Promote Vehicular Cycling. Really?

Part II – Who Wants Vehicular Cycling?

There are two schools of thought on bicycle infrastructure and the promotion of bicycling. Vehicular Cycling, promoted by the U.S. beginning in the 1970’s, and Segregated Bicycling, promoted by Amsterdam beginning in the 1970’s.

The results quite loudly speak for themselves and that should be the end of the story.

Let’s take a closer look though because public officials and others still hear support for both of these somewhat diametrically opposed messages.

LM600x.Vehicular3Ft

From Vehicular Cyclists they hear the mantra “cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.” This group opposes most segregated bicycling infrastructure and believe that all cyclists, 8-year-olds included, should ride in the roadways intermixed with auto traffic, should learn to be comfortable ‘taking the lane’, that cars should only pass them when they have a clear 3’ and can use the opposing lane, and that proper education of motorists and cyclists will make this all safe and practical[1].

LM601-AssenPathFrom Segregated Bicyclists they hear the opposite – Intermixing with auto traffic is more dangerous than segregated facilities, makes riding uncomfortable and stressful, and is an annoyance and PITA for drivers of motor vehicles. Segregated bicyclists say that we need to segregate slower cyclists from faster and more deadly motor vehicles through the provisioning of protected bike lanes, side paths, and properly designed intersections.

Not desiring to get embroiled in an internecine battle among the cycling community, these engineers and politicians often choose the easy option—do nothing. The 98% who want segregated facilities loose and the 100% who want safer laws for vehicular cycling loose[2].

Vehicular Cycling in The Netherlands

Even in the heart of Amsterdam there are times when bicyclists must ride with traffic and riding somewhat as a vehicular cyclist is the ticket[3]. There are three key differences though. First is that any time bicyclists must share the road with motor vehicles the speed limit will be no higher than 30 mph. Even this is a rare exception with the vast majority of streets without segregated facilities having a much lower limit, such as ‘a walking pace’.
People in The Netherlands (and most of northern Europe) are much more considerate of others. Bicyclists are more considerate of drivers and stay out of their way as much as possible. ‘Taking the lane’ is not done here very often and most Dutch don’t understand the concept. Drivers are likewise more considerate of bicycles.
The Netherlands does have something similar to our 3’ passing rule but it is not often adhered to and people aren’t clamoring for it to be enforced because passing is often done safely and at very low speeds. More though, it is quite rare since the vast majority of bicycling is done on segregated facilities.

Both ideologies do have their place. Sort of.

When it comes to having to ride on the road intermixed with motor traffic due to a lack of safer segregated facilities, vehicular cyclists are somewhat correct—operating similar to a vehicle is usually safest. However, our roads themselves aren’t safe. They’re not safe in steel caged cars and are no safer on a bicycle. Countries like Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, and others with roads two to three times as safe as ours don’t consider their roads safe for bicycling, but we do?

Bike Meets Car

There’s an aspect of physics that I don’t expect to change in my lifetime. When a 3000 pound car collides with a 3000 pound car, they make a great noise, both lose, and sometimes people are killed. In 2011, the safest year on record in the U.S., people driving cars killed 27,158 other people in cars. In most of these the people killed were not at fault and even their being in 3000 pound steel cages did not protect them from death.

We can’t make our roadways safe for people in steel caged cars, what chance do bicyclists have? Relatively good actually.

Riding a bicycle safely among motor vehicles is little or no more dangerous than riding in a car. A bicycle rider taking care to avoid crashes is about as safe as a car driver doing the same.

Still, when a 3000 pound car collides with a 200 pound cyclist, the cyclist loses. A careless bicycle rider is at much greater danger than a careless car driver and it shows in statistics. And while a bit of styrofoam on your head might keep you from getting scratches if you fall over in your driveway, it won’t do much against a car. Otherwise everyone riding in cars and walking along a sidewalk would be wearing helmets.

In 2011, people driving motor vehicles in MN caused about 70,000 crashes, killed 271 people riding in cars, 40 pedestrians, and 5 riding bicycles.

In 2011, people riding bicycles in MN killed zero people as far as we know.

In 2011, people walking killed? I’d guess about zero.

WreckedCar

Two cars collide, great noise, injuries and maybe death. A car and bicyclist collide, bicyclist looses, high likelihood of serious injury or death.

Two bicyclists collide, apologies or harsh words ensue, injury beyond minor scrapes and hurt feelings unlikely (unless cyclists are clipped in to their pedals) and even scrapes are rare.

The common denominator in every death above is motor vehicles. Even Sweden, the country with the safest roads in the world, has 270 fatalities per year[4]. If we could make our roads as safe as Sweden then 16,000 fewer Americans would die on our roads every year. Still, any way you slice it, motor vehicles are dangerous.

Which of these sounds best to you? Would you rather ride amongst other bicycles or amongst 3000 pound speeding bullets driven by people talking on their cell phone?

Earlier I said that bicyclists have a relatively good chance on our roads with motor vehicles. Relative to how dangerous our roads are for people in cars they are about as safe for people on bicycles, maybe only slightly more dangerous. From this perspective vehicular cycling is relatively safe.

However, relative to much safer segregated cycleways and properly designed intersections, our roads are quite dangerous, whether you’re in a car or riding a bicycle.

When our roads are as safe and comfortable as The Netherlands segregated bicycle system then I’d say that vehicular cycling is a viable alternative.

Part II – Who Wants Vehicular Cycling?

 

————-

[1] Just as with politics there is a range of beliefs with some against any bicycling infrastructure and others desiring some limited infrastructure such as painted ‘bike boxes’ at high traffic intersections.

[2] I may have lied earlier. Many public officials only hear from one side—vehicular cyclists. And when others in the community begin to get interested in cycling, the people they talk to are the ones they see riding around on road bikes in lycra shorts because that’s who they think know cycling the best. And, these lycra-clad folk are often vehicular cyclists who convince these potential new cyclists that “cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.” For many this alone ends their desire to ride a bike. A few others will try it and after experiencing vehicular cycling for a brief period, hang it up (quite literally, they hang their bike up in the garage and there it stays for the next decade). But this is another story.

[3] Note that Dutch are very quick to point out that Amsterdam has the worst bicycling infrastructure in the country.

[4] Based on 3.2 fatalities per billion vehicle km driven. U.S. is 8.5 fatalities.


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36 Responses to Promote Vehicular Cycling. Really?

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 6, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    this is a pretty nice illustration of your point right here! http://99percentinvisible.tumblr.com/post/78782918451/if-we-had-dutch-style-intersections-wed-ride-our

    • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      It makes me think… before the automobile, shared space ruled the day. We had shared space, and it worked even into the early decades of the automobile. Think how much less money we spent when everyone could just share space. And for things that moved fast – like railroads – we let them have their own space (and cities like Mpls and Chicago even pursued aggressive grade separation a century ago, resulting in things like the Greenway and the Dinkytown Trench).

      I love these intersections, where we need cars. But I also hope we take a close look and figure out where we can just give cues that cars aren’t the dominant mode. I’d like to see this on Hennepin Ave in Uptown. And we have another opportunity soon: With the new Yard, removal of surface parking lots, conversion of the Armory to be more than surface parking, and movement of the I-94 ramps from 5th St to 7th St, we have the opportunity to remove all traffic from Fifth Street east of the Government Center LRT stop.

      • Walker Angell
        Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 11:09 am #

        I have become a firm believer that shared space only works when, to steal a remark from David Hembrow, people don’t have to share.

        I was greatly intrigued by Hans Monderman’s work and very much wanted it to prove true. Reality got in my way. People driving 4000 pound 400 horsepower cars (or even 2000 pound 100 horsepower mini’s) don’t like to share with 200 pound 0.2 horsepower bicyclists. Drivers, the world over, want to use their vehicles to their potential, they want to drive relatively fast and don’t want to be slowed down. They don’t want their 400 horsepower limited to 0.2 horsepower.

        Exhibition Road in London was one example. Week before last I got to ride through one of Hans Monderman’s signature projects—that’s proved quite a failure.

        I think that sharing by cars and bicycles only works for very short distances at the beginning or end of journey’s on streets that have been designed to limit cars to about 15 mph.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Falbo did a great job on that!

  2. Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    I had an interesting experience a couple days ago… I bike the Minnehaha Creek path nearly every day, but my street doesn’t have a curb cut to get across the parkway and onto the trail. So I often bike a short block on the parkway one way or the other before I can cut over to the path. The speed limit is 25, so you’d think it would be ok, but the parkway is a heavily-traveled commuter route for cars. I was taking the lane in preperation for turning left onto a path, and I had my left arm out signaling a turn, and a driver took the oncoming lane and passed me just before I was going to turn left. It’s the vehicular cycling equivalent of a driver passing a vehicle with their left blinker on – it defies logic. But I was thinking, the car driver thinks in terms of car infrastructure, but I did not. They probably had no idea that there was a curb cut and a path to lead me off of the parkway and over to the bike path, so maybe they had no idea how I was intending to turn left. Cool story, eh?

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 10:48 am #

      You just scared the grits out of me with that story. I think you’re exactly right though on the driver not realizing that there was a place for you to turn.

      • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        The benefit of everyone going slow is that it felt much less dangerous than it seems. But that’s because people were driving 20 MPH rather than 40+ MPH.

        • Walker Angell
          Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am #

          Yes. I think slow, so long as it’s slow enough, does work to some extent. If traffic volume is low enough and the street is designed so that drivers are relatively content to drive at a bicycle pace, then it works. If drivers are anxious about it though and tailgate bicycles or try to squeeze by them then it will make it uncomfortable enough for people riding bicycles that they’ll not want to do it.

      • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 11:08 am #

        Also, my point wasn’t to completely blame the driver, but to point out that ambiguous situations are commonplace with vehicular cycling. The biggest fail is on the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis by “cutting off the grid” for cyclists…. more cross streets should have curb cuts and short paths to connect to the bike path, such as the new one we got at 17th Ave last fall with the Southern Bike Connection.

  3. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary May 6, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    > “There are two schools of thought on bicycle infrastructure and the promotion of bicycling. Vehicular Cycling, promoted by the U.S. beginning in the 1970’s, and Segregated Bicycling, promoted by Amsterdam beginning in the 1970’s. The results quite loudly speak for themselves and that should be the end of the story.”

    This statement is laughable, Walker. Although a small number of bicycle advocates and bike safety experts promote vehicular cycling, our policy does not treat bicyclists as fully equal to motorists. That’s a major barrier for teaching and advocating vehicular cycling. 48 states, including Minnesota, have discriminatory bike laws. Several still have mandatory side path laws (that you must ride on a MUP if it’s available). Those were mostly passed in the 1970s, and many more states had those laws and have since had them repealed.

    Although I do agree that segregated facilities are a far better path (pun intended) toward getting 30% or 50% or better mode share, I think you’re not giving vehicular cycling a fair shake. While I too have looked to examples in the Netherlands or Denmark, it seems dubious not to show any examples of segregated infrastructure in Minnesota or the US — which generally offer less mobility and less safety than vehicular cycling. The enemy is not vehicular cycling education — the enemy is crappy segregated facilities.

    As one defense of segregated facilities, I will admit that I had an eye-opening experience last night, riding on the Stroad of America. Going west, I had a lovely tail wind, and was having no problem controlling the lane, switching lanes, making left turns, etc. Going east, I had a head wind, and I was slowed to 15 mph or less. Suddenly the motorists I was sharing the road with felt a lot more intimidating, like I was being charged by wild bulls.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      I think vehicular cycling has had 40 years of fair shake. It doesn’t seem to have worked. Nor do I think it ever could (more on that tomorrow).

      I do agree with you about poor infrastructure and that it can sometimes be more dangerous than vehicular cycling. Good, well-designed infrastructure however is much safer for all bicyclists, works well for faster bicyclists who want to do 18 or 20 mph, and provides a much better environment for motor vehicles. Good infrastructure is far superior to vehicular cycling and poor infrastructure.

      • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

        Vehicular cycling works when it doesn’t feel like vehicular cycling. On residential side streets, woonerfs, etc where cars are not the dominant user and speed differentials are less obvious. That’ sabout it.

      • Jeff Klein May 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

        The original vehicular cyclists were dickhead libertarians who didn’t care the least bit about sprawl or the car-dominated infrastructure we were building.

        I don’t want to be lumped with them. For one, I am an urbanist first and a cyclist second. I want to do what’s best for all street users rather than look out only for myself as a cyclist. We saw how on Washington Ave. the sidewalk actually lost space.

        For another, I’m fine with separated paths on stroads where there’s just no other hope.

        But even as I try to make my peace with the fact that the majority of urbanists seem to favor cycle paths in more situations than not, I can’t help but still see the position as full of contradictions.

        Here’s a few that I never see fully dealt with:

        (1) At the risk of taking a WWJJD (Jane Jacobs) do position, it’s really, really hard for me to imagine this proselytizer for narrow, lively streets embracing cordoned-off space for each type of user

        (2) Strong Towns is constantly railing against “orderly but dumb” over “chaotic but smart”. How are complex separated paths not the former, imposing tons of complicated order on the street? I see arguments here, all the time and well-received, suggesting people are better off trusting each other more (consider the article about Washington Ave. in Stadium Village a week ago, complaining rightfully about the overwrought signaling system. How is this not similar?)

        (3) Whenever we talk about things like expensive, complicated trains to get more transit users, there’s always a strong voice that points out we’re ignoring the current users. You may convince me that the paths will bring more cyclists, but you will certainly not convince me current cyclists favor them: they do not, I simply know too many of them.

        (4) There’s plenty of evidence that most — not all but most — car/bike crashes occur at intersections. The separated path gives you the illusion of safety in the middle of the block where accidents rarely occur while making the intersection infinitely more complex.

        Maybe I’m just missing it, but having read every argument for paths that I see and having softened on my position somewhat, I just don’t see a response to these points. If the real goal is to take the streets back from cars, then why not go all the way and do it? My fantasy is calm streets with pedestrians, only two lanes of slow car traffic, and 40% cyclists, instead of mini-freeway stroads were motorists can rage along at 45mph without ever having to worry their pretty heads over having to encounter a cyclists.

        • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

          Exactly. We keep having this discussion about how we can (expensively) retrofit our car-centric environment for transit, bikes, and friendliness to human beings. But we never deal with the root of our problem – that our urban public rights of way were handed over to the automobile as the primary mode, with severe consequences.

          I am in favor of segregated facilities for different modes where it makes sense… between walkable nodes, and in areas where there’s such a high volume of bike drivers that it is a necessity. But most cycletracks in our quiet urban neighborhoods should be seen as a repair of auto-oriented infrastructure, not an end state. The end state needs to be streets that are inherently comfortable for all users without retrofit.

          StrongTowns does suggest chaotic but smart, and one of those solutions is shared space. That’s why they were so excited about Poynton Regenerated. Also, libertarians may think that car infrastructure is conservative, but it’s actually expensive social engineering of automobile dependency. That’s why some at StrongTowns, and many in the Market Urbanism movement, believe that the way to better places for us humans to inhabit, is to stop spending so much effort, money, and urban space accommodating the automobile. It’s also What Jane Jacobs Would (probably) Do!

          • Adam Miller
            Adam May 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

            I was in LaCrosse two weekends ago for a charity walk/run event at which my wife needed to work. Not being obligated to stay and solicit the participants, I headed out to walk the the course once ahead of the start (planning to walk it again with the group but bailing on that once the rain started).

            Leaving aside my issues with route and start location choice, the infrastructure surrounding it was a good example of what bothers me about what we have built. We started out from a wanna be congregation of car-only office buildings (there were a few there, and obvious plans for more) and out onto the street (no sidewalk). Then we got a short stretch of sidewalk along a stroad, a cross below a freeway, a bit more sidewalk that ended abruptly before we were onto suburban-style sidewalk-free streets.

            And those were actually most pleasant atmosphere for walking along the route.

            But the part that really bugged me is that there was literally no other way to walk back to the start of the route without going back the same way. I could take the side walk as far as the big box stores on the main road and even get to the gas station on the corner, but the sidewalk ended maybe 20 feet from the intersection, and there was no cross walk in any direction.

            “That’s it, Mr. Pedestrian, end of the line. Either turn around and go back or scramble across 4 divided lanes of cars averaging 50 mph. And don’t even think about going that half mile more to connect to the next through street, we aren’t putting no sidewalk there.”

            Great.

        • Walker Angell
          Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

          Jeff, as to #4, I agree that intersections are a critical issue. Two thoughts. First is that bicyclists do have more control over their situation at intersections. They can almost always hang back in safety until they deem it safe enough to cross. They do not have that option riding between intersections where the threat is coming from behind and even if they are aware that they are about to be hit they often have no place to go.

          Second, and most importantly, intersections can be made quite safe. Start here: http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/junction-design-in-the-netherlands/

          And also the Falbo video that Bill posted above.

          Just because the infrastructure you’ve seen in the U.S. is poorly designed and poorly executed doesn’t mean that all bicycle infrastructure is.

        • Walker Angell
          Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

          I do not think that our goal should be to take the streets back from cars. It should be to provide safe infrastructure for all; pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and cars. Cars are good. They’re extremely useful. They can also be very dangerous. In some cases this will be accomplished by providing separate infrastructure and in others by creating an environment where various modes can share common infrastructure. That latter, sharing, is difficult and requires very low traffic volumes (eg, very local access only) and very low speeds.

          • Jeff Klein May 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

            Right, let me clarify, and I think we’ve agreed before, cars can be super useful and I’ve admitted to being a bit of a car nerd. Between towns. But in cities, starting with downtowns, I would love to see cars take a minority role to pedestrians and cyclists. Low volumes and low speeds are indeed the goal.

          • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

            I’m not advocating banning cars in most cases. In some cases, such as Hennepin Ave to Uptown, accommodating cars is such a gross misuse of valuable public right of way that we need to consider more space-efficient uses. But for the most part, we just need to stop prioritizing cars at the extreme expense of everything else.

            You say sharing requires low traffic volumes and local access at low speeds. But for the most part that’s what our streets were originally intended for. The only reason why we have such numerous and lengthy trips by automobile is because that’s what we’ve turned our streets over to, and that’s what we’ve subsidized through our chosen investments.

            Accommodating traffic volumes is usually the #1 or #2 priority for traffic engineers. And that’s fine for rural roads. But accommodating traffic volumes is nearly dead last on the list of community values we have for our streets. I wish I could link you to a slide in Chuck Marohn’s deck for his Misunderstanding Mobility presentation. It’s stunning. And I’ve seen the presentation in person a handful of times, where he asks the audience to rank their values for urban streets… every time, traffic volume is at the bottom before he even puts it on the screen.

      • hokan May 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

        You say, “vehicular cycling has had 40 years of fair shake. It doesn’t seem to have worked.”

        Worked for what?

        I think the aim is to make cyclists safer. It seems to have done that.

        I suspect you haven’t taken training, that you don’t really understand it.

  4. Scott May 6, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I would love to see more segregated bike infrastructure. Having the Greenway and South Cedar Lake Trail kept me biking through most of the winter when the roads were terrible. I doubt there is the political will to spend lots of $$$ on a comprehensive network though.

    That being said, on my way to work this morning I saw many more bike commuters than I have seen in a long time, and it made me hopeful. As has been noted before, the more people we get on bikes, the safer all cyclists will be even in mixed traffic. But if we get more and more people on bikes, maybe the political will to build more segregated infrastructure will arise. For right now it’s that chicken and egg dilemma – build more infrastructure to get more bikers or get more bikers so we need to build more infrastructure.

    (Oh, and Walker you should go through your post again and look at your loose/lose usage. Sorry, i can’t help it. I tutored writing way back in the day.)

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Yes. I think it’ll be a bit on both sides a bit at a time. Every little bit of improved infrastructure will encourage a couple of more people to ride and the more people ride the more others will see them riding and maybe ride themselves and some of these new riders will put some pressure on their local politicians and planners for better infrastructure and the cycle starts all over again.

      Hah! A copy editor I worked with for a while made a big poster for me about that. Some of us are just kind of slow 🙂 (and still in great need of copy editors!)

      PS, Bill made a joke about comfortable seats in cars on a recent post and I suddenly got it about two weeks later on a plane to NYC while working on something completely unrelated. A.D.D. is a wonderfully entertaining thing.

    • Rosa May 15, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

      on my commute today I took the 10th Ave bridge from campus up toward northeast and it occurred to me that we devote so much space to cars, we leave lots of options for drivers.

      We only have this “pick the one best model” problem because there’s so little infrastructure for pedestrians or cyclists in the first place. Cyclists want and need different things. There’s no reason one model would suit everyone anymore than there’s a reason to ban cars from the 10th Ave bridge just because it’s parallel to a perfectly good car-only highway bridge.

  5. Ron May 6, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Most vehicular cyclists want paths, were they make sense like long stretches of road with few intersections. Riding off to the side of traffic, particularly on a path but also on the side of the road, is more dangerous than taking the lane while you go through an intersection.
    Better intersection design can help w/ this but a car turning right will always have to look left before turning. They look left and turn right and often don’t see the biker to their right on a sidewalk or path. That’s how people get hit at intersections.
    Are we ever going to get enough mode share in minnesota where it makes sense to have separate infrastructure for every conceivable route a cyclist may take?
    Build all the paths we can where it makes sense but people are always going to have to ride on some regular intersections and it’s safer for them if they know how to take the lane.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 6, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Ron, absolutely. What you referenced, right on red, is likely the most dangerous and stupid thing we allow drivers to do. Fortunately that is not always the case. Intersections can be made very safe by, among other things, disallowing right on red and allowing turns only when bicycles and pedestrians are given a red. And likewise, bicycles and pedestrians are given green only when motor vehicles that would cross their path are given red.

      At intersections with fairly high bicycle traffic a simultaneous green, where all motor traffic is given red for all movement and bicycles are given green for all directions (including diagonal) works extremely well.

    • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Wouldn’t more NTOR mean less looking left for right turning drivers? That could benefit bikers as well.

  6. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang May 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    I had a similar experience to Sean’s today traveling on University Avenue in Saint Paul. Heading westbound I had a tail wind and easy going from Prior to my destination at Franklin even with the current construction that limits University to one lane in each direction at nearly every intersection. My return trip into the wind was much different with (a couple, not all) cars tailgating (rear wheeling?) me and honking at me even with the infrequent “Bikes may use full lane” signs. They would have buzzed by me dangerously and illegally close if I hadn’t been riding down the center of the lane.

    It did feel a lot more uncomfortable when the speed differential between myself and the cars/trucks was greater. I noticed only two other people riding bikes on my trip–they were both riding on the sidewalks which is evidence that they felt safer on a segregated facility (the sidewalk) even though it’s not well designed for cycling.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell May 7, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      It’s interesting how much speed differential plays a role.

      I don’t think drivers pay much or any attention to “bikes may use full lane’ signs. Or to sharrows for that matter. Neither makes sense to most drivers. Driving lanes are for driving the speed limit and if you aren’t doing that then you don’t belong. I’m not sure we’ll ever change that.

  7. Monte Castleman
    Monte May 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Just thought I’d throw out and idea about no turn on red- I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to the idea, at least where pedestrians are common, but one thing that could be done (assuming people that want them are pro-pedestrian but not anti-car) is add overlap phases, green and yellow right turn arrows, so cars don’t have to stop if there’s a non-conflicting left turn phase, in which case pedestrians can’t cross in any direction anyway.

    • Matt Steele May 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      I’ve seen these on Stroads in West Des Moines when I’m down there for work – they are as prevalent there as porkchop islands in Bloomington. They need to be coupled with No U Turn signs to prevent conflicts, correct? I’ve rarely seen a green right phase paired with a NTOR. Anyways, the idea of giving people a green light to turn, while allowing them the ability to not look left to find a gap before turning right, may help in one regard (keeping drivers’ eyes ahead and to the right, where their turning movement conflicts with the right of way of bikers/walkers) but it makes things worse in another regard (giving right turning cars ROW so they can turn faster). More importantly, it requires a dedicated RTL, which is rare in urban intersections that present the most conflict. This might be a suitable stroad retrofit in suburban areas, and I like it better than the porkchop island. Especially if the design geometry encourages slower turns. The best solution would be slowing down drivers enough so they can properly and safely yield the right of way to the walkers/bikers before making a turn.

      • Monte Castleman
        Monte May 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

        I’m not sure if they’re restricted to dedicated turn lanes only, but admittedly they’d be more useful in the suburbs (where RTOR is a lot more useful too- in the city usually only a couple of cars can turn before a driver pulls up that wants to go straight unless there’s an official or unofficial right turn lane.) The use would be limited too by the trends towards lead/lag timing and the decline of protected only left turns. Another idea, if microwave pedestrian sensors ever become common, would be to light up a no-right-turn blankout sign if pedestrians are present.

  8. Ben May 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    The problem isn’t really with infrastructure at all. Its with people’s attitudes towards driving a tank. Its our leaders who apply transportation policies and laws, not based on vulernable users.

    In Holland you are at fault if you hit a cyclist or pedestrian period end of story. (civil not criminal)

    If a collision occurs they examine how to make that collsion never happen and then redesign the street if needed.

    The reason why vehicluar cycyling is so popular is;
    It reinforce our rights
    It eliminates the ” I didn’t see you” defense (with proper attire of course)
    It can be applied to all sitituations on the road no matter where you ride
    Its predictiable
    The segergated lanes or bike lanes don’t fix driver’s attitude or do anything to reduce the conflict points they both will face.

  9. Frank May 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    For your information, the City of Amsterdam presented new designs this week for the street that you show in your article. Traffic has become too busy and too dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The council will decide in the summer of 2014 whether cars will be allowed in one directiion only or will be redirected altogether. (This link is unfortunately in Dutch but may give you a general idea: http://www.at5.nl/embed/iframe?c=126860)

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