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Tag Archives: CyclingSavvy St. Louis

I find Kevin Horrigan amusing, even on the occasions when I may not entirely agree with him. This time I’ll just make two observations:
         When Mr. Horrigan lumps all “bike people” together, he’s forgetting an informed and competent bicycling minority that supports equal access to travel lanes as far more desirable than bike lanes, because the latter confer second-class status on cyclists, and increase the risk of car-bike collisions, among other issues.
         The organization leading this effort nationally is CyclingSavvy, which offers comprehensive bike education courses. CyclingSavvy Instructor Karen Karabell runs the local affiliateCyclingSavvy – St. Louis.
         I also disagree with Mr. Horrigan when he writes near the end that cyclists and transit users only prefer those modes until they can afford a car, which has “horses and buses and bicycles beat all to hell.” That’s true for some, but there are others who want to be good environmental stewards, as well as doing something healthful, by bicycling for transportation. See, for example, BICYCLING Made SIMPLE for how it can be done safely on regular “Incomplete” streets.

The following is a long excerpt from the full article.

                   Buckboard love
Transportation policy • Streets are incomplete without buckboard lanes.

January 31, 2014 11:45 pm • Kevin Horrigan •
314-340-81354                                             Comments

FS sharp

The lack of buckboard lanes is evident in the above photo.
(Or maybe these are buckboard lanes with a pickup truck trying to muscle in!)

The St. Louis County Council has gone and passed a “Complete Streets” ordinance that gives the back of its hand to buckboards. It’s unconscionable. How can a street be called complete if there is no dedicated lane for buckboards?
         There was plenty of blame to go around in the council’s 6-0 vote on Jan. 21 to adopt a modified Complete Streets bill. The bicycle people were heard from. The car people were heard from. The pedestrians and transit people were heard from. But there was nary a word raised in support of buckboards.
         It might be argued that’s because very few people drive buckboards these days. To which the answer is “Duh … that’s because there are no buckboard lanes.”
         Without dedicated buckboard lanes, this transportation mode of the future will not be able reach its full potential. The suburbs will continue to sprawl. People will continue to idle in traffic, sucking in carcinogens instead of the fragrant, methane-rich, emissions of Old Dobbin.
         This cannot stand.

The big dispute that hung up the Complete Streets ordinance for two months was between the bicycle people and the car people. Bicycle people around the country are convinced that if America would just mandate the construction of bike lanes, transit islands and sidewalks every time it built or rebuilt a road, then pretty soon everyone … would abandon their cars, move into quaint city dwellings and create a city of the future, which would look an awful lot like the city of the past, only with more tattoos and fewer suburbs. Transportation policy would drive development, or lack thereof.
         The county highway department, which (naturally) employs people who are attuned to building highways, was skeptical. Eventually the ordinance was modified to say that bike lanes, transit lanes, etc., will be built when they are practical. You will wait a long time to hear a highway engineer call a bicycle lane practical.
         This is where the buckboard argument could have carried the day. What is more practical than a buckboard? A simple four-wheel wooden wagon, with an angled board at the driver’s feet to protect against a bucking horse (hence the name), buckboards were the pickup trucks of their day.
Which raises another point: The addition of buckboard lanes to the Complete Streets policy would attract support from covered wagon owners, stagecoach companies, surrey-with-the-fringe-on-top dandies and everyone else who, but for the lack of a dedicated traffic lane, would trade in his car for a horse-drawn conveyance of some ilk.
         Admittedly, in any horse-drawn conveyance, the horse presents some issues. Horses are high-maintenance animals that require feed, forage, veterinarians, farriers and grooming. These (and other) horse-related issues may account for the fact that buckboards fell out of favor approximately 30 seconds after the invention of the horseless carriage. Also: As more people moved to cities, they found it hard to quarter a horse in a two-flat.
         So Americans began riding bicycles and taking public transit, first in the form of “trolleys” and “street cars,” and then in the form of “buses” and “MetroLinks.” They did so, most of them, until they could afford a car, which let’s face it, have horses and buses and bicycles beat all to hell.
         But cars are not pure. Cars create emissions that warm the planet (so do horses, but at a much smaller rate). Cars created urban sprawl. Cars are bad, bad things, which is why transportation policies must now be designed to persuade people that bicycling is a viable alternative for travel, particularly if you’re traveling back to the 19th century.
         In which case, you should definitely consider a buckboard.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Complete Streets, St. Louis County Council, Sustainable Transport, Buckboard, Transportation Policy, County Highway Department

In January, 2014, I completed and uploaded a video to Vimeo, the on-line video hosting site.

Today (March 22, 2014) I updated it, replacing a still image of Karen Karabell with bike helmet-mounted video I took last August while cycling down Manchester Ave. and crossing Kingshighway with Karen following close behind. The video illustrates in under a minute just ONE of the problems with bike lanes: the risk of a car-bike collision with a following motorist due to a right-hook. This is not such an uncommon occurrence, as is clear from previous blogs here and articles on the CyclingSavvy website. The current focus was inspired by cyclist Susan Herzberg’s unfortunate experience on Manchester-MO Rte. 100 after MoDOT removed a regular travel lane to add bike lanes in October 2013, following road resurfacing during the summer.

According to the responsible MoDOT engineer, Deanna Venker, P.E., the restriping followed consultations with, among others, Great Rivers Greenway, St. Louis City Streets Department, Alderman Scott Ogilvie in whose 24th Ward this road is located, and P.E. and Missouri Bike-Ped. Federation president Paul Wojciechowski, all of whom support bike lanes.

(Paul Wojciechowski, P.E., is a disappointment. He took the very first bike ed. class I conducted after I became a certified League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (LCI #625) in 1997. At the time Paul was Director of Planning in MoDOT’s regional District 6. Paul has also become a certified instructor himself (LCI #3558), which should have provided additional insight into the dangers of bike lanes.)

Oppose Bike Lanes! from Martin Pion on Vimeo.

Even without a bike lane stripe, many novice cyclists, and even sometimes more experienced cyclists, ride much too close to the curb or parked cars “to keep out of the way of traffic.” They don’t realize that they reduce their risk greatly by controlling the lane on multi-lane roads, (with the possible exception of high volume and/or high speed roads) given that typical lanes are only 12 ft wide, too narrow to share safely.

However, the existence of a bike lane stripe prejudices the ability of competent on-road cyclists to control the lane when necessary to maximize safety, while novice and less-confident cyclists now believe the road is safe for them. Motorists, meanwhile, have fewer lanes in which to travel, potentially leading to increased congestion and conflict with competent cyclists resulting from undesirable traffic engineering decisions.


Karen Karabell

Karen Karabell

My thanks to Karen Karabell, who runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis, for the time we’ve spent on the two occasions we’ve ridden or visited this road to obtain video or photos. That includes Saturday, January 18, 2014, when during the shooting there was a brief snow flurry, visible in this video.

Nick Kasoff smaller

Nick Kasoff

Nick Kasoff originally read the script accompanying the video because I was concerned that my British accent, which I still retain after 37 years in the U.S., might puzzle some Americans. I wrote a new script for this updated version and for simplicity, dubbed my own commentary.

Susan Herzberg

Susan Herzberg

And finally, thanks also to Susan Herzberg, who has assisted by telling her story and helping to publicize it.