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More bike paths planned to fight gridlock, smog

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  • Robert J. Matter
    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=998648053929&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188492&call
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 26, 2001
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      http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=998648053929&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188492&call_pagepath=News/News&col=968793972154

      Aug. 24, 2001. 04:57 PM

      More bike paths planned to fight
      gridlock, smog
      By Louise Surette
      Staff Reporter thestar.com

      A plan by the city to create a massive
      network of dedicated bicycle paths is
      promising to make Toronto the most
      cycling-friendly city in North America.

      A new 46-metre bicycle bridge, now
      open across the Don River just north of
      Lake Shore Blvd. E., is just the first in
      a number of changes over the next 10
      years that will give city cyclists easier
      and safer access to more dedicated bike
      lanes.

      A path from the new bridge winding north through the Don
      Ravine to Leslie St. and Eglinton Ave. is also scheduled to be
      completed by the end of this fall.

      The hope is that encouraging more bike trips will ease the city's
      growing problems with gridlock and smog.

      Currently, Toronto is a laggard compared to other Canadian
      cities when it comes to bicycle lanes, says Toronto councillor
      Jack Layton, a long-time supporter of the plan, who is
      impressed with the bike-path networks in Ottawa and
      Edmonton.

      But he says the new plan, approved by city council in June, will
      move Toronto in the right direction.

      The city now has 166 kilometres of bicycle paths, but the new
      plan would increase that figure to more than 1,000 kilometres of
      on and off-road paths all over the city, including in the inner-city
      suburbs of Etobicoke, Scarborough and North York.

      The plan calls for new paths through hydro right-of-ways,
      beside rail lines and through city parks and ravines.

      It would also give many main roadways an adjoining bike lane.

      The project, which will cost about $70 million over a decade,
      will see city staff take measurements for new bike lanes
      wherever road repairs take place.

      The lanes on most city streets are wider than the required 3.6
      metres, so most roadways could be re-painted to make room for
      dedicated lanes.

      The ultimate goal is that the bike network will have at least one
      dedicated off-road path or on-road lane no more than a
      five-minute bike ride from every city resident.

      ''This will mean that people, including those in the suburbs, will
      have safe designated places to ride their bike so they can use
      them for short trips like out to get some milk instead of firing up
      the automobile,'' says Layton.

      This the best time for the plan, he adds, because Toronto is in
      the middle of a ''bicycle user explosion.'' Layton attributes the
      boom to the fact people simply can't afford to drive or take
      public transit every day and there is an increased awareness
      about smog and the environment.

      ''(Cycling is) also fast and fun,'' he says.

      According to research done by the city, about 62 per cent of
      Toronto households own at least one bicycle and about 50 per
      cent of residents over the age of 15 consider themselves cyclists.

      An average of three cyclists have been killed each year since
      1990 and more than 1,000 injured. Layton says he would like to
      see a day when people in Toronto do what many Europeans do
      and ride their bike to the train station and then have a second
      bike parked at their final stop, which they would then ride to
      work.
    • Alex Farran
      ... That might be the intention, but as a cyclist I don t find bike paths to be safe or friendly. Can you really create two overlapping road transport
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 27, 2001
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        "Robert J. Matter" wrote:

        > A plan by the city to create a massive
        > network of dedicated bicycle paths is
        > promising to make Toronto the most
        > cycling-friendly city in North America.

        That might be the intention, but as a cyclist I don't find bike paths to
        be safe or friendly. Can you really create two overlapping road
        transport networks and have them function safely and efficiently?

        > The plan calls for new paths through hydro right-of-ways,
        > beside rail lines and through city parks and ravines.

        Sounds OK. I'd use a car free road, but only if it was pedestrian free
        too.
        >
        > It would also give many main roadways an adjoining bike lane.
        >
        And expose cyclists to more danger at every drive and side-road, put
        them at the wrong position for turns and take them out of the motorists'
        line of sight.

        > This the best time for the plan, he adds, because Toronto is in
        > the middle of a ''bicycle user explosion.''

        So why the need for bike lanes? Are the cyclists getting in the way?

        There probably are places where on road bike lanes and segregated bike
        paths make sense. But generally they're bad news. Segregated
        facilities come from the same "road safety" school of thought that
        forced pedestrians into underpasses and behind fences so that cars may
        drive as fast as they like without having to worry about hitting
        anyone. The proper approach is to reduce the danger at it's source,
        restricting the freedom of the cars, not everyone else.

        Alex
      • Richard Risemberg
        ... True, true. Every city has a system of bike paths in place already; they are called streets, and most cities have statutes granting bicycles the same
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 27, 2001
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          Alex Farran wrote:
          >
          > "Robert J. Matter" wrote:
          > ...as a cyclist I don't find bike paths to
          > be safe or friendly. Can you really create two overlapping road
          > transport networks and have them function safely and efficiently?

          True, true. Every city has a system of bike paths in place already;
          they are called "streets," and most cities have statutes granting
          bicycles the same privilege of use there as have cars. It's safer to
          ride as traffic, in traffic, than to be out of the driver's sight and
          mind till you pop in at some invisible intersection, such as the
          driveways etc that Mr. Matter mentions. Bikepaths are statixstically
          more dangerous for cyclists than street riding (read your Forester!).
          Here's one of my early rants on the subjet:

          http://www.living-room.org/bikepeople/bikepaths.htm

          Richard
          --
          Richard Risemberg
          http://www.living-room.org
          http://www.newcolonist.com

          "Life is complicated and not for the timid."
          Garrison Keillor
        • J.H. Crawford
          My 2 cents: I like bike paths where I can t even see any cars. (Some paths on the Dutch island of Texel actually achieve this standard, and Denmark has a long,
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 27, 2001
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            My 2 cents:

            I like bike paths where I can't even see any cars. (Some paths
            on the Dutch island of Texel actually achieve this standard,
            and Denmark has a long, long path that's almost entirely
            separated from cars--an old rail right of way out of Silkeborg.)

            Riding in bike lanes next to parked cars gives me the hives.
            Even here, where people are accustomed to lots of bikes,
            people sometimes open their door and catch a cyclist.

            Some paths here are more or less internal to the sidewalk;
            not part of the pedestrian area, but fully separated from
            the cars. That works pretty well, but takes more space.
            Of course, any shortage of space can be corrected by taking
            a lane away from the cars....

            Any time, in MY judgement, there isn't room for a car to
            pass me safely, I move out and take the whole lane. Gets
            drivers p-o'd at times, but tough. It's my hide, not theirs.


            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            postmaster@... Carfree.com
          • Henning Mortensen
            ... Oh dear, anyone have the number of motor vehical deaths and injuries? And I wonder what caused the fatalities and injuries. Henning
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 27, 2001
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              >From: "Robert J. Matter" <rjmatter@...>
              >An average of three cyclists have been killed each year since
              >1990 and more than 1,000 injured.

              Oh dear, anyone have the number of motor vehical deaths and injuries? And I
              wonder what caused the fatalities and injuries.

              Henning



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            • Matt Hohmeister
              If you ever find yourself in Valencia, Spain, check out the bike lanes on the main boulevard (whose name I can t recall at the time). Despite having four
              Message 6 of 8 , Aug 28, 2001
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                If you ever find yourself in Valencia, Spain, check out the bike lanes
                on the main boulevard (whose name I can't recall at the time).

                Despite having four traffic lanes, the road had a 2-track tramway in
                the center median, and the (huge) sidewalks on either side of the road
                had 2-lane bike markings on the outside. Thus, cyclists were
                completely protected from automotive traffic. This is much better than
                the "diamond" bike lanes we have here in Florida that, although some
                are large and very generous of space, are still a hazard, being in
                traffic. (In fact, some are wide enough that they wind up used as a
                parking lane. And, of course, the city does absolutely nothing about
                this).

                By the way, I just wrote to a contact person of FSU's Facilities,
                Planning, and Construction, expressing my disgust in a linear park
                that was turned back into a road--with no bike lanes, speed bumps,
                crosswalks, or any other type of safery feature. I guess time will
                tell what she has to say to my message--if she even responds.

                --matt

                > Some paths here are more or less internal to the sidewalk;
                > not part of the pedestrian area, but fully separated from
                > the cars. That works pretty well, but takes more space.
                > Of course, any shortage of space can be corrected by taking
                > a lane away from the cars....
              • Alex Farran
                ... I question your assumption that being in traffic is more dangerous than riding on a seperate path. Of course you are protected from being rear-ended, but
                Message 7 of 8 , Aug 29, 2001
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                  Matt Hohmeister wrote:

                  > Despite having four traffic lanes, the road had a 2-track tramway in
                  > the center median, and the (huge) sidewalks on either side of the road
                  > had 2-lane bike markings on the outside. Thus, cyclists were
                  > completely protected from automotive traffic. This is much better than
                  > the "diamond" bike lanes we have here in Florida that, although some
                  > are large and very generous of space, are still a hazard, being in
                  > traffic. (In fact, some are wide enough that they wind up used as a
                  > parking lane. And, of course, the city does absolutely nothing about
                  > this).
                  >
                  I question your assumption that being in traffic is more dangerous than riding
                  on a seperate path. Of course you are protected from being rear-ended, but
                  unless the junctions have been very carefully planned you are exposed to
                  greater danger there. The risk of being rear-ended is small, and the greatest
                  danger is at any kind of junction. A real bike safety plan would concentrate
                  on reducing the greatest danger.


                  --
                  __o
                  _`\<, "If you brake, you don't win." -Mario Cipollini
                  (*)/(*)
                  Alex Farran, Lewes, East Sussex, UK www.alexfarran.com
                • Matt Hohmeister
                  Oh yeah--that was another cool part of Valencia: Many intersections had three sets of lights: traffic: standard red, yellow, and green ball lights pedestrian:
                  Message 8 of 8 , Aug 30, 2001
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                    Oh yeah--that was another cool part of Valencia:

                    Many intersections had three sets of lights:

                    traffic: standard red, yellow, and green ball lights

                    pedestrian: standard green "guy walking" and red "guy standing"
                    pedestrain lights, with blinking green to alert that it's about to
                    turn red.

                    bicycle: same manner as pedestrian lights, except it's a green and red
                    line-drawing of a bike.

                    i thought that was kinda cool. bikes having their own lights--and lane
                    crossings at intersections: pedestrians has the standard zebras;
                    bikes; marked lanes. it made for pretty dang wide streets, but, of
                    course, eliminating the traffic would make it just as wide as, if not
                    thinner, than the street alone.

                    A note about high-speed biking: when I ride my bike at insanely high
                    speeds (I've hit 35 mph going downhill), i've noticed that the width
                    of a *regular traffic lane* seems comfortable on a bike. A typical
                    bike lane feels uncomfortably thin at such speeds. So I might propose
                    that some bikeways in carfree be the width of a regular road so
                    whackos like me can have fun without slamming into slow bikers.
                    Heck--with no cars, we've got the space to spare! ;)

                    Also, I've seen crosswalks with audible walk signals for the visually
                    impaired. FSU has one on the campus, and it's a plain buzzer. Downtown
                    Peoria, Illinois has them at many intersections, as do a few in a
                    Madrid suburb I've been to. The intersection walk signals have
                    different tweets/beeps for each direction. Does anyone know how to
                    tell which one means which way? Or are visually impaired persons
                    supposed to just listen to which way it's coming from?

                    I saw some push-for-signal walk buttons in Madrid that had two lights:
                    "PUSH TO WALK" and "WAIT FOR GREEN", the former lit if the button has
                    not yet been pushed, the latter when the button is pushed. This is
                    useful when there's a large crowd waiting to cross the
                    street--everyone knows that the button has been pressed, so every
                    single person who approaches doesn't feel like thay have to push
                    it--it's already been pushed.

                    Here's a little difference I've noticed--I'm not really sure if this
                    makes any difference, but it might be worth noting (someone tell me if
                    the rest of Europe does this too):

                    USA: Walk lights are white. Spain: green. In the USA, they're mostly
                    language dependent, but Tallahassee is going the way of lit stick
                    figures, like Spain had.

                    USA: don't-walk flashes to warn you not to cross. Spain: the *walk*
                    light flashes. In *my* humble opinion, the American method here makes
                    more sense. Anyone beg to differ?

                    --matt

                    --- In carfree_cities@y..., Alex Farran <alex@a...> wrote:
                    > Matt Hohmeister wrote:
                    >
                    > > Despite having four traffic lanes, the road had a 2-track tramway
                    in
                    > > the center median, and the (huge) sidewalks on either side of the
                    road
                    > > had 2-lane bike markings on the outside. Thus, cyclists were
                    > > completely protected from automotive traffic. This is much better
                    than
                    > > the "diamond" bike lanes we have here in Florida that, although
                    some
                    > > are large and very generous of space, are still a hazard, being in
                    > > traffic. (In fact, some are wide enough that they wind up used as
                    a
                    > > parking lane. And, of course, the city does absolutely nothing
                    about
                    > > this).
                    > >
                    > I question your assumption that being in traffic is more dangerous
                    than riding
                    > on a seperate path. Of course you are protected from being
                    rear-ended, but
                    > unless the junctions have been very carefully planned you are
                    exposed to
                    > greater danger there. The risk of being rear-ended is small, and
                    the greatest
                    > danger is at any kind of junction. A real bike safety plan would
                    concentrate
                    > on reducing the greatest danger.
                    >
                    >
                    > --
                    > __o
                    > _`\<, "If you brake, you don't win." -Mario
                    Cipollini
                    > (*)/(*)
                    > Alex Farran, Lewes, East Sussex, UK www.alexfarran.com
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