96 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Translating Dutch Bicycle Infrastructure to America”

  1. The elephant in the living room in the American bike movement is that the “European” facilities we’re advocating in standards like NACTO for amount to what the Dutch did 20-40 years ago and have long since moved beyond.

    It’s like an alternate universe where Russian scientists are still trying to copy Windows 3.1 and pitch it as modern user interface in a multitouch era.

    I’m not aware of any cities in America building or proposing anything that remotely rivals standard Dutch facilities, which is a shame and a tragedy. The stuff they build is beautiful, and I miss it more than anything else about living there.

    1. That’s because under the current MUTCD (adopted in 2009 by the feds, more recently by , the stuff you see in Holland, Denmark or even Germany is illegal here and thus not able to be covered under municipal insurance schemes (not defendable in court in front of juries since it does not “meet the standard”).

      One of the hugest hindrances is the bizarre cult of John Forester and his “Vehicular Cycling” disciples who have managed to convince the apathetic road engineers that not providing *any* bicycle facilities is better than daring to mimic the “superstition” (his words) of the Dutch.

      Sadly, few if any of these self-appointed high priests of MAMILism (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) have even ever been to Denmark or the Netherlands and they feel it is much better if 0.8% of the North American population uses bicycles than up to 50% of these two countries, soley because the North American bicyclist has the right (as is the chief tenant of their voodoo) to use the entire road.

      http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/07/vehicular-cyclists-secret-sect.html

      http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/is-an-anti-bike-fraud-being-committed-in-your-name/

      http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2012/03/cycling-american-style-vehicular.html

      1. Thankfully our local bike advocacy group isn’t that crazy. Though I must admit the CBC is sometimes a bit further into to vehicular cycling camp than is always entirely helpful.

        That said I practice vehicular cycling on the 99% of our streets without specific bicycle facilities. That said I appreciate a good cycle track, bike lane, or MUP. Not having to worry so much about the cars (and other motor vehicles) makes cycling much more pleasant and relaxing.

      2. Copenhagenize, the problem with cycle tracks, and bike lanes is two fold. And it’s obvious you haven’t read “Effective Cycling” and you should go there for a full explanation of why they are more dangerous than just riding in traffic.

        First, bike lanes:
        Bike lanes as implemented in Seattle are just a bit of paint along side the road. If there is parking, they tend to be just to the left of the parked cars, thus in the “Door zone”, so that any one exiting a car does so right into the bicyclist path.

        Second they force drivers to the left, which is good, but then all the road debris is swept by the tires of the cars into the bike lane. If the city swept the roads frequently enough that wouldn’t be a problem but in this day of budget cuts they don’t. So in addition to the door problem we now get to ride in the road junk as well.

        Cycle Tracks:
        Are great until bicyclists reach an intersection. With the bicyclist farther to the right, and often behind parked cars, auto traffic turning right can’t see the bicyclists, and thus turn into the bicyclists as they are crossing the intersection.

        —-

        If the city really wants to make roads safer for bicyclists, the solution that works, is to slow down the cars. It’s the speed differential that makes it the most unsafe. When cars are moving more than 15mph faster than the bicyclists, it’s unsafe. That’s true for cycle tracks, bike lanes, bike riders in traffic. There just isn’t time for the approaching driver to react and move to avoid a collision.

      3. Bike lanes and cycletracks don’t have to be hazards for cyclists if they are designed properly. For example you can narrow the intersection and ban right on red to discourage high-speed blind right turns. Elevating the track a bit through the intersection is another way to get motorists to slow down and pay attention.

      4. The other problem with bicycle lanes is that if you are a single bicyclist riding North, and there is a car going South on a two lane road, the South bound car will drive more to the center of the roadway due to the bicycle lane, even if unoccupied. This means that cars passing you from behind will not move to the center of the road, because there is oncoming traffic there. And therefore they will pass you closer than they would have if there were NO marked bicycle lanes.

        ==
        What do I want? Bicycle blvds, ie roads where the speed limit is 20, or 25, but that the road has dead ends for cars, but not for bicycles. The top of Capital Hill has a number of roads like this. As a bicyclist, I ride up over the sidewalk and onto the road on the other side, cars, turn right or left as the road is blocked for them.

        Or wider roads, with a 35 mph speed limit and a wide enough for a bike lane, but not marked for it and no dam potholes in it. Last thing I need is to be dodging potholes and traffic coming up behind me.

        Worst is four lane roads with a regular or narrow right lane, 40 to 45mph speed limits and no shoulder, or worse even yet, a curb with a 4″ vertical wall I can’t ride up and over in an emergency bailout. NE 8th in Bellevue comes to mind.

        ====
        Cycle tracks, they only work well if traffic is going slow or there are NO intersections where the view of the cyclists is blocked by parked cars or shrubbery etc. The one on Broadway is going to be terrible, but with the slow traffic it may not kill anyone.

    2. American cities are building bicycle infrastructure as fast as their public allows them to. There was a wholesale shift in Dutch society in the 1970s, demanding comprehensive bicycle infrastructure. Avoiding traffic deaths was seen as more important than car thoroughput and free parking. The public essentially demanded road diets. Here, even Seattle, one of the most granola-green parts of the country, we can just barely get road diets and sharrows installed without threats to vote out the mayor. (For those who don’t think Seattle is granola-green, compare it to 90% of the country.)

  2. Since this is an open thread…

    Anyone have any good suggestions for a hotel and places to visit for a car-free trip to Vancouver, BC?

    I’ve ben there before, but it was at least ten years ago, and I really don’t have a good feel for the best options if you arriving on Amtrak Cascades and will be getting around via the SkyTrain, etc.

    1. There’s a Holiday Inn Express right by the Metrotown station.

      Isn’t the Youth Hostel near one of the Canada Line stations?

    2. Try the Blue Horizon on Robson St, not far from the Granville or Burnaby stops on Skytrain. Near the Vancouver Art Museum, Gas Town, China Town. Bus ride across Burnaby Bridge to Maritime Museum or out to UBC for the anthropological museum for a great native arts museum, including works by Bill Reid. Granville bridge for Granville I, market good restaurants and interesting window shopping. Try the Afghan restaurant just outside the market under the bridge on the west side of the road.

      Bus maps are difficult to read, but drivers will help out. As usual, exact change required on buses, but Skytain has ticket machines that will handle up to $20 bills – expect some heavy change. Main Street Skytrain stop a block away from the railroad station.

      Huge Stanley Park just down the road from the Blue Horizon. Walkable?

      Have fun, eh?

    3. My experience is also ten years old, but you can walk any direction downtown and find interesting things. The Skytrain is just across the street from the train/bus station, of course. There are/were three ultra-cheap Backpackers’ Hostels, one on Main Street north of the station, a more central one on Pender. Googling “Vancouver backpackers hostel” brought up what looks like both of them. For a moderate-priced, non-chain hotel in the far West End, try the Buchan.

      The Robson and Davie buses form a frequent loop through the west end, laying over in the southwest corner at the English Bay beach.

      Throughout the West End and Yaletown (southern Granville, Richards, Howard streets), you’ll see the dozens of “European” apartment towers with full-sized supermarkets and drugstores and schools within walking distance. In the interior of the loop where it’s residential, you’ll find cut-off intersections turned into pocket parks.

      For a long beachfront walk, cross the Burrard Bridge and walk along the Kitsilano coast toward Jericho. Then of course there’s Stanley Park which you can spend a couple hours in.

      Metrotown is worth seeing as a huge transit-oriented development, the center of eastern Vancouver. We’d be extremely lucky if Northgate ever turns into this. Besides that, the part of the Skytrain east of Main Street is more interesting for going through than being in. Broadway station is important transit-wise, but I found Commercial Drive rather boring.

      There are all-Chinese shopping centers around but I don’t know if any is near the Skytrain.

      You can also take the Hastings bus east to the city limit, and transfer to another bus to Simon Fraiser University, which is a nice journey up a mountain although the campus is depressingly car-oriented. From there there’s another bus to Metrotown.

    4. I always rent a bike on Denman St. and bike the loop around Stanley Park. You can continue down along English Bay and then False Creek to Main St. and hop on Skytrain w/bike and go to Waterfront, then bike back to
      Denman on the beautiful downtown walkway/bikeway.

    5. I usually can find some AWESOME deals for hotels on priceline and hotwire.

      If you go here:
      http://www.betterbidding.com/

      You can see what prices people are paying for what hotels in what areas. Then bid that. I’ve stayed in four-star hotels in Vancouver for $30 a night.

    6. Careful if you plan to bring a bicycle- one of the two daily trips for the next couple months (the 510 up in the AM and 517 down in the PM) are currently on trainsets that don’t have bicycle racks.

  3. We have our solution to the Northgate parking requirements! Does it say anywhere that cars have to fit into the parking stalls?

  4. Did anyone else see all of the Orions in Queen Anne today? I saw 4 coming down the counterbalance, a few driving around the top of the hill and 1 on Nickerson. They were all training coaches. Preview for what’s to come?

    1. The Eastside routes are being converted over right now. They have also been seen on some 40′ Sound Transit routes such as the 542 and 545. I’ve driven one in training but so far haven’t drawn one for a work assignment.

      1. If you’re already an established 40′ driver, how much training do you have to do before you can drive a new coach? Is it not like a car, where I can hop in basically any car and drive away with no practice?

      2. 3 of us went out for about an hour. There was a short walk around to point out the different features of the coach and then each of us drove it for about 10 minutes. The trainer tells us the differences between the coach we are qualifying on and others of a similar type. In this case, the Orions have very different switches for everything we are used to: 4-Way flashers, hill holder, etc… The trainer also emphasized the differences in braking. Basically, if you breathe on the Orion’s brake pedals, they want to STOP. It takes a bit of getting used to but you can stop them smoothly. The new software should make it brake much more like the rest of the coaches we drive.

        Some coaches, like the 30′ Gilligs, have different turning characteristics that we are made aware of. In that case, they have a pretty wicked tail swing that means you can hit information signs at the curb if you pull out too sharply. Again, training just makes us aware of the issues so we know what to watch out for.

    2. I’m curious about the new Orions. Where should I go to ride one? I don’t see them very often up here in North Seattle…

      1. I think all of the current working ones are based out of the south base, so 1XX routes, mainly.

      2. Yup, rode the 240 from Renton to Bellevue, it was pretty nice. It’ll be cool when they send a few of those our way, up North. :)

      3. Ride any south base route which uses 40 foot buses you’ll get the orions. the only gilligs they have left are the 30 footers. as other posters have said we are getting more orions and they are being filtered into other bases. personally I’ve yet to see orions used outside of south base but Im sure the others are right about what they see.

    3. Yes, but did you read about the recall.

      Apparently the roof batteries can leak…and they have to have the casings retrofitted!

      (Another reason to move to hydrogen fuel cells…sorry, couldn’t contain myself…)

    4. I hope every Metro-operated non-trolley downtown route converts to Orions by September 29. Not only do they have the most seats per square foot (thanks to the Link-style metal design), but they’re also all low-floor.

      Any time a lift breaks down on 3rd Ave, it feels like a truck overturned and dumped 10,000 gallons of milk.

      Retrofitting all the Orions for passive restraint would be nice, too, but I’ve heard from Metro employees that there remain concerns about doing that.

  5. Yesterday was the deadline for Metro to notify ST of changes in tunnel routes for the September 29 pick. Does anyone have their ear to the ground on what Metro told ST?

    1. That deadline may not apply since the end of the RFA is a a major change for both Metro and ST. If it does, it was shortsighted of Metro to open the public-comment period the day before the deadline, especially as the displays implied Metro is thinking about changing tunnel routes. In any case, even if Metro misses the September deadline, February is just a few months later.

      1. Something tells me ST would willingly waive the deadline. ;) But my question was whether Metro had already made a decision, on the quiet, and let ST know. They sure were tight-lipped Thursday about anything outside the printed material.

        At any rate, with POP off the table, Metro really has to kick a couple routes or more upstairs.

  6. I know what I’m about to write may be heresy to many readers, but I’m gonna write it anyway. I’m sick and tired of bicyclists whizzing past me on sidewalks, nearly smashing into me when I’m in the crosswalk, and flying through intersections against the light. Sure, car drivers do crappy things as well against pedestrians, but that’s not what I’m writing about. As a pedestrian, I am aware of other pedestrians around me, I’m aware of sidewalk conditions(cracks, missing pieces, roots, etc) and I’m aware of cars around me when I approach an intersection and cross it. When I’m crossing the street, whether downtown or in other busy neighborhoods, I’m aware of cars that are stopped and others that may not stop. But, I can’t see the bikes that come from behind me and fly past just inches from me. Or the bike that is cutting through traffic, between the stopped cars and nearly crash into me in the crosswalk when I have the right of way. When I am on the sidewalk, I know that there is some sort of seperation between me and the cars, so I can be reasonably sure that no car is going to come up behind me. But, a bicycle can switch from the road to the sidewalk without warning, and without slowing down. There have been far more closecalls between me and a bike than me and a car. I have been hit by many more bikes than cars in my lifetime–and there are thousands times more cars than bikes here.

    It is getting to the point now that I am losing sympathy for bicycles and the riders. When I hear reports of a bicycle being hit by a car, I am more ready to think that the bicyclist did something stupid than the car driver did. Bicyclists, be careful out there, because I am starting to see pedestrians pushing back against your belief that you are entitled to ride any way you want to without worry that there are repercussions. Bicyclists are afraid to ride with cars because there is little protection from them, well, bicyclists have far more protection than pedestrians in Bike VS Ped collisions.

    1. From the film, bike ROW and pedestrian ROW appear to be generally separate. Here, the crumbs we get off the table are a single lane of bridge where we mix bike and pedestrian traffic — going both ways!

    2. I wish Seattle had the same common-sense law Chicago does: No one over 12 yrs. of age is allowed to ride a bike on a sidewalk, Period. I also wish Chicago enforced this law.

      1. Let’s enact this law just as soon as (a) all the metal grated bridges have a safe place to bike other than the sidewalk, (b) all the roads where most people aren’t comfortable riding in the street have a safe place to bike other than the sidewalk. I hate riding on the sidewalk (and when I do I go really slow), but I have to do it all the time to cross the Montlake, Fremont, and Ballard bridges when the ground is wet.

      2. I agree with Alex on this.

        I think this idea that if we have a general regulation saying bikes with a certain wheel diameter or bicyclists over a certain age are not allowed that it would prevent exceptions is not being genuine. There are plenty areas where we make exceptions to certain rules here and there as situations require. I can’t imagine this would be any different.

        An interesting fact about bike safety is that riding on the sidewalk has more of a risk than riding in the road.

      3. @Mike I think the biggest issue about having bicyclist on sidewalk is speed? Would you agree? I think it would be better to regulate that, then force cyclist to make a choice between their safety and following the law. Say for example that cyclist are not allowed to ride more than 4 mph on a sidewalk when pedestrian are present or something like that. I think it’s important to keep in mind that cyclist in general don’t prefer to ride on the sidewalk and really only do it if their very inexperienced, don’t feel safe in the street, or are just parking their bike on the sidewalk.

      4. I think that people might find more exceptions than the rules have room for. I’ve gone to bike somewhere several times only to realize that the roads were tougher to bike than I expected. And, yeah, cyclists are generally safer in the road, but when climbing? Not always — it depends on the cyclist, the hill, the road design, and the speed. For me the road almost always makes sense, but that’s not true for everyone.

        I live up north, but if you take a bike trip in south Seattle and the southern suburbs you’ll find lots of places where the sidewalk looks pretty attractive compared to the road. And usually that’s not because it looks attractive at all, but because the road is terrifying. So before we make criminals out of people trying to keep themselves safe, let’s provide better options.

        (I don’t have a link for this, but I’m from the suburbs of Chicago and the first I heard about the sidewalk biking ban was when I was very young, and there was a story on the news about a cop telling a kid he couldn’t bike on the sidewalk of a busy street; the kid moved out into the street and ended up dead under a semi truck. I don’t know about fault, but it seems clear the kid made the right decision for himself and his own skills before the police told him what to do.)

      5. There is at least one place in Chicago where this law is enforced and that is along Sheridan Road. Cops will actually disable bikes of violators and issue tickets. Further, Bicycles are BANNED on Sheridan Road itself. You must cross over to the bike sharrows on adjacent streets to transit that neighborhood and not mix with the arterial traffic on Sheridan.

      6. Sheridan is a pretty long road; I used to live near it in Uptown (it begins at Irving Park Road), and biking was certainly not banned on it there. In fact, I doubt it is anywhere within the city limits! How far north do you have to go before that?

      7. Al, I go across metal-grate bridges all the time here in Chicago and I really don’t see the big issue, yeah, you have to pay attention a little bit more to what you’re doing, but, they really aren’t all that bad.

      8. @Adam – Yes, I agree that speed is the primary issue. That is true for both pedestrians and for collisions at driveways and intersections.

        But, I think that what you propose is exactly what we have today. While we haven’t seen collisions with pedestrians (which is great!), it’s just a personal gripe on my end. I see the problem with what we have today that it is pretty much unenforceable. It seems similar to the 3′ passing rule that some states have regarding bicyclists.

        Regarding feeling safe, I get it. I want to see as many people on bikes as possible but by saying the sidewalk is ok, we may put them in a more perilous location.

      9. There are some situations where riding on the sidewalk is almost unavoidable if you want to get there safely and in one piece. For instance, a few years ago, I had reason to visit the Home Depot on Aurora. The only entrance to the Home Depot parking lot is off Aurora, so I took side streets as far as I could, and rode the last 1/8 mile on the sidewalk. And on the way back, when I needed to go south 1/8 mile on the northbound side of the street to retrace my steps back home, no way was I going to ride on the street of Aurora against the traffic. Nor was I was going to ride north on Aurora a full half-mile to the nearest cross-street, then turn around and go south. The ability to use the sidewalk in that situation to go against the direction of the traffic was extremely important for getting to and from Home Depot safely.

      10. Alex,
        I find it hard to believe cyclists in Chicago regularly ride over bridges with metal deck grating. I’ve made that mistake only once and thankfully it was dry out and the traffic was light. I’m a very experienced cyclist and have no problem dealing with fast + heavy traffic, complex intersections, or a host of other things that intimidate all but the hardest core road warriors.

        In 20+ years of cycling in Seattle I’ve only ever seen a handful of other cyclists attempt a similar crossing.

        If cyclists were banned from the sidewalks on the Ballard, Fremont, or Montlake bridges I’d simply walk my bike across rather than risk riding on the grating.

      11. To Adam’s point, yes, I agree that speed is the critical issue (OK, that and some cyclists’ inability to notify pedestrians when they are approaching, which is not just rude but downright dangerous…I have nearly knocked over several cyclists on the Fremont Bridge who chose to pass me from behind as I was adjusting my shoulder bag. Sorry, man, but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head and I had no idea you were there).

        But I digress – my real point is, sure, that would be great, but what are the odds of actual enforcement? We can pass all the laws we want…

    3. Ahhhh, Americans!

      Anyway, you’re obviously calling for a huge buildout of dutch-style separated cycle paths. Probably taking out a car lane or two from each road should do it. Probably not going to find much argument against that around here… when does construction start?

      [Or a much simpler method involving less construction: Just ban cars. Problem solved!]

    4. Yes, I agree.

      Here are the things I note from the film.

      (1) No one wears a helmet
      (2) No one wears special “bicycle clothing”
      (3) No fixies
      (4) No chains or U-locks
      (5) No high speed riders (even the “bike highway is genteel”)
      (6) Cars move slowly; bikes move slowly
      (7) Bikes aren’t hustling and passing each other
      (8) Bikes are not only segregated from fast cars, but isolated from slow pedestrians

      I guess what I’m really saying is that what we call Bicycling in the US, or what it’s turned into — basically Velodrome racing on the street — is not what Holland considers bicycling — a practical, lowest common denominator style of cycling that looks like Harvard campus from the 1970s.

      So, just painting some lines on the road is not the whole story…it’s a complete attitude change or else we have to come up with something different to match the different style of cycling in America.

      1. You’re right, the problem is Americans (in general), and even more, the wacky hard-core American bicycling culture, and the nutcase wall-of-pavement environment which engendered it.

        It’s a little hard to blame cycling for going that way in the U.S., given the awful environment with which they had to contend, but it seems clearly harmful to the future of bicycling as general transportation.

        It’ll ease off with time, if conditions get better, but … who knows how much it’ll screw things up in the meantime…

      2. BTW, there are fixies (hipster fashion knows no bounds!) and giant monster locks (and bike theft) over there too, maybe they have a smaller presence than in the U.S., but if you look at dutch cycling websites they’re clearly present…

      3. You can find Dutch-style cycling at many US colleges today. The bikes don’t look quite the same (although in 2005 I was riding a pre-WWII Schwinn cruiser with coaster brakes and two-speed hub gearing around the University of Illinois, and most of the bikes you see around there are pretty humble), but you’ll see plenty of people without helmets, everyone is in street clothes, nobody can go all that fast, etc.

        When my ride to work is 20 miles (or 10 miles with a bus ride in the middle) because of stupid 520 bridge, and my commute crowds out the time I’d usually spend running (no matter the mode), it makes sense to ride hard, wear clothing that wicks sweat, and ride a bike suited to the purpose. On such a bike, that I’ve put some money and effort into maintaining, it makes sense to protect it with the best quality lock available (the Dutch have a huge problem with bike theft, but seem to ride cheap enough bikes that they don’t invest in quality locks). When my ride will expose me to fast-moving traffic at poorly-designed intersections you can bet I’ll have bright lights and plenty of reflective gear. If I could just roll out Dutch-style like I did in college I’d do it in a heartbeat, but it just wouldn’t make any sense.

        Telling US cyclists to change their attitudes about cycling is dumb — the way we bike here is adapted to the car domination of our cities. That’s what we need to adjust to get the real prize of Dutch cycling culture: high participation.

      4. I totally agree with John – it comes down to land use and density. If you live in a high-density neighborhood with both housing and jobs (e.g. a university campus) then you can bike casually at low speeds and get anywhere you want in reasonable time without much sweat. If you live in a low-density suburb with 10 blocks of housing next to 10 blocks of offices and 0 street character you will increase your speed pretty quickly. It’s true of the average speed of cars in suburbs too.

        America’s problem won’t be solved by putting in bike lanes or streetcars. It will be solved by a comprehensive solution. I think the closest to that is the Transit Oriented Development (TOD). So the real battle is not just about bike lanes, it’s about rebuilding neighborhoods in the right way and it will take a lot of time. Even where there is density, good transit and pedestrian friendliness (e.g. Capitol Hill, Belltown, etc.) biking infrastructure is still lacking – for the rest of the city…

        And btw, for the suburbs, I think “bike highways” are the appropriate solution – and these should be a greenway of some sort, not next to a highway (too polluted and noisy for biking).

        also here’s a density map:
        http://buildthecity.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/seattle_2010_density.jpg

      5. Exactly right. (see http://www.copenhagenize.com/ – these are all ideas they frequently bring up.)
        One main difference we we have from Dutch and other European cities, though, is that they’re typically only commuting a mile or 2… They have the density in their built environment, so bike commuting (or errand running) isn’t a 10-15-20 mile ride. It’s difficult to be a casual, or any kind of rider at those distances, and you want to get to your destination ASAP (the typical goal of any transportation) so you try to go fast, and generally become a narcisist for the trip duration. Bike, car or ped, the same phenomenon… (for the record, I use all modes regularly) We need separated infrastructure for bikes, a cultural change (by bike riders) emphasizing universality and accessibility (I.e. you don’t have to be an elite – athletic, monetary, socially, or anything – to ride), but we also need shorter average travel distances for all. (I.e. Density). Amsterdam is only 64 miles sq, and pop density > 9000/mile, Seattle is 83 miles sq and pop density < 7500/mile. Copenhagen is 34miles sq, and 16,000/sq mi. – (via Wikipedia)

      6. Lance probably has it right: smaller cities and mixed use, so you don’t have the equivalent of bicycling from UW to Rainier Beach, Northgate, and Kenmore (or my colleage why biked from Poulsbo to Ballard via the Edmonds ferry). Also, how many of those people are riding between errands as opposed to coming from home?

      7. I don’t know if the “more density” argument holds water. Lance indicates that Amsterdam and Seattle are roughly the same size and density.

        Also, looking at that film, yes, there are a lot of low-rise buildings lining the corridor (5, 6 stories) but there were also a lot of spread out green spaces, campuses, Old Town 2-story areas.

        You’d have a hard time proving density as the independent variable that determines bicyle use given the similarites.

        And, I’ve mentioned Fort Collins, CO many times because I’ve been visiting it quite a bit. From Wiki:

        Population (2010)
        • Total 143,986
        • Density 2,549.3/sq mi (984.4/km2)

        So, there the density is nearly a fourth of Seattle, yet I observe that while they do have a lot of Olympic style bicycling, the majority in the town are doing a slightly Americanized version of Dutch style cycling…just using it as a utility…and Fort Collins is highly suburbanite, highly spread out.

        You’ll see bicyclists out early at rush hour heading off to the tech area or the college campus…the typical distances being more like 12 miles rather than 1 or 2 in Holland.

        http://www.fcgov.com/bicycling/

      8. @John: I don’t see any evidence at Fort Collins’ web site that there are significant numbers of people routinely commuting 24 miles round-trip by bike wearing street clothes and being totally casual there. If so there must be 26 damn hours in the day in Fort Collins… but I doubt it. 1

        Density figures and city boundaries can both be very misleading; calculate overall density within the political boundary of a city and you have a number that can’t be compared meaningfully with that of any other city when talking about transportation. Even in cities of similar size and overall density the layout and infrastructure can affect commute modes and lengths dramatically. Fort Collins, with the freeway way off to the side and a university right in the middle, probably does better at spreading housing and jobs around the city in a way that leads to short commutes than most

      9. (sorry, fumble-fingers and laptop keyboard caused a premature commit)

        (at end of first paragraph) 12 miles from the middle of Fort Collins takes you all the way to Loveland. So most trips within the city are a lot shorter than that.

        (at end of post) … in a way that leads to short commutes than most cities of its size and density.

      10. I think this is self-selecting to a large extent. Bicycling in America is very dangerous (at least it seems that way), so only the most serious and the most reckless (two different groups, but there is an overlap) do it.

        Who else is going to bike long distances in these conditions?

      11. Painting lines on the road and wearing bicycle helmets are both put there to give you a false sense that you are “protected” when you really aren’t. There’s likely a good reason why 99% of the Dutch and riders in other big bicycle use countries do as well as they do.

      12. Copenhagen itself is high-density, but if you look at Metro density, it is 637/km2 (1,650/sq mi).

        Another city to look at is Groningen in Holland, and compare it to Seattle north of the Ship Canal.

      13. If you want to see double digit commutes in action, you need look no further than a true “bicycle highway” — the Interurban Trail in Kent. People regularly commute north and south on this fantastic resource, some taking it all the way into Seattle and back (and vice versa for Boeing and other South King workers).

        The Interurban is a nice, low density bicycle corridor that connects scads of nice housing, retail and industrial areas. Because it follows the train lines, it’s basically straight, runs for miles, level and connected to resources. I often descend from my aerie on East Hill and take it up to Southcenter for a bite at the food court.

      14. “Lance indicates that Amsterdam and Seattle are roughly the same size and density.”

        Does that include suburbs? Seattle has 1/5 the population of its metropolitan area. European cities often include most of their suburbs.

  7. When you look at proposals to plop Dutch bike infrastructure down in America you run into trouble. That’s why cyclists that know the real risks in traffic come largely from the side and mostly in intersections are so conflicted about big cycletrack projects in places with lots of cross traffic.

    You can try to plan a big cycletrack in downtown Seattle, but it will always have problems with cross traffic unless you restrict car traffic a lot, like the Dutch did. You have to give up direct curbside car access to many important buildings, like the Dutch did. Some of the best US examples of this are major college campuses, though they can present other sorts of problems in an urban context (they’re very internally walkable but don’t always work well with their neighbors).

  8. Holland is pretty darn flat as I recall. I think it also helps that the GOP is not a powerful political party there.

  9. I used to be a real booster of OneBusAway, but the last few weeks the accuracy of the system has been terrible with lots of reports when using the telephone interface of “XX scheduled in x minutes” rather than XX arriving in x minutes and then telling me x scheduled x minutes ago so you don’t know if the bus trip was canceled or if the information you receive has any basis on a reality of when a bus will arrive and the bus is just slow. If I can’t rely on the system I won’t use it.

  10. Nothing is going to change cycling wise unless people just basically get off their ass from the couch (or more likely, car) and over to the bike seat. I beleive in bike lanes and better signage, but only so much is gonna help…

    I used to ride everyday for years, then took about five and a half years off after breaking my leg for a second time. Now it’s been one year straight back on the bike, I sure miss the car on wet and crappy days though!

  11. So when did STB start advertising on buses?

    I was rather shocked to see an ad for STB inside the 73 I took home the other night.

      1. Was there an announcement that I missed?

        In any case, it is a really cool idea, hopefully some of the new faces around here found STB via the ads.

  12. What would the Northgate area look like if Metrotown were transported to it? I haven’t been there for a while so my recollection is vague. Would it be like twice the size (of the mall, Thornton Place, and the Aljoya)?

    1. The retail density of Northgate is laughably low.

      I think you’ve seen this before but I could fit nearly all of the footprints of major shopping centers in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong shopping district within Northgate Mall and its parking lots, as seen here. Now that’s a ridiculous comparison since Seattle doesn’t need that much retail but my point is you could squeeze Northgate as it is into a tiny vertical mall block (or a denser complex like Metrotown) and have plenty of land for other things.

      As for Metrotown, its land footprint is very similar to Northgate’s (excluding the Station Square block). You could rotate and plop it down with a little space to spare. From the air it looks like they infilled old parking lots with more development and garages.

  13. The double-watered-down route changes for September have been unveiled as the final legislative package to go to the county council.

    The front-door stop at the VA, with buses crawling through the parking lot, has been restored. This isn’t completely awful (though it means I’ll probably stop riding the 60 altogether, unless I have to wait another 45 minutes for the next 132), as the knot in the 50 will create a reason for riders to take Link down to Columbia City Station instead of putting up with the scoliosis at the VA.

    Speaking of the 50 …. This was the one bright light in the second round of watering down, as the bus now provides an all day connection between the Alaska Junction and SODO Station, while still eventually reaching the Admiral District.

    More watering down remains to happen at the county council. One can hope some of the improvements pass.

    1. Wow! Metro has successfully managed to turn route 50 from a relatively useless route to an almost completely useless route.

      I would like to know, when this is all said and done, who exactly is expected to actually ride the thing.

  14. I am looking forward to the new 50 route. Alki residents will now finally have direct connection with half hour frequency to major shopping in the Alaska Junction and Rapid Ride. Previously we had to wait for a transfer at the Admiral Junction, or use the very infrequent and circuitous 37 or 53 routes which don’t run at night. The new 50 also would connect Alki with the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, Delridge Community Center (Alki CC has extremely limited hours and facilities), the Link for airport trips, the Columbia City Farmer’s Market Wednesday evenings when we can’t make it to ours on Sunday, bus + biking around Lake Washington and in Seward Park, Rainier Beach businesses, monasteries and the new swimming pool, Kubota Gardens, etc, etc. I hope they don’t mess with the route too much more, although it would make more sense if it went down 4th instead of 1st in SODO.

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