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Thread: Upcoming Micromobility Ordinance will also regulate e-bikes

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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyRider View Post
    Chris, like you, I'm just baffled by the need for different speed limits for various modes ...

    Why not just set a universal speed limit of 15-20mph on MUPs and bike lanes, and if you're in the street, you can go as fast as the posted speed limit (usually 25-30mph).
    I agree. Far too complicated. The type of vehicle should not be a factor in setting urban speed limits.

    I do however think that the setting should be a factor, with different limits for streets vs. trails vs. sidewalks. Bike lanes should be considered as part of the street, with the same speed limit as required for automobiles. Certainly for un-"protected" lanes, such as those that are immediately adjacent to vehicles, it would be absurd to set a different speed limit. However, I could be convinced that PBLs belong in the trail class with a universal 15-20MPH limit; many PBLs are unsafe at those speeds anyway due to turning conflicts, visibility obscurations, and proximity to pedestrians. I also think it's reasonable to set a lower speed limit for sidewalks than for PBLs/trails.

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    I prefer that it says this about speed limits on sidewalks: "Speed on sidewalks should be limited to 10?15? MPH, unless within 3 Feet from any pedestrian, then the speed limit would be 6 MPH."

    I doubt that this would be enforced, but laws job is to assign liability on the law breaker in case of crashes.

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    Steve O is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyRider View Post
    I don't agree. I'm not a hater. I've been riding here for 20 years. I think ebikes make speed limits a good idea. if we're going to allow vehicles capable of going nearly 30mph on MUPs, vehicles which specifically appeal to and are often operated by individuals lacking experience, speed limits are helpful. Sorry if that offends; with power comes responsibility. A unenforced speed limit of 20mph on a MUPs would affect probably 2% of pedal bike riders, half of them going downhill. Basically, I think a 20mph speed limit would gesture at keeping ebikes from running amok and have almost no effect on everybody else.
    I'm cool with this as long as they give the 11-mph buffer they give for cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by n18 View Post
    I prefer that it says this about speed limits on sidewalks: "Speed on sidewalks should be limited to 10?15? MPH, unless within 3 Feet from any pedestrian, then the speed limit would be 6 MPH."
    What if said pedestrian is going more than 6 mph? Would these proposed speed limits also apply to pedestrians? When I run, I often run more than 6 mph. May not much more, but still...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    I'm cool with this as long as they give the 11-mph buffer they give for cars.
    Don't forget the surprise Sunday morning buffer deactivations. Those will cost ya

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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyRider View Post
    I don't agree. I'm not a hater. I've been riding here for 20 years. I think ebikes make speed limits a good idea. if we're going to allow vehicles capable of going nearly 30mph on MUPs, vehicles which specifically appeal to and are often operated by individuals lacking experience, speed limits are helpful. Sorry if that offends; with power comes responsibility. A unenforced speed limit of 20mph on a MUPs would affect probably 2% of pedal bike riders, half of them going downhill. Basically, I think a 20mph speed limit would gesture at keeping ebikes from running amok and have almost no effect on everybody else.
    We've already been repeatedly assured that ebikes can't speed because classes. So a 20MPH speed limit does absolutely nothing. (Logically it can't be enforced until someone's doing 30, which will come up so seldom that there's zero chance that the police will commit resources to it.) If there's a serious desire to implement a rule to improve safety, then it needs to mandate taking trail conditions into account (a speed of 15MPH is way too fast for a crowded trail, and a speed of 25MPH doesn't affect anyone if the trail is empty--I'm much more concerned by things like passing dangerously than by absolute speed). But mandating safe behavior is hard, and slapping a useless speed limit sign on the trail is easy, so we get the useless one.

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    A better approach than just making a general speed limit; is to limit the speed only the closer you are to a pedestrian/pet/wheelchair. If you are within 2 feet, the limit might be 8-10 MPH, one foot 5 MPH. No peds maybe 15 MPH, or not restricted. I think 6 MPH was chosen because it's twice walking speed. One issue I have with general speed limits like this is when the sidewalks/trails are empty outside busy hours; like around 9 to 10 PM after stores are closed, when some cyclists are leaving work. It's ridiculous to go 6 MPH when the sidewalks are empty.

    I use the sidewalks on Maple AVE in Vienna often; I stop for every pedestrian, otherwise I keep my speed around 10 to 15 MPH. At night, when the sidewalks are empty, I go as fast as possible/reasonable, 18 MPH tops. I don't want other cyclists/scooters to act like jerks so the town imposes speed limits, etc. You abuse it, you lose it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scoot View Post
    I do however think that the setting should be a factor, with different limits for streets vs. trails vs. sidewalks. Bike lanes should be considered as part of the street, with the same speed limit as required for automobiles. Certainly for un-"protected" lanes, such as those that are immediately adjacent to vehicles, it would be absurd to set a different speed limit. However, I could be convinced that PBLs belong in the trail class with a universal 15-20MPH limit; many PBLs are unsafe at those speeds anyway due to turning conflicts, visibility obscurations, and proximity to pedestrians. I also think it's reasonable to set a lower speed limit for sidewalks than for PBLs/trails.
    The problem with this approach is that there are too many gray areas in Arlington today. E.g.
    - is the Custis in Rosslyn a sidewalk or a trail? What about the westside Rte 50 beside Fairfax Drive near the Red Lion Hotel? Or the northside Rte 50 trail on the bridge over the W&OD/FMR trails? How would anyone know?
    - are buffered bike lanes PBLs (e.g. Quincy near the Central Library) or "street" bike lanes? What about where there's a PBL that have a mixing zone (northbound Quincy at Wilson; southbound Veitch at Wilson)? Or when it's supposed to be protected but the protection gets moved (southbound Quincy near the car dealership at Glebe)?

    ACPD still harasses cyclists with rules that are unclear (recently a woman was stopped for not hugging the curb on Marshall Drive, where there's a grate on the curb and a blind hill) and when asked, the police chief defended the officer), so these aren't meaningless issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    We've already been repeatedly assured that ebikes can't speed because classes. So a 20MPH speed limit does absolutely nothing. (Logically it can't be enforced until someone's doing 30, which will come up so seldom that there's zero chance that the police will commit resources to it.) If there's a serious desire to implement a rule to improve safety, then it needs to mandate taking trail conditions into account (a speed of 15MPH is way too fast for a crowded trail, and a speed of 25MPH doesn't affect anyone if the trail is empty--I'm much more concerned by things like passing dangerously than by absolute speed). But mandating safe behavior is hard, and slapping a useless speed limit sign on the trail is easy, so we get the useless one.
    I see you point, but I guess I'd say there are rules, and then there are norms. To me, the value in a speed limit sign is the norm that it communicates -- that it isn't OK to go as fast as you please without concern for more vulnerable trail users. There's an implied threat of enforcement that is yes, largely toothless. I'm open to alternative signage that communicates the need for courteous behavior in a simple, brief way. We could just put up more "Hey, be a PAL" signs and hope that works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoot View Post
    I do however think that the setting should be a factor, with different limits for streets vs. trails vs. sidewalks. Bike lanes should be considered as part of the street, with the same speed limit as required for automobiles. Certainly for un-"protected" lanes, such as those that are immediately adjacent to vehicles, it would be absurd to set a different speed limit. However, I could be convinced that PBLs belong in the trail class with a universal 15-20MPH limit; many PBLs are unsafe at those speeds anyway due to turning conflicts, visibility obscurations, and proximity to pedestrians. I also think it's reasonable to set a lower speed limit for sidewalks than for PBLs/trails.
    The problem with this approach is that there are too many gray areas in Arlington today. E.g.
    - is the Custis in Rosslyn a sidewalk or a trail? What about the westside Rte 50 beside Fairfax Drive near the Red Lion Hotel? Or the northside Rte 50 trail on the bridge over the W&OD/FMR trails? How would anyone know?
    - are buffered bike lanes PBLs (e.g. Quincy near the Central Library) or "street" bike lanes? What about where there's a PBL that have a mixing zone (northbound Quincy at Wilson; southbound Veitch at Wilson)? Or when it's supposed to be protected but the protection gets moved (southbound Quincy near the car dealership at Glebe)?

    ACPD still harasses cyclists with rules that are unclear (recently a woman was stopped for not hugging the curb on Marshall Drive, where there's a grate on the curb and a blind hill) and when asked, the police chief defended the officer), so these aren't meaningless issues.
    Good points. My use of "should" in my first sentence was too strong... I should change it to "could"


    My main arguments on this topic are:

    1) I strongly oppose instituting different speed limits for different vehicle classes using the same facility. My understanding is that the draft ordinance would set a lower speed limit for scooters and e-bikes riding on streets than that which is posted for automobiles. (The lower speed limits would not apply to conventional human-powered bicycles.) There certainly do exist safety considerations relevant for riders of small-wheeled scooters maneuvering at street speeds, but these types of vehicles should never be subject to a more restrictive legal speed limit than automobiles when using the same roadway. Scooters and e-bikes have nowhere near the same capability of inflicting damage on other street users as do automobiles.

    but

    2) Assuming all mobility devices are treated equally, I could support different speed limits for different types of facilities. If it is possible to implement these in a transparent and comprehensible fashion. Obviously that's a really big if (as you have duly noted with various examples), and I completely ignored those details. But it is reckless to ride any device at 25MPH on a crowded sidewalk, and I have no problem with an ordinance that would prohibit this. The (unenforceable?) 15MPH limit on area trails is itself a recognition of the fact that bicyclists need to slow down when sharing facilities with pedestrians.

    As for PBLs, I could go either way, as my original post indicated. Most PBL designs in use in this region are unsafe for riding above 15MPH, so PBL users should somehow be encouraged to ride more slowly there than they might in other places. But I'm not sold on speed limit regulation specific to certain bike lanes as a useful approach for that; the downsides probably outweigh any upside.
    Last edited by scoot; 11-04-2019 at 01:41 PM.

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