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Sunday, November 23 2014 @ 10:04 PM UTC

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What Makes Some Intersections More “Elastic” Than Others?

Biking Elsewhereby Angie Schmitt. Streets Blog

Of all the places we encounter throughout the day, intersections have perhaps the most strictly prescribed rules. But the way people actually behave at intersections differs a great deal, depending on the mode of transportation, the place, the time of day — all sorts of factors.

Adonia Lugo at Urban Adonia says she’s seen observance of these rules vary wildly from city to city, and it got her thinking about why people negotiate some intersections differently than others:

There are laws, there are stripes, there are bollards, and then there are all these randos doing what they think is best. As a street ethnographer, I have observed that some intersections are more “elastic” than others, and this flexibility comes from people’s attitudes rather than road design.

When I first started bike commuting in Portland, the heart of Law Abiding Cyclist Country, I got really jazzed about always stopping at stop signs and red lights. It made sense to me that I could make drivers take me seriously by behaving predictably. I’d grown up in a place where jaywalking meant running across the street, because pedestrians having priority was more theoretical than real. So it followed that, using this new mode of transport, I should do what the signs told me to do…

Now I’m in Washington, D.C, and wow, I look like a country mouse when I hesitate at intersections. Every time I pull up on a bike or on foot at a corner, others stream past me. The signals here seem to be more suggestions than anything else. Drivers, too, inch forward as much as they can, sometimes being halfway through the intersection before the light turns green.

Since I’ve observed so many other bike users and pedestrians, and as I noted, even motorists, making the point, it’s hard for me to ignore the logic of pressing forward into empty space. Traffic signals should guarantee right of way, from a predictability standpoint, but should they impede the flow of people when there’s no right of way to protect?

I know that a lot of our road design standards have been developed through years of liability lawsuits and efforts to control safety. It’s just weird to me that the reality, as seen from the everyday scale of ethnography, is a lot more pragmatic. If we really want to promote active transportation, shouldn’t we legitimize the greater elasticity walking and biking afford? Does it really make sense to limit these modes according to the car-based paradigm of traffic engineering?



http://streetsblog.net/2014/05/27/what-makes-some-intersections-more-elastic-than-others/
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What should a US national bike strategy plan look like?

Biking ElsewhereBy Richard Layman, Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

I pissed off some people a couple days ago when I commented that three presenters (from Ontario, UK and Australia) providing guidance to US stakeholders about creating a national bike strategy didn't have much to offer us.

So I have been thinking about what should be included in the introductory components to a US national bike strategy plan.

Sure, some of these places have  more bike commuters than we do nationally, but the US is a lot more suburban and gasoline is taxed much less, which makes a huge difference, which was captured in an article by John Pucher, "Why Canadians cycle more than Americans: A comparative analysis of bicycling trends and policies" from Transport Policy journal:
In spite of their colder climate, Canadians cycle about three times more than Americans. The main reasons for this difference are Canada’s higher urban densities and mixed-use development, shorter trip distances, lower incomes, higher costs of owning, driving and parking a car, safer cycling conditions, and more extensive cycling infrastructure and training programs. Most of these factors result from differences between Canada and the United States in their transport and land-use policies, and not from intrinsic differences in history, culture or resource availability.
It should be no surprise that the US and the UK (e.g., "Britons unmoved by pro-cycling campaigns: Most regard bicycles not as legitimate form of transport but as children's toys or preserve of hobbyists, research finds," Guardian), given the prevalence of the "vehicular cycling" concept, have significantly fewer people cycling for transportation compared to countries where sustainable mobility is actively promoted.

That doesn't mean we can't learn from those places.
...

2. Change how DC Government benchmarks its policies and regulations against the nation's leading cities with the aim of adopting best and leading practices, rather than being content with making changes that still lag best practice.
[B' Spokes: It amazes me how many in government are content in areas where we are below average. We need benchmarks that can help put us above average, at least a little bit. ]
...

2.  Transportation Physics and Mobility Throughput.  This is pretty basic, that you can move more people by walking or transit or biking in the same amount of space used by cars.  E.g.

image

image
Mobility efficiency diagram.  Central Washington Transportation and Civic Design Study, 1977.
...

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2014/03/what-should-us-national-bike-strategy.html
[B' Spokes: I highly recommend that the planers and advocates read the whole thing.]
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Get out and ride

Biking Elsewhereimage

Via Bicyclists Belong in the Traffic Lane
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Support the local economy and support anything but cars

Biking Elsewhereimage
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Mass Bike Police Safety Video

Biking Elsewhere
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Struck on the Street: Four Survivors

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: In the story linked below is why reducing pedestrian and cyclists crashes mater. They are not just fender benders but with people, they have a life long impact on the quality of life. We need to put an end to mean streets, we need to put an end to giving preference to just one "class" of people, as if that "class" of people are always in their cars and never ever walk or bike. That should not be the ideal of society, always having to use the car to get anywhere, especially just to cross a major road.

Both Baltimore and Maryland are wondering why they are losing population while totally ignoring Maryland's high pedestrian fatality rate and Baltimore's high pedestrian crash rate. There needs to be more of an effort towards people, not just cars.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/nyregion/how-being-hit-by-a-vehicle-changed-times-colleagues-lives.html
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For entrepreneurs, cycling is the new golf

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: If you want to attract talent then you need to encourage cycling. And just trails is not going to cut it, we need better education for drivers and better enforcement for bicyclists rights!]
************************************************************************************
Via CNNMoney

...
"Unlike golf, cycling is also a great equalizer," said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "You're the same as the person riding next to you. So it makes people more approachable. "

Entrepreneurs also gravitate toward cycling because it's a better way to stay in shape, said Clarke. It's also less time consuming and relatively less expensive.
...

"It's a better cardio workout. You can get a great ride done in one to two hours as opposed to hours on a golf course," said Michael Marckx, CEO of eyewear company Spy Optic. "And you can actively network with more people."
...

http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/29/smallbusiness/cycling-golf-entrepreneurs/
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Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide– Recommendations and Case Study

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: Since 2002 the state has had a goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities and year after year no real change has been observed. It just amazes me how many pedestrian safety improvements that could be done here, most for cheap but are not. Maryland seems to have standardised on “essentially not visible” crosswalks and rather than follow the recommendation of marking all legs of the intersection with a high visibility crosswalk we are lucky to get two faded parallel lines that is either a crosswalk or your choice of stop lines if you are a driver. (Ref: An Overview and Recommendations of High-Visibility Crosswalk Marking Styles)

Other places I have been that are working toward reducing pedestrian fatalities have been installing hundreds of these pedestrian hybrid beacons. Does Maryland even have one?

Maybe there is no need for pedestrian improvements here?
image

Nope, that's not it.

If you would like State Highways to do more for pedestrians please write: James T. Smith <secretary@mdot.state.md.us>

...
Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHB) have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes. A Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study published in 20101 found that pedestrian hybrid beacons can reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent and total crashes by 29 percent. Because PHBs remain dark until activated, they can help increase driver attention to pedestrians crossing the roadway, and can reduce rear-end collisions. The pedestrian hybrid beacon’s red signal indication removes any judgment from the motorists and requires a complete stop. The PHB provides a clear message that motorists must stop and allow pedestrians to cross the street. Motorist compliance with the requirement to yield has been shown to exceed 90 percent at PHBs.
...

This document will show how PHBs are being used to reduce pedestrian crashes across the country [but not in Maryland.]
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http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/tools_solve/fhwasa14014/fhwasa14014.pdf
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Video: Google’s self-driving car meets cyclists and out-performs far too many human drivers

Biking ElsewhereArtificial intelligence? Not quite, but Google might have cracked artificial courtesy and consideration
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http://road.cc/content/news/117584-video-google%E2%80%99s-self-driving-car-meets-cyclists-and-out-performs-far-too-many
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For their safety honk

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: Sadly too many think like this.]
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Ohio Bike Lawyer - Steve Magas

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