches.
In recent years I've watched bicycle traffic explode in Chicago. Mostly the riders are young, poor, artsy. But they ride every day and they are there. Lots of them. Traffic. And where I rarely saw anyone who even sat on a bicycle correctly now I see graceful riders who ride smart, who know what they're doing, who communicate their intentions with body language. They look good. They get respect both for sheer numbers and because they look worthy of respect. And by being there they carve out a space on the road for the new rider.
When I was a kid there were no models. Unles you were just lucky and met the right people. For years as bikes gained slightly in popularity it seemed to me there were only endless bad models. The kids now are modelling each others best moves and it's working.
For those who live in American hellholes where you can't walk anywhere, can't ride, don't have edible food, don't have music, don't have theatre, I feel sorry for you. Get out of there.
But find some space where you can at least ride a bike. YOu don't need a path. Avoid 98% of the sidewalks. Sidewalk riding or path riding will never move us towards a bicycle culture. Separate right of way makes sense some time after there is so much traffic density it's only rational planning to accomodate bike traffic. Special planning only makes us exceptions.

You make it sound like one should have a virtual PhD in bicycling to even get on the pavement. I would like to see the US move toward having city transport infrastructure designed for anyone who wants to bike no matter what the skill level. Why criticize bikers who aren't as skilled as you (or I)? The highway is, after all, jam full of people who are piss-poor drivers. I don't know what the annual carnage of bikers killed by motorists is, but I bet it is not insignificant. Separate rights of way for bikes should be pushed for. Obviously, they won't happen in most cases, but the fight might just help raise people's consciousness about transportation alternatives.

BTW in Charlotte NC where I biked 8 mi. to work for a year I finally quit because of safety concerns (even hitting the sidewalks whenever possible on my well-mapped route) and joined a gym. In Oregon, things are much more bike friendly.

I'm against separated bike lanes. They tend to put the riderider in the wrong place at the wrong time. Around here(DC area) there usually is not room for separated lanes. If there is room enough, then the lane is not necessary.

I agree with oldhippie that riders should stay off the sidewalks, but I also agree with Wolverine and ET that some streets are too dangerous to ride. Then I take the sidewalk. WebHubble, you are right to ride aggressively, but be sure you have eye-contact when you stare them down. Don't hesitate to yell, if necessary.

I hate so-called bike paths. All of them in my area (Maryland suburbs) are multi-use. They are obstacle courses. They are never cleared in winter and can become unusable for weeks. I avoid them.

My advice to NEW riders is to study a pamphlet titled "Bicycling Street Smarts" by John S. Allen (did I see your name above?) It tells you about all you need to know to ride reasonably safely in traffic. But do look at bicycling accident statistics (see "Effective Cycling" and "Bicycle Transportation" by John Forester. They are educational (most accidents happen at intersections) and encouraging (the mean riding distance between 'serious' accidents is around 17,000 miles. In my roughly 18,000 miles of city riding, I have only been hit once, while standing at an intersection. The driver didn't see me.

As to community or government intervention, I would only like to see an effort to educate drivers to coexist with riders. And fix the potholes.

One small correction: That 17,000 mile between accidents is for street-wise riders. That first year or so of riding is more dangerous.

Some sort of safer bike lanes are needed. Painted lanes are often too narrow and as the video says, not respected. I have never biked in NYC. I'm talking based on western Canadian cities and small towns. The latter are horrible, as the cyclist is treated like some recreational rider who doesn't belong on the road. Lots of twits ride that way, no sense of traffic rules, including driving on the wrong side of the road. I am an experienced cyclist and motor vehicle driver, and I follow the rules of the road. We are just getting bike lanes in my town and I have been honked at and cursed at when using them, e.g. when someone in a car wanted to use the bike lane to turn in. They are poorly designed.

If as suggested by one person in the movie, we are to share the sidewalk with walkers, the sidewalk needs to be wider than it often is. There needs to be enough room for two lanes of bike traffic. One problem that applies there is that many people who are inexperienced would enjoy cycling in a leisurely way, but they do need a bit of education to respect pedestrians. Ironically, many cyclists seem to treat pedestrians as cyclists have been treated by cars -- as just annoying obstactles to whiz around. It's frightening and stressful to be treated that way.

Skilled leisure type cyclists could manage on a narrower sidewalk, as I do, by being very courteous to pedestrians if I need to go there. On the other hand, being an experienced cyclist, I prefer to ride fast. Generally need the road for this and can't do it with a lot of pedestrians around. I wonder if there is some handy measurement to express the range of speeds of vehicles that can coexist? At any rate, a walker and a cyclist of any speed do not match well, nor, similarly, do a cyclist of any speed and a driver beyond the very cautious. There are few drivers like that.

Since the roads are not designed for cyclists, when I am in my motor vehicle and in a rush, I do find cyclists to be in the way, which surprises me. Though I am a cyclist and very sympathetic, yet an erratic cyclist blocking my way with nowhere for them to go is very inconvenient. THis just doesn't work that well, despite my best intentions and understanding from both sides. I note other drivers get hostile with cyclists even when they are not driving erratically, though most indeed do drive erratically in my little redneck town (40K people).

The separation of the roadway can be a low curb, or vertical posts, with in some places removable posts, in case of need for emergency access.

More place for bikes, safer, many more people will use it. We need this for our health, as well as the fuel and pollution concerns.

Actually, the roads *are* designed for cyclists; they aren't designed for motorists to assume they can travel at high speeds and ignore the world around them.

I've also noticed that pedestrians discriminate against cyclists. My route to work includes two marked crosswalks with pedestrian islands. Pedestrians will stand in the island for several minutes waiting for a time with no motorists approaching. They aren't willing to make any of the motorists slow down and yield to them; they wait until there are none approaching at all. Those same pedestrians then start walking just as I'm approaching on my bike. I have to stop for them by law, just as the motorists would have had to had the pedestrians crossed in front of them. The gist of it is "I won't make a motorist slow down for me to cross, since I might be in danger if they don't, but I will make a cyclist stop, since if they don't slow down the danger is minor."

The moral is that we all genuflect to the motorists, which will continue until they come down a few notches. Patience.

There are sidewalks, and there are sidewalks. I don't ride on narrow city sidewalks, with lots of pedestrians, doorways, stoops, etc. Out in the suburbs, however, I gladly ride a wide empty sidewalk rather than share the lane with guys doing 60 in a 45 mph zone, and chatting away on their cells. The few dog-walkers I see just smile guiltily and wave.

My connection is too slow to run the video, but in the diagram above what about bus traffic? In DC, parking on many large roads is forbidden during rush hours, so the buses use the parking lane. I used to ride from Navy Annex to Bethesda, and much of the way I was sharing Wisconsin Avenue's parking lane with Metrobuses. A gas mask would have been helpful. Buses make so much noise that you can hear them behind you, but the drivers had no hesitation about pulling to the curb and cutting me off. Swinging out to the left of a bus is the sort of death-defying maneuver I could only make before I had dependents.

Looking at the diagram again. If buses are kept out of the parking lane, you'll have little knots of pedestrians crossing the bike lane to get on and off the buses, perhaps even lining up to wait in the bike lane. In NYC, I presume you have a lot of taxis using that lane, too.

Also, someone alluded to the problem of which lane scooters, mopeds and electric bikes would use. From several years of driving a moped in DC, I have found that if you can't match the speed of the autos, they pass you on the left, then just in front of you they move back to the center of the lane, pushing you off to the shoulder, or parking lane. Scooters can keep up, but mopeds and e-bikes governed to 30 mph should ride with the bikes.

Indonesia has physically separate lanes for *scooters* (mainly because nobody rides bikes over there and because road rules based on vehicle weight prevail... gota' keep'em separated!).

Unless those dashed white lines represent significant curbs, (and I don't believe they do) then the above proposal is useless. What will happen is cars will park in the bike lane and then usage of smaller "secondary" lane will emerge as the driving behavioral norm.

Secondly, if you think relations are bad between bicycle riders and the driving public, you haven't encountered the wrath of the bipedal, walking public towards bicycle riders (although this might be an American thing). Keeping bicycle riders separated from the walking public is just as important as keeping bicycle riders safe from the driving public.

> “First they ignore you.
> Then they laugh at you.
> Then [they shoot you]"

If getting shot dead is "winning", I'd rather lose.

This is an important point regarding pedestrians. Often cyclists overestimate the hostility coming from the big, bad motorist. But even more often, they are in blissful denial about the degree of resentment felt by pedestrians. Of course the motorist is much more threatening, while the pedestrian is a harmless and helpless wimp. But is he? An adept pedestrian can "accidently" brush against a sidewalk cyclist in such a way as to send the cyclist sprawling. I have heard of this happening--- once anyway.

This highlights the misunderstanding about what I mean when I'm talking about riding on sidewalks. I would never consider sidewalk riding in a main business district with pedestrian traffic. Many cities in the US are sprawling and unplanned messes in terms of roads. The trend is toward cookie-cutter developments with curvy roads and lots of cul-de-sacs and no through streets. The effect is to route all the traffic onto a few main through arteries which become horribly congested and full of accidents. On these types of roads that go through areas with these types of developments there are frequently no sidewalks, not to mention no parking, just 55 mph 4 lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic. But when there are sidewalks on this type of road, there are virtually never any pedestrians. Altogether, these cities are terrible for bikers and probably very unlikely to do any bike friendly development anyway.

Sadly, the issue of putting in dedicated bike paths, lanes or anything that costs public funds is going to be a moot point as public coffers dwindle to less than nothing on the PO downslope.

You have successfully described the physical geography of Hell. A few forays by intrepid cyclists are not going to change the face of Hell. Get out if you can.

Got out 3 years ago. Now I live outside a small town in Oregon with a 'rails to trails' bike path going by my place into town. Couldn't have found a better contrast to hell if I had planned it. Don't feel any need to hit the sidewalks anymore, just watch out for log trucks when on a main road (which almost all have bike lanes).

Yay!! Congrats. Enjoy.

The "elegant" bicycle, or must we ban cars to have human powered/human scaled transport?

Severeal days ago, on a TOD string called "The Slow Movement Movement" by Prof. Goose, I made myself somewhat unpopular by casting some level of doubt on bicycles as a serious method of transportation. I was making the argument regarding (a)safety (b)health and age of the American rider and (c) weather. These to me are the big issues.

But the bicycle idea, or something close to it, keeps calling me back. What kind of bike/trike could be more useful as real transportation?

As we see in the posts above, the safety issue is a serious one. We must admit that we live in an aging country, with people are in many cases less able to get about by bicycle or walking than they once were. Amazingly, the perfect demographich for a widespread use of bikes for transportation was in the 1970's energy crisis. And while human powered vehicles were quite the fad among a certain cultural group as transportation, they did not catch on even then, with a huge young healthy population. The odds are even longer now against a major "bicycle generation", but the human powered movement could be enhanced at least be used to assist at the margins if we chose the right "path" (o.k., a little pun intended! :-)

For the purpose of observation, I have chosen three towns/cities, and intend to work with them more, as test cases: (a) Irvington, Radcliff and Louisville, all three in central Kentucky. Why? These are perfect demographic/geographic test cases, being
(a) a small town of 1200, Wiki article here,_Kentucky
(b) a small city near a military base of some 22,000 pop. (Wiki article here,_Kentucky
(c) a large metropolitan city of some one quarter million people, Wiki article here:,_Kentucky

I intend to look at the usefulness of bicycles/velomobiles, and very small electric or even solar vehicles in these markets. But that's not all. This is a bigger test than that. Since I am involved in various ways in market research at this time, the goal is to go further as time progresses and look at ways in which fuel consumption could be reduced by truly noticable amounts in markets of these sizes, giving a picture of reproducable results in other and more varied locations.

I do not intend to do this in this post (aren't you singing your praises now!), nor, in fact will I do much of it for free! But this is by way of an introduction to the type of idea I am working with.

What we have found so far is that:
(a) It is in a small town sitting, such as Irvington, that bicycles, velomobiles, and even small electric or solar trikes are most usable. This is due to lack of traffic congestion, many small side streets with little traffic, almost no crime, and the small area in which to conduct business (the school, local doctor, grocery, restuarant, and friends and neighbors are within one mile or so distance. The downside is that for more varied activity, one must leave town, and this will involve a trip of some 20 miles minimum in most cases, often to Radcliff, Elizabethtown, or even Louisville. Inter city traffic, not inner city traffic is the big consumer of fuel in many if not most small rural towns.

(b) The next most appropriate location for bicycles, velomobiles, and even small electric or solar trikes in our study is Radcliff, with a town some 4 to 5 miles wide and deep encampassing all dialy activities on most days. However, the traffic congestion is denser, roads are larger with faster traffic, and the issue of crime arises as a factor, though at this time, not a great threat in most neighborhoods.

Unlike the "small town" test case, there is a wider variety of housing and employment, making it possible to have a more varied lifestyle using bicycles, velomobiles, small electric or solar trikes on a daily basis. In fact, it is not impossible nor would it be a major hardship to imagine using the human powered or small electric vehicle in town, and renting a car for going out of town. If the small human/electric vehicle were sized very carefully, for most of the year, it could even make the trip to the next largest town when needed, Elizabethtown KY, only 10 miles away (the two are often viewed in the mind of residents of both as almost sister cities, with a straight stretch of highway US 31W connecting them)

(c) Depending on where in the city one lives, the large city test case of Louisville KY is most difficult to evaluate for human/small electric power transportation, and in fact would require at least one or more separate studies. it goes without saying however, that the much higer traffic congestion, much higher crime and security issues, and sprawling suburbs makes the bike/trike/small electric trike a more difficult option.
However, the major advantages are at least twofold: (a) If one can move well about the city, there is not often a reason to leave it. Louisville, as do most major metropolitan areas, have everything tha is needed to not only survive, but thrive. What times a person would have to leave the city could be accomodated by rental car or airline flight. If a vehicle could deal with some 8 to 12 miles in range, the city could be covered by the small human powered or electric or solar bike/trike, the city could be, for the most part made available. We must take the security crime issue very seriously however, as there are large sections of the city that are very dangerous, even by car. A bicyclist/or small electric vehicle user would not be considered safe in approximately one quarter of the city at ANY TIME.

The above examples show that: removing other considerations, a relatively healthy rider could make use of a human powered vehicle as transportation in many cases in all three of the above environments. The areas are not impossible to be transversed this way. However, with the increased size of each city, the complexity and risk to personal safety increase.

With the increased size of each city, however, along with the risk, the usefulness of human powered and or small electric or solar trike also increases, up to a point of decline. Most study we have done so far indicates the middle range, or (b)Radcliff scenario being most appropriate for this type of transportation. This is even more true if employment is local for the rider.

The major variables we have left aside: (a) Weather and (b) ability/health of the rider. These issues are of extreme importance in determining the acceptance/usefulness of human powered vehicles or small electric/solar bikes or trikes in all three test cases, regardless of size of city.

This is why we have been developing along the following lines: (a) a velomobile type vehicle, instead of an upright bicycle, allowing those with less ability and health to ride, (b) some type of enclosed canopy for weather protection, but that can be quickly removed in hot weather, and (c) the possibility of electric assist/solar assist on trike or four wheel vehicle of very light weight, thus assisting in moving the vehicle from standstill or getting a tiring rider home. Below are examples of vehicles already in design around the world:

In closing this commentary, allow me to comment on the design of the city(s) in question: The small town test case is nearly perfect for this type of transportation, and Radcliff is very good, simply due to the way they are arranged, something of a blessing of history. However, of great interest is Louisville.

The city of Louisville is blessed by (a)having a natural "cross arrangement", along each axis of the cross being most of the locations one needed to visit on most days, a great deal of housing/apartment space, a university (actually more than one if private ones are counted) , a good variety of employment, and the airport.

The other blessing is the Parks of Louisville. The city has had a long heritage of the Frederick Law Olmstead park system. It has recently added a long park system complete with bicycle paths East to West up and down the Ohio River Waterfront Park area. This area wil also include a pedestrian walk over the Ohio River to Indiana. Arrangements for bikes/velomobliles/electric assist/human assist trikes are not known.

This park, in conjuction with a bit of pathing work, would make it possble to have a city almost completely connected by bike path/ or "light human powered/assisted" size vehicle paths that would give access to the city.
Thus, east west on the waterfront/north/south on the 4th street corridor/University of Louisville/ slight connections to Olmsted park system (three major parks within 3 to 4 miles of University of Louisville) and a short tail to the airport.,-85.760&spn=0.11,0.18

As large cities go, Louisville is more easily adapted to bike/trike
assisted solar/electric trike than most cities of it's size.

Conclusion: Human powered vehicles can be useful, but the environment in which they are to operate means a great deal. Also, the vehicles are becoming more advanced, with recumbent bycycles, recumbent trikes, and even small electric and solar assistance vehicles, using peddling to launch the vehicle, and then a motor powered by battery (s) to assist. Given the very low power demands, even solar assist become possible.

At some point of course, the electric assist recumbent trike will very possible converge with a very small electric car, possible with on board solar asist, and create the very light/virtually no impact inner city vehicle. It is very possible that almost all out of city driving will be done by renting a car to leave town, and having only a small electric "appliance" for in town travel. Only the wealthy would own large sporting/racing/high performance vehecles, probably near private racetracks in the country to enjoy the cars) and possibly powered by synthetic fuel (bio butanol or alcohol of some type)

Since transportation is the first and most serious of emergencies given our U.S. dependence on foreign, expensive and unreliable oil, I will be developing a continuing series of these types of market aea studies, looking at transport and energy alternatives in markets of various sizes. While not all of the information we learn can be shared, I will keep TOD and TOD NYC somewhat in the loop about what we are learning. I personally have already learned a great deal just doing this study. The fact is, most people have far, far more vehicle than they can use in most cities. A rapid and schocking rise in oil prices, I am convinced, in no way shut down U.S transportation, a sthe "ego" penelty of most vehicles would have to be paid, and consumption would drop very fast, creating a shock to the markets that would be completely unpredictable. It is to be noted that demand of oil for status/ego vehicles went up very fast for no good reason, sheer vanity. It can go down as fast or faster if there is a good reason.

Thank you, Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

The answers you get will depend much on the questions you ask.
Recumbents are often the only choice for persons with orthopedic limits. If some weather enclosure is a major factor it may be the only choice also. (Flip side of that is bicycles do not have air conditioning, any enclosure limits cooling by the breeze, the weight of that enclosure makes you hot as you drag it around.) On the other side recumbents are dogs uphill. There are all sorts of nagging problems with parking/storage/stairs/halls. Oh, you want some easily removable fairing. Where do we store that? Recumbents are just not as versatile as bioycles. By the time you build a nice weather fairing the darn thing costs as much as a good motorcycle or maybe a small car. The slickest enclosed recumbent remains Manfred Curry's Landskiff and I would blanch at what it might cost to reproduce something like that today. His StadtLimousin would pay for a big Benz.
Next there's visibility. Any recumbent is much less visible in traffic than a standard bike, some are amazingly stealthy invisible.
Be careful what you wish for. Three and four wheel 'power-assist' recumbents shade easily to electric wheelchairs. Any 'assist' unit tends to be used fulltime and now you have nothing but a lowpower motorcycle.
Bicycles start as a near perfect, fabulously well evolved artifact. What is sorely missing is a social context in which they can function. A shared knowledge base of how they function. Everyone learned to ride a bike when 5 or 6 years old. I've seen two year olds do it. Once you learn you never forget. If you think that's all there is I do not know how to lead you out of the cave.
I watch the cyclists around me. Now that there is a real population of commuters/utility riders in this city I see a lot of good riding. Look at the weekend riders, or the racers, or go to the suburbs it's hard to pick out any rider who knows how to sit on the thing. If you can't sit on it you won't do much else. And they don't know how little they know and don't want to learn.
The ride every day city riders are so open and alert. They see what other riders are doing that works and learn. They need to know stuff and they get it. Back when every rider was a loner/eccentric/eightball the learning curve, if any, was infinitely long. Horrible times that are gone now, at least right where I sit. It is a social process bringing people to bikes, it ain't just handing out machines and wishing. Some few are always going to be ducks to water and be fair riders with no further fuss but even they are not going to get the cycling experience in a cultural vacuum.

I've been an cyclist for a long time. I ran a handyman business with a bike trailer for a number of years, hauling large loads of tools/ materials all over town. I also led a campaign to get the the city in which I live (Charlottesville VA) to install bike lanes. (There were none prior.) I have traveled all over the U.S. with a folding bike.
The Forester approach of "no bike lanes," encouraging cyclists to ride in the street, is useful in some ways, but has also divided the cycling community in unforunate ways. Forester's work is useful in that it helps some cyclists get over their paranoia about the dangers of riding, and puts the real risks in context. The limitation of the Forester approach is that 95% of cyclists (according to one FL study) are not professional or experienced enough to ride in traffic, and that is why bike lanes are useful.
The video from NYC is great, but also specific to NYC and other large cities. The problem with separated bike lanes in smaller cities is that they, as others have pointed out, are not swept and maintained. If a city is not willing to sweep/ maintain separated bike lanes, then on-street bike lanes are an improvement over no bike lanes at all. The safety of riding in the street also varies tremendously one city to the next. In many eastern cities with choked/ slow traffic, being in the road is fine. With some cities with high speed traffic, it's just plain foolish to be out in the road. I don't think sidewalk riding on abandoned sidewalks is all that hazardous, but it is NOT a viable means of transportation. It's also bad publicity for cyclists.
The bottom line is that transportation funding is a long-term process, and that cycling infrastructure rarely gets taken seriously. If cycling infrastructure were taken seriously, as it is in some countries and cities (try Davis CA, lovely bike system there), then it simply becomes a question of how to design the best bike system, and the whole debate about how to survive on car-dominated streets becomes moot. At this point in history, it's hard to say if long-term planning processes concerning transportation infrastructure are simply going to be trumped by fossil fuel price instability. I know that $3.00 gasoline did wonders for the cyclists around here. That may be how it goes. Personally, I am not worried so much about transport, or even food, in the post peak-oil age. I am much more concerned about the political fallout. The latter Roman Empire, though they contracted for other reasons, is most instructive in this regard. Even with peak oil, we still have a lot of energy, but we have the same problem that previous civilizations had -- a blind culture. Blind culture does not adapt well to contraction. I wrote a book about those issues, which you can see at

FWIW, I talked to a person who immigrated from the East to Boulder, Colorado, in part because he wanted to be able to use his bicycle more. His comment to me was, "my God, in Boulder, they actually plow the bike paths when it snows." Having used the Boulder bikepaths myself, I find them a beautiful and pleasant way to get around the city and beyond. Yet can't get everywhere; for that you have to use the bike lanes,and, sometimes, the sidewalks.

I will acknowledge,however, that the more busily traveled multiuse bike paths can be a problem, especially on a day with great weather. You have to compete with walkers, boarders, and need to watch out for other cyclists. But at least you don't have to watch out for other cars.

But there is no perfect system; nor should we expect it. My desire for more completely separate bike paths is insatiable, but I'm pretty happy with the situation in Boulder as it is. And I expect it to get even better, given people's attitudes.

Meanwhile over on DailyKos "I want to ride my bicycle"

Bike lanes is stupid. There should be bike streets. Anytime you have cars and bikes together, it is not a good formula. How about shutting down some of those backstreetss and only allowing pedestrans and cyclists on them. Make them nice, rather than the horrblie industrial ghettos they are now.

I've strolled La Rambla and biked Sundays on the Rock Creek Parkway - when there is sufficient activity, an auto-free street makes for a great experience. In general though, permanently closing American streets to autos is bad for the businesses along those streets and good for crime. OTOH, opening up streets to high-speed auto traffic results in the auto-centric strip where shoppers only stop for huge signs and guaranteed free parking.

Perhaps low-speed routes (25 mph) through the city would allow a safer mix of pedestrians, bikes and cars. Greenwich CT is practically fascist in their regulation of both auto and foot traffic, but it does have thriving street businesses.

Umm, I'm in a city of 3 million where the basic speed limit is 25mph and the basic limit on through streets and thoroughfares is 30mph. In both cases only at 3a.m. or some other odd circumstance are those speeds ever achieved. Can you operate a city this way? Well, yes you can.

I'm in a city of almost 3 million (or 45 million since we're really part of the NorthEast Corridor Megalopolis). Posted speed limits around here are much the same, but in practice drivers, including the police, go much faster when they can, and are only delayed to a crawl during the morning rush, at lunch hour, in the evening rush and during major league ball games.