Transit Tip 14: Beware of useless bike lanes

There's a tendency among bike advocates to champion the delineation of a "bike space" even without any actual space being created. You know, "if there's room for a bike lane" without changing anything else on the street. At best you get no benefit, and at worst you're given a "safe space" that isn't safe at all. This bike lane is almost entirely in the door zone, which is why these users are staying to the far left. But cars will pass too closely (up against the line) so they really should be riding outside the bike lane for safety, but then motorists become arrogant and hostile as they think you're being a jerk.


That's when cars are parked flush against the curb. Even in the summer they often intrude into the bike lane. But in the winter the lane is completely taken away for car parking. Bike lanes in Boston are only open 1/3 of the year. And it's always the bikers and pedestrians who lose out; car drivers get plowed streets and the same ability to park their personal property: who cares if anyone else has trouble getting around?

You can see the city's priorities. They claim to be a "world-class bicycling city" where "the car is no longer king" but what this street design really does is appease some bicycle advocates while maintaining a car dominant streetscape. Fail.

This major business district is also a major transportation corridor. The 39 bus seen here is one of the highest ridership MBTA lines, yet all winter it struggles to pass arrogantly parked cars, often waiting for opposing traffic before it can cross the centerline. Buses often can't pass each other.

In a fairer city, cars that park outside the designated space would be ticketed and towed immediately. Better yet, restrict parking in certain spaces that can be used to store the snow that the city should be removing from sidewalks.

Episode 42: Bike Winter

An informative panel discussion with four winter bicycling veterans in Minneapolis. We cover bike handling, what to wear and how to prepare your two-wheeled vehicle for our favorite season. Sneak away from the holiday dinner for this special episode and get ready to ride across a frozen lake, visit an ice shanty, ride a ski bike, go mountain biking, make your own DIY winter tire solution or just buy a fat bike and impress your friends.

Alternatively, you could stay inside and read Kat's excellent Grease Rag post on winter bike safety & handling, all about Ice Biking, what not to ride in the winter, and get your snowy terminology in order. Then go back listen to Episode 33 for Low's perspective on building community and supporting new and old bicyclists.

Episode 40: Bicycling in the Rain with The Sprocket Podcast

Brock Dittus and Aaron Flores take a break from hosting The Sprocket Podcast to join me from rainy Portland, Oregon, for a discussion of biking in cold and wet weather. We discuss the three elements -- clothing, bike setup, behavior -- of a warm and dry trip, without any fancy gear or sacrifices.

Most importantly, do what works for you. And if you want to avoid the rain altogether you might try saving up for a velomobile.

Head over to The Sprocket Podcast for more info on these fine Cascadians.

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Episode 21: Bikes & Pedicabs in Chicago

I've arrived in Chicago!  First up is my good friend and fellow bike nerd and pedicab driver, Minku Sharma, host of the Vegan Pedicab Podcast. We talk winter biking, rickshaws and other transportation related matters.

Enjoy our thoughts on some current events including the ongoing New York City school bus drivers strike (Citizen Radio), privatization of public services and parking meters, car sharing, red light cameras. We explain why bike advocates should not be excited about Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Interior and why it makes no sense to prevent his new Chief of Staff from biking to work.  The Colorado Supreme Court recently struck down one town's attempt to ban bicycling.

Please visit, follow me on Twitter @JeremyInTransit, at like the facebook page. Please support my Sustainable Transport Tour fundraising campaign on Indiegogo if you get something from this show and want to see it get even better and more frequent.

Protected (and unplowed) bike lane in downtown Chicago

I was happy to see this nice protected bike lane in the Chicago Loop today. Upon first glance it seems to be well designed, for two-way traffic with special signals and decent separation from motor vehicles. Unlike the Manhattan experience, nobody was walking in this lane when I rode through. IMAG0068

The only problem is that the city apparently forgot to clear the snow, which is unfortunate because it feeds the myth that you can't bike in the winter. It's clear that people are using this lane though.

UPDATE: Well, I guess it's not so well designed or enforced. Note the bicyclist in front of the cab arguing with the driver and passengers. image

Many more posts are coming from Chicago but for now I'm just happy to see snow again. If you have any suggestions for post topics, including places I should go or people I should meet, please share.