Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

Things you did as a kid that your kids will never do” is the title of a posting to the SF-Moms blog today. Here is the main photo shown at the top:


And when I saw this, my first thought was this was going to be a nice story about how parents have become too paranoid about allowing kids to play with bikes out in the neighborhood.

Then I read the caption under the photo:

Ride a bike without a helmet tand do other dangerous things on your bike. Note: We’re glad kids are now wearing helmets. This is a good step forward.

Excuse me while I go slap my forehead…

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As reported by BikePortland, there were zero bike fatalities in 2013:

This isn’t a new feat for Portland: the city also avoided any bike-related fatalities in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010. That’s a safety record that’s nearly unmatched from coast to coast.

San Jose, by comparison, was a bloodbath:

This has been a particularly dangerous year on roadways throughout San Jose, with 26 traffic fatalities involving a pedestrian or bicyclist — the highest total since at least 1997 and the most of any city in the Bay Area.

And the death toll in New York was over 100 cyclists pedestrians and cyclists.

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Did NPR Notify The Police?

From an NPR puff-piece on cycling. This lady is clearly deranged:

And then there’s the issue of safety. In fact, on Insua’s ride, a car cut through the single file of bicycles, missing one person by just a couple feet. So perhaps the greatest obstacle to bike trains is that drivers don’t like sharing the road.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

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San Jose has removed some buffered bike lane from Almaden. It had been supposedly striped as part of a road diet plan. But now the city is saying the lane was installed “in error“. John Brazil, San Jose Bike Planner, writes in an e-mail:

That one block of Almaden Blvd bike lanes south of Woz/Balbach was installed in error.

San Jose plans to provide a bikeway connection south under Hwy 280 via 2nd and 3rd Streets since they do not have a freeway interchange. Almaden Blvd at 280 does have a freeway interchange and one-way loop that is very challenging to bikes. In addition, adding bike lanes on Vine and Almaden south of Hwy 280 are not currently funded.

To avoid the Almaden/280 interchange, Almaden Blvd bicyclists will be able to use the Woz/Balbach/San Salvador bikeway (to be implemented this fiscal year) to planned bike lanes southward on 2nd and 3rd street under 280 (planned for next year). This will be a more bike friendly route without an interchange.”

Oh my, this is wrong for so many reasons. First of all, the lane reduction calmed traffic on Almaden. Putting extra car lanes back in won’t be good for neighbors, or for peds crossing the street. Second, there are places on Almaden that bicyclists might want to visit (hasn’t John Brazil heard of Routine Accommodation?). Third, the city will be removing an existing bike facility before the “replacement” is ready.

I’m also baffled by the description of the 280/Almaden interchange as being “challenging” for bikes. The one-way loop is actually an elegant design that has fewer turning conflicts.



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Bike Accommodation On CAHSR Trains

When California voters approved funding in 2008 for their high-speed rail project, one of the promises was that the trains would not be like Amtrak. So here we are 5 years later, and it is Amtrak developing the trains. This will be a joint procurement between California and Amtrak (for its Acela service).

Amtrak just released the Draft Trainset Spec that goes into the things like the interior layout. The (sort of) good news is that the spec does require bike accommodation. California trains will have bike storage for a minimum of 8 bikes per trainset. Those of you on the East Coast will be shit out of luck as the requirement only applies to CHSRA trains:

For the [CA HSR] Authority, a bicycle storage area shall be provided, and designed to accommodate a minimum of 8 bicycles per Trainset. A dedicated bicycle storage area shall be provided, thereby reducing inconvenience to passengers. Bicycle storage areas shall be separate from wheelchair spaces and shall not block or otherwise impede emergency egress and access.

Special attention shall be given to the ease with which bicycles can be placed in the bicycle racks. It is expected that the final design shall include guide rails to help steer the bicycle into the correct position with minimal effort. Bicycles shall be secured as low as possible and designs requiring the lifting of bicycles over fixed objects shall be avoided.

Suitable graphics shall be provided on the exterior of the Vehicle, identifying the doors to be used for bicycle access. Interior graphics shall also provide instructions for using the bicycle racks.

To put in perspective, the existing Amtrak San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor services permit 22 bikes per train. So 8 bikes per train isn’t great, but better than nothing.

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bike_saddleBack in the 1990′s Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist, made his infamous statement: “there are only two kinds of male cyclists – those who are impotent and those who will be impotent.”

It started the myth that biking would cause your dick to fall off.

There was absolutely no basis in the claim whatsoever. But like all zombie myths, it doesn’t go away. The NY Times, for example, has published a gazillion scaremongering articles. And it isn’t hard to see why journalists would run with such a story. Biking is a healthy activity, so nobody would expect it would cause impotence or bone loss.

Regrettably, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) got into the act. The agency, which protects workplace safety, issued official recommendations on bike saddles:

Over the last several years, NIOSH researchers have investigated the potential health effects of prolonged bicycling in police bicycle patrol units, including the possibility that some bicycle saddles exert excessive pressure on the urogenital area of cyclists, restricting blood flow to the genitals, resulting in adverse effects on sexual function. NIOSH worked with several police departments with bicycle patrols to conduct reproductive health research. In these studies NIOSH did more than assess a problem; it also tested a solution and published recommendations.

It is one thing for crackpot researchers and journalists to be making these wild claims. But when the US government is publishing official brochures, that is a big problem. Bicycling is a healthy activity, and the NIOSH should be encouraging workers to ride bikes instead of motor vehicles. One also wonders whether this will expose employers to frivolous lawsuits for providing bikes with the “wrong” saddle design at jobsites.


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EV Obsession

In 2012, there were 13 million bicycles sold in the US. If kids bikes are included, the number was 18.7 million. By comparison, the total number of electric vehicles sold was less than 52,000. In fact, there are more bikes than cars (of all kinds) sold in the US.

I point this out, because some states have an obsession with promoting EV sales:

In an effort to spur lackluster sales of electric cars, California, New York and six other states said on Thursday that they would work jointly to adopt a range of measures, including encouraging more charging stations and changing building codes, to make it easier to own an electric car.

The goal, they said, was to achieve sales of at least 3.3 million vehicles that did not have any emissions by 2025.

The states, which represent more than a quarter of the national car market, said they would seek to develop charging stations that all took the same form of payment, simplify rules for installing chargers and set building codes and other regulations to require the stations at workplaces, multifamily residences and at other places.

They said they would also promote hydrogen fueling stations.

Not saying EV’s are necessarily a bad thing. But people already own zero-polluting vehicles: bicycles. States should prioritize bike infrastructure over hydrogen infrastructure.

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The Supreme Court will be hearing a Rails-To-Trails case in Wyoming. It could have major implications for similar trails all over the country:

At issue in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. USA is the Forest Service’s program for turning abandoned railways into trails, or rails-to-trails. Brandt, of Fox Park, owns 83 acres of land he acquired from the Forest Service in 1976.

The land was once part of a government easement for a railroad that operated from 1904 to 1995. The Laramie, Hahn’s Peak and Pacific Railroad Co. operated the track, which ran 66 miles from Laramie, Wyo., to the Colorado line. After the railroad was abandoned around 2000, some land was preserved as part of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Other areas, including Albany and Fox Park, were developed privately.

In April 2005, the Forest Service announced it wanted to convert the railway into a public trail. About a year later, the agency sued Brandt and others, claiming it has a right to roughly 28 miles of land. The service said it has a “reversionary interest” in the land under the 1875 General Railroad Right-of-Way Act.

A federal district court and later a federal appeals court agreed, ordering Brandt to turn over title to the land. William Perry Pendley, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit representing the Brandts, said the case may settle long-standing legal issues surrounding the rails-to-trails program.

There has been an explosion in litigation over rails-to-trails projects. In the past year alone, $49 million has been paid out to people owning land alongside trails. Trail projects are paying as much as $1 million per mile in compensation. Conservative “property rights” groups have been especially active in the litigation.

What is insane about these cases is that even after paying out this windfall, the government does not get ownership of the property. The trails generally run on an easement. The payments are actually compensation to owners for the “decline” in property value caused by the trail — even though bike trails generally increase property values.

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A Preventable Accident

The problem with sharrows is that impatient drivers will try to share the lane anyway. And when they do, the results can be horrible:

A female cyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after she was struck by and became pinned under a float trailer that was being hauled by a large truck Wednesday morning, Toronto police say.

Police said the woman came into contact with the right side of the trailer as she cycled in Spadina Avenue’s northbound lanes, just south of Dundas Street West, at about 7:15 a.m. The woman was riding in the curb lane, where there is a sharrow lane for cyclists, with shared lane markings.

After making contact with the side of the trailer, the woman was caught by its rear wheels and dragged a short distance, police said. The northbound truck, also travelling in the curb lane, came to a stop while the woman was under the trailer.

Part of the problem with sharrows is that traffic engineers don’t even know where to put them. The sharrows on Spandina appear to be off in the gutter.

Accident scene

Accident scene

Google Streetview of intersection

Google Streetview of intersection

Google streetview of sharrow striping

Google streetview of sharrow striping

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This morning, I needed to make a bike trip to the MacArthur BART Station Transit Village. This provided another opportunity to test out the 40th St. Green Stripe.

It will certainly be my last time riding this road.

One thing I hadn’t realized is that the Green Stripe has a big gap. It inexplicably does not reach Broadway. Perhaps Oakland ran out of green paint? The gap makes this project even dumber than I had imagined.

So as I rode the Green Stripe, a pimped-out Mercedes sedan pulled up behind me. Having the Green Stripe of protection, I established myself in the center of the lane. This resulted in considerable amount of honking, and I looked back to see the Mercedes riding mere inches from my back tire. As soon as a gap opened in the passing lane, the Mercedes zoomed close enough to force me off the road. I caught up at the light, and the usual road-raging ensued.

Of course, asshole drivers can show up anywhere, but they are attracted to wide arterials. Laying down a green stipe won’t work on a wide arterial with fast trafffic. It is time for Oakland to end this ridiculous experiment.

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