Improvements in the US

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Improvements in the US

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Out 21, 2010, 7:23 am

BBC news story which I thought might be of interest.

"In recent years, the US capital has painted bicycle lanes onto busy thoroughfares, shielded bike tracks from traffic behind lines of parked cars, and altered traffic lights to accommodate cyclists.

A new bike sharing programme lets members borrow a cycle from a station near, say, the office, and it ride home - or to the pub - where it can be returned to another sharing station.

The effort has got Washington commuters pedalling, with roughly 2.3% of residents biking to work in 2008, up from 1.16% in 2000, according to the US census. That number has likely grown in the last two years. Nationwide, the figure is about 0.6%.


How is it where you are? any change?

Out 21, 2010, 9:52 am

Nothing much new here in south Orange County, but since this area was developed in the 70's and later we've always had lots of bike lanes. It seems to me that there are more bike riders but it may be I'm just noticing them more since I've began riding more. Most of them are wearing the silly bicycle clothes though which says to me that there just exercising and not commuting or running errands on their bikes.

Out 21, 2010, 10:15 am

The cycle lanes in the photos look a bit odd - one shows cycle lanes along the centre reservation, to the left of the motor traffic; the other one has a cycle lane between two lanes of cars. Is that usual in America? (Here in Holland they're generally on the right, between the road and the footpath, and often separated from both by kerbs.)

Out 21, 2010, 2:34 pm

Almost all of the ones I've seen have been on the right, but there are some baffling exceptions. What to do when you have a right-turn-only lane is one. All of a sudden the bike lane veers over into the middle!

My hubs rides his bike to work, and has bike lanes or bike path most of the way. That's partially because we took bikeability into account when we bought our place! It's also because we live in Cambridge (and he bikes to Boston) where they've made an effort.

I'd assume it's hard to implement bike lanes and such in cities that are very dense, and otherwise windy. Otherwise, Boston/Cambridge would be a great place to bike -- the density means you're never very far from your destination.

Out 22, 2010, 5:36 am

I'd assume it's hard to implement bike lanes and such in cities that are very dense, and otherwise windy.

It can always be done if there's money and political will, but something has to give somewhere. Usually bike lanes/paths mean fewer traffic lanes or less on-street parking. Segregating bikes from other traffic also means that both cyclists and drivers have to get used to different priority rules and riding conditions. If you're a fit, athletic cyclist (as most politically active cyclists tend to be) segregation often seems like a bad thing - you're stuck in a narrow lane behind grannies and schoolchildren instead of getting an adrenaline rush fighting it out with the cars, and you generally have longer waits at junctions and traffic lights.

Wind isn't really a big problem for short commutes - my route to work (about 5km) is roughly U-shaped, so there's almost always at least one leg that's against the wind. It's irritating, but I've always got enough energy in reserve to cope. It's another matter if you have a really long distance to cover. Gusty wind around high buildings is more of a problem, but as a commuter you soon get to know the spots where you have to be careful.

Out 22, 2010, 6:26 am


Well that is one reason why some don't like cycle tracks / lanes. Another is that they are statistically more dangerous when they do interface with the roads at junctions and the like - which they must do.

I don't commute anymore but some of my utility rides are out into the fens and you get the Fen Blow in your face going and coming back most months of the year. It is punishment for not having hills.

Out 22, 2010, 6:32 am

I assumed Sonya meant windy as in the bend about lots rather than as lots of wind - something that traffic planners can't do much about.

It is often a problem with cycle lanes. The few really plesant ones to ride on, don't go where you need to be - much like only driving on Motorways.

It's mostly an attitude thing - a city can be cycle unfriendly despite having a lot of dedicated cycle lanes: if they aren't maintained, and if the other users - pedestrian and motor, aren't aware and concerned about cyclists safety. (not forgetting the cyclists own responsabilities of course).

Then there is the debate between on-road and off-road lanes. Many compriises to be made - but it all starts with everyone expecting cyclists to be around.

Out 22, 2010, 10:47 am

>5 thorold: Oh, I meant wind-y. Um, with lots of curves.

Out 22, 2010, 11:04 am

Sorry - windy day here. In both senses :-)

I agree with reading_fox - expecting cyclists to be around is the key. Real progress begins when you get to the stage that motorists see a cyclist and think "that could be my child/partner/colleague/neighbour" rather than "incoming hostile creature in Lycra".

Out 22, 2010, 2:54 pm

And if there are enough cyclists so you start looking for them, like how I drive with my eye for antlers in New Hampshire during moose season. Some of the most dangerous biking I've done was in a town where not many people biked. Drivers didn't know what to do with me.

What I ended up with is this.

Out 24, 2010, 2:54 pm

Portland (Oregon) has a web page dedicated to bike resources. The city has been installing bike boxes to improve safety at key intersections.

Since 1971, the state of Oregon has been dedicating 1% of highway construction funds to bike and pedestrian improvements. As roads are built or upgraded, this program is gradually increasing the mileage of bike lanes along major transportation routes.

Jul 7, 2011, 12:32 pm

I like to have a dream for the future, something to keep me going when dragging myself through the quotidian day gets especially tough. Often it's about where I'll relocate in 12 to 15 years, when the kids are out of college and I anticipate not having to work for a living anymore.

One of the criteria is good cycling, so I've been looking at Portland. Living where drivers don't shout insults as they pass too close sounds appealing. Also considering Colorado.

Jul 7, 2011, 12:59 pm

11> Recently here in Richmond, VA we had an appearance by Mia Birk to discuss how Portland went bike-friendly. There was a lot of drooling in the room that night.