Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lessons from Amsterdam: How to make cycling easy and fun

Another writer experiences the joy of Dutch biking for the first time.

Beyond the Automobile

At home in Toronto, I ride my bike all the time. I ride for commuting, for leisure, for travel, and for shopping. Most of the time I wouldn’t dare ride without a helmet, and most of the time I ride by myself. I often wear more athletic clothes when I cycle, and many others do the same. I can even hear my mom’s voice ringing in my head when I leave on a ride “make sure you wear a helmet!”.

So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Amsterdam and saw Dutch cyclists riding without helmets, side-by-side, and in normal clothing.

20170624_150354704_iOS (2) What is this strange world? No helmets, and no Lycra!

My three weeks in the Netherlands has dramatically shaped the way I think about cycling, and in particular, my perspective on the way we talk about cycling. I’ve come to realize that in its current state, public messaging…

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The gap

After decades of lopsided investment, America has only two options for all journeys: automobile and aircraft. But it doesn’t have to be that way, we can have nice things too.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

You may or may not have seen this fascinating graph from the Economist in 1981, shared with me by Graham Smith.

Economist graph Minitram? Of course.

It’s an amazing insight into the way cycling had effectively disappeared as a serious mode of transport for short trips, in the minds of the establishment.

The ‘gap’ between walking and driving for trips of up to 3 miles apparently had to be filled by something – Minitram? with a suggestive question mark – without the apparent realisation that a perfect mode of transport already existed, and had thrived in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century.

We’re stuck with this legacy today, reinforced by a further three decades of failure to establish cycling as that mode of transport for the ‘gap’ between walking and driving. This ‘cycling oversight’ also has implications for the way we expect people to travel around without a car.

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Space Invaders

We in the Inland Empire often hear that there is “no space” on our roads that are chronically overbuilt for safer biking infrastructure. As usual, that claim just doesn’t make a shred of sense. Here’s yet another reason why.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

The Head of Transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Richard Wellings, had this to say recently –

Wellings completed a PhD in transport and environmental policy at the LSE.

I am absolutely no fan of the Advanced Stop Line, or ASL, but the argument that they should be removed to make for ‘more efficient use of road space’ – i.e. space for one more car in a length-wise direction – disintegrates rapidly under inspection.

One of the reasons why ASLs at junctions are so ubiquitous in Britain is that they have a negligible effect on motor traffic capacity, or indeed even a beneficial effect, assuming that the number of cyclists remains the same in scenarios with and without an ASL.

 A…

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What distinguishes Dutch driver behaviour from British behaviour is the design of the roads they use

All of this is doubly true in the United States and especially here in the Inland Empire, where are roads are built to fantastical ‘minimum standards’ and to handle capacity several decades in the future. It should be no surprise to find that our roads are so fantastically hostile when even Dutch drivers exhibit the same behaviors when given the chance.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

There was a revealing detail in Bicycle Dutch’s post last week on a (failed) attempt to create a cycle street in Utrecht in the 1990s.

One of the main cycle routes to the Utrecht University, Burgemeester Reigerstraat, was completely transformed and re-opened as a bicycle street in November 1996. The street got a median barrier to prevent motor vehicles from overtaking people cycling.

Here’s a picture of that arrangement, from Mark’s blog.

burg-reigerstraat02Note here Mark’s description of driver behaviour on this street –

Emergency services also complained and they warned about dangerous situations because they were held up. Impatient car drivers were seen overtaking cyclists with two wheels on the barrier. [my emphasis]. This scared people cycling onto the narrow side-walk and that in turn frightened pedestrians. A good two years later (in January 1999) a new Utrecht council terminated the experiment. The centre barriers were…

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Today’s News

Well, today (and for the next four weeks!), the news will be coming directly from The Netherlands, where iNLand fIEts will be joining with other bike advocates from the world over to discuss the best way to bike in winter.

  • Carnage: Head-on crash in Jurupa Valley leaves woman dead (PE)
  • Carnage: Two dead after I-10 rollover near Chiriaco Summit (Desert Sun, PE)
  • Carnage: Man dies after losing control at high speed and crashing into a pole (PE)
  • Carnage: Bicyclist killed in Palm Desert, driver arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter (Desert Sun)
  • Carnage: Florida man left clinging for life after losing control at high speed in Desert Hot Springs(Desert Sun, PE)
  • Gas prices on the rise after several months of decline (Desert Sun, RDF)
  • ICYMI: Riverside County DOT will be releasing their own county-wide collision mapping and database (Desert Sun)
  • Keep  those fireplaces off tonight too (PE)
  • Governor Brown blames rising fuel efficiency for delaying road projects (RDF)
  • Riverside County gleefully looking forward to an extension of Clinton Keith Road to bring a major stroad, more sprawl to the Southwest region (PE)

That’s enough for today. Check back tomorrow, when this will hopefully be available earlier in the day for you. Doei.

Assessment of Bicycle Service Areas around Transit Stations

David Levinson, Transportist

Susan Perry at MinnPost cites my collaborator Hartwig Henry Hochmair’s work in: Want to get more cars off the road? Improve bicycling infrastructure around transit hubs.

So I was intrigued to come across a study this week that examined how far cyclists in three large U.S. metropolitan areas are willing to ride to catch a bus or train that will take them the rest of the way to work.

One of those metro areas was Minneapolis-St. Paul. The other two were Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The study, which used data collected through mass-transit ridership surveys, found that while only a small percentage of people in the three metro areas ride their bike to a bus or train to commute to work, those who do tend to cycle an average of three miles or less — one to two miles in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta and a slightly longer three miles…

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Ohrn Words: “The Effect of Mandatory Helmet Laws”

Helmet laws for bicyclists sound good in theory, but the net effect is anything but.

Price Tags

Rare data and analysis from New Zealand Medical Journal. 

The effect of mandatory helmet laws is hard to study.  There are few places with an established cycling culture that decide to introduce a mandatory helmet law, so as to provide a before and after comparison. New Zealand is one of them; the State of NSW, Australia is another.

NZMJ’s conclusions:

This evaluation of NZ’s bicycle helmet law finds it has failed in aspects of promoting cycling, safety, health, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties. It is estimated to cost about 53 lives per year in premature deaths and result in thousands of fines plus legal aspects of discrimination in accident compensation cases. Road safety and cyclist’s safety should be improved by coherent policies, which support health, the environment, and without the legal requirement to wear a helmet.

.

Further interesting tidbits:

  • “Survey data from Australia indicated legislation was…

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Cycleway design in Berlin and beyond

Part of understanding reports on bicycle infrastructure require acknowledging that not all bicycle infrastructure is the same. This post is an outstanding critique of a dated study that is cited as showing that cycletracks “don’t work”. Yet, the infrastructure studied herein bears little resemblance to the best practices that are now being employed in The Netherlands and occasionally elsewhere as it was conducted and reported on before some of the latest treatments were even in use. All of t hose things need to be included in the discussion, but they’re always conveniently not mentioned.

The Alternative Department for Transport

I often see people refer to studies of German cycleways where the conclusion is that they’re dangerous, then claiming that these studies are evidence that all cycleways are therefore dangerous.

(Actually, I say ‘studies’ but it’s usually just a link to this, an English summary of one study from 30 years ago, written by one of Forester’s army of tedious greybeards.)

There is this false notion of “northern European countries” being some homogenous mass, all of them covered with identical cycling infrastructure, and that means a German study critical of German cycle infrastructure is therefore critical of the very concept of cycle infrastructure.

But the truth is that there’s huge variation between these countries. The Netherlands leads by a country mile, Denmark a distant second, and everywhere else is a runner-up. The UK didn’t even enter the race.

To use the phrase “northern European countries” with regards to good…

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Do you have a problem with ‘fast’ cyclists, or with bad design?

This is probably the biggest issue that differentiates a glorified sidewalk from a well-designed bikeway: the realization that bicycles are capable of good travel speeds. It is beyond time for bikeway networks to be designed for that.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Fast cyclists, eh.

Whizzing around; speeding through; belting around corners; appearing out of nowhere; tearing along.

At twenty miles an hour, even. Sometimes.

Twenty miles an hour.

Hang on. Twenty miles an hour? Twenty miles an hour? Isn’t that the kind of speed society conventionally considers to be quite slow, at least when it comes to motor vehicles? Witness the frothing that presents itself any time a borough, town or city wants to lower a speed limit from 30mph to 20mph.

30mph is seen (rightly or wrongly) as a reasonable, normal urban speed; yet this is the kind of speed that ‘cyclists’ – even the fittest and most powerful – will struggle to attain under normal circumstances. Equally, 20mph for motor vehicles is seen as an acceptably slow speed, yet 20mph on the flat requires serious effort from someone cycling.

So is there really such a thing as…

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