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The BICE Study
October 31, 2012 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Our study, “Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment” (the BICE Study), examined which route types are associated with higher and lower cycling injury risk. It examined the association between bicyclists’ injuries and the cycling environment (e.g., route types, intersection types). Taking place in Toronto and Vancouver between May 2008 and November 2009, the participants were adults who were injured while bicycling and who attended hospital emergency departments for treatment. Five hospitals recruited participants, 690 in total.

Summary of the results:
Of the 690 injured cyclists in the study, 59% were male. The injury trips were mainly on weekdays (77%), less than 5 km long (68%), and for utilitarian purposes (74%). Of the injury events, 72% were collisions (with motor vehicles, route features, people, or animals) and 28% were falls.

We found that route infrastructure does affect the risk of cycling injuries. The most commonly observed route type was major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. It had the highest risk. In comparison, the following route types had lower risks (starting with the safest route type):
  • cycle tracks (also known as “separated” or “protected” bike lanes) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
  • residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
  • major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
  • off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk)


  • The following infrastructure features had increased risk:
  • streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks)
  • downhill grades (about 2 times higher than flat routes)
  • construction (about 2 times higher than no construction)
  • The Results have also been published in thwo peer reviewed articles:
    Personal and trip characteristics associated with safety equipment use by injured adult bicyclists: a cross-sectional study:
    The aim of this study was to estimate use of helmets, lights, and visible clothing among cyclists and to examine trip and personal characteristics associated with their use. Using data from a study of transportation infrastructure and injuries to 690 adult cyclists in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, we examined the proportion who used bike lights, conspicuous clothing on the torso, and helmets on their injury trip. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between personal and trip characteristics and each type of safety equipment. Bike lights were the least frequently used (20% of all trips) although they were used on 77% of trips at night. Conspicuous clothing (white, yellow, orange, red) was worn on 33% of trips. Helmets were used on 69% of trips, 76% in Vancouver where adult helmet use is required by law and 59% in Toronto where it is not. Factors positively associated with bike light use included night, dawn and dusk trips, poor weather conditions, weekday trips, male sex, and helmet use. Factors positively associated with conspicuous clothing use included good weather conditions, older age, and more frequent cycling. Factors positively associated with helmet use included bike light use, longer trip distances, hybrid bike type, not using alcohol in the 6 hours prior to the trip, female sex, older age, higher income, and higher education. In two of Canada's largest cities, helmets were the most widely used safety equipment. Measures to increase use of visibility aids on both daytime and night-time cycling trips may help prevent crashes.

    Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study
    We compared cycling injury risks of 14 route types and other route infrastructure features. We recruited 690 city residents injured while cycling in Toronto or Vancouver, Canada. A case-crossover design compared route infrastructure at each injury site to that of a randomly selected control site from the same trip. Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars (adjusted OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.41, 0.96) and with bike lanes (adjusted OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.29, 1.01). Local streets also had lower risks (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.31, 0.84). Other infrastructure characteristics were associated with increased risks: streetcar or train tracks (adjusted OR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.8, 5.1), downhill grades (adjusted OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.7, 3.1), and construction (adjusted OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.3, 2.9). The lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries. Transportation infrastructure with lower bicycling injury risks merits public health support to reduce injuries and promote cycling.
    posted by Blasdelb (91 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

     
    I try to follow routes that are heavy bike routes, cars drivers should have raised perception of bikes if they see bike traffic.
    posted by sammyo at 4:09 AM on October 31, 2012


    I find streets, even major arteries, with delineated bike lanes are much easier to travel on a bike. On the other hand, Vancouver Street, in Victoria BC, which is supposed to be a bike route, is used instead as a shortcut by drivers wanting to avoid lights on parallel streets - Cook Street and Quadra Street. Vancouver Street, even though it is a bike route, has, for most of its length, parking on both sides of the street. It's an unpleasant ride.
    posted by KokuRyu at 4:35 AM on October 31, 2012


    So if the fewest injuries come from separate bike routes, it's nice to see that one of the study cities (Toronto) had a net reduction in bike lanes in 2011 and 2012.
    posted by scruss at 4:36 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    That's because the best way to avoid bicycle accidents is to drive a car, according to the Ford brothers.
    posted by KokuRyu at 4:38 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


    cycle tracks alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
    residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
    major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
    off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk)


    That off street bike paths are slightly less safe than on-street or adjacent-to-street paths doesn't surprise me. It's my experience that there are just as many bad cyclists as there are bad drivers, a problem which is made tremendously worse because bicycle traffic on dedicated paths isn't as regulated as traffic on roads (Minuteman Bike Trail: how about some "no passing" signs on blind corners?), and poorly enforced (that stop sign? just pedal through it. no one's going to notice).
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:52 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I was part of this study! Back in '08, I was riding my bike across the Knight Street Bridge in Vancouver when something happened (?) and my face met with the ground. On the bridge I would ride along the sidewalk, which was maybe about twice as wide as the handlebars of my bike. I think what happened to me was that something fell off the back of a truck and knocked me forward into the guardrail.

    It took about a year for me to be able to commute to work again. By that time, the Canada Line bridge was open, which included a suspended walkway/cycle path hanging off the side. This feels much safer than riding on some narrow sidewalk on a motor vehicle bridge. Hopefully my accident and participation in this study is able to contribute to more cycling infrastructure in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

    Also, my helmet saved my life.
    posted by vansly at 5:26 AM on October 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


    a problem which is made tremendously worse because bicycle traffic on dedicated paths isn't as regulated as traffic on roads, and poorly enforced

    While you surely have a point, I'm inclined to believe that poor off-street trail engineering is as much to blame as behaviour. Off-street trails tend to be extremely undersized relative to demand, and often contain a high number of hazardous intersections, blind turns and structural dangers. As noted, signage and other visual warnings are usually poor-to-non-existent, but there are also plenty of trail arrangements that are simply not safe.

    In Toronto, the Don River trail has a double-blind turn into a railway underpass that injures riders on a weekly basis during the summer, while the Waterfront Trail is massively oversubscribed on summer weekends (and the pigheaded addition of P-Gates during the last urban design improvements just made it more dangerous the rest of the time, until they were permanently opened this spring).
    posted by waterunderground at 5:29 AM on October 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


    streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks)

    These are the absolute worst, particular after a light rain. Even if one crosses perpendicular to the tracks, it's easy to go flying off the bike for lack of traction. And then streetcar/trolley tracks and stops are built into space reserved for bike lanes.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    re: streetcar tracks -

    they were the most terrifying thing about renting bikes and riding around Ghent, Belgium for a week when I went there in the spring.

    but my sweetheart and I managed to survive.

    Probably because, though the center-city area was bustling, it was car-free. Which reduces the chaos significantly.
    posted by entropone at 5:54 AM on October 31, 2012


    It's my experience that there are just as many bad cyclists as there are bad drivers, a problem which is made tremendously worse because bicycle traffic on dedicated paths isn't as regulated as traffic on roads

    It should also be mentioned that just because they are "dedicated paths" it doesn't exactly keep runners and roller bladers (and whoever else) from using them, which can add to the risk.
    posted by orme at 5:58 AM on October 31, 2012


    re "dedicated paths", there are very few actual "bike paths", and those that are actually so designated aren't patrolled to keep pedestrians off of them.

    On the Multi-Use Path that I ride to work (only because the stroad that parallels it is worse), "Multi-Use" includes sleeping, smoking (assorted substances), drinking beer, and more. And the bicycling that does occur mixes relatively high speed bicycle commuters with people pushing shopping carts with one hand while weaving all over the path.

    I'd take the stroads, but those options stretch seems to be built to be deliberately hostile to alternate vehicles.
    posted by straw at 6:00 AM on October 31, 2012


    "That off street bike paths are slightly less safe than on-street or adjacent-to-street paths doesn't surprise me. It's my experience that there are just as many bad cyclists as there are bad drivers, a problem which is made tremendously worse because bicycle traffic on dedicated paths isn't as regulated as traffic on roads (Minuteman Bike Trail: how about some "no passing" signs on blind corners?), and poorly enforced (that stop sign? just pedal through it. no one's going to notice)."

    If you read the article, one of their most dramatically demonstrated findings is that while multi-use paths and dedicated bicycle paths are percieved as being about as safe, multi-use paths are among the most dangerous places to bike while dedicated cycle paths are the safest. It is the interactions between cyclists and pedestrians, dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, and children that cause injury.
    posted by Blasdelb at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


    That's because the best way to avoid bicycle accidents is to drive a car, according to the Ford brothers.

    I know you are joking, but I drive more often because of perceived risk and too many close calls on my bicycle. Statistically it's probably still better to ride because of the health benefits, but there's only so many times I can have people swerve into me and still feel blase about the experience.
    posted by Forktine at 6:08 AM on October 31, 2012


    It is the interactions between cyclists and pedestrians, dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, and children that cause injury.

    On a multi-use path, bicycles are the apex predator — like cars are on streets. But bicyclists aren't used to that position and tend not to modify their behavior to slow down or maneuver carefully. Bicyclists are not persecuted users of multi-use paths, despite what may be true of other modes.
    posted by stopgap at 6:09 AM on October 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


    But bicyclists aren't used to that position and tend not to modify their behavior to slow down or maneuver carefully.

    Much like cars then.
    posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    On a multi-use path, bicycles are the apex predator — like cars are on streets. But bicyclists aren't used to that position and tend not to modify their behavior to slow down or maneuver carefully. Bicyclists are not persecuted users of multi-use paths, despite what may be true of other modes.

    I don't bike. Most of the time I walk, once every week or so I drive. I do my best to be safe around bikes when I'm driving. I'm not always as good about it as I should be, but I do make an effort. When I'm walking, I don't feel like I get even a semblance of an attempt at safety from cyclists. They drive fast on the sidewalks and yell at me (On your left!) rather than slow down to avoid collisions. They swerve on to the sidewalk unexpectedly. They run red lights while I'm in the crosswalk, frequently after I make eye contact with them and maintain my speed to make it clear that I'm going to exercise my right of way. It's infuriating.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


    On a multi-use path, bicycles are the apex predator — like cars are on streets. But bicyclists aren't used to that position and tend not to modify their behavior to slow down or maneuver carefully. Bicyclists are not persecuted users of multi-use paths, despite what may be true of other modes.

    Very well said. On any given ride, I usually witness dozens of instances where fast-moving cyclists needlessly thread the needle between groups of pedestrians or pass extremely close (handlebars almost touching!) without giving any sort of signal.
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2012


    "On a multi-use path, bicycles are the apex predator — like cars are on streets. But bicyclists aren't used to that position and tend not to modify their behavior to slow down or maneuver carefully. Bicyclists are not persecuted users of multi-use paths, despite what may be true of other modes."

    There also are no safe ways for cyclists to use muli-use paths as the cycle commute highways they are often built as, where to use them in a way that is genuinely safe a cyclist must dismount or otherwise do their best to pretend to be a pedestrian; they are traps that garauntee injury by design. Undivided two way bicycle traffic plus unpredictable loose children and pets, plus the slow moving elderly, plus unpredictable stoners and drunks finding a place to crash, plus unpredictable crowds who arn't paying attention, plus horses that spook, just cannot work regardless of skill or generosity. It would be like running residential streets accross highways without markings, its the inadequate infrastructure that causes the injury.

    As a cyclist I only ever would use multi-use paths in the US when it was raining or off hours or otherwise likely to be deserted, because otherwise it is just way too fucking dangerous.
    posted by Blasdelb at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


    Humans, whether traveling via car, bike, boat or foot, are often selfish inconsiderate asswipes.

    There, now we don't have to do this again.
    posted by nathancaswell at 6:39 AM on October 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


    It should also be mentioned that just because they are "dedicated paths" it doesn't exactly keep runners and roller bladers (and whoever else) from using them, which can add to the risk.

    Ugh, multi-use paths. Pedestrians, bicycles and cars do not mix in any combination. Each should have their own dominions. And rollerbladers can just fuck off: faster than pedestrians, slower than bikes, taking up twice as much space as either, they belong nowhere.
    posted by adamdschneider at 6:46 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


    The interesting thing is that all the anecdata notwithstanding, cyclists injure very few pedestrians. I believe this is because a cyclist also experiences the violent consequences of a collision in a way that motor vehicle operators other than motorcyclists do not.

    Part of the pedestrian rage at cyclists is because cyclists make pedestrians feel the same way that cars and trucks make cyclists feel; Vulnerable. It isn't a comfortable feeling.
    posted by srboisvert at 6:47 AM on October 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


    It should also be mentioned that just because they are "dedicated paths" it doesn't exactly keep runners and roller bladers (and whoever else) from using them, which can add to the risk.

    It's a huge issue - Victoria BC has one very well used multi-use path that is a commuter artery for cyclists. But the path (called "The Galloping Goose", after a railcar that used to travel the roadbed now used for the trail) is multi-use, and is used by walkers, skateboarders and others.

    As a result the trail is far too crowded to be used as a cycling route, which leads to conflict. Apart from weekends and rush hour, the trail is a really convenient way to go uptown, but at other times becomes quite competitive or even dangerous.

    So I prefer riding on the street.
    posted by KokuRyu at 6:49 AM on October 31, 2012


    Streetcar tracks are the fucking worst. I've gone down three times in the streetcar tracks here in New Orleans, which probably accounts for the majority of falls/crashes (all minor, thankfully) that I've had since I started riding regularly several years ago. Once I went down in the tracks in between two streetcars moving in opposite directions which was bloody terrifying and I was lucky to escape with my head intact.

    Those grooves, it's like they were intentionally designed for the purpose of grabbing your wheel and throwing you to the ground. I avoid them as much as possible because they're just too bloody dangerous to ride near.
    posted by Scientist at 6:56 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    My experience with multiple use paths is primarily from living in the Washington DC area, but I found them to be more dangerous than the roads. The varied experience (and attentiveness) of its users made for a dangerous situation. At least on the road I could keep with the flow of traffic. The MUP often featured swerving paths for no apparent reason and blind turns that never would have been built for a road.

    As for the DICE study, it does make a strong case that urban designs oriented toward bike safety work. I have no idea how expensive it is to implement these solutions but I tend to think making our roadways useful for many modes of transport is just plain sensible and a basic part of social justice for those who may not be able to afford auto transport.
    posted by dgran at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2012


    The interesting thing is that all the anecdata notwithstanding, cyclists injure very few pedestrians. I believe this is because a cyclist also experiences the violent consequences of a collision in a way that motor vehicle operators other than motorcyclists do not.

    It's also because pedestrians are jumping out of the way of crazy cyclists. I've never been hit by a cyclist, despite probably one close call a week, because I keep my head up and don't assume that any cyclists are going to go out of their way not to run me over.

    The point is that I shouldn't have to do that to avoid getting run over while walking on the sidewalk. It is also true that cyclists should be able to ride in the street without being made unsafe by cars, but they're similar, not related issues. Honestly, as a pedestrian/occasional driver, I would like to see all bikes in the street in the middle of their lane driving exactly like tiny slow cars. I'm sure there are problems with that from a cyclists perspective, but I'm willing to slow down in my car in exchange for not having to worry about bikes coming up from behind me on the sidewalk or run through the crosswalk when I've got a walk sign.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:01 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I know you are joking, but I drive more often because of perceived risk and too many close calls on my bicycle. Statistically it's probably still better to ride because of the health benefits, but there's only so many times I can have people swerve into me and still feel blase about the experience.

    Toronto's Mayor Ford has removed bicycle lanes on the logic that cycling is dangerous.

    Now, sure, one could make cycling safer by making sure that nobody cycles. Or, one could make sure that cycling is safer by making it safer, and making sure that more people do it (which makes it safer) - both of which can be accomplished with bike lanes.

    Basically, Ford is an idiot.
    posted by entropone at 7:01 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I hate MUPs. As a cyclist on them, I'm always conscious of pedestrians, whom, as near as I can tell, behave randomly. Walkers (and skaters) can turn much more quickly than a bike can and can easily make a situation dangerous faster than a cyclist can react. As a pedestrian myself, cyclists can easily approach from behind quickly and silently enough that I don't see them before I decide to stop and smell a flower or something. It's a bad mix and I think cyclists and walkers are fundamentally incompatible. Even wee kids on little bikes go too fast for most pedestrians.

    And don't get me started on the dangers of dog walkers at night with those extending rope leashes. Those should be banned.
    posted by bonehead at 7:03 AM on October 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


    My wife had a trip to the hospital with a concussion after crossing streetcar tracks at an insufficiently perpendicular angle. Those tracks just love grabbing a bike wheel. If it weren't for her helmet...
    posted by Erroneous at 7:04 AM on October 31, 2012


    Honestly, as a pedestrian/occasional driver, I would like to see all bikes in the street in the middle of their lane driving exactly like tiny slow cars.

    Honestly, as a cyclist, I would like to see all bikes in the street in the middle of their lane driving exactly like tiny slow cars. I'm sure there are problems with that from a driver's perspective.

    Also, as a cyclist, let me say that I think it's never appropriate to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. Multi-use paths are different, but biking on the sidewalk is the single most dangerous place to bike.
    posted by rocketman at 7:05 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    And don't get me started on the dangers of dog walkers at night with those extending rope leashes. Those should be banned.

    That's something pedestrians and cyclists should be able to agree on. I had one for walking the dog when I grew up in the suburbs and that was fine because we pretty much never encountered any one else, but in cities? Anarchy. If your leash is 20 feet long, your dog is not really on a leash.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:10 AM on October 31, 2012


    I'd prefer dogs be off-leash than on an extending rope leash. Just speaking as a cyclist.
    posted by rocketman at 7:23 AM on October 31, 2012


    "I'd prefer dogs be off-leash than on an extending rope leash. Just speaking as a cyclist."

    OH GOD NO, we make for way too attractive chew toys. I've still got scars on my ass from being chased down by a big stupid clueless black lab with an owner who somehow managed to be yet more stupid and clueless - and especially small dogs could very easily be killed by confusing a cyclist for prey or a toy.
    posted by Blasdelb at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    That's why I keep a water bottle full of an ammonia dilution handy.
    posted by rocketman at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2012


    Very interesting to see that multi-use paths are significantly more dangerous than commonly thought. As a cyclist, I'm consistently scared and frustrated travelling on multi-use paths.

    Obviously, the best solution is to have separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, but if that isn't feasible, I think we need to put more into education for path users. For cyclists, bells and safe passing. For pedestrians, being alert, being aware of the lanes and direction of travel, and being predictable. I'm not sure what can be done about dog walkers though. Some dogs can share a path safely, but many can't and I'm not sure how to reconcile that.

    We also need to do much better in traffic design for multi-use paths. So many intersections, especially with car traffic, are designed very poorly.

    Mostly, I think it comes down to respecting cyclists and pedestrians as actual traffic, i.e. people who are trying to get somewhere, which is still an attitude that seems rare in planning.
    posted by ssg at 8:20 AM on October 31, 2012


    The Vancouver solution is to have parallel pedestrian and cyclist paths. It's a very nice solution for both. That's one of the reasons this study is so elegant: Toronto has a lot of MUPs, while Vancouver has had segregated paths for quite some time.
    posted by bonehead at 8:24 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If they only recruited cyclists with injuries how did they estimate the relative risk? (i.e., what is the denominator in the equation injuries/people at risk?)
    posted by docgonzo at 8:28 AM on October 31, 2012


    If they only recruited cyclists with injuries how did they estimate the relative risk? (i.e., what is the denominator in the equation injuries/people at risk?)

    A case-crossover design compared route infrastructure at each injury site to that of a randomly selected control site from the same trip. Pretty clever, IMHO.

    That's one of the reasons this study is so elegant: Toronto has a lot of MUPs, while Vancouver has had segregated paths for quite some time.

    It could also be argued to be a flaw; perhaps Toronto has more aggro cyclists than Vancouver. Or just worse cyclists; the most dangerous environment overall was streetcar tracks, which are common in Toronto and rare-to-nonexistent in Vancouver. It would also have been interesting to look at the severity of injury; I would guess MUP users are more likely to have less severe injuries, but that's just a guess.
    posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:40 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Another issue with multi-use paths is that drivers who are ignorant of "share the road" laws in less bike-friendly areas tend to think that cyclists belong on the multi-use paths and nowhere else. Some of them get rage-y about it.
    posted by smalls at 8:47 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    One of the reasons I love the Williamsburg Bridge in NYC is that cars, pedestrians, and cyclists (and the JMZ) all have their own tracks for most of its length. Want to stroll casually? Totally fine. Want to bike like a commuter? Also fine! It's a model I would love to see emulated more.
    posted by en forme de poire at 9:14 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    > Pretty clever, IMHO.

    I thought that was a rather interesting approach as well, though only for that paper.

    Their sampling of only cyclists who presented to the emergency department following injury makes me a bit leery of the first paper's findings being possibly not truly representative. This being Canada, I would assume ED visits are bit more egalitarian than down South, but even then it seems like it would obscure any number of injuries/crashes that didn't require professional treatment (a flaw the authors note). Not to mention having no control group of non-injured riders to compare safety equipment use to.
    posted by Panjandrum at 9:17 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Or just worse cyclists; the most dangerous environment overall was streetcar tracks, which are common in Toronto and rare-to-nonexistent in Vancouver.

    They do correct for that in their risk assessment though.

    I don't see any indication in their data to assume that Toronto and Vancouver cyclists are significantly different in terms of aggressiveness or skill. If you're assuming a non-null effect between populations, on what basis do you substantiate that?
    posted by bonehead at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2012


    Honestly, as a pedestrian/occasional driver, I would like to see all bikes in the street in the middle of their lane driving exactly like tiny slow cars.

    I think one of the biggest perception problems with bikes these days is the idea that bikes should behave exactly like cars. Bikes aren't cars. The highway code by default has the same laws applying to bikes and cars, but this is part of the problem. There should be a Motor Vehicle Act and an Urban Bicycling Act and they should not be identical. (Already if you read your local Highway Act there will be a section with added responsibilities for bikes, so even now it's not true that bikes are treated exactly like cars under the law -- they get to abide by all the car laws plus the bike laws)

    There's lots of success stories for what happens when you treat bikes like bikes, not like cars. The Idaho Stop is a great example of giving bikes rights that cars don't have. In Copenhagen, cyclists don't turn left with cars in the left turn lane, they do a hook turn because it's safer and they have the infrastructure in place to support it.

    People always seem to complain that cyclists switch recklessly between acting like a vehicle and acting like a pedestrian. This is because in a typical North American city those are the only two choices, and neither of them are particularly suited to the experience of biking in an urban area. This is a system problem, not a people problem. Put infrastructure and laws in place that work for cyclists and you'll stop seeing cyclists breaking the law.
    posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:32 AM on October 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


    Obviously, the best solution is to have separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, but if that isn't feasible, I think we need to put more into education for path users.

    Ha. No one wants to told they need education on how to walk. Unpredictable pedestrians (some may call them "humans") are the baseline to which all other modes must adapt.
    posted by stopgap at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It should also be mentioned that just because they are "dedicated paths" it doesn't exactly keep runners and roller bladers (and whoever else) from using them, which can add to the risk.

    Not to mention gas and electric scooters. The gas-powered scooter drivers are just idiots, but the electric bike and scooter riders are occupying what must be a kind of lacuna. As it is, most of them are too slow to make much of a difference, but they are getting faster all the time, and some of them can sustain 50km/h.

    Not to mention the fact that they are motorists and generally behave as such. The Goose should be called a human-powered trail, not a multi-use trail. One glaring omission on the Goose is any kind of law enforcement. I'm not a terribly Hobbesian sort, but a little bit of bylaw enforcement on that trail would probably go a long way.

    On some parts of the Goose, horses are common, which presents a whole new range of difficulties. On one ride, I dismounted to pass an equestrian. She thanked me and we had a long chat about trail ethics, among other things. She said that the previous week a large group of cyclists (the Sooke Potholes Invitational, I believe it's called; an informal race) had raced past her at very high speed without so much as a peep in warning. Her horse weighs as much as a car and could easily have killed her or one of the cyclists in panic.

    One of the main reasons I haven't joined a cycling club is because I don't think I could endure the pressure to run lights and stop signs, or abuse other trail users.

    It's also because pedestrians are jumping out of the way of crazy cyclists.

    True, there are many ignorant or incompetent cyclists, but the perception that they're "crazy" is mostly just a matter of perspective. I call out "on your left!" or ring a bell not because I want to barrel past you at 45km/h with no room to spare, but because I want you to know that I'm coming and not to be surprised. That's not the effect it has, though. More often, pedestrians do nothing or leap into the opposite lane in a panic.

    I can't understand why people on a multi-use trail feel like they can neglect their responsibilities as trail users, sink into oblivion by cranking up their iPods, let their kids waddle around in the opposing lane, or walk their dogs off-leash. It's not a public park, it's a transportation route!
    posted by klanawa at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


    It's not a public park, it's a transportation route!

    This attitude gets right to the heart of the disconnect. For someone taking a stroll, it's not a transportation route, it's a public park!
    posted by stopgap at 9:48 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This attitude gets right to the heart of the disconnect. For someone taking a stroll, it's not a transportation route, it's a public park!

    Agreed, but it can't be both. I guess the regional district never really thought about the distinction, and I don't blame them. It was such a great innovation, and these little bugs never emerge til later.
    posted by klanawa at 9:51 AM on October 31, 2012


    Plus, in the specific case of the Goose, there are signs directing people where to walk and how to behave. Most people obey them for the most part, but a large-enough-to-be-problematic share of users don't.
    posted by klanawa at 9:54 AM on October 31, 2012


    The following infrastructure features had increased risk:
    -streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks)
    -downhill grades (about 2 times higher than flat routes)
    -construction (about 2 times higher than no construction)


    Also operates under the name of San Francisco.
    posted by superquail at 9:55 AM on October 31, 2012


    I call out "on your left!" or ring a bell not because I want to barrel past you at 45km/h with no room to spare, but because I want you to know that I'm coming and not to be surprised. That's not the effect it has, though. More often, pedestrians do nothing or leap into the opposite lane in a panic.

    Do you still do it? I've seldom seen it work, yet cyclists insist on startling pedestrians as a way to make things safer. If what you're doing ostensibly to get people to move out of your way is causing people to jump into your way, then I'd say continuing to do it is kind of crazy. In most cities the width of the sidewalk means that the only way to bike safely on the sidewalk is to bike very slowly, but I don't see many cyclists doing that, I see them shouting.

    I think one of the biggest perception problems with bikes these days is the idea that bikes should behave exactly like cars. Bikes aren't cars.

    I see this defense of allowing cyclists to run stop signs every time bikes come up on Metafilter, but in the real world, I see cyclists running stop signs even without any kind of special law allowing them to, and what I see from that is cyclists nearly getting nailed by cars, nearly hitting me in cross walks, and almost wiping out trying to avoid me because they won't just stop at the damn stop light. Allowing cyclists to run stop signs isn't some bold experiment, we already do that (at least where I live) because all the cyclists do it and no one cares. In my experience, however, it leads to dangerously unsafe situations, wherein I almost injure/almost get injured on a regular basis.

    If the bike is in the middle of the lane, I don't have to worry about clipping it in my car. If you obey stop lights/signs, you won't run me over if I'm walking. It's win-win for everyone except impatient cyclists. The hook turn thing looks fine to me. What I'm talking about is running red lights, weaving between parked cars and the flow of traffic whenever traffic is stopped, and generally doing stuff that makes me more likely to hit the cyclist for no other reason than that the cyclist decided to be an idiot.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


    One thing the city has tried in Ottawa is speed limits on our MUPs of 20 kph/12 mph. If you want to go faster, you are supposed to use the road or a dedicated path/lane.

    There is some enforcement of this, particularly on the weekends when the paths are at their busiest. I'd say that it does seem to be better than it was 10 years ago, prior to the law.

    Local government has also banned electric scooters, which I think is also a great step.
    posted by bonehead at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2012


    I live in the suburbs, which means people -- nearly always adults -- ride their bikes on the sidewalks all the time. While I'm walking, the number of times I've almost been hit by cyclists coming up behind me with no warning is insane.

    I have nothing against cyclists on the sidewalk (alongside major thoroughfares, anyway), but seriously, folks, if you're gonna do it, get a fucking bell and use it, no matter how dorky you think it is. Or put some baseball cards in your spokes or something. Or ride on the grass for like two seconds. Jesus.
    posted by Sys Rq at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2012


    Do you still do it? I've seldom seen it work, yet cyclists insist on startling pedestrians as a way to make things safer. If what you're doing ostensibly to get people to move out of your way is causing people to jump into your way, then I'd say continuing to do it is kind of crazy.

    Under normal circumstances, having someone call out to you shouldn't cause you to panic. A multi-use trail is not the place to lose yourself in reverie, and as a pedestrian, you have responsibilities just like everyone else. One of those is to expect and be aware of other trail users and react appropriately to their presence.

    You can demand that every cyclists slow to a speed that you feel comfortable with, or you can recognize that there are context-specific behaviours that you are expected to adopt. Just like everywhere else.
    posted by klanawa at 10:19 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Under normal circumstances, having someone call out to you shouldn't cause you to panic. A multi-use trail is not the place to lose yourself in reverie, and as a pedestrian, you have responsibilities just like everyone else. One of those is to expect and be aware of other trail users and react appropriately to their presence.

    You can demand that every cyclists slow to a speed that you feel comfortable with, or you can recognize that there are context-specific behaviours that you are expected to adopt. Just like everywhere else.


    Or you could ring your bell sooner, and more often. Oh, the inconvenience!
    posted by Sys Rq at 10:24 AM on October 31, 2012


    (You know how many times I've had similar interactions with skateboarders, who are more common around here? Zero. You know why? Because I can hear them coming from a long way away, and have ample time to accommodate them appropriately.)
    posted by Sys Rq at 10:28 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ha. No one wants to told they need education on how to walk. Unpredictable pedestrians (some may call them "humans") are the baseline to which all other modes must adapt.

    Pithy, but ridiculous. While I'm all for more pedestrian friendly cities, as long as we are going to have modes of transportation like cars, trains, scooters, and even bikes, that travel faster than pedestrians, we are going to have to make some compromises and not everyone is going to get to do exactly what they want at any given moment. And, yes, that is going to have to include education about how to safely share a multi-use pathway.
    posted by ssg at 10:28 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Hey, I know this study! Kay Teschke and Conor Reynolds are colleagues of mine at UBC. Kay is lead author of this study. If anyone has any questions for her I could pass them along.

    This study has had a huge effect locally -- it has been a major justification behind the implementation of Vancouver's newish downtown separated bike-only lanes, which were created by eating a lane on the road, blocking it with concrete barriers, splitting it into two-way lanes, and adding turn restrictions for cars. They have been hugely controversial in terms of prioritization of road traffic, but thankfully there has been no debate about how they improve safety. The study also shows that people are more likely to use separated paths, especially less experienced cyclists, so the construction of new separate paths will increase the number of trips by bike. Because of this study, we know firmly that separated bike-only lanes support the City's goals for increasing bike trips and improving safety.
    posted by PercussivePaul at 10:30 AM on October 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Toronto's Mayor Ford has removed bicycle lanes on the logic that cycling is dangerous.

    I'm deeply offended by the suggestion that Fords & co. have based a single decision on a even a shred of logic.
    posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:32 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Under normal circumstances, having someone call out to you shouldn't cause you to panic. A multi-use trail is not the place to lose yourself in reverie, and as a pedestrian, you have responsibilities just like everyone else. One of those is to expect and be aware of other trail users and react appropriately to their presence.

    You can demand that every cyclists slow to a speed that you feel comfortable with, or you can recognize that there are context-specific behaviours that you are expected to adopt. Just like everywhere else.


    Panic is obviously an overstatement, but I think being startled by unexpected noises is not, like, crazy, and I was talking about sidewalks, not multi-use trails. You can talk all you want about how you think people "should" behave, but in my experience, cyclists yelling out or ringing a bell mostly causes people to look up and stop. If most people aren't behaving according to your expectations, then you should revise your expectations.

    I'd also say that "you can recognize that there are context-specific behaviours that you are expected to adopt" could be equally applied to anything in this discussion. I'd like cyclists to adopt the "context specific" behavior of biking slowly on sidewalks because doing otherwise is dangerous and runs counter to the (general, I think) rule that pedestrians have right of way on the sidewalk. You can yell "on your left" all you want, legally, I don't have to care.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:36 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    One thing the city has tried in Ottawa is speed limits on our MUPs of 20 kph/12 mph. If you want to go faster, you are supposed to use the road or a dedicated path/lane.

    There is some enforcement of this, particularly on the weekends when the paths are at their busiest.


    That's a really tough balancing act there, because for some of the major pathways (e.g. along the river), the road alternative is very hostile to bikes (and designed to be so), so that leaves cyclists who want to get somewhere stuck at a fairly low speed. I think the solution there is just to add another path.

    Speaking of enforcement, I once came around a blind corner along the river and found myself headed straight for a pair of police on bikes, riding abreast and blocking the whole path. We managed to swerve and avoid each other, but that sure brings home the need for education.
    posted by ssg at 10:37 AM on October 31, 2012


    I have nothing against cyclists on the sidewalk

    I sure as hell do, but then I live in a city, not a suburb.
    posted by adamdschneider at 10:43 AM on October 31, 2012


    I think the solution there is just to add another path.

    Ultimately, I think this is the only option as well. There are bits along the Ottawa river that are segregated and I much prefer those to the paths along the Rideau. The Vancouver paths around Stanley Park are really great both as a cyclist and as a pedestrian.

    We know firmly that separated bike-only lanes support the City's goals for increasing bike trips and improving safety.

    Preliminary indications are that this is true in Ottawa too. In our new downtown core experiment, commuter bike traffic is up and yet there are fewer accidents than last year. Lane segregation was not popular at all with drivers, but it does seem to be working.
    posted by bonehead at 10:43 AM on October 31, 2012


    Allowing cyclists to run stop signs isn't some bold experiment, we already do that (at least where I live) because all the cyclists do it and no one cares

    You're making my point for me. Obviously the system in place in American cities isn't working for cyclists or motorists. The solution isn't yelling at cyclists, it's coming up with a new normal where our transit infrastructure supports bikes. There aren't asshole cyclists in Copenhagen because they've built a system that's easy to follow along with.
    posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:46 AM on October 31, 2012


    Bulgaroktonos, I'm not sure this is the thread to discuss your frustration with cyclists on the sidewalks. The study in question doesn't have anything to do with sidewalks and no one else is discussing sidewalks. It would be nice if we didn't have to have the fight that we have in every thread about cycling.
    posted by ssg at 10:47 AM on October 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Or you could ring your bell sooner, and more often. Oh, the inconvenience!

    How soon? A mile? How far away will you be able to hear it with your ear buds in?

    Panic is obviously an overstatement, but I think being startled by unexpected noises is not, like, crazy

    I can't think of a reaction, other than panic, that would cause people to jump into the path of a cyclist.

    and I was talking about sidewalks, not multi-use trails.

    It's almost (but not quite) universally illegal to ride on sidewalks, so complaining about how cyclists behave on them is kind of moot.

    You can talk all you want about how you think people "should" behave, but in my experience, cyclists yelling out or ringing a bell mostly causes people to look up and stop.

    I'm not talking about how they "should" behave according to my preferences, I'm talking about adherence to both convention and law. It's expected of me, and I expect it of you. I don't think it's too much to ask that pedestrians RTFS (read the fucking sign).

    If most people aren't behaving according to your expectations, then you should revise your expectations.

    Yes. I expect them to panic.
    posted by klanawa at 10:58 AM on October 31, 2012


    It's almost (but not quite) universally illegal to ride on sidewalks, so complaining about how cyclists behave on them is kind of moot.

    Unless it's enforced, it's the law that's moot.
    posted by Sys Rq at 11:00 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How soon? A mile?

    Half a block, maybe? I don't know. Sooner than as you're passing me. Definitely sooner than never.
    posted by Sys Rq at 11:03 AM on October 31, 2012


    Toronto's Mayor Ford has removed bicycle lanes on the logic that cycling is dangerous

    This is the same logic that says because a minority of vehicle accidents are caused by drunk drivers, it is safer to drive drunk than sober.
    posted by MuffinMan at 11:06 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Unless it's enforced, it's the law that's moot.

    Then your complaint is not with cyclists, but law enforcement. And when they're done ridding the sidewalks of bikes, they can get to work stopping drivers from killing cyclists.

    Half a block, maybe? I don't know.

    Let's make a deal. I agree to make a sound at a reasonable distance (as I already do), and you agree to not impair your ability to hear it, and to react reasonably to it. See? Easy!
    posted by klanawa at 11:11 AM on October 31, 2012


    How soon?

    My personal rule of thumb is about 5 to 10s out. This gives people enough time to react and start to move, if they feel they need to. How great a distance this is depends on your speed, of course.
    posted by bonehead at 11:13 AM on October 31, 2012


    Then your complaint is not with cyclists, but law enforcement.

    One can have a beef with both public urinators and police who aren't catching them all.
    posted by Space Coyote at 11:14 AM on October 31, 2012


    It's almost (but not quite) universally illegal to ride on sidewalks, so complaining about how cyclists behave on them is kind of moot.

    Well, it's 100% legal where I live (except in a certain designated downtown area) with the caveat that cyclists have to yield right of way to pedestrians. It is legal in other places, and it's common everywhere I've lived that had sidewalks. It's worth talking about because it's a thing that happens in the real world, even where it is illegal.

    Then your complaint is not with cyclists, but law enforcement. And when they're done ridding the sidewalks of bikes, they can get to work stopping drivers from killing cyclists.

    I think I can still complain about people doing illegal things where they're putting me in physical danger. The fact that those people might also be in danger at a different time is completely irrelevant. The initial point that cyclists treat pedestrians the way cars treat cyclists is spot on, and the "they're panicking, they jumped in front of me, why won't they just get out of the way of my piece of metal hurdling down on them" defense sounds exactly like people drivers talking about cyclists.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:17 AM on October 31, 2012


    I have no idea why cyclists would want to ride on multi-use paths or on sidewalks. I find both of those places terrifying when I am on a bike.
    posted by Serf at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2012


    How soon? A mile? How far away will you be able to hear it with your ear buds in?

    Signaling isn't an order for pedestrians to get out of the way, it's a request/informative broadcast.

    If pedestrians aren't acknowledging your signal, you have to treat them as if they don't know you're there. This includes SLOWING DOWN and perhaps even stopping while you wait either for them to realize you're there or it becomes safe to cautiously pass them. As long as they don't know you're there, anything and everything that happens is automatically your responsibility.

    I really wish more cyclists would realize this.
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have no idea why cyclists would want to ride on multi-use paths or on sidewalks. I find both of those places terrifying when I am on a bike.

    Because the road is often an even more terrifying place?
    posted by adamdschneider at 11:37 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I really wish more cyclists would realize this.

    I wish you wouldn't assume that they don't. We are all responsible to each other. I have responsibilities to the other users of a multi-use trail and they have responsibilities to me.

    The initial point that cyclists treat pedestrians the way cars treat cyclists is spot on, and the "they're panicking, they jumped in front of me, why won't they just get out of the way of my piece of metal hurdling down on them" defense sounds exactly like people drivers talking about cyclists.

    If cyclists behave unpredictably on the road, drivers are right to complain about it. When pedestrians behave unpredictably on the path, cyclists are right to complain about it.

    The difference is that vocal drivers who complain about cyclists tend to do so whether cyclists are misbehaving or not. Many of them assume or would prefer that cyclists not have the same rights on the road as cars, which they do. No cyclists are arguing that pedestrians be banned from trails, only that they make an effort to be civil (and note that I'm in no way arguing against the proposition that a large minority of cyclists are uncivil).
    posted by klanawa at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2012


    I ride lots of multi use paths, and they don't really bother me much at all. At very crowded times they are annoying and potentially a little dangerous, but generally fine.

    I'm very dubious about separated on street paths. What are the snow clearing plans for those paths in Ottawa, or the new one on Sherbourne here in Toronto? Even if they have plans, I doubt it can be sufficient to the problem... Mostly the thing that keeps streets clear is a combination of salt and heat from regular car traffic. Sunlight plus salt does eventually do the job, but it takes days-weeks instead of hours-days.
    posted by Chuckles at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2012


    Let's make a deal. I agree to make a sound at a reasonable distance (as I already do), and you agree to not impair your ability to hear it, and to react reasonably to it. See? Easy!

    If you're not doing the thing I was talking about, then I don't know why you would presume to speak for the people who are.

    Also, I'm not doing the thing you're talking about.

    Also, deaf people exist. Are they not allowed to walk?

    I really wish more cyclists would realize this.

    I wish you wouldn't assume that they don't. We are all responsible to each other. I have responsibilities to the other users of a multi-use trail and they have responsibilities to me.


    Do you really not understand that you're not The Universal Cyclist? It's great that you're doing it right, but that does not mean everyone else is. And they're not.
    posted by Sys Rq at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2012


    It's also because pedestrians are jumping out of the way of crazy cyclists.

    Don't do this. Jumping out of the way increases your likelyhood of being hit (and also makes it your fault when it happens, instead of theirs). Faster-moving traffic (skateboards, whatever), in this case cyclists, typically plot a path that doesn't intersect with you, but aren't expecting a crazy leap sideways - right into that path where (you couldn't know) the cyclist is already committed by physics to go, intending to safely avoid you, until you jump in the way.

    I've seen more accidents caused by people trying to get out of the way of an imagined collision and creating an actual collision, than I have seen caused by someone not jumping out of the way. The only exceptions I can think of are young children, and ice skating rinks during general public open hours on the weekend. :-)
    posted by anonymisc at 12:29 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    No cyclists are arguing that pedestrians be banned from trails

    Well, I don't know about that. I'm sure arguing for it. MUPs are crap. Give pedestrians their own walkways and cyclists their own trails.
    posted by adamdschneider at 12:32 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Don't do this. Jumping out of the way increases your likelyhood of being hit (and also makes it your fault when it happens, instead of theirs). Faster-moving traffic (skateboards, whatever), in this case cyclists, typically plot a path that doesn't intersect with you, but aren't expecting a crazy leap sideways - right into that path where (you couldn't know) the cyclist is already committed by physics to go, intending to safely avoid you, until you jump in the way.

    Yes, rationally, that makes sense, of course. But when someone comes zooming up and is right on top of you before you even notice them, that's startling, which causes irrational lizard-brain things to happen. Hence: Some forewarning, please.
    posted by Sys Rq at 12:33 PM on October 31, 2012


    The thing about "This includes SLOWING DOWN and perhaps even stopping while you wait either for them to realize you're there or it becomes safe to cautiously pass them" is that most MUPs that I've used are so crowded during peak times as to make them unusable in this way. Lake Front Path in Chicago, especially on the north side, on summer afternoons/rush hour? I would literally not be on my bike at all for a good 4-5 miles or more. That's half my commute. And I'd be taking up more space walking with a bike beside me than if I were just on the thing. (Of course the LFP has the added joy of the beaches to one side, complete with families and stretches of volleyball courts and beach side bars and people walking down the path side-by-side or sometimes jointly carrying a cooler of refreshments between them... )

    Similarly, asking me to ring a bell or shout a warning 5 to 10s before approaching anyone I'm passing would literally mean just constantly ringing the bell for 4 or 5 miles straight. I'm not joking, I've tried it. My thumb got tired and everyone looked at me like I was an asshole, and plenty of peds still didn't realize I was approaching them. If all the cyclists did this, the cacophony would basically render it impossible to actually warn people of anything.

    My point is that it's the infrastructure design/system that's broken in a lot of cases. Separate paths is probably the answer, though I don't know if people will use them that way especially if the system is not big enough for demand. Overflow from the ped trail would surely make its way to the bike trail.

    Anyway, there's a reason I almost never ride to work on the LFP anymore. I am actually more comfortable and less stressed fighting the cars for space and navigating potholes on the city streets. It's that bad.
    posted by misskaz at 12:38 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    (Of course the LFP has the added joy of the beaches to one side, complete with families and stretches of volleyball courts and beach side bars and people walking down the path side-by-side or sometimes jointly carrying a cooler of refreshments between them... )

    Agh, god, walk in the sand!

    WALK IN THE FUCKING SAND!
    posted by adamdschneider at 1:13 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The LFP north of the loop is a nightmare and should either be closed to cyclists (and I'm saying this as a diehard, car-free, year round bike commuter) or have a parallel bike track installed. I'd be surprised if there aren't hourly collisions on that section near Navy Pier where it turns into a sidewalk and half of the traffic are tourists on freshly rented Bike & Rolls that they don't know how to use.

    I'm very dubious about separated on street paths. What are the snow clearing plans for those paths in Ottawa, or the new one on Sherbourne here in Toronto? Even if they have plans, I doubt it can be sufficient to the problem... Mostly the thing that keeps streets clear is a combination of salt and heat from regular car traffic. Sunlight plus salt does eventually do the job, but it takes days-weeks instead of hours-days.

    The one on Kinzie St. in Chicago was perfectly usable last winter. The salt tended to stick around longer than on the car-traffic part of the road, but it wasn't a significant problem.
    posted by theodolite at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2012


    Faster-moving traffic (skateboards, whatever), in this case cyclists, typically plot a path that doesn't intersect with you, but aren't expecting a crazy leap sideways - right into that path where (you couldn't know) the cyclist is already committed by physics to go, intending to safely avoid you, until you jump in the way.

    There's an easy fix here: Around pedestrians only go as fast as would allow you to safely come to a complete stop in half the distance to said pedestrians. That way if someone jumps in your path, you can not hit them.

    most MUPs that I've used are so crowded during peak times as to make them unusable in this way. Lake Front Path in Chicago, especially on the north side, on summer afternoons/rush hour? I would literally not be on my bike at all for a good 4-5 miles or more. That's half my commute. And I'd be taking up more space walking with a bike beside me than if I were just on the thing.

    So? Where does it say that your commute takes priority over the needs (and safety) of others on the path?
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:40 PM on October 31, 2012


    I'd be surprised if there aren't hourly collisions on that section near Navy Pier where it turns into a sidewalk and half of the traffic are tourists on freshly rented Bike & Rolls that they don't know how to use.

    They're talking about building a Navy Pier Flyover (link is to a PDF) to fix that problem section, but it's gonna be gonzo expensive and I have no idea if it will actually happen.

    So? Where does it say that your commute takes priority over the needs (and safety) of others on the path?

    Nowhere, and neither did I say it. But I was pointing out that if the infrastructure is that broken or undersized for demand, then it needs to be changed or fixed or just don't call the thing an MUP anymore. Call it a pedestrian path because that's all it can be and keep bikes off it entirely as suggested above.

    (I would also argue that there IS a societal benefit for me and thousands of others to be able to quickly and safely commute to work by bike and not clog up the roads and public transit systems, but I'm ok with riding on the streets so I don't personally have a dog in that fight.)
    posted by misskaz at 1:46 PM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Steve Vance/GridChicago has a really nice alternative plan to the beautiful but ridiculous flyover.

    I'd argue that October to March, the Lakefront Trail is good for biking, especially in the morning, except for the black ice on the Oak Street curve. But generally multi-use paths are not good for anyone.

    When you think about it, basically, sharrows are multi-use paths; they're just in multi-use by cars and bikes, instead of peds and bikes. In the multi-use path universe of peds & bikes, peds are at a disadvantage; in the universe of bikes & cars, it's bikes who are most vulnerable. But I think (from my experience as all three), that cyclists tend to be more aware of pedestrians sharing their path than drivers tend to be of cyclists. I think it's a function of being physically closer and just as likely to be injured in the collision. Maybe not.

    Chicago (and other dense urban areas) is only going to solve this problem by discouraging private auto use within the city limits, but that solution has no fucking chance of viability.
    posted by crush-onastick at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, it would be nice to have a congestion charge or something, but good luck getting that going anywhere in America.
    posted by adamdschneider at 2:19 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


    There's a bike lane in my town that runs past a private school. Parents routinely park in the bike lane to pick their kids up from school. It turns out that, in California, it's not illegal to park in a bike lane unless the bike lane is signed "NO PARKING."

    So my town decided to put up signs prohibiting parking in the bike lane. The outcry from the school has been ferocious. It would be too dangerous, you see, to make people park on the other side of the street, but somehow it's perfectly OK to park in a bike lane. Even with a crosswalk and a light. Oh yes, and traffic is Terrible! (Hw people do not connect the dots is beyond me...)

    /end rant
    posted by ambrosia at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


    There's a bike lane in my town that runs past a private school. Parents routinely park in the bike lane to pick their kids up from school. It turns out that, in California, it's not illegal to park in a bike lane unless the bike lane is signed "NO PARKING."

    And thus we guarantee kids don't ride their bikes to school.

    /end extension of ambrosia's rant
    posted by chapps at 3:27 PM on October 31, 2012


    ...skateboarders...

    I'll probably get yelled at for admitting this but my danger mouse trick on a short section of the Boston Esplanade where the boarders are grinding away, I holler "Border Chicken" and ride right down the middle no hands, covering my eyes (aw I peek). Totally freaks them out, some laugh, but how cool is it to *freak out* the too cool boarder dudes!
    posted by sammyo at 9:17 PM on October 31, 2012


    I'm relatively new to consistent cycling and I have to say that I'm surprised to see people claiming fear/discomfort on multi-use paths - even one specific callout in DC, which is where I live.

    I feel much safer on the paths/trails than I do on the street, possibly because DC taxi drivers are the worst abusers of traffic laws I have ever seen, and unless you're actively committing an act of murder, DC Metro doesn't seem too concerned about it.

    Warning pedestrians on the path with a shout or a bell or something is actually the law on some trails - at least, that's what the signs say on the Mt. Vernon and Capital Crescent trails. Both are quite convenient arteries in and out of the city.

    I don't mind sharing the paths with peds, but I admit it can be frustrating when they're walking two and three abreast, with ear buds in, and they have no situational awareness. I slow down, I wait until it's safe to pass, and I do so. Can't be helped.
    posted by Thistledown at 4:24 AM on November 1, 2012


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