Bike News Roundup: You know what city I hear sucks? Amsterdam.

It’s way past time for the Bike News Roundup. Sorry it’s been so long. As a result, this week’s edition is huge. Don’t plan on getting much work done today and tomorrow. Just tell your boss that there’s too much bike news in the world, and that you can’t work until you read it all. I’m sure s/he will understand…

First up, you know what city totally sucks? Amsterdam. There are just too many bikes, or so I read recently. Wait, what’s that you say, StreetFilms? It’s actually not a disaster to have too many bikes?

Are there really too many bikes in Amsterdam? from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Pacific Northwest News

Halftime show! Vancouver’s helmet law is getting some scrutiny in mainstream media ahead of bike share:

National & Global News

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15 Responses to Bike News Roundup: You know what city I hear sucks? Amsterdam.

  1. Gary says:

    Amazing, Kemper Freeman’s $300K bicycle lounge. If you are approaching his mall from the West, you are ok, but come from the East and you are left with roads with little to no shoulder (NE 12th, NE 8th), and what a “cluster F” crossing 405.

  2. Law Abider says:

    So while I love the newish 58th St Greenway in Ballard (I live on a nearby, parallel street) one of my biggest complaints is the stop signs they installed on minor cross street intersections.

    Example: 58th and 17th. Previously, it was a traffic circle, and everyone (bikes and cars) slowed and negotiated it with caution and everyone was happy. Now 17th has a stop sign, whereas 58th doesn’t. What I’ve been noticing is that cars on 58th have figured this out and no longer slow down to negotiate the intersection . What was a safe intersection is now a potentially dangerous intersection. This is common place for the rest of the minor intersections east and west of here.

    What they need to do is either remove the stop signs or install a 4-way stop. I’m going to write a letter to SDOT mentioning this, but was curious if anyone else has any input.

    • Gordon says:

      Good observation. Definitely put in a word to SDOT and Ballard Greenways http://ballardgreenways.org/contact/. Putting stop signs on the cross streets of a Greenway is standard practice to keep the Greenway safe from cross traffic. Compared to a standard traffic circle where cars slalom around the traffic circle as fast as possible (often in the wrong way, which is extremely dangerous to people on foot and on bike).

      It sounds like you have identified a problem of people driving too fast along the Greenway (58th). That would seem to indicate that SDOT either needs to install more diverters to keep the traffic down on 58th, or more likely needs to place additional speed humps to slow down traffic to safe speeds. Speed humps are preferable to stop signs along a Greenway, because a Greenway is supposed to be an efficient way to get around by bike, and stop signs would nullify this effect. Speed humps have proven to be very effective in Portland. Cheers,

      • Andres Salomon says:

        The obvious possibility here would be raised crosswalks (speed humps that peds can walk across). I would suggest that on all 4 sides of the intersection, but there may be policy requiring raised crosswalks to also have stop signs.

        It would be interesting to consider speed bumps/humps integrated with the traffic circle, too (instead of stop signs). I’m picturing 4 speed bumps each extending from the edge of the traffic circle to each intersection corner, with a flat space for bikes to pass through. Adjust the width/height to reach your desired speed requirement for cars (5mph?), likely looking more like speed bumps than humps. Anyone know if that’s been done somewhere? On the plus side, it would slow down cars in all directions as they’re going around the circle, rather than just before they do. The two downsides I see are that they’d probably be inappropriate for steep hills, and users (both cyclists and motorists) may get into the habit of making a quick left over a single speed bump rather than going the long way around (over 3 speed bumps). Not that drivers don’t already do that, of course..

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I like the explanation that neighborhood greenways are like arterials for people on bike and foot. Arterial streets prioritize cars traveling along them versus cars (and, unfortunately, people) crossing them. So by turning the stop signs to side streets, you make the street a people-powered artery, which speeds up travel times (especially for people on bikes, since people walking SHOULD have the right of way at intersections, anyway).

      However, as Gordon points out, this can become a problem if people driving take advantage of the turned stop signs, too. So speed humps are needed to keep speeds in check, and traffic diverters are needed to prevent an INCREASE in car usage of the greenway. In Portland, some engineers now try to call them “traffic maintainers” to get across the point that you’re not creating an inconvenience, you’re preventing a new influx in traffic.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        That’s a long way of saying, Law Abider, that what you’re witnessing is, indeed, a problem that needs to be addressed in some way.

      • Law Abider says:

        Well, from my observation, it’s been a two pronged result with traffic. On one hand, there is definitely a reduction in traffic on 58th, but an increase in traffic on 59th and 57th (maybe they need speed bumps or other traffic control on these streets to deter using them as a bypass?). On the other hand the few cars left on 58th are taking advantage of the longer, unobstructed rights-of-way and the fact that the speed bumps don’t make you slow down all that much.

        What I would love to see are some “do not enter” sections on 58th. For example, from 15th or 20th, you could turn onto 58th, but at 17th, there would be “do not enter except bikes” signs, so you can’t continue along 58th. That would make it safer crossing 58th.

        It would probably be abused by local residents, but they aren’t the ones using 58th as a through street. 58th has long been used as an unofficial arterial, having a light at 15th, and it will be hard to break that habit.

        Another question I’ve been wondering is: in the Bicycle Master Plan, 17th is listed as a planned greenway. Does anyone know how they propose to handle an intersection of two greenways (e.g. 17th and 58th)?

      • biliruben says:

        I don’t know how they propose to handle it, but I would recommend I giant mural on the street.

        As for traffic circles, you might have felt they were safe pre-stop sign, but that’s not what the research says. They are almost twice as dangerous as a regular uncontrolled intersection. We should be removing them.

      • Mike says:

        @biliruben- I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that traffic circles are less safe. The research does not conclusively point in that direction. In fact research on circles, some of which was done on Seattle locations, indicates that safety is improved from even stop or yield controlled intersections.

      • Law Abider says:

        @biliruben I’m going to agree with Mike. Even if there is a study finding that traffic circles generally aren’t safe, that doesn’t mean all traffic circles are safe. And the reason I feel safe is because I’ve been observing and using the traffic circles around Ballard for a long time. Contrast that to uncontrolled intersections south of Market on 17th, where I would get hit on a daily basis if I didn’t have my wits about me.

      • biliruben says:

        Anecdotes and perceptions are hard to fight. I totally agree that we should be doing more studies, particularly here in Seattle, about how well our current and proposed infrastructure designs do in keeping us safe.

        They definitely seem to make things safer, but my anecdote is that I’ve been hit in one. The driver was spending most of his attention on how fast they could negotiate the gap without hitting the curb that he had no time or attention left over to glance over and see if there was cross traffic (me). I’m sure that it was just a coincidence that he was an orthopedic surgeon. ;)

        In any case, we should definitely not assume one study is the be all and end all. But if it’s a choice between anecdote/feelings and one decently designed study, I’ll take the study. I’d rather have 10 studies, and take the average, so if you know of research on traffic circles I’ve missed, please let me know!

      • biliruben says:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23411678

        Traffic circles (small roundabouts) on local streets increased the risk of these otherwise safe intersections (adjusted OR 7.98, 95% CI 1.79 to 35.6).

  3. Matthew says:

    I assume this is an open thread as the bike news roundups usually are.

    I’ve been wondering about those thin white plastic bollards installed by SDOT at various places around the city — for example, at the new “buffered” Cherry St bike lane, at the channelized right turn onto Dexter we’ve been talking about, etc. Those things strike me as being somewhat… ineffective, to put it politely. Can anyone think of an example of one of those bollards that’s been standing for more than, say, six months? I feel like every time I see one, it’s actually just a stump, a reminder of how bad drivers can be (which I suppose is a valuable reminder in its own right). Are they being used successfully somewhere in Seattle?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      It is an open thread! I forgot to say that.

      As for the plastic bollards, the ones they installed recently on Cherry are a newer style that are designed to (hopefully) take impacts and bounce back into place. The ones we’re more used to (like the ones on Dexter you mention) were solid and essentially glued in place. They are crushed and gone quickly on our streets.

      I very much hope the new ones (which are also bolted into the ground) withstand collisions mainly because they are so much more affordable than cement barriers, planters, etc. If they also prove to be easily-destroyed, then we’ll be resigned to more costly options, which could slow implementation of protected bikeways.

      The irony, of course, is that the need for more expensive barrier options is due to people driving destroying them, yet the cost for the more expensive barriers has to come from the “bike budget.” This is one reason why having separate budgets for separate modes is problematic.

      • Gary says:

        I suspect that it’s heavy trucks which take out those bollards, rather than cars. Nothing like a large garbage truck to grind off bumps in the road.

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