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More cycling overall, fewer on the pavement in US capital

Fear of traffic is often cited as the reason some cyclists ride on the pavement, so if safer cycling facilities are provided, you'd expect fewer riders on the pavement. A study in Washington DC has found that's exactly what happens.

The Washington Post reports a survey by PeopleForBikes,  that found pavement cycling went down 70 percent when a segregated bike lane was installed.

The lane, on 15th Street NW, also saw a 47 percent increase in cycle traffic, lending credence to the 'if you build decent infrastructure they will come' theory proposed by my activists.

The findings, endorsed by cycling and pedestrian advocacy group Alliance for Biking and Walking, also included a 27 percent drop in pavement riding on L Street NW, with 41 percent increase in cycling; and 52 percent fewer cyclists on the pavements of Pennsylvania Avenue, with 47 percent more bikes.

There have been similar decreases in pavement cycling with increases in bike use in Denver and New York after protected lanes were introduced, PeopleForBikes said.

“People bike on sidewalks for two main reasons: because they’re looking for a space that’s physically separated from speeding cars and trucks, or they’re traveling against traffic on a one-way street,” the group said in a statement.

“Well-designed, protected bike lanes, which use posts, curbs or parked cars to divide bike and auto traffic, create a safer solution to both of these needs.

“In project after project, adding a protected bike lane to a street has sharply cut sidewalk biking even as it greatly increased bike traffic.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

46 comments

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zanf [932 posts] 3 years ago
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In other news, bear faeces found in a forest.

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qwerky [183 posts] 3 years ago
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Really like the bike lane in the picture, it ticks all the boxes;
- wide enough for two way traffic/overtaking
- properly segregated
- uninterrupted

Puts the crappy infrastructure we have to shame.

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andyp [1495 posts] 3 years ago
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if you are going to segregate, that's certainly the way to do it. Riders can get on and off whenever they like/need.

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cub [86 posts] 3 years ago
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Why do they insist on having two way cycle lanes on only one side of the road? All it means is you'll have to cycle on the pavement to cross back over to the correct side of the road at a junction and if you cross side road cars tend to pull into it without checking for bikes.

Designers simple put a separate lane on either side of the road.

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duc888 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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segregated bike lanes are not the way forward. Think of it like this, you are out in your car on a B road and stuck behind a caravanist .....  1

In london replace 'caravanist' with 'Boris biker', with no spacial awareness and weaving all over the place. In fact that also describes a lot of non Boris bikers.

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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duc888 wrote:

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

And perfect access for cars to park and block the road!

There is a very good reason why we need segregation, there are two types of cyclist. Sport and transport the needs are different. I may see myself as the former but the system needs to cater for the later far more than it does. I don't really give a **** about provision, as long as it gets more people on bikes, to do this you have to make people feel safe, you have to make the routes usable, direct and fast. Current provision is almost always shit!

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andyp [1495 posts] 3 years ago
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'segregated bike lanes are not the way forward. '

indeed.

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dp24 [203 posts] 3 years ago
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duc888 wrote:

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

Doesn't work so well for the people who have been killed and injured by encroaching motor vehicles.

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duc888 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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oh well thats life

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John Stevenson [290 posts] 3 years ago
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If we want to keep cycling modal share at 2 percent, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to deter almost everyone but the fit young and brave from riding, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we're happy with the cycling death toll, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to carry on filling the air with pollutants, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want the rising tide of obesity to carry on damaging our nation's health, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If those of us who ride despite the conditions want to carry on feeling like we're special and unique snowflakes, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

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Leodis [424 posts] 3 years ago
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Current cyclists needs should be first and foremost in any investment, that means sorting the effin roads out.

I am fed up of hearing about segregated cycle lanes, if someone is that weak they refuse to get on a bike because of this made up danger then they really have no chance of getting on a bike. Current cyclists on the roads need protection by the law and that means presumed liability and tougher laws on drivers and cyclists who break it. If we create an environment where drivers are more cautious around cyclists we then have safer roads at a fraction of the cost.

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Leodis [424 posts] 3 years ago
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John Stevenson wrote:

If we want to keep cycling modal share at 2 percent, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to deter almost everyone but the fit young and brave from riding, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we're happy with the cycling death toll, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to carry on filling the air with pollutants, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want the rising tide of obesity to carry on damaging our nation's health, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If those of us who ride despite the conditions want to carry on feeling like we're special and unique snowflakes, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

Load of rubbish, In 2012 there were 38 deaths per billion miles cycled in Britain. I would say the roads are pretty safe as they are, why would you want drivers to take full ownership of the roads for the sake of pootlers who don't feel safe cycling?

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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Leodis wrote:

Current cyclists needs should be first and foremost in any investment, that means sorting the effin roads out.

Why? You're already cycling. What further benefit can you bring?

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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Leodis wrote:

Load of rubbish, In 2012 there were 38 deaths per billion miles cycled in Britain. I would say the roads are pretty safe as they are, why would you want drivers to take full ownership of the roads for the sake of pootlers who don't feel safe cycling?

If it's so safe, why were you calling on someone to sort the roads out in your comment *right before this one*?

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zanf [932 posts] 3 years ago
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dp24 wrote:
duc888 wrote:

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

Doesn't work so well for the people who have been killed and injured by encroaching motor vehicles.

And mixing segregation with painted lines (without making it impossible for vehicles to enter) is not such a great idea either as demonstrated here: http://youtu.be/z1lp_Jnv3L8

A simple trick to make drivers more aware that they are cutting across a cycle lane, is to elevate it slightly as is common practice in the Netherlands

How anyone can genuinely argue a case for an integrationist/vehicular cycling solution in the UK is beyond me. It hasnt worked for the last 30 years, nor will it work no matter how much paint or signage you erect.

It comes as no surprise that those who do argue for it do so on the basis that slower, more vulnerable road users are holding them up and so should sacrifice safety for their convenience.

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andyp [1495 posts] 3 years ago
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John Stevenson wrote:

If we want to keep cycling modal share at 2 percent, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to deter almost everyone but the fit young and brave from riding, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we're happy with the cycling death toll, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want to carry on filling the air with pollutants, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If we want the rising tide of obesity to carry on damaging our nation's health, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

If those of us who ride despite the conditions want to carry on feeling like we're special and unique snowflakes, segregated bike lanes are not the way forward.

Usually, John, you make a lot of sense. Whereas this sounds like the ramblings of an idiot. I want the old John back please.

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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duc888 wrote:

segregated bike lanes are not the way forward. Think of it like this, you are out in your car on a B road and stuck behind a caravanist .....  1

In london replace 'caravanist' with 'Boris biker', with no spacial awareness and weaving all over the place. In fact that also describes a lot of non Boris bikers.

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

Which is why good cycle provision includes lanes which are wide enough for overtaking.

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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cub wrote:

Why do they insist on having two way cycle lanes on only one side of the road? All it means is you'll have to cycle on the pavement to cross back over to the correct side of the road at a junction and if you cross side road cars tend to pull into it without checking for bikes.

Designers simple put a separate lane on either side of the road.

Depends. You can design the junctions well to make re-joining the road network or joining another cycle path easy. Even with cycle lanes on each side of the road, junctions needs careful thought.

Agree two-way lanes across side-roads is bad, but not everywhere has side access, such as along a riverbank, train line, or across a bridge.

They're not my preferred solution, but they have advantages. You get more usable cycle lane for the width, because you only need one lot of segregation, and people will tend to cycle away from the sides. It's cheaper. They're more flexible: if you have heavier flows in one direction at different times of day you can use the spare capacity for overtaking.

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zanf [932 posts] 3 years ago
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HKCambridge wrote:
duc888 wrote:

segregated bike lanes are not the way forward. Think of it like this, you are out in your car on a B road and stuck behind a caravanist .....  1

In london replace 'caravanist' with 'Boris biker', with no spacial awareness and weaving all over the place. In fact that also describes a lot of non Boris bikers.

The lanes should not be segregated, no kerbs between bikes and traffic, the thick white line system of the London CSH routes works fine, giving faster riders space to overtake.

Which is why good cycle provision includes lanes which are wide enough for overtaking.

I could understand the position taken by duc88 if all provisions were like this: http://goo.gl/maps/SoqBx (and I can assure you, following someone up that hill who rides slowly is painful!) but decent infrastructure doesnt look like this.

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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qwerky wrote:

Really like the bike lane in the picture, it ticks all the boxes;
- wide enough for two way traffic/overtaking
- properly segregated
- uninterrupted

Puts the crappy infrastructure we have to shame.

Well if I was going to be picky (I'm going to be picky) it could be wider if there are heavy flows in both directions. Kerb-side looks like full height kerb, rather than chamfered 45 degree kerb. Chamfered kerb means more of the width can be used because your pedals don't hit the kerb, so you don't need to cycle so far away from it. Those bollards: how easy is it to clip them, and does it hurt? Again reduces usable width because panniers / handlebars can't overhang edge. Is that a drain cover in the lane? Hard to tell in that picture.

Problems mentioned above with two-way cycle lanes on one side of road.

Still lots better than most of UK.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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duc888 wrote:

oh well thats life

Or death. As it were.

Leodis wrote:

Current cyclists needs should be first and foremost in any investment, that means sorting the effin roads out.

I am fed up of hearing about segregated cycle lanes, if someone is that weak they refuse to get on a bike because of this made up danger then they really have no chance of getting on a bike. Current cyclists on the roads need protection by the law and that means presumed liability and tougher laws on drivers and cyclists who break it. If we create an environment where drivers are more cautious around cyclists we then have safer roads at a fraction of the cost.

I used to think that too. Two things have brought me to the other side of the argument.

1) As it turns out it's more realistic to get the occasional crumbs thrown at us in the form of a bit of infrastructure than it is to create proper law and have it enforced. The pragmatic approach seems to be to take what we can get while still gaping our beaks to get more.

2) You are right, a lot of the danger is 'perceived' but that doesn't make it any less real for those perceiving it - i.e. those who might want to take up cycling but for that reason won't. And they're more numerous than the people already cycling (which admittedly isn't a huge challenge).

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Leodis [424 posts] 3 years ago
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HKCambridge wrote:
Leodis wrote:

Load of rubbish, In 2012 there were 38 deaths per billion miles cycled in Britain. I would say the roads are pretty safe as they are, why would you want drivers to take full ownership of the roads for the sake of pootlers who don't feel safe cycling?

If it's so safe, why were you calling on someone to sort the roads out in your comment *right before this one*?

Because I don't like dodging potholes and neither do drivers, since we all pay for the roads we should at least expect them half decent.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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zanf wrote:

How anyone can genuinely argue a case for an integrationist/vehicular cycling solution in the UK is beyond me. It hasnt worked for the last 30 years, nor will it work no matter how much paint or signage you erect.

It comes as no surprise that those who do argue for it do so on the basis that slower, more vulnerable road users are holding them up and so should sacrifice safety for their convenience.

Please put the broad brush away, it's not helping anyone. When I argued against segregated infrastructure I did this solely out of concern for the safety of those cyclists using the roads instead. I still think that more segregation means more conflict for them, as evidenced by plenty of motorists buzzing me while pointing at the pavement, or shared use path if there happens to be one.

Despite my reservations about this aspect, I have come around to supporting segregated infrastructure precisely "for the sake of pootlers" as Leodis puts it. We want to include the pootlers, as well as the the would-be pootlers, and therefore their concerns - whether about actual or perceived danger - are to be taken into account.

Because eventually, a large number of the pootlers will want to go on the road, and with increased numbers of road cyclists we might finally have the numbers for actually getting what I and others who have argued against segregation want to see - better laws against bad driving and more enforcement of them.

I prefer the road - I don't like shared use paths (unless they're in a good condition and empty, in which case they're kind of like a road without cars). However, since we're not likely to get anything else anytime soon, I'll happily take them if only to increase the numbers of people who will want what I actually want - safer cycling on the roads.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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The current situation with Sustrans begging crumbs and creating the odd pointless path, maybe a few bits of paint here or there, achieves what?

Drivers see money being spent and because the infrastructure being created is almost always crap, the money is being pissed up the wall.

So the way forward is NO money for cycle provision or do it properly. For many people cars and trucks are not pleasant things to be around. I don't mind cars coming past if I am traveling at 20+ mph but if you drop your speed to 5ish mph and then see how cars behave!! then maybe you will start to understand that something really needs to be done.

Cars should not be the default answer in urban areas, which means making the alternatives better. It means properly considering all user groups as a group, what do pedestrians need, what do cyclists need and what do motorists need and in that order! If the answer is a new path then fit the cars around the peds and cyclists, not the other way around. If it means that cars will have to go out of their way so be it, seems to be acceptable for cyclists to go miles out of their way at the moment. Why would you cycle 10 miles when the direct route is 4 but most would never use it because it is a truck rat run?

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dp24 [203 posts] 3 years ago
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duc888 wrote:

oh well thats life

What a remarkably callous attitude. With friends like you on bikes, who needs enemies?

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:

Please put the broad brush away, it's not helping anyone. When I argued against segregated infrastructure I did this solely out of concern for the safety of those cyclists using the roads instead. I still think that more segregation means more conflict for them, as evidenced by plenty of motorists buzzing me while pointing at the pavement, or shared use path if there happens to be one.

Which is why that path has to either not exist or be fit for purpose. No half way house, no bodging, no painting lines and claiming that is enough.

How often do you see telephone boxes planted in the middle of a motorway? But that is acceptable on a cycle path....

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dp24 [203 posts] 3 years ago
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Leodis wrote:

I would say the roads are pretty safe as they are, why would you want drivers to take full ownership of the roads for the sake of pootlers who don't feel safe cycling?

File in the same place as drivers who think that cyclists should get out of "their" way on the roads. Hugely selfish.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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I completely agree with what you're saying, mrmo, but you're talking about what we would want ideally. Look at this society, look at our government. It's pointless to refuse what little they're willing to give in favour of something we won't get. Ideally, I would be dictator, and do away with private motorised traffic. It's not going to happen. Luckily, you might add, because I can come up with a lot more things I would do away with in that case ...

You or I may not want to use a shared use path with a bloody phone box on it. Plenty of people though will be happier using that than go on the road. Until they're confident enough to go on the road, having such a crap path is better than not having it.

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Paul M [363 posts] 3 years ago
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Leodis wrote:

Current cyclists needs should be first and foremost in any investment, that means sorting the effin roads out.

I am fed up of hearing about segregated cycle lanes, if someone is that weak they refuse to get on a bike because of this made up danger then they really have no chance of getting on a bike. Current cyclists on the roads need protection by the law and that means presumed liability and tougher laws on drivers and cyclists who break it. If we create an environment where drivers are more cautious around cyclists we then have safer roads at a fraction of the cost.

No, Leodis, they should not. That is firstly because as a current cyclist, you cycle despite, rather than because of the conditions. They don't need to do anything for you.

The purpose of agitating for improved conditions is to get a lot more people using bikes for transport. That is what is beneficial to the common weal, in terms of reduced congestion, pollution, ill health and road deaths/injuries, and it is that benefit which justifies paying for the investment.

And as for your dismissal of people who are "that weak", reflect on the fact that they quite probably include your daughter, and your mother, and your wife. Are you really writing off their right to cycle quite so glibly?

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:

I completely agree with what you're saying, mrmo, but you're talking about what we would want ideally. Look at this society, look at our government. It's pointless to refuse what little they're willing to give in favour of something we won't get. Ideally, I would be dictator, and do away with private motorised traffic. It's not going to happen. Luckily, you might add, because I can come up with a lot more things I would do away with in that case ...

IMO I would say a bad path is actually worse than no path, and we do need to be idealistic in this, the sustrans nicey nicey approach has failed, year after year we get the same crap provision. The same excuses and more and more reviews.

A bad path just gives idiot drivers another stick to beat cyclists with.

We can say that the crumbs are a step in the right direction, but the paths that are built don't even meet the DfT's own guidance! and this is without considering whether they are actually good paths.

To go forward it has to be done right, if the current approach was working we would see rising numbers using bikes for transport, and outside London it isn't happening.

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