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Bike News Roundup: He-Man takes a selfie while driving

It’s time for a somewhat snowy Bike News Roundup!

First up, Seattle’s Be Super Safe campaign released this video of what happens to He-Man when he tries to take a driving selfie:

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Pacific Northwest News

Halftime show! Bus service not good enough? Maybe you should start your own bus company:

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19 responses to “Bike News Roundup: He-Man takes a selfie while driving”

  1. Jane

    15-20 months for killing someone while drunk and texting while driving.. Sickening.

  2. Teri

    My husband was just telling me about those “Affluenza induced deaths” in Texas. I would laugh at how ridiculous this is if it wasn’t so horrifying.

  3. Josh

    Thanks for linking to Jan’s discussion of the discredited “fast and fearless” pigeonhole.

    That’s not a term riders adopted for themselves, it’s a term invented by Portland “researchers” who set out to prove that competent cycling behavior and objective safety weren’t relevant to growing bicycle mode share.

    The idea that riding in the street represents “fearless” behavior is core to the move from “safe” to “comfortable” facility advocacy. Objective safety is no longer the goal of many researchers or advocates — there’s been an explicit switch to studying and promoting “comfort” for novice riders.

    Comfortable facilities can draw increased mode share even though they’re often more hazardous than riding competently in the street. (Think door-zone bike lanes, sidepaths with intersection hazards, bike lanes to the right of bus stops… all known to increase risk, but all intended to get people out of cars.)

    1. Gordon


      1) That blog post does not discredit the types of transportation cyclists research.
      2) Experts from around the world agree that safe infrastructure, not vehicular cycling education, is the way to make riding a bike for transportation appealing for the vast majority of people. See John Pucher’s book entitled City Cycling that spells out how countries with safer infrastructure create better safety outcomes.
      3) Safety and comfort are still the goals. However, designing for the 1-5% unsurprisingly means that cycling for transportation will not be appealing to most people, which was the failure of the 2007 BMP and what is being fixed for the 2013 update.
      4) You are right in that Seattle and many other cities have built facilities that are not as safe as they should be, and sometimes even more dangerous that competently taking the lane (downhill door zone bike lanes like on 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle or 12th Ave on Capitol Hill for instance). However, you are mistaken in the blanket assumption that all facilities that are more comfortable aren’t safer than vehicular cycling. Well designed protected bike lanes, trails, and neighborhood greenway facilities are known to be safe and comfortable in a way that vehicular cycling on streets designed only for cars will never be for kids biking to school, grandparents biking to the store, and everyone in between who doesn’t want to keep up with traffic or endure the angry acceleration as cars speed around them.

      The era of vehicular cycling is over. It’s time for family friendly streets.

      1. Josh

        Jan didn’t discredit the “fearless” falsehood, he merely commented on it in a very readable manner worth sharing. The “fearless” categorization has been debunked for years, but is still a useful political tool for those who wish to marginalize people who prioritize safety over comfort.

        Don’t like it that Lusk’s data show cycletracks are more dangerous than streets at urban intersection densities? Easy, ignore it, and reframe the debate in terms of comfort. Only those “fearless” people care about actual safety.

      2. Gordon

        I enjoyed reading the blog post, and I think there are a lot of ways traditional vehicular cycling enthusiasts can work with the new wave of family friendly biking supporters. Personally I ride most streets in the city using that mindset.

        However, claiming that promoting vehicular cycling is the solution to making streets safer and getting more everyday people riding a bike, is not only factually incorrect it’s counterproductive. Vehicular cycling has been the a miserable failure for the past 30 years and has not produced the safety gains seen in countries that have aggressively separated people biking and driving.

        •3 cycle tracks in NYC, decrease in total cyclist injuries
        • 9th Ave: -57%; 8th Ave: -30%; Prospect Pk West: -62%
        •Sevilla, Spain: Construction of 164km of cycle tracks led to halving in cyclist serious injury rate per 100,000 trips from 2006 to 2010
        •Study of 19 cycle tracks in USA: Avg. injury rate per million bike km much lower on cycle tracks (2.3) than on roads without cycling facilities (range of 4-54 in other published studies). (Lusk et al., 2013, Am J of Public Health)
        •Montreal, 6 cycle tracks: Avg. cyclist injury rate 28% lower than on nearby “reference streets.” (Lusk et al, Injury Prevention, 2011)
        •Vancouver and Toronto: Cycle tracks had only 11% the injury rate of cycling on busy roads without bike facilities (Teschke et al., Am J of Public Health, 2012)

      3. Josh

        Of course, you realize the Lusk study you refer to is the one that shows urban cycletracks are more dangerous than streets, right?

        If you take cycletracks in general, they’re safer, thanks to the extremely low accident rate of cycletracks with low intersection densities — in Lusk et al, that’s bridges, parks, waterfronts, etc.

        By conflating those facilities with cycletracks on urban street grids, Lusk et al can claim a lower overall accident rate for cycletracks, even though their own data show the urban tracks have accident rates an order of magnitude higher than the low-intersection-density facilities.

      4. Gordon

        I’m sorry Josh but you are simply incorrect: “None [of the cycle tracks] showed a significantly greater risk than its reference street.” None.

        Page 3 viewable in full online for free: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2011/02/02/ip.2010.028696.full.pdf?sid=a2ed422a-9dbe-409a-b762-40e0ffbcedc6

        Not to mention you ignored all other references I pointed to, as well as the decades of data comparing US (the no build, vehicular cycling control in our morbid experiment) and European countries that have widely implemented cycle track and greenway systems that I referenced in the linked to presentation.

      5. Josh

        Sorry I wasn’t specific enough.

        The 2011 Lusk study used low-intersection-density paths in its study. Those paths were all lower risk than streets.

        The 2013 Lusk study combined the low-intersection-density paths with urban street grid cycletracks and found the overall risk was still lower, but the cycletracks on urban street grids were more dangerous than streets, and an order of magnitude more hazardous than the low-intersection-density paths.

        This comports with previous data from Europe, e.g. official reporting on accident rates in Copenhagen.

      6. Gordon

        “Our results suggest that, in the United States, bicycling on cycle tracks is safer than bicycling on roads.” Bicycle Guidelines and Crash Rates on Cycle Tracks in the United States Lusk et. al.

        Is there a peer reviewed published article that reanalyzes and refutes the findings of this study in the way you suggest? If so I’d be happy to read it.

        Regardless, your point about intersection danger is well taken – it’s clearly something that needs to be paid close attention to. And I think that is the area where protected bike lane critics can be very helpful and I hope we can find common ground. I hope they come to public meetings, look at designs, and send comments to SDOT about how intersection designs for our protected bike lanes can be better! However, if vehicular cyclists continue to simply be obstructionists and provide pseudo-intellectual cover for the highway and car lobby, there will not be room to work together.

      7. Gary

        From the chart on page 3, the element of cycle track design most important appears that “posts” are the most important thing that prevents more injuries/crashes.

    2. Gary

      More than cycle tracks, relative speed is key to safety. If cars are driving more than 15mph than bicycles, “taking a lane” and vehicular riding just doesn’t work because the speed doesn’t give the car driver time to respond. In addition the additional velocity increases the likelyhood of injury to the bicyclist when a collision does occur. (Momemtum = (M*V^2)/2 )

      I don’t know the streets of Palo Alto but where I’ve been in CA, (San Diego, Anaheim & LA area) the main roads seem to have a 45mph limit which means drivers are often going 50mph. That’s no place for bicycles.

  4. The Kirkland collision was on Juanita; the article says the person that caused it was heading south in the 13800 block, which would be just a little past the peak of the hill, heading down. Juanita is a significant bike route despite the big hill and crazy descent speeds in significant traffic, as it’s one of a handful of lousy routes between the Burke and downtown Kirkland. Kirkland is adding bike lanes for part of the alternate route on 100th but even when current work is finished there will be significant gaps.

    Kirkland’s connection to the Burke isn’t too different from Mad Park’s connection to UW. The only reasonably direct existing roads are arterials, and the potential for safe, comfortable routes on these particular roads is limited by grade and traffic volumes. The best route would be along the water, away from traffic and hills. In Kirkland’s case it’s two different hills: Finn Hill, discussed above, and the Market Street hill, which is insanely sketchy on the downslope (ride the brakes in the bike lane and brave the door zone or let ‘er rip taking the lane risking angry followers and cross traffic you can’t stop for?).

  5. Jeffrey J. Early

    Kirkland is planning on adding some bike facilities along Juanita Drive, although there’s no funding for this yet. Check out the main page for the study, and the most recent policy recommendations..

    I’ve given a lot of feedback on their recommendations and am happy to see many of my ideas work there way into the plan. One of the most recent things I (and others) have pushed for are to have the planters protect the bikers and pedestrians from cars, rather than use the planters to protect pedestrians from bikers (going uphill). Figure 2 in the draft recommendation is the only spot where this is noted as an ‘option’, but hopefully it works its way in.

    I heard that the Kenmore side is getting a makeover as well, but I haven’t looked into it.

    With regards to the crash, the policy recommendation for that corner is to put in a roundabout. I live in that neighborhood off of 138th place, and saw the cars an hour after the accident…the roundabout would have certainly prevented that.

    1. I don’t live there (though I bike over the hill often) and didn’t see anything happen, so I’m just going off the news reports… if this was a collision at an intersection caused by failure to yield before making a turn, or something like that, I can see how a roundabout would make a difference. But it sounds from the reports like the driver at fault simply crossed the center line and hit an oncoming car, something that could happen anywhere along the road.

      As for cycling, roundabouts would encourage slower speeds through a curvy section of the road, but enough to make the roundabout a good cycling facility? As I understand it, roundabouts where traffic moves slowly enough for bikes to merge with traffic tend to work well, but bike lanes through roundabouts don’t work so well. Traffic won’t slow down enough that people climbing will want to merge in. I think it’s notable that none of the cross-sections shown in the corridor studies include even proposals for intersection design.

      In the bigger picture, bike access up and down the hill is important as access is important to any place. But I don’t think anything will make it a really practical route for people biking through. A connection to the Burke that’s less hilly than Juanita and more direct than taking the Sammamish River Trail to some kind of future connection to the Cross-Kirkland Corridor (a non-miserable connection would require extending the CKC a little to the east) is a pretty important need.

      1. Jeffrey J. Early

        You really hit the nail on the head—that’s exactly why a roundabout is so awesome right there. Not only does it help cross traffic merge, but it puts a barrier between opposing traffic on a hairy corner, AND slows down traffic. This second reason would have prevented this collision; that’s why a roundabout is so brilliant in that spot.

        I agree that roundabouts are not particularly pedestrian or bicycle friendly. It should at least help some, however, as the average speed of northbound traffic is 41 mph in that spot. I have to merge into that, going up hill, at ~10 mph in order to make a left turn onto 138th place—and it’s frightening! While the details aren’t engineered yet, I haven’t heard of a better idea.

        I guess I disagree with you on the bigger picture importance of this. You’re thinking about this as a through route for weekend cyclists whereas I am thinking about this as good biking and pedestrian facilities for my neighborhood. I’m a spandex clad middle-aged white dude that loves a good route in a big ride, but this whole exercise with Juanita Drive has nothing to do with that kind of leisure activity. It’s about providing pedestrian and cycling facilities to a neighborhood that has absolutely none, and making our arterial safer. For some of us, Juanita is the only route out of the neighborhood. It’s also the lowest grade route to the top of Finn Hill, so if residents on Finn Hill are ever going to take up biking, this is the way.

      2. I agree with you about the type of importance — Juanita ought to be primarily important for people that live up there. But a route around the hill would make practical trips between Kirkland and the Burke possible — distance alone does not rule out these trips the way that grade does.

        I live near Fremont Ave in upper Fremont, which is sort of similar. Taking Juanita from the Burke to downtown Kirkland makes as much sense as taking Fremont Ave from lower Fremont toward Green Lake… or, considering the final altitudes involved, maybe more like going from lower Fremont to Ballard by way of Phinney Ridge. A flatter route around would open up huge possibilities for practical use of the cycling network.

      3. Josh

        Bike lanes through roundabouts are prohibited by Federal standards, it’s extremely dangerous to route bicycles to the right of right-turning traffic.

        The safest route for cyclists through a modern roundabout is in the center of the travel lane. Roundabout design standards require slow enough traffic that people on bikes don’t need to worry about getting passed or delaying traffic for the length of an intersection.

        Optionally, for cyclists who are uncomfortable riding in traffic, FHWA suggests properly-constructed ramps well before the roundabout can route bikes onto wide sidewalks. If crosswalks are set far enough back from the roundabout exits, riding at a walking pace can eliminate much of the visibility risks of sidepaths crossing intersections.

  6. leo

    Gordon, you are so right about what a miserable failure Vehicular Cycling is.
    Look at what those curmudgeons teach, looking behind, signalling , and yielding when changing lanes. Stopping at stop signs. Riding in the same direction as traffic.
    And the worst of all, if they think it’s too narrow a road to ride safely next to people in cars, they move over and use the entire lane- that’s just wrong of course.
    And look how they avoid right hooks, they move into the traffic lane to get in the sightlines of other road users- that’s just wrong! Those people act like they are vehicle operators, not like bicycle riders.
    And look how they try to quote safety studies- you don’t need those because everybody knows where it’s safe. I was talking to a guy who has never rode a bike before and he told me where it’s safe to ride. We know this stuff, what’s a matter with those vc types?

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