Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is New Mexico dropping to 50th in LAB Rankings?

From a post sent by Craig Degenhardt, past president of BikeABQ, to the BikeABQ e-list, in response to a query on cycling accommodation on the proposed Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange.

From :
Black Tie Bicyclist   Date :  Wed, 29 Aug 2012 08:24:37 -0700 (PDT)
To :
Khalil   [+], BikeABQ BikeABQ  [+]
Subject : Re: [bikeabq] Urgent CALL TO ARMS: Open House on the Paseo Del Norte/I-25 Interchange Reconstruction Project
The New Mexico State Department of Transportation removed from office the State Bike Ped Coordinator and disbanded the New Mexico State Bicycle Pedestrian Equestrian Advisory Board.

 Jennifer Buntz (Duke City Wheelmen) adds this:

Between George Person and Tammy Schurr and myself, we have been going to NMDOT Commission meetings – 3 of the past 4.  We have been monitoring the status of the NMDOT policy that covers the BPE (bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian) advisory committee.  There was a new policy passed at the meeting in July, although I don’t know when the implementation of that policy, i.e., meetings of an advisory committee, will happen.  But the policy does mandate a BPE committee.  As far as having an NMDOT employee who is the BPE coordinator, the person who previously held that position was let-go and I have no information about hiring a replacement.  I’m not sure what is called for in the current federal transportation bill, MAP21.

One of the issues around BPE and everything else that has to do with funding projects that are for “alternative road users” is that MAP21 does not mandate funding of what use to be called “transportation enhancements’ or TEs.  Now they are “transportation alternatives” (TAs) and funding them is at States' discretion.  There is a mandate for taking public input, but I think it is rather vague in MAP21.  If TA expenditures are not strongly called for by citizens, then much of the funding for them can be diverted under MAP21 provisions, up to 2/3rds I think, without any justification (it’s all about States' rights you know).

DOTs around the country are quite busy figuring out what MAP21 means and NMDOT is no different.  Advocates for bicycles and pedestrians should be busy figuring it out too.  The three of us have been trying, but it is pretty far outside my usual knowledge base.  I’m sending this to George and Tammy so that if they have insights they can add them to the discussion.

From my recollection of GABAC meetings, a bicycle crossing was part of the plan for this interchange. 

This may be an instance where citizen requests are necessary, given MAP21’s lack of mandate for BPE infrastructure.  If I can find out any more in the next few days I will pass on that information.

And from George Pearson

RE: State Transportation Commission (STC) and Commission Policy 66 (CP-66)

Tammy and I attended the May STC meeting in Alamogordo and Jennifer attended the June STC meeting in Las Vegas where CP-66 was under discussion at the Policy Committee. Tammy and I had a good discussion with senior NMDOT staff and I believe Jennifer also had good interaction with senior staff. Unfortunately, none of us were able to attend the July STC meeting in Santa Fe where CP-66 was on the agenda for formal acceptance. The minutes of the July STC meeting are available on the NMDOT web site (available via and the minutes indicate that wording from the proposed policy was deleted. It's not clear from the minutes the extent of the deletion, but my interpretation is that CP-66 contains the minimum requirements to fulfill federal policy. It could be that the BPE Technical Committee that was proposed by staff (and that sounded like a good idea to be able to identify bicycling issues and actually get tasks accomplished) has been removed. Again, I'm not certain that this is true, but it is implied by the minutes.

I am the chair of the Las Cruces MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Facilities Advisory Committee (BPAC) which is an advisory committee, along with the Technical Advisory Committee, to the MPO Policy Committee. We have representation from NMDOT District 1 on BPAC and a good working relationship has been established with District 1. One result of this relationship is that BPAC representation has been added to the NMDOT District 1 design review committee (allowing bicyclist representation at the design level rather than trying to work with projects after design and sometimes after construction). After meeting with senior NMDOT staff last May, I was encouraged that the type of relationship we are working towards with District 1 could be established at the top levels of NMDOT. It seems like STC and perhaps other political appointees are overriding want staff proposed.

The July STC minutes say that the October STC meeting will be in Silver City, so I will plan on attending that one. The September STC meeting is scheduled for Albuquerque.

RE: MAP-21

The best graphic I've seen that describes the changes to Transportation Enhancement funds is included at the League blog at A longer analysis, and the source of the graphic, by America Bikes is at

Transportation Enhancements are know under MAP-21 as Transportation Alternatives (TA). Safe Routes to School (SRTS) was previously funded separately, but now it is under TA along with the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP is funded at 2009 levels, unless the governor opts out. I received a separate email indicating that the governor can opt out of RTP as early as September 1. TA funding is reduced from previous levels by 33%.

I am very concerned about SRTS. We have an excellent program going in Las Cruces (I just heard that we were allocated several hundreds of thousands of dollars of Phase II funding from Albuquerque since they were not prepared to spend the money). The state SRTS coordinator position is currently empty and it is not clear if it will be filled. Support for SRTS from the top levels of government is important (and why would anyone want to argue against increasing the safety and health of our children?). The Las Cruces City Council this Monday had a SRTS presentation. A side effect is that a resolution to be sent to Santa Fe (the governor, I suppose) is to be brought forward at a future city council meeting supporting SRTS (and maybe TA in general).

Being south of the Tortilla Curtain, we don't get much news about what's going on at the state level without making an extra effort (for those that don't know, we are in the El Paso television market). I have some contacts with state legislators, but it's currently silly season (that is, election time) with a different emphasis on trying to get out a message. While I am interested in advocacy and support those efforts (and sometimes find myself involved), my primary interest is in bicyclist education. My message to NMDOT has been to use me as a resource to help improve bicycling in New Mexico. This has been, I think, well received by NMDOT staff and I'm hoping this type of relationship can be continued, even as policy makers are making things more difficult.


George Pearson
Chair, Las Cruces MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Facilities Advisory Committee
League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor #2614

P.S. The New Mexico Bicycle Education Summit is being planned for Saturday, October 27 in Santa Fe with a get together planned for Friday night and a bike ride on Sunday. Registration is still under development but will be available soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't Drive (or Ride) Stupid

I've been meaning to find a way to work this clip in. After a recent senseless crash that left a cyclist injured and will probably leave a young driver facing charges that may hurt him for a long time, here 'tis...

Don't let Carlos be talkin' about you. Drive and ride smart. You can't un-break an egg, you gotta prevent it from breaking.   Just sayin'

Friday, August 24, 2012

Its a Dark Day in Austin...Armstrong declares "no mas"

With acknowledgements to

Armstrong Drops Fight Against Doping Charges

...and will likely be stripped of his seven tour titles. so I wonder which doper will be declared the winner of those races?
Casey at the Bat,by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Armstrong says "no mas".

My favorite Lance photo. Dedicating his Stage 18 win in the
1995 Tour de France to fallen teammate Fabio Casartelli,who died
after a high speed crash descending the  Col de Portet d'Aspet 
durng Stage 15. Photo by Graham Watson.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cyclist hit--some followup thoughts

I've been talking to Council Chair Sharon Stover and State Rep. Jim Hall about the condition of narrow, shoulderless NM-4 between White Rock and Truck Route. Believe me, its a long standing bone of contention between the county and state.  As an email from Jim Hall attested, there ain't a lot of money to go around in New Mexico. Getting this to the top of the NMDoT's fix it list may take time. Meanwhile, those of us who ride there have to deal with reality. So a few things:

1. I definitely concur with Jerry Merkey about self protective measures. Helmet or bar end rear view mirrors and other forms of Backwards Looking Early Warning Systems (BLEWS) are a very good idea on roads like NM 4, although obviously, none of us can pin our eyes to a rear mirror. I pay a lot of attention to the sound of cars as they approach from behind. I can generally tell if the noise is getting progressively more asymmetric as the vehicle swings left to pass. I guess the day I don't hear the asymmetry, you won't be hearing from me! A few of those helmet mounted video cams circulating around town might be nice, too, in recording an event, albeit I realize the PIA that creats on DOE roads (they must be turned off, and obviously, you might be challenged to show they are indeed off).

2. Serious traffic justice must be meted out, not wrist slaps. Mind you, there has been no arraignment or trial so presumptions of guilt are premature, but obviously someone did the deed.  An honest mistake on the road is one thing, leaving someone to potentially die on the side of the road is definitely off the table. The difference between a victim walking away and being carried away is a matter of inches, not feet, as Cindy Lawton and Jon Bernard will attest.

3. Ride in groups if feasible, so someone can get vehicle ID and call 911 if a rider is down. If riding in groups, please facilitate motor vehicles overtaking your group. We did it in Hawaii while race training, you can do it here.

4. I'm not sure where to tell people to ride on a road like NM4--its really a personal decision and a comfort level. "As far right as is practicable" applies, but that doesn't mean you have to "straddle the gravel" on a crappy road; you are entitled to ride far enough from the edge to be safe and in Los Alamos County, additional rules apply on narrow roads. But keep in mind the section of road in question is not in LA County. It is generally accepted in LCI circles that hugging the edge can invite unsafe passing.  Why? If I hug the fog line on a road like NM4, I am likely to be buzzed by drivers who think they can pass without moving over into the oncoming lane, hence they may pass into traffic by buzzing you. If I take more lane, people have to move farther left and many wait to do so. So I tend to take more lane rather than transmit to drivers that they can pass without moving over. Its the not so infrequent idiots who like to play chicken who worry me, because they do it no matter where I am riding.

5. Most of all, maintain your situational awareness and bike handling skills. This isn't taught enough in bike classes (it will be in any I teach) but is a HUGE part of motorcycle safety training. Here is a good synopsis:
I had three motorists interfere with my right of way today during a fifty mile ride, all involving failure to yield incidents at intersections. None of those came close to being a crash because I have trained myself to watch for the cues to motorists about to make a mistake. It doesn't always work, but I can think of plenty of times when it has.
Best wishes to Cindy Lawton for a full recovery, many thanks to LAPD and LAFD for their prompt response, and many thanks to Carol Clark of the Daily Post for her coverage of the incident. And, as always, keep the rubber side down.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cyclist hit on NM-4, motorist arrested on multiple charges (Daily Post)

I won't try to steal Carol Clark's thunder. Go read it at the link below.

I've worried about how impossible it has been to put decent shoulders on NM-4, but the bottom line is some people should not be licensed to drive.

Does anyone know Mr Kyle Smith?

BREAKING NEWS: Police Corner Fleeing Motorist Suspected of Hitting Bicyclist


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bicycle Infrastructure Studies for your reading pleasure

Ian Brett Cooper compiled this list on his blog and gave permission to post elsewhere. Here they are too, with acknowledgements to Ian for doing all the hard work. The text below the links are either excerpts from the studies or Ian's comments (not mine, nor do our opinions necessarily stay in lockstep ). I left them there from his site out of deference to Ian doing all the footwork. Go read the originals.

Bicycle Infrastructure Studies

Since the idea that bicycle infrastructure increases safety is pretty widely held, Ian Cooper compiled a list of studies of bicycle infrastructure, including links and what I think are the most interesting quotes. He thinks many people will be surprised by what the studies suggest:

1972 Deleuw, Cather and Co.: Davis Bicycle Circulation and Safety Study
"An additional problem is establishment of a visual relationship between motor vehicles and cycles on the sidewalk path on approaches to intersections."

1975 Kaplan: Characteristics of the Regular Adult Bicycle User
"Surprisingly, bicycle facilities where no motor vehicles are allowed showed the highest accident rate of any variable examined."

1977 Cross: A Study of Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Accidents (USA)
Possible bias in reporting, investigation. Study reaches no clear conclusions about the safety or otherwise of bicycle infrastructure, and many of the conclusions have been called into question by more recent studies. I think the study does remain useful thanks to its detailed crash type analysis.

1987 Grüne Radler review: Police Bicycle Crash Study (Berlin, Germany)
"...with increasing experience, it became ever clearer that the sidepaths are dangerous - more dangerous than riding in the roadway. There is a simple reason for this: the design and location of the sidepaths conflict with the most important principle of traffic safety, the slogan 'Visibility is safety'."

1992 Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club: Issues of Bicycling Safety
"Experts from different backgrounds at the Velo Secur traffic safety conference in Salzburg were united in the opinion that sidepaths in urban areas are entirely unsatisfactory in many ways, and should not be used."

1994 Gårder: Safety implications of bicycle paths at signalized intersections (Scandinavia)
"The conclusion that can be drawn so far from combining results shows that the most likely effect of introducing a cycle path is that the risk will increase by about 40% for a passing cyclist."

1994 Wachtel: Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections (Palo Alto, California, USA)
"Bicyclists on a sidewalk or bicycle path incur greater risk than those on the roadway (on average 1.8 times as great), most likely because of blind conflicts at intersections... intersections, construed broadly, are the major point of conflict between bicycles and motor vehicles. Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at these intersections."

1997 Moritz: A Survey of North American Bicycle Commuters (USA and Canada)
Possible measurement bias: study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the accident site data appears to be flawed - many of the accidents taking place while on bicycle paths or lanes may have been considered to be on the roadway, because only the final crash site was considered.

1998 Aultman-Hall: Commuter Cyclist On- and Off-Road Incident Rates (Ottawa-Carlton, Canada)
"The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest it is safest to cycle on-road followed by off-road paths and trails, and finally least safe on sidewalks... Results suggest a need to discourage sidewalk cycling, and to further investigate the safety of off-road paths/trails."

1998 Moritz: Adult Bicyclists in the United States (USA)
"Multi-use trails have a crash rate about 40% greater than would be expected based on the miles cycled on them while cycling on the sidewalk is extremely dangerous."

1998 OECD: Safety of Vulnerable Road Users (European Union)
"The most common conflicting areas between motorised traffic and vulnerable road users are at junctions... While cycle tracks have been found efficient in decreasing bicycle accidents on links, particularly on arterials, they create safety problems at junctions."

1999 Aultman-Hall: Bicycle Commuter Safety Rates (Toronto, Canada)
"The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest these events are least common on-road followed by off-road paths, and finally most common on sidewalks... These rates suggest a need for detailed analysis of sidewalk and off-road path bicycle safety."

1999 Franklin: Two Decades of the Redway Cycle Paths (Milton Keynes, UK)
"...the most alarming experience of the Redways is their accident record. Far from realising gains in safety, they have proved over many years to be consistently less safe than even the 'worst case' grid roads for adult cyclists of average competence. This is not an accolade for the grid roads, for their safety performance is not good in relation to lower speed roads of more traditional design. But the segregated Redways have proved to be worse. "

1999 Pasanen: The risks of cycling (Helsinki, Finland)
"At crossings, car drivers focus their attention on other cars rather than on cyclists... the risk of a crossing accident is 3-times higher for cyclists coming from a cycle path than when crossing on the carriageway amongst cars."

2000 Franklin: Cycle Path Safety: A Summary of Research (Worldwide)
"little evidence has been found to suggest that cyclists are safer on paths than on roads."

2002 Reid: The Roots of Driver Behaviour Towards Cyclists (UK)
"The tendency for drivers to criticise cyclists and to exonerate errors made by drivers can be explained by reference to Social Identity Theory... Drivers regard themselves as intending to behave cautiously around cyclists and yet feel pressurised by other drivers to behave incautiously... It was also notable that drivers rated cyclists as less considerate, even though the cyclist’s behaviour was identical, when encountering them at road narrowings... Cyclists are an ‘out’ group and their behaviour is considered to be inexplicable other than by reference to their status as cyclists."

2007 Jensen: Bicycle Tracks and Lanes, a Before - After Study (Copenhagen, Denmark)
"The safety effects of bicycle tracks in urban areas are an increase of about 10 percent in both crashes and injuries. The safety effects of bicycle lanes in urban areas are an increase of 5 percent in crashes and 15 percent in injuries. Bicyclists’ safety has worsened on roads where bicycle facilities have been implemented."

2008 Agerholm: Traffic Safety on Bicycle Paths (Western Denmark)
"So the main results are that bicycle paths impair traffic safety and this is mainly due to more accidents at intersections."

2009 Daniels: Injury crashes with bicyclists at roundabouts (Flanders, Belgium)
"Regarding all injury crashes with bicyclists, roundabouts with cycle lanes appear to perform significantly worse compared to... other design types"

2009 Reynolds: The Impact of Transportation Infrastructure on Bicycling Injuries and Crashes: A Review of the Literature
Cherry picking data: review claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the review cherry picks and misrepresents data - only the 2009 Daniels study (out of 26 studies reviewed) concerned bicycle specific infrastructure safety, and the review misrepresented its findings.

2011 Lusk: Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street (Montreal, Canada)
The infamous Lusk study. Selection bias: study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but its street comparisons are flawed - the streets compared were in no way similar other than their general geographic location. Busy downtown streets with multiple distractions per block were twinned with bicycle tracks on quieter roads with fewer intersections and fewer distractions.

2011 Reid: Infrastructure and Cyclist Safety (UK)
"...evidence suggests that the points at which segregated networks intersect with highways offer heightened risk, potentially of sufficient magnitude to offset the safety benefits of removing cyclists from contact with vehicles in other locations."

John Allen has an extensive set of reports and studies, available here:

John Franklin also has an extensive list, without direct quotes but with his commentary, available here:

Bicycling Life also has a set of interesting documents, available here:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yet another crash on Diamond at or south of Sandia

From Carol Clark's Daily Post, as well as a note from LAPD to yours truly, we learn of yet another intersection conflict crash on Diamond Drive.

Minor Injuries Reported in Morning Bicycle Accident

on August 8, 2012 - 11:39am
Staff report
Minor injuries were reported in an accident at about 8 a.m. today near Diamond Drive and Sandia Street.
A bicyclist was riding south on Diamond Drive when a motorist heading northbound on Diamond Drive turned left on to Sandia Street and failed to yield the right of way to the bicyclist.
The Los Alamos Fire Department treated the bicyclist for minor injuries at the scene. The Bicyclist declined transport to Los Alamos Medical Center.
Los Alamos Police cited the motorist for failure to yield.

Although I am not aware of where the vehicles were in relation to road edge and am guessing, I am increasingly worried that the bike lanes on Diamond starting at or south of Orange/Sandia, where there are a lot of turning and crossing points, cannot be navigated with an acceptable level of risk unless operators are keenly alert and cyclists manage their own safety irregardless of the presence of a bike lane. Intersections are known to be potentially hazardous to bicyclist operation due to a cyclist's small size and typical segregation to the right of motor traffic, often exacerbated by solid bike lane striping or misapplied As Far Right As Practicable laws (see Weigand, Allen, and elsewhere). 
 A cyclist in the traffic lanes is more visible than one off to the right of traffic. That said, lane positioning is no guarantee to safe passage, as many a banged-up motorcyclist (including my stepdad) will tell you.  Nevertheless, riding to the right in the bike lane requires extra diligence on the part of the cyclist, knowing motorists will be less aware of your presence or downright oblivious.  John Allen  (whose cv includes time as a former League of American Bicyclists Board member, longtime cycling instruction expert, expert witness, etc) suggests merging out of bike lanes and into vehicle traffic at intersections as appropriate: "...A well-designed bike lane should encourage you to ride in the correct position on the road when you go slower than the cars. It should also encourage you to move left, out of the bike lane, before an intersection if you are going straight or turning left... Remember: don't hesitate to leave the bike lane when necessary for your safety - all the guidelines about lane position in this book apply whether or not there is a bike lane...."

 I don't recall a similar spate of crashes on this segment of road prior to the installation of bike lanes. Is this a learning curve experience, or a permanent high hazard facility? Does NHHO need to manage this road?

The difference between minor and major injuries is a roll of the dice. This could have easily been a lot worse. If we are to have bike lanes in areas of heavy turning traffic and bike traffic, such as on Diamond or Trinity, we really are raising the stakes for cyclists, who pay in blood rather than fines for everyone's mistakes.

There are no universal answers here except to use your best judgement. Don't let the paint replace good thinking.

But it could be worse. You could be in Iowa.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jerry Merkey's Ride Report: NM-4 Road Conditions (i.e., Chipseal Sucks)

Thanks and a tip of the brain bucket to Jerry Merkey for reporting back today.

I rode NM4 from the Back Gate to White Rock today (Sunday). I rode my fairly soft riding steel frame with 25mm Ultra Gatorskins at 95 psi rear 80 psi front. It was bearable, but it is still pretty rough. The stones give it a pretty buzzy ride and the actual road surface is bumpy and I think actually worse (flatness) than before the tar & stone job. The cracks running across the road near TA-49 are still there, but harder to see. On most of the route, there are still loose stones on a 12 to 24 inch width along the edge of the road. In some areas you can’t tell where the edge actually is due to the amount of stones out onto the dirt shoulder. If you ride it, be sure not to try riding right along the edge to let cars pass.
Ancho Canyon seems to be the worst area with more loose stones and rough surfaces. The ride down the south side was quite rough and definitely worse than before the tar & stones. If you hold the record (or have a personal best time) for the White Rock time trial course, it will stand for a long time to come! The road is ultra-slow.
Hitting the smooth, new asphalt at White Rock and coming up Pajarito was a huge relief! The best rating I can give the NM4 road surface is … ANNOYING.
If you like running 120 psi in your tires… stay away J
Ride on!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cycletracks: Safe until you are dead

From the Montreal Gazette news article: Investigators “are still trying to understand exactly what happened,” when a cyclist in a cycletrack and a turning truck collided. Guess who lost that argument?

Look, a smart cyclist is a very safe cyclist and cycling is a pretty safe activity, as activities go**. Adding complexity in the name of safety isn't always a good idea. Complexity can create confusion.

There are two street views that help to understand this. Here, looking NW-bound  and here, looking southbound and into the side street .Actually, the news article says the directions are south and north vs. the truck turning west. On Google view, the roads run NW-SE for Christophe Columb and NE-SW for Mistral. So I assume the SE bound truck made a right to turn SW on Mistral and crossed the path of the cyclist riding contra-flow in the NW bound cycletrack.  Sorry for the earlier version.

What bugs me about this scenerio is this: cycletracks are sold as being "safe", attracting inexperienced cyclists who otherwise would not be riding. Therefore, these facilities ought to be "safe".  The problem I have with the design as shown is that it introduces the “sidewalk rideout” hazard by putting cyclist and motorist on separate facilities, adds complexity to the intersection (in this case, in the form of a non-standard road layout with bidirectional cycletrack on one side), has significant visual clutter (see the Google views--thanks, Ian), and finally, does not manage right of way to prevent conflict, i.e., both cyclist and truck driver had the green light (see cyclist view and you can see the little bike green light). The "sidewalk rideout" hazard is one reason the AASHTO still has heartburn about cycletracks like these. This is "safe"??

 The cycletracks alongside streets I saw in Europe had protected crossing cycles. In such a scenerio, a cyclist in the intersection would likely be protected by an administrative barrier such as an on-demand "No Right Turn" light cycle for northbound traffic. This creates delays for everyone and decreases level of service; I wonder if that is why a protected light cycle was not included here.

As John Allen has said elsewhere, if you do this avante garde bikeway design stuff, do it right the first time.  By doing it badly, you kill people; inexperienced riders count on the design rather than their own wits to keep them safe.  Seems to me an "improved" road with a cycle facility should have fewer unmitigated hazards than its "unimproved" version.

Roads have unmitigated hazards. I prefer the proper risk analysis terms of "risk", "mitigation", and "hazards" rather than "safe" or "unsafe" because in proper hazard analysis, you have to identify the hazard and define how to reduce the risk; "safe" and "unsafe" are thrown about like religion. Furthermore, drivers are sometimes clueless. Sometimes, so am I.  Cycletracks are sold as being safe, i.e., reducing risk and eliminating hazards. But in this case, they add hazards that were not there to begin with.

By requiring bicyclists to mentally ride in the real world rather than in some mythical Land of Oz where everyone is safe, we reduce their risk by simplifying traffic, by requiring cyclists to increase their awareness, and by increasing their visibility.  That is what the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Saavy Cyclist, and Traffic Skills teachers do.

Sadly, the best cycling teaching lately goes against policy more intent on putting more butts on bikes than on making sure the designs actually work as advertised and that the new cyclists on these facilities are indeed as saavy as they ought to be. I'm not anti-facility, but I am deeply troubled by what sometimes happens--the facilities are flawed, and no one tells the new riders of the actual risks they are taking and hazards they should identify and mitigate with proper technique.

I like the way the Motorcycle Safety Foundation puts it in this flyer: "If you are considering becoming a rider, here are some questions for you to use as a self-assessment of the physical capabilities and mental attitude required to safely navigate a motorcycle on the street".  Although bicyclists statistically are safer, i.e., at far lower risk of a fatal crash, in fatal crashes per exposure hour, than motorcyclists and even motorists ** ,we should still ask new bicycle riders the same question the MSF asks prospective motorcyclists: are you ready for and do you understand bicycling?

** According to this US News article, number of fatalities per million hours of exposure was 0.26 for biking, 0.47 for driving, 1.53 for living (all causes of death), and 8.80 for motorcycling.

Thanks, I guess, to Andy Cline at Carbon Trace for the heads up on this.

From John Allen's Blog: M. Kary’s review of the Lusk et al. Montreal bikeway study — A compendium of errors and omissions, or: What is not in this article