Bike lanes

Why do bicyclists hate cyclists?

On my commute home the other day, I passed a woman bicyclist ambling and weaving in the Bloor Street Viaduct bike lane. She called me an “asshole” as I passed. As I rode the rest of the way home, I thought about the reasons why she would call me an “asshole”. Not that I’m not sometimes, but I don’t think I was this time.

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I was moving a lot faster than she was but I gave her plenty of space. The lane is certainly wide enough to accommodate several bicyclists and, as is my usual practice, I rode on the white line separating the bike lane from the road. She had plenty of room to do her bobbing and weaving. So it couldn’t have been that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I didn’t say anything to her nor look at her as I passed.  I didn’t throw anything at or in front of her. I wasn’t wearing an offensive t-shirt or political button, not that she could see them anyway.

So what was it?

In the two or three seconds it took me to pass her, something I did pissed her off. Then it occurred to me – maybe it wasn’t something I did. I suspect it had something to do with who I am and who I represent.

You see, there are two types of people who ride bikes: the bicyclist and the cyclist.

The bicyclist likes to amble in a bicycle lane safe from cars and trucks; they ride in fair weather only – no rain or snow or any temperature above 20C or below 10C and even then they wear a parka; they ride slowly on heavy, multi-speed bicycles and carry bulky panniers or bags. They sport all sorts of lefty political buttons and flags. They hate cars but own two and one is a Volvo. They use terms like “bicycle infrastructure”, “cycle tracks”, “separated lanes”, and other catchy phrases. All well and good and I love these people.

The cyclist on the other hand likes to ride fast on the road with cars and trucks; we ride all year, in all sorts of weather; we carry a small backpack, courier bag or Henty Wingman.  We ride a fixed-gear Wabi or single-speed, racing or cyclocross bike. We use bike lanes if they are available but, when they’re not, we ride wherever we can. We respect cars and trucks because we drive one and pedestrians because we are one. And we respect bicyclists too.

But it seems some bicyclists, but mostly the bicycling advocates, actually hate cyclists.

And I know why.

You see, bicyclists want to turn “cycling” into mass transit. Have you seen the photos of bicycle lanes – BORING – do any of these people look happy? Just like taking a bus!

Copenhagen

They want cycling regulated and protected, hemmed in and controlled. They want to slow it down and make it boring and safe.

They hate cyclists like me because they resent our freedom. We are the rebels; they are the conformists. They try to insult us and make us seem selfish. They label us a “sub-culture”. One guy called us a “sect”, like we are apostates from the accepted religion of Velo. vintage4Here is my fisking of that guy, Michael Colville-Andersen, a Danish bicycling zealot, who I respect but who is dead wrong about this:

It is a small, yet vocal, group that is male-dominated, testosterone-driven [so what, why is that a bad thing? And I know plenty of young ladies who would disagree] and that lacks basic understanding of human nature [ya, cus we’re dumb, come on]. They expect that everyone should be just like them – classic sub-cultural point of view [sort of the pot calling the kettle black, don’t cha think?] – and that everyone should embrace cycling in traffic and pretending they are cars [I really don’t care if you do or you don’t]. They are apparently uninterested in seeing grandmothers, mothers or fathers with children or anyone who doesn’t resemble then contributing to re-creating the foundations of liveable cities [yawn – like we actually think about that when we’re riding] by reestablishing the bicycle as transport [wow – so much dreck here it’s hardly worth commenting – again, I wish the grandmothers all the best and hope they can ride well into their older age, on cycle tracks if they must]

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I urge you to read the whole smear. Heaven forbid we disagree. Check out London Cyclist and this former Labour Minister for some perspective.

My advice: don’t wait around for the zealots to force you into the bicycle lanes. Just hop on your bike and ride. There is plenty of room for all of us on the road – and plenty of good ideas from everyone in the debate.

Ride a Bike – Save Money

Henry Gold writes about cycling infrastructure:

Last month both the federal and Ontario governments delivered budgets promising billions of dollars for infrastructure. It makes sense considering a 2013 study by CD Howe institute that estimates the congestion cost for Greater Toronto and Hamilton area to be between $7.5 billion to $11 billion per year. A recent study by the same institute for Metro Vancouver area estimates hidden costs of congestion per year to be between $500 million and $1.2 billion a year. So it would not be an exaggeration to say that overall congestion cost in Canada is over $15 billion per year and growing.

What if you had a magic wand and could reduce congestion by 1 per cent a year for several years and it required no new funds. Would you use the wand? What if the wand would also reduce pollution and the carbon released into the atmosphere? What if it would help companies with productivity, individuals’ health and even job satisfaction? Sounds like something out of science fiction, doesn’t it?

It’s not. A simple approach that has succeeded in putting over a half million commuters on bikes in the United Kingdom was a creation of an annual tax exemption. The “cycle to work” scheme encourages employees to cycle and allows employers to reap the benefits of a healthier workforce, not to mention the benefits to the population as a whole, including drivers. After all, one more bicycle on the road means one less automobile fighting for precious space. Plus less pollution in the air and less natural resources to be dug out and transported across the planet.

Read the whole article here.

Elevated Cycle Paths: Is Toronto missing an opportunity?

Check out this article from City Journal about elevated bicycle lanes. For Toronto, maybe these elevated lanes could be designed to run along the LRTs or John Tory’s Smart Track system?

Other cities think big. In London, famed architect Norman Foster has proposed an ambitious, 136-mile elevated bike path, to be suspended above the city’s suburban rail network. Foster’s “SkyCycle” plan—which could accommodate 400,000 bike commuters daily—has the support of former mayor and potential Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson, as well as the local government agencies responsible for London’s public transportation system. Architect David Nixon envisions a floating bike lane in the Thames River that would allow a car-free commute from the city’s residential areas to the financial district.

In Melbourne, Australia, a consortium of investors has proposed attaching an enclosed, mile-long “Veloway” to the side of an existing rail viaduct running through the city. “[C]ars, bikes and pedestrians just don’t mix well,” Committee for Melbourne CEO Kate Roffey told a reporter earlier this year. “This would solve the problem of separating cars and cyclists moving east-west across the city, and pedestrians can go under or over roads.” A similar approach would seem well suited to New York’s outer boroughs, where, unlike midtown Manhattan, elevated rail viaducts remain the norm. Many commuters in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx would likely take advantage of an option that would get them from home to work in about an hour, safely and free of charge, with a little fitness thrown in.

In Denmark, bike-friendly Copenhagen cut the ribbon this past summer on its Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake—an elevated lane providing cyclists with a much-needed traverse over a pedestrian-heavy corner of the central city. “It is one of those rare occurrences in Copenhagen where seemingly everyone is happy,” wrote Classic Copenhagen blogger Sandra Hoj. “Cars have not had to budge an inch, the lower level has been returned to pedestrians, and cyclists love it. Besides easing the transition from highway to bike bridge, it is a pure joy to ride.”

Shared Space

The American Conservative has a new feature titled New Urbs:

Over the course of the next year, The American Conservative will be opening a discussion on how to rebuild America’s communities and sense of place by fostering humane, sustainable, and walkable built environments, made possible by a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. For while the breakdown of community and the family is a consistent theme in conservative circles, the conversation very rarely gets beyond some mix of exhortation towards traditional values and demands for rollback or reform of the welfare state. That’s where a school of urban design called “New Urbanism” comes into play.

Just as an individual is embedded in a family, and a family is embedded in a community, so too a community is embedded in its neighborhood. The patterns we live in can bring us into the sort of constant, casual, incidental contact that builds bonds between neighbors, or they can silo each of our families away, leaving civil society to wither as the “place between” is filled with asphalt and strip malls. As Paul Weyrich, William S. Lind, and Andres Duany wrote in “Conservatives and the New Urbanism” in 2006, “Edmund Burke told us more than two hundred years ago that traditional societies are organic wholes. If you (literally) disintegrate a society’s physical setting, as sprawl has done, you tend to disintegrate its culture as well.” New Urbanists aim to reinvigorate those traditional structures, like the classic Main Street with living space above the storefronts, and other homes right around the corner.

The most recent New Urb posting is from Johnathan Coppage. It’s titled To Make Streets Safe, Make Them Dangerous. It actually makes sense. Coppage concentrates on the interaction between cars and pedestrians but the theories are applicable to cycling.

How do you keep cars from killing people? Ever since the automobile first started clogging city roads and competing with pedestrians for street space, planners and politicians have sought engineering solutions for road safety. And engineer we have. From advanced electronic stability and traction controls programmed into cars to yawning shoulders and clear-cut forgiveness zones carved out by the roads, we have deployed every trick we can muster to separate drivers, passengers, and pedestrians from danger. Yet a century after the Model T first started rolling out of Detroit in monochrome masses, at least 30,000 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States every year.

The solution?

In the delightfully perverse phrase of “shared space” pioneer Hans Monderman (also Dutch), in order to make streets safe, you must first make them dangerous.

City and suburban streets are so radically different in use and purpose from highways as to deserve their very different names. Children just might run out into the street, because they live around the corner. A shopper just might walk out from behind a parked car, because there’s a storefront by the sidewalk. As Lynda Bellalite modeled for Quebec’s roads, credible speed limits are set by the number and width of lanes, the width of visual clearance, and the type of surrounding buildings. To design a peopled street like a dumb road is to tell drivers to speed up and space out. Lining such a street with speed cameras is less traffic enforcement than traffic entrapment.

Instead, safety can best be secured by breaking down the century of segregation, and letting drivers notice that they are not alone. ”Shared space” will be a concept frequently covered here at New Urbs, as it is a uniquely powerful example of how humane insights can overturn decades of planning wisdom to achieve better outcomes by empowering people, not engineers.

Shared space was born out of the Dutch villages that Hans Monderman was charged with making safer in the face of children being struck by vehicles. Dissatisfied with the traditional traffic engineer’s toolbox of signs and lines, humps and bumps, barriers and warnings, Monderman sought to make the villages more… village-like. He tore out the signs and lines, flattened the humps and bumps, and restored the aesthetic of a village plaza to what had previously been an anonymous intersection. As Tom Vanderbilt describes it, “Rather than clarity and segregation, he had created confusion and ambiguity. Unsure of what space belonged to them, drivers became more accommodating.” Monderman forced drivers to actively engage their environment, and they took closer care of their behavior in it. Yet as Ben Hamilton-Baille delighted in demonstrating in his own shared space reforms in Poynton in the UK, traffic can move more efficiently even with all these sentient obstacles sharing the road, because no time is wasted waiting on stoplights to give cars permission to move.

I really like the idea of sharing space and that’s why I oppose bicycle lanes.

Two Videos courtesy of Urban Velo

Bike Friendly Cities – Video Series

Earlier in the week we posted an uncut interview with Mikale Colville-Anderson on the ideas of Copenhagenize. This video contains excerpts from the interview as a new series by the people at WeLoveCycling who are showcasing bike friendly cities around the world. Then content for Copenhagen is up now and more cities are soon to follow.

“…It was a pleasure to talk with famous urban mobility expert Mikael Colville-Andersen. Or with Morten Kabell, head of Copenhagen’s Technical and Environmental Administration. And we’re sure you will love the wizards from bike repair shops or the beautiful lady who ferries sperm samples to fertility clinics around Copenhagen on a sperm-shaped cargo-bike.

For a number of days we researched whether Copenhagen really is paradise on Earth for cyclists. You can find the answer in our report.

The Biker

Don’t you hate it when motorized vehicles use the bike lane? I mean, hate hate hate it?! Don’t you wanna ride up next to them and kick em over. Don’t you get so enraged you wanna..wait….oh, never mind.

The Biker

Check out Urban Velo for more on riding in the city, gear and bikes reviews, and good advice. Not sure I agree with Copenhagen being a cycling paradise, and frankly I don’t care if motorized vehicles use a bike lane — I’ll just go around them. I use the entire roadway when I ride and I don’t want to be relegated to a stupid bike lane.

Have you ever won the “door prize”?

The Toronto Star reports this morning that cyclists in Toronto have reported being “doored” 62 times between November 2013 and August 2014.

“Dooring,” which occurs when a stopped car suddenly opens its door and hits a cyclist, is among the worst fears of urban bike riders. From 2012 until November 2013, Toronto police didn’t track the incidents because of a change in the provincial definition of a “collision.”

After the Star highlighted the statistical blind spot last year, the chair of the police services board asked the force to start tracking so-called “door prizes” again.

Between Nov. 5, 2013, and Aug. 12, 2014, police received 62 reports of dooring. That’s on pace to be considerably fewer than the 144 a year Toronto averaged between 2007 and 2011.

I believe the onus is on the cyclist to avoid getting doored. How? Don’t ride so closed to parked cars.

cbc-door_prizeI would be interested in knowing how many of those door prizes were awarded while riders were ostensibly “safe” in a bike lane.

And in other news, the Star also reports that the new bike lanes along Adelaide with have barriers to separate bikes from cars. I would never, ever want to use one of those lanes. I would feel hemmed in and would have to ride as slow as the tortoise-on-wheels in front of me.

More pandering and nonsense from Olivia Chow

Mayoral candidate, Olivia Chow, announced on Friday that, if elected, she would oversee the construction of 200 additional kilometres of “on-road” bike lanes in Toronto over the next four years. I have yet to write my post on why I think cycling is conservative so I won’t give everything away here, but I will confirm that “bike lanes” on city streets are NOT conservative. If you’re not riding a bike now, a bike lane is not going to make a big difference. And if you are, then you don’t need a bike lane. The last thing this city needs are more ways for drivers to hate cyclists.

My position is this: A bike lane tends to make a rider feel entitled and complacent. You think you’re safe in the bike lane so you don’t pay as much attention. Remember there are others riders using the lane – slow riders and bad riders. I prefer that they just get out of the way. And dare anyone to step or drive in your precious bike lane – the outrage!! The best way to ride in the city is to use the lanes we already have on the major routes (e.g Bloor Street viaduct) which do not in any way impede traffic) and to learn to ride within the existing infrastructure. It’s not that hard and is very safe if you do it right.

But I also fell that it’s the left-leaning cyclists who tend to like bike lanes because they think more people will use use them. And they may be right. But I suspect only lefty cyclists will use them. So more bike lanes, means more lefty cyclists, which means more whining and more complaining, which means more bike lanes, which means more lefty cyclists. Aaaahhhh!

http://read.thestar.com/?origref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ca%2F#!/article/53a4b114ec0691f05a0001fe-chow-vows-to-revive-2001-plan-for-on-street-bike-lanes