Bike lanes are not good enough


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of the first two hundred to sign up at Brilliant.org/citybeautiful. So I
like a good bike lane. They keep me separated from traffic when I’m on my
bike and they generally make me feel safer, but they’re not perfect. Cars and
delivery trucks will block them. Sometimes drivers open their doors into
the bike lane without looking, and they don’t feel safe enough for most people.
If we want more people to bike, we need better bike infrastructure. The good news
is that’s happening here in the United States, but we need more of it and faster.
Let’s talk about why and how. Like I said bike lanes work for me, but they don’t
work for everyone. If you’re not confident, cars moving past so close to
you can be scary. Transportation planners actually have a way of classifying
cyclists according to their comfort level. First off, you have the strong and
fearless cyclists that will ride in mixed traffic, weaving through cars.
That’s not me. That’s maybe 1/10 of 1% of people. Then you have people who are
comfortable in a narrow bike lane or in a shoulder. That’s about 10% of the
people out there, and that includes me. They’re sometimes called enthused and
confident cyclists. Then you have the people who would ride on a street where
the bike lane is buffered from slow-moving traffic. That’s the majority
of adults. Finally, you have people who will only ride on completely separated
bike lanes. These kind of lanes are great for kids and very nervous riders. That
means that only 10 or 15 percent of cyclists feel comfortable riding in bike
lanes. Imagine if we designed roads that only 10 or 50 percent of
drivers felt comfortable in? They would probably look something like this. We
would never build city streets so dangerous, but we’re okay with building
bike infrastructure that is. It doesn’t make sense, and with more people using
scooters and bike share the need for safe bike lanes is even more important.
Now, all right, this is feeling a little bit unsafe so I think we get off my bike
for the rest of this. Okay, so this is much better. So, there’s no reason to
treat bikes and scooters any worse than we treat cars. Bikes are the most
efficient form of transportation out there. You can go miles on a single
burrito. Almost a billion people already have access to one, and they’re
relatively affordable. They also don’t take up a lot of space. This makes them a
good fit, literally, for dense urban places. There’s certainly a better fit
than those two-ton vehicles that typically carry only
one person at a time. So, I could go on and on talking about all the ways bikes
are amazing. They’re great and I wish more people have felt comfortable riding
them. But until we designs streets that feel safer they won’t, which is why we
have to design streets with more than just a common bike lane. Here in the
United States, we’d lag behind the bike innovation
happening in Europe. In particular, Dutch and Danish transportation planners have
popularized innovative bike infrastructure.
They include cycle tracks, which are bike lanes separated from traffic, protected
intersections, which are intersections designed to keep cyclists safe crossing
streets, and advisory bike lanes that give two lanes to bikes and only one
lane for cars and quiet roads. They’ve also installed impressive
grade-separated intersections, multi-story bike parking garages, and
traffic lights time for bikes instead of cars. As a result
lots of people bike there. 43% of Dutch people bike daily. To put that number in
perspective, in Portland, Oregon, a famously crazy bike city here in the US,
only 7% of commute trips are made by bike. People in the Netherlands are on
bikes from the time they’re born. Families often own cargo bikes so the
whole family can bike together. They are also leading the way with new
technologies. Just this month, ebike sales outpaced regular bike sales in the
Netherlands. These bikes make it even easier to get around on two wheels. So
there are probably already people down in the comment section writing “the USA
isn’t Europe, this kind of thing won’t work here, the USA loves its cars too
much.” But I’m here to tell you that US cities are building infrastructure like
this already, right now. I recently co-authored a design guide that features
twenty five case studies highlighting amazing better than a bike lane projects
that have already been built here in the US. it’s called “Rethinking Streets for
Bikes” and you can download the PDF for free over at rethinkingstreets.com. I’ll
leave a link in the description. I want to share with you a few of my favorite
projects. In Oakland, the city replaced a car lane in each direction on Telegraph
Avenue with bike lanes protected by the parking lane. These striped buffers make
sure the cyclists aren’t in danger of getting doored. The result is a really
pleasant experience. You’re a good 13 feet from moving
traffic when you’re in the bike lane. New infrastructure like this gets results, too. This corridor now attracts cyclists. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic has
almost doubled since the redesign. Speeding has also gone down since these protected bike lanes went in, adding another layer
of safety for those using it. On the other side of the country, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they installed a raised bike lane. These are still very rare here
in the US. Just like the name suggests, it’s a bike lane raised up to sidewalk
level instead of at street level. People feel safer being separated from cars by
the curb. On Western Avenue in Cambridge, this kind of thing works. The corridor
saw peak hour bike trips increase 122 percent, and again speeding declined. What
happens on a street is too narrow for protected or raised bike lanes? On
Somerset Street East up in Ottawa, Ontario, they installed advisory bike
lanes. The basic idea here is that there are dedicated bike lanes in each
direction, and only one car lane for cars going in two directions. Now that I know
that this sounds crazy, but when two cars are coming at each other they have to
carefully pass by using the bike lane space, but cars have to yield to bikes.
Bikes have priority. This street design is used in Europe and has been shown to
reduce traffic speeds and make streets feel safer for those on bikes. This
Ottawa project was so successful that they expanded it by two blocks a few
years after the first lanes went in. I’m back close to home for this last example.
Linden Road in West Sacramento is one of my favorite streets in the guide. This
street had two lanes for cars in each direction but there wasn’t enough
traffic to warrant two lanes. The road is a loop and there’s never going to be more
traffic than there is right now. Transportation planners removed a lane
for cars and created a wide buffers for bikes. Now cars are nowhere near the
bikes and it’s a much more comfortable place to ride. “Rethinking Streets for
Bikes” is full of these amazing case studies from the US and Canada. We’ve got case studies in small towns and big cities, East Coast, West Coast, north-south,
anywhere in between. There’s guaranteed to be a project in
this guide that will apply to somewhere in your community. So go check it out! The
PDF is free and available now. But wait! There’s more! if you go to rethinking
streets.com you can download “Rethinking Streets,” a design guide for complete
street retrofits. “Rethinking Streets for Bikes” is for the best of the best in
bike street design, and the original “Rethinking Streets” guide is full of
streets that I’ve made smaller, more incremental change to their streets but
have still seen big improvements in safety and in walking, cycling, and
in transit use. So please go check them both out. After you’re done checking out
those guides why don’t you head over to brilliant.org and check out the great
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great, but they also have this new addictive daily challenge feature that
have been into lately. I’m the kind of weirdo who enjoys solving standardized
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channel, so go check it out! Thanks for watching, CC folks!