This bears repeating.

I downloaded the following message from an e-mail list. I can’t vouch for every detail, but I am in general agreement.


Frank [Krygowski] posted the comment below an hour or so ago [on March 20, 2013] at the blog article about John Allen and vehicular cyclists.

Might want to go there and vote it up so it will get more attention…

Serge [Issakov]

To me, this article is a poisonous pie-in-the-sky attack on those who actually understand traffic dynamics. From what I can see, John Allen’s objections are logical and specific: Heavy crossing traffic (into driveways and intersections) is very dangerous to cycletrack riders, because motorists can’t see them behind parked vehicles until too late. Fast downhill speeds make that much worse. Snow plowing won’t happen after the slightest budget crunch. Door zone bike lanes kill bicyclists. Riders avoiding those dangers by riding the road will be hassled.

So what do you give in rebuttal? “Vehicular cyclists stop progress” and pretty pictures of a street that’s magically become almost free of traffic.

Let’s look at what’s happened where cycletracks and other weirdness has been installed. Contrary to the promises, Washington DC’s “innovative” bike facilities have greatly increased crash rates, with up to six times the number of car-bike crashes per month. (See “Bicycle Facility Evaluation” at ) And many years ago, one of the first American-style cycletracks was installed in Columbus, Ohio near OSU. It was ripped out in about a year, due to the increases in crashes. The fact is, traffic “innovation” generally breeds confusion and surprises. And surprises on the streets are deadly.

This does not mean all special bike infrastructure is bad. But it does mean that each design must be logically evaluated based on actual traffic movements, and on real-life expectations and reactions of motorists and bicyclists. Deceptive and biased promotion like Teschke’s cherry-picked street analysis, or “gee whiz” Netherlands copying, can’t take the place of detailed hazard analysis.

Unfortunately, competent hazard analysis seems to require the input of traffic-competent cyclists. Traffic engineers who travel only by car can’t appreciate things like blind spots and pavement problems a bicyclist must deal with. Dreamers who never ride their bike except on park bike paths are no better, and gazing at a watercolor concept drawings (with almost no cars!) won’t educate them.

Yet isn’t it odd that the really competent cyclists, the ones who know the hazards of doors popping open and crossing conflicts, are attacked by the dreamers’ blogs! Is there another field in which you think expertise should be disparaged, and those with the least knowledge should be praised and respected?

5 responses to “This bears repeating.

  1. It’s Streetsblog, so the chances of a rational viewpoint being taken seriously by the bloggers or any regular reader of the blog are low. Let’s face it, these are the bike facility religion’s most devout proponents. However, Frank does a great job of bringing facts into play.

    I try to steer clear of Streetsblog. Folks there are just nowhere near as interested in safety as they are in promoting any and every bike facility.

  2. Streetsblog is definitely one sided when it comes to the facilities discussion. But this attack on vehicular cycling principles and on John surprised even me, so I left my own $0.02 along with a lot of others.

  3. “Yet isn’t it odd that the really competent cyclists, the ones who know the hazards of doors popping open and crossing conflicts, are attacked by the dreamers’ blogs!”

    Sadly, not so surprising. Imagine life as a climatologist …

  4. So this is the logic: We are “really competent cyclists”. We are against cycle tracks and other cycling facilities. Therefore all “really competent cyclists” must be against cycle tracks. And by corrollary if there are people who support or build cycle tracks, they must be incompetent cyclists or people who see everything through their windshield.

    What garbage. As one of the so-called competent cyclists (I’m a cycling instructor trained in CAN-Bike), I fully support cycle tracks, bike boxes – the whole shebang. I’ve read many of the studies, old and new. I think we’re all much better off to support this new revolution in better cycling conditions. Sorry for breaking the mold. And I am far from the only person.

  5. So, Herb, you support the whole shebang. Cycle tracks which hide motorists and bicyclists from each other until the moment of impact. Bike boxes which lure cyclists into the suicide slot to the right of trucks. Etc. Thanks for the positive contributions you make for cyclists and cycling, Herb.

    And thanks for the implication that Ian Cooper and I oppose all special bicycle facilities. Which we don’t, as is perfectly clear in his statement and from many things I’ve written too. I take them on a case by case basis, based on my review of the research literature, and a close examination of their effect on safety and mobility, both in design documents and on the ground.

    Herb, let me ask you this: if a particular bicycle facility puts cyclists in danger , increases bicycle travel time, can’t be plowed in winter — like this one,, do you support it?

    To top it all off, it puts cyclists into a blind conflict with passengers descending from buses! Do you support it, Herb?

    Also, reading my commentary, please note that I supported bike lanes on this street, and a two-way path on the side that is plowable and doesn’t cross 24 driveways and 8 streets in 3000 feet etc. etc.

    Would you also maybe give your real name so readers can determine whether you claim to be an instructor in the Can Bike program is for real? Or, has Can Bike evolved into Can’t Bike? 🙂

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