Bicycle Planning Advisory Committee
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  1. #1
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    Bicycle Planning Advisory Committee

    I was recently recruited to be on my city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Advisory Committee dedicated to the creation of bike lanes and sidewalks. I need imput from those of you fortunate enough to live in areas where such things are already in place regarding your likes/dislikes about how they were done. Although we are going to conduct a needs assessment study with regards to bike lanes around schools, I would like to know how often you see kids riding their bikes to school in areas that have bike lanes leading to the schools.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Just a suggestion

    Get John Forester's book and start there and keep one key point in mind, bicycles are vehicles and should be treated as such.

    Many times bike paths are seen by the non-cycling public as meaning it is mandatory that bicycles use them when available and are not allowed on adjacent roadways. Problem is bike trails quickly become multi-use trails and bicycling on them at anything above a jogging pace becomes dangerous. Plus, bike trails are often seen as secondary when they cross roadways and driveways, and putting a stop sign every 100 feet or so is not condusive (sp?) to efficient cycling. Additionally, bike trails are also often rarely if ever swept and quickly become littered with broken glass and cigarette butts and whatnot. The list of negatives about bike trails is much longer than the list of positives of bike trails.

    With that said I'll add the following:
    When living in Washington state I rarely rode on the Burke Gillman bike trail and instead preferred riding on Sand Point Parkway when I was on one of my rides around Lake Washington. But when in Redmond I preferred the bike trail between Redmond and the north end of the lake over the roadways due mainly to the vehicle speeds and winding roads and narrow shoulders and rude impatient drivers. This was over 20 years ago and things have probably changed since then.

    When living in southern California I rode the multi-use path along the beach between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach exactly once. After that I preferred to ride either in the parking lot or along the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway. But I often rode the bike path that followed along the Santa Ana river heading north. I was variable in preference about the bike path that went around the back Newport bay area depending on time of day.

    Northern California around Auburn up the hill from Sacramento I just rode on roads as bikepaths were almost non-existant. I survived. Some of the bike paths there were dirt and were not skinny-tire friendly.

    Here in Wisconsin due to a variety of reasons I haven't cycled much, but am picking up the pace this year. I plan to use both available bike paths and roadways, and will quickly revert to roadway use to avoid dangerous or nusiance sections of pathways.

    Basically, define your intended users very clearly, and do everything you can to fairly accomodate them. Sometimes all that is needed is a wide marked shoulder clearly identified in white paint that it is a bike path followed up with a local traffic ordinance that motor vehicle traffic is not allowed on the bike portion of the roadway, and add in signage indicating that motorists must (MUST!) yield to cyclists using the bikeway.

    Hope this helps some.
    Last edited by treebound; 02-04-2004 at 01:02 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
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    Small World...

    I grew up in Southern California (Fullerton, specifically) and used the ride the Santa Ana river trail. We'd drive to Anaheim Stadium and catch it there.

    I appreciate the suggestions; they will be quite helpful.

  4. #4
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    Yep, small world....

    I lived in Costa Mesa. Moved away before they completed the pathway between Orange and Riverside. Used to ride a loop around Santiago Canyon some. Never had the nerve to try riding the bicycle over Ortega Highway though, used the motorcycle for that one instead.

  5. #5
    Call me a Fred
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    Quote Originally Posted by PsyDoc
    I was recently recruited to be on my city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Advisory Committee dedicated to the creation of bike lanes and sidewalks. I need imput from those of you fortunate enough to live in areas where such things are already in place regarding your likes/dislikes about how they were done. Although we are going to conduct a needs assessment study with regards to bike lanes around schools, I would like to know how often you see kids riding their bikes to school in areas that have bike lanes leading to the schools.

    Thank you in advance.
    The problem that I have with the bike lanes in my town is that they are not usable for cycling. The bike lanes are usually full of parked cars, so I cycle to the left of the bike lane as there are less cars there.

    All the kids that I see cycling to/from school are usually on the sidewalk.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by PsyDoc
    I was recently recruited to be on my city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Advisory Committee dedicated to the creation of bike lanes and sidewalks. I need imput from those of you fortunate enough to live in areas where such things are already in place regarding your likes/dislikes about how they were done. Although we are going to conduct a needs assessment study with regards to bike lanes around schools, I would like to know how often you see kids riding their bikes to school in areas that have bike lanes leading to the schools.

    Thank you in advance.
    I live right next to a school where many kids bike. There are also bikes lanes. Here is what I have observed. Unless it is an off street bikeway, the kids don't use it. They just ride on the sidewalk. Even worse some ride the wrong way in the bike lane so they don't have to cross the street.

    The problem is that they don't know how to properly and safely use the bike lane. Which unfortunately can't really be retified by better design.

    A couple of things that I think need to be improved about bike lanes around here:
    The stop light sensor should pick up the bike, while in the bike lane.
    In some places I have to cross a lane of traffic to go straight through an intersection. Not really a problem for me, but for kids it is.

  7. #7
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    Minnesota

    Unlike many experiences on this board. I like the direction and way bike lanes and other bicyle assets are being developed in my region. Many of them are completely usable by serious cyclists and many of them were designed with bicycle commuting in mind. We have dedicated bike and pedestrian paths on the best of them.

    We also have a number of advocacy groups in the region like the one you've been asked to join. Probably the best thing to do is give you the links to their sites and let you explore for valuable best practices that might work in your community.


    B-Bop: http://b-bop.org/
    B Bop is affilated with the Minnesota Dept of Transportation. It's a alternative commuter effort.

    Chain Gang: http://www.metrocommuterservices.org/chaingang.htm
    Chain Gang is part of the Metro Council which is the organization that runs the metro bus service and (coming soon) Light Rail.

    Midtown Greenway: http://www.midtowngreenway.org/
    Which is a community organization dedicated to the promotion of one specific bike corridor.

    Minnesota Bicycle & Pedestrian Alliance: http://www.bikeped.org/
    Which I've always considered the city of St. Pauls Bicycle advocacy citizen action group. They might argue that their scope is beyond St. Paul, read and judge for yourself. The St. Paul Bicycle Advisory Board is part of this organization. It may have a similar mission to what you've joined.

    The Minnesota Coalition of Bicyclists: Whose web site appears to be gone.
    This is the principle citizens action group in the region without any specific tie to the government.

    Regional Tie in to the Safe Route to Schools Initiative: http://www.saferoutesmn.org/
    This is a new group, so I don't know much about them. There's some federal money available to enhance safe walk and ride alternative for kids. If your community not pursuing the Fed grant money it might be a good project for you to suggest.

    Minnesota Dept of Transportation: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike.html
    Minnesota has a State Bicycle Advisory Board. The link to their page is on the above page, however, it's not working. I was thinking this group might be close to what you are joining. It's like a mini bicycle congress with regional representatives that advise the DOT on bicycle issues and bicycle inclusion in DOT projects. Too bad it's a dead link.

    Hope this helps
    Scot
    Scot Gore, Minneapolis

  8. #8

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    The Process is key

    You must get into the process. Your municipality should have a bike/ped co-ordinator. The person who holds that position (or its equivalent) needs to allow you to get into the process of road design. Once the road builders are given the blueprints, it's too late.

    The designers will draw up preliminary road plans, with great amounts of details. Somehow, you need to make sure that you get an early look at what they are conceiving.

    Armed with that info, you don't need to re-invent the wheel. ASHTOO is one group that has already drawn up rather detailed tables that tell dsigners what a roadway should have in terms of basic bike/ped facilities. They base this primarily on design speed and traffic volume.

    The Key is getting the designers and engineers to apply these standards.

  9. #9
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    PsyDoc: I'm on a Bike/Ped Citizen Advisory Committee for the county that contains most of Portland, Oregon. There's a separate city committee for bikes, so we mostly handle the stuff outside the incorporated areas.

    It'll take a while to get your bearings. You'll need a city staff person to be a regular liason for your committee to have any idea what is going on. The reason is that there are already projects in the works, and funding issues stretch out for a year or two. Without that liason, you'll be almost totally blind.... you'll be able to make proposals, but you won't be integrated into the fabric of the relevant transportation agency.

    I don't have any specific information about kids and cycling, though I've tracked down other information. Here's a link to the Portland, Oregon city transportation site rellating to bicycles:

    http://www.portlandtransportation.or...es/default.htm

    I believe Oregon also has enacted a Safe Routes law the encourages (requires?) localities to identify safe cycling and walking routes to schools. There may be useful information available from that legislative process.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by treebound
    But when in Redmond I preferred the bike trail between Redmond and the north end of the lake over the roadways due mainly to the vehicle speeds and winding roads and narrow shoulders and rude impatient drivers. This was over 20 years ago and things have probably changed since then.
    I was in Redmond a couple years ago and drove past a city limits sign touting Redmond as "Bicycle City USA," or some such thing. The irony was that the road I was on, like every other street I'd driven on in Redmond, was a cyclist's nightmare. Four lanes of dense, fast trafdfic with hardly even a hint of a shoulder. The Redmond Cycling Club organizes some great rides, like RAMROD, but the parts of the town I've seen are awful for bicycling.

  11. #11
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    Bike lanes & freeway ramps

    In San Jose CA there are a reasonable number of bike lanes that I use quite frequently, usually without incident. However many times I wonder if any of the designers ever actually rode a bike themselves. The worst aspect of bike lanes here are those where the white line, indicating the presence of the bike lane, just stops before the road splits off to a freeway ramp. Many times it is possible to be feeling secure in the bike lane one minute and then seconds later find yourself trying to dodge cars that are speeding up to get onto the freeway ramp. If I were designing these bike lanes I would insist that the white line designating the bike lane continues through the divergence of the road, even if it's just a dashed white line. That, and plenty of signs indicating that motorists must give way to cyclists when crossing over a bike lane.
    Most casual cyclists I see approaching these freeway ramps just get off the bike and wait for the traffic to ease before walking across the start of the freeway ramp. Hardly encouraging for novices on the bike.
    I shouldn't complain though. I know we cyclists have it better here than in many parts of the country.
    Good luck with your planning work.
    Ted.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PdxMark
    I was in Redmond a couple years ago and drove past a city limits sign touting Redmond as "Bicycle City USA," or some such thing. The irony was that the road I was on, like every other street I'd driven on in Redmond, was a cyclist's nightmare. Four lanes of dense, fast trafdfic with hardly even a hint of a shoulder. The Redmond Cycling Club organizes some great rides, like RAMROD, but the parts of the town I've seen are awful for bicycling.
    20 years ago Redmond was a great place to ride. Now it's hard to find the velodrome. I used to ride down the hill into redmond and do a lap from there out to Fall City, up to Carnation, and either loop back over the hills or head up to Duvall and back that way. Last time I was in Redmond was about two years ago and after that the only way I'd ride to the velodrome now is with the bike on a roof rack. Sad really, but the Mircosoft implosion has lead to traffic constipation I'm afraid.

    But life goes on, elsewhere for me.

  13. #13
    Windrider (Stubborn)
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    Some random thoughts

    I have joined MB1 & Miss M several times on rides in and around DC, and would make the following observations re Bike lanes:

    1.) DC has an extensive network of Bike lanes. While, when they are crowded, they included walkers, joggers, rollerbalders and bikers moving at various speeds, (and therefor are not ideal for training etc.), the main benefits appear to be twofold, 1.) they create methods to get into and out of the city to better country riding areas (and hence facilitate commuting) and they bypass heavily congested traffic areas. Both of these are significant benefits in DC.

    2.) Where I live, they have converted an old RR right of way to a "Bike Lane". It is not used by any serious cyclist (except in off hours or time of year as a shortcut). There is little traffic, great shoulders on high traffic roads and it is easy to get to rural roads without using the path.

    I would suggest that you start with what benefit you want the paths to be, what do you want them used for, and then plan them accordingly.

    Good Luck.

    Len



    "Evil....is the complete lack of Empathy!"

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    No one is as bad as the worst thing they have done & no one is as good as the best thing they have done.........think of that when you feel like you understand someone.

  14. #14
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    Yes...

    The federal government is backing "Safe to School Routes" and has money for it. Although the deadline for TEA grants has passed, we are planning on applying for it when it comes around in three years. There are many people in place that will guide us along in the process. Adding to the city's committment to bicycle and pedestrian safety is Valdosta State University's master plan to include bike lanes around campus. We are going to try our best to have the bike lanes in the city go by all the elementary and middle schools and hook-up with those the University is planning to build.

  15. #15
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    Thanks Everybody for...

    ...taking the time to reply to my request. The information provided will be valuable in making Valdosta a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians. Valdosta just recently received Metropolitan status and there are many changes planned for the city.

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