Monday, January 28, 2008

National Transportation Study trashes cycling

From the latest emailing from LAB.
New U.S. Study Leaves Out Cyclists: Last week, the report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission was released. This is a significant document that outlines how $225 billion should be spent each year for the next 50 years on transportation and infrastructure in this country. The Commission took 20 months to listen to input (the League submitted comments) and weigh options for creating a bold new transportation future – and in the 54-most-important pages, the words bicycle, bicyclist, bike, pedal cycle, and pedal cyclist combined are mentioned just one time, on page 24, in the same sentence as the only mention of pedestrians, walking and other foot-based derivatives. Furthermore, reactions to the report include two comments by legislators that single out bike paths as bad spending. See the comments from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) for yourself here. The National Association of City Transportation Officials noted the lack of bicyclist and pedestrian representation in their statement, saying, “Pedestrian and bicycle safety are also critical issues for cities, but the report addressed them only briefly. In 2006, 5,740 people were killed while walking or bicycling, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Pedestrian safety is a key quality of life issue for cities, and the new federal traffic safety program should help us address it.”


Anonymous said...

I read the two statements by the Congressman and Senator. I am an avid cycling commuter. I believe they got it right, though. We don't need more bike paths. What we need are cycle friendly streets and roads. The only thing more bike paths do is further foster the idea that bikes don't belong on the streets.

Khal said...

"Bike paths" are a stereotype, and I suspect the two Congressmen jumped on that bandwagon. Multiuser paths can also be part of a network and work with roads. I wrote up a paper on the Calgary design a couple years ago and it was published in the BCNM newsletter. Basically, paths were installed along the riverbanks and railroad ROWs and gave cyclists added resources that connected meaningful destinations such as neighborhoods,the airport, and downtown. These were integrated into roadway ROW.

Calgary did not have striped bike lanes. They considered such stripage superfluous: bicyclists had the right to the roads. Having spent a vacation up there cycling, I have to say it worked pretty well.

Having said all that, I agree that bike paths taken in isolation do reinforce the idea that bikes and paths somehow should go together, and if they are built in lieu of properly designed streets are indeed a mistake. But I'd not equate a well designed bike facility with pork, whether on or off road. Unlike a bridge to nowhere, a path can go somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Streets are for cars. Bike paths are for bikes. It all makes perfect sense. Do away with bike paths and streets are for everybody.

Khal said...

If streets are for cars and bike paths for bikes, are neither for humans? Guess we will all have to walk.

Anonymous said...

Streets are not, repeat NOT, for humans. They are only for cars. That's why we need bike paths.

Do away with bike paths and begin the transformation back to streets being public space intended for movement. As long as public money is spent on mode specific transportation, then the general public will naturally think in terms of modality specific space. If you want a bike path in a park or along a waterway, use recreation dollars and call it a park, but don't confuse a lovely afternoon toodle with basic transportation.

Greg said...

I use to live in Davis California and used bike transport for 80% of my travel around town.

Davis is bike heaven. The towns official symbol includes a bike on it. It has both Bike Paths and Bike Lanes on Roads. If only all towns could be like this one.

Sometimes this group forgets that there are many different types of bikers. We aren't all heads down militant street bikers. Some of us enjoy a good bike path.

My favorite towns have all had fantastic bike paths. Chico California is an example. It had a bike path from downtown that followed a creek for 12-15 miles up to the foothills of the Sierras. I spent many a happy hour cruising up that trail without being concerned about drunks or bad drivers.

I've live in Minnesota/St. Paul, another town with incredible bike paths. Sacramento California had great bike paths along the river.

A town that sucked ... Salt Lake City. Biking there is a total nightmare. The streets are dangerous and it has very little in the way of bike paths.

I would dare to say that towns that support bike paths also support good bike access to roads. That has been my experience.

We need both fair access to the roads and paths.

Anonymous said...

Even though we have different ideas about what makes a community bicycle friendly, we can at least agree that Los Alamos has a ways to go. Fortunately it is moving in the right direction, but still not there. I'm not a militant street rider either. But, the very act of riding on the street in this community is perceived by some to be a militant act. That is why I think bike paths are secondary to changing our culture from a car centered one to a multi modal one. The key to that is reclaiming the streets as public space where all are welcome.

Khal said...

Regardless of other points of discussion, I agree that streets are public space and that we need to move to a public perception that agrees with that statement.

The old path vs. road argument is an old one and never resolved. Both sides have good points. Not everyone wants to ride on the roads. OTOH, there is a subset of people who indeed think that cyclists should be on separated paths. My personal feeling is that separate but equal is always separate and never equal. "Complete Streets", i.e., streets as public space rather than car space, is paramount.