Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cycle tracks and driveways

Bike lanes come with a variety of design approaches, from full separation provided by physical barriers, painted buffers or bike lanes simply featuring different colours.

The challenge of design along many corridors is the presence of driveway or intersection conflicts that introduce hazards in the cycling environment.  Historic research shows that cyclists riding on sidewalks have a higher exposure to collision risks than do those riding on the road.  It comes from the proximity of sidewalks to intersecting traffic and the expectation among drivers that they will encounter cross traffic at pedestrian speeds – cyclists moving faster are very much unexpected.

Drivers will often overshoot a stop line or driveway edge in order to see traffic approaching, though the visibility of pedestrians approaching at walking speed is sufficient for motorists to yield or pedestrians to stop while a vehicle exits.  Not so with bikes – the collision risk for those traveling against the flow of traffic is much higher than those traveling in a direction that drivers expect to see.  They don’t look for cyclists traveling at some speed coming from the opposite direction.

For driveways, which may be analyzed as an uncontrolled intersection, since that is how they operate, the risk of collision is much reduced by the infrequency of use (commercial driveways or other more significant trip generators excepted).  The very infrequent comings and goings from residential driveways, at least a single family dwellings or other smaller developments, produces few instances of conflict, thought any collision can be catastrophic for vulnerable road users.

Here, by contrast, is a short video illustrating a design approach that supports cycle track designs even where multiple driveway crossings are found.  Two elements help reduce conflicts and enhance safety.  First, distinct sidewalks for pedestrians buffer the bike lane, creating enough space for drivers to edge out into the right of way to scan for higher speed bike traffic, observing nonethless the protocols with pedestrians.  Other design elements emphasize that vehicles leaving driveways are crossing the sidewalk or cycle path, not that the sidewalk or cycle path are crossing a driveway.  The video shows and describes well enough the difference and how important that is in signaling who has priority.  A very worthwhile tour . . .

Millions to be invested in pedestrian and cycling facilities in Montreal

Quebedc is a national leader when it comes to investing in infrastructure to support cycling and walking.  Latest project to get the green light is in Montreal.

U.S. motorists subsidized by other taxpayers

The U.S. , at least, has data on the link between driving taxes (fuel taxes, user fees, etc.)  and road costs.  This piece of research shows that for every dollar motorists put in to the public treasury through taxes, they get two dollars worth of benefits – a very good return on their investment, except that everyone else is paying that cost.

Media covers health outcomes of urban design

Urban design that supports walking and cycling earns returns on investments in supportive infrastructure.  Health outcomes, both for physical, social and mental health are better in active cities, and the cost of inaction expensive and growing.

Story from Toronto’s Globe and Mail can be found here:

The Netherlands is very pro-active in doing research on road safety, particularly with a focus on vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians.  Here’s a recent piece on incidence and countermeasures aimed at reducing collisions involving delivery vehicles, not an insignificant component of our traffic mix and one that involves frequent trips and professional drivers.

Ontario Cycling Strategy comes with some good action items

The Ontario government is working on a provincial strategy to improve safety outcomes and promote cycling tourism.  Efforst have the support of the medical establishment and local safety advocate Eleanor McMahon, a key player in local, provincial and national initiatives on cycling.

More at:

Cycling Safety Goes to the Movies

Street Films is Clarence Eckerson in New York, a fantastic videographer who documents the world of alternative transportation.  Transportation Alternatives is a powerhouse advocacy organization in New York City.  They are getting the message out about safe cycling through PSA announcements and great story telling through the “Bike Rules” website.

Get some popcorn and check them out at:

Conference Events: Bicycle Urbanism comes to Seattle

The University of Washington is putting together a conference on how to increase cycling in cities.  It’s indicative of the interest in academia in understanding active transportation and the value it adds to cities.  It’s an emerging discipline in engineering, architecture and planning – something you can readily see by how often they get it wrong.  Good that the various areas of study are putting together means of connecting the dots.

More at:

Transport Canada Researching Truck Sideguards

Almost half of bicyclist fatalities in Canada are associated with collisions between cyclists and heavier trucks.  Pedestrians are equally vulnerable.

European nations and Japan have mandated the use of sideguards to mitigate against the potential for cyclists or pedestrians to be sucked under the wheels of a truck after a collision, with some noticeably positive results.  Canadian transport officials are looking at the proposal to try and understand the association and what other factors are involved in reducing serious injury and fatalities for vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians.

NDP Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, a cyclist herself, has been pushing prescriptive legislation to advance these regulations to protect the lives of cyclists and pedestrians.

See the report at:

Bike parking and building architecture

A new building in Portland, adjacent to a cycle track facility and designed by the architects to welcome bicycles into the building looks good but has some shortcomings in some features.  Hooks for vertical parking are provided rather than more easily usable horizontal space and too many bikes are in the room, increasing exposure for individual bikes to be tampered with by residents or visitors unknown or unfamiliar to some casual or even regular cyclists.  The story is generating lots of debate back and forth on the issues since it was profiled on

It’s a useful illustration of the challenges of bike parking at multi-unit residential developments.  While the space is warm and inviting, personal security issues need to be better understood and the need to limit access could use some work.

Here’s a link to the story: