First off, a belated happy new year! As my first post of 2015 I'd like to talk about turning over a new leaf. It seems like my former nemesis, ex-Councillor Adam Vaughan and I can finally agree on something. In this case on beautiful, sturdy dividers for protected bike lanes. Here's what Vaughan had to say about an example in Vancouver:
What separated bike lane should look like. Try parking a truck here! Beauty should drive planning.
Vaughan has now left municipal politics for federal, but I reminisce of the days he and I had a spat about putting in protected bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide. (Really I shouldn't be such a solipsist, the spat was with everyone who wanted protected bike lanes on those streets). Vaughan opposed the project claiming that it was building "bicycle highways" (those words must have sounded worse in his head than when I say them).
Vaughan had a romantic idea that if we just widened the sidewalks and put in some plants that we'd have a street for everyone and stop the speeding traffic. Funnily this was also former Mayor David Miller's approach as well.
So Vaughan even argued in my blog and cornered me at a public consultation meeting. Vaughan took the approach of talking about "complete streets", "two-way streets" and "beauty" on Richmond and Adelaide all of which seemed likely to preclude the possibility of protected bike lanes. But when Vaughan noticed that the project was going ahead, he shifted his focus on just making the "barriers" as beautiful as possible.
Vaughan now makes a good point about beauty though he does take it a bit far; it's not "beauty" itself that is stopping a truck from parking in the bike lane, it's the concrete. The beauty adds civility to the whole street and that's where I believe the cycling community and Vaughan can join forces on this one against those who think paint or flimsy flexiposts are enough.
When our Transportation chief, Stephen Buckley, former Philadelphia transpo chief of the city no one looks to for great examples of cycling infrastructure, pretends that "cycle track" actually means just more paint, it's good to have politicians like Vaughan supporting great infrastructure. The flexiposts have been a great success for the pilot, but didn't take long for them to look beaten up:
This might be fine for a pilot project but for the final cycle tracks we need something much more durable...and beautiful.
So MP Vaughan, I'm letting bygones be bygones and I hope you'll support cyclists in creating safe, beautiful protected bike lanes on our streets.
Antony (not verified)
One point that needs to beWed, 01/21/2015 - 11:52
One point that needs to be made more is that cycle track separation benefits pedestrian travel too, if it can serve as a 'refuge island'.
Mid-block street crossing (a.k.a. "jaywalking) is perfectly legal and a normal part of effective city walking. But each extra lane you have to cross makes it twice as difficult. Solution: go Dutch and build the separation between motor vehicles and bike traffic to work as part of pedestrian crossing infrastructure. 2-person-wide gaps between concrete planters, for example.
This lets people cross fewer lanes a a time, and have a safe place to wait (rather than finding yourself stranded on the yellow line).
I'm thinking of College St. in particular. Including bike lanes, people midblock have to wait and try to spot a gap in 6 lanes of traffic, then sprint to cross all in one go.
Separate the bike lanes by swapping them with parked cars and sidewalk bumpouts, and College becomes 1+4+1 lanes with safe refuge in between. Add a center divider (streetcar tracks permitting), and it's 1+2+2+1 lanes wide.
Vaughan (and many Torontonians) prioritize expansive walking space above safe cycling. Let's try to un-wedge these voting blocs with some win-win complete streets designs.
Clark in Vancouverl (not verified)
In my experience, now thatWed, 01/21/2015 - 14:08
In my experience, now that Vancouver has several protected bike lanes and they're of different styles, we can do some comparisons.
I would say that even just a plain curb makes a huge difference in what it's like to walk on the sidewalk. Parking protected bike lanes are also good.
Once there's a short bit of distance from motor traffic, things are nicer, you can chat on the sidewalk, you can eat at an outdoor table,etc.
Protected bike lanes benefit people when they walk next to them. Anyone interested in improving the pedestrian experience should recognize the benefit to that of protected bike lanes regardless if they think they will ever cycle themselves or not.
E (not verified)
I think the plantings helpWed, 01/21/2015 - 23:04
I think the plantings help keep out vehicles. A driver of a big truck wouldn't hesitate to mount a concrete curb if that was the easiest parking, but permanently damaging plants would be too much for most.
Charles Lidstone (not verified)
I find those white bollardsWed, 01/21/2015 - 23:40
I find those white bollards surprisingly difficult to see in varied conditions. I've almost hit one twice, and I'm not near them very often. They need to be some other colour.. A green, similar to the one painted on the road, would be best.
I like the idea of pedestrian refuge space. Back in the day, there was a jaywalking lane down the middle of St. George. Seemed to work great from my perspective at the time. That said, I'm not sure that refuge beside bike lanes does any good at all. I think pedestrians are liable to take really stupid risks with bikes, and they don't really gain much with respect to the main lanes.
W. K. Lis
"Jaywalking" was only madeThu, 01/22/2015 - 09:38
"Jaywalking" was only made "illegal" or "discouraged" by the 1920's, when the automobile lobbyists blamed pedestrians and cyclists for collisions and incidents that were not that frequent or even noticed before then.
I can't endorse full curbs,Fri, 01/23/2015 - 12:18
I can't endorse full curbs, because it makes passing a choice between impossible (change lanes) and dangerous (passing within the same lane). Unless there are going to be multiple bike lanes, curbs are an encumberance.
I do love flexi-posts. They are a good compromise between protection and reality.
heather (not verified)
i find curbed lanes workSat, 01/24/2015 - 00:06
i find curbed lanes work surprisingly well. Many cities are using them. Cycling abroad on in high bike traffic areas it's amazing how many people can move easily and safely in close proximity. Here at home, also had the pleasure to try out Vancouver's. the beauty of bikes is how many people can be moved in small spaces. Pass when it's courteous and feasible, until then enjoy the ride. The latter will be easier on a pretty street.
I do pass when it's feasibleTue, 01/27/2015 - 07:53
I do pass when it's feasible and courteous. That's the problem with fully separated lanes: feasible passing places can be too rare. You can get stuck behind a slow poke for hundreds of meters more than you would on a road with flexible posts. It's designing in a bottleneck that will limit the usefulness of the infrastructure.
That's what leads to bad behavior like the squeeze by same lane pass.
Even though I think firmerTue, 01/27/2015 - 08:01
Even though I think firmer barriers are preferable, I think we still need to have gaps so that cyclists or pedestrians can filter through the gaps. I'm not sure if that meets your requirements or not Ben.
Sean (not verified)
Oh get off your high horse,Mon, 01/26/2015 - 23:34
Oh get off your high horse, Herb! Nobody gives a damn what you have to say. Run for public office if you don't like the job politicians are doing. Don't hide behind your computer and preach your bicycle mantra at Canbike courses. The course I attended was supposed to end at 4PM on Sunday 10 years ago! I was late for dinner because of you, you jerk! How about a sorry?
Cassie Echols (not verified)
Nice effort by Vaughan.Sun, 02/01/2015 - 00:07
Nice effort by Vaughan. beauty is something which appeals but the reliability is also important. so both these factors should be considered for the riding space.
Separatist (not verified)
Ben getting stuck behind aSun, 02/08/2015 - 16:47
Ben getting stuck behind a slow poke can happen on a sidewalk as a pedestrian and a street when driving a car. It is part of being part of society.
I, for one, would be pleased to be stuck, til the next driveway or intersection , behind a senior or a small child with their family on bicycles because it would mean the whole society is participating in active transportation , not just road warriors.
We aren't there yet, but I hope you and I get stuck behind a slow poke soon