Friday, 3 August 2012

Bicycle Infrastructure Studies

Since the idea that bicycle infrastructure increases safety is pretty widely held, I've compiled a list of studies of bicycle infrastructure, including links and what I think are the most interesting quotes. I think many people will be surprised by what the studies suggest:

1972 Deleuw, Cather and Co.: Davis Bicycle Circulation and Safety Study
 http://john-s-allen.com/research/davis_studies/Davis_BicycleCirculationSafetyStudy003_DeLeuw_1972.pdf
"An additional problem is establishment of a visual relationship between motor vehicles and cycles on the sidewalk path on approaches to intersections."

1975 Kaplan: Characteristics of the Regular Adult Bicycle User
http://bikexprt.com/research/kaplan/index.htm
"Surprisingly, bicycle facilities where no motor vehicles are allowed showed the highest accident rate of any variable examined."

1977 Cross: A Study of Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Accidents (USA)
http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/25000/25400/25439/DOT-HS-803-315.pdf
Possible bias in reporting, investigation. Study reaches no clear conclusions about the safety or otherwise of bicycle infrastructure, and many of the conclusions have been called into question by more recent studies. I think the study does remain useful thanks to its detailed crash type analysis.

1987 Grüne Radler review: Police Bicycle Crash Study (Berlin, Germany)
http://john-s-allen.com/research/berlin_1987/index.html
"...with increasing experience, it became ever clearer that the sidepaths are dangerous - more dangerous than riding in the roadway. There is a simple reason for this: the design and location of the sidepaths conflict with the most important principle of traffic safety, the slogan 'Visibility is safety'."

1987 Study, University of Lund (Sweden)
http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/adfc173.htm#lund
"The basis for the comparison is the crash risk of bicyclists traveling straight through on the roadway. Relative to this, the risk is:
1.1 times for through travel with a bike lane stripe.
3.4 times for a left turn on the roadway
3.4 times for through travel on a sidepath
11.0 times for a left turn from a sidepath
11.9 times for through travel on a sidepath on the left side of the roadway"

1992 Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club: Issues of Bicycling Safety
http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/adfc173.htm
"Experts from different backgrounds at the Velo Secur traffic safety conference in Salzburg were united in the opinion that sidepaths in urban areas are entirely unsatisfactory in many ways, and should not be used."

1994 Gårder: Safety implications of bicycle paths at signalized intersections (Scandinavia)
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0001457594900345
"The conclusion that can be drawn so far from combining results shows that the most likely effect of introducing a cycle path is that the risk will increase by about 40% for a passing cyclist."

1994 Wachtel: Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections (Palo Alto, California, USA)
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/Accident-Study.pdf
"Bicyclists on a sidewalk or bicycle path incur greater risk than those on the roadway (on average 1.8 times as great), most likely because of blind conflicts at intersections... intersections, construed broadly, are the major point of conflict between bicycles and motor vehicles. Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at these intersections."

1997 Moritz: A Survey of North American Bicycle Commuters (USA and Canada)
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/Moritz1.htm
Possible measurement bias: study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the accident site data appears to be flawed - many of the accidents taking place while on bicycle paths or lanes may have been considered to be on the roadway, because only the final crash site was considered.

1998 Aultman-Hall: Commuter Cyclist On- and Off-Road Incident Rates (Ottawa-Carlton, Canada)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9542542#
"The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest it is safest to cycle on-road followed by off-road paths and trails, and finally least safe on sidewalks... Results suggest a need to discourage sidewalk cycling, and to further investigate the safety of off-road paths/trails."

1998 Moritz: Adult Bicyclists in the United States (USA)
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/Moritz2.htm
"Multi-use trails have a crash rate about 40% greater than would be expected based on the miles cycled on them while cycling on the sidewalk is extremely dangerous."

1998 OECD: Safety of Vulnerable Road Users (European Union)
http://www.oecd.org/sti/transport/roadtransportresearch/2103492.pdf
"The most common conflicting areas between motorised traffic and vulnerable road users are at junctions... While cycle tracks have been found efficient in decreasing bicycle accidents on links, particularly on arterials, they create safety problems at junctions."

1999 Aultman-Hall: Bicycle Commuter Safety Rates (Toronto, Canada)
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457599000287
"The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest these events are least common on-road followed by off-road paths, and finally most common on sidewalks... These rates suggest a need for detailed analysis of sidewalk and off-road path bicycle safety."

1999 Franklin: Two Decades of the Redway Cycle Paths (Milton Keynes, UK)
http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/2decades.html
"...the most alarming experience of the Redways is their accident record. Far from realising gains in safety, they have proved over many years to be consistently less safe than even the 'worst case' grid roads for adult cyclists of average competence. This is not an accolade for the grid roads, for their safety performance is not good in relation to lower speed roads of more traditional design. But the segregated Redways have proved to be worse. "

1999 Pasanen: The risks of cycling (Helsinki, Finland)
http://www.bikexprt.com/research/pasanen/helsinki.htm
"At crossings, car drivers focus their attention on other cars rather than on cyclists... the risk of a crossing accident is 3-times higher for cyclists coming from a cycle path than when crossing on the carriageway amongst cars."

2000 Franklin: Cycle Path Safety: A Summary of Research (Worldwide)
http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/research.html
"little evidence has been found to suggest that cyclists are safer on paths than on roads."

2002 Reid: The Roots of Driver Behaviour Towards Cyclists (UK)
http://abstracts.aetransport.org/paper/index/id/1529/confid/8
"The tendency for drivers to criticise cyclists and to exonerate errors made by drivers can be explained by reference to Social Identity Theory... Drivers regard themselves as intending to behave cautiously around cyclists and yet feel pressurised by other drivers to behave incautiously... It was also notable that drivers rated cyclists as less considerate, even though the cyclist’s behaviour was identical, when encountering them at road narrowings... Cyclists are an ‘out’ group and their behaviour is considered to be inexplicable other than by reference to their status as cyclists."

2007 Jensen: Bicycle Tracks and Lanes, a Before - After Study (Copenhagen, Denmark)
http://trafitec.dk/sites/default/files/publications/bicycle%20tracks%20and%20lanes.pdf
"The safety effects of bicycle tracks in urban areas are an increase of about 10 percent in both crashes and injuries. The safety effects of bicycle lanes in urban areas are an increase of 5 percent in crashes and 15 percent in injuries. Bicyclists’ safety has worsened on roads where bicycle facilities have been implemented."  

2008 Agerholm: Traffic Safety on Bicycle Paths (Western Denmark)
http://vbn.aau.dk/files/14344951/agerholm_et_al._bicycle_paths.pdf
"So the main results are that bicycle paths impair traffic safety and this is mainly due to more accidents at intersections."

2008 Jensen: Road safety and perceived risk of cycle facilities (Copenhagen, Denmark)
http://www.vehicularcyclist.com/copenhagen1.pdf
"The cycle tracks constructed have resulted in increases in accidents and injuries of 9-10% on the reconstructed roads." 

2009 Daniels: Injury crashes with bicyclists at roundabouts (Flanders, Belgium)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19433206
"Regarding all injury crashes with bicyclists, roundabouts with cycle lanes appear to perform significantly worse compared to... other design types" 

2009 Reynolds: The Impact of Transportation Infrastructure on Bicycling Injuries and Crashes: A Review of the Literature
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19845962
Cherry picking data: review claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the review cherry picks and misrepresents data - only the 2009 Daniels study (out of 26 studies reviewed) concerned bicycle specific infrastructure safety, and the review misrepresented its findings. 

2011 Lusk: Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street (Montreal, Canada)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3064866/?tool=pubmed
The infamous Lusk study. Selection bias: study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but its street comparisons are flawed - the streets compared were in no way similar other than their general geographic location. Busy downtown streets with multiple distractions per block were twinned with bicycle tracks on quieter roads with fewer intersections and fewer distractions.

2011 Pucher: Bicycling renaissance in North America? (Worldwide)
http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/TRA960_01April2011.pdf
Often cited by infrastructure advocates as a 'bicycle facility safety study', this is a review of studies on cycling trends and policies. It covers safety only in a general sense and while it states an opinion on bicycle facilities, it does not cite any studies pertaining to them. The main point the review makes in terms of cycling safety is in reference to the 'safety in numbers' effect and its ability to increase cycling mode share, but this effect is shown to be false if new cyclists are mostly coming from a much safer mode of transportation, such as mass transit.

2011 Reid: Infrastructure and Cyclist Safety (UK)
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CD8QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fedoc.difu.de%2Fedoc.php%3Fid%3D31A0Q7OZ&ei=gznBUO7YLpHh0AHHh4HACg&usg=AFQjCNG-d4zNkyS6NLagJo_1T2c3hw2Sxg&cad=rja
"...evidence suggests that the points at which segregated networks intersect with highways offer heightened risk, potentially of sufficient magnitude to offset the safety benefits of removing cyclists from contact with vehicles in other locations." 

2012 Teschke: Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study
http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762
Selection bias: uses comparison streets instead of a before-after situation; study claims greatly increased safety on cycle tracks, but the cycle tracks chosen for the study were not representative of a typical cycle track, in that all were on roads with limited or nonexistent road intersections. It is not surprising that bicycle facilities that have little or no possibility of interaction with motor vehicles are safer than those that have many such possibilities, and if all bicycle tracks were completely separated from turning and crossing traffic, they would indeed be safer than cycling on the road. The problem is, cycle tracks with few road intersections are very rare indeed. 

2012 Kittleson & Associates Report (Washington DC)
http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/Publication%20Files/On%20Your%20Street/Bicycles%20and%20Pedestrians/Bicycles/Bike%20Lanes/DDOT_BicycleFacilityEvaluation_ExecSummary.pdf
Report found:
Bike boxes, bicycle signals and sharrows were installed at the 6 leg intersection of New Hampshire Ave/16th St/U St NW.: after the installation, crashes increased from 4 in 4 years to 5 crashes in 13 months. Per month, that is the equivalent of more than 4 times the number of crashes. The report notes no increase in bicycle volumes.
Pennsylvania center cycletrack: after the installation, crashes increased from 9 in 4 years to 16 crashes in 14 months - 6 times more crashes per month. Taking into account the fact that bicycle volume tripled, crashes still increased by a factor of 2.
15th St NW left side cycletrack: after installation, crashes increased from 20 in 4 years to 13 crashes in 14 months - over twice as many crashes per month. Taking into account the fact that cyclist volumes doubled, this represents an increase in crashes of 10%.
Strangely, despite these significant increases in crashes, the report states that the bicycle facilities "improved conditions for cycling". If this is an improvement, perhaps installing anti-personnel mines every few hundred yards or so might make a bigger 'improvement'.

2012 City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Progress Report: Request to Experiment "9-105(E) - Colored Bike Lanes and Bike Boxes"
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-_Kv2GsQnEfNS1pdXRxQkZmcVE/edit?pli=1
"...the crash data trend suggests that right-hook crashes are increasing at some of the treatment locations... We concluded that a high proportion (88%) of the crashes occurred during the ‘stale’ green condition (after the start-up but before the signal phase changes to yellow/red)."
Cycling experts have, for years, been warning about this fundamental flaw in bike box design. The 1997 edition of 'Cyclecraft' by John Franklin advises cyclists that they should approach bike boxes only if the traffic signal is red. If the signal is green, cyclists are advised that the best way to minimize danger may be to stay within the main traffic stream.

That's 28 documents.
21 of which suggest bike facilities are more dangerous than the road.
4 of which suggest bike facilities are safer than the road.
3 of which (1977 Cross, 2002 Reid and 2011 Pucher) do not really address infrastructure safety.

84% of the studies covering bicycle facilities suggest that they are more dangerous than the road. 

John Allen has an extensive set of reports and studies, available here:
http://john-s-allen.com/index.htm
http://bikexprt.com/research/
http://truewheelers.org

John Franklin also has an extensive list, without direct quotes but with his commentary, available here:
http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/research.html

Bicycling Life also has a set of interesting documents, available here:
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/

55 comments:

  1. Mr. Cooper,

    Can I re-post this, verbatim and attributed?

    P.M.

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  2. Thanks, Ian. Nice job compiling this stuff.

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  3. I've just added the 1992 Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club report, which I somehow missed.

    I love the subtitle: "Russian Roulette on Sidepaths" - lovely!

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  4. Playing devil's advocate for a moment: Are there any studies that come down in favor of separated facilities?

    I ask this because I am cordial with a local traffic engineer, and he is gung-ho on doing road diets with grade-separated bike lanes (using those horrid "soft" curbs to transition between the cycling lane and the "normal" traffic lane). I really want to nip that in the bud for an assortment of reasons known well by most who read your stuff.

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    1. The studies and documents I've listed are not just a bunch of cherry-picked studies with anti-facility sound bytes. These are a fair representation of all the studies I know of that are (or were when I found them) available to be read in full on the web. I've included all the major and influential documents I know of - including the ones that are neutral or fall on the pro-facility side (e.g. the Cross, Reynolds and Lusk studies). If anyone knows of any pro-facility studies that are available in full online, I'd love to tear them apart, as I did with the Lusk study.

      Note that the quotes I've used to show my point are chosen to illustrate just one very specific aspect of the documents - the aspect of bike facility safety, so these quotes may not reflect the entirety of the study conclusions.

      Some studies are missing from the list because they are not freely available on the web. Some are missing because they do not cover safety aspects of bike facilities, or were so unclear in terms of conclusions that including them would have just wasted space.

      I'm told by bicycle facility advocates that there are studies that show conclusively that bike facilities improve safety, however, I have yet to see any that could be studied online (other than the ones I've included here), and I do not have the funds to be buying access to privately held documents that are pay-per-view. Personally, I doubt these supposed 'pro-facility' studies have been seen by the bike facility advocates either, and they may not be as 'pro- facility' as the fanatics think they are - such is the nature of bike facility fanaticism.

      Note also that some of the above studies, although they recognize serious safety problems, end up supporting bike facilities for the sake of increasing road share (I believe the Jensen study was one of these). It seems to be the case that the vast majority of studies recognize that bicycle facilities have significant problems when it comes to visibility and intersection safety. As the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club report says, experts are united in the opinion that sidepaths are unsatisfactory. However, some see a small reduction in safety as a small sacrifice to make to increase ridership. I cannot see it that way.

      I would advise you to tread carefully with traffic engineers. They tend to be rabidly pro- bike facility - to the point of fanaticism, and in my experience they do not respond well to criticism of such facilities.

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    2. When I say 'tear them apart', I should clarify that I meant that jokingly, based on the fact that I've yet to see a pro- bike facility study that stands up to even a cursory examination. If there are any studies that are well done and which support bicycle facilities, I would certainly include them.

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    3. Have you read any of John Pucher's research?

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    4. I have read some of it. But, much like Anne Lusk, he seems more concerned about enhancing health through increased ridership as his primary goal. His research seems to avoid issues of safety, other than to simply assert that European cycling safety is better than American cycling safety, so we should do what Europeans do (despite the fact that all the studies show that European cycling safety is reduced when cycle facilities are implemented).

      In other words, all the experts say that bike facilities kill and injure more people than does the road, yet their governments install such facilities anyway because people just don't believe (even when the reality is staring them in the face) that cycle facilities kill. And because cycling is relatively safe, they get away with implementing a cycling infrastructure policy that kills more people than the old system of cycling on the road.

      In the end, Europeans will adopt integrated cycling, because it's safest. Then, I suppose we'll finally figure out what they already know, and we'll have a lot of useless infrastructure to dismantle, because we chose to pursue a popular but wrongheaded approach to putting bums on saddles.

      I just don't believe it's ethical to support a system that kills more people than another system, simply because the other system is unpopular. I never will be able to support such a thing, and I do not understand how anyone else can. I'm all for getting everyone to cycle, but not if it means killing more people to do it.

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    5. I do agree with Pucher's research regarding speed reductions. I think this will do a lot more for safety than implementing Dutch style bicycle facilities.

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    6. The thing that bothers me most about Pucher's gung-ho attitude towards European cycling facilities is that he doesn't face up to the criticisms of them. He just outright ignores all the negatives. One example is the mandatory nature of many cycle paths in Europe - from what I've seen, he doesn't address this at all, and it's a big issue, especially when such facilities are so dangerous.

      If Dutch cycle facilities were all optional, I might not have such a big problem with them - but they're not. In my view, this ends up being the legalized state execution of innocent cyclists - a kind of ritual sacrifice on the altar of bicycle mode share. To say such a thing sickens me is to understate how I feel about it. Let's be clear - those who are implementing such facilities KNOW full well that they kill, and they ignore the fact because they believe bike facilities are a quick and dirty way to get to 'Cycling Utopia'. For Pucher to advocate bringing such a system to the US, where I'm trying to safely raise a daughter, is frightening.

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    7. The Dutch system is legalized state execution of cyclists? That's putting a little high, isn't it? Didn't David Hembrow address those concerns with you?

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    8. No, I don't think he did. People die on Dutch facilities. Fewer would die if they were allowed to cycle integrated with traffic on the street, which is a fact attested to by 17 out of the 19 documents in my list that expressed an opinion on the safety or otherwise of such infrastructure.

      Since the government officials and transportation engineers who implement cycle facilities have read the studies, they know that the weight of scientific opinion is that such facilities are, as the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club put it, "entirely unsatisfactory in many ways, and should not be used". So when they build such facilities, they know full well that they are building something that will kill. They are therefore instituting a policy of state run executions. The executions are random, but they are still state mandated, because the state doesn't permit cyclists to legally avoid the suicide lanes.

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    9. But that is just not true. Dutch bike lanes kill people? That's just silly. When you say 'bike lane' you have to make clear what you mean. I agree with you that badly designed, painted bike lanes on the edge of fast moving multi-lane roads are a waste of time. As are bike lanes that lead cyclists directly into conflict with motorists. Nobody is campaigning for that sort of rubbish though.

      The Dutch network is so much more than just 'bike lanes'. Cycling networks are unravelled from road networks so that conflicts between motorists and cyclists are minimised. When there might be conflict, the design of the intersection eliminates it; for example, with light sequences that allow all cyclists to move together while all motorised traffic is stopped.

      The network is designed in such a way that people can conduct their entire journey away from motorised traffic. It is for that reason that practically all children can ride to school. That is something that neither the US nor the UK (nor my home country of Australia) can boast. Nearly all of their children are taken to school by car - and for good reason.

      Sharing the road with motorists is fraught with danger. Partly because many motorists do not understand some cycling techniques such as taking the lane. More than that, people make mistakes. In those circumstances, it is always the cyclist who comes off worse. To borrow a phrase I read recently on a blog, designing out risk is so much better than expecting humans not to make errors.

      You are permitted to ride on most roads if you want but why would you when using the cycling network is both faster and safer?

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    10. My whole point in writing this blog post was to combat the idea that many people have that "bike facilities are obviously safe". They are not. About 90% of the above studies show that they are not. You are, in effect saying "But they are - it's silly to say they're not". Sorry, but the vast majority of experts who have studied this stuff disagree with you. They have reasons for disagreeing with you that go beyond emotional attachments.

      The whole point is that there are people who will not actually use their intellect to assess the actual hazards inherent in bike facilities. Nor will they listen to experts who prove that such facilities are hazardous. Instead they just respond with an emotional rant: "Bike lanes are obviously safer and you are crazy if you think otherwise". That is not useful. In fact, it's dangerous to themselves and to everyone who listens to them.

      You appear to be one of these people. All you need to do is assess the studies I've cited. The information is in there that can help you to stop being an unthinking and uncritical fan of dangerous infrastructure, and to start assessing the risk more responsibly.

      Yes, transportation is fraught with danger. That is the very reason why we need to assess the comparative risks. You are not assessing the risks correctly, and you are advocating the use of more hazardous infrastructure because you 'feel' it's safer. But it isn't.

      Stop using your emotions and start using your reasoning!

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    11. I assure you I am not an unthinking and uncritical fan of dangerous infrastructure. I am however a huge fan of high quality Dutch infrastructure. At 50% plus modal share in Groningen, they must be doing something right.

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    12. You say you are not an unthinking and uncritical fan of dangerous infrastructure, yet you take with a pinch of salt the list of studies that overwhelmingly show that Dutch style infrastructure is unsafe. And if you're not uncritical, where is the criticism?

      50% plus modal share means nothing more than that 50% plus of people in Groningen choose to cycle. It does not mean they're doing something right. Lots of people do stuff that is unsafe all the time - look at the number of people who drive their kids less than two miles to school thinking it's safer than cycling. People are not good at assessing risk correctly.

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    13. I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

      All the very best.

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    14. No. You don't get off that easy. This is not just a difference of opinion. It's not just that we disagree. It's a difference in judgement and critical capabilities - an unwillingness to accept fact. The misrepresentations of the bike facility advocates are costing cyclists' lives. This is too important a subject to leave people content to harbor their prejudices as if they are not going to harm anyone. Just last week, a man died in Montreal while cycling on a bike lane that the infamous pro- bike facility Lusk study claimed was 'safer' than the road. Yet here we see a man killed on one of these supposedly 'safer' cycle tracks, and since the study, no one has yet died on any of the roads that the Lusk study compared the bike tracks with.

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    15. It really pisses me off when bike facility advocates criticize integrated cycling without bringing a single fact or argument to the discussion, other than "The Dutch use cycle facilities, so they must be better", and are completely blind to the deadly faults in the system that they choose to so blithely support.

      The Dutch are not infallible. Far from it.

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    16. It is partly a difference of opinion. It is also a misunderstanding about precisely what people are advocating for and against.

      There are plenty of advocates supportive of segregated infrastructure who are at the same time highly critical of poor quality infrastructure. A case in point is the ludicrous so-called "cycling superhighways" in London. I agree with you. They are dangerous. For one thing, they are routinely driven over by motorists and at many points, lead cyclists directly into positions of conflict.

      Properly designed infrastructure that unravels cycling routes from motorised routes is a very different thing altogether. It is that that the Dutch have got right. The hopeless attempts you see in places like the UK are at best a total waste of time but worse than that, they are often dangerous as you say.

      The example you give of the fatality in Montreal I honestly cannot comment on. Whether it was the bike lane itself that was the cause of the poor man's death or the motorist who hit him is probably a matter for debate. The question to ask is how it happened. Simply saying it was the bike lane isn't proper analysis. How did the man and the car come into conflict? How could that be stopped in the future?

      As an example of unravelling cycle routes, have a look at the latest post on Bicycle Dutch (http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/separate-where-needed-mix-where-possible/). The video depicts a 4km route across town. You'll see that a lot of the route is on roads with no bike paths. On the busier roads you see them. Nevertheless, the route is separated from busy traffic the whole way. Conflict with fast-moving cars is minimised if not completely eliminated. Nowhere does the cyclist have to contend with large trucks looming past him.

      That is the sort of infrastructure that groups such as the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain are campaigning for. It is only that type of change that will have any effect on the woeful modal shares in the UK, the US and Australia. Trying to convince people that cycling is safe because of statistics is a waste of time. Some people are prepared to cycle in traffic but the vast bulk of the population is not. Adopting techniques to survive in a hostile motorised environment is a useful survival strategy for those who are prepared to get on a bike but as I say, for the rest of the population, they're just not listening.

      You are absolutely right that theh Dutch are not infallible. Far from it. No country is and no person is. That is why their concept of sustainable safety is so good. It recognises that human beings are infallible and ensures that the road network is designed to minimise the consequences of mistakes that come from that infallibility.

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    17. Regarding the fatality in Montreal, the bike lane had a lot to do with it. If the cyclist had been in the roadway, he would have been entirely on the other side of the road, cycling with traffic rather than against it. Cycling against traffic has a very high risk factor, as many studies show.

      Regarding conflict with fast-moving cars, I contend there is none (other than the conflict in the cyclist's mind). Cars have brakes and steering wheels. I've even heard they can overtake cyclists. If cyclists ride well into the lane, motorists tend to give them much more room. Al ot of the fear of traffic I read about seems to come from cyclists who ride in the gutter. When you ride in the gutter, motorists are going to try to squeeze past in the same lane.

      Leaving and entering the roadway as you describe is inherently dangerous. It sets up a conflict point at every re-entry point. My point is that not only is specialized bicycle infrastructure unnecessary, but it also adds risk.

      As for this kind of infrastructure being the only type of change that will have any effect on the woeful modal shares in the UK, the US and Australia, I agree. It will kill more cyclists, eventually reducing the modal share.

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  5. The copy of the Kaplan study on the Bicyclinglife site consists only of page scans. The one on my site includes those but also OCR text which is searchable and can be cut and pasted. http://bikexprt.com/research/kaplan/index.htm

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  6. If you're going to criticize the Lusk study, you might back up your statement with links to the critiques. Those by Wayne Pein and M. Kary are abstracted and linked in Injury Prevention, which published the Lusk study.

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    1. Hi John,

      I had no idea that there were other critiques of the Lusk study. I had sent a few people on Chainguard my earlier (and much smaller) critique, but I heard nothing more.

      I'll check them out and link to them if I can find them.

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  7. I have more research documents at http://bikexprt.com/research/ and some at http://truewheelers.org. Note also my critique of the Cambridge bike lane study on that site. This was the study which eliminated the door zone by means of a rather interesting mathematical shell game.

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    1. Thanks. I'll definitely look into that. I must admit, I don't keep up with enough of the good stuff that's online. I tend to just get wrapped up in my own obsessions.

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  8. Another problem with the northern European approach to cycling advocacy (and now its influence in North America) is the belief that segregated bicycling infrastructure is the cause of the high transportation mode share of cyclists in northern Europe. But there are many other factors at play here, including history, culture, legal system and education. An eye-opener is what Copenhagen looked like in 1937 before any special cycling infrastructure was built:

    http://youtu.be/p3vxevLuElM
    (see 1:17 and 6:12).

    Cyclists were given a lot more space then, and they used it!

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  9. I wonder if you've tried to "tear apart" the studies showing that special cycling facilities are more dangerous than integrated cycing? Is is really the case that the studies finding in favor of special cycling facilities are all poorly designed, executed and/or reasoned while the studies finding safety problems with special facilities are all well designed, executed and reasoned?

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    1. All studies have flaws. But I only try to tear apart studies that have flaws that are glaring and very obvious to me, such as the Lusk study and the Moritz survey.

      I should like to see critical assessments of all the above studies. The problem is, bicycle facility fans tend to just dismiss studies that find fault with facilities out of hand, so they don't usually attack the studies in depth.

      If you know of any in-depth criticisms of the studies I've listed, please let me know where to find them.

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  10. Issues of convenience, not only safety, deserve to be raised. Separating the street into different channels for different types of vehicles inherently reduces capacity and flexibility. A point too rarely made about Dutch facilities is how bicyclists pile up behind the first ones waiting at intersections, and are constrained to the speed of the slowest. Motorists, too, must wait longer. I favor the bicycle boulevard approach to creation of through bicycle routes in urban areas, avoiding these issues. Berkeley, California, USA provides a prime example.

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    1. I agree. I favor bicycle boulevards. Among other advantages, I think they tend to teach fearful cyclists good lane positioning, and slowly that may (I hope) help them to use that knowledge on general traffic roads.

      Also, I favor sharrows. Some integrated cyclists don't like sharrows, but I think they probably do more good than harm - as long as they're placed a reasonable distance from the curb. Too many are placed with the center of the marking only 2 or 3ft from the curb - as is the case with most of the sharrows on Forest Glen Road east of Georgia Avenue here in Silver Spring (the sharrow markings are not yet shown on Google Maps street view).

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  11. Convenience, not safety, deserves attention. Dividing up the roadway into separate channels for different types orf vehicles is inherently inefficient. Sidepaths congest and constrain all cycists to the speed of the slowest. I favor the bicycle boulevard solution to create through bicycle routes in urban areas. It works quite well in Berkeley, California, USA.

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  12. I also see convenience as a key factor, with speed a major component of convenience. The facilities generally ARE safe at the intended speeds of 6-8mph. I was willing to bicycle 30 min to avoid 20-25min driving + parking costs; I would not bicycle 60-90min to avoid this drive.

    With the facilities in DE, a large problem is that the designer in DE are generally not bicyclists. They are motorists tasked to make these facilities attractive to beginners, so they typically reject comments from people that already ride on the roads now. They can't imagine riding 10 miles for transportation, and don't believe motorists are required to yield to bicyclists. (They've told me this, as have motorists that want to go right or straight on red).

    Their facilities are safe at 5 mph with bicyclists yielding at every intersection. They told me the bike lanes has an implicit stop sign at every intersection as (they believe) the bicyclists in bike lanes are required to yield to overtaking motorists turning right and oncoming motorists turning left.

    Needless to say, with this mindset, they think the problem is not poorly designed facilities but reckless bicyclists that won't stay in the bike lanes and insist on traveling 10-20mph in 10-20mph traffic. Again, if I'm riding 10mph in Wilmington rush hour or 12-15mph in Philadelphia, am I slowing the cars behind me, or is the problem the cars in front of me that won't get out of my way? Clearly my view is different from the planners (and a few motorists behind me.)

    Shockingly enough, when I have spoken to beginners that have tried these bike lanes, they wanted to rider faster than walking speed.

    Angelo Dolce

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    1. All very good points. I think your experience with facilities designers in DE probably reflects the whole of the US. It certainly mirrors my experience with transportation engineers here in Maryland.

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  13. 1987 University of Lund study added.

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  14. Added 2011 Pucher and a summary of the research papers in terms of their determination of infrastructure safety.

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  15. So how do you explain the fact that accident and death rates are far lower in the Netherlands than in the US or the UK?

    The country with the most - and best - dedicated cycling infrastructure has the most cyclists and the fewest accidents per mile, per journey or per person, however you choose to slice it.

    You have been to the Netherlands, right?

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    1. Yes, I have cycled extensively in the Netherlands. I have crossed the country from east to west and from north to south. I even cycled over the Zeeland Bridge on the road, before they added the bike lane.

      The Netherlands has some of the worst cycling infrastructure, in that many perfectly bikeable roads are off limits to cyclists. When cyclists aren't allowed on a country's roads, that country can never be said to have good cycling infrastructure. Here in the US, cyclists have a right to the roads - to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.

      Cyclist death rates for the Netherlands are hard to come by. In fact, I've never even seen a published study to be able to examine it. IF cycling accident death rates are lower in the Netherlands, I expect it has a lot to do with low cycling speeds, low traffic speeds, laws which actively prosecute drivers that hit cyclists, consequent driver ultra-awareness of cyclists and the fact that the government treats cyclists like ignorant children. One thing is certain - segregating cyclists from the road has nothing to do with it.

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    2. As of today, I'm not publishing any more comments on this (or any other) issue if they contain ad hominem attacks or straw men. If people can't play nice, they don't get to play.

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  16. "The Netherlands has some of the worst cycling infrastructure, in that many perfectly bikeable roads" ... which is an odd statement. My daughter will be 5 when she goes to school. She's surrounded by 'perfectly bikeable roads', but I won't let her cycle on them. If we had segregated infrastructure, then I would let her cycle on it, and my wife would also choose to cycle.

    I'd suggest to you that if you compared Amsterdam v. London, then cycle and traffic speeds would be little if no different. The thing that is certain is that study after study shows that people don't cycle because they're intimidated by the environment in which they're asked to do it: that's why the Dutch segregate so much, and that's why they have modal share the US and UK can only dream of.

    Besides, if you can't get hold of Dutch stats, why not get some from New York, north America's home of the at least partially segregated facility. I don't see their significant rise in modal share being matched with a proportionate rise in deaths and injuries. Why do you think that is?

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    1. Regarding your daughter, 5 year-olds cannot cycle at road speeds. In my experience, they move at walking pace so they are fine on the sidewalk. My daughter is 9 years old and she cycles to school with me on the road, because the studies show the road is the safest place for cyclists who can move at normal cycling speeds. Almost all the data in the list on this page support that.

      I very much doubt that you're right about Amsterdam vs. London. I've cycled in both cities. They are very different. I'm getting a bit tired of seeing so-called 'bicycle advocates' (who are actually segregation advocates) harping on about the Netherlands. The Netherlands is ONLY a cycling utopia for those who are scared of the road, but fear is not a healthy rationale for transportation. For the rest of us, the Netherlands is a cycling dystopia, where road access is often denied to cyclists and where we're forced onto narrow and slow lanes that are more attuned to the cycling needs of a 5 year-old than those of an adult.

      I agree that many people are intimidated by the traffic environment. In fact, I think that's what gets most cyclists injured or killed, because they try to ride in ways that increase their risk - for example, riding on the sidewalk, riding in the gutter, riding against traffic, etc. If they would just take their proper place in the middle of the general traffic lane, they would find the road far less scary. But that takes a little courage and willingness to try new things - characteristics that seem rare today.

      As for Dutch modal share, I don't care. I don't care because the Dutch system is one in which cyclists are second class citizens. Dutch cyclists have given up their right to the road in exchange for safety. So-called bicycle advocates here seem to think that the Dutch system is better simply because the Dutch cycle more. It isn't. For a system to be better, it must include cyclists as equals to other road users.

      I'd love to get some statistics from New York, but so far I haven't found a single scientific journal that's published a peer-reviewed study on NY cycling.

      And let's not forget that the above list of bicycle infrastructure studies is not about the Netherlands vs. the US. It's about cyclist safety in general, and so far, the studies show that cycling in the road is safer than any other alternative. That applies everywhere. If the Netherlands has created 'the world's safest cycling environment' with segregated infrastructure, cycling in the Netherlands would be even safer if the infrastructure was removed and a change was made towards road cycling with full and equal access for cyclists. After all, it's not as if no cyclist ever died in the Netherlands.

      the Netherlands has a system of immature, fearful and incompetent cycling. That is not utopia. Not even close.

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    2. I said "Dutch cyclists have given up their right to the road in exchange for safety."

      That's not correct. They have given up their right to the road in exchange for a PERCEPTION of safety, and it's a false perception. If all the Dutch infrastructure disappeared tomorrow, and if the Dutch instead cycled confidently on the road, the Netherlands would be MORE safe than it is now.

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  17. In the UK it isn't legal to cycle on the pavement unless it is specifically designated. That's not how most of the pavements around me are. So, by law, a five year old should share either a narrow road or a two lane carriageway, on her way to school. Tell me how Dutch-style segregation doesn't fix that.

    But you finished that the Netherlands is not cycling utopia, and perhaps it isn't. But what I'd ask you is this: what does cycling utopia look like to you? The same stretch of road shared by 40 ton rigs, buses that stop frequently, cyclists stopping with everyone else for the school bus, everyone from 5 to 85 learning to 'own the lane' so that they're not worried about being intimidated off the road?

    And now we're going somewhere 4 miles away, by car, because my wife isn't persuaded that it's Ok to cycle by me telling her it'll be fine ...

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    1. While it is illegal in the UK for any person to ride a bike on the pavement, the police have never cited a 5 year-old child for riding a bike on a footpath.

      Cycling utopia to me does indeed look like the same stretch of road shared by 40 ton rigs, buses that stop frequently, cyclists stopping with everyone else for the school bus, everyone from 5 to 85 learning to 'own the lane' so that they're not worried about being intimidated off the road. BUT cycling utopia doesn't involve intimidation because enough cyclists use the road properly so that motorists recognize that the road is where they belong. Acting scared of motorists is hardly likely to stop the bullying, now is it?

      The fact that your wife has bought into the lie that cycling is dangerous is not an argument for segregated infrastructure. And I think it's ironic that your wife is making you all travel in a car when cars have a worse safety record than bicycles, especially when it comes to short distance commutes, which studies show to be twice as safe on a bike as they are in a car. So your wife is actually urging you to behave more dangerously.

      As usual, fear of cycling causes cyclists to engage in higher-risk behaviour.

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    2. I've been asked to give a citation backing up my assertion that cycling is safer than driving. Here are two:

      Consumer Products Safety Commission 1994 & Traffic Safety Facts 1997
      Fatality Rate Per Population
      Motor Vehicle Travel: 156.8 fatalities per million
      Bicycle Travel: 13.3 fatalities per million

      Failure Associates (now Exponent) research:
      Fatalities per Million Exposure Hours
      Motoring: 0.47
      Bicycling: 0.26

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  18. In the end, I think cycling advocacy is split into two groups:

    1. Those who defend segregated infrastructure. These are almost entirely novice and casual cyclists who are afraid of cycling on the road. They do very little poor quality research before reaching a point at which they decide that segregated facilities are safer. Then they prefer not to investigate further. Unfortunately, there are so many of these cyclists that their opinions appear to carry a lot of weight.

    2. Those who defend integrated cycling. These are often professionals in the field of cycling safety and transportation, or cyclists with decades of road cycling experience. In most cases they have spent a lot of time researching these issues and finding effective ways in which cyclists can commute safely. This group is always few in number, because it takes time and effort to gather the necessary information and experience, especially in the face of what can only be described as the derision and bullying of many of those in group 1.

    I think the fact that most cyclists are more willing to uncritically trust the amateurs says a great deal about people's preference for prejudice rather than reason. It also says a lot about the effectiveness of bullying tactics and the desire of people to avoid being considered a member of an 'outgroup'.

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  19. Added 2012 Kittleson & Associates Report (Washington DC).

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  20. Once again, we get the fallacy that collision == serious injury or death. If you look closely at many of these papers, they say the opposite of what you claim. For example, the bike box paper from OR showed that bike boxes worked as intended. I'll debunk each and every false conclusion on my own blog.

    http://cyclingunbound.wordpress.com/

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  21. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.

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  22. Do you consider striped bicycle lanes on the sides of roads to be "segregated" facilities? Or are they acceptable to an "integrated" approach?

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  23. Since they're only for bikes and not for any other vehicle, they are, by definition, segregated.

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  24. I've cycled through 33 US states, mostly on integrated roadways and never (knock on wood) been hit by a car. I believe multiuse paths can be good for allowing bicycles to cut through parks or greenways where cars aren't allowed. Many lack signage for the touring cyclist to determine where the path will take him. Those that cross driveways and roads can be more dangerous than riding on a roadway.



    That said, there are many improvements that could be made to the roadways of the USA to accommodate bikes. Knurled rumblestrips on shoulders make miles of highway difficult to ride. Urban intersections become deathtraps because of turning motor vehicles that don't see the bike they're cutting off. There are marked bike lanes that put cyclists in the door zone of parallel parked cars or end suddenly without consideration of the continuing cyclist. We've got a lot of work to do to make this country bicycle friendly.

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