I’m just back from doing an in-studio interview with David Fair, who hosts an environmentally focused interview each Wednesday morning at 8:20 AM on WEMU radio. The impetus was my op ed piece on bicycling, published in the Ann Arbor News. The show is also available on line, archived here.
He did a nice job. Hopefully I did as well. If I had unlimited time and ignored the rule about making just a few points and not getting complicated I would have so much more to say — so I’ll high light some of those points here instead. On the radio it was basically bikes need more visibility to be safe, it is to everyone’s benefit to have more bikes on the road, and enforcement should reflect riding styles and be encouraging to bikes.
Details? In no particular order -
John Pusher has written a lot about getting more people biking and bike safety. He suggests three things –
- separate bike lanes in areas that are heavily traveled
- separate the bikes at intersections
- do traffic calming in neighborhoods to make them pedestrian and bike friendly.
An Arbor Mayor John Hieftje claims we have a ridership commuting rate of 7.5%. Which is way beyond the country wide rate of 1% for bicycle usage. COntrast that to Belgium has 10%, Denmark 20%, and the Netherlands 30%. In Europe the usage is evenly distributed by age and sex. In the US mostly young males.
Places that have really high numbers like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have now created 400 KM in each city of separate bike lanes and paths – removed form car traffic. Other measures include traffic calming, car free zones, bike streets were bikes have priority over cars, and expanded rights for bicycles (for example bikes are 2 way, cars are one way).
“Bike Boxes” or “Advance Stop Lines” are helping as well as advance green signals for bikes, turn restrictions for cars where bikes are allowed to turn, and the yield on stop and stop on red lights all recognize the unique issues and support bicyclists.
Consider timing of lights for bicycle speeds, (creates traffic calming).
Lately there are 20-30 bikes in front of the Co-op most times of the day.
Ticketing bicyclists for running red lights, even when they came to a complete stop first, is accomplishing nothing as far as safety and promoting bicycling. There are many other offenses of greater concern – cars driving in bike lanes, blocking bike lanes, running lights without stopping, cars cutting off pedestrians and bikes when turning, not using turn signals, speeding, etc.
Most important are two studies that show that as the number of bicyclists increase, accidents decrease. Check out Science Daily and Injury Prevention. Policies that increase the number of bicyclists are better at decreasing accidents than bike safety programs that focus on the rider. Most bike accidents are cased by motorists, not bicyclists, so training and licensing have little real effect.
The Toronto Bike Plan found that people are more comfortable using bike paths and lanes seperate from cars, and of course least comfortable having to be in traffic with cars and no separate lanes.
30% of the bike car crashes were from bicycles on sidewalks or just leaving sidewalks.
What were the crashes? 1997-98
motorist driving out at controlled intersection – 284
motorist overtaking – 277
motorist opening vehicle door into bicyclist – 276
left turns while facing bicyclist – 248
right turn not at red light – 224
r turn at red light – 179
drive out form lane or driveway into bicycle – 179
and from there the numbers drop dramatically. There were 2325 car bike crashes total recorded.
A Danish study showed that while bicycling is dangerous, there was a 39% greater mortality rate in people who did not bike to work.
The benefits of increased number of bicycles include increased safety, better health fro the rider, less pollution, less money spent on parking spaces, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution and climate change effects, and less traffic congestion. A new one for me is that as you make roads more bike friendly, you tend to make a friendlier environment for pedestrians as well.
So there is my unorganized rant on bicycles. I believe the radio interview will be far more coherent and simple.