Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Right to the road and well designed cycle paths give you faster journeys than roadways.

Many claim cycle paths make you slow. In Britain this is often true. With the traffic signals that fail to take cyclists into account, and often not treating them as just as important a flow of traffic as motor vehicles are, or even more important in some cases, often poor surface quality, narrow paths, and poor transitions, among other things, makes many worry about the implications of making the use of bicycle paths mandatory.

But you don't see any of that fuss in the Netherlands. Practically nobody advocates for the right to the road. I have seen exactly 1 example of an example so poor that riding on the road is a more preferable alternative, and it just a kilometre or so of bad examples among literally tens of thousands of kilometres of good paths. Video David Hembrow's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCRv8_xZPyY.

This is due to design of course. In fact, by design, there are many advantages to being on a bicycle path. First, you aren't riding with traffic. This is a huge improvement for subjective safety, what makes people feel like cycling is an acceptable thing even for a small child to do. Secondly, the things that are put in place for motor traffic, traffic lights, roundabouts, speed bumps, they can be designed so as not to interact with the bicycle traffic in many ways. Some roundabouts and traffic lights can be bypassed, speed bumps only need to be on the road. The right turn on red is a critical factor that makes cycling attractive. It makes your journeys much faster. Idaho realized this too, and because they were smart, they made this behavior legal. I don't know whether this also applies to a left on red in cases where you wouldn't conflict with traffic, or from a one way road to a one way, but the right turn is the most common. They also did this with stop signs by the way, hence the phrase "Idaho Stop Law".

Of course the lack of traffic lights in general also leads to faster journeys. By having refuge islands between the bicycle path and roadway, you could signalize the roadway for a pedestrian/bike only crossing but not for the cycleway, which would just have yield signs and zebra crossings as needed. You get to ignore the bus at the stops, because there is a way you can go past it to the right of the stop, called a bus stop bypass. You can safely filter past congested traffic, something that London cyclists are going to benefit from especially with some new segregated routes, though their paths could use some major intersection design improvements.

You also feel much less stressed on a bicycle path. This is another crucial means of making cycle paths attractive and makes claims that cyclists should have the right to the road useless. Stress is actually quite bad for your health. If you had to be watching in every direction at every moment, you A can't enjoy the ride, which if things like trees and plants and someone riding with you are present, can add some fun to the trip, and B, it means you are exposed to the motor traffic and its dangers.

And the other big improvement that a bicycle path offers is the ability to have filtered permeability. This is a huge improvement. This also means that cars will be using longer journeys, which while they are given the right conditions and not too long of a detour, not a problem for motor traffic, it can make cycle routes have a lack of car traffic to begin with, and lets you downgrade the original routes. Rabbit Hill Rd downgrade due to the existence of the 70 km/h, probably designed for an upgrade to about 100 km/h, Terwillegar Drive.

Now how to have these advantages? First, design the cycle path for a much higher speed than we normally thing we need to. In Calgary there is a speed limit of 20 km/h on the bike paths. Montreal has this too. The Dutch have a much higher design speed for the most part. Often the design speed (no speed limit for cyclists in NL, as there should never be) is the same as a normal roadway would be, 50 km/h. A pretty good speed. Most people won't go that fast, e bikes and light mopeds are limited to 25 km/h, heavy mopeds go up to 45 km/h. A minimum design speed of 30 km/h should be in order, with the obvious exception of sharp turns, like making a right turn at a crossroads, but even then it should still have a good design speed, often around 12-15 km/h.

The cycle path must be continuous, with good transitions, safe, wide and must bypass whatever obstacles it can, be it red lights, bus stops, or commercial loading. A concrete minimum of 2 metres of width for a one way path, 2.5 metres standard and target width, 3-3.2 metres concrete minimum for a bidirectional path, 3.5-4 metres standard width. And the mandatory use law in the Netherlands extends to cycle lanes too, for the few locations where they should exist, and for those, a concrete minimum of 1.75 metres of width, 2-2.5 metres standard width.

Good transitions can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjGUQvYwSbo. They make transitions unlike like this idiotic example: https://bicycledutch.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/london1.jpg?w=821&h=479 easy, fast, and safe.

How effective is the law that makes it actually illegal to cycle up a freeway, a road signed with a blue square with a white car on it (autowegen, loosely translated as expressway), or any other road with a no cycling sign or a mandatory cycle path sign (a blue circle with a bicycle logo on it, or sometimes a bicycle and moped pictogram on it)? I'd say pretty effective. So effective that cycling is so rare that if someone does break that law, the newspaper often covers it. Generally with the headline "some nationality other than Dutch person found cycling on freeway". Tourists usually are the ones caught breaking the law.

The "right to the road" is not worth fighting for when you're cycle paths look like this: https://www.google.ca/maps/@52.999442,6.5301858,3a,75y,42.55h,72.86t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sOlWQVgbHDXJmZC-Ie1Gr3g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en. And if you really feel like you need to fight for the right to the road, look at what cycle paths your country builds and think about whether it's the concept of bicycle path or the quality of the paths that you dislike.

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