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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

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 & 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 this new Parking-Separated Bikeway first-hand, I videotaped Karen Karabell bicycling along it in September 2015. We returned to the start along four-lane Market Street, exercising lane control throughout. (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: To view larger version of the above please click on the vimeo tab tab above bottom right or on the link vimeo.com/150475704

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 the addition of bike lanes on Manchester Ave. in St. Louis City after it was resurfaced and restriped in October 2013. Unfortunately, one of those new bike lanes led a month later to a car-bike collision involving cyclist Susan Herzberg on her way to work.

What’s new about this 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 on his nextstl blog,  which generally lauded the new facility, resulting in both supportive and  critical reader comments, some of the latter reproduced below. 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 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

Alex Ihnen avatar92

Alex Ihnen

As mentioned above, Alex Ihnen, whose nextstl blog is about Urban Living and Transportation, features one called Riding St. Louis’ First Protected Bike Lane [Video] dated 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, including his responses.

The comments posted on this blog from experienced St. Louis area bicyclists Matthew B and Chris Cleeland are worth reproducing below, together with Alex Ihnen’s replies:

Matthew Brown avatar92

 Matthew B*5 months ago

*Matthew Brown, “Research Patient Coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine. My degrees are: MPH (Master’s in Public Health) with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Education from Saint Louis University, and a B.A. Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago.”

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 Alex Ihnen Mod to Mathew B• 5 months ago

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/272…

https://www.scribd.com/doc/272…

Chris_Cleeland_McKinley_head_sharp_3964 Chris Cleeland to Alex Ihnen5 months ago

Alex, I think you’re reading more into the initial comment than is there. He 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 Alex Ihnen Mod Chris Cleeland5 months ago
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 Alex Ihnen5 months ago

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.

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

The following slides were recently reposted by Dan Gutierrez on the Cyclists are Drivers Facebook site he moderates after I posted a request there. They are from the comprehensive copyrighted presentation Dan originally posted on-line (which can now be viewed here: Old Road I (now TS101) Introduction).
This material is a small part of the groundbreaking work produced by Dan Gutierrez and Brian DeSousa.

The slide below was posted by Dan in response to a reference to the non-visual Five Layers of Bicycling Safety. This is the final slide in a five-slide series which he posted, followed by a detailed explanation:

Click any image to enlarge. Use back arrow top left to return to this page.

Click any image to enlarge. Use back arrow top left to return to this page.

Dan Gutierrez: The important talking point about this diagram is that the layers are cumulative and build upon each other, with the first 4 to eliminate crashes, to hopefully NEVER reach layer 5, which is only useful AFTER a crash occurs. The main motivation for making this diagram is to show that bicyclist skill development is the 1st through 4th lines of crash avoidance, and that helmet use does NOTHING to avoid crashes, but is useful if a crash occurs.

I spent a lot of time working on this diagram to get the right look and feel for the colors and sizes so it would look like a buildup.

In light of my increased knowledge today versus 2007, I might be tempted to color the 5th layer a shade of red and the 4th layer yellow or orange, to emphasize that they are reactive, vs the proactive first three layers.          [My emphasis.]

Below are Dan Gutierrez’s five slides titled Integrated “Skill Layers” after I edited the colors of the 4th and 5th layers to reflect Dan’s current views noted above. In addition, Dan pointed out subsequently that these five slides precede a sixth slide with a pie chart titled Skill Layers Cut Crash Causes, showing which skills remove which crash types.

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Dan Gutierrez: Layer 3 – If you look at Cycling Savvy, it embraces elements of this layer, which were not a key focus of Bike Ed at the time. I see Cycling Savvy as the refined end product of the curriculum basics Brian and I were trying to persuade the League to embrace. I’m glad that Mighk and Keri created a real program that teaches these lessons. Note that transitions between control and sharing is now referred to as control and release (and re-establishment of control) in CS.

Skill Layers 4c

Skill Layers 5b

Note that the last layer is “Injury Reduction.” When all the other layers fail the danger of injury can be mitigated by wearing a bicycle helmet and cycling gloves. But this should not be treated as the first line of defense, contrary to the U.S. emphasis on helmet wearing and mandatory bicycle helmet laws that reinforce this view.

Crash causes 418222_2994245106522_787481150_n

         

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND NOTES:

Brian DeSousa on tandem & (inset) Dan Gutierrez

Brian DeSousa on tandem &
(inset) Dan Gutierrez

This material was created by Dan Gutierrez and Brian DeSousa after they had perfected helmet-mounted videotaping when bicycling on-road. Dan and Brian founded Dual Chase Productions, LLC, to promote their extensive on-road taping of each other when riding close together in line. As part of that effort they produced and sold a CD called Integrated Traffic Cycling ™ dated June 10th, 2007.

Later, Dan and Brian published updated and expanded information on-line, some of which can be found on Dan’s Facebook page at Old Road I (now TS101) Introduction as noted above. They have unique backgrounds which contributed to the value of this material, as shown in the first slide below, which is actually the last in the above series.

The second slide below states John Forester’s “Integration Principle,” illustrated in slides 3 and 4 which follow it.

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Nick Kasoff controlling the curb lane on W. Florissant Ave.

Nick Kasoff controlling the curb lane on W. Florissant Ave., October 8, 2014.
Still image captured from video below as I was on my bike a short distance ahead taping forward and backward.

West Florissant Ave. is a major north-south four-lane arterial in Ferguson and Dellwood, North St. Louis County. The idea of developing and improving it is laudable in principle, and more urgent since the violence, looting and destruction of some local businesses in August, 2014, sparked by the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by former 26-year-old Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. The commercial areas along this approximately 2.6 mile section were in need of rejuvenating before these events, and that is even more urgent now. However, it will require a substantial commitment of resources, and even marginally important issues will deserve attention.

One of these concerns details of the “Great Streets” proposal which envisages the inclusion of a mixed-use bicycle-pedestrian path on the east side of the road and separated from the road itself by a green lawn planted with trees. Architecturally, this might well enhance the area, but it can also have adverse consequences. For example, such facilities are typically limited to off-road locations, such as Rail-to-Trails conversions, where they are not interacting with shops and businesses or expose users to potentially frequent interactions with motorists at commercial driveways and cross-streets.

Another concern is the impact such a facility would have on bicyclists wanting to continue exercising lane control on four-lane W. Florissant Ave. Based on experience on other roads in the area, once a bicycle facility, such as a striped bike lane, is added to a road, motorists expect cyclists to stay in it; they don’t readily tolerate a cyclist exercising lane control, even though that is generally safest for the cyclist and, in Ferguson, explicitly allowed by local ordinance.

(The reason this is often safest is that in that position the cyclist is no longer as susceptible to right hooks, which occur when a motorist passes a cyclist and then turns right immediately in front of him or her, often due to underestimating the cyclist’s speed and risking a car-bike collision. Left hooks can still occur, often for the same reason, i.e. misjudging the cyclist’s speed, and turning left directly in front of them, but the cyclist then has more room to avoid the motorist than when riding near the curb.)

Some of these issues are dealt with in this short video below, which draws attention to the need to provide proper signage and road markings to underscore cyclists’ legitimate right to the road while minimizing the likelihood of negative and potentially hazardous interactions with motorists.


How to make W. Florissant Ave “Great Streets” Plan better from Martin Pion on Vimeo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is a photo of the helmet-mounted front and rear facing camera setup I used when videotaping Nick Kasoff for the above video. The cameras are mounted on a galvanized steel support I bent up in my garage and then bolted to an old rigid-shell Bell Tourlite helmet, which I’ve used for many years. On the inside are secured thick rigid foam pads so that it’s a snug fit on my head.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND In a parking lot before the ride, as I was preparing my helmet-mounted cameras for videotaping, Nick Kasoff remarked on a helicopter hovering almost directly overhead. Short clips captured inadvertently record these snippets of conversation and are pasted below. It transpired that a fatal shooting had occurred at the nearby Park Ridge Apartments, apparently involving an innocent victim of a drug deal gone horribly wrong, and this was a Fox 2 News TV helicopter. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by reporter Christine Byers is on-line here: Man shot at Ferguson apartment complex dies.
Apartment complexes in SE Ferguson

This is a report previously circulated on a limited basis, primarily to the Ferguson City Council who provided the 20% local match needed to obtain the remaining 80% funding from the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA).

Metro St. Louis was (and still is) out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act, and the project was approved from among competitive proposals for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant.

The purpose of the federal grant was to implement proposed ways to encourage cycling to two major activity centers within a roughly 10 mile radius of Ferguson in North St. Louis County. The activity centers were the former McDonnell Douglas Co., now part of Boeing, and the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL). This initial report was to determine the baseline bicycling situation for later comparison as the project progressed or ended.

The goal was to encourage more bicycling to Boeing and UMSL by soundly-based bicycle education, based on the League of American Bicyclists foundation minimum 9 hour Road I course, combined with bike-related on-site facilities improvements. At Boeing, this was envisaged as being primarily improved and additional bike parking, locker facilities for holding a change of clothes etc., and benches and showers. On the UMSL campus the focus was on substantially increased and improved bike parking.

Appended below relating to the baseline survey are the following:

1) The TIP409Report (Transportation Improvement Project) 20 page text-only report.

2) The figures accompanying the report are featured in a detailed descriptive PowerPoint slideshow Ferguson_BIKE_Survey_BPAC4d presented to East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EW Gateway) Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee in October 2004. EW Gateway was responsible for originally approving the project for the FHWA grant.

A few of the subsequent activities and improvements are described elsewhere on this blog:
Quality Ferguson Bike Racks installed in 2006.

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