Tag Archives: safety

Why Are Traffic Deaths So Barbarically High?

By Dom Nozzi

February 21, 2017

It is inexcusable that when we look at traffic fatalities — and the all-too-common call to reduce the number of fatalities with “safer” cars — we ignore the huge number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed by motorists.

As my op-ed in the Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera noted recently, despite a century of “redoubling our efforts” every few years to make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, our roads are the most dangerous than they have ever been. Adding more road caution signsWARNING signs, WARNING paint, WARNING education, WARNING enforcement, and WARNING lights (as Boulder is once again proposing to do this year) has done nothing meaningful to make roads safer (many persuasively argue such things make our roads LESS safe).

But I’ll ignore cyclist and pedestrian deaths for the time being.

It is quite common for someone to point to an increase (or decrease) in traffic fatalities suffered by motorists and their passengers over the past year as indicative of a long-term trend – and what has allegedly caused the “trend.” But statistical principles and the complexity of transportation inform us that taking a one-year data point – and then applying a single variable to explain it – is highly unlikely to be accurate. Not nearly enough time has elapsed. And there are way too many variables when it comes to transportation.

An extremely important question I want to ask, rather than trying to explain a one-year change in fatalities, is why motorist deaths have been barbarically high for so long. The US has suffered over 30,000 traffic deaths per year since the 1930s.

And no one seems to care, when we compare concern about traffic deaths to the hysteria about drugs and terrorists and communists…

How have we gotten to this state of affairs?

First, the vast majority of motorists/Americans/elected officials have one objective that is light years more important than safety or quality of community: SPEED. Anything that slows motorists down — such as traffic congestion, road diets, traffic calming, etc. — must be furiously fought against with any and all means necessary.maxresdefault

Even in allegedly enlightened and progressive Boulder, free-flowing, high-speed car travel is head and shoulders above almost anything else as a measure of quality of life.

This single-minded focus explains why cities such as Boulder have a huge number of roads that have way too many travel lanes. Anything more than 3 is incompatible with a quality city, yet Boulder has many roadways (stroads, as Chuck Marohn would call them) that are in the 6- to 12- lane range. Anything more than 3 or 4 lanes is inevitably a recipe for a huge number of car crashes and fatalities.

More of the same thing all American communities have been doing for a century — more WARNING signs, more WARNING paint, more WARNING education, more WARNING enforcement, and more WARNING lights — will do nothing to make such monster roads anything other than on-going death traps.

Yet this same old song and dance is precisely what Boulder proposes to do as it rolls out its exciting “new” objective called “Toward Vision Zero.”

Excuse me for not being optimistic about Boulder not achieving this objective.

A related problem for almost every city — including Boulder — is the century-long use of the “forgiving road” design paradigm, which “forgives” the motorist for driving too fast or not paying attention. Using the “forgiving street” strategy, we remove street trees, make intersections and turn radii crazy big in size, create “super-elevations” at road turns, remove on-street parking, eliminate mid-block pedestrian crossings, move cyclists onto off-street paths, pull buildings away from the street and street corners, etc.

The result?

For several decades, we’ve had an epidemic of excessive speeds and inattentive driving. A great way to ramp up the death toll.

Most cities – to enable easy, high-speed car travel — have followed the path Boulder has taken over the past century regarding land use patterns by keeping densities at ridiculously low levels and strictly separated houses from shops and jobs and offices.

The result?

Distances to daily destinations are extremely lengthy, which makes it impossible for all but a tiny number of people to make ALL trips by car. That guarantees a large number of annual motorist deaths, as driving a car is inherently very dangerous — due to the fact that cars are heavy, large, able to achieve high speeds, and substantially reduce the sense of hearing and sight that a motorist has outside of a car.

One example of a destination that is now nowhere near any homes is an iconic social gathering place: the pub. Unlike in past times, it is now almost impossible to walk or bike home after having a few beers. Inevitably, that means a lot of people are driving in an inebriated state.

The “forgiving street” design paradigm has so substantially increased inattentiveness that a huge number of motorists now drive inattentively at high speeds. Again, a great way to ensure a huge number of motorists crashing and dying.

Americans are extremely busy – probably a lot more so than in the past – and the motor vehicle provides a way to save time: drive very fast. Oops. Another way to kill people in car crashes.

Solutions? The effective tactics are nearly impossible to achieve in almost any city – including Boulder — where 98 percent of the population will fight to the death to stop these safety measures from being enacted:

  1. More compact, mixed-use land use patterns so that travel distances are short enough to make walking and bicycling feasible for most people and most trips.
  2. Toss out the forgiving street paradigm in favor of designing streets that obligate slower, attentive driving.
  3. Substantially shrink the size of nearly every road and intersection.road diet before and after

But each of these essential tasks (if we are serious about achieving Vision Zero) is utterly off the table – not even something that one is allowed to mention in “polite society.”

Much of what I advocate in transportation is an “off the table” topic. My friend Jim Kunstler just pointed out that this “elephant in the bedroom” syndrome has a name. It is called the Overton Bubble.

http://thefutureprimaeval.net/the-overton-bubble/

In sum, because we are probably decades away from having the political will to opt for effective street safety methods, we will continue to see over 30,000 American motorists die every year for the remainder of our lives.

After all, speed — not safety — is what we sincerely seek.

 

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A Line in the Sand for Road Size

 

By Dom Nozzi

July 30, 2003

I was having a conversation with someone who asked me if I agreed that a 4-lane road would ruin the rural character of a rural location. I agreed that a 4-laner would ruin rural character.

I would go beyond that: I don’t believe that a community should ever build a road bigger than 3 lanes.

At some point, a community must draw the line and say that enough is enough. That going beyond a certain road size is too destructive of our community.

Everyone has some idea of some limit. For some, it would be, say, 12 lanes as a limit. For others, it might be 6 lanes. For me, it is 3.street without on street parking

Indeed, when I was a long-range transportation planner for the City of Gainesville Florida, I succeeded in (briefly) having that City insert a policy in its long-range transportation plan that says the City shall never build a road again that is larger than 4 travel lanes (I would have preferred that we limit it to 2…).

Of course, as one would expect in a car-happy city such as Gainesville, that sort of policy only lasted a year or two before it was hastily expunged from the plan by our beloved defenders of cars…

It is not inevitable that a growing community must forever enlarge its roads. If more car volume capacity is felt to be essential, that added capacity can come from more community-sensitive means than conventional widening. Or, I see no reason why a community could not say “We have decided, as a community, that we will NOT go beyond a certain road size in order to protect our health, safety and welfare. If that means that our roads cannot accommodate any additional cars, so be it.”

Such cars can self-regulate themselves by choosing a different route, traveling at a non-rush hour time, or selecting another way to travel.

There is no law that says a community must accommodate an endless stream of forever increasing numbers of cars.

 

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On Being Attacked for Posting an Article Discounting the Alleged Benefits of Bicycle Helmets

By Dom Nozzi

July 15, 2015

On July 14, 2015, I posted an article that discounted many of the alleged benefits of bicycle helmets on Facebook. The article was published on June 26, 2015 by Lindsey Wallace in The Spokesman Review. http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/transportation/2015/jun/26/why-im-done-wearing-helmet/

The claims made in the article largely track what I have seen academically, professionally, and in my own personal life as a bicycle commuter over the years.

Immediately, Facebook friends inundated my Facebook wall with patronizing, emotionally charged, disparaging, outraged comments that attacked and questioned the article, and were puzzled (to put it politely) by my decision to promote such an obviously flawed report.

What struck me very quickly was the combination of a lack of credentials (credibility) and the UTTER CERTAINTLY of nearly all of those who posted such vicious, abusive comments. It was as if I was promoting a study that claimed that smoking was good for your health or that women should be subservient to their husbands.

As I noted above, many of the points made in the report tracked what I had seen over the years with bicycle research, design and personal experience. Yet people with no academic, professional, or personal background (as bicycle commuters) became apoplectic — red-faced in anger — in their Facebook attacks. One called the report the “stupidest” thing he had ever seen (another friend suggested me or the author were suicidally moronic and supporters of this crazy report would lead to our being weeded out of the gene pool in a “Darwinian” sense). How, I asked myself, were people who had no academic or professional background in bicycling able to trash a report within a few seconds of seeing it, and having therefore not pointed to studies that counter claims made in the report?

Does this avalanche of hostility help explain why so few strategies are effectively employed in the US to grow the number of bicycle commuters?

Who am I – Dom Nozzi – to support the views expressed in the report, and to question the credibility of Facebook friends who attacked the article as well as me?

My credentials, which are almost entirely absent for those friends doing the attacking:

  • Master’s Thesis on the topic of bicycle transportation I completed to obtain a Master of Science degree in town planning from Florida State University. This required years of relatively exhaustive academic research regarding bicycling theory and practice at a national and worldwide level.
  • Approximately 45 years of one to four utilitarian (work, shopping, meetings, etc.) bicycle trips on a daily basis (ie, 365 days per year or about 16,000 to 66,000 bicycle trips) – mostly within a low-speed town center.
  • Twenty years as a professional town and transportation planner for a university town in Florida, where I prepared bicycle-related land development regulations, and long-range citywide bicycle transportation (and greenway path) plans. This required several years of professional research regarding bicycle transportation design and promotion.
  • A year of membership on the Bike/Walk Virginia Board of Directors (an advocacy group for bicycling and walking in Virginia).
  • Reading a vast number of books, articles, reports, and studies regarding all aspects of bicycling.
  • Writing a vast number of essays regarding many aspects of bicycling.
  • Publishing two books that devoted many pages to many aspects of bicycling.
  • Bicycle commuting as a resident for several years in bicycle-friendly towns in the US (Flagstaff AZ, Gainesville FL, and Boulder CO).
  • Bicycling for several days in some of the world’s leading bicycling cities: Amsterdam, Malmo and Copenhagen (I have to wonder how many of my attacking Facebook friends know that only a very small number of Europeans – where bicycling is 3800816936_c845104069
    enormously more common than in the US – wear bicycle helmets? How many know that despite this, the per capita rate of bicyclist head injuries is much lower in Europe than in the US?).

How many of my friends know that the mandatory bike helmet laws that they mostly or entirely support have resulted in such a large decrease in bicycling that overall public health and safety have declined in those places?

How many of my friends know that as I understand it from a few of my colleagues who do/did this work professionally, most professional bicycle planners and engineers employed by cities and counties in the US agree with my position on bike helmets, but are unable to openly state such a position due to the extremely hostile reaction they would get from supervisors, elected officials, and residents? (the abusive, patronizing, dismissive comments from many of my Facebook friends are an example of what one faces when expressing such an un-PC position)

How many of my friends know that much research now shows that “safety in numbers” (SiN) is, by far, the most effective technique for improving bicyclist safety? (and that for better bicycling safety, American needs to find effective ways to grow the number of cyclists).

How many of my friends know that one of leading reasons cited for not being a bicycle commuter is the perceived danger of bicycling? (bike helmets perpetuate this problem by sending a very visible, strong message that bicycling is DANGEROUS!)

How many of my friends know that bike helmets are a form of “blaming the victim” ? (ie, bike crashes are the fault of cyclists, not reckless motorists)

How many of my friends know that research has found that motorists dangerously give less clearance (drive closer) to cyclists who wear helmets?

How many of my friends know that bike helmets do nothing to reduce the likelihood of a cyclist getting in a crash? (some studies have found that helmets INCREASE the likelihood a bicyclist will crash)

How many of my friends know that I wear a helmet for two out of the three forms of bicycling I engage in? (single-track mountain bicycling and long-distance suburban and rural cycling)

How many of my friends know that I am NOT suggesting that NO ONE ever wear a helmet. If a cyclist wants to wear a helmet (and the inconvenience of doing so will not discourage them from regular bicycling), please be my guest and wear one! Many scoff at my claim that wearing a helmet is inconvenient, and therefore insist that cyclists should find it easy to wear one (and even be REQUIRED to wear one). I wonder how many of my motorist friends happily agree to wear a helmet each time they drive a car…

How many of my friends know that a very large number of Americans – particularly women – are concerned about their appearance (particularly their hair), and that helmets tend to make a person look “dorky” and have “helmet hair” when the helmet is removed? Do we know how many are discouraged from bicycling due to concerns about such fashion?

How many of my friends know that an important way to promote more bicycling is to “normalize” it? (that is, to create the impression – by wearing street clothes rather than lycra and a helmet – that bicycling is something that normal — and even hip — people do). Personally, I was astonished by how “normal,” “safe,” and “hip” I felt when I was bicycling alongside THOUSANDS of fellow bicyclists in Amsterdam – All Americans need to experience that feeling.

How many of my friends know that there is very little, if any, evidence that motorists pay higher insurance premiums because – allegedly — bicyclists who don’t wear helmets have astronomical head injury hospital costs? (for the record, the only bike crash resulting in a medically costly head injury in my entire life was one where I was wearing a helmet – I might have been killed that day had I not worn a helmet on that single-track dirt trail)

How many of my friends know that the chance of a head injury for a bicyclist riding in a low-speed town center environment is exceedingly low – much lower than the risks faced by motorists (who do not wear helmets)?

How many of my friends know how many costs and inconveniences and difficulties American bicyclists face in a nation that has spent over a century spending trillions to pamper cars (and encourage the high-speed movement of cars)? How many realize that a bicycle helmet adds yet ANOTHER inconvenience to the already terribly inconvenienced bicycle commuter?

How many of my friends know that bicyclists pay far more than their fair share of road costs, and that motorists pay far less than their fair share? How many know that American motorists are the most heavily subsidized group on earth? How many know that because nearly all motorist parking is provided free to the motorist that the cost of groceries, hair cuts, medical expenses, housing, taxes, etc., are much higher for all of us – INCLUDING, UNFAIRLY, BICYCLISTS? As Donald Shoup points out in The High Cost of Free Parking, when nearly all motorist parking is not paid directly by the parking motorist, that cost is transferred to all of us in the form of higher cost of living.

How many of my friends know that studies show a person – on average – will live longer, healthier lives riding a bicycle (even without a helmet) than a person who drives a car?

How many of my friends realize how inconvenient it is to wear a helmet for the 10 to 30 trips per week that a bicycle commuter takes?

How many of my friends where helmets when they drive a car? I suspect none, even though driving is much more likely to result in head injuries than bicycling.

How many of those attacking me and the bike helmet report — with complete certainty, mind you — have ANY of the above credentials or background? Or anything resembling credentials regarding bicycling research, advocacy, professional work, or personal bicycle travel behavior?

Why is it so brutally obvious for non-bicyclists to know with complete accuracy what makes sense regarding bicycling safety, promotion, and advocacy?

Given the above, I think I have every right to be insulted by alleged bicycling “experts” who attack me and the report as “stupid.”

But I’m not so much insulted as FRUSTRATED, as the attacks exemplify why such a tiny, tiny percentage of Americans (less than one percent?) are bicycle commuters. After all, how is it possible for American communities to substantially increase the number of bicycle commuters when nearly all of us are both utterly uninformed in bicycling and yet utterly certain we are bicycling experts?

 

 

 

 

 

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Removing Travel Lanes in Boulder, Colorado

By Dom Nozzi

June 15, 2015

Removing travel lanes from a street is increasingly popular throughout the nation due to the fact that so many streets have been (very expensively) oversized due to conventional, tragic views in the past that widening a street would result in beneficial reductions in road diet before and aftertraffic congestion. What we have now quite conclusively learned is that widening a street will not durably reduce congestion, and the new car trips induced by the widening create a vast array of new problems.

Happily, most all cities which have removed travel lanes from oversized streets have enjoyed a great many benefits, such as improved safety, quality of life enhancements, better conditions for retail, and better financial conditions for local government, among many other large benefits.

The threshold “rule of thumb” I’ve always heard through the years to successfully remove travel lanes is 25,000 average daily car trips. Volumes above that tend to not be considered feasible for a lane removal, or at least very difficult.

There are a few things I would say to skeptics of lane removal in Boulder.

First, the traffic models used by the City of Boulder exaggerate problems with lane removal (that is, they make the impacts of lane removal seem worse than it will be in the real world) because the models used by the City don’t incorporate induced trips (caused by the original over-sizing of the road) or discouraged trips (discretionary trips that can occur at non-rush hr times, on different routes, on weekends, or be non-car, or not at all). Therefore, Boulder is using models that exaggerate problems, yet even such a flawed, exaggerating model clearly shows that lane removal is desirable and feasible on many Boulder streets. That tells me we can be rather confident there will not be meaningful problems.

Most congestion problems are created at intersections, not the street segments between intersections (in other words, it is the intersections that are the chokepoints, not the street width approaching them). Because Boulder often proposes to retain the double-left turn lanes at intersections, this is another reason why the lane removal should not be a problem. Note that there are a large number of reasons why I believe double-left turn lanes are highly detrimental, but because lane removal tends to be so beneficial, I’m willing to compromise and not fight against double-left turn lanes in order to make the lane removals more likely to succeed.

For the Iris avenue lane removal project proposed in Boulder, I counted EIGHT side street intersections without a left turn lane on the portion of Iris proposed for lane removal. When a four-lane street, such as that found on Iris, does not have a dedicated left turn lane at an intersection, left-turning cars at those intersections are doing so in a THROUGH lane. Each time a car makes a left at such intersections, therefore, Iris is ALREADY acting, functionally, as a three-lane road. Given the fact that there are eight such intersections on Iris, there would be a very, very modest loss of car-carrying capacity if two travel lanes were removed from Iris.

“Projected” traffic volumes these days need to be taken with a big grain of salt. Nationally, we are for the first time ever seeing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) level off and start to decline for a number of years. In Boulder, that trend is even more pronounced. Hard to imagine a growth in VMT in Boulder in the future.

A common argument is that it is impossible to remove travel lanes on a street when the community will grow in population size in the future. Where will all those new car trips go? One of my responses is to consider a large city such as NYC. If we look at NYC, say, 100 years ago, their population was small compared to the several million today. Are we to conclude that NYC should have been proportionally increasing the size of its roads to incorporate all the new car trips from the new residents?

In sum, lane removal for streets in Boulder is much more feasible than is thought by many.

 

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In Town Centers the Pedestrian is the Imperative, NOT Bicyclists or Cars or Transit or the Disabled

 

By Dom Nozzi

January 6, 2009

I applaud the desire to provide for all forms of travel. This is particularly important in (what should be) a low-speed town center environment.

For a town center to be healthy for retail and all forms of travel, low-speed car travel is essential, and a “park once” environment must be created. Here, the pedestrian, not the bicyclist or car or transit, must be the design imperative. If we “get it right” for the pedestrian in the town center, every stakeholder tends to benefit: not just Céret,_France,_main_street_2pedestrians, but bicyclists, transit, retail, residential, children, seniors, well-behaved motorists, the disabled and everyone else.

However, if we suboptimize bicycling, transit or cars to the detriment of other community objectives, the unintended consequence is that most everyone loses.

Too often, eager bicycling advocates loudly proclaim that a town center needs bike lanes and a removal of on-street car parking. But I believe that bike lanes and the removal of on-street parking in a town center serve to suboptimize bicycling — and I speak as a bicycle commuter.

How do we make the pedestrian the design imperative in a town center? Some of the more important tactics include reducing dimensions (such as street widths, building setbacks and the size of parking), increasing commercial and residential compactness, and obligating slow, attentive speeds by motorists.

Probably the most powerful, affordable way to achieve the above-mentioned tactics is on-street parking. Such parking effectively slows cars and obligates attentiveness by adding friction to the street. Such parking is also essential for healthy town center retail. And such parking sometimes dramatically improves pedestrian safety by reducing the street crossing distance.

In a town center, bike lanes tend to undercut each of those design objectives.

Shoup’s “The High Cost of Free Parking” is perhaps the best book I’ve ever read in the field of planning/transportation (a must-read for all planners, designers and elected folks). In that book, Shoup identifies excessive parking as an enormous problem in nearly all American communities.

However, he points out that it is subsidized, underpriced OFF-STREET parking, required in excess by nearly all local governments, that is one of the most important problems in American cities. Shoup is a strong advocate of on-street parking (especially when it is properly priced and therefore efficiently used). I believe he would agree with me that for nearly all cities (even those with too much parking), an extremely important objective is to substantially INCREASE the amount of on-street parking and substantially reduce the amount of off-street parking. And that as much town center street frontage as possible be lined with on-street parking.

In a properly designed town center, car speeds are low enough that it is not only safe and pleasant for pedestrians and retailers and residences. Car speeds are also low enough to permit safe and pleasant sharing of the travel lane by bicyclists. And in a town center, for those bicyclists who are uncomfortable sharing even a slow-speed travel lane with cars, there tends to be nearby parallel lanes off the main street for the bicyclist.

Important downsides for removing town center on-street parking:

*Smaller retailers tend to suffer so much that empty storefronts result and retailers flee to more remote locations that are inconvenient/unsafe to walk or bicycle or bus to. In other words, bicyclists should be strong supporters of a healthy town center retail/residential environment, in part because it promotes a compact community with short travel distances.

*Unless travel lane width is dramatically reduced, bike lanes tend to add asphalt width to the main street. That can mean longer, more dangerous crossing distances for pedestrians, and higher speed and less attentive (and therefore more dangerous) car travel.

Again, town center designers must be careful not to suboptimize bicycle, transit or car travel in the town center, since doing so tends to be detrimental to the pedestrian, which is the town center design imperative. The irony for bicyclists calling for the removal of on-street parking in a town center is not only that it is detrimental to bicycling. On-street parking removal in a town center was (and still is) most loudly called for by the motorist lobby (which fought to increase town center street widths and car speeds beginning about 85 years ago).

And for the record, I am a strong advocate of in-street bicycle lanes on most all major streets in a city. I believe, however, that they tend to be incompatible with a low-speed, human-scaled ped-friendly town center.

 

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Improving Safety for Bicyclists and Our Future Prospects

 

By Dom Nozzi

January 30, 2009

Improving safety for bicyclists is importantly about the number of people bicycling. This is often called “Safety in Numbers.”

An important reason why safety in numbers is so powerful is that motorists are obligated to drive more slowly and more attentively. That is essential for safety. They also tend to expect bicyclists on a regular basis, and therefore learn how to drive more safely near them. Unexpected surprises are always unsafe at higher speeds.

I’m open to the idea that “protected” on-street bike lanes (which have physical barriers between cyclists and cars), and off-street paths next to a street can attract a lot of new bicyclists. As I understand it, one of the most important — if not most important — reasons people don’t bike is perceived safety problems. I don’t wear a helmet when doing low-speed town center bike commuting in part because I want to Cyclists-in-Copenhagen-001send the message that biking is not deadly — helmets send the very bad message that your life is at risk on a bike.

However, I remain unconvinced that protected bike lanes or off-street paths will draw large numbers in the US. Boulder CO is perhaps closer to doing that than any smaller city I know here in the US, and while they have a relatively large number of residents biking, it is still a tiny fraction of the total. I think the European situation doesn’t give us much accuracy on the impact of protected lanes or off-street path inducement because Europe is so different than us. There, the parking is comparatively scarce and expensive. Densities and mixed-use is high. Destinations tend to be comparatively proximate. And gas is expensive. All of those factors tend to induce high levels of biking, walking and transit use.

I guess that means I’d like to see a demonstration project in the US to find out if a comprehensive protected lane or off-street path system would induce high levels of biking. But the cost would be huge. And it is perhaps unwise to spend a lot of dollars on something that is not extremely likely to succeed. For example, I don’t believe even extremely high quality, frequent transit service would induce lots of transit use in non-large cities in the US.

There is too much free parking. Development is too dispersed. Gas is too cheap. And destinations are too far from each other.

Given these rather intractable problems in the US, we are probably a long way off from seeing large numbers of bicyclists or transit users. Probably the obstacle that is most difficult to overcome in the near term is our dispersed land use pattern. Even if gas is, say, $30/gallon, a lot of us will be forced to drive cars (even if we have a full network of protected bike lanes or off-street bike paths).

I continue to mostly adhere to the objective of taking back our streets from high-speed motoring, and urging compact mixing of housing, jobs, shops, and civic. We need to make transit, walking and biking feasible. I think movement in that direction is inevitable because higher gas prices are inevitable, as is the cost of continuing to try to add road capacity for suburbia.

I can envision, in the near future, various DOTs pursuing more aggressive non-auto projects as the cost of driving continues to mount. I’m sure that will mean that some state DOTs will decide to try the protected bike lane or off-street idea, at least as a demo on one or two corridors.

Ultimately, high-speed roads have no future. And if protected bike lanes or off-street paths are necessary because of high-speed roads (which I believe is true), it doesn’t seem like protected bike lanes or off-street paths are where we should be putting our energies right now. I’m concerned that “Plan B” for transportation and land use might need to be in place very quickly, so we probably need Manhattan project urgency RIGHT NOW to start getting us there. We need a train system. We need to build more compact, more localized communities. We need slower-speed and more human-scaled streets.

What this might all come down to is how much of an emergency we believe we are in. Do we have 10 years before gas is $50/gallon? Or 100 years? If the former, I don’t believe protected bike lanes or off-street paths make a lot of sense.

How do you see our future?

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Why American Drivers Seem To Be So Hostile to Bicyclists

 

By Dom Nozzi

February 23, 2010

Why do so many American bicyclists seem to be so paranoid about motor vehicles?

I’d speculate that it has to do with the fact that more so than any other nation, Americans have placed motor vehicles (and their “rights”) on a pedestal. The inevitable outcome has been twofold:

  • American motorists are EXTREME in their expectation of happy, free-flowing, high speed, free driving. There is a high level of entitlement. Since the enormousRoad-Rage_1689375c
    size of cars makes such a thing nearly impossible, road rage/driver hostility is high.
  • American bicyclists experience this motorist rage both as bicyclists (American motorists are less courteous and more reckless), and on the occasions that bicyclists become motorists (when they then feel those American Happy Motoring expectations).

The working assumption for bicyclists, then, is that nearly all American motorists are high speed, hostile, homicidal, enraged maniacs. Only a tiny number of us (the very rare individuals that never drive a car) are able to escape such irrational, counterproductive conclusions.

 

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