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Thread: e-Bikes - Let's talk

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    My point is that if you class 3 ebikes are allowed to use the trail, the route is Custis, at 18MPH max. The alternative FOR THE CLASS 3 owner if banned on the custis (and lee highway is not made bike friendly anytime soon) is to take the streets at 25MPH (but see huskerdont above) - longer, but faster (assuming people are not riding their class 3 ebikes over 18 MPH on the Custis)
    Ah. Where are you getting an 18mph speed limit on the Custis? I'm not saying that there shouldn't be one, but there isn't one currently, and that is certainly slower than the predominant speed on the downhill section from Courthouse to Rosslyn (I have a speedometer, so know how fast I'm going, and I'm usually in a line of bikes because I don't think it's worth the risk passing on that stretch. Usually that means I'm going around 20mph, and getting passed by one or two [rarely on ebikes] that think that they need to pass on that stretch).

    And if there's an 18mph speed limit on the Custis, why are you ok allowing Class 2 ebikes (apparently trusting those riders to use their brakes) and all normal bikes (again, trusting their riders to use their brakes), but not class 3 ebikes?

  2. #902
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    No, it's also about streets like Quincy, with a speed limit of 25mph (and a door zone bike lane, which, being in the door zone, necessitates swerving into traffic often). Or Key, with a 25 mph speed limit and no bike lane, but a fair amount of traffic. Both of these are definitely more comfortable at 25mph than at 20mph.



    I am pretty sure I have ridden those exact streets (and certainly similar streets in South Arlington, Alexandria and DC) on my human powered hybrid, at roughly 15MPH. And to repeat, in addition to not being the fastest rider, I am also NOT the most confident rider (though far more so than I was even two years ago)

    I am all for making more streets comfortable to more people (which is why I will support bike infra on streets that SOME of my faster and more confident friends will take the lane on). But if you accept, as I do, that there is a real cost to allowing class 3 ebikes on trails, then I think the discomfort some people feel going 20MPH in a 25MPH zone just does not make the case for the legal change you seek.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    Ah. Where are you getting an 18mph speed limit on the Custis? I'm not saying that there shouldn't be one, but there isn't one currently, and that is certainly slower than the predominant speed on the downhill section from Courthouse to Rosslyn (I have a speedometer, so know how fast I'm going, and I'm usually in a line of bikes because I don't think it's worth the risk passing on that stretch. Usually that means I'm going around 20mph, and getting passed by one or two [rarely on ebikes] that think that they need to pass on that stretch).

    And if there's an 18mph speed limit on the Custis, why are you ok allowing Class 2 ebikes (apparently trusting those riders to use their brakes) and all normal bikes (again, trusting their riders to use their brakes), but not class 3 ebikes?
    I guess I was going based on the entire ride, not just some sections. Is that the only relevant section? I really don't ride the Custis that much (but note, the legal change you are calling for is to Va code, so impacting the entire commonwealth, I think - but maybe localities could opt out?) I was assuming that people don't average more than 18MPH on the Custis. But if you prefer use 20MPH. 20MPH on the trail vs 28 MPH on a longer detour. How long is the delay?

    I am prepared to argue to our City Council that a small delay to cars from lower speed limits, or from a road diet, is worth it for safer streets in our city. I would also think that a small delay to ebike riders is worth it to ease conflicts on our trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    No, it's also about streets like Quincy, with a speed limit of 25mph (and a door zone bike lane, which, being in the door zone, necessitates swerving into traffic often). Or Key, with a 25 mph speed limit and no bike lane, but a fair amount of traffic. Both of these are definitely more comfortable at 25mph than at 20mph.



    I am pretty sure I have ridden those exact streets (and certainly similar streets in South Arlington, Alexandria and DC) on my human powered hybrid, at roughly 15MPH. And to repeat, in addition to not being the fastest rider, I am also NOT the most confident rider (though far more so than I was even two years ago)

    I am all for making more streets comfortable to more people (which is why I will support bike infra on streets that SOME of my faster and more confident friends will take the lane on). But if you accept, as I do, that there is a real cost to allowing class 3 ebikes on trails, then I think the discomfort some people feel going 20MPH in a 25MPH zone just does not make the case for the legal change you seek.
    But it's not about you (or me, for that matter). It's about all those people who aren't going to ride those streets at 15mph but would at 25mph. The question isn't whether the X number of people who don't ride now but would with ebikes buy class 2 or class 3 ebikes; it's whether we want Y people who don't bike at all now but would if they could go 20mph on streets to start biking, or whether we want Y + Z people who don't bike at all now but would if they could go 25mph on streets to start biking.

    Y+Z > Y

    More people biking is safer for everyone. Which is why I think class 3 ebikes should be allowed on trails, at least for now and into the near future (to give to time build out a network of routes to give class 3 riders alternatives to trails).

  5. #905
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    TLDR version

    Its scary for someone riding a class 1 ebike at 20MPH to ride in a road with a motor vehicle going 30MPH.

    Its okay for someone walking at 2MPH with their child or dog (or a frail elderly person) to walk on a trail with significant numbers of motorized bikes going 28MPH.

    In the former case its about how it feels. In the latter case we need actual data showing the physical danger to pedestrians.

    In the former case we discount the ability of LE to limit speeds. In the latter case we assume it.

    Advocate how you wish. I know I am not going to try to make this case to the many bike skeptical pedestrians in the City of Alexandria.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    But it's not about you (or me, for that matter). It's about all those people who aren't going to ride those streets at 15mph but would at 25mph.
    I am skeptical that someone who is afraid to ride these particular streets at 20MPH (because on a class 1 they can) really should be riding them at 25MPH. I just don't see that. As HOZN points out, there are lots of dangers on the streets OTHER than being rear ended or sideswiped by a passing car. There are dangers at intersections. There are road hazards. Most are actually more dangerous at higher bike speeds (one factoid I saw, dont have a cite handy - a disproportionate number of bike fatalities happen on downhills - thats not because of rear endings or sideswipes, mostly likely).

    For those who really are afraid of riding a street like that 20MPH, I would rather put my advocacy efforts into traffic calming, speed enforcement, more and better seg infra - all changes that do NOT worsen the MUT experience for human powered riders, for runners, for walkers. People who need to be part of the broader alliance for safer streets.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 11-15-2017 at 02:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    It's that it FEELS safer. Yes, you still get passed, but you get passed less on neighborhood streets going 25 mph than you do going 20mph. And when you get passed (on a neighborhood street or on Lee) the speed differential between you and the car is less, so it feels safer.
    Ok, I can agree that it might *feel* safer, but I think we should all agree that this feeling is a lie. This sounds like this is an education opportunity if that is really being used as an argument to ride bikes faster. Riding faster is not safer. Just because the speed difference is less when that car passes you does not mean that the injury would be less if the car swerved into you while passing; the opposite is true.

    To underscore @lordofthemark's later point, most bike fatalities (not to mention non-fatal injuries) are not caused by motor-vehicle collisions. (I'm sure there are more current datasets, but http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm#No1 is probably a reasonable starting point.)

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    Note AFAICT there are some benefits to having a narrower range of speeds sharing the road. That is a general principle of traffic engineering IIUC, and I think it does ease lane changing, including swerving out of a bike lane. That is one reason (aside from lower impact momentum at lower speeds) that we want to lower speed limits. And I think it also why the tendency of riders to ride more vehicularly (and they will do it in on faster streets) as they themselves get faster, is, at least IMO, logical (that plus most of the dangers of riding "less vehicularly" are worse at higher speeds). But I am thinking of people who have spent some time getting to those speeds, so they have also gradually developed "street smarts" and bike handling skills. And I am not sure it continues to apply at north of 20MPH.

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    I think a differentiation needs to be made between riding closer to the speed of traffic so you're passed less often versus riding faster in general. Fewer cars whizzing past you at a lesser speed differential might make the likelihood of a crash less, but there is no arguing that when you are involved in a crash with car at a faster speed, the outcome is going to be worse. Not sure how you parse out that in the data though.

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  13. #910
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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    I think a differentiation needs to be made between riding closer to the speed of traffic so you're passed less often versus riding faster in general. Fewer cars whizzing past you at a lesser speed differential might make the likelihood of a crash less, but there is no arguing that when you are involved in a crash with car at a faster speed, the outcome is going to be worse. Not sure how you parse out that in the data though.
    That is fair.

    I guess I wonder at the % of crashes that happen from careless passing. The only crashes I know of personally have been cars pulling out into lanes (without realizing a cyclist was coming) and head on turning in front of cyclists; these seem hat they would only be more likely (and more deadly) with higher speeds. But I agree that if the majority of accidents are caused by unsafe passing from behind and that riding 28mph would lower the chances of that happening around here then it is worth at least trying to determine if that made people net safer.

    The point above about encouraging cyclists to ride vehicularly is a good one, though. We do want to encourage that behavior. Lowering speed limits sounds like it is both achievable and the best way​ to make everyone safer.

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