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VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L  February 2007

VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L February 2007

Subject:

Reply from Rick Hubbard RE: John Allen's Comments on Rick Hubbard's Submission

From:

Rick Hubbard <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Rick Hubbard <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 5 Feb 2007 18:52:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (255 lines)

John,

I'm writing to thank you for providing a wealth of responsible factual
material and comment in response to my post. 

The substance of my post with respect to bicycle transport was: "If we think
in terms of progress over the next 100 years, it seems sensible to me to be
discussing whether and to what extent, Vermont should attempt to provide
modern, safe, healthy and climate friendly alternatives to motorized
transportation along our 2,708 miles of total roadway mileage in Vermont
which VTrans has jurisdiction over." 

Although the example I used related to the separate bicycle paths I
encountered in Europe, your comments seem directly responsive to the
discussion I seek in accordance with my quoted language above.

I hope the substantial time and depth of information you devoted to
providing in your response is appreciated by the many of us who will take
the time to read and understand your comments and examples in depth. I've
spent considerable time doing this this afternoon, and I still have a long
way to go. 

Because your response is so helpful and informative I CHALLENGE MY FELLOW
VTBIKEPEDPOLICY LIST COLLEAGUES TO ALSO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR EFFORTS AND
TO SPEND THE TIME TO DO IT JUSTICE. We'll seldom have a better opportunity.

Cheers!

RICK HUBBARD 
1317 Spear Street
South Burlington, VT 05403-7404
Phone: 802-864-3330
Web: www.rickhubbard.org/ExtendedStays
E-mail: [log in to unmask] 
 
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David W. Jacobowitz
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 2:40 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L] John Allen's Comments on Rick Hubbard's

John Allen is our LAB Regional Director. He asked me to post this very
thoughtful discussion.  DJ

David Jacobowitz:

I strongly agree with the first part of Rick Hubbard's comments, about
having teeth in the Vermont Pedestrian and Bicycle Policy Plan, and setting
goals, but I disagree with his advice on bicycle facilities. I therefore ask
that you distribute the following message to the Coalition's list. I
acknowledge in this connection that I am neither a member nor currently a
resident of Vermont; however, as Regional Director of the League of American
Bicyclists and a former Vermont resident, I am very concerned that Vermont's
planning for bicycling reflect best practices, the results of safety
research, national design guidelines and the League's position statements.
And so, I have taken a good part of my day to prepare this message. 
Thanks.

It is very easy for an American to go over to Europe and become enamored
with bicycle facilities there without being aware of their history and
controversy. A common response of returning Americans is Mr. Hubbard's: to
praise sidepaths and overlook other accommodations and trends. After all,
getting bicycles off the roads is better than sharing the roads  with motor
vehicles, isn't it?

Actually, usually not, other than that it can be easier for the motorists.

Neither the problem nor the solution is so simple. Understand that much of
what you see in Germany, just as here, reflects concepts that were in vogue
at one time, but have been shown to have problems once they received
widespread application. And in particular, sidepaths are preferable to
roadway accommodation, or to paths away from roads, only under a very
limited range of conditions. Vermont's being a largely rural and mountainous
state, where the public will allocate limited funding for bicycle
facilities, also must be taken into account.

Now, examples of where sidepaths *can* make good sense include

* two-way access alongside a limited-access highway;

* a bridge with heavy, high-speed traffic and narrow lanes, and which could
be widened only at great expense, so bicycling is better accommodated on the
bridge sidewalk;

* a riverfront or lakefront corridor where the sidepath is not interrupted
by cross streets or driveways, and the sidepath provides access to the
waterfront parkland.

Consider, however, that:

1) Sidepaths are expensive to construct and difficult to maintain. In hilly
country, it is extremely expensive to construct a sidepath which is graded
as well as the highway it parallels. The compulsion to build a sidepath can
then result in extremely steep grades which are difficult for bicyclists to
climb and unsafe for casual bicyclists to descend -- not to speak of the
problems for wheelchair users and inline skaters. I'll give two examples,
one in new England. 
Terrible crashes have occurred on both when child bicyclists were unable to
control their bicycles riding down steep grades. See the New Hampshire
example

http://john-s-allen.com/galleries/franconia/index.htm --

especially, this photo:

http://john-s-
allen.com/galleries/franconia/phototour/slides/IMG0064chutesm.html; 


and one from Utah:

http://truewheelers.org/cases/stgeorge/index.htm .

2) Sidepath facilities are impractical for year-round bicycle travel in
Vermont's climate unless an extreme and unlikely effort is made to keep them
clear  (special plowing, lots of road salt, lots of sweeping). Sidepaths
become piled with snow -- including plowed snow -- in winter -- and remain
obstructed for weeks after the roadways are clear. Therefore, sidepaths
serve primarily recreational summer traffic. Slippery sand remains long
after the snow has melted, unless a special effort is made to clear it away.
But, once a sidepath has been constructed, the non-cycling public will
consider cyclists' 
problems solved, and no accommodation of bicycling on the roadway can be
expected. End of story for year-round bicycling for transportation. On this
and related topics, see the pages at

http://truewheelers.org/cases/vassarst/index.htm .

Have an especially good look at the page about snow:

http://truewheelers.org/cases/vassarst/snow.htm

3) The noise and compromised scenery along a highway corridor, as well as
the grading problems, make sidepaths not nearly as attractive for casual
recreational use as rail trails and other paths constructed in suitable
alignments away from roadway traffic. These paths are generally popular; and
as recreational facilities, they do not detract from bicycle transportation
by not being kept clear in winter. This type of facility is where funding
for special recreational facilities is most reasonably spent. Vermont offers
major opportunities to construct such facilities -- *easily* enough to meet
Mr. Hubbard's goal of 67 miles in the next 10 years.

4) Rural trip endpoints are generally too widely spaced to attract much
bicycle traffic and justify priority in funding. Many roads in Vermont carry
so little traffic that any special bicycle-related improvements would have a
very low priority. But on rural roads with significant traffic volume,
rideable shoulders or bike lanes are an appropriate solution, with multiple
advantages including ease of clearing, and longer service life of the
roadway with a lower lifetime cost. These improvements work well for avid
cyclists who travel long distances. Paths away from roads, on the other
hand, serve casual recreational cyclists in rural areas best.

5) The car-bike crash rate on sidepaths is generally much worse than on the
roadway. Read that again. It's counterintuitive but that's what the research
shows, in study after study. As the great majority of car-bike crashes
occurs due to crossing and turning movements, the safety problem is most
severe where bicycle use is likely to be heaviest -- in residential and
business districts with lots of trip endpoints accessible by driveways and
cross streets. The increasing in the number of driveways with development
can quickly change a sidepath from reasonably safe to very unsafe, while a
roadway accommodation would remain serviceable See a review of these issues
including links to a number of research studies and translations of German
documents, at http://bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/index.htm .

And, speaking of Germany, Berlin installed sidepaths around 1980 and in 5
years, the number of bicycle crashes per year doubled. The excess crashes
were entirely on the sidepaths. I now have the Berlin study online, at

http://www.john-s-allen.com/research/berlin_1987/radfahrer1.pdf

(at this time only in German, but I will have it in English in another week
or so).

6) As shown in some of the studies already referred to, but especially

http://www.bikexprt.com/research/pasanen/index.htm ,

and

http://bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/adfc173.htm#lund ,

a two-way sidepath on one side of the roadway poses a very high crash risk
at intersections for bicyclists riding opposite the traffic in the closer
travel lane. The sidepath also serves destinations on the other side poorly.
But with a one-way sidepath on each side, it is necessary to ride past a
destination on the opposite side to the next legal crossing location, then
double back. Most bicyclists won't be bothered to extend their trip distance
and travel time in this way, and so wrong-way riding on one-way sidepaths is
endemic. See

http://truewheelers.org/cases/vassarst/desire.htm

(in the suite of pages I linked to earlier).

7) While the German government has been constructing and advocating bicycle
sidepaths, the German bicyclists' organization, the ADFC, has been
campaigning against them. This is not an "elitist" bicyclist's organization,
but rather an organization representing all types of transportation and
recreational bicyclists. See for example

http://bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/adfc.htm

8) German practice in urban areas has turned toward a wide range of
accommodations, including slow-speed zones and bike lanes and contraflow
bike lanes (also becoming more widely used in other countries including the
USA). See examples at

http://bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/lanes/contraflow.htm

and the research report at

http://bikexprt.com/research/contraflow/gegengerichtet.htm .

9) Advancing American practice in urban areas has turned increasingly toward
the "bicycle boulevard" concept, creating through routes on secondary
streets by restricting through travel by motorists, see the last three
images at

http://bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/lanes/midstreet.htm .

This approach has been widely used in the West Coast cities Palo Alto,
Berkeley, and Eugene.

In summary: I hope that Vermont will adopt best practices, appropriate for
its particular situation. Well, enough for now. Thank you.

John S. Allen

Member, Massbike Board of Directors
Regional Director for New York and New England, League of American
Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor #77-C and Member of the League's
Education Committee Member, Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory
Board Member, National Committee for Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bicycle
Technical Committee.

7 University Park
Waltham, MA  02453-1523  USA
781 891-9307
[log in to unmask]
http://bikexprt.com

==========
VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L: The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion List
Subscription control: http://list.uvm.edu/archives/vtbikepedpolicy-l.html.
For help: email [log in to unmask] with the word "help" in the message
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==========
VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L: The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion List
Subscription control: http://list.uvm.edu/archives/vtbikepedpolicy-l.html.
For help: email [log in to unmask] with the word "help" in the message body.

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