Tag Archives: vehicular

Bruce Epperson’s observations on transportation funding

Bicycle historian Bruce Epperson has written a paper examining trends in transportation funding in the USA from the 1960s to the present. It makes interesting reading. With his permission, I have made the paper available in PDF format on this Web site:

http://john-s-allen.com/pdfs/epperson-funding.pdf

Right-turn lane as dual-destination lane?

I’ve had criticism from an unusual side about the video below. The complaint, from another cyclist, was essentially that I was not following the rules of the road, not operating as the driver of a vehicle, by riding straight through in a right-turn lane. Most criticism about my cycling, and my cycling advice, comes from people who would rather that cyclists not have to ride on roads at all!

Allston to Cambridge by Bicycle via River Street Bridge from John Allen on Vimeo.

To answer this criticism, let me first provide some background.

Anyone who uses the roads in the Boston area , whether as a cyclist, motorist or pedestrian, soon discovers that the street markings often contradict the requirements of normal traffic movement. Of course this is what knowledgeable cyclists complain about as it applies to bike lanes — emphatically so in the Boston urban core, where there is rarely room for bike lanes outside the door zone. Door-zone bike lanes have been installed anyway ever since the Cambridge bicycle coordinator introduced them in the mid-1990s. (Now she has moved on to X-merges, bicycle sidewalks, jughandle left turns and bowling-alley bus stops, and the City of Boston is working to play catch-up.)

We don’t only have bike lanes in the door zone here, we have bike lanes in the taillight zone — like this one on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.

Bike lane in taillight zone, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bike lane in taillight zone, Cambridge, Massachusetts

When I had the opportunity to ride in Albuquerque, New Mexico a couple of years ago, I had a real eye opener: I saw and rode on bike lanes which are mostly functional rather than dysfunctional. They are on streets without parking; motorists merge across them to turn right. I realized that bike lanes in the Boston area give others a bad name.

The Boston area has a terrible reputation for bad driving compared with other cities. In my opinion. strongly backed up by statistics, this reflects cultural differences rather than reality. There is somewhat of a chip-on-the-shoulder, butt-into-line attitude among many Boston drivers. It probably goes back as far as the Blueblood vs. Irish struggles for political power of a century and more ago. Some drivers feel a sense of entitlement and an emotional need for self-assertion. But the rudeness also at times reflects the practical need to get going. A Boston driver more often has blindly to inch out into the path of a vehicle which has the legal right of way, simply to get into the stream of traffic, than in most other American cities. A cyclist who doesn’t understand this will feel continually abused and endangered; a cyclist who understands the need to assert lane position and right of way finds Boston a very easy and safe place to ride. I describe how to be that cyclist, here.

There aren’t good statistics on bicycling, but Boston has the lowest rate of pedestrian fatalities of any of 52 major US cities. Boston drivers may be rude, but also they are clearly more attentive than elsewhere. They have to be. They know that they have to keep their eyes open, and that the street design and street markings have to be taken with a grain of salt.

The conflict between markings and traffic movements here in the Boston area didn’t begin with, and isn’t restricted to, bike lanes. It results in the first instance from an attempt to impose standard road markings and channelization on streets which are too narrow to accommodate them, or on multi-way intersections which are too complicated.

In order to accommodate parking, there are quite a few travel lanes too narrow even to fit a conventional dual-track motor vehicle. Here’s an example.

Narrow travel lane next to parking, Franklin Street, Framingham, Massachusetts.

Narrow travel lane next to parking, Franklin Street, Framingham, Massachusetts.

There are also multi-way signalized intersections where traffic engineers threw up their hands and let traffic enter from more than one leg at a time and merge inside the intersection.

And now, zeroing in on the topic of this post, there are numerous situations where an empty right-turn lane parallels a congested through lane, and neither lane is wide enough for side-by-side lane sharing. Often there is also a receiving lane or shoulder after the intersection — as in the example shown in the video.

I completely agree that it is foolish and hazardous for cyclists to ride near the right side of a right-turn lane when headed straight across the intersection. That is the “coffin corner” situation that we lament when it kills a naive cyclist. But, on the other hand, I consider treating an empty right turn lane with a receiving lane or shoulder after the intersection as a dual-destination lane, and riding in its center or toward its left side, only to be a variation on the decades-old advice to choose lane position according to the rules of motion, and ignore the bike-lane stripe. I’m not alone in this, not at all. Installations formalizing this treatment have been made in a number of places in the USA. It is accepted under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices if shared-lane markings are used, though state laws generally still do not allow it. It is still in the experimental phase if a through bike lane is to be installed inside a right turn lane. That is documented on this page on the FHWA site.

Most importantly though, treating a right-turn lane as a dual-destination lane when it is empty, or lightly-used, or carrying slow traffic while the through lane is blocked, and riding at its center or left side does not violate the rule of destination positioning and does not lead the cyclist into a conflict. I yield when entering the lane (if there is any vehicle to yield to) and I never place myself to the right of right-turning traffic. I have never gotten into a hazardous situation by doing this. I must anticipate that a driver waiting in line in the through lane to the left may decide instead to turn right and enter the right-turn lane late. This is the same concern as when overtaking any line of stopped traffic, and the countermeasure is the same; stay far enough away from the stopped traffic to be able to avoid a merging vehicle.

In my opinion, the assertion that a cyclist should never ride centered or left in a right-turn lane when preceding straight across an intersection is rigid, legalistic, and impractical. But on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense everywhere, either as an informal practice or a standard treatment. That is why, in my opinion, a standard is needed to establish where it may be formalized, and education is needed, as always, so cyclists will be able to judge when it is advisable or inadvisable.

Further information: I’ve had the same issue raised about my advice on riding the 9th Avenue sidepath in Manhattan, and you may read about it in the documents, photo captions and video linked under the 9th Avenue heading here.

Classic bicycling instructional film now online

The classic instructional film Bicycling Safely on the Road is now online, thanks to League of American bicyclists instructors Martin Pion and Dan Carrigan.

Bicycling safely on the road, 1979 from danc on Vimeo.

The film is 25 minutes long.

Dan has asked me to compose this announcement, as I know the film better.

Its description in the IMDB online movie database is:

Author: Iowa State University. Research Foundation.

Publisher: Ames: The Foundation, 1979.

Producer, Richard H. Kraemer ; writer-director, Mark Shumard.

Summary: Defines the role of the bicycle rider on the road as that of a vehicle operator. Emphasizes the importance of skill in controlling the bicycle and adherence to traffic laws as prime factors in safe riding. Shows examples of proper riding procedures in various situations.

Narrator: Doug Brown. Based on the effective cycling program of the League of American Wheelmen.

The actual author of most of the content, and director during filming, was John Forester, pioneer in cycling education. He is listed in the end credits.

The motor vehicles, bicycle helmets and clothing shown in this film date it, and some of the lane positioning shown is not as assertive as many instructors recommend today. On the other hand, the video provides a concise and well-structured introduction to bike-handling and traffic-riding techniques.

Especially, check out the unplanned event at 12:40. You couldn’t pay anyone to get a clip like that.

The author and publisher have given permission for posting of the film online. You may use it freely.

The online version is transferred from a VHS tape. Another transfer from an original film print, in HD resolution and with color correction, is in the works. I’ll announce it when it is available.

Street Traffic Regulations: classic book online

My friend Bob Shanteau writes:

Another reason scofflaws give [to justify their behavior] is that traffic laws are intended only for motorists, reflecting a total ignorance of the origins of those laws.

Google has made the 1909 book “Street Traffic Regulation” by William Phelps Eno available online.

This book makes it clear that the first rules of the road preceded the dominance of the streets by motor vehicles. The behavior of … scofflaw cyclists now closely mirrors the behavior by all road users that Eno observed in the early 1900’s, leading to the need for street traffic regulation in the first place. He focused his efforts on education about his proposed rules of the road. That education is what the bicycle scofflaws of today sorely lack.

Davis Planners and Advocates Opine on Sidepaths

This post supplements my previous post linking to documents about Davis bicycle facilities. Please bear in mind that Davis was the first community to introduce bike lanes in the USA, and that its bicycle program strongly favors conventional bike lanes, which are separated from the adjacent lane only by a painted stripe. However, I have found that the Davis documents uniformly and strongly recommend against bike lanes behind barriers or parked cars. Not only that, the recent warnings are more definite than the early ones. Some quotes, starting with the most recent and working backwards in time:

Theodore Buehler, Fifty years of bicycle policy in Davis, CA (Master’s thesis, 2007). See pages 50 ff., “Lane location relative to motorized traffic”.

The early experiments included three different types of bike facilities (see examples at the top of this section):

  1. bike lanes between car lanes and the parking lane (Third St.),
  2. bike lanes between the parking lane and the curb (Sycamore Lane), and
  3. bike paths adjacent to the street, between the curb and the sidewalk (Villanova Ave.).

The first bike lanes included all of these types, to test them in real life to see how effective they were. The on-road lanes worked best, the behind-parking lanes were the worst, and the adjacent paths were found to work in certain circumstances. This is an example of the wide level of experimentation that occurred during this period. Had the city tried to do extensive research without construction, it might have settled on an inferior design. And not having tried all three designs, it might not have recognized it as inferior, and the entire experiment could have been declared a failure.

Dale Lott (one of the early advocates for special bicycle facilities in Davis, who also conducted research as to their safety and effectiveness), “How Our Bike Lanes Were Born“, op-ed piece which appeared in the Davis Enterprise in 2003:

We insisted on some experiments that turned out well and some that were flops.

One flop was on the first block of Sycamore north of Fifth where we put bike lanes next to the curb with parking next to the auto travel lane. It looked great on paper, but was a mess on pavement. When cars turned into the University Mall driveway, they crossed the bike lane. Both driver and rider, whose view of each other had been obscured by the parked cars, had an emergency situation.

David Takemoto-Weerts (University of California, Davis Bicycle Coordinator, A Bicycle-Friendly Community, the Davis Model (conference presentation, 1998)

Because Davis pioneered the bike lane and other bicycle facilities in this country, it is not surprising that some “experiments” were less successful than others. One such example was the construction of “protected” bike lanes where motor vehicle and bicycle traffic was separated by a raised “buffer” or curbing. In some cases, the bike lane was established between the parking shoulder and the curb line (i.e. cars were parked on the left of the bike traffic lane). Needless to say, any “benefits” of such facilities were soon found to be outweighed by the many hazards created for their users.

Most such well-intentioned, but ill-fated designs were phased out long ago. However, some facility design decisions made decades ago were not so easy to remedy. The most pervasive example in Davis is the two-way bike path immediately adjacent to a roadway. Particularly problematic are single two-way paths located on only one side of the adjacent road. The problems associated with these designs have been described in any number of publications, and they are well illustrated at several locations in Davis. In spite of this documentation, some residents, city officials, and developers remain quite vocal in advocating such facilities when new construction is being planned and designed. The city and campus have attempted a variety of mitigation strategies to reduce the hazards or inefficiencies associated with these side paths, but many observers believe that continuing to build such facilities is wasteful at best.

Deleuw, Cather and Company.: Davis Bicycle Circulation and Safety Study. 1972 (excerpt — for complete document in three parts, see table of contents page.

Protected lanes

…Protected lanes located between the parking shoulder and curb line have most positive separation. However, the parked cars create sight distance problems at driveways and intersections. Inability to cross streets in midblock in this type of treatment results in two-way usege which, in turn, leads to intersection problems described subsequently…

Sidewalk and Independent paths

Sidewalk pathways eliminate midblock bike-motor vehicle friction. However, frictional interference of pedestrians may discourage usage of these facilities as does frequent interruption by cross streets and driveways or meandering of the path. An additional problem is establishment of a visual relationship between motor vehicles on the sidewalk path on approaches to intersections…

I approve of this?

UPDATE: This post gives background information on the intersection. I have now ridden through it, and my opinion of it has changed. I have another post about it, and a video. Please check them out.


The image below shows a special installation of traffic signals and markings at the intersection of 16th street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW in Washington, DC. To enlarge the image so you can read the text descriptions, click on it. You also may have a look at a Google map satellite view. Then please return to this page for my comments.

16th Street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC

16th Street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC

Pierre L’Enfant and Andrew Ellicott — and let’s also not forget African-American surveyor Benjamin Banneker — laid out Washington’s streets from scratch —  in the pre-automotive 1790s. Washington’s diagonal avenues give it an openness and unique sense of place — but the resulting uneven-length blocks and multi-way intersections make for some serious headaches now. Some traffic movements are odd, traffic signals can not be synchronized efficiently…

Before the new installation, no signals in this intersection faced new Hampshire Avenue. Bicyclists would sometimes use New Hampshire Avenue for through travel, though its conflicting one-way segments made that illegal and there was no conflict-free crossing interval.

The illustration above is from a page posted by the government of the District of Columbia describing a new installation of contraflow bicycle lanes, bicycle waiting boxes and special traffic signals. At first glance, these may raise the hair on the back of the necks of people who are suspicious of special bicycle facilities treatments.

Look again. The bike boxes look odd only because they connect with diagonal New Hampshire Avenue. They are cross-street bike boxes — which bicyclists enter from the left. Bicyclists from New Hampshire Avenue enter on a separate signal phase from the motor traffic on 16th Street, rather than to creep up on the right side of motor vehicles, as with more-usual bike-box installations. Motorists do not have to crane their necks or stare into a right-side mirror looking for these bicyclists.

The cross-street bike boxes are even more conflict-free than usual. Because only bicycle traffic runs contraflow, bicyclists do not have to negotiate with any right-turning traffic when entering the intersection.

To summarize: this installation, importantly, does not violate the fundamental traffic-engineering principle of destination positioning at intersections, as so many special bicycle facilities installations do.

Or, looking at the same conclusion from a different point of view, the installation does not require or encourage bicyclists to do anything dangerous or stupid, and it offers reasonable travel efficiency considering the situation it addresses.

I am not going to say that this installation is perfect. I can see the following issues.

  • Bicyclists’ having to wait through two traffic-signal phases is inconvenient and might lead to scofflaw behavior. A “scramble phase” could allow crossing in one step and might even apply to bicyclists arriving from other directions. It would reduce the time allocated to for all the other phases, but it might be practical, and preferable, at times of low traffic. Signals and markings which only apply at some times could, however, be confusing.
  • The installation addresses only bicycle traffic entering the intersection from New Hampshire Avenue. Traffic control remains as it was for 16th street and U street. Considering the many ways in which bicycle travel could be made slower and/or more hazardous in the name of making it better, this may be a case of “best leave well enough alone,”  but on the other hand, real improvements might be possible.
  • The bike boxes on 16th street could be interpreted as encouraging bicyclists on that street to overtake motorists on the right, then swerve in front of them, as is the more conventional with bike boxes.
  • Just outside the lower left of the picture on New Hampshire Avenue, there is wrong-way parallel parking next to the bike lane. Motorists exiting wrong-way parking spaces are in head-on conflict with bicyclists, but cannot see them if another vehicle is parked ahead. (See illustrated description of wrong-way parallel parking elsewhere, if the explanation here is unclear.) At the top right, on the other hand, note that the bike lane is farther from the curb: this segment of New Hampshire Avenue has back-in right-angle parking, avoiding the sight-line problem.
  • And, while we’re at it, I have another issue with the street grid, though it’s common to many other cities and not readily subject to correction. Streets that go east and west guarantee that twice per year,  for several days, the Sun will rise and set directly along the streets, glaring into drivers’ eyes.  If the street grid ran northeast to southwest and northwest to southeast, this would never happen. All you Pierre L’Enfants of today designing new cities, please take notice, here’s your chance to acquire a reputation as Pierre L’Enfant Terrible!

This installation is the subject of experimentation sanctioned by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, with observation, data recording and analysis to see how it works in practice. The experimentation may turn up more issues, or reveal that some are of little importance.

Now, dear readers, you also may also have points to add to the discussion. Let the comments fly.

See also: GreaterGreaterWashington blog entry about this installation; Washington, DC Department of Transportation page about it; Google maps satellite view.

Guest posting: P. M. Summer on a new breed of bicycle professionals

P. M. Summer is the former bicycle coordinator of Dallas, Texas, who was removed from his job because of his conservative approach to bicycle facilities. I post the following with his permission:

There is a whole new breed of bicycle professional out there. They aren’t what we usually think of as cyclists, much less traffic engineers or transportation planners. They are most often urban planners and landscape architects, who have become virtual social engineers. They see their job as changing the way dumb old Americans live in favor of the ways enlightened Low-Country Europeans live.

The bicycle is a means to that end. In their eyes, the bicycle isn’t a vehicle (as code defines it), and never has been. It’s a shoe with wheels. Cynically, they usually add “pedestrian” to their title, while short-shifting pedestrians in favor of “pedalcyclists”.

Most of these new bicycle professionals have never used a bicycle as a regular transportation device (including the gentleman hired to replace me), believe the road (any road) is inherently unsafe for cyclists, and believe that a segregated network is the enlightened (and sole) way to dramatically change mode share.

It’s almost impossible to argue with folks like this, because the only common point of reference is the word “bicycle”, and by “bicycle”, they mean something very different than what I, or others who think like me, do.

The problems we point out about how traffic operates don’t register, because bicycles can never be “traffic” in their eyes. Traffic is always the bicycle’s enemy, and never the bicycle’s environment. People who operate bicycles are like swimmers in shark-infested waters to them. The brave and fool-hardy only need apply. “Normal” people know better, and stay on the side-path/walk/track/gutter.

Fifteen years ago I had the Texas DOT Bicycle Coordinator plead with me to quit defending placing bicycle facilities (signed bike routes) on streets with lanes less than 14 ft. wide. When I explained to him that I preferred 10 ft. lanes, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. “You can’t put cyclists in the way of cars!” he said.

There is a growing “bikes belong off the road” sentiment. Cycling Advocates are slow to support cyclists like Eli [Damon], or Reed Bates, or Fred U., [who have been harassed by police for exercising their legal right to use the road] because to defend them would be to say that it’s not unsafe to ride on the roads… and LAB, ABW, and APBP [the League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Bicycling and Walking and the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals] can’t afford to admit that.

Why can’t these new bicycle advocates admit that bicycles can easily operate as part of the transportation mix, instead of having to be segregated from it? To admit that makes the extravagant demands for special facilities clearly just that: extravagant demands. Andy Clarke, then of BikeFed [the Bicycle Federation of America, now the National Center for Bicycling and Walking; now Clarke is President of the League of American Bicyclists] once described the cost for a segregated bicycle facility as being “mere decimal dust” compared to the cost of automobile projects. That ‘decimal dust’ has turned into hundreds of millions of dollars in consultant and lobbyist fees, as well as “bicycle planner” salaries. Admitting that most of these facilities aren’t necessary for safe and easy bicycle transportation endangers too much money currently being poured into the new cottage industry of “Amsterdamning America”, and threatens too much personal power. Politicians, eager for popular (if unproven) quick fixes, are far more likely to endorse feel-good projects using other people’s money than they are to call for better educated and trained cyclists.

You may find more from P.M. Summer on his own blog.

Our hero, Lance Armstrong

Who is the cyclist wearing sunglasses, a white T-shirt and gray cargo shorts in the video? Lance Armstrong, 7 times winner of the Tour de France.

Everyone is riding brakeless fixies. First instance of blowing a red light (0.52) — video is cut abruptly while only the first couple of cyclists are in the intersection. Swerving around cars, speeding between them and startling the drivers (1:11 and elsewhere). Riding four and five across, taking up the entire road. Camera motor scooter passes a moving vehicle on the right (1:19). Riding while carrying a beer keg in one hand (1:48). Another red light run — especially brazen, while passing a waiting vehicle on the right, then turning left at high speed into moving cross traffic (1:56). Passing a through vehicle on the left, some cyclists then turning right in front of it while others including Lance merge in front of it inside the intersection, motorist blows horn (2:10). Riding around the left side of a traffic circle (2:16).

Ride draws attention from the police (2:35), and this is included in the video. Our hero appears to have special status with the police — the ride continues unabated. Trick riding in the street facing backwards on the bicycle (3:15). Foul language and a clear shot of the beer keg (4:20). More trick riding in the street (4:29), cyclist riding on handlebars. More trick riding (4:47, two cyclists leaning against each other). What appears to be vandalizing of a signal control box (5:13). Lots of shots that are cut just as a critical situation develops. Few helmets.

I’m no slave to authority, thank you. Think about how our great country got its start. But what’s the point here? The video only builds the image of cyclists as scofflaws, rowdies and daredevils, and it has the imprimatur of our nation’s most famous cyclist. As this is a heavily-edited video, I can imagine that the ride included more craziness than was shown.

A cyclist who cared about the reputation of cycling would not ride with this group, or if taken by surprise, would refuse to continue, or to be included in the video. Instead, Lance was a willing and eager participant. And he was in his mid-30s and the father of three children when this was shot — with enough life experience, I would hope, to understand the responsibility that accompanies fame, and the importance of his example to younger folks.

I read his book, It’s Not About the Bike, and so got to experience in some small way the drama of his illness and recovery. I rooted for him in the Tour de France, year after year. I saw him on the Charlie Rose show a few years ago, and he is an impressive interviewee. But now he has lost his creds with me as a spokesman for cycling. It’s like — it’s like Shoeless Joe Jackson, the baseball player who conspired to throw the World Series in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. A boy is reported to have uttered the immortal line “say it ain’t so, Joe” as Jackson left the courthouse after pleading guilty.

The video has over 330,000 views as of March 25, 2010. The Youtube page has lots of semi-literate comments heavy with admiration and foul language.

I suppose that times have changed.

Ciccarelli on cycle tracks

John Ciccarelli is a consultant on bicycling and a League of American Bicyclists-certified cycling instructor who specializes in teaching adults who have never ridden a bicycle before. His comments here are reprinted by permission, and are in response to an e-mail he cites.

Subject: Re: Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany
Continue reading

Copenhagen in 1937 — what can it tell us?

I thank Ralph Fertig of the Santa Barbara, California Bicycle Coalition for drawing the attention of the bicycling community to the following fascinating travelogue from Copenhagen, shot in Technicolor in 1937. Not all of the film is about bicycling, but the bicycling scenes are worth the wait.

Copenhagen TravelTalk 1937 from Justin Lim on Vimeo.

In 1937, bicycling had been the dominant mode of road transportation in Copenhagen for decades. No transition to motoring had occurred, as in the USA. Bicycling declined after WWII with the increasing popularity and affordability of motor vehicles, but has since recovered considerably with the construction of bicycle facilities and other measures to encourage bicycling, and extremely high taxes on new cars.

The film from 1937 shows some very interesting scenes of bicyclists interacting with the relatively few motorists, especially near the end. Interaction is mostly vehicular, and bicyclists establish the prevailing speed of traffic. Look at how they navigate a traffic circle, moving to the center to go straight through. Bicyclists conduct themselves much like motor scooter users I saw in Taiwan in 2002.

I also notice that the youngest bicyclists shown are in the early- to mid-teen years. That also comports with what I saw in Taiwan, and differs from the “eight to eighty” paradigm that must be accommodated only with separate facilities, or on streets where motorists operate very gingerly — eight-year-olds can’t reliably follow the rules of the road.

Clearly, pre-WWII Danes were experienced bicyclists, but on the other hand, there is some rather sloppy bicycling shown.

Gotta love the narration:

“…a people who have contributed to the stability and progress of the white race, for the Danes are the descendants of the courageous Vikings…”

I had mistyped Bikings :-)

Those Vikings were rather ruthless expansionist warriors, actually (just ask the Scots) , and in 1937, the Danes were within a very few years of being invaded themselves by history’s most brutal exponents of the concept of the “white race.”

New York City bicycling advocate Steve Faust adds the following observations:

I think I recognize the bridge…just west of the center city,
if so, the roadway has been changed from 4 mixed roadway lanes with trolley tracks in the center,
to two motor lanes without any streetcars, and two cycle track lanes – one on each side for one way bicycle flow.
The pedestrian sidewalk space remains about the same width as in the film.

The streets leading to and from the bridge have been given a cycle track treatment in place of the two motor lanes [sic], and probably are part of the bicycle speed paced green wave of traffic signals.

There is almost as much bike traffic on these streets today, plus more motor traffic volume, all on the same street width.
The major change besides the dedicated cycle tracks, is the use of the right hand left turn in a holding bike box on the far side of the intersection. This eliminates bikes having to merge across the car lane and possibly more critical, bikes don’t wait in the motor lane for a clear left turn, which waiting would block the relatively narrow motor lane – there are no left turn pockets.

Cyclist waiting time is minimized by having a total 60 second traffic signal cycle time. A cyclist arriving on the green through light has less than 30 seconds to wait at the far corner for the cross street green light – a delay that might well be shorter than waiting for a clear left turn from the roadway. I’ve certainly stood for over 30 seconds in the middle of the road waiting for a safe clear left turn.

The bike box Steve is discussing is a cross-street bike box, which serves only left-turning traffic.

The graph below is from a presentation by Dutch bicycle program official Hans Voerknecht given in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in November, 2008.

The mode share for Copenhagen is indicated by the green line that starts at around 40 percent in 1920, rises to around 55 percent either side of World War II, then falls and rises again to around 37 percent in 1995.

This widely quoted number, though, is for commute trips only.  According to more comprehensive sources from 1995 and also from more recent years — see this posting — bicycle trips are around 22% of all trips in Copenhagen. Data from earlier years and especially from before World War II may have been collected differently.

Copenhagen still has a large bicycle mode share for a city in an industrialized nation. Despite the draconian measures to reduce motor vehicle use, and the many bicycle facilities installed since the 1960s, Copenhagen streets carry many more motor vehicles now than in 1937, and on many main streets, bicyclists are restricted to cycle tracks or lanes which become congested at peak travel times.

You may click on the image to see a larger version.

Bicycle mode share in several European cities, 1920-1995

Bicycle mode share in several European cities, 1920-1995