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…
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 tinyurl.com/DC-innovation ) 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?