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View Full Version : Article: Philosophy that pits cars against bikes is finally dying



Tim Kelley
07-13-2016, 04:00 PM
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/livable-city/la-oe-babin-protected-bike-lane-20160712-snap-story.html

DismalScientist
07-13-2016, 05:48 PM
What a load of crap. Creating the strawman that vehicular cycling boils down to taking the lane and trying to maximize the inconvenience of motorists. I can't wait until someone discovers that riding in PBLs at a reasonable speed requires more skill than mixing with traffic. Can't wait for those to see that isn't much pavement out there and this implies that bike infrastructure will always have limited scope. Does anyone see a contradiction in ddemaning skillful drivers and yet allegedly "designing" on arterial road PBLs for inexperienced cyclists?

dplasters
07-13-2016, 05:58 PM
I'm pro segregated infrastructure. I'm anti the idea of cyclists riding in a non vehicular style when such infrastructure doesn't exist. I disagree with the idea that vehicular cycling hurts advocacy of protected cycling infrastructure. And I'm not aware that the bolded section can be shown accurate at all.


Not only did Forester’s theory put cyclists in harm’s way, it generated anger among motorists and taught them to see bikes as nuisances. This enmity, in turn, arguably hamstrung local governments’ efforts to build more and safer infrastructure.

Its unfortunate that the article couldn't just be written from the standpoint of "where do we go from here" and is instead looking to be divisive.

lordofthemark
07-13-2016, 07:20 PM
Of course some Forrester advocates are fairly divisive themselves.

lordofthemark
07-13-2016, 07:34 PM
Just read the piece. I don't see the author criticizing VC as a way to ride. He criticizes it as an approach to policy. I think it is unfortunate that those are confused, but I think some VC advocates, including I believe Forrester himself have encouraged that confusion.

On my ride home tonight I lost at least two minutes because I acted like a vehicle and sat in traffic on Maine Ave. to make a vehicular left rather than take the narrow sidewalk as several other cyclists did. But I will strongly support the plan for PBL's on Maine.

As for the difficulty, it depends on your speed, on whether the PBL is 2 way or 1 way, and on appropriate bike specific signals, and limits on turns. I do note that no countries have achieved widespread adoption of transportation biking without a commitment to seg infra.

Brendan von Buckingham
07-14-2016, 07:18 AM
VC is not 100% right or 100% wrong. It has pros and cons both for riding tactics and policy. Downtown LA getting it's one and only protected bike lane is hardly the nail in the coffin on VC. It's going to take a lot of VCing to get to that bike lane. We're getting protected bike lanes only now because of a confluence of things: bike shares, learning from Europe, city population declines reversed, transporation funding mechanisms that require spending on enhancements like bike lanes and not just highways. None of those were even imaginable when Forester came up with VC. Much of his reasoning was that VC was safer than sidewalk riding (still is), and at the time, "Go ride on the sidewalk," was the extent of bicycle policy and infrastructure just about everywhere. As for Forester and protected bike lanes, see my first sentence. As for how everyone needs to ride, see my first sentence.

Crickey7
07-14-2016, 10:05 AM
Agreed that this opinion piece is terribly flawed. I would strenuously resist the notion that until a route has protected infra, it's too dangerous to ride. We lose too much with that mindset, and it veers perilously close to the belief that cyclists don't belong on unsegregated infra. I would also say the author overstresses causation in the growth in bike commuting in NYC. The rise in bike infra coincided with the invention of bike sharing. It's clear to me, at least that bike sharing caused cycling here in DC to hit an inflection point at which cycling went, in the space of about 2 years, from being a fringe activity to something that everyone does, at one point or another in their ordinary, non-recreational life. Once that happens, a certain percentage switch their commuting modes over. Infra helps, but it's not the whole picture.

I will also say that the more I switched to a VC style of riding, the fewer negative interactions I had with drivers. I go weeks now without hearing a single honk or dangerous behavior exhibited toward me.

huskerdont
07-14-2016, 10:09 AM
I will also say that the more I switched to a VC style of riding, the fewer negative interactions I had with drivers. I go weeks now without hearing a single honk or dangerous behavior exhibited toward me.

Somewhat the same for me--with the important exception of aggressive driving. Every time I have been buzzed or had a driver swerve into me as retribution for being there, it has been when I am taking the lane. But for avoiding hooks, doorings, etc., VC has been the way to go.

Henry
07-14-2016, 10:25 AM
I do note that no countries have achieved widespread adoption of transportation biking without a commitment to seg infra.

Indeed. And interestingly, most of the comments in this OpEd (https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/07/11/the-road-fear-free-biking-boston/UBnj30slkPwBIzggL70uwJ/story.html) calling for more protected infra in Boston say it won't work there because of the weather. Well Boston is about 300 miles south of Montreal, which the LA Times piece cites heavily as a city with the highest rate of bike ridership in North America, having been transformed by investing in PBLs.

lordofthemark
07-14-2016, 10:25 AM
Agreed that this opinion piece is terribly flawed. I would strenuously resist the notion that until a route has protected infra, it's too dangerous to ride. We lose too much with that mindset, and it veers perilously close to the belief that cyclists don't belong on unsegregated infra. I would also say the author overstresses causation in the growth in bike commuting in NYC. The rise in bike infra coincided with the invention of bike sharing. It's clear to me, at least that bike sharing caused cycling here in DC to hit an inflection point at which cycling went, in the space of about 2 years, from being a fringe activity to something that everyone does, at one point or another in their ordinary, non-recreational life. Once that happens, a certain percentage switch their commuting modes over. Infra helps, but it's not the whole picture.

I will also say that the more I switched to a VC style of riding, the fewer negative interactions I had with drivers. I go weeks now without hearing a single honk or dangerous behavior exhibited toward me.

The other day on my ride home, I took King southbound from Beauregard - I usually take the sidewalk there, but there were pedestrians visible, and the traffic on King seemed a little slower than usual (it is signed at 35MPH, though the folks who race to the I395 entrance ramp go quite a bit faster than that) so I did the VC thing and took the lane. I am pretty sure I heard a honk behind me. I am not fast but it is downhill. I am never honked at in bike lanes, etc.

Of course if "not VC" means riding in the road, with no seg infra, but staying to the right hand side of the lane, that is something else again.

Crickey7
07-14-2016, 10:26 AM
I'm unaware of any resistance to bike infra within the cycling community in this region, recognizing that others are far more plugged in than I. There might be technical debates about what kind is best and how to strategically approach this vis a vis other priorities, but not opposition per se.

lordofthemark
07-14-2016, 10:41 AM
I'm unaware of any resistance to bike infra within the cycling community in this region, recognizing that others are far more plugged in than I. There might be technical debates about what kind is best and how to strategically approach this vis a vis other priorities, but not opposition per se.

If one WERE opposed to all seg infra, wouldn't it be a wiser strategy to oppose each seg infra proposal on technical grounds, rather than proclaim an opposition to any seg infra (since who knows what ideal seg infra someone might come up with)? Kind of like even the folks who oppose every transit project never oppose all transit per se.

Crickey7
07-14-2016, 10:52 AM
You'd still notice patterns of opposition. In any event, the piece says that "some of the most vociferous opponents of bike lanes are vehicular cyclists, who say becoming part of traffic isnít as difficult as itís perceived to be." I just don't think we are hearing that argument here. I mean, you get some grumbling that infra X is so crappy it's better to be in the street, but I'm not sure that's not an argument to build better infra in general (cf, M Street bike lane), and in any event it's true that we're still working out what infra works best in what situation.

lordofthemark
07-14-2016, 10:59 AM
You'd still notice patterns of opposition. In any event, the piece says that "some of the most vociferous opponents of bike lanes are vehicular cyclists, who say becoming part of traffic isn’t as difficult as it’s perceived to be." I just don't think we are hearing that argument here. I mean, you get some grumbling that infra X is so crappy it's better to be in the street, but I'm not sure that's not an argument to build better infra in general (cf, M Street bike lane), and in any event it's true that we're still working out what infra works best in what situation.


At least one prominent bike advocate (who also supports bike infra, in theory at least) opposed the King Street bike lanes in Alexandria. Those bike lanes, while from ideal (we all know that) have reduced speeds and crashes (car/car crashes - there were no car bike crashes there in recent years, but the change is indicative of slower speeds and more driver attention) and increased the number of riders (this last despite poor connectivity to them)

Crickey7
07-14-2016, 11:15 AM
That still seems a thin reed on which to construct a grand conspiracy of VC'ers to sabotage bike infra. I think that to the extent anyone's pitting one group within cycling against another, it's authors like this trying to bolster their argument that there is only one correct policy position.

rcannon100
07-14-2016, 11:24 AM
Just remember that it is a balancing act. We are none of us only cyclists. We have kids who play in parks. We like trees. We even drive cars (not me, but I hear some of you bums do). Maybe schools. Maybe we like ducks and birds and snakes and creepy crawly things.

There is a religion that supporting cycling infrastructure is sacrosanct and opposition is heresy. Rubbish. Sometimes bike stuff gets irrationally supported like a religion, without questioning. Bikes = good. Opponents = bad. That is simplistic and tribalistic.

There are still good decisions and bad decisions. All decisions are cost benefit. All decisions mean some win and some lose.

If you look at the Wash Blvd trail decision - that seems to be a relatively good process. Steve O I think wrote a good piece on the decision making about how many trees would have to be cut down and did that justify the trail. In the end, with a lot of push back from the neighborhood and the community - the trail was redesigned and the environmental impact was mitigated. Environmental concerns mattered. Neighborhood concerns mattered. The trail mattered.

That was a good thing.

lordofthemark
07-14-2016, 12:08 PM
That still seems a thin reed on which to construct a grand conspiracy of VC'ers to sabotage bike infra. I think that to the extent anyone's pitting one group within cycling against another, it's authors like this trying to bolster their argument that there is only one correct policy position.


There is not a grand conspiracy in metro DC. AFAICT most of the prominent voices who advocate against most forms of bike infra are not local to the DC region and do not focus on DC.

BTW, what the above article lacked was a sense of humor. You want an anti-VC screed, this is how you do it

http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2012/03/right-of-way-take-my-lane-please.html

lordofthemark
07-14-2016, 12:12 PM
Just remember that it is a balancing act. We are none of us only cyclists. We have kids who play in parks. We like trees. We even drive cars (not me, but I hear some of you bums do). Maybe schools. Maybe we like ducks and birds and snakes and creepy crawly things.

There is a religion that supporting cycling infrastructure is sacrosanct and opposition is heresy. Rubbish. Sometimes bike stuff gets irrationally supported like a religion, without questioning. Bikes = good. Opponents = bad. That is simplistic and tribalistic.

There are still good decisions and bad decisions. All decisions are cost benefit. All decisions mean some win and some lose.

If you look at the Wash Blvd trail decision - that seems to be a relatively good process. Steve O I think wrote a good piece on the decision making about how many trees would have to be cut down and did that justify the trail. In the end, with a lot of push back from the neighborhood and the community - the trail was redesigned and the environmental impact was mitigated. Environmental concerns mattered. Neighborhood concerns mattered. The trail mattered.

That was a good thing.

And by the same token, the benefit side of bike infra is not only to cyclists, and that sometimes impacts what can get built. See our discussion of the advisory bike lanes in Potomac Greens. There are many places where localities use bike infra as traffic calming. Sometimes that infra appears useless to all but the slowest and/or least confident cyclists - and some of the discussion of the cost benefits among cyclists forgets that pedestrians and others with an interest in traffic calming also benefit.

GovernorSilver
07-14-2016, 04:56 PM
News like this makes me feel lucky to live and bike commute in this area, despite the imperfections.

http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/anti-cyclist-parade-float-incites-anger-debate

http://www.bicycling.com/sites/bicycling.com/files/articles/2016/07/doo-dah-parade-harding.jpg

mstone
07-14-2016, 05:20 PM
If one WERE opposed to all seg infra, wouldn't it be a wiser strategy to oppose each seg infra proposal on technical grounds, rather than proclaim an opposition to any seg infra (since who knows what ideal seg infra someone might come up with)? Kind of like even the folks who oppose every transit project never oppose all transit per se.

It's also hard to separate people with real concerns from the "well, I am a cyclist (this one time 10 years ago) but..." crowd.