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Monthly Archives: November 2013

I missed this important story by reporter Margaret Gillerman when it first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

I only learned of this effort to persuade St. Louis County Council to enact a Complete Streets ordinance, led by Trailnet and spanning several months, from the following Sunday’s newspaper, published on 2013-11-24. A long story appeared in the Community section titled: “St. Louis County is poised to approve measure for bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads.”

At the following week’s St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday, 2013-11-26, a final vote on this bill was unexpectedly postponed. Reporter Steve Giegerich wrote an intriguing story about it: “St. Louis County Council puts Complete Streets legislation on hold”. The story notes last-minute budgetary concerns raised by St. Louis County Highways & Traffic Department.

County Council urged to approve more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly policies
November 19, 2013 8:46 pm • By Margaret Gillerman 314-340-81260

CLAYTON • Advocates for more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly St. Louis County roads turned out at a County Council meeting Tuesday night to urge the council pass a comprehensive Complete Streets ordinance.
         St. Louis city, Kansas City and Missouri’s other larger cities already have adopted “Complete Streets” policies. According to the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, a “Complete Street” is one “designed with all users in mind–motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, the elderly, and the disabled.
         “Making streets usable for everyone promotes sustainable transportation, active lifestyles, and safer access to jobs and school,” the organization says on its website.
         The Complete Streets bill advanced at Tuesday’s council meeting with stronger language than a previous version, and it will be up for final passage next week.
         In St. Louis County, Trailnet is among the leaders of the movement for passage of the Complete Streets ordinance.
         Rhonda Smythe, with Trailnet, said that the bill, which Trailnet helped write, calls for bike and pedestrian lanes, better lighting on roads, crosswalks, trimmed bushes and other measures to encourage safer transportation of all kinds.          Significantly, it would call for better “connectivity” of trails around the county and more collaboration and cooperation among different agencies and governments..
         At the council meeting Tuesday, resident Barbara Stewart told the council that voters had approved money for Great Rivers Greenway to build connected trails around the region and that county roads should be part of the system.
         Phil Valko, director of Sustainability at Washington University, said the students and faculty would benefit from the new policies. A Clayton resident also spoke in favor.
         Chaplain Willie J. Jordan, executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, said that Complete Streets was also important for pedestrians and people with disabilities. He cited some streets in North St. Louis County where it could improve safety.
         County Councilman Pat Dolan of Richmond Heights, who is one of the sponsors and worked on the bill, said it had broad support from municipalities and mayors and residents from every part of St. Louis County.
         “The people of St. Louis County have shown us in surveys by the Planning Department that this is what they want,” Dolan said. He said that Complete Streets could improve local economies and transportation.
         Initially, the county administration was reluctant but now is cooperating on the bill, he said.

I was planning to attend and speak on this bill during the Public Portion of tonight’s regularly scheduled County Council meeting which starts at 6 pm. Then I learned at 3:20 pm that it had already started at 3:00 pm to allow councilmembers to leave early for Thanksgiving! The hours I’d spent during the early hours of this morning honing what I planned to say during my 3 minutes at the podium suddenly went up in smoke.

But a little later I learned the final vote on this bill had been postponed until next week, due to funding issues. Whew! Sometimes there’s other reasons to give thanks, apart from sitting down with friends and family at Thanksgiving.

And while checking out the text of this story on-line, I came across a related story by Post-Dispatch reporter Margaret Gillerman published the previous week. Headlined “County Council urged to approve more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly policies” it described testimony given in support of this bill.

St. Louis County Council puts Complete Streets legislation on hold
November 26, 2013 6:48 pm •  By Steve Giegerich 314-725-67582

CLAYTON • Faced with funding questions from highway department officials, the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday held off on a vote that could ultimately improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians along county roads.
         Councilman Pat Dolan, the co-sponsor of the bill, joined Trailnet official Rhonda Smythe in predicting passage of the measure, perhaps as early as next week.
         Trailnet, a nonprofit group that promotes healthy lifestyle alternatives, is the driving force behind the expansion of the Complete Streets program in the county.
         Tuesday’s delay came on the heels of questions raised earlier this week about the scope and cost that additional sidewalks and bicycle lanes will impose on future road projects.
         “Supporters say this bill is benign and harmless. But it’s anything but,” said David Wrone, a spokesman for the county division of Highways, Traffic and Public Works. “It’s a massive spending bill, and we have no idea how we would pay for it.”
         Wrone estimated it would cost taxpayers a minimum of $300 million to install bicycle lanes along just 15 percent of county-maintained roadways.
         The estimate, he noted, does not embrace further payments to property owners for easements to expand streets or the cost of relocating utilities.
         Smythe disputes the highway department’s characterization.
         “The biggest misconception is that we want all roads immediately retrofitted with new sidewalks and bike lanes,” she said after Tuesday’s meeting.
         Trailnet, she stressed, advocates for improved bike and pedestrian access when opportunities for “new street design” arise.
         The county can integrate bike lanes and sidewalks into future road improvements at a “negligible or small cost,” she added.
         Wrone countered that the Dolan legislation neglects to address the true price the improvements will exact on taxpayers.
         Dolan’s legislation amended an earlier measure introduced by County Executive Charlie Dooley.
         The county executive’s proposal gave the county more discretion on Complete Streets projects.
         Wrone wondered aloud why the Dolan-Trailnet alliance pushed the legislation through without first consulting with county highway engineers.
         “We do this for a living,” he said. “It’s odd that we weren’t involved at a much deeper level.”
         Smythe said her organization has in fact conducted “conversations” with county highway department officials.
         Trailnet and other advocates contend that a portion of the Great Rivers Greenway bonds approved by voters in two separate elections were intended for Complete Streets projects.
         Dooley and county officials maintain Great Rivers Greenway funds are to be directed to trails and not county roads.

The following story – “St. Louis County is poised to approve measure for bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads” – which appeared below the fold in Sunday’s Community section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, came as a complete and unwelcome surprise.

The headline obscures the fact that the goal is approving “Complete Streets” legislation. I’ve looked into what Complete Streets means, and for bicycling it appears to boil down to bike lanes on major roads, which pose serious problems for competent on-road cyclists.

I chose to live in Ferguson in 1980, when I started working at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., precisely because, being an older community, it had a good interconnected system of residential and main roads from which I could choose, while having a short commute of no more than 4 miles each way. I biked to work almost every workday, summer and winter, for over 11 years and very rarely had any traffic-related problems. In fact, loose aggressive dogs were probably the biggest occasional problem, resulting on one occasion in a shoulder injury which took 6 months to heal.

On November 18, 2008, Ferguson approved a Complete Streets ordinance. I was shocked to learn of it after-the-fact, given that I’d worked with the city on bicycle transportation issues for many years and to me it made no sense.

In 2012 Trailnet, which is leading this current St. Louis County Council effort, persuaded Ferguson to approve a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that envisages most major roads in Ferguson eventually being striped with bike lanes.

That would roll back the significant gains made last year for bicyclists as a result of progressive actions on the part of City Manager John Shaw, subsequently supported overwhelmingly by the city council. The Ferguson ordinance, approved on June 26, 2012, essentially repealed the so-called “Far To the Right” (FTR) language in the old ordinance, replacing it with a new ordinance allowing a cyclist to control or share the curb lane at his or her option. The FTR language, based on Missouri state law, requires a cyclist to stay “as far right as safe” with exceptions, one being the undefined “when the lane is too narrow to share.” This uncertainty in the language is what nearly got me ticketed in February 2012 when I was pulled over by a Ferguson police officer for controlling the curb lane.

The new ordinance removes that ambivalence and puts cyclists on close to a par with motorists. It allows a cyclist to control the curb lane, maximizing cyclist safety, while allowing cooperative use of public roads. This is demonstrated in the following video, shot in Ferguson in August, 2012, with Gerry Noll, owner of the Ferguson Bicycle Shop assisting:

Bicycling Made Simple: Gerry Noll Shows How from Martin Pion on Vimeo.

The presence of a bike lane reverses this progress, conveying to both cyclists and motorists that cyclists must again stay far right in the road. This puts a cyclist at considerable risk from turning motorists at intersections and commercial driveways, or from colliding with an opened car door when the bike lane is alongside a parking lane. It also often places the cyclist on the most uneven part of the road, with debris swept there by motor vehicle tires.

What St. Louis County Council is poised to approve is likely to further stall real progress in equality of access to the road system for cyclists.

St. Louis County is poised to approve measure for bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads
16 hours ago  •  By Margaret Gillerman 314-340-8126

CLAYTON • Advocates for more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly St. Louis County roads are urging the County Council to pass comprehensive “Complete Streets” legislation similar to ordinances in the city of St. Louis, Ferguson and other cities around the state and country.
         A “Complete Street” is “designed with all users in mind — motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, the elderly and the disabled,” according to the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.
         The bill will be up for final passage this week and appears to have the votes to pass.
         Trailnet, a local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization, has been lobbying for the ordinance.
         “This will make it easier for people to walk or bike to the grocery store, to the park or work or school,” said Rhonda Smythe, Trailnet policy and advocacy manager. “It’s for people from 8 to 80, moms with strollers and people using mobility assistance devices.”
         The measure calls for more bicycle and pedestrian lanes, better lighting on roads, crosswalks, street trees, sidewalks, refuge islands, signals, accessible curb cuts, traffic calming and other measures to encourage safer streets.
         This doesn’t mean that every St. Louis County road will have a bicycle lane or the other elements.          
         Backers say the Complete Streets enhancements would come into play when the county is resurfacing or making other improvements on roads or building a new road. No cost estimates are included with the legislation.

Two committees — one made up of county departments and another of residents and advocacy groups — will assist in implementing and monitoring the progress.
         Builders of private roads and parking lots in unincorporated parts of county also will be asked to incorporate elements of Complete Streets.
         The requirements do not affect municipal or state-owned roads.
         Trailnet, Paraquad, an advocate agency for people with disabilities, and municipal leaders have worked with County Councilman Pat Dolan of Richmond Heights on the bill. In addition to Dolan, other sponsors are council members Steve Stenger of South County and Hazel Erby of University City.
         Dolan said that Complete Streets would result in more collaboration on paths and trails between county and municipal governments and better connections for trails in different jurisdictions.
         Dolan said that the county highway department initially had reservations but now is participating in the planning.
         For several weeks, a parade of residents and representatives of organizations committed to walking, bicycling and safe roads have spoken in support of a “Complete Streets” policy at County Council meetings. No one from the public has spoken against it.
         Some advocates criticized an earlier version of the bill, which required the county to “consider” Complete Streets elements. A revised version that advanced last week makes that mandatory.
         At the council meeting last Tuesday, Barbara Stewart of Chesterfield told the council that voters twice had approved taxes for Great Rivers Greenway because they support a system of connected trails. Great Rivers is a tax-supported agency that is building a series of connected trails around the region.
         She said Complete Streets “would promote community, raise awareness and increase property values.
         From the safety issue, so many roads don’t have room for both bicycles and cars and even walkers.”
         Dolan said that the bill has broad support from municipalities, mayors, businesses and residents.
         The trails, he said, could improve local economies and the transportation system.
         “The people of St. Louis County have shown us in surveys by the Planning Department that this is what they want,” Dolan said.


Below is the full text of the bill. Eric Fey, Executive Assistant to Councilmember Pat Dolan, the bill’s sponsor, told me it was modeled after language originally approved by the City/County Government of Indianapolis:

Substitute Bill No. 1 for
BILL NO. 238 , 2013
Introduced by Councilmember Dolan



SECTION 1. Chapter 1105, Title XI SLCRO 1974 as amended, “Department of Highways and Traffic,” is amended by enacting and adding thereto eight new sections as follows:

1105.250 Complete Streets Policy. -The County shall develop a safe, reliable, efficient, integrated, accessible and connected multimodal transportation system that shall equally promote access, mobility and health for all users, and shall ensure that the safety, convenience and comfort of all users of the transportation system are genuinely accommodated, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people of all ages and abilities, motorists, emergency responders, freight providers and adjacent land users.
St. Louis County believes inclusion of Complete Streets will help promote healthy, livable communities and further support a variety of mobility goals expressed in the St. Louis County Strategic Plan.

1105.255 Definitions. 1. “Complete Streets” means streets that are planned, designed, operated, and maintained, in a context sensitive manner, to enable low-stress, safe and comfortable access for all users, in that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to move safely and comfortably along and across a street.
2. “Pedestrian” means: 2

(a) A person who is on foot; or
(b) A person who is using any means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle; or
(c) A person who is using an electric personal assistive mobility device; or
(d) A person who is operating a self-propelled wheelchair, motorized tricycle, or motorized quadricycle to act as a pedestrian and, by reason of physical disability, is otherwise restricted in movement as or unable to move about on foot.

3. “Users” means individuals that use streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, public transportation riders and drivers, emergency responders, freight providers and people of all ages and abilities, including children, youth, families, older adults and individuals with disabilities.

1105.260 Scope of Complete Streets Applicability. -1. The County shall routinely plan, design, operate, and maintain its streets for all users and approach every transportation improvement and project phase as an opportunity to create safer, more accessible streets for all users. These phases include, but are not limited to: planning, programming, design, right-of-way acquisition, construction, construction engineering, reconstruction, operation and maintenance including restriping and repaving. Other changes to transportation facilities on streets and rights-of-way, including capital improvements, re-channelization projects and major maintenance, must also be included.
2. All transportation facilities in the public right of way including, but not limited to, streets, bridges and all other connecting pathways shall be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained so that users of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation can travel safely and independently. This includes, but is not limited to, the establishment of one or more complete streets features such as sidewalks, refuge islands, bulbouts, pedestrian and traffic signals, accessible curb ramps, crosswalks, bike lanes, cycle tracks, multi-use paths, traffic-calming devices, bicycle parking facilities, signage, street trees and landscaping, and public transportation stops and facilities in conjunction with construction, reconstruction, or other change to any county-owned transportation facility.
3. The Department of Highways and Traffic shall use methods of providing development flexibility within safe design 3
parameters, such as context-sensitive design solutions.
4. Privately constructed streets and parking lots shall adhere to this policy.
5. This policy further requires consideration of complete street elements by the Director of Planning and the Plan Commission through the planning, development review and approval process or in other appropriate circumstances.
6. The County shall create partnerships of open communication and transparency with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), neighboring communities and counties, and business and school districts to implement facilities and accommodations that further the County’s Complete Streets policy and continue such infrastructure beyond the County’s borders and within municipalities.
7. The County shall implement and create a system of connectivity throughout the County road network to and between Municipalities, Great Rivers Greenway trails, Metro bus and light rail stations, learning institutions, civic centers and other high visitation facilities. The County shall accomplish this by coordination, and come to mutually agreeable safe solutions with previously named institutions.

1105.265 Implementation. -St. Louis County shall make Complete Streets integral to everyday transportation decision-making practices and processes. To this end:
(a) The County shall establish an interdepartmental advisory committee to oversee the implementation of this policy. The committee shall include Directors or designees from the departments of Highways and Traffic, Planning, Health, and Parks and Recreation Departments that have Complete Streets responsibilities. It shall be called the Complete Streets Implementation Committee and fulfill the following duties:
(i) Meet quarterly;
(ii) Develop an action plan to more fully integrate complete streets principles into appropriate policy documents, plans, project selection processes, design manuals and implementation (construction and maintenance) procedures.
(iii) Assess potential obstacles to implementing Complete Streets practices;
(iv) Propose revisions to zoning and subdivison codes and other applicable law to integrate, accommodate, and balance the needs of all users of the transportation network; 4
(v) Convene the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee; and
(vi) Provide an annual written report to the County Council showing progress made in implementing this policy.
(b) A Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee shall be convened by the Complete Streets Implementation Committee and shall meet biannually to provide input into and review the action plan and implementation timeline, design standard updates, performance measures, exemptions, and annual report. Participants should represent a broad spectrum of users of the transportation system, and shall include members from: St. Louis County Council, East West Gateway, Bi-State Development Agency (Metro), Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District (Great Rivers Greenway), Trailnet, Paraquad, St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis County Municipal League, and the Starkloff Institute. The committee may also include representatives from the walking, bicycling, disabled, youth, air quality, and elderly communities and other advocacy organizations, as relevant.
(c) The Department of Highways and Traffic, Planning, Health, Parks and Recreation, and other relevant departments, agencies, or committees shall incorporate Complete Streets principles into all existing plans, manuals, checklists, decision-trees, rules, regulations, and programs as appropriate.
(d) When available, County staff shall provide and/or attend nationally recognized professional development and training on non-motorized transportation issues for staff through conferences, classes, seminars, and workshops such as those delivered by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA);
(e) County staff shall identify all current and potential future sources of funding for street improvements and recommend improvements to the project selection criteria to support Complete Streets projects;

1105.270 Design Standards. -1. The County shall adapt, develop, adopt and implement departmental policies, design criteria, standards including subdivision regulations, and guidelines based upon recognized best practices and recommendations in street design, construction and operations including those recommended by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
2. The County shall create, adopt and implement a Streets Design Manual which shall establish Complete Streets best practices 5
and incorporate the most recent federal standards and recommendations to support implementation of this policy. The design manual shall be created in conjunction with the Complete Streets Implementation Committee and include input from the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee.

1105.275 Exceptions. -1.Any proposed exception to this policy, including for private projects, shall be documented with data indicating the basis for the exception. The Complete Streets Implementation Committee shall review this documentation and record each Committee member’s concurrence or non-concurrence with the exception. All details of the exception, including the Committee’s position, will be made part of the public record. The Director of Highways & Traffic will notify the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee and the St. Louis County Board of Highways and Traffic (“Board”) regarding details of the exception, including the Committee’s position, within 30 days of the decision. The exception and Committee position shall also be made publicly available on the County website within 30 days. All exceptions must be approved by the Director of Highways & Traffic.
Exceptions may be considered for approval when:
(a) An affected roadway prohibits, by law, use by specified users (such as an interstate freeways or pedestrian malls), in which case a greater effort shall be made to accommodate those specified users elsewhere, including on roadways that cross or otherwise intersect with the affected roadway;
(b) The activities are ordinary maintenance activities designed to keep assets in serviceable condition (e.g. mowing, cleaning, sweeping, spot repair,) and surface treatments such as interim measures;
(c) The application of complete streets principles is inappropriate because it would be contrary to public safety or that the cost is excessively disproportionate to the need or future use; or
(d) Other available means or factors indicate an absence of need, including future need.
The Complete Streets Implementation Committee shall submit biannual reports to the County Council summarizing all exceptions with documented rationale granted in the preceding quarters. These reports shall be submitted during Council 6
meetings and shall be posted on the County’s website.

1105.280 Design Studies and Public Input. -1. All initial planning and design studies, health impact assessments, environmental reviews and other project reviews for projects requiring funding or approval by St. Louis County shall:
(a) Evaluate the effect of the proposed project on safe, convenient, and comfortable travel by all users;
(b) Identify measures to mitigate any adverse impacts on such travel that are identified.
2. During the planning phase of any improvement project requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the County shall conduct a study and analysis incorporating this ordinance into the public transportation project. The Complete Streets Implementation Committee, surrounding municipalities, and any impacted educational institutions are required to provide input during the planning phase to maximize safe, convenient, and comfortable travel between destinations; input shall be integrated into the project purpose and need. The study and analysis shall:
(a) Include cost estimates for all mode components, safety considerations, the benefit of such improvements or facilities to other public transportation improvements, whether additional property is required, physical or area requirements or limitations, and any other factors deemed relevant;
(b) Be incorporated in the design and planning of each public transportation project; and
(c) Conduct a stakeholder planning meeting that includes but is not limited to pedestrian planners, bicycle transportation planners, public transportation planners, local air quality management districts, disability and senior mobility planners, and advocates for disability, walking, biking, and public transit including Bi-State Development Agency (Metro), and Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District (Great Rivers Greenway), Trailnet, Starkloff Institute, and Paraquad. Comments and recommendations from the stakeholder planning meeting shall be integrated in the project purpose and need.
(d) Conduct a public charrette process in projects requiring an EIS. Context sensitive solutions and recommendations from the charrette shall be genuinely considered in the context of the project design. 7
(e) Draft EIS documents shall be available to the public at no cost for a minimum of 90 days, or as directed by National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), before the comment period closes.

1105.285 Performance Measures. -1. Within six months of ordinance adoption, the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee shall convene, and within one year create individual numeric benchmarks for each of the performance measures included, as a means of tracking and measuring the annual performance of the ordinance. Annual reports shall include data on the increase or decrease for each performance measure contained in this ordinance compared to the previous year(s) and shall be posted on the St. Louis County website.
The success of this Complete Streets policy shall be measured using, but not limited to, the following performance measures:
(a) Linear feet of new or repaired pedestrian accommodation;
(b) Number of new ADA curb ramps installed along streets;
(c) Crosswalk, intersection, and signalization improvements;
(d) Percentage of transit stops accessible via sidewalks and curb ramps;
(e) Number of transit accessibility accommodations built;
(f) Total miles of bike routes created, improved, and maintained; including mileage of sharrows, bike lanes, bicycle boulevards, cycle tracks, buffered bicycle lanes and multi-use paths;
(g) Number of people of walking and biking;
(h) Mass transit ridership per transit stop;
(i) Number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities by mode;
(j) Number of children walking or bicycling to school;
(k) Miles of connection added to and from multi-use trails such as those in the River Ring;

(l) Miles of connection added that fill gaps in the existing non-motorized transportation network.


I joined the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) in February 2012, hoping for an opportunity to inject a different viewpoint on vehicular cycling into the discussion. Having been a committed on-road bicycle commuter for over 40 years, plus being a trained scientist, I felt I had useful insights to share.

I subsequently spent months preparing a researched paper, on later drafts of which I collaborated with coauthor Andy Cline. It was finally submitted to the ITE Journal for peer-review on September 10, 2012, titled “Bicycle transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.” I expected some resistance from reviewers and I wasn’t disappointed.

On December 17, I received a rejection notice after manuscript review by “experts in its topic area.” I asked for and subsequently received their comments. Below I’ve pasted the entire manuscript, followed by the reviewers’ comments.

Please note: References are enclosed thus: []

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

Martin Pion, B.Sc. and Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.


Increasingly, efforts to accommodate bicyclists on-road are directed at modifying the infrastructure by adding bike lane striping, including bidirectional bike lanes, based on the belief that that is what most cyclists need. This paper shows that the focus should be on age-appropriate bicycle education instead.

bike lane, bicycle education, bicyclist, “ABC” classification, bike plan


Efforts to accommodate bicyclists on public roads have intensified over the years, promoted by numerous organizations, including the League of American Bicyclists. Currently, a major focus is adding bicycle lanes, driven by the belief that this is what the majority of bicyclists needs. This comprises children and adults who are relatively unskilled and untutored and viewed as unwilling or unable to use roads without such accommodations.
The “ABC” classification and “design user”

The basis for the above beliefs can be traced to a study published in January 1994 entitled Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles, by W.C. Wilkinson et. al., under a contract from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).[1] That reports main goal was to provide a set of tables to guide on-road bicycle facility types “under particular roadway design and traffic operational conditions.” However, the most significant impact resulted from the report’s definition of the “design user” and the need “to accommodate bicyclists of moderate ability,” meaning casual adult riders and children, on roads provided with bicycle facilities. Today “facilities” typically means bicycle lanes.
The impact of the “design user” concept might have been very limited except for the concept having been 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).[2] This is an influential document now used nationwide. 
An example of how widely this “design user” influences bicycle transportation planning can be seen in the Great Rivers Greenway Gateway Bike Plan for metropolitan St. Louis,[3] approved in January 2012 by the local metropolitan planning organization, East-West Gateway Council of Governments.[4] GRG’s plan envisions adding more than 1,000 miles of bicycle lanes to existing roads over the next 20 years. In Table 5-1 is the above noted “ABC” classification of on-road bicyclists,[5]
A – Advanced (5 percent of all riders)
B – Basic
C – Child (B & C combined = 95 percent of all riders)
(Note that the recently released 2012 AASHTO Guide has dropped the “ABC” classification but retains its primary elements, stating that, for those in the majority CASUAL AND LESS CONFIDENT group, “a physical network of visible, convenient and well‐designed bicycle facilities is needed.”)[6]

The Gateway Bike Plan is thus predicated on the assumption that 95 percent of bicycle users of the road system will not be comfortable or safe riding on roads without special accommodation, primarily bicycle lane striping, which is viewed as rendering the road system safe for the less skilled or immature user.
This paper examines the validity of this fundamental assumption.

It is fair to assume that, as with motorists below a certain level of age-based maturity, young cyclists lack the perception and skills necessary to bicycle safely on major arterial or collector roads without adult supervision. 

Fig. 1: Photo caption: “Students of Diana Lewiston’s bicycle safety class listen for instructions from Lewiston via walkie-talkie.” improved by Kim Mosley

Fig. 1: Students of Diana Lewiston’s bicycle safety class listen
for instructions from Lewiston via walkie-talkie.
   Photo accompanied story in San Jose Mercury News, 1988
Improved by Kim Mosley, 2012

But teenagers can ride safely in traffic with the necessary training. For a decade, starting in the early 1980s, hundreds of 13-year-old schoolchildren participated in a comprehensive bicycle education curriculum developed and taught in Palo Alto, Ca., middle schools by Diana Lewiston,[7] a dedicated educator and experienced on-road bicyclist, building on the work of bicycle transportation proponent John Forester.[8] The classes were offered as a physical education elective, lasting for 45 minutes each school day for several consecutive weeks. 

Among novel ideas introduced by Lewiston were walkie-talkies adapted to mount on each student’s bicycle helmet or headband connected to a transceiver around the waist. When the group arrived at the chosen signalized intersection, Lewiston’s assistant would demonstrate the maneuver by riding through the intersection first. Each student would then follow in turn while being given feedback by Lewiston via walkie-talkie. To make identification simpler, each student wore a number on their back.

Most of the course time was spent on bike, initially practicing in the parking lot, but mainly on roads of increasing daily traffic counts.

“There was a change in riding behavior of the students from the beginning of class to the final day which was the road test,” Lewiston wrote. “I cannot assume there was any change when they were riding outside class, particularly if they were riding with others.  Habits are not automatically changed as a result of the class but from repeatedly practicing the new behaviors until they become natural when they ride.”[9] 

This is a situation analogous to a teenager learning to drive a car. They must first demonstrate knowledge and ability, but it is only through constant practice in traffic that knowledge and experience combine to create a safe driver.

Lewiston accepts the five basic traffic principles as taught by Forester,[10] but she says she learned that, for many adults, bike riding skills are frozen in how they rode as youngsters. Thus education programs such as hers are important for encouraging both good teenage traffic behavior and, eventually, adult behavior. 

“The cumulative effect of verifying the validity of the five basic traffic principles through studying accidents and writing a textbook based on what I was learning about cyclist behavior,” Lewiston wrote, “reinforced my belief that only on-road bicycle riding education is the way to learn how to ride in traffic with motor vehicles.” [11]

The five basic cyclist traffic principles alluded to above by Lewiston may be paraphrased as:

1. Drive on the right, in the same direction as motorists
2. At intersections, position yourself according to your destination
3. Between intersections, position yourself according to your speed, slower vehicles on the right
4. Yield when changing lanes or moving sideways
5. Yield to cross traffic when it has priority

Lewiston’s experience and conclusions challenge the entire rationale for the “ABC” type of cyclist classification for the following reasons: 

If it is fundamentally a question of education of the more mature child cyclist and traffic lanes wide enough to be safely shared by both motorist and bicyclist (or control by the bicyclist of narrower lanes when passing by a motorist is unsafe), then the existing road system provides the necessary infrastructure to permit bicycling for transportation. And if education is the key for children above a certain age, then this also applies to adults of any age. 
Hence what is lacking in general is not infrastructure but acquiring the skills and knowledge to use the existing road system safely for bicycling.

Indeed, this is the same approach used for motorists, who are expected to master the fundamentals of safe motoring both as regards actual vehicle operation and cooperatively with other road users. There is no expectation that what novice motorists require is a separate lane reserved preferentially for their use: such an idea would be considered ludicrous.
The above argument is not to dispute the public perception about the danger of using a bicycle for transportation on the existing road system. In a 2001 survey of employees at the former McDonnell Douglas Co. (now part of Boeing Corp.) in St. Louis, Mo., as part of an FHWA pilot bicycle transportation promotion program, participants were asked to list the pros and cons of bicycling to work.[12] Fifty percent chose “Roads unsafe” for the cons.
This concern with perceived unsafe roads has been echoed by Roger Geller, Bicycle Coordinator in the Portland Office of Transportation in Oregon. His paper “Four Types of Cyclists” notes that riding a bicycle “should not require bravery. Yet, all too often, that is the perception among cyclists and non-cyclists alike.”[13] This is the basis for Portland’s focus on bicycle lanes and segregated facilities rather than on educating bicyclists. 
The emphasis on bicycle helmet wearing,[14] which is increasingly mandated by law for children, and on bicycle lane striping, has only served to solidify public perception regarding the danger of bicycle transportation. 

Adult cyclist training programs

The basic principles mentioned above also apply to adult cycling in the United States. The LAB was the first to offer a comprehensive bicycle education program nationwide. Its foundation adult course, called Traffic Skills 101 (previously Road I), of 9 hours minimum duration, covers bicycle mechanics and bicycle handling techniques and emergency maneuvers, plus on-road training.[15] 
When the LAB was headquartered in Baltimore, Md., its foundation adult bicycle education course was Effective Cycling®, developed by Forester. As originally taught by Forester in the mid-1970s, the course involved a much longer time commitment: 10 sessions of 3 hours each. It was offered by some universities for college credit.
For the later 9-hour version, a comprehensive 41-minute video also called Effective Cycling, for which Forester provided technical assistance, accompanied the course.[16] 
The video discusses “bikeways,” defined as off-road, mixed-use trails and on-road bike lanes. It criticizes both as being inferior to regular roads for bicycle transportation on various grounds, arguing that bike lanes increase the risks for conflicts whenever a motorist turns across a cyclist’s path in the bicycle lane at intersections or entrances to off-road parking. This is, of course, still true in the absence of bicycle lanes, but suitable training can help bicyclists minimize such conflicts, and the absence of the bike lane stripe removes a psychological (and sometimes an actual legal) barrier. (A legal barrier was created in 2010 when Florida state law was amended to require bicyclists to ride in a bicycle lane when provided, with certain exceptions.) 
Forester withdrew his approval for the League to use the name Effective Cycling® following differences caused by the League’s change of emphasis from bicycle education to on-road facilities.  
In 2010, a competing program called CyclingSavvy was introduced under the auspices of the Florida Bicycle Association and is gaining national acceptance.[17] The program was started in Orlando, Fla. by certified League Cycling Instructors, Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson, who concluded that the Traffic Skills 101 course needed a major overhaul and should focus exclusively on bicycle handling and traffic safety. It is a structured 9-1/2 hour course offered à la carte with virtually no time allocated to bicycle mechanics, unlike Traffic Skills 101. Adult students can start by attending a 3-hour classroom session called Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling, extensively illustrated with graphics and video. That is followed by a 3-hour parking-lot session called Train Your Bike, which can be taken independently. To participate in the 3-1/2 hour on-road bicycling Tour of the City, which includes navigating difficult intersections alone after prior instruction and demonstration, the student must have completed both the other two sessions.  The figures below illustrate the courses which are offered both to students and would-be instructors.

Fig. 2: Pion shown controlling the curb or outside lane during the CyclingSavvy St. Louis “Tour of the City” in April, 2011.

Fig. 2: Pion shown controlling the curb or outside lane during the CyclingSavvy St. Louis “Tour of the City” in April, 2011. Photo: Karen Karabell

The very first CyclingSavvy St. Louis course for students, which was also a pre-requisite for those wishing to become instructors, was held in April, 2011, conducted by newly qualified instructors, Karen Karabell and Harold Karabell.

This was followed In early June, 2011, by a CyclingSavvy Instructor training course, conducted by Caffrey and Wilson. Before the course, Caffrey and Wilson rode the route, which included a major intersection featured subsequently in a video posted on-line. This shows the instructors followed by Karen Karabell at about 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, 2011, bicycling in single-file on Kingshighway Blvd., a busy multi-lane arterial, while crossing I-64 in St. Louis. The video, with Karabell used a helmet-mounted video camera facing forward, and Caffrey leading using a backward facing camera, is posted on-line at It is instructive to observe how seamlessly the three cyclists integrate into the traffic stream while demonstrating lane control.

During the actual instructor course, before each major feature such as the one above, a student uses colored chalk on the sidewalk to map out the route and how they will navigate it. This is called “chalk talk,” a unique feature of the CyclingSavvy program, used to help prepare participants before they bicycle individually through a difficult road junction. It resembles Lewiston’s method for teaching students how to deal with demanding intersections.

Andrew Cline’s “chalk talk” task during the CyclistSavvy Instructor certification class in June, 2011, was the Kingshighway – I-64 intersection described above (see Fig. 3 below).

Fig. 3: Cline demonstrating “chalk talk” during the CyclingSavvy on-road instructor training session in downtown St. Louis in July, 2011.

Fig. 3: Cline demonstrating “chalk talk” during the CyclingSavvy on-road instructor training session in downtown St. Louis in July, 2011.

The obesity epidemic and bicycling promotion

There is increasing alarm over the obesity epidemic among schoolchildren, associated with a sedentary lifestyle. This has led to a national effort to encourage more walking and bicycling to school via the federally funded Safe Routes to School Program.[18] An equivalent opportunity exists for encouraging bicycling to school if parents and others are given training along with children of sufficient maturity.

What about bicycle facilities?

Both in Europe and North America attention has focused on facilities to accommodate bicycling. These range from off-road trails shared by pedestrians and cyclists, to facilities provided in the road corridor, including bike lanes. They are being promoted by numerous organizations, some supported directly by sales taxes, and others via government grants. They include bicycle manufacturers and retailers organizations, environmental groups, bicycle facilities planners, and also the LAB. In St. Louis, Missouri, they include Trailnet,[19] Great Rivers Greenway,[20] and the local chapter of the Sierra Club.[21]

Mixed use trails involving the conversion of abandoned railroad right-of-ways can be a useful alternative to the road system for transportational cyclists, since they are often direct, have only slight grades, and if having little pedestrian traffic, can be quite fast and efficient. The Ted Jones Trail in North St. Louis County linking the downtown City of Ferguson to the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the UMSL North Metrolink station is of this variety.[22]

In general, though, they are no substitute for the road system.

Mighk Wilson, Cycling Savvy co-developer and also a Smart Growth Planner in Orlando, Florida, sums up the issue this way:[23]

“For me the crux of the matter is, Do on-road bicycle facilities make cycling safer for untrained cyclists? I have come to the conclusion (after 15 years of actually trying to prove they do) that they do not, that they increase the complexity of the cyclist’s operating environment, and that they are more likely to lead untrained cyclists into conflicts they do not expect, understand, or have the skills with which to react.”


Discriminatory laws and occasional aggressive motorist behavior towards bicyclists require changes in public policy and attitudes. Bicycling must be viewed as a legitimate mode of transportation, with age-appropriate education taught to users comparable to that required for motorists. Categorization of cyclists, such as the “ABC” designation proposed in 1994, should be replaced by educational efforts to ensure cyclists have the knowledge and skills needed for safe and efficient cycling for transportation, comparable to those required of motor vehicle operators. This should include bicycle education for teenagers, including offering it as a Physical Education elective in schools. 


1. Wilkinson III, W.C., Clarke, A., Epperson, B., Knoblauch, R. Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles. Washington, DC, USA: Federal Highway Administration Report No. FHWA-RD-92-073, January 1994

2. Guide for the development of bicycle facilities, 3rd edition. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 1999.

3. Gateway Bike Plan. Great Rivers Greenway, 2011.

4. Minutes of January 2012 Board of Directors meeting. East-West Gateway Council of Governments, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

5. Gateway Bike Plan Chapter 5: BICYCLE FACILITY NETWORK. Great Rivers Greenway, 2011.

6. Guide for the development of bicycle facilities, 4th edition. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 2012.

7. Lewiston, D. Bicycling in Traffic. Intermediate Bicycle Handling & Beginning/Intermediate Urban Traffic Skills. Palo Alto, CA, USA: April 1992. Curriculum now posted on-line on thinkbicyclingblog, with permission.

8. Forester, J. Bicycling Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers. 2nd edition. 1994. MIT Press.
Forester, J. Effective Cycling. 6th edition. 1993. MIT Press.

9. Private communication from D. Lewiston to A. Cline and M. Pion, dated May 10, 2012

10. Forester, J. Five basic traffic principles. On-line at

11. Private communication from D. Lewiston to A. Cline and M. Pion, dated May 10, 2012

12. Pion, M. Ferguson/Boeing/UM-SL Pilot Bicycling Transportation Promotion Project (CMAQ-5500(619)). Report of respondents to the Baseline Bicycling Transportation Survey of Boeing and the University of Missouri, St. Louis, February-March, 2001.

13. Geller, R. Four Types of Cyclists. On-line at:

14. One example is the Consumer Products Safety Commission, on-line at

15. League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 foundation course. Summary on-line at with course details at

16. Effective Cycling Video. Seidler Productions, Tallahassee, FL, USA: 1992. On-line at

17. CyclingSavvy was introduced under the auspices of the Florida Bicycle Association. A course description is on-line at

18. National Center for Safe Routes to School, 2012. On-line at

19. Trailnet. On-line at

20. Great Rivers Greenway. On-line at

21. Sierra Club of Eastern Missouri. On-line at

22. Ted Jones Trail. On-line at

23. Private communication from M. Wilson to M. Pion, July 12, 2012 8:07:35 AM CDT

The following were the comments of five reviewers of this manuscript. While they contained some positive observations, overall they were rather dismissive of the thesis that education is far more important in promoting bicycle transportation than the present focus on infrastructure, as epitomized by bike lanes.

ITEJ Comments Compiled: Manuscript #09194: “Bicycle Transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.”
Author: Martin Pion

Reviewer #1:

The content is interesting and timely in the continuing discussion about how to encourage and accommodate active transportation, including bicycling. My concern is with the premise that education is more important than facility. I do not believe it is helpful to the discussion to present this as “education instead of bike lanes”, as stated in the title and reflected throughout the paper. Why create an either-or dynamic. Both are important and address different aspects of rider safety and comfort. I think that if this paper were restructured to focus on how education can enhance different aspects of rider safety and comfort without making it a choice between education and facilities it would be more broadly accepted and have a greater impact. I agree that the model of facility type by rider is not helpful either and that bike facilities, like other transportation facilities, should be designed for safety without regard to user type (we certainly don’t designate roadways for use by timid drivers vs. aggressive drivers). I think education in bicycling is important, as is education in driving, and think it should be enhanced and promoted. I just don’t see the benefit of pitting it against bike lanes, which are also important to the majority of riders and potential riders. Overall, good information presented in an unnecessarily argumentative way.

Reviewer #2:

The paper talks about bicycle promotion through better education.
         The paper presents several examples of training programs for child or adult bicyclists and talks about their effectiveness, yet no evidence (such as a formal evaluation, before and after studies, etc) is presented to verify these assertions.
         Well designed training programs should have specific learning objectives and means to measure how to meet these objectives. No data are presented and it is hard to know if the case studies given are the best way to do it. The paper makes lots of assertions that are not backed up.
         Also, although the title talks about age appropriate bicycle education versus bike lanes, no evidence is presented to document why education should be used rather than providing bike lanes. I don’t see why one wouldn’t want to do both. The ‘one versus the other’ idea is bothersome. Is there a hidden agenda or bias behind this?

Reviewer #3:

This paper is a terse and weak attempt to advocate for education as a sole means for increase cycling mode share/usage. The paper fails to fully vet the crux of the issue and does not support their conclusion with enough factual data or peer reviewed research. There is one anecdote from Palo Alto, that is hardly consensus. Furthermore, the authors fail to consider that bicycle infrastructure and education could be complementary tools to increase bicycle usage. These two efforts are not tacitly mutually exclusive (or at least they did not prove that they are).

Reviewer #4:

The authors conveniently ignore Moritiz’s 1999 research that found 50% fewer bike crashes on bike lane than on streets without bike lanes; they do not acknowledge newer bicycle facilities such as sharrows, bike boulevards and cycle tracks; and they are apparently unaware of Furth’s 2012 research on Level of Traffic Stress for bicyclists.
         Again, 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.
         While the description of the new adult cyclist training programs is original, the material on the uselessness of traditional bicycle facilities is just a recycling of John Forester’s decades-old mantra.
         This paper represents a popular point of view that keeps popping up, and traffic engineers and bicycle planners should be made aware of this persistent sentiment. On the other hand, I don’t believe this one-sided diatribe against traditional and time-tested bicycle facility design standards should appear unchallenged in our professional magazine. But I do not want to dismiss the wonderful educational efforts of the League of American Bicyclists as well as the newer adult cycle training techniques described in their paper. Perhaps this could be rewritten as a pure education program presentation without the anti-bike lane baggage.

Reviewer #5:

The second heading covers from P.1 to P.5 but only really applies to P.1-2; page 5 seems to return to the theme, but pages 3 & 4 would fit better under a heading like “Examples of a better way of doing things”.
There is some good material on the potential benefits of training, but this is masked by the biased premise with its implied criticism of many professionals around the world who have provided excellent facilities for which cyclists are grateful.
         The authors seem to have started with a particular viewpoint, and have then looked for evidence to prove it, not paying much attention to other points of view, eg. they assume that cycle infrastructure and cyclist education are alternatives, ignoring the possibility that they may be complementary.
         They also seem to jump to unsubstantiated conclusions, eg. it seems to be implied that every cyclist, if trained, will be quite happy to ride on busy arterials. This ignores questions like “Will aggressive drivers change their behaviour when encountering confident cyclists?” or “If they are trained properly, will all cyclists enjoy riding in mixed traffic on busy arterials?”
         A search of ITE Journal didn’t reveal much if any writing about promotion of cycling skills, so this is potentially a useful topic to be addressing in this Journal.
         While it doesn’t promote special interests is a political sense, it promotes the work of those who provide cycle training as in some way superior to those who work to provide cycle infrastructure
         The authors seem to start with a conclusion and then look for evidence to support it. I don’t find their arguments convincing. If the paper had started with a more suitable question, eg. “Is provision of cycle infrastructure enough?” then their discussion and examples would have been more interesting and valuable; however, the whole paper seems to be aimed at throwing out cycle infrastructure programs and replacing them with training programs, and is structured and presented accordingly.
         Just as road safety involves engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response, so cyclist safety is multi-faceted. Those cities which are most successful in promoting cycling and active transportation have developed excellent networks of cycle/multi-use facilities, while also promoting training, bike maintenance, etc. A good example that I am familiar with is Vancouver. Apart from the work of various municipalities and regional authorities, there are organizations such as BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) and HUB which are enthusiastic about the network of bicycle facilities being developed there, while also providing safety tips online for cyclists, arranging training (Streetwise Cycling Courses) and promotion (Bike to Work Week), etc. Similarly, in the UK, City and County Councils and SUSTRANS promote active travel, training and cycle facilities as all being important in overcoming obstacles to the promotion of cycling. Several multi-faceted programs were developed as part of central government funded cycle demonstration project cities.
         I also feel their blinkered approach misses out on the big picture: cycling promotion is linked to complete streets, neighbourhood planning, safe routes to school, community events, etc.