City Cycling

Gasoline costs TRIPLE in the Netherlands, and Denmark
News item, Feb 2016 — Gasoline costs TRIPLE in the Netherlands, and Denmark compared to USA

My notations from the book: City Cycling edited by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler.

John Pucher is arguably the foremost American proponent of separate bicycling infrastructure; often called “Dutch-style”. He is an academic (planner-type; he’s not a traffic engineer) who has many published articles on the subject. And while he is a vociferous advocate for infra, if you read his work fully, he does at least mention there are other factors at play; and furthermore he considers these other factors as necessary to achieve high levels of safety and mode share a la Netherlands or Copenhagen. Among those other factors are, for example, the extremely high costs associated with motoring in those places with high bicycling mode share (duh). In the book, he covers these in the chapter Promoting Cycling for Daily Travel (see below). Here’s a brief excerpt where Pucher explains:

In short, such pro-bike ‘carrot’ policies [e.g. cycle tracks, bike parking] are indeed possible even in a car oriented country like the USA. By comparison, there is almost no political support in the USA for adopting and implementing the sorts of car-restrictive ‘stick’ policies listed in Table 3 [e.g. expensive fuel, high taxes, expensive vehicle parking, restrictive land-use policies] that indirectly encourage cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.

Chapter: International Overview

Pucher has the same or similar table comparing fatalities/injuries for NL, DK, GER, UK,  USA (fig 2.6); i’m sort of confused by the injury rate calculations as I explained here in reference to another Pucher paper Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany that was citing the same or similar data.

He also shows trends for a bunch of countries in fig 2.7 — it would be worth it to put that into Evan’s perspective of looking at the broader traffic safety picture internationally: Traffic fatality reductions: United States compared with 25 other countries in which Evans shows how badly the US is lagging in overall traffic safety compared to virtually the entire rest of the developed world.

Chapter: Cycing Safety

by Peter Jacobsen and Harry Rutter. Had many quite-reasonable statements, e.g. by acknowledging a possible disconnect in risk assessment (p. 141):

As this chapter will show, cycling is not intrinsically dangerous, although it may appear so because of the risk of severe injury or death imposed by drivers… They judge the risks of injury from riding bicycles — whether accurately or not — and respond accordingly.

Since the chapter was co-written by Jacobsen, i was expecting more fleshing out of safety in numbers, since that (assuming it’s true) is a lynchpin of much of what else is written in City Cycling, and indeed there are numerous reference throughout the book saying simply to see the safety chapter for proof. SiN says, in my paraphrase, that increasing cycling will decrease the rate of cyclist injuries (see more here, scroll down to Safety in Numbers). Anyway readers didn’t get that, it was simply matter-of-factly mentioned, e.g. p.141 “the risk to an individual cyclist of being seriously injured decreases as the level of cycling with an area increases (Jacobsen 2003)”. In short my problem with the safety in numbers hypothesis is it does not show causation.

This is just a little nitpick but Jacobsen quoted some Komanoff paper saying that 90% of drivers in fatal collisions w/bicyclists were male. National data shows  for 2010-2013 (the four most recent years available) shows this to clearly not be the case:  1833/766/4/175 male/female/unk/not reported. 766/1833 or 41.8% female.

Furthermore, this is broadly in line with the split between male and female drivers involved in all fatal collisions: 129790 / 46092 / 81 / 2714. So, 46092/129790 or 35.5% female.

Chapter: Bicycling Infrastructure for Mass Cycling by Peter G. Furth

Furth makes some strange claims about vehicular cycling… or you could just as well describe it as bicycle driving, but the VC appellation fits with his personification of that with John Forester:

it is impossible to understand American cycling infrastructure policy without understanding the influence of John Forester’s vehicular cycling (VC) theory, which posits that “cyclists fare best when they act as, and are treated as, operators of vehicles”…

in any event, he goes on to explain (p.114):

Vehicular cycling theory is preoccupied with a collision type called the “right hook,” which occurs when a through-going cyclist conflicts with a right-turning motorist approaching from behind.

I think that’s a rather silly claim. VC, to the extent that it’s preoccupied with anything, is preoccupied with turning and crossing movements, because that’s where most of the risk of motorist collision (never mind the threats that don’t involve MVs) occurs. To use his own flawed formulation, I would say that separation cycling theorists (e.g. Furth) appear to be preoccupied with motorist-overtaking collisions; which are dangerous but low-frequency, particularly in urban settings — the book is, after all, called City Cycling.

Here is an excerpt regarding advisory BLs, nothing earth shaking but it typed it out so here it is. Furth has a tendency to call a lane a  motor vehicle lane when he is referring to general purpose travel lanes…

Road sharing in lane sharing treatments: advisory lanes and sharrows
On streets too narrow to mark exclusive bike lanes, both Europeans and Americans have the treatments to make road sharing safe and less stressful. In Europe, the most common treatment is advisory bike lanes, described earlier. They give cyclists almost the same low stress environment as an exclusive bike lane, because the markings make it plain that the edges zones are for cyclists and that motorists may enter them only when there is a gap in cyclist traffic. Minneapolis introduced the first US application of advisory lanes in 2011.
The principal American road sharing treatment is sharrows (” shared lane arrows”), a bicycle silhouette topped by a double chevron, usually marked every 200 feet 65 meters in the middle or right third of a travel lane order to encourage cyclists to ride at a safe distance from parked cars. Arrows are used on both two lane and multi lane roads. A San Francisco study (Alta planning and design 2004) showed limited effectiveness; when influenced by an over taking car, sharrows shifted the average cycle position to the left by only 4 inches (10 centimeters), indicating that the arrows do little to increase cyclists’ willingness to control the lane. Surveys also showed that few cyclists or motorists understand their meaning. Although some cyclists feel that arrows give them with you to see when controlling the lane, there is a danger that arrows will become a cop out, a way for a city to claim that it’s created bike routes without really doing anything to improve bicycling conditions.
Advisory lanes in Europe have proven acceptable to mainstream cyclists, including children and seniors, but there is no such evidence for arrows. A subtle but fundamental difference is that advisory lanes are a shared road treatment, but arrows — which almost always leave the center line and ( on on multi lane roads ) lane lines intact — are a shared lane treatment. The European approach delineate the bicyclists’ space and allows motor vehicles to share it, as guests, when they need to. The American approach delineates motor vehicle lanes and then ask cyclists to ride in the middle of them.

Chapter: Cycling in Megacities

In a comparison of London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo, the authors humorously search for answers as to how Tokyo can have such a high cycling mode share with practically no separate bicycle infrastructure.

Chapter: Promoting Cycling for Daily Travel

Another Pucher  chapter. In the section of “Lessons for cycling promotion”; they acknowledge that separated infrastructure alone is grossly inadequate. This lesson though seems to be lost or ignored by many separated infra advocated (a.k.a. participation advocates). In Table 15.1, there is a list of TEN things that need to be done to cause this glorious rise in mode share; one of them is building what they consider to be proper infrastructure. The other 9 thing, though vary from good ideas (universal bicyclist education, tougher MV license requrements) to the highly-unlikely (draconian restrictions on MV use, dramatic MV speed reductions,  raising price of using MV dramatically). Without all of these elements, the huge surge in cycling will not happen, according to Pucher, and I believe him.

About the Editors

John Pucher is Professor in the Department of Urban Planning / Rutgers University.  Ralph Buehler is Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning  / Virginia Tech.

More/Newer from Pucher & Buehler

AJPH Editorial Dec. 2016 Safer Cycling Through Improve Infrastructure. Forester explains on bicycle driving:

…The table show correlations between installing bike lanes and reductions in cyclist crash rate. The propaganda implication is that the bike lane stripes, the defining characteristic of bike lanes, caused the reduction in crash rate. However, there is no evidence, never has been, anywhere, that bike-lane stripes reduce car-bike collisions. And Pucher writes that a more intensive design is necessary: cycletracks. He refers favorably to the three N. American studies of cycletracks: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, without mentioning that all three have been conclusively disproved. He also writes: “However, the type and quality of bicycle infrastructure matter as well. It is crucial to provide physical separation from fast-moving, high-volume motor vehicle traffic and better intersection design to avoid conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles.” Here Pucher enters the field of traffic engineering, a field to which Pucher admitted, in public meeting in San Diego, he never paid attention. Had he been paying attention he would have realized that his favorite bikeways, bike lanes and cycletracks, actually created more conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles: bike lanes to some extent, cycletracks to a great extent.
Nobody knows the cause of reductions in car-bike collision rates; there are too many variables. We do know that some bikeway designs create car-bike collisions; that’s about as much as we do know. We also know that obeying the standard rules of the road steers cyclists into avoiding many types of car-bike collision, but our society refuses to take the appropriate action to get cyclists to ride safely …more


query for the gender of drivers involved in fatal collisions with bicyclists vs. gender of overall drivers involved in fatal collisions.

SELECT p_car.SEX,count(*) FROM ((( 2013_incident as i JOIN 2013_person AS p_bike ON (i.ST_CASE = p_bike.ST_CASE AND i.YEAR = p_bike.YEAR AND p_bike.eINJ_SEV LIKE ('Fatal%') AND p_bike.ePER_TYP IN ('Bicyclist', 'Other Cyclist') )) JOIN 2013_vehicle as vehicle ON (i.ST_CASE = vehicle.ST_CASE AND i.YEAR = vehicle.YEAR AND vehicle.VEH_NO=1 ) ) JOIN 2013_person as p_car ON (i.ST_CASE = p_car.ST_CASE AND i.YEAR = p_car.YEAR AND p_car.ePER_TYP LIKE ('Driver%') AND p_car.VEH_NO=1 ) )  GROUP BY 1;
SELECT SEX,count(*) FROM 2013_person WHERE ePER_TYP LIKE ('Driver%') GROUP BY 1;