Thursday, June 01, 2017

Bike news roundup #5


Since the story (Are bikes lanes bad for business?) in the San Diego Union-Tribune didn't allow comments, I contacted the reporter thusly: "You cite San Francisco but not any evidence that protected bike lanes here have been good for business, probably because no such lanes have been created yet."

He replied by sending me the map above (click on the caption for a larger view). He's right and I was wrong about protected lanes in SF. But as seen on the MTA's map, they are mostly on the outskirts of town or in Golden Gate Park, like the lane on John F. Kennedy Drive and the one on the Panhandle, where there are no businesses to impact one way or another. I write about bike issues but tend to ignore bike projects like these that have no affect on neighborhood parking or traffic.

My response:

Okay, but those in blue are not in business districts, which makes them irrelevant to the argument about whether bike lanes are good/bad for business.

Some of those in red---like Masonic Avenue---haven't been implemented yet. Very few businesses on Masonic between Fell and Geary, so that project too is irrelevant to that argument. That bike project is being implemented over stiff neighborhood opposition.

The Polk Street lanes are being implemented now, but they were vigorously opposed by merchants in the Polk Gulch neighborhood.

The city and bike lobbyists lie about this issue when it suits them: The Valencia Street lie and Polk and Masonic: Not so dangerous after all.

Rob's comment:
The bike lanes now being implemented on Masonic Avenue and Polk Street over neighborhood opposition are based on lies about safety: Safety lie to justify Polk Street bike project and Big lie on safety to justify screwing up Masonic.

Speaking of safety, you can count on Streetsblog for a biased story on the use of electronic devices and traffic safety. Motorists doing it are of course a major safety hazard, but there's no mention of cell phone use by cyclists, though a recent story in Treehugger reluctantly engages on the issue. Though the writer admits that it's unsafe behavior, he still wants to change the subject to motorists:

There is never any public conversation about banning radios and sound systems in cars, ensuring that windows are rolled down year round so that drivers can hear, banning cupholders and taking Teslas off the road because of those giant touchscreen display panels in the middle. Drivers are entitled to their distractions. It is the cyclists (and of course, pedestrians) who are the distracted menace with their teensy little screens.

Can't electronic distractions be unsafe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians?

A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that electronic distraction is a major cause of the increase in traffic fatalities:

And the likely biggest factor: We're distracted by smartphones and other devices, both in our cars and in our hands as pedestrians.

Like the Treehugger writer, a CityLab writer changes the subject to motorists in a story on a proposed fine for cyclists wearing earphones:

This rule is a wrong turn. On the face of it, it’s unfair: Automobile drivers aren’t required to turn off their radios or take off their Bluetooth devices. Cyclists listening to go-go or S-Town on their commutes are not a greater danger than drivers who do the same.

But the danger is to the cyclist herself, which is not comparable to the danger the driver faces. When a cyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, it's the cyclist that's injured, not the driver. Whining about equity is not a good safety strategy for cyclists.

See also Distracted Reporting in City Journal.

A cyclist writing in CityLab asks a question: When Will Bikes Rule the City? His answer isn't encouraging for the bike movement:

As our Richard Florida points out, this urban bike boom is in part an optical illusion: The bicycle’s share of the commuting pie is increasing, but it remains slender, except in a handful of college towns and West Coast cities. Beyond these bike-centric bubbles, Americans are getting off their bikes: Ridership has dropped since 2000. Bicycle sales are down. Most troublingly for those who plot an enduring bike restoration in American cities, the decline is particularly sharp among children: In 2000, more than 11 million kids’ bikes were sold in the U.S.; by 2013, it was less than 5 million.

Good that cycling among children is decreasing, since it's a major safety hazard for youngsters as I pointed out the other day.

If so-called adults insist on cycling, technology (video above) can help keep them safe. In today's NY Times, LED Bike Lights Target Night Riders and ‘Burners’:

...Bicycle equipment companies come and go; mostly they go. Mr. Goldwater’s company, Monkeylectric, has been in business for 10 years, convincing night cyclists that front and back lights are inadequate and that they need bright side lighting, too...In an unscientific survey along San Francisco’s Market Street one night last week, most cyclists had front lights and weak red reflectors on the back (as required by law), but no side lights. Few bicycle lights are as eye-catching or noticeable to motorists as Monkeylectric’s lights. They are sold in 500 stores and on Amazon, which offers many similar-looking products for much less money...

But for cyclists, many of whom won't wear helmets, it's no easy sale:

Despite his product’s benefits, Mr. Frankovich said, “It’s a hard sale.” Many cyclists are minimalists, reluctant to add anything to their simple mode of transportation. That a product improves safety is insufficient. It has to be cool, Mr. Frankovich said. “Who in the world doesn’t know a helmet will save your life?” he said. Yet many cyclists reject them because “they think they look dorky.”

Not surprising to learn that President Trump is bad for bikes like he is for everything else, except greedy corporations, the fossil fuel industries, and cable news.

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