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TRB 2012

Proceedings of the 2012 Transportation Research Board are available online, with dozens of presentations on bike/ped facilities. It is gratifying to see bike/ped becoming so important among professional planners, even if a lot of researchers are only re-rediscovering things Dutch cycle planners have known for decades.

Here is my attempt to separate some good papers from the dreck. Note that full papers require subscription, but the Abstract and slides summarize the key results.

Cycling in the Netherlands: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations (Heinen, Eva) – This paper compares the outcomes of a PhD-research on bicycle commuting with policies on cycling. Policies (at least in the Netherlands) are frequently not derived from (academic) research findings, but often based on common sense or best practices. This paper investigates to what extent the policies in Netherlands are in line with the research findings and which other policies could be considered. Policies and campaigns adopt different strategies to encourage cycling, of which some  correspond with the recent research results. Many programs recognize the importance of the employer when it comes to commuting. Other programs aim at increasing the awareness on the 15 benefits of cycling, or change the individuals travel habit by making commuters aware of the option to cycle to work. Nevertheless many factors that affect cycling are left untouched and policies address issues of which the effect is unknown. Additionally, this papers presents several ideas to stimulate cycling, both existing Dutch programs as well as ideas derived from the recently obtained research findings.

Multiuser Perspectives on Separated, On-street Bicycle Infrastructure (Monsere, Christopher M.;McNeil, Nathan Winslow;Dill, Jennifer) – In the early fall of 2009 the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) installed a cycle track and a pair of buffered bike lanes in downtown Portland. A major objective was to test facilities that were thought to bring higher levels of comfort to bicycle riders through increased separation from motor vehicle traffic. After one year of use, an evaluation was conducted to understand how the facilities affected the experience of the various users, including intercept surveys of cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and adjacent business. The surveys found improved perceptions of safety and comfort among cyclists, particularly women. Cyclists also preferred the new facilities over alternative routes and facility types. Both motorists and cyclists liked the additional separation of the users. Motorists were more likely to attribute additional travel delays and inconvenience to the facilities; this was especially the case for motorists who never ride a bicycle and those surveyed on the buffered bike lane facility. Pedestrians liked the increased separation from traffic but had concerns about interactions with cyclists when crossing the cycle track. Businesses expressed support for these and other new bicycle facilities, but had concerns about parking and deliveries.

Cycle Tracks, Bicycle Lanes, and On-street Cycling in Montreal, Canada: Preliminary Comparison of Cyclist Injury Risk (Nosal, Thomas Gregory;Miranda-Moreno, Luis Fernando) – This paper estimates the relative cyclist injury risk of bicycle facilities with respect to streets without bicycle provisions, and explores the differences in cyclist injury risk between different types of facilities, namely, cycle-tracks and bicycle lanes. The cyclist injury rates for a set of four cycle tracks (totaling 11.75 km) and four bicycle lanes (totaling 3.76 km) in the City of Montreal are compared to injury rates for corresponding control streets using relative risk ratios. Nine control streets are used. Overall, it was found that most bicycle facilities in the analysis do indeed exhibit lower cyclist injury rates than the corresponding control streets. Furthermore, factors that may affect the injury risk of a particular bicycle facility include whether or not it is bidirectional, visibility, physical separation, presence and location of parking, vehicular traffic, and the direction of vehicular traffic. However, further research is required to determine the exact effect of these factors, and to address several limitations in data.

Safety Considerations for Permitting Bicycles on Controlled-Access Highway Shoulders (Kweon, Young-Jun;Lim, In-Kyu;Lynn, Cheryl Walker) – In an effort to meet increasing demands for travel options, highway agencies are working to  accommodate non-motorists into the transportation system. Because of the challenges in constructing separate paths for bicycles, highway shoulders are the most feasible alternative in many cases, and those once prohibited for bicycle travel have been opened or are being considered for bicycle use. Although studies of the safety aspects of bicycle travel on highway shoulders have been conducted, examinations appear to focus on summary statistics of bicyclerelated crashes and/or a handful of individual cases of such crashes. This study examined several aspects associated with the safety of bicyclists on shoulders of controlled access highways using empirical and theoretical analysis. The intent of the study was to determine the characteristics of a roadway segment that would require it to be designated as prohibited for bicycle use. Some of the study findings include (1) few bicyclist/pedestrian involved crashes were reported on the controlled access highways in Virginia; (2) the segments prohibiting bicyclists/pedestrians are predicted to have more run-off-right crashes, the immediate threat to non-motorists on shoulders, than the segments permitting such usage; and (3) although stopping sight distance for bicycles is not a primary concern in permitting bicycle use of shoulders in general, there are conditions such as downgrade segments with the design speed below 40 mph where it should be considered.

Implementation and Case Studies of Innovative Bicycle Facilities – presentation by Heath Maddox, SFMTA Bicycle Planner, of recent projects in San Francisco.

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