Cycling


Nothing more needs to be said. Click on the picture below:

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Photo header reads: Amount of space required to transport the same number of passengers by car, bus or bicycle.

Photo courtesy of Juan Jose. Thanks to Tim for emailing me this picture.

The police have decided not to charge the cyclist for getting hit by one of their squad cars. Hooray!

I still think the cyclist should sue, if not for personal gain and payment of medical fees, then for making the point that cyclists deserve better treatment than we get around here. According to Style,

David Baugh, a well-known local defense attorney, offered his services pro bono, saying Stokes had ample grounds for a counterclaim against the city. Stokes says she has no plans to seek compensation from the city.

Can I sue for her?

Bud Vye, a “cycling advocate” with the Richmond Area Bicycling Association, commented on this case and Virginia’s bike-unfriendliness.

“[In] a state like this, the motor vehicle guy is always right and the cyclist is cluttering up the road,” says Vye, who sees Virginia as a fairly unfriendly state for cycling.

Fairly unfriendly? I’d say downright hostile.

And if any of you RABA-folks are reading this, I’d be happy to join your organization for $20 a year if you did more advocacy like this- or at least publicize the advocacy you do. When I read your website, it seems like a riders’ club, not a cycling advocacy group. We need some serious public policy lobbying in this region- and I for one would pay someone who was doing it.

It’s dangerous out there, cyclists.

As if to prove the point of my last few posts about the dangers of biking in Richmond, Style runs this article this week, Cop Hits Cyclist, Who Gets Billed for Damages.”

This woman was hit by a cop car (Style left unstated whether the officer or biker is legally at fault), then sent a bill for damaging the squad car! The RPD has not offered to pay for damaging her brain or the rest of her body.

She was biking east on Jahnke Rd and entered the intersection at Forest Hill Ave. on a green light. The light changed to yellow, then to red before she could make it through.

Without knowing the specifics of her accident, I’m going to say that whoever’s in charge of our infrastructure is partly to blame here. From my own experience, I’ve learned that stoplights are not timed for bikes. Even in shorter intersections than at Jahnke & Forest Hill I’ve had lights go from green to red after I’ve crossed the line.

And despite DOT plans and politicians advocating alternatives to the automobile, there’s little to no actual implantation of specific protections for cyclists on the road.

“A true bicycle network is one that can be safely used by a child.” – Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia

Yes, Richmond is painting a few bike lanes on a small number of streets. But I believe this is a bad idea. The more I read the more convinced I become that this will neither increase the number of bikers nor significantly improve safety.

The video below is about NYC, but its lessons are applicable here. It’s long, but well worth watching for the numerous arguments made against on-street, non-separated bike lanes. At the very least, watch the first 40 seconds.

Certainly NYC traffic is almost infinitely worse than Richmond’s, but I can imagine if we had a bike lane on Broad St. downtown the results wouldn’t differ dramatically.

This video pushes separated bike lanes- where either concrete barriers, medians, or a simple painted buffer protect cyclists from traffic. It shows a number of cities/countries which have adopted such a strategy:

  • Boulder
  • Montreal
  • Bogota
  • London
  • Copenhagan
  • Holland
  • Italy
  • Sweden

I’m convinced by the number of hits and comments I get every time I write about biking in Richmond, as well as by the number of cyclists on the street, that we could actually change Richmond if we tried; we need to institute some kind of safe, city-wide biking network.

Who’s with me?

I personally would like to see bike roads, which you can read about here.

Richmond has been creating a few bike lanes recently. On Lombardy, there’s a short stretch with a painted bike lane, and Southside Richmond and Chesterfield have a few. They look like this:

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This is wonderful. My main wish is that we would create a well-planned network of lanes that could provide safe biking routes all around the region.

However, as part of my good ideas series where I dream about what could be realized here in Richmond, I want to discuss something far better than bike lanes: bike roads.

In my former hometown of Vancouver, BC, the city took entire streets and turned them into bike routes.

These bike routes are traffic-calmed streets that are optimized for biking in numerous ways: Stop signs are removed or turned to keep bike traffic flowing, many signs alert automobile drivers to the presence of bicycles, and traffic-calming devices are used to keep cars from using the route for more than a few blocks at a time. Here’s some pictures:

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Routes are well signed.

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More signs & road stencils.

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Traffic calming device enabling bikes, but not cars, to continue down the street.
All photos by Matthew Blackett for Spacing Magazine, used with permission.

The truly revolutionary aspect of this approach to bike routes is evidenced in the last picture: the traffic-calming devices. Most devices in Vancouver are simpler and cheaper than the one pictured above- many use a simple concrete barrier which has a cut-out for bikes but prevents cars from using the road as a through-route. But the main point of the bike routes is that the entire street is designed primarily for cyclists, not for cars.

The Vancouver network is also quite extensive.

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You can see a full map here [PDF].

In Richmond this could work by turning roads that run parallel to major routes into bike roads. For example, Floyd Street in the Fan which parallels Main and Cary. Or Grace St., which parallels Broad.

Downtown, perhaps Marshall could be utilized. In Church Hill, 24th could serve as the North/South Route, and Marshall could be the East/West route.

Local traffic and folks who live on the road are still able to drive down their street, just not for more than a few blocks at a time. And no cars can use it as a through-route.

Other cities are using this approach, including Albuquerque which just passed a “Bike Boulevard” ordinance, Palo Alto, and Berkley.

Here’s a promotional video for Albuquerque’s campaign:

So my latest good idea from another city is to forget the bike lanes, and give us entire streets!

And just to continue promoting the glories of Vancouver, here’s a quote from the city’s transportation department on their transportation priorities:

City Council has set a list of transportation priorities in the following order: pedestrian, bicycle, transit, movement of goods, and private automobile. All existing and new projects in the City are evaluated with these priorities in mind and are developed to accommodate them, wherever possible.

Will someone remind me why I moved back to Richmond?

When was the last time you did what your TV told you to?

When was the last time your TV told you to do something good?

The New York Times recently ran an editorial outlining how Paris, France has aimed to cut car traffic within the city by 40% by 2020. Here’s some of their tactics, some of which should be considered by Richmond in our effort to re-create our downtown:

  • Improve transit:
    • Increase and improve routes
    • Make transit cheaper
    • Make transit easier to use
      • public posting of bus routes
      • electronic signs at bus stops with the wait times for the next bus
      • make payment easier
  • Reduce available travel lanes for cars
  • Create special bus lanes (in Paris and London these lanes can be used by taxis & bikes)
  • Make cheap rental bikes available all over the city ($1.50 a day or $43.50 a year)
  • Raise fuel taxes

Maybe instead of 2-way streets downtown, we should keep them 1-way and dedicate one lane for buses and bikes. That would calm traffic, provide access for emergency vehicles, and make transit faster and biking safer.

And I’d love to see inexpensive rental bikes all over the city- I don’t know the specifics of the Paris system, but in Amsterdam you can pay your rental fee and get a key which works for a generic lock on all the bikes. Then you can pick up a bike anywhere you find one, and leave it at approved destinations. This kind of program works only with a very high volume of bikes (Paris is starting with 10,000 at 750 locations and hopes to double the number of bikes by the end of the year). It also requires housing density to ensure that bikes are available where people live.

In Lyon, your pre-paid bus/metro card will unlock rental bikes. How’s that for convenient?

The point is, when you declare war on cars there has to be viable, affordable, convenient alternatives for folks to get around.  If we want to make downtown less of a traffic paradise and more pedestrian oriented, what transportation alternatives are we providing?  Otherwise we risk running everyone out of downtown and killing it off entirely, don’t we?

paris bikes

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