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Note: The following OpEd appeared in both the print and on-line versions of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016.  Other similar OpEds I’ve written that I can recall appeared in the Post-Dispatch in May 2000 and May 20, 2010. The 2010 OpEd was titled Help the planet: Ride a bike. I posted it on this thinkbicyclingblog with this great Earth Day cartoon by then Post-Dispatch editorial cartoonist, R J Matson.

Matson_Earth_Day_cartoon_Apr22_2009

Matson Earth Day cartoon, April 22, 2009

Bike Month is every month
Safe riding: Educate motorists and cyclists about the best methods to share the road.

Martin Pion headshot polling Place 2010 sh red_5099by Martin Pion

May is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate the most efficient mode of personal transportation ever devised and promote its beneficial societal use year-round.

Recently there has been a resurgence in bicycling, prompting recreational trails development and bicycle lane striping, in which Great Rivers Greenway plays a major role locally. Yet, despite these efforts, less than 1% of Americans choose bicycling for transportation, compared to a European country like Holland (26% of all trips). Part of the problem is that America is car-centric, but in urban and suburban areas, a bicycle is still often an option for shorter trips.

Andy Cline_161976_137763152952598_7920541_n

Dr Andy Cline

Dr. Andrew Cline and I examined this in a peer-reviewed paper titled “Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education in the United States,” published in the January 2016 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) journal. Of note is that the Dutch stress bicycle education from an early age, and not just constructing bike facilities.

Mighk Wilson 30a2992

Mighk Wilson

Mighk Wilson, American Bicycling Education Association (ABEA) executive director, has said that cyclists need to know how to ride safely on-road no matter what transportation engineers design. A unique opportunity to learn more will be ABEA’s Bicycling Education Conference in St. Louis, October 14-16, 2016 (information at abea.bike/programs/iat2).

Maximizing bicyclist safety in the U.S. means, among other things, eliminating laws that discriminate against cyclists, something which my own City of Ferguson was first in Missouri to address. In 2012, Ferguson repealed its ordinance, based on Missouri state law, referred to as the “Far To the Right” law (section 307.190 Riding to the right, required for bicycles and motorized bicycles), which generally required cyclists to ride as far right “as safe.”

Pion & larger Ferguson BMUFL signs_5474

Martin Pion points to a new larger BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE sign in Ferguson

The new Ferguson ordinance now permits a cyclist to control the curb lane on four-lane Florissant Rd., for example, to maximize safety. BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE (BMUFL) signs, and on-road “sharrows” (officially called Shared Lane Markings) alert motorists to this new regulation. (Ferguson Public Works Director, Matt Unrein, approved a larger sign, newly installed in this March 21st, 2016, photo in which I’m pointing to it.)

It may be counter intuitive, but riding far to the right actually increases crash risk, one cause being right turning overtaking motorists. Signage like Ferguson’s encourages lane control and cooperative behavior.

As noted above, bicycle safety education is important, and the nation’s best program is called CyclingSavvy, which Wilson helped to launch.

Karen Karabell head

Karen Karabell

In 2011, St. Louis resident Karen Karabell established a local affiliate called CyclingSavvy St. Louis which offers a comprehensive three session course aimed at teaching the skills and knowledge needed for confident and safe on-road bicycling. GRG provides generous support for classes in St. Louis City and Ferguson (details on-line at tinyurl.com/gpgcutt).

Shawn Leight

Shawn Leight

Some groups advocate primarily for bike facilities while others stress bike education. In early 2015, I was introduced by Karen Karabell to Shawn Leight, a leading local transportation engineer (since elected ITE Vice-President), who expressed a desire to reconcile these two groups by accommodating both. The following examples show how to help achieve this goal:

* How to improve W. Florissant Ave. “Great Streets” Plan. This video, showing the destruction following the shooting death of Michael Brown, recommends adding on-road BMUFL signage and sharrows to a St. Louis County proposal for a separated mixed-use path along this four-lane road in Ferguson and Dellwood.

* New Parking-Separated Bikeway, St. Louis City, 2015. This features a bike ride along downtown Chestnut Street’s new bikeway with a return along four-lane Market Street. The bikeway should be balanced by adding BMUFL signage and sharrows to Market Street. In the video Karabell commented that other drivers may turn in front of you when you are in a bike lane and cyclists should be aware of this.

* Safe Cycling 4 Kids: 10-year-old Theresa shows how. A 10-1/4 year old demonstrates competent traffic cycling in Ferguson after proper instruction in this detailed blog featuring a video.

We should encourage soundly based bike education while alerting motorists and cyclists to the risks inherent in most bike facilities.

BMUFL sign cropped sm_5474

New signboard: 24″ x 24″ top and 24″ by 10″ bottom

This morning Ferguson replaced a small motorist advisory sign at the southern city boundary on S. Florissant Road with a larger more prominent one, as shown in the figure at right. This comes several years after the original sign was installed following approval by then city manager, Mr. John Shaw. Shortly afterwards, Shaw concluded that the sign was too small to be noticed by passing motorists.

Earlier this year the new Assistant City Manager, Mr. Matt Unrein, approved the installation of a larger sign on a trial basis, the sign being obtained by Martin Pion from Missouri Vocational Enterprises in Jefferson City.

I wrote about the original sign in November 2012: New “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs in Ferguson to aid cyclists, followed by a story by then St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Paul Hampel: 2012-12-03 P-D: “Ferguson street signs mark safety advance for bicyclists”.

The old Bikes May Use Full Lane (BMUFL) sign was 12″ x 18″, which is also the size of a NO PARKING ANY TIME sign, like the one shown in the photo below taken at the northern city boundary on N. Florissant Rd. The new sign (above) is almost four times the area of the old sign.

BMUFL & bus_red_1270

NO PARKING sign above same size (12″ x 18″) BMUFL sign
on N. Florissant Rd. near the northern Ferguson city boundary

The new high reflectivity replacement sign is in two parts to make it more versatile, the upper signboard being 24″ x 24″ while the lower one is 24″ x 10″. The photos below were taken during removal of the old sign and its replacement by city employees Dennis (on ladder) and Mark, followed by a photo Dennis took of me posing under the new sign.

Preparing to remove old sign

Preparing to remove the old sign

Final adjustment of new signs

Final adjustments to new signs near the southern city boundary. Looking north along S. Florissant Rd. adjoining the BP gas station at the corner of Woodstock Rd.

Dennis and Mark pose after installation

Dennis and Mark pose after installation

Martin Pion points out new larger BMUFL sign

Martin Pion points to new larger BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE sign
Photo by Dennis B., Ferguson Public Works Dept.

[P.S. As I was heading home following the sign installation I decided to stop by the Ferguson Bicycle Shop and talk to owner Gerry Noll. This meant changing lanes from the curb lane to the inside lane in preparation for a left turn onto Suburban Ave. Merging after a safe gap, a left-turning motorist caught me up and quickly lost patience, gunning his engine to merge right to pass me, then left again only to get stopped at the traffic light ahead.  I caught up with him shortly afterwards and we turned left after being stopped for a few seconds. C’est la vie!]

This is a look back in the (rear-view helmet-mounted Third Eye bicycling) mirror, to when I was tricycling to work at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. every workday year-round, starting during a sizzling hot summer in 1980 through mid-1991, when I took early retirement to start a home-based business.

Pion on trike 1987

Martin Pion on his trike outside his home, September 1987
Wayne Crosslin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I don’t recall how it came about but St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Leo Fitzmaurice, ended up doing a story about me which included the photo above of me on my trike outside my home in Ferguson. The story is pasted directly below. I’ve corrected some errors it contained in comments following it.

Please either click the link Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon Sept 7, 1987 to read the story pasted below, or press Cd+ when using a Mac to enlarge this page. Use the back button, top right to return to page.
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon 1987-09-09 rev-1
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon 1987-09-09 rev-2
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon Sept 7, 1987-3 rev

Post-Dispatch Story Corrections & Additions:

  • “Pion … has been a cyclist since childhood.”
    Growing up, I did sometimes bicycle  with friends to such places as parks that were too far away to walk. But I left my bike behind after moving to London when I was 15, and I didn’t resume cycling again until I was around 34 for environmental reasons, when I committed to bicycling to work daily.
  • “In recent years, he has preferred a tricycle because of its greater stability and better traction on pockmarked roads.”
    A three-tracked tricycle is actually inferior to a single-track bicycle on pockmarked roads since it’s harder to dodge potholes, etc.
  • “His blue tricycle, about the weight of a 10-speed bicycle.”
    Having an additional rear wheel and a rear axle does make it heavier than a bicycle. However, since the frame is made from Reynolds thin-walled bicycle tubing, that helps to keep the total weight down to 35 lbs. (That’s before adding the bike tools plus the change of clothes I used to take to work each day in the case on the back.)
  • “The Pions were living in Harlow, England, … when Martin Pion designed the tandem tricycle.”
    It wasn’t my design but one offered by Ken Rogers who built tricycles.
  • “the advantage of brakes on each of the rear wheels – more effective, he says, than brakes on a bicycle’s single wheels.”
    On the tricycle in the photograph, which was originally bought for my wife, the dual braking is all on the front wheel, and is very effective. On a bicycle this arrangement would be dangerous, however, because of the risk of being thrown over the handlebars during heavy braking. That’s never happened on the trike because of the extra weight on the rear wheels.
  • “She (his wife) thought she had silenced me, but I found how to manage it,” Martin Pion said jokingly.”
    That was a reference to a much earlier conversation with my wife, whom I was trying to persuade to start cycling in England. She said if I could find a tricycle for her, she would consider it, and to her surprise I found one advertised in the Exchange & Mart, which is what subsequently led me to choose a tricycle to ride to work too.
  • “A bicycle’s one advantage is turning at a high rate of speed, Pion says.”
    I was referring to the tendency for a tricycle to tip when turning, due to centrifugal force, which has to be countered by physically leaning in the opposite direction. Thus, when turning right one has to also lean right. Clearly bicycles have other advantages as well, one being lower weight, noted above, and narrower overall width, which on my trike is 24″ at the rear.
  • “Pion has had no accidents involving motor vehicles when cycling. One of his three mishaps on a tricycle occurred when he rode down a hill too fast, a second when a dog crossed his path, and a third when he rode on ice-covered Airport Road and overturned.”    
    The first was actually when I was riding down Airport Rd. on my way home from work, shortly  and a motorist was breathing down my neck as I approached a traffic light just beyond the I-170 underpass and started to turn left. Instead, I continued in a straight line as my inside wheel skidded from under me. On a bike I’d have skinned my left leg and arm but the rear axle held me off the ground. Oncoming traffic already stopped at the stop light continued to wait patiently even after the light changed, giving me time to right my trike, collect the front lamp that had flown off, and then cross the road in front of them. From that experience I learned a lesson: try not to allow a motorist to intimidate you or dictate how you behave.
  • “when a dog crossed his path” mentioned above as the second occurrence was actually a Doberman Pinscher which dashed out from a residential front yard and leapt on me as I tricycled past, knocking me over onto one arm, causing bursitis which took months to heal.
  • “when he rode on ice-covered Airport Road and overturned.” wasn’t quite accurate either. After a heavy snowfall I decided to turn right out of McDonnell Douglas instead of left as usual, and that took me over train tracks which, of course, I didn’t detect until finding myself falling over. However, I wasn’t moving very fast and was able to just put a leg on the ground to steady myself and continue once upright again. That particular evening traffic was backed up in both directions and essentially stop and go. I was able to move into the opposite lane on two-lane Frost Ave. in Berkeley when the road was clear, pass platoons of cars, and then merge back in again. Instead of a 30 minute journey it ended up taking well over an hour but I was still much quicker than a colleague who had left earlier than me by car.
  • The last page is titled “Cyclist Lists The Rules For Safety In Riding.”
    Back in 1987, I was still practicing John Forester’s recommendations for lane positioning at intersections: “The rule of thirds,” Forester called it.  Over time, I concluded that it was safer to exercise lane control whenever possible, certainly at intersections and on multi-lane roads.
  • What is cyclist Karen Karabell doing amidst a lot of heavy traffic and slushy snow?!

    Brentwood & Eager 52d0be422b181

    All photos are by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer
    Robert Cohen <rcohen@post-dispatch.com>

    Scary stuff? It certainly looks like it as Karen Karabell waits on her bike at a stop light signalling a planned left turn from Brentwood Blvd. onto Eager Rd. in St. Louis County.

    PD_photographer_Robert_Cohen_crop red_4841

    Robert Cohen
    Photo: Martin Pion

    Veteran St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer, Robert Cohen, took the above dramatic photo of Karen Karabell on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Cohen and fellow photographer, Jim Forbes, were following Karen by car as she biked from the Clayton Metrolink station on a shopping trip in Brentwood, returning home via the Brentwood Metrolink station.

    When I asked Karen what she was thinking when this photo was taken she replied:

    “I was as calm as could be. Safe traffic cycling skills are often counter-intuitive. While this looks unusual to an untrained eye, using “driver behavior” truly is the safest way for a cyclist to navigate this intersection.”

    The photo, one of several taken along Karen’s route, accompanied a front-page story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlined Complete Streets bike-friendly plan hits bumpy road in St. Louis County.

    A recent heavy snowfall made it look challenging but the photo is deceptive, as will be evident from reviewing the entire series of photos below. First, here’s a map showing Karen’s route, followed by the first photo in the series as Karen alights at the Clayton Metrolink station:

    Map Clayton for KK bike ride 2014

    Karen’s bike route from the Clayton Metrolink station to her bank
    and Trader Joe’s, returning via the Brentwood Metrolink station.

    Karen arriving Metrolink on way to bank etc 52d1a40ede98b

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell arrives at the Clayton Metrolink stop, on her way to do bank and grocery store errands on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.
    Photo ref: 52d1a40ede98b

    Karen after arriving at Clayton ML en route to bank etc

    Caption: After arriving at the Clayton Metrolink stop, Central West End resident Karen Karabell heads down Central Avenue, en route to bank and grocery errands on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.           Photo. ref: 52d1a40e41f71

    Karen’s comment:
    “Before we left the Clayton Metrolink station, I stood with Post-Dispatch photographers Robert Cohen and Jim Forbes by Jim’s car parked at the curb on Central Avenue to discuss my route. I explained that I would be turning right onto Shaw Park Drive, [A continuation of Forest Park Pkwy] and then left onto Brentwood Boulevard. My first stop was at BMO Harris Bank. They intended to follow me to the bank, with Jim driving and Robert shooting photographs.

    I got all the way to the bank without them behind me!

    I was surprised, because I thought I had been very clear when describing my route. I parked my bike and went inside to make my deposit. When I came out, they were waiting in the parking lot.

    So much for motor vehicles being more efficient than human-powered vehicles in an urban setting!”

    Karen passing Galleria en route to Trader Joes  52d1a40cce384

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell passes the Galleria, riding on Brentwood Boulevard en route to a Trader Joe’s shopping trip on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Karabell rode Metrolink from home to the Clayton stop and used her bike the rest of the way.           Photo ref: 52d1a40cce384

    Karen:
    “I am on Brentwood Boulevard, in the right of three travel lanes going south alongside the Galleria. Robert and Jim are keeping pace with me in the middle of the travel lanes. If you look closely, this photo shows me monitoring conditions in my rearview mirror. We have lots of motorists stacked up behind us as we “block” two traffic lanes for Robert to take photos of me! I keep expecting someone to get impatient and start honking, but nobody does. I am amazed, and gratified to again confirm my belief that St. Louis motorists are some of the most courteous on the planet.

    When they are satisfied they have enough photos, Jim and Robert zoom ahead to wait for me to arrive for my left turn onto Eager Road.”

    Karen mentioned to me that she and the Post-Dispatch car were occupying two adjoining lanes going at about 12mph while traffic patiently waited behind. And there was a lot of traffic because this was the first day the road was clear after St. Louis County plowed it.

    Brentwood &amp; Eager 52d0be422b181

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell makes a turn signal while waiting at a stoplight at Brentwood Boulevard and Eager Road on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Karabell rode to her bank and Trader Joe’s after taking Metrolink from home, getting off at the Clayton stop and biking the rest of the way.       Photo ref: 52d0be422b181

    Above is the photo originally shown at the top of this blog with Karen signaling while waiting at a stop light. I’ve restored the original caption.

    Return via Brentwood Metrolink 52d1a40d9c1e2

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell hoists her grocery-laden bike to the Brentwood Metrolink stop, heading home after running errands in Clayton and Brentwood on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.           Photo. ref: 52d1a40d9c1e2

    Karen’s comment:
    “I’m hoisting my bicycle and $100 worth of groceries onto the unshoveled sidewalk to trudge to the Brentwood Metrolink station. “This is the hardest thing I’ve done all day,” I complain to Robert (Cohen).”

    After the story was published Karen wrote to a Post-Dispatch reporter to express her appreciation and discuss bike-related issues:

    Karen Karabell <kkarabell@gmail.com>
    To: Steve Giegerich <SGiegerich@post-dispatch.com>
    Jan 10, 2014 6:26 am

    Subject: After yesterday’s photo shoot, I want to offer 15 more words

    Hi Steve,

    Hilary, your photo editor, chose to follow me on my rounds yesterday. She sent Robert Cohen and Jim Forbes (as photographer & driver) to meet me. Brentwood Boulevard from downtown Clayton to Trader Joes was my main route. As usual, it was a totally uneventful and courteous ride. There was not a hint of incivility from the motorists sharing the road with me (Robert & Jim can confirm). There was one thing special: Those guys turned my ordinary errand-running and shopping trip into especially great fun!

    On the phone Hilary asked me why I was against the Complete Streets ordinance. Our streets are already complete, I responded. This was reaffirmed yesterday—as has been the case on my many thousands of cycling trips. But I never clearly expressed this to you, so want to offer the below 15 words, in the hope that you might find them useful clarification for this side of the story:

    For cyclists, our streets are complete — and a lot easier to use without bike lanes.

    Thanks,

    Karen

    BACK STORY TO KAREN’S BIKE RIDE TO BANK & TRADER JOE’S

    In December 2013, I learned from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of efforts by St. Louis County Council to enact a Complete Streets ordinance. The name “Complete Streets” conjures up rosy pictures of all road users being treated equitably but unfortunately, for cyclists, Complete Streets typically boils down to promoting bike lanes.

    Bike lanes may sound like a good idea, and they have a lot of support from those who view them as encouraging cycling or improving safety. However, my experience is that they complicate car-bike interactions where they’re potentially most dangerous – at intersections – so I’m generally opposed to them.

    Consequently, I decided to speak out against this Complete Streets bill during the public portion of a regularly scheduled weekly meeting of St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, December 3rd, and invited other on-road cyclists to join me. A number did, including Karen Karabell, her husband Harold, and son Eli, all three of them cycling to that first meeting, and numerous meetings following, from their Central West End home. I drove to the Council meeting from Ferguson, accompanied by Nick Kasoff, another experienced on-road cyclist who lives near me.

    Karen is a highly experienced certified CyclingSavvy Instructor (CSI) who runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis, after first becoming certified as a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (LCI) like me.

    I posted all the relevant public comments of that December 3rd, 2013, council meeting here:

    2013-12-03 “Complete Streets” bill attracts public opposition at council meeting

    Note: After posting this blog I received several e-mails with both useful suggestions for additional cold-weather clothing and a hark back to someone else’s cold weather clothing experience. I’ve added that information at the end of my original blog below.

    February 10th, 2016, wasn’t a very inviting day to bicycle to the Whistle Stop in downtown Ferguson, which I often frequent for brunch during weekdays, but I decided to make the trip anyway, since it’s only a little over a mile away down Florissant Rd. However, if there’s one thing I hate it’s getting cold so I dressed warmly, starting with thermal underwear and extra-long wool socks. When I finally arrived at my destination the only thing that was cold were my fingers, having worn lined gloves over my glove liners instead of the mittens I’d taken in reserve, which are more bulky.

    Pion bike 25F day return sh P2100163

    Return home with light snow falling.
    Photo: Joyce Pion

    Pion -60F windchill Feb 81b

    “February 1981. -60F windchill!”
    Photo: Joyce Pion

    It started to snow on my return trip home with the air temperature still hovering around 25F. The windchill temperature when cycling was estimated as ~15F. My wife, Joyce, was good enough to shoot some photos of me in my cycling gear, the one I’ve posted above probably being the best.

    Afterwards I decided to photograph and identify everything I was wearing, something that would have been useful to do in the past when I was still tricycling to work daily at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., roughly 4 miles away. That’s something I never did, and the only record I have is another photo taken by my wife on a bitterly cold day when my fingers and toes were getting cold even before I’d covered the 1/4 mile out of our subdivision. That photo is shown above right with my wife’s shadow visible on the snow in the foreground. By the time I arrived at work both my fingers and toes were numb and I thought I’d gotten frostbite. I’ve never cycled in such extreme temperatures since.

    BASE & MID LAYER

    underwear slsh P2100165

    Thermal underwear and underpants

    1. (At left) Duofold “Two-layer fabric” thermal underwear.   USA

    UndershiDuofold_inner_layer_0501sharpenrt and long johns bought many years ago. With perforated inner layer to wick moisture, as shown in the close-up below left.

    2. (Above bottom left) Travel Smith underpants 100% Coolmax polyester.  USAneck warmer_5373

    3. (Right) Neck warmer 100% acrylic (no brand name).  Japan

    4. (Below left) Extra-long socks. (No ID but believed to be wool or wool blend.)

    socks &amp; pants sm slsh P2100166

    5. Performance Technical Wear cycling pants.

    45% Polyester/35% nylon/12% Lycra/8% polyurethane. Back 39% nylon/46% polyester/15% Lycra.  USA

    6. (Below right) LL Bean shirt 100% cotton.  Chinashirt slsh P2100167

     

     

    sweater sm slsh P2100168

     

     

     

    7. (At left) LL Bean sweater 90% wool/10% nylon. USA

    OUTER LAYER

    outwear inc boots red P2100169

    8. (Top left) Bell Image Pro helmet with plastic visor.  USA?

    Third Eye mirror attached to visor.  USA

    9. (Top right) Performance bicycling cap 20% acrylic/80% wool.  Italy

    10. (2nd row) Performance ski mask.
    Shell 70% chloroprene/30% styrene butadiene rubber. Lining 100% polyester.  China

    11. (3rd row left) Polartec glove liners 64% polyester/24% nylon/12% Spandex (Unknown)

    12. (3rd row right) Nashbar gloves – Saucony Thinsulate. Leather palm. Shell leather 100% nylon. Lining 100% polyester.  Sri Lanka

    13. (Above bottom row) Bates Floaters leather boots. Pure wool pile inner.  USA

    outer jacket and mittens slsh red P2100170

    14. Lands’ End outer jacket with attached hood. Shell and taffeta lining both 100% nylon/mesh 100% polyester.  China

     

    15. Spare mittens. Very warm but no material or country of manufacture ID.

    FEEDBACK:

    Harold Karabell, who’s a cold weather bicyclist living in St. Louis’s Central West End, responded: “Indispensable to my own cold weather commute are BarMitts, which provide warmth for my gloved hands that no combination of gloves/mittens/underliners can offer.     Plus inexpensive Uvex safety googles to protect my face and glasses from the wind.” Adding later: “The safety goggles work surprisingly well.
    Without them, I’d be a teary-eyed, frozen mess after only c. one mile of riding into a cold, strong headwind.  … My glasses stay reasonably fog-free, perhaps because I don’t cover my mouth and nose completely.”

    Jason M. wrote: “BarMitts are available for drop bars, and I can attest to their functionality.  A good buy!”

    I’ve added screen shots captured from the above linked pages below:

    BarMitts

    UVEX goggles 

    Former committed St. Louis area bicyclist, Bob Soetebier, (until sustaining major injuries in a solo bike crash) responded: “The coldest temp I ever rode my bicycle in was 0 degrees F…with sun and no wind.  Wore 6 layers of clothes; glove liners, three-fingered gloves and similar over mitts; gaiters and shoe covers with pedal toe covers…even put plastic bags over socks in between; full face mask over a balaclava.  Added some sheets of newspaper between the chest layers, too.”

    Bob later clarified that the six layers of clothes were on his torso with 3 layers on his legs to allow for relative freedom of movement. He also wore vented snow-goggles which, unfortunately, I never discovered during the time I was tricycling daily to work.

    Bob added a link to this post on his own website at the end of his Bicycling section: http://www.bikebob.org/0Bicycling.html.

    This paper appeared in the January 2016 ITE journal with the cover below and may be reviewed and/or downloaded by clicking the following live link:

                Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education in the United States

    Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education cover

    Martin Pion headshot polling Place 2010 sh red_5099

    Martin Pion

    Andy Cline head dark sh

    Andy Cline

    The paper was authored jointly by myself (Martin Pion), living in Ferguson, Missouri, and Andy Cline* from Springfield, Missouri.
    *Andy Cline is Associate Professor of Media, Journalism & Film at Missouri State University.

    I received the following e-mail from Marianne Saglam (pron. “salem”), Communications and Media Senior Director at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, September 23, 2015:

    “Good news, your paper has been accepted to ITE Journal.”

    Finally, ITE had accepted a paper for publication in its prestigious international journal on a different subject to the norm, and probably one unthinkable just a few short years ago. This followed a three-and-a-half year effort and three previous rejections by peer reviewers.

    A draft of this fourth paper was originally submitted for peer review on July 17, 2015. A final updated version after numerous revisions was submitted on Nov. 18th, 2015.

    Three earlier draft papers with somewhat similar themes (except perhaps the first, which directly challenged current orthodoxy) were submitted in September 2012, August 2014, and January 2015, and all were rejected by reviewers. However, in the case of the third submission, two of the four reviewers recommended acceptance if proposed changes were made. This was substantial progress, both previous submissions having been rejected unanimously, the first by five reviewers who all criticized it mercilessly.

    That first draft was started in late February-early March 2012, shortly after I had become a member of ITE, and took six months to complete. I approached the task based on a naive view of what would be acceptable to transportation engineers, the paper being titled:

    Bicycle transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.

    One of the subsequent reviewers commented dryly:

    “If one accepts the premise that there is nothing traffic engineers can do to affect driver or cyclist behaviors, and that education is our only hope for increasing bicyclist safety, than I guess the conclusions are more or less supported.”

    And it’s true that that is pretty much the conclusion I’ve reached after 45 years experience as an on-road transportational bicyclist and, since 1997, with the additional advantage of having taught many others how to ride safely on-road as a certified cycling instructor. (I’ve found that there is nothing like teaching a subject to really learn it well oneself!)

    This certainly wasn’t my view when I first committed to bicycling to work daily at ITT’s Central Research Lab. in England for environmental reasons. Unable to find any good information on how to bicycle safely on-road, I resorted to subjective instinct and became a strong advocate for the partially completed local cycleway system which entirely segregated bicyclists from motorists in many places.

    My views didn’t change much until several years later, after accepting a new job at the former McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. (now part of Boeing) in the St. Louis area in 1980, following a job transfer to the United States in early 1977.

    John Forestert head 1st CS D2 Feb 2013 DSC00031

    John Forester
    Feb. 2013

    That was when I was first introduced to John Forester’s book Effective Cycling, my first edition being published by MIT Press in 1984. It analyzed the causes of bike crashes and car-bike collisions, and showed how they could be mitigated or avoided with cyclist knowledge and behavior, plus knowing the commonest motorist errors and learning how to respond. Forester combined two different disciplines which uniquely qualified him in reviewing this subject: he was both a Professional Engineer (P.E.) and an M.Sc.

    To me, one of his most revolutionary ideas at the time was the recommendation to exercise lane control when a poor sightline did not provide a clear view of the road ahead, such as a bend or brow of a hill.  I thought this would be pure suicide but I found it worked! On a blind right-hand bend on my way home from work one day I checked behind that I could safely move left, gave a hand signal, and then merged to control the lane and, voila, the motorist arriving behind politely waited until I moved right so that he could pass safely. To me that was a revelation.

    It’s worth noting that, while Forester is best known for  Effective Cycling, intended for the layman, I found his book Bicycle Transportation – A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers to be valuable for the more technically minded.

    Lewiston headshot cleanedup 1988

    Diana Lewiston
    circa 1988

    Another person who has influenced me, and is featured in this published paper, is Diana Lewiston, who originally assisted John Forester and then went on to create her own bike education curriculum which she taught to 13-year-old middle schoolers in Palo Alto, CA, from 1980 thru’ 1991. One novel idea was her use of walkie-talkies attached to bicycle helmets or headbands, enabling her to communicate with students as each navigated a difficult intersection, for example. (Her students were encountering radio interference from baby alarms in nearby homes and I assisted by obtaining and installing a component to change the frequency.)

    Karen Karabell is also featured in this paper. She has become a leader in adult bicycle education locally, promoting a soundly-based program called CyclingSavvy which she first offered in metro St. Louis, Missouri, in April 2011, and which was started several years earlier in Orlando, FL, by Ms. Keri Caffrey and Mike “Mighk” Wilson.

    I’m grateful to Karen for introducing me to Shawn Leight in early 2015. Shawn is a highly regarded and very experienced transportation engineer and Vice President of CBB Transportation Engineers & Planners, who in July 2015 was elected to serve as 2016 ITE International Vice President.  One of Shawn’s goals is bringing together the major factions in the bicycling community who are currently at odds – those who favor bike infrastructure such as bike lanes, and those like me (and Karen) who prefer being treated as equal users of existing public roads – by accommodating all cyclists.

    in his genuine desire to understand all viewpoints, Shawn met Karen & me over lunch in January 2015 for a wide-ranging discussion on bicycling and transportation.

    Shawn, Martin &amp; Karen at The Boathouse Jan. 29, 2015_3858

    Shawn Leight (left), Martin Pion, & Karen Karabell at The Boathouse in
    Forest Park, St. Louis, on Jan. 29th, 2015

    Shawn was very helpful subsequently in critically reviewing several draft papers and providing insightful, detailed and constructive criticisms and suggestions. He made clear that these were his own thoughts, and not made in any official capacity, or would necessarily gain the approval of reviewers, since he wasn’t involved in that process in any way.

    I have no doubt that Shawn’s responses were very helpful in shaping the final published version of this paper. And they were generously provided at a time when he was heavily involved in traveling the country soliciting support for his ultimately successful bid for the position of ITE International Vice President. (Please see http://www.shawn4ite.org for Shawn’s illustrated web page.)

    Historical review of paper’s progression

    I became a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers in February 2012 with the idea of submitting a paper on the transportation subject I knew best: bicycle education.  I felt that it would be valuable to share some of my experience, acquired over 40 years, with professionals who are among the most influential in shaping the on-road environment.

    Marianne Saglam online photo crop

    Marianne Saglam, ITE

    The response to my first inquiry as to how to proceed, dated March 6th, 2012, came from Marianne Saglam, Communications & Marketing Senior Director. She was helpful, and has remained so, despite the repeated rejections of my subsequent draft paper submissions following ITE Journal peer review. I’m grateful to Marianne for the patience she has shown over the years.

    Below I’ve described the progress of this effort preceding the final publication of the fourth version of this paper, starting at the very beginning.

    First paper: Submitted September 10th; Rejected December 18, 2012

    I started work on this paper in around February 2012, the original working title being:

    The bike lane explosion is based on a myth: The “ABC” designation of cyclists. Bicycle transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.

    The ABC designation noted above had first been proposed in a report by Bill Wilkinson et al for the FHWA called Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles, Report No. FHWA-RD-92-073, January 1994.

    Wilkinson’s report estimated that only 5% of of the bicycling population were in Group A – Advanced Bicyclists – described as experienced riders able to operate under most traffic conditions and just needing sufficient space on the roadway or shoulder to minimize passing or overtaking conflicts. Group B – Basic, casual riders, and Group C – Children, pre-teen riders, made up the rest, preferring low-speed, low traffic-volume streets or designated bicycle facilities.

    While not that report’s primary purpose, the ABC designation subsequently proved highly influential after these designations were incorporated into the 1999 update to the “Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities,” published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

    I had concluded from my on-road training of young cyclists in 2000, coupled with knowledge of Diana Lewiston’s successful training of hundreds of twelve and thirteen year olds, that what was hindering on-road bicycling was knowledge and not the lack of suitable on-road facilities. Yet the ABC designation ignores that and, in addition, this idea has been perpetuated to support and emphasize a facilities approach to bicycle transportation.

    This first paper was formally accepted for ITE review by Marianne Saglam on September 10th.  On December 18th I received a rejection notice, which at the time was an immense disappointment.

    In 2013, an edited version of my original paper was accepted by ITE’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Council just before the September 10th deadline.

    “Bike Lane Myths vs Equality, Education, and Engineering” – ITE Ped/Bike Council Fall 2013 E-Newsletter

    It was subsequently published with the above title on October 3rd in the Fall 2013 Newsletter and is posted on my thinkbicyclingblog at the above live link.

    Second paper: August 4, 2014 – October 23, 2014

    In 2014, I worked on a second version of the original paper retitled:

    How Bicycle Education Can Enhance the American Transportation System.

    The ABC designation and its criticism, which was featured in the first paper, was dropped. Instead, the paper referenced a March 2013 ITE Journal article on the Dutch bicycle system and drew comparisons and contrasts with U.S. practice. Robert M. Shanteau, Ph.D., P.E. was added as a coauthor after he provided a useful reference to a relevant on-line video, Bicycle Training in the Netherlands. A screen capture from the video of 12-year-old children being tested on their bicycling knowledge and proficiency was subsequently added to the paper.

    I didn’t record a start date but a first draft was e-mailed to Marianne Saglam on August 4th, followed by a revised version on August 13th. Marianne confirmed it’s formal receipt on August 24th and it was sent out for peer review on September 23rd.

    This second paper was also formally rejected in an e-mail dated October 23rd, 2014, followed by the three reviewers’ rejection comments.  The first reviewer in particular provided an extensive analysis, writing:

    “More discussion of bicycle education goals, strategies and outcomes would be needed to make a compelling paper.”

    “The author’s premise, that everyone would be comfortable riding a bike in heavy traffic if only they had some on road cycling training is controversial and not supported by any evidence. Again, I agree that education is a good thing, and it undoubtedly would even convert some noncyclists to cyclists. But it is very egotistical of the authors to think that “everyone” is like they are.  Even if one accepts the argument that “everyone” could be taught to ride safely and be safe in heavy traffic, it does not change the fact that many people would still simply choose not to bicycle at all if it means sharing the lane with traffic.”

    Following the above reviewers’ responses, attention turned to addressing their concerns in a third paper.

    Third paper: Submitted Jan. 27th, 2015 – Rejected May 13th, 2015

    The third draft paper had the following two alternate titles:

    Age-appropriate bicycling education complements efforts to accommodate safe on-road bicycling

     Age-appropriate bicycling education deserves more attention in the United States

    This draft paper included several paragraphs I had invited from Andy Cline based on a personal bike tour he’d undertaken in central Amsterdam, Holland, in early June 2012, and then posted about in detail on his blog. [Please see AMSTERDAM: MY BIG TAKE-AWAY and video Surrendering the Streets.]

    On Jan. 14, 2015, I e-mailed the draft paper to Shawn Leight who had kindly agreed to review it before formal submission.

    Prefacing his initial response, Shawn Leight wrote in part:
    “For full disclosure.  I do sit on the ITE International Board of Direction.  I am a Candidate for ITE International Vice President.  I do not, however, have any interaction with Marianne Saglam’s paper review committee. The opinions expressed below are my own.  I am NOT speaking on behalf of the Institute.  Any suggestions that I provide are my suggestions and the paper review committee may agree with my thoughts, or they may not.”

    Shawn then went on to provide robust arguments in support of both infrastructure improvements and bicycle education, pointing out that if I’m not “advocating for mandatory bicycle education and licensing in the United States … those who plan, design, and manage the transportation system need to strive to accommodate all.  We cannot pick and choose to provide infrastructure for some and disenfranchise others.   It would be irresponsible for us to ignore riders wanting to use these facilities.”

    Shawn continued:
    “There is a relatively simple solution.  It does not have to be “either or”.  We have plenty of roads in our urban areas to accommodate the preferences of all riders.  Not every road needs a cycle track or a bike lane.  We can provide bicycle infrastructure for those who prefer to use it and at the same time provide roads without bicycle infrastructure for riders such as yourself who prefer to ride in the traffic lane.  Many roads can do all.”

    Shawn’s reply contained detailed criticisms, and suggestions for omitting what he felt were unsupported assertions. (That included the newly-added sections by Andy Cline on his Dutch cycling experience, but it was agreed to drop them.) This process was repeated several times, a final version being completed on Jan. 23rd, and formally accepted for review by Marianne Saglam on Jan. 27th, 2015.

    On May 13th, 2015, a formal rejection letter was received from Marianne Saglam, but for the first time two of the four reviewers suggested approval after addressing detailed issues, and Marianne invited submission of a revised version addressing those issues.

    Fourth paper: Submitted July 17th, 2015 – Initial acceptance Sept. 23rd, 2015. Final version Nov. 18th, 2015, following numerous revisions.

    This paper ended up with the title:

    Promoting bicycling education in the United States in the context of “Equality”

    I proposed the idea of adding “Equality” to the subject to broaden the paper’s scope and introduce a concept not typically touched on in such papers. Marianne Saglam responded positively the same day, writing: “I think that could work.”

    This subsequently led to the word count exceeding the 3,000 word limit and Shawn Leight again assisted by reviewing and proposing edits to several versions in July 2015, the final word count being reduced below 2,800.

    The draft went through numerous additional iterations, at least 16 by my count. In October 2015, Bob Shanteau requested removal of his name as a coauthor, to which Andy Cline and I regretfully agreed, although an acknowledgement was later added to the published paper.

    The paper was tentatively scheduled for inclusion in the December 2015 Journal but instead was published in the January 2016 edition.

    Shawn Leight

    The one person receiving no acknowledgement in the paper itself is  Shawn Leight , but as indicated above, I’m personally indebted to him for both the time he was willing to devote to reading and analyzing numerous drafts, and for his thoughtful and very helpful critiques.

    Thank you again Shawn!

     

     

     

    To experience first-hand St. Louis City’s new Parking-Separated Bikeway  on Chestnut Street, I videotaped Karen Karabell bicycling along it in September 2015 using forward and backward facing helmet-mounted cameras. And while exercising lane control, we returned to the start along four-lane Market Street.
    (Karen is a seasoned on-road CyclingSavvy instructor living in St. Louis City who held the first CyclingSavvy St. Louis workshop in April 2011.)

    The result of that 19 minute ride is this 12 minute edited video posted on Vimeo:

    Note 1: To view a full-screen version of the above please click on the vimeo tab tab above bottom right or on the link vimeo.com/151155345

    Note 2: The video was also uploaded to YouTube on April 3, 2016.

    Some insightful comments and criticisms of this new facility

    Alex Ihnen avatar92

    Alex Ihnen

    Alex Ihnen, whose nextstl blog is about Urban Living and Transportation, posted one called Riding St. Louis’ First Protected Bike Lane [Video] on July 24, 2015. It includes a forward-facing 2 minute video I assume Alex shot while cycling along the new Chestnut St. bike lane from 20th St. to Tucker. An accompanying discussion elicited 16 Comments.

    Among them are critical comments reproduced below from two experienced St. Louis area bicyclists, “Matthew B” and Chris Cleeland. They are worth reading, together with Alex Ihnen’s replies, which often either don’t adequately address their concerns or are dismissive of them.

    One of the interesting things about Alex Ihnen’s blog is that, even after he agrees with a litany of concerns about this facility, it doesn’t appear to affect his support one bit, given that he later adds: “I like projects like this a lot.”

    Matthew Brown avatar92

    Matthew B •

    “It’s really a shame this was done without any public comment period. This makes it feel very paternalistic and like the worst of St. Louis’s machine politics at work.

    I’m rather concerned that there are (1) almost no sight lines between traffic streams before intersections (often only about 5′ of no parking prior to the intersection), (2) no separate lights for the bicyclists and motorists, and (3) no guidance for drivers on how to safely make turns through the other traffic stream. I see how this probably decreases risk of sideswipe crashes and increases perceived safety, but it seems likely to increase frightening near misses (and potentially collisions) of the drive out, right hook, and left hook types.

    I’m also concerned about pedestrian safety for (1) people crossing the street in crosswalks (especially at intersections without lights) as they’ll often be screened from the view of one stream of traffic or the other, and also (2) for people moving to and from their parked cars. There is a real danger to pedestrians from bicyclists who don’t see them coming from between the cars until it’s too late.

    The safety section of this report is interesting, and their results are with dedicated traffic signals that make right of way clear. …

    I do like the back in angled parking, but I do wish there was more than a 1′ buffer between the bike lane and the parking.

    What’s the plan for keeping the bike lanes free of debris?

    How is a motorist supposed to make a right from this infrastructure? It seems impossible to merge into the bike lane as is the appropriate procedure for a non-parking-protected lane.

    How is a bicyclist supposed to make a left turn? It seems impossible to merge into the travel lane as would be the normal proceedure.

    What are the rules that determine right of way when drivers arrive at the same time at an intersection?

    What’s the plan for evaluating the safety of this new facility? Is there a plan for monitoring the details of crashes along the infrastructure? i know changing police report forms would require state action, and a crowd sourced option has been discussed (but would be a very biased data source).

    Special infrastructure requires special education, education does not require special infrastructure.”

    Alex Ihnen avatar92 Moderator Alex Ihnen to Mathew B •

    “Some great points – I agree with just about all of them. The one thing I would disagree with is that education (cycling classes?) is more important than “special” infrastructure. Investment in cycling infrastructure, separated infrastructure specifically, has been shown to increase safety and ridership. The failure of experienced cyclists, those who are more-or-less happy riding on Clayton Road, or through the city on most streets, to recognize what promotes cycling to the masses hurts ridership. Just like highways, roads, and streets should be designed to guide, inform, and regulate a driver’s speed and movement, bike lanes, paths, and other infrastructure can do the same for cyclists. In the end, I think it’s too easy to rely on education. We need to build places were people feel safe, and are safe. A big part of that is safety in numbers. The more people on bikes, the more motorists expect to see bikes, the more comfortable they are with interactions, and the safer we are.

    I didn’t make this point in the short post, but there’s been very little information available about this bike lane, anywhere. There’s a one-pager that doesn’t mention Chestnut or protected bike lanes at all. Then there’s a one-pager for the Chestnut Street protected bike lane that doesn’t include the plan itself. There are several dead links online for the Bike St. Louis Phase 3. What can one say other than at least the system built a protected bike lane this time instead of tearing down buildings, or widening streets…but the system is very much still a problem. The point I’ve made to those involved is that if things like this are going to happen, let’s celebrate them. You can’t do that if there’s no one really in charge, no public input has been sought, and project details aren’t shared. I like projects like this a lot, but it’s certainly not part of the comprehensive well-planned, methodical investment in bike infrastructure that it should be. Hopefully the city’s hiring of a bicycle/ped coordinator will result in more forethought, proactive planning, and accountability.”

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/272757987

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/272758244

    Chris_Cleeland_McKinley_head_sharp_3964 Chris Cleeland to Moderator Alex Ihnen •

    “Alex, I think you’re reading more into the initial comment than is there. He [Matthew B] did not claim that education was more important than infrastructure. The statement was that infrastructure that is special requires special education. The unique infrastructure they’ve built here involves complex interactions between various road users, and provides absolutely no guidance as to how that should be managed. You won’t find anything in the Missouri Driver’s Manual nor in any driver’s ed course (if anybody even takes one anymore). You also won’t find any bike education.

    Which brings me to your assertion that infrastructure is more important than education. That’s absurd. If that was sensible, then we’d just build a bunch of roads and turn anybody who could reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel loose on those roads with no education on how to operate safely amid other road users. Are you genuinely advocating that? Why should bicycle infrastructure be any different?

    I would like to operate my vehicles on roads where people know how to properly use both their chosen vehicle and the infrastructure which we are using.”

    Alex Ihnen avatar92 Moderator Alex Ihnen to Chris Cleeland

    “You’re right. From all reports (and my experience), motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists have all quickly figured out how to navigate the newly organized Chestnut Street. My point is simply that well-designed and well-implemented infrastructure is rather intuitive. This is true with something like design speed – you can put up signage (try to educate) people that they should drive 25mph, but if the lane is 14ft wide, education isn’t going to work. A 10ft lane – the proper infrastructure for 25mph speeds – will work much better. No one’s anti-education, but I bristle at the idea (which wasn’t exactly said above) that if motorists and others were simply better educated about the rules of the road, or how to operate around bicycles, that we’d be safer, and many more people would ride. I just think that building the right infrastructure is the way to accomplish this goal.”

    Chris_Cleeland_McKinley_head_sharp_3964 Chris Cleeland to Moderator Alex Ihnen •

    “Education and infrastructure need to work together. In my 20+ years of riding, by far the most dangerous aspect is the prevailing belief that bicycles do not belong on the road and that roads are built for cars (which, actually, is somewhat true when you look at the shlock created in the last many years). The infrastructure you’ve highlighted in this post does absolutely NOTHING to combat that problem, and one could easily argue that it actually REINFORCES that notion by segregating based on traffic type where design speeds are slow enough to not warrant separation.

    IMHO, that sort of treatment would be best applied on a roadway with design speeds (for cars) higher than 25 mph, and intersections farther apart. Why farther apart? Because there is really nothing intuitive about how users of the different lanes should negotiate the intersection when the cyclist wants to go straight or left, and the driver wants to go right or straight. There is no precedent for that in normal traffic rules because no right-minded traffic engineer would create such infrastructure. When I read Matthew’s original post, this is exactly what I thought he meant by “special education.”

    Education alone isn’t the answer, but neither is infrastructure. Pinning all hopes on only one or the other will not accomplish the goal. And you really hit upon a key when you said “the right infrastructure”. Just because it’s a bike lane doesn’t make it “right”. Everything must be applied in the appropriate context–which I probably don’t have to tell you considering your architectural background.”

    Background to this new Parking-Separated Bikeway

    This new bike facility, approximately a mile long on one-way Chestnut Street in St. Louis City, is the first of its kind in the metro area. According to Deanna Venker of St. Louis City, it was a collaborative effort by Paul Wojciechowski of ALTA Planning+Design with her and staff.

    Paul Wojciechowski

    Paul Wojciechowski

    Paul L. Wojciechowski, AICP, P.E., Associate/Field Office Manager at ALTA Planning+Design, was formerly MoDOT District 6 Director of Planning, and filled several different positions, including Director of Public Works/City Engineer for the City of Clayton, before assuming his present position with ALTA Planning+Design. Paul kindly provided the following information:

    “I was hired in May of 2013 by Great Rivers Greenway as the main designer to work on Bike St. Louis Phase III to upgrade and update 60 existing miles of on-street bikeways, and add a further 40 miles. A collaborative effort between Great Rivers Greenway and the City of St. Louis, Chestnut’s mile long parking protected bike lane was the capstone of the project as the final corridor to be implemented.
    The planning and design of this route took 6 months with construction taking 2 months, starting in the Summer of 2015, with the City resurfacing Chestnut from 20th Street to Broadway.  The Project was completed in July 2015.  The improvements on Chestnut were a collaboration of The Bike St. Louis Phase III project funded by Great Rivers Greenway (GRG), and the City of St. Louis.
    During design, GRG and the City coordinated to resurface Chestnut so that the final project would be better for the public, in that the surface was in bad shape and the resurfacing made sense along with the restriping of the roadway to relocate space for a bikeway.
    The benefit to the whole project was that the City resurfaced the roadway, which eliminated striping removals and gave a blank pallet to work with.
    The unit costs were very good since it was for a very large striping project.  Smaller striping jobs have higher unit costs since the volume is less in striping.”

    Paul added that for the bike-related elements:
    “The construction cost for Chestnut was $43,000 and the design cost was around $12,000.”

    Deanna Venker

    Deanna Venker

    Deanna Venker, P.E., was  appointed in May 2015 as St. Louis Traffic Commissioner after working as MoDOT’s District Engineer for St. Louis  City since June 2001.

    In her former role with MoDOT she oversaw many projects, including more recently those including bike-related facilities, such as the addition of bike lanes on Manchester Ave. in St. Louis City after it was resurfaced and restriped in October 2013.

    What’s new about the Chestnut Street facility is that parking is relocated away from the curb in many places and, with the addition of vertical posts, parked cars provide a barrier between the curbside bike lane and the adjacent travel lane except at intersections. However, the fact that potential intersectional conflicts with turning motorists remains is a major weakness of this design, and is inherent in all bike lanes of which I’m aware. And merging out of the bike lane between intersections can also be problematical.

    For additional background on this facility I’ve collected below information from different on-line sources posted in July 2015 when the Parking-Separated Bikeway was nearing completion or already finished. It includes a tweet from Ms. Venker, a story from the Mayor’s Office, and a Great Rivers Greenway post (later reposted by the Missouri Bicycle Federation).

    The only video of the facility I could find was that by Alex Ihnen, who generally lauded the new facility on his nextstl blog, prompting both supportive and  critical reader comments, some of the latter being reproduced above. One of the interesting things about Alex Ihnen’s blog is that, even after he agrees with a litany of concerns about this facility, it doesn’t appear to affect his support one bit, given that he later adds “I like projects like this a lot.”

    Deanna Venker STL

    Below is a July 24, 2015 tweet from Ms. Deanna Venker @StLcityEngineer relating to progress on the facility with the attached photo: “Educational signs going in on Chestnut!#bikestl”

    New educational signs on Chestnut July 2014

    Signage added to newly striped bike facility

    Prior to the above tweet from Deanna Venker the Mayor’s Office posted a story on stlouis-mo.gov on July 16, 2015 with a photo of a similar facility elsewhere:

    City of St. Louis Stripes First Parking-Protected Bike Lane on Chestnut Connecting Gateway Arch Grounds, City Garden from 4th to 20th Streets.

    On the same date Great Rivers Greenway posted:

    City of St. Louis Stripes First Parking-Protected Bike Lane on Chestnut

    Brent Hugh, Executive Director of the Missouri Bicycle Federation, reposted Great Rivers Greenway’s post on July 30, 2015 at: http://mobikefed.org/2015/07/news-city-st-louis-stripes-first-parking-protected-bike-lane-chestnut-st-louis-city

     

    On Cyclists are Drivers! Dr. Bob Shanteau started a new thread on November 3rd, 2015, railing at the California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division for their ignorance of bicycle driving principles, including bicycle rodeos.

    That prompted me later in the thread to mention an effort I’d led in Ferguson, Missouri, to teach bike ed. in a local middle school, and the unwillingness of officials to allow instruction other than classroom presentations and playground exercises.

    It also reminded me that, while I’m generally not a fan of bicycle rodeos, one I recommended was that written and illustrated by John E. Williams when he was editor of Bicycle Forum Magazine, which I believe was later taken over by Adventure Cycling.
    An early four-page version I still have from 1981 has a child cyclist riding his bike on the driveway on the front cover, shown here.

    BICYCLE SAFETY cover

    He is shown without a bike helmet (although they are recommended on page 4) because that was before helmet wearing that we see today was de rigeur, which in my view is grossly over-emphasized, especially when compared to bike education. Later versions had the child wearing a bike helmet on the cover.

    Please click here to view (and download, if desired) BICYCLE SAFETY John E. Williams 1981

    Dan Gutierrez, 2005

    Dan Gutierrez, 2005

    One of the more arduous goals embarked upon by Dan Gutierrez, a traffic cycling educator and veteran advocate for on-road bicycling and the equitable treatment of bicyclists, has been the analysis and collation of all U.S. state laws relating to bicycling.

    Gutierrez’s resulting Excel spreadsheet includes a tab “Uniformity & Bicycle Definition” with columns from A to W, such as column E listing those state laws defining a “Bicycle as Vehicle”

    What is of interest here is that in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, column P – “Enabling Law (Bicyclists as Drivers of Vehicles)” – defines a person operating a bicycle as a vehicle operator.

    An example is the very first state in the list, Alabama, in which the relevant wording below has been highlighted:

    Section 32-5A-260 Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
    Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.

    The Excel spreadsheet may be downloaded by clicking on the following:

    Gutierrez, D – US State Law Equitability Ratings Rev 3-2012-03-17

    Note: If the Excel spreadsheet above opens to a different tab from “Uniformity & Bicycle Definition,” which is tab #2 from the left hand side of the sheet, then please do the following:

    Gutierrez Excel spreadsheet

    This takes you to the following tab in the spreadsheet, after which you need to move to column P, as shown:

    Gutierrez Excell spreadsheet 5

    Note: Please click on either of the above screen captures to enlarge it. Use the back arrow, top left, to return to this page.

    An OpEd I submitted (reproduced below) was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday, July 31st, 2015. It was prompted by pedestrian deaths on a wide road in south St. Louis City caused by hit-and-run motorists. Most recently, this led to calls for action to address the problem amid suggestions for safety improvements from the public. In both cases the victims had left the Broadway Oyster Bar, shown on the left in the photo below, shortly beforehand. (Image taken from Google maps.)

    Oyster Bar 730 S Broadway, St. Louis. Google maps view

    Broadway Oyster Bar 730 S Broadway, St. Louis. Google maps view

    The road here is approximately 50 ft wide with three one-way (southbound) lanes, and a 35 mph speed limit. The curb lanes are wide enough to also permit metered parking.

    My preferred traffic calming measure would be to install speed cushions (described in my OpEd) on a trial basis, but that should be in conjunction with a reduction in the speed limit to 25 mph, which is what others have also suggested.

    Speed humps can slow down traffic, protect pedestrians
    Street safety:
    Traffic-calming devices are a cost-effective way of preventing tragedies.

    The deaths of pedestrians on South Broadway, St. Louis City, due to speeding motorists, most recently that of Mr. Ashish “Bapi” Gupta on June 28, have led to calls for an increase in pedestrian safety on this road. The campaign in support includes a website, “Bapi Safe Streets,” as reported in the July 13th St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Some suggestions mentioned in the article included ”perhaps using cobblestones.”

    Pion

    Pion

    The idea of using cobblestones reminds me of the one occasion I bicycled around Laclede’s Landing where cobblestoned streets provide a retro look, but an awful ride.

    Other techniques, such as speed “bumps,” are sometimes used in parking lots or private streets to slow down vehicles. “Bumps” are a brain-dead method. They jolt your vehicle mercilessly unless you drive either very slowly or floor the accelerator so that you fly over them before your suspension has time to react.

    Finally, there’s the stop sign. It’s intended to define priority at intersections, not calm traffic, but it’s often successfully demanded by local residents for the latter purpose.

    There are actually numerous traffic calming devices available in the transportation engineers toolbox. They include:
    lane narrowing by simple pavement markings;
    -chokers, including median islands, to physically narrow the lanes;
    raised crosswalks;
    traffic circles
    chicanes forcing horizontal vehicle deflections;
    speed humps, causing vertical vehicle deflections.

    They have different operating characteristics, and some are more successful than others. The speed hump, and its more recent derivative, the speed cushion, offer a preferred solution, yet they are the least used locally.

    I first became interested in traffic calming in England while a scientist working at ITT’s Central Research Lab. We had a speeding problem on the main campus road, and after learning about speed humps installed on a university campus, persuaded management to install two at strategic locations where they worked very effectively.

    East London speed humps, 2002

    Speed cushion on Keppel Road in east London

    East London speed hump closeup

    East London speed cushion closeup

    At the time they weren’t approved for use on public roads, but later that changed, as I discovered on a visit to England in early 2002.

    While bicycling through east London I encountered a series of speed cushions on a side street with a 30 mph speed limit, as shown in the attached photo. Each speed cushion is 6 ft. 8 in. long by 6 ft. wide, and 3” high, arranged in a line across the road but separated so that emergency vehicles can straddle them.

    [Please review my blog featuring the speed cushion I bought for demonstration purposes at 2013-02-25: Ford F-150 truck Traficop “speed cushion” test. To just view the video of the test please visit https://vimeo.com/60523630]

    The most comprehensive traffic calming pilot project in the metro area was implemented by the City of Chesterfield in 1999, centered on Schoettler Valley Drive, costing roughly $100,000. It included speed humps, a large one lane roundabout, and landscaped medians for lane narrowing. The speed humps proved too effective for a Chesterfield alderwoman on her preferred route to work. She persuaded the independent Chesterfield Fire Department to withdraw its initial support and the city was forced to tear them out.

    A PowerPoint presentation I’ve prepared illustrates all types of traffic calming devices, including videotape of the Chesterfield project and a smaller one in Ballwin incorporating a chicane and mini-roundabout. The presentation includes the precursor of the modern speed hump, a design conceived in 1953 by Dr. Arthur Holly Compton, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, while he was Chancellor of Washington University St. Louis. There are examples of his single-hump design on Hoyt Drive, installed after his death.

    I’ve shown this presentation, and a speed cushion I bought for demonstration purposes, to former Public Works Directors in my home town of Ferguson and also in Clayton, as well as to transportation engineers at Horner & Shiffrin in St. Louis, which had conducted a 2005 Traffic Calming Study for the City of Ferguson. Unfortunately none has adopted it for traffic calming.

    However, in October 2009, the City of Wildwood purchased a set of rubber speed cushions to try out on Old Fairway Drive to deter speeding. They were replaced by asphalt versions before winter plowing and have proved sufficiently successful to have been duplicated at several other locations.

    Speed cushions are a cost effective way of preventing such tragedies as the death of Mr. Gupta. Their use should be seriously considered.

    Martin Pion of Ferguson is a scientist and 43-year cycle commuter, and a certified League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor.

    Tags: Traffic Calming, Ferguson, Arthur Holly Compton, Washington University St. Louis, Martin Pion

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