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Tag Archive: bike/ped infrastructure

Bike lanes vs. street parking…a “bike war” in the making?

When cities choose to sacrifice on-street car parking in retail districts to install bike lanes, a common counter-argument is that removal of such parking spaces will impact businesses in a negative way. This argument has been proven again and again to be false (one such study here).

But what about replacing parking areas in a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood? How does this impact the neighborhood and the people living there? One such fight is brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, where resident F.H. Buckley recently wrote an op-ed piece (WSJ subscription required) for the Wall Street Journal on how such a move was tantamount to “war”. Here is a thoughtful and thorough response to Buckley’s piece in the Washington Times.

How to counter that argument? It’s easy to point naysayers and skeptics toward studies showing how bike lanes don’t impact businesses (and, in fact, may IMPROVE business, as we’ve written about here). But in a residential neighborhood? That’s a good bit more difficult. People tend to be protective of where they live (sometimes irrationally; see the NIMBY phenomenon for examples).

So how do bike advocates counter this skepticism? Do bike lanes represent a “greater good” that trump personal parking concerns? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

More bike commuters = economic boom

Here’s an inspiring “roundup” article about a number of cities (with a focus on Detroit) that are experiencing an economic uptick directly linked to their development of bike infrastructure and subsequent increase in bicycle commuters:

From custom frame builders in Detroit and messenger bag makers in Philadelphia to a bike-share startup in Tampa, the new bike-based economy is flourishing in U.S. cities. This startup ecosystem includes tour companies, pedicabs, mountain bike parks, artisan rack welders, bike rental outfits, bike-friendly bars and app developers.

Alison Dewey, program manager for the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle-Friendly Business program says these businesses are feeding off the rise in bike commuting and the fact that young people are now driving less. A recent released report from U.S. PIRG shows that car usage is declining after climbing for six decades straight. Meanwhile, bike commuting grew 39 percent on average from 2000-2010.

Read the full article by visiting the Detroit Free Press page.

Personally, I love the term “bike-based economy”…it gives me hope that our chosen form of transportation can be part of the stimulus cities need to recover financially. Has YOUR city seen an increase in bike-related businesses as a result of developing bike-friendly infrastructure? We’d love to hear about it.

Bike lanes bring business…

It seems that often, when a city decides to add bike lanes to urban-corridor streets, people complain that the loss of onstreet parking will have a detrimental effect to businesses in the area.

Recently, though, New York City released a report that showed some areas with a whopping 49% INCREASE in retail sales adjoining the bike lane. From the America Bikes blog:

A new study from the New York Department of Transportation shows that streets that safely accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel are especially good at boosting small businesses, even in a recession.

NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.

Read the rest of the article and analysis by visiting America Bikes. If you would like to read the report (in PDF format) directly, please click here.

We’ve talked about bike/ped infrastructure and its ability to rejuvenate businesses before (particularly in our Long Beach coverage) — I’d like to see more studies like this to see if it is a regional trend or a phenomenon that occurs nationwide. Anyone seen a national-level study of this nature? If so, let us know in the comments below.

How far would you go to defend bike lanes?

Here’s an article that’s been popping up in various places today: as the city of Toronto moves to remove hotly contested bike lanes from Jarvis Street, protesters blocked road crews with their bodies.

Here’s one of the articles that discusses the protest today.

Here’s an excellent op-ed piece that is pro bike lane.

And a slightly snarky, yet well-reasoned counterpoint to the issue published here.

We’ve gone on and on here about what makes good bike infrastructure…slapping down paint certainly isn’t enough, but it “looks good” to city officials who may be too lazy or misguided or underfunded to really get things right — or who are under pressure to throw a bone to cycling advocates. Finding the best routes for bicyclists (safer, less trafficked, more direct) and then adding infrastructure seems to be the right way to go about things. From what I’ve read, the Jarvis Street lanes were never a particularly well-placed piece of infrastructure, and better alternatives exist nearby. Granted, I’ve never lived or ridden in Toronto, so this is all speculation on my part from what I’ve read about the issue.

If we have any Tororontonians in our audience, we’d sure love to hear your thoughts about this! Just leave your comments in the box below.

Visibility and single-bike crashes

The following is a press release we received that may be of interest to our readers. It contains a link to a very interesting study on visibility, road markings and other factors that influence single-bike crashes:

What do cyclists need to see to avoid single-bicycle crashes?

With the ‘Wiggins effect’ in full swing after London 2012 and people taking up cycling for sport or recreation like never before, the safety of the country’s cyclists has never been more important.

Crashes are an unfortunate fact of life for many travelling on our roads and bicycle paths, but how and why they happen is not always well understood. In the Netherlands alone, A&E Departments treat 46,000 injuries sustained in single-bicycle incidents each year, 6000 of which lead to hospital admission. Reducing the number of bicycle accidents is thus good for the public purse as well as for the cyclists themselves.

Faced with such figures, two Dutch academics, Paul Schepers and Berry den Brinker, set out to learn more about single-bicycle crashes. The resulting paper, ‘What do cyclists need to see to avoid single-bicycle crashes?’, has been awarded two prestigious prizes from insurers Liberty Mutual: ‘Best Paper Published in the Journal Ergonomics’ (54/4 2011, 315­–327) and the ‘2012 IEA/Liberty Mutual Medal in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics’.

The researchers followed two approaches. The first was to ‘study the relationship between the crashes and age, light condition, alcohol use, gaze direction and familiarity with the crash scene’ in a set of accidents. The second used the ‘image degrading and edge detection’ (or IDED) method to investigate the visual characteristics of some crash sites.

What the authors found was that in those crashes where a single cyclist collided with a bollard, narrowed road or other obstacle, or rode off the road altogether, poor visibility and especially poor visual contrast played a significant part. Schepers and den Brinker also investigated how issues with a cyclist’s ‘focal’ vision (seeing the ‘far’ road ahead to plan for future hazards) and ‘ambient’ vision (seeing the ‘near’ road to correct the bicycle’s current position) can contribute to a crash.

As a result of their study, the authors question the common assumption that cyclists ‘can do without a minimal level of guidance and conspicuity of (design-related) obstacles’.

They state that ‘the visibility of critical information in the visual periphery is indeed important for safe cycling’ and make several recommendations, including applying edge lines to the curves on bicycle paths, especially on those with high levels of cycling, no street lighting or a risk of glare from oncoming vehicles.

Schepers and den Brinker also suggest that adding warning centre lines to two-way cycle paths, increasing the visibility of bollards with contrasting colours, and using ‘profiled’ markings to alert a cyclist riding behind another to dangers ahead could all help prevent crashes.

This prize-winning study on accident prevention – which shifts the focus from road-surface issues and the visibility of cyclists to what the cyclists themselves actually see – is essential reading for urban planners, cycling promoters and anyone concerned with the safety of the thousands of people now taking to two wheels after the recent Olympics.

Read the article in full for free at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00140139.2011.558633

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Ben Hudson, Engineering, Computer Science and Technology journals, Taylor & Francis
email: benjamin.hudson@tandf.co.uk

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