All the snow is gone. The ice is melting away but still strong enough for some creatures
No traffic jams here.
First, what a beautiful morning to ride! I love the clear blue skies winter gives us all.
Second, the City of Boston is conducting a bike survey and is looking for as much feedback as they can get.
Some of my answers:
Commute 90%, grocery shopping 5%, fitness 5%
Average ~3,400 miles a year
3 accidents over the past 5 years.
1. Passenger getting out of car at red light doors me. No injuries. Pinky cut and bruised leg. The car was a BMW convertible. The window shattered into million pieces. The fact that the door did not have a window frame made a big difference. Thank you car designer.
2. Ice on the Charles river bike path. Front wheel slides under me. No injuries (my ego may not agree with this)
3. Try to go over frozen foot steps at Charles river bike path. Did not make it 🙂
In winter I no longer try to ride on the charles river path. I rather use Mass Ave.
Share your stories if you want.
Awesome. LED Lights sense bicyclist and warn drivers wanting to make right turns of bicycle traffic priority.
I love the Fall. Perfect operating temperature and beautfiul colors. But I digress…..
John Putcher (Rutgers University), Jennifer Dill(Portland State University), and Susan Handy (University Of California at Davis) have published “Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review,” prepared for the Active Living Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Preventive Medicine, Vol. 48, No. 2, February 2010. [Download paper – pdf]
The 54 pages are worth reading. It describes the wide range of bicycle promotion interventions (infrastructure, program, and/or policies) and their impact on levels of bicycling.
The paper points out what interventions have the biggest impact. First as individual interventions and then when taking into consideration the interventions in an integrated package. An important point this paper makes is that it is risky to generalize about the effectivness of certian measures and that every context brings different challenges. Importing models from abroad without paying attention to local habits could reduce the effectiveness those same programs had elsewhere.
A summary of different bicycle programs around the world can be found at the end of the document. Bogota, Colombia is now in my list of cities to visit.
So simple!!! A spinning wheel to stabilize the bike at low speed. Such a great idea. My 9 month old son is too young for this. For sure when he is ready for this there will be scientific proof that learning with training wheels makes kids really appreciate sacrifice and hard work 🙂
All the talk about Boston traffic, cyclists, and bike sharing program got me wondering what would a traffic signaling system that takes into account bicyclists look like. Boston Bikes is attempting to make the city of Boston inviting to bicyclists. The latest bike sharing initiative (to be implemented in 2010) coupled with the bike lane plan might encourage people to ride bicycles. However, if the aim is to bring all types of people and their bicycles to the streets, the bicycle has to be an attractive, feasible and safe mean of transportation. Statements like “You are at no greater risk than driving a car. Obey traffic signs, ride on the right, signal turns, stop at lights, wear bright clothing, and wear a helmet every time you ride.” (go to original quote) do nothing to encourage folks. It would seem to me that a good traffic system is key to help people feel more comfortable with the idea of using bicycles as a mean of transportation in the City of Boston and immediate vicinities.
Before going any further I do realize that no traffic system is perfect. No matter how well road intersections are designed, it will take drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to work together and make the city streets safe and enjoyable for everybody.
So let’s put aside culture and attitudes and focus on the traffic system. It does not take long to realize that traffic lights are designed to manage cars and pedestrians. Bicycles do not enter into the equation at all. The scheduling of the lights is designed to optimize flow of motor vehicles. Other aspects of intersections are also designed just for cars and pedestrians. Let’s then set a few objectives for a system that includes bicycles:
- Safety – make cyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicles resolve intersections safely
- Inclusion – the system should cater to all types of cyclists: parents with children, commuters, messengers, delivery folks, and why not the elderly
- Comfort – if you start to think about different demographics then comfort needs to be part of the objective – I like to stop/ start because it makes my muscles work, and I enjoy practicing standing still but if you are carrying groceries or a child then your perspective changes quickly –
- Efficiency – traffic flow should not be adversely affected
Let’s take a look at a few real world examples of systems designed with cyclists in mind. You can read about the following examples and many other case studies at the Centre of expertise on bicycle policy > Examples Bank
All Directions Green
One of the main artifacts used is the concept of All Directions Green or ADG for bicycles. When motorized vehicles get a red light in all directions, then a green light for bikes is displayed. A green light for bikes means that all directions have green lights and cyclists will simply figure out a safe way through amongst themselves. This method adds another cycle to the intersection (1 for cars, 1 for pedestrians, and 1 for bicycles).
It is interesting how this system helps bicyclists make left turns starting on the far right of the road. It also avoids conflicts with right turning cars and cyclists going straight (as long as a “No Turn On Red” is displayed – more on that later)
For commuting this idea would be incredible useful. If you bike 12 mph you would hit green lights all the way. This has been implemented in Copenhagen in 3 main bike routes used for inbound/outbound commuting. Check out Copenhagenize.com article on this.
Copenhagen Left Turn
In this configuration bicyclists get off to the right of the bike lane into a waiting area in front of cars and other bicyclists. These cyclists can go straight (thus completing their left turn) on the next green signal phase (which can be for cars and bicycles or just bicycles).
The following video shows many aspects of Copenhagen’s bicycle system (e.g. Cycle Track). At minute 3:48 you will see cyclists getting off the bike lane into the waiting area for the next green cycle to complete their left turn. It is worth watching all 5 episodes.
Also, check out “Copenhagen on Two Wheels – Part 1” blog entry for a good explanation and diagram of how a Copenhagen Left works.
May be we will never see cycle tracks implemented in the City of Boston. However, in conjunction with the bike lanes, implementing traffic lights and signaling for a Copenhagen Left Turn and All Direction Greens could work at certain intersections throughout the city and they don’t seem to require massive investments in infrastructure. I for one have started doing the Copenhagen left at certain intersections when I know merging onto the left lane is just not worth my life.
Improving the Traffic Light
Here are a few examples that show how traffic lights could be improved to benefit all parties:
- Adaptive “No Turn On Red” – At the intersection of Route 60 and Main St in Belmont, MA there is a traffic light (will try to get a picture of it later) with a LED panel that turns on the “No Turn On Red” message at different times of the day. I would like to think this type of light could be extended to show other messages depending on time of the day or certain events detected by sensors on the road. For example, display “No Turn On Red” on peak hours just like it does today. This would apply to bikes and cars. However at off-peak hours the sign could change to “Yield to Bike On Right.” If combined with a traffic light for bicycles the sign could turn on and display “No Turn On Red” when bikes have the green light (with or without ADG implemented).
- Waiting Time Predictors – Traffic lights could show waiting time indicators to drivers, and bicyclists. These indicators can show you how much longer are you going to wait. The indicators are not necessarily linear. They might speed up depending on the type of intersection (smart vs. rigid timing) and the type of events (pedestrians requesting cross walk, traffic flow, or even detection of bikes)
- Provide Feedback – Traffic lights can provide an indicator to confirm that you pressed the “Push to cross” button and that it will honor your request. Likewise an indicator can notify bicyclists that they have been detected and notify that the light will turn green on their favor.
On a final note I think bike path signals throughout the city could help cyclists circumvent high traffic areas and follow routes that are parallel to busy streets and that have been retrofitted with bicycle paths and signals. – E.g., Kenmore Square. Show bicyclists different ways to get to Commonwealth Ave., Beacon Ave., and Brookline Ave. without going through the main intersection of all 3 Avenues. This should help bicyclists avoid the heart of that intersection which is a complete mess of cars, taxis, and buses. In addition the side streets used to circumvent major intersections or avenues can be given higher priority to bikes. I believe they implemented something like this in Portland.
Cheers and be safe!
Update – Somebody sent me a link to Copenhagen’s current plan to expand their existing network of bike lanes. You can read the full article.
Boy I guess the summer temperatures are getting to all of us today, here goes another one: Girl dressed in racing attire on nice road bike waiting for light to turn green. As soon as light goes green a chubby looking contractor in pick up truck yells: “Move your fat ass!” – ROTFLMAO.. U have to love this city. I wish I had a camera on all the time… – I will post something with more substance one of these days 😉