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Archive for the ‘cycling infrastructure’ Category

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Calgary, Bow Pathway

Cycling for transportation has progressed from sunny days, to rainy days, to fall days and now is penetrating into winter days, no matter the temperature or snow or ice on the road and bike paths.

Back in the 1990’s when snow started to settle onto Toronto and the temperatures plunged below freezing, it was time to park the bike for the winter and switch to using the subway and transit system.  More…..

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This blog is not meant to be there for advocacy.  It is meant to provide perspectives for significantly moving cycling traffic growth forward.  Once in a while, an article comes forth that may be more on the advocacy side and has content that needs sharing.  This is one of these.

©Image by City of Calgary, 2013An article was published on 2014-02-07 that needs visibility in North American cities that are struggling to refocus their cities for the future reality of transportation use, and specifically, trying to adjust to cycling infrastructure and separated bike lanes.

Right now, the media and even one of the local cycling advocacy organizations, Bike Calgary, is abuzz with comments on the Calgary City Centre Cycle Track Network being released and in public consultation this week and next.  From all the negativism and positivism being expressed, a business leader comes forth with positive comments on how the cycle track network will be a tool for his job in selling Calgary as a city to do business.

Quotes from Bruce Graham, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development, from the Calgary Herald article, Cycle Tracks deserves to get some traction, 2014-02-07:

“Well, as the promotional agency tasked with attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as promoting our business and lifestyle advantages around the world, a cycle track network will help us do just that.”

Re commuter bike lanes: “And make no mistake, it is an investment.”

“This is a prime example of the kind of selling feature we use when telling Calgary’s story around the world.”

“Sixty-two per cent of recent transplants to Portland, Ore., said that the city’s bike friendliness was a factor in their decision to move there.”

Bruce Graham provides an excellent business marketing perspective of why Calgary needs an extensive network of separated cycling facilities within downtown, with connections to the business retailing streets and the very extensive rivers pathway systems.  We need to hear more from progressive minded city business people who look forward to the next 30 years and the expectation of another 1,000,000 people living in the Calgary Region.  If Calgary were to adopt the 50% workers, 50% residential ratio for downtown Calgary, then about 200,000 of this population growth should go to downtown.  With Downtown and the adjacent Beltline, Mission, Inglewood, Eau Claire, Edmonton Trail/Bridgeland retail areas easily accessible by cyclists, local retailers would enjoy the growth that other cities have shown along cycling facilities.

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013As the cordon count indicates, motorists are forsaking driving downtown and switching to transit, cycling, and walking instead.  Now, only 32% drive into downtown.  Now, next year, the C-Train will be adding 33% capacity as its trains go to 4 cars.  How many more drivers will be making the switch to transit or to combining transit with cycling on their commute? With each new cyclists commuting to work or coming downtown for shopping, one less car will be on downtown streets.  More street pavement will become available for reassignment for separated cycling facilities and sidewalks.

As Bruce points out, the business environment downtown will benefit with increased retail sales, lower operating costs, more productive employees, less workforce loss to sickness (both physical and stress).   What more, he and is organization will have another strong marketing tool to sell Calgary to business to locate here.

Bruce, thank you for the article.  It will benefit Calgary and other cities that have the same resistance to move towards a more organic, more liveable, progressive people place city and city core.

Calgary Cordon Count, 2013, Downtown Transportation Modal Split: Walking 8.5%, Cycling 2.5%, Transit 50.1%, Driving 32.1%, Passenger in Car 6.9% (Time Period 7:15 am to 8:15 am, Weekday May)

A Copy of the Article from the Calgary Herald:

Graham: Cycle track deserves to get some traction

 http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/op-ed/Graham+Cycle+track+deserves+some+traction/9482985/story.html

By Bruce Graham, Calgary Herald February 7, 2014

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013Calgary’s proposed cycle track network has been creating quite a buzz around town lately and we wanted to weigh in on this issue. You may wonder why we, as Calgary’s leading economic development organization, care about a cycle track network for Calgary. Well, as the promotional agency tasked with attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as promoting our business and lifestyle advantages around the world, a cycle track network will help us do just that.

It may be less obvious than an increase in healthy lifestyle or taking tailpipes off the roads, but an inner city cycle track network can boost business. In Colorado, cycling brought more than $1 billion to the state’s local economy, and in New York, after the installation of a protected bike lane, retail sales increased by as much as 49 per cent compared to a three per cent increase in sales citywide during the same period.

When San Francisco optimized Valencia Street for cyclists and pedestrians, nearly 40 per cent of merchants reported increased sales and 60 per cent reported more area residents shopping locally due to reduced travel time and convenience. Travelling by bike encourages more frequent stops than travelling by car; a study of Toronto merchants revealed that patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visited the most often and spent the most money per month.

It goes without saying that parking the car and jumping on your Trek is good for your health, but it’s also good for the health of the community. Business owners would be interested in a study done by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, which found that cycling reduced employee absenteeism — specifically, the employees who cycled to work regularly missed less work, on average more than one day per year less than colleagues who didn’t. And a Minnesota company that encouraged its employees to bike to work saved $170,000 in health care over three years and $301,000 through increased employee productivity every year.

And then there’s the social reputation factor: The “I didn’t know the city built on energy invested in commuter bike lanes.” And make no mistake, it is an investment. This is a prime example of the kind of selling feature we use when telling Calgary’s story around the world. People want to live in a city that invests in making the lives of its citizens better. Sixty-two per cent of recent transplants to Portland, Ore., said that the city’s bike friendliness was a factor in their decision to move there. By 2018, Calgary’s population is expected to grow by more than 150,000 people. We’d love to add the cycle track network to our people-attraction tool kit before we see tens of thousands of new cars added to our morning commute.

The major benefit of dedicated bike lanes is they help pedestrians, motorists, transit users and cyclists coexist safely. Even in Calgary’s harshest weather, you’ll see many diehard cyclists making their way to work, and these numbers would increase if we made their commute safer. After New York City installed their first protected bike lane (the first in the U.S.), they saw a reduction in injuries to all street users by 58 per cent. Calgary drivers will be the first to say that the unpredictability of cyclists sharing the narrow downtown roadways makes them nervous for the safety of the cyclists and themselves. A cycle track network in Calgary gives commuters a reliable alternative to driving, while ensuring the well-being of both cyclists and motorists.

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013Calgary is already well suited to adopting a cycle track network and here’s why. With the most expensive parking in Canada, our citizens have already shown us they would happily utilize this healthy and fun mode of transportation.

The first leg of the cycle track network runs on 7th Street S.W., and over the course of a year (2012-2013), the number of bikes quadrupled per day. Pedestrians were happier too, as the number of cyclists riding on the sidewalk went down by 25 per cent. At 700 kilometres, Calgary has the longest paved urban pathway system on the continent. With the addition of a downtown cycle track (and Calgary Transit’s recent announcement that all new buses will have bike racks), commuters can safely and efficiently travel from their homes in any quadrant of the city into the core. Calgarians may be surprised (and hopefully delighted) to learn that over the past five years, a multitude of downtown building owners have added up to 2,000 bike parking stalls in their buildings, telling their tenants and their employees they support their desire to embrace diverse transportation options.

We realize adoption will take time and people want to be involved in the process to understand where the proposed network will go and how it impacts them. We encourage Calgarians looking for more information on the cycle track network, to stop by the CORE Shopping Centre, Plus-15 level, by Holt Renfrew, this Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to talk to the cycle track network team.

Bruce Graham is president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013“2014-02-05:  Engaging both new and seasoned cyclists of all ages, as well as those who want to bike but may not feel comfortable, is what the city centre cycle track network is all about, according to Ryan Murray, a spokesperson with the City of Calgary.

“The cycle tracks we’re proposing, they’re really built for everyone. We’re not just looking for people who have a bike in their garage now,” he said.

“With cycle tracks, it’s a new way of thinking about transportation in Calgary and it’s an important way to think about transportation in Calgary. We want to offer that choice that doesn’t exist now . . . Cycle tracks are built for people to use who are eight to 80. It’s really transportation for all.”

Read more …..

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the Thoughts of Separated Bike Lanes on a City Street,

Brings out the Emotions of Motorists and Cyclists

The Dialogue; Proposal for separated bike lanes (SBL) on 7th St. SW, Calgary AB

Image courtesy of the City of Calgary

Image courtesy of the City of Calgary

Reaction to Proposals for Separated Bike Lanes (SBL)

It is interesting to observe the dialogue from city politicians, staff, the public (both motorists and cyclists), and from the media when there is any movement to propose installation of separated bike lanes.

The Motorists

Motorists tend to express their desire towards where the status quo is the best policy.  After all, they pay directly for the investment in roadways and their maintenance, not the pedestrians nor the cyclists.  The fact that these motorists may live in other suburban communities and drive to work on the candidate streets for separated bike lanes do not distract them from coming forth with strong objections.  Desire for having a vibrant, liveable, sustainable and green city where air pollution from cars is reduced seems to leave their thinking process and emotions takes over.  More on this later.

The Cyclists

Now, cyclists are not a homogenous group and come out quite vocal, as well as motorists, for their favourite solutions.  In the dialogue, the best solutions for growing cycling traffic seem to leave their thinking process, as well.  Considerations do not seem to come into the debate for what it will take in infrastructure designs to persuade motorists that they should leave their cars at home and cycle instead.  Considerations do not come into their dialogue for what will it take in cycling infrastructure designs to persuade parents with children of ages of preschool, primary school, or young teenagers to let these children cycle with or without their parents, as is the case.

The Media

To frequently, the media seems to be too interested in firing up some debate to sell papers, airtime, or ad space.  So, if they sense that a controversy can be started, they are too willing to go for it.

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Montreal QC, Berri St Separated Bike Lanes Curb and Post Separation ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Montreal QC, Berri St
Separated Bike Lanes
Curb and Post Separation
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Hornby St Separated Bike Lanes ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Hornby St
Separated Bike Lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Carrall Greenway Separated Bike Lanes Sections of Cycle Tracks and Bike Paths on Road Shoulder ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Carrall Greenway
Separated Bike Lanes
Sections of Cycle Tracks
and Bike Paths on Road Shoulder
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2013

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Calgary AB, Winter Cyclist, Bow River Bike Trail, West of Downtown, Evening Winter Cycling Commute Home©Photograph by J Chong, 2012

Calgary AB, Winter Cyclist, Bow River Bike Trail, West of Downtown, Evening Winter Cycling Commute Home
©Photograph by J Chong, 2012

Want to increase winter cycling in your city?  So, What does it take to increase winter cycling?  Well, maybe a winter cycling program must be actively undertaken.  Such a program has a number of components, including the cycling infrastructure (including the roadway, road lighting, winter road maintenance), End of trip facilities (including bike parking, clothes storage, change facilities, clothes drying), efficient trip time from home to bike parking and to the office, and a social marketing component, focusing on selling the concept of winter cycling for commuting, for shopping, getting to transit stops with high service levels, and for other trip purposes. 

A cycling infrastructure needs to be there that is conducive to cycling in winter along with snow and ice clearing for bike trails, bike paths, bike lanes, and neighbourhood cycling streets, and maybe even some heated toilets.   As a lot of the winter commuting is done during hours of darkness, cyclists do not want the unexpected – black ice in intersections, build-up of water and ice at the side of roads, being forced by cars towards the curb with ice and snow build-up, and so on.  Adequate street lighting for commuting in the dark is a condition so that the challenges of the road can be seen in advance and in time for corrective action.

So, why should people cycle in the winter?  What is in it for the city?

Read more

 

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©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

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Some more comments from the recently completed 72 day, 4,100 kilometres cycling touring trip through the States of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California with the southern terminus being Santa Barbara.

 

Bend OR, Traffic priority sign, Motorists yield to cyclists©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Bend OR, Traffic priority sign, Motorists yield to cyclists
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Especially in intersections, trip time, visibility to motorists, separation of cyclists from motorists, and awareness (to both motorists and cyclists) of where one should cycle and where one could expect cyclists are some of the key factors to attract people to cycle rather than to drive. Completeness of a cycling network, and opportunities for combined mobility trips are the others.

These are some of the factors that active cycling cities in Europe with high cycling mode share have incorporated into their cycling infrastructure and networks.

 

Cyclists’ visibility to motorists; separation of cyclists and motorists especially in intersections and supporting trip time

Research has shown trip time as an important factor that will influence people to use bicycles for trips or to use other transportation options instead, such as driving a car.  Current emerging technology has the capacity to reduce green phases of traffic signals to length of time that is just sufficient for the crossing of an intersection by traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians.  This trip highlighted the rapid rollout of this technology.

This technology could also be installed at intersections of neighbourhood cycling streets (bike routes or as Portlanders like to call them – bike boulevards) and either collector or arterial roads providing reduced trip times for commuters enjoying these quieter streets.  Vancouver BC has shown the effect on cycling traffic growths on neighbourhood cycling streets with cyclists-activated traffic signals.  Now this technology can reduce the waiting time for signals to turn green for cyclists.

 

Traffic Signal Timing

The type of traffic signal monitoring system used and its efficiency in changing signals when there is no traffic on cross streets has a great effect on cycling trip time.  As an example, if one needs to pass through 10 signalized intersections in a 30-minute trip and timing sequence is such that 30 seconds are wasted at each intersection, then the trip time is lengthened by 5 minutes or by 17%.  The constant need for stopping at signalized intersections on the red phase and needlessly waiting when there is no cross-traffic is enough to question ones dedication to making trips by bicycle.

 

Of course, the same is true if routes are on local streets and stop-signed intersections are frequently located along the way.  Vancouver BC has shown the effect of growth of local neighbourhood cycling routes when cyclist-activated traffic signals are present at arterial and collector road crossings.  Now, how much more efficient would trip time be if these signals were controlled by video camera or other technology sensors that track traffic movement and only change the light phase to allow traffic to cross.  Car traffic trip time would decrease while street carrying capacity would also increase.  Drivers’ and cyclists’ frustration levels at intersections would go down.

In 2006, a colleague and I cycled from Vancouver BC to Chicago stopping in Madison WI for the Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference.  Along the way we passed through a mid-west town with 10 traffic lights along the main route through it.  I was able to pass through all the signalized intersections without needing to stop and put my foot on the pavement.

As I was approaching the first light, there was a car stopped at the intersection on the crossroad.  Just as I was approaching the stop line, the lights changed allowing the car to proceed through.  For some reason I decided to hesitate on the bicycle before putting my foot down.  The hesitation was only for a few seconds, maybe two or three.  The car had cleared the intersection.  Before the left foot went out of the pedal’s foot strap, the light turned to green and I continued to cycle.  This happened over and over again as I cycled through town.  At one intersection there were two cars backed up on the crossroad.  The green phase stayed on long enough for the two cars to clear the intersection and then the light turned green in my direction.  The length of the green light phase depended on the number of vehicles backed up.

A very efficient system it was.  Cars and trucks were only held up long enough for vehicles on the cross street to clear the intersection.  There was no dead time in any signal phase.  The amount of gasoline wasted by cars at intersections was limited to the minimum.  So was the production of greenhouse gas and the amount of car produced gases that drivers inhaled.  The lights turned only when there was a need.  The monitoring mechanisms of the signal systems, which looked like video cameras, picked me up as I cycled to intersections.

On the cyclotouring trip is year I encountered these efficient traffic control systems in many towns and cities in the mid-west.  The technology is spreading quickly.

Bike Lanes Approaching Intersections.  Continuing through intersections???

In this trip it was still evident that the old design approach of “stopping a bike lane when the road design becomes difficult” is still very much in vogue despites the learning from European cities success in growing their cycling mode share significantly.

Visibility to motorists especially in intersections, separation of cyclists and motorists, and awareness (to both motorists and cyclists) of where one should cycle and where one could expect cyclists are some of the key factors to attract people to cycle rather than to drive. 

There were encounters of intersections where cycling lanes led up to signalized intersections and with very few encounters of cycling lanes marked through intersections.

Some cities have started to be more progressive in intersection designs that would appeal enough to non-cyclists, such as motorists, to try cycling instead.

Portland is one example.  Now, a few coloured bike boxes have been installed to facilitate left turns and to give cyclists a bit of a priority to clear intersections before car movement.

Separation of Cyclists and Motorists

Separation is one of the quickest ways to grow cycling traffic yet it is still infrequently used in North America, especially in intersections.  Unfortunately some efforts at separation in intersections with roundabouts has increased cycling trip time and reduced safety as cyclists’ road vision and cyclists’ priority to other modes has been reduced.

We have all experienced cycling traffic growth on bike trails along waterfront or on operating and abandoned rail lines.  Separated bike lanes are an implementation of bringing almost the same cycling experience onto streets with the same result, significant cycling traffic growth.

Separated bike lanes were infrequently encountered on this trip.  In Eugene, one of the suburbs had a separated bike lane of the Danish cycle track design for several blocks before degrading to bike lanes.  The issue of how wide should a cycle track be came forth considering weather factors throughout the year.  A cycle track with the width of a normal bike lane was installed under deciduous trees that were carpeting the track with leaves during wet autumn weather.  As I was travelling over it there was some concern if the tires would slide out and I would plunge over the curb into the street with its oncoming traffic.  Certainly, wider cycle track would make less determined people give cycling a try.

Roundabouts or Smaller Traffic Circles

Coming from a city that has eliminated stops signs at many intersections by installing traffic circles at 200 or 300 intersections, disappointedly not many were seen on this trip.  Eugene OR had an interesting design which addressed the perpetual issue of motorists shortcutting the traffic circle and ending up in the direction of oncoming motorists and cyclists.  Portland OR enhanced a larger traffic circle through highlighting where cyclists may be through use of sharrows.

On a previous trip from Vancouver to Chicago back in 2006, I stopped in the City of Davis CA on the way back.  There I encountered a traffic circle for cyclists only at the intersection of two bike paths.  Cycling efficiency was addressed in the similar manner as the Eugene traffic circle.  Obstacles were placed in the way of cyclists to reduce shortcutting in the traffic circle.  Forward thinking is the design.

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CycloTouring in California

 

For promoting cycling touring, information on closed sections of interstate and state highways needs to be easily accessible on the Internet.  Adventure Cycling maps do provide routes through the state and are useful, if you are going in the direction set out and if you have the time and energy for the defined routes.

CycloTouring in California, at this time, tends to be more for long distance cyclists who are either confident in cycling in fast moving traffic, are competent cyclists, or lean towards risk-taking. Cycling of families with children, as is frequently seen in Europe, would, most likely, be more restricted to some regions in the state that have good cycling infrastructure and multi-kilometres of bike trails. CycloTouring as a combined mobility trip with the Californian and Amtrak train systems is simple and provides opportunities for regional touring. Just take a train to a designation and start the trip from there and then take the train back. Train one way and return by cycling provides another opportunity to extend the trip in different parts of the state. With the trains providing bike space without the need for boxing bikes expands the opportunities for cyclotouring. The only exception is Amtrak’s Coastal Starlight train, which still requires boxing of bicycles. Hope this changes in the near future. How Amtrak’s bus system fits into this type of touring is uncertain to me as I have received different information when the question was asked. Also, it seems uncertain if a bike would be taken when you show up for a bus. Would suggest that bike racks on front and on the back of these buses, i.e. the Swiss method, would increase cyclotourists using these buses. (Combined mobility cyclotouring trips will be the subject of a future blog article)

Realistically, the only provincial / state entity in North America that has comparable European style cyclotouring capacity, which appeals to families and children is the Province of Quebec with its famous La Route Verté network and the province’s capacity for combined mobility with the intercity transportation providers (trains, buses).

California is a frustrating state to cycle in.  Actually, there was enough frustration during the trip where I did not want to cycle to another city and just wanted to get out of the state.  Discouraging was the number of occurrences where interstate and other highways were closed to cyclists along my desired route path.   This did not happen in other western states.

Yes, one could go way out of the desired direction to find highways to cycle on.  Many times these highway routings were not direct to the desired target city for that night.  It would have taken much longer to reach my final destination this way.

Replacing maps with GPS-based cycling computer.
Garmin Edge 800
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Trip planning for the next day, setting up the day course on my Garmin BaseCamp computer mapping software, and then downloading the information onto the Garmin 800 GPS took much longer than it did in other states.  Sometimes it took an extra hour.

The lack of readily availability of information on which section of interstate and state highways were closed to cyclists caused trip planning to be time consuming.

 

The dreaded sign on interstate and state highways. Time to get off. The highway not designed for cycling as a mode of transportation.
Redding CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

On one day, an unexpected cycling prohibited sign on a state highway forced rerouting and change of destination for the night half way through that day’s trip when uncancellable motel reservations were already made in another city 30 kilometres farther away.  This happened on a Saturday of a busy weekend, which drew many tourists to this area.  Hotels and motels were filled up.  Finally, an accommodation was found late in the day at the edge of that city.  As it turned out, it was the last room available in the motel.  A bit of luck, at least.

 

There was no advance warning signs that this would occur.  There were no cycling bypass route or signs.  The only alternative was to cycle 20 kilometres north and then another 20 kilometres west to meet up with a highway that would take me to my intended destination.  Now, the question became “Is the highway to the motel open for cycling?”  Not wanting to take that risk, the decision was to stay in the city with the prohibition sign and do a major reroute of the trip bypassing some places that I really wanted to cycle through.

A few days later I was cycling on a state highway when that highway split into two highways.  There was one of those cycling prohibited signs for the highway that I wanted to take.  Joyfully, I noticed a bike route sign leading to the other highway.  So I took it expecting that at some point I wild be directed back to the highway that I wanted to take.  After an hour of cycling I realized that would not happen.  Fortunately, a person at a service station could direct me back to the highway that I wanted to be on by using some local roads.  Confidence was now lost that I could depend on highways to be open for cycling along my intended route.

So, this is cycling in California!

 
 

Trip Planning, Finding Information on Highway Cycling

 

The Internet was a frustrating place to find the needed information.  Maps to identify open roads for cycling did not seem to exist.  There was conflicting and sometimes incorrect information on blogs.

CDOT District 2 Cycling Guide providing information on interstate and state highways open and closed to cyclists.
State of California

There was an exception and that was District 2 of the Californian Department of Transportation, a northern district. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This district had produced a very effective and informative document for cycling there (http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist2/pdf/bikeguide.pdf).  Open and closed highways to cyclists were identified on maps.  For closed sections, alternate routings were mapped out.  Other useful information was provided.   Internet search did not reveal the existence of such a document for the other districts in California.  It certainly is needed.

 

Bike Routes Parallel to Highways.

 

Sometimes by chance, parallel bike trails were come upon through Internet searches, by chance, or avoiding restricted sections of highways.   Some of these trails were well marked with direction and destination signs.  Others were not.  Sometimes these routes used local and rural roads.  Some sections would have bike lanes and paved cycleable shoulders.  Some of the roads were shared roads, usually with a low amount of motorized traffic.  For the most part, bike lanes or cycleable paved shoulders were available on these roads.

Pacific Coast Bike Trail between Santa Cruz and Monterey CA. The well signed trail travels along county roads with sections of bike lanes, paved cycleable shoulders, and trails.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Pacific Coast Bike Trail between Santa Cruz and Monterey CA. The well signed trail travels along county roads with sections of bike lanes, paved cycleable shoulders, and trails.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bike paths next to a highway were frequently encountered as an entry to cities, while some started before city limits, up to 20 and 30 kilometres.  Some examples included Monterey with a path starting 30 kilometres before the city limit and Santa Cruz with a bike path starting at city limit.

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Santa Barbara CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Santa Maria CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Monterey CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Monterey CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable with bike trails branching off state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Leaving Fairfield CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cycling Facilities in Urban and Rural Environment

 

As mentioned in a previous blog, the positive effects can be continuously seen while cycling in California of federal road programs which requires cycling facilities as part of the funding for new and rebuilt roads.  One continuously comes on these facilities in municipalities from the smallest to larger cities as well as on rural roads from county roads to state highways.  It is rare to cycle in any municipality that is without any bike lanes or trails.

Rural California, cycling made more pleasant with bike lanes or cycle able paved shoulders.
Half Moon Bay CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Rural California, cycling made more pleasant with bike lanes or cycle able paved shoulders.
Corning CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cities with a Network of Cycling Facilities

 

Cycling cities. Separated bike lanes in downtown waterfront area supporting retail.
San Francisco CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

When discussion turns to cycling cities in the US, normally Portland, as a US large cycling city leader, Seattle (3.5%), and San Francisco (3.5%) as an upcoming cycling city, are mentioned.  Sometimes the City of Davis is mentioned with its 22% cycling mode share. There the discussion tends to end.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On this trip there were other medium size cities that should be recognized for their work towards building of a cycling network and for developing a sizeable cycling mode share. Municipalities passed through that have made an effort towards providing cycling facilities include Fairfield (0.2%), Vallejo (0.2%), Monterey, Avila Beach, and Santa Maria (0.5%).

Special mention goes to the efforts put out by the following cities: Santa Cruz (cycling mode share 9%, many innovative cycling features), San Luis Obispo (7%), and Santa Barbara (6.4%).

Cycling cities. Separated bike lanes making the commute more pleasant.
Santa Cruz CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Downtown bike parking on streets. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
Santa Cruz CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Mass bicycle parking contributing to attainability of higher education. An indicator of the attraction of cycling for transportation when the environment is supportive.
Santa Barbara CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
San Luis Obispo CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
San Luis Obispo CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source of cycling mode share to work: League of American Cyclists, 2010 data on bicycle commute mode share (based on the US Census American Community Survey with data on 375 cities over 60,000 population).

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Some more comments from a recently completed 72 day, 4,100 kilometres cycling touring trip through the States of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California with the southern terminus being Santa Barbara.

Cycling on Interstate Highways

Questions frequently asked: “You cycle on interstate highways? Why would you want to cycle on interstate highways?  Why would you not use frontage roads beside interstate highways instead?”

Cycling on Interstate Highways.
I-90, Ritzville, WA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Well, I do and enjoy the opportunity to do so in the mid-western states where there are very few access limitations to cyclists.


Cycling on Interstate Highways with trucks, buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles.
I-90. Missoula, MT
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

There are many reasons for this.  One does have to accept the noise of trucks, cars, and motorcycles passing continuously by. 










Rethreaded tire litter on Interstate Highway shoulders.
I-90, Washington State
©Photograph by H-JEH
Becker, 2012

Somes steel removed from the front tire of the touring bicycle. It was difficult to get out. Fortunately, no flat tire.
Interstate Highway I-5, Williams CA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

One has to put up with unmaintained highway shoulders littered with junks of rethreaded tires cast dangerously out on road shoulders by fast speeding trucks.  One has to put up with risks of tire flats from the steel sticking out from these junks of rethread tires or broken off steel pieces deposited on highway shoulders.  Flats can happen at the most undesirable time late in the day, during rain downpours, on steep hills, when time is getting late to reach the night’s destination, when energy has been burned up, and so on. On has to be continuously aware of other garbage thrown out of cars and trucks that could cause problems for cyclists.  Ah, nothing like cycling on the shoulders of interstate highways after a cleaning.


Wide shoulders on interstate highways with rumble strip separation of motor traffic and cyclists.
I-90, Missoula, MT
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Noise from passing trucks and wind effect on cyclists.
I-5, Weed, CA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Interstate shoulders provide a cyclist with the comfort of exclusively cycling on a surface with a width of a traffic lane while separated from motorized traffic usually by rumble strips.  There is the glory of cycling on such a wide shoulder where passing traffic does not require attention.  The noise is the nuisance not the behaviours of motorists.  Wind effects of passing trucks and buses are usually nullified, except for very strong crosswinds.


Interstate highways tend to have hills with less grade than frontage roads.
I-5 Chehalis, WA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Frequently there are frontage roads next to interstate highways. How far do these roads go? Are there intersections at the end of these roads to cycle onto the interstate highways?
I-90 Moses Lake, WA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

When time is a consideration, interstate highways provide a cycling surface with the least amount of grades in the most direct way to that day’s destination.  Frontage roads tend to have steeper grades and more wind, and seem to attract drivers’ speed and drift through curbs using the full road width.



One is never certain how long there will be a frontage road and how to continue the trip without doubling back to the last intersection or lifting a bicycle and its panniers over a fence onto an interstate highway.


Oh yes, one might actually come upon a convenience stop once a day on interstate highways.

Rest stops along interstate highways. At least one for each cycling day.
I-90, Washington State
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Rest stops along interstate highways. At least one for each cycling day.
I-90, Moses Lake, WA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Rest stops along interstate highways. Windmill powered electricity for the rest stop.
I-90, Washington State
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

















When sections of highways restricted for cyclists use are reached, some states provide signed alternate routes until they are allowed back onto the interstate again (I-90 Bike Trail, for example).


The sign that cyclists hate to see when on a trip.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling on interstate highway is restricted. Alternate cycling route is signed.
I-5, Spokane, WA
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

An alternate cycling routing along a bike trail parallel to an interstate highway.
The Coeur d’Alene Trail parallel to the I-90.
From Mullen to Harrison, ID
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012


An alternate cycling routing along a bike trail parallel to an interstate highway.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

































So, when there are no alternative roads readily available, interstate and other restricted-access highways provide more direct routes for cyclists.  When the scenery is the same for all parallel roads, then interstate highways provide less demanding hills for cyclists.

Interstate highways with wide, paved shoulders, with wide shoulders or bike paths on bridges, with rumble strips providing separation between motor vehicles and cyclists, with maintenance programs calling for frequent removal of debris from highway shoulders, with convenience stops comfortably spaced apart for senior-aged cyclists, with signed, alternate cycling routes for section of highways restricted to cycling, with underpasses at high-traffic intersections, then these highways provide a pleasant alternative for cyclists who can handle the noise. Government banning of rethreaded tires would also take away the concern of flats on trips, especially for those cyclists that are not adept at changing flat tires or would not make a trip by bicycle because of fear of flats.
 

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Comments from the Latest Cycling Touring Trip

The third cycling touring trip of the year is now over.  It started on August 28th, 2012 as I left Calgary, AB behind.  It ended seventy-two days later on November 9th with a train ride from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, B.C.  I sort of miss not doing the last segment by bicycle.  Other priorities cut out those last three days of cycling.  Still, I have done this segment of the trip a number of times using a variety of routes.  Nevertheless, the cycling touring trip covered 4,100 kilometres and the states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California with the southern terminus being Santa Barbara.  The southerly cycle was by bicycle with the northern portion being a combined mobility trip of trains and cycling.  Time was a limiting factor on the northernmost section as the wonderful fall weather that I had been enjoying from the start of the trip now threatened to turn to winterly conditions, including the oncoming of fog in the morning hours as the length of daylight decreased quickly.

The next few blog articles will reflect on some observations from the trip on network and infrastructure design toolkits that affect cycling touring.

Federal Government Funding Programs for Cycling


If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

The trip showed the effectiveness of federal programs that mandate that a specified portion of grants for any road construction or rebuilt be spent on cycling facilities.  While the cycling facility design toolkit being used on these builds may not appeal to non-cyclists, the end product will appeal to more confident and more risk-taking people who now cycle to use arterial roads with bike lanes.

Reflections on cycling in the States, I started to expect that every hamlet, village, town, or city, no matter the population, would have bike lanes guiding me through it.  In rural roads, I expected either to see marked bike lanes or paved shoulders allowing for confortable cycling.  Definitely, the federal transportation program had a very positive effect on cycling facilities. It is amazing to think back and reflect on the limited distances that I cycled where there was not a bike lane or cycleable paved shoulders.

Chemult OR, Population 300, Hamlet, Bike lanes on the main road.

Chemult OR, Population 300, Hamlet,
Bike lanes on the main road

Moro OR, Population 370,
Village,
Bike lane on the main road.

Polson MT, Population 4,500, Town,
Bike lane and bike path within
road right-of-way through town.

Madras OR, Population 6,000, Town,
Bike lane next to car parking
lane and curb.


























Bend OR, Population 78,000,
Small city, Bike lane on
restricted highway
through city.

Santa Cruz, Population 60,000,
Small city, Cycling mode share 9%,
Separated bike lane entering
downtown.

Portland OR, Population 600,000,
Larger city,
Cycling mode share 6.3%,
Bike lane on an arterial street
with traffic control pavement
marking and green lane through
intersection.
























Fairfax CA, Bike Lane, Width measured from face of curb, Asphalt and Concrete surfaces, Separation starting at materials interface.

Being able to cycle on bike lanes was great.  The widths of the cycling facilities ranged from meagre to very comfortable.  Sometimes, the 1.5 metres bike lane widths were measured from curb faces making them uncomfortable.  Frequently, the concrete extensions were great storage places for dirt, branches, garbage, and other obstacles, making this space useless for cycling.  Frequently, the road asphalt did not extend to the curb face.  Unfortunately, having both asphalt and concrete surfaces in bike lanes also brought poor cycling conditions with safety issues as the meeting of these two materials may be unsmooth, may have difficult raised humps, or separate and ready to eat up a wheel.





Interstate Highway I-90, Washington State, Wide paved shoulder for comfortable cycling, Rumble strip separation from motorized traffic.

Interstate Highway I-90, Washington State, Wide paved shoulder for comfortable cycling, Rumble strip separation from motorized traffic.

Washington State Highway, With wide paved shoulder and rumble strip separation from motorized traffic, Comfortable cycling.















Generally, the bike lanes were designed to the second wave level with frequent, undesirable conditions at intersections where bike lanes would disappear when newer cyclists needed them the most.  So, for determinant, skilled, or risk-taking cyclists with limited fear, these second wave design bike lanes provided separation from cars and an acceptable cycling environment.  Certainly, these facilities would not draw out motorists from their cars to cycle instead.  This was evident by the number of people cycling.  Third wave cycling designs are needed to increase cycling traffic beyond the current cyclists.

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