16 June 2012

Cycle Tracks in Vitória, Brazil

Vitoria Cycle Track_1
Some photos of bicycle infrastructure in the city of Vitória, Brazil from a recent trip I made there. No, it's not Best Practice, but even so it is brilliant to see that the idea with the design is right. Physically separated and on the correct side of the cars.

This is an interesting design in that there are curbs on both sides of the cycle track, with an extra buffer against the traffic.

Can you believe that there are still traffic engineers elsewhere putting painted bike lanes on the LEFT side of parked cars and not along the sidewalk? Actually getting paid to design them like that? It boggles the mind that these people aren't relieved of their duties. 100 years of cycle track experience. You'd think that they would know better.

Vitoria Dorissima_2
In Vitória there were also bi-directional cycle tracks on various stretches. Not optimal, but they weren't along city streets but along the beach and through parks.

Victoria Cycle Tracks
A couple of places had Barcelona style tracks down the wide median. Only to provide links and not for any great length.
Vitoria Cycle Track
And the markings were bold and big. Symbols and symbolism is important.

Vitoria Surf and Pull
On the beach stretch this was an interesting variation on the theme. Riding with a surfboard is hardly strange in Brazil, but towing the boy with the rope is cool!

Vitoria cycle Chic_1
Cycle tracks rule. And rock and rule.


Marcin Kubiak said...

Thanks for the photos. It's a pleasure to see the changes in different corners of the world.

BTW - when you say:

"Can you believe that there are still traffic engineers elsewhere putting painted bike lanes on the LEFT side of parked cars and not along the sidewalk?"

- do you mean something like this?


In this scenario cars leaving the car park are forced to cross the bike lane. Oh, and yes - it's Poland.

Dennis Hindman said...

Here in the United States, the traffic engineers seem to follow a Darwinian style of evolutionary bicycle infrastructure development. You start out with a wild wolf type of cycling where you ride in mixed traffic amongst potential predators that could maim or kill you at any moment.

Then the U.S. progressed in the 1970's to selective breeding in the trait of a couple of stripes to protect the cyclists from the predators. Of course you have to try and train the drivers, who are all potential predators to most people who cycle, not to cross the stripes when they see a cyclist riding between them.

Recently, the next generation of design is evolving into having either a bike lane between plastic bollards and a curb, or between parked cars and a curb.

Eventually you end up with something that has traits more like a cockerspaniel. Less wild and everyone for themselves or pack traveling mentality like a wolf, with friendlier and more useful traits like grade separated cycle tracks, buffer zones to reduce stress from traffic, bike specific traffic signals and traffic signals that prohibit left or right turns for vehicles when pedestrians or cyclists have a signal to go through a busy intersection.

Never mind that northern european countries have had for decades bicycle infrastructure that is more similar to a cockerspaniel than a wild wolf.

You would think that the traffic engineers here in the U.S.A would simply import northern european cockerspaniel type bicycle infrastructure designs, rather than going through several generations of evolution to end up with a similar result.

Su said...

One of the "park next to the sidewalk, bike lanes next to traffic" places is Austin, Texas. In my own neighbourhood, of course, so I ride on those bike lanes a lot. I wish we would get on board with separating the bicycles from the cars.

Kathryn S. said...

"Painted bike lanes on the LEFT side of parked cars and not along the sidewalk" would be a step up for some of our bicycle infrastructure here in Syracuse, NY. On some bike lanes parking is allowed ON the bike lane every other day, as we have alternating-side parking. On more recently painted bike lanes where parking is allowed, they have added sharrows. Our first cycle track was just finished a few weeks ago. It is 1/2 mile long and bi-directional. Even so, I am grateful for the leaders in our community who are valiantly striving to add to and improve our bicycle infrastructure.

mucradblogger said...

"Can you believe that there are still traffic engineers elsewhere putting painted bike lanes on the LEFT side of parked cars and not along the sidewalk? Actually getting paid to design them like that?"

Cycle lanes along the sidewalk behind parked cars have PROVEN to be more dangerous, as cyclists turn out of seemingly nowhere at all the dangerous spots like crossings. In countries that have many of those, that is where most of the fatal incidents happen.

Also, the more people ride bikes, the more conflicts arise between pedestrians and pedestrians, giving bike riding a very bad image.

Bike advocats in countries like germany are fighting bike lanes like this for precisely that reason. Talk to them...

If you want to ride safely, ride where you can be seen.

traffic separation that hides cyclists doesn't work at all.

I'm actually shocked that a quality blog loke copenhagenize.com still promotes dangerous nonsense like this.

mucradblogger said...


"Also, the more people ride bikes, the more conflicts arise between pedestrians and pedestrians, giving bike riding a very bad image."

That, of course, should have been "more conflicts arise between pedestrians and cyclists" - apologies

PeterK said...

"Cycle lanes along the sidewalk behind parked cars have PROVEN to be more dangerous, as cyclists turn out of seemingly nowhere at all the dangerous spots like crossings."

That can be fixed by design: simply move the cycle lane towards or farther away from the road at those dangerous spots. Happens all the time here in Holland.

mucradblogger said...


""Cycle lanes along the sidewalk behind parked cars have PROVEN to be more dangerous, as cyclists turn out of seemingly nowhere at all the dangerous spots like crossings."

That can be fixed by design: simply move the cycle lane towards or farther away from the road at those dangerous spots. "

The dangerous situations are when a car, a bus or a lorry in process of doing a right rurn into an intersectig road didn't seee you (because you were on your "safe" bike lane behind parked cars) and can't see you in his rear view mirror because of dead angle.

Those tiny little curvings in the bike lanes at intersections do nothing against that, they are more a tool to force the traffic participant who actually would have the right of way to slow down.
That does not correlate to the main goal any biking advocacy should have, which is establishing the bicycle as a transport with the same rights as anyone else (no one slowa down car traffic which has the right of way).

Its not a safety feature as well.
If anything, the car driver, who has to keep his eyes on a lot of different things when turning right, catches a glimps of a biker seemingly also tturning right, deleting him from his mental "have to pay attention" map.

This kind of bike lane design thankfully went out of fashion where i live. Rebuilds of such intersections happen, for a reason.

What is wrong with being seen? And you're best seen when you as a bike rider are where you belong, on the road. We are traffic, the road is ours as well, it doesn't belong to cars exclusively. We shouldn't behave as if we were intruders, trying not to disturb the "real traffic", for crying out loud.

I undersand in nations with less cycling history cyclists have a fear to be too close to motorized traffic, but that is just what it is, a fear, as opposed to a real danger. Few cyclists are hit by cars from behind on straight roads. Most are hit on intersections when they weren't seen. Ask any traffic analyst in Berlin, Munich or Hamburg.

Tallycyclist said...

Sometimes it makes sense to ride on the road with all other traffic. Take a look at the low-speed, low-volume ones in Holland and Denmark and you'll see that that's precisely what cyclists do. Where separation is nice is on large arterial roads with lots of fast traffic. Most of the US city planners, etc. still don't understand this. Sure I have every right to ride on roads with speed limits of 35, 40, 45 mph and try and share or take the lane. But even if every driver were courteous, a >4000 lb vehicle driving towards me and passing closely at that speed is frightening all the same. Maybe some don't mind that thrill, but most of us don't need every one of our commutes to be faint-of-the-heart.

Regarding intersection design, having parked cars all the way to the end is just dangerous, for every traffic user. The concept of daylighting is starting to take hold slowly and planners are realizing that there's much to gain in safety from not having blind spots at junctions. I think a large part of the problem at least in the US is not motorists not seeing the cyclist or pedestrian but rather, not looking for them. The drivers ed. in this country doesn't prepare you to watch for them and for anyone who doesn't live in the handful of cities with a lot of pedestrians and cyclists, you hardly ever encounter any.

Dennis Hindman said...


A major reason why most cyclists are hit by motorized vehicles at intersections, rather than between intersections, is due to the much greater liklihood of motorized vehicles and bicycles being in the same space at the same time at intersections, but much less frequently on the roadway in-between the intersections.

Its rare that a cyclists will ride down the middle of a busy roadway that has fast moving motorized vehicles. Those that do ride down these streets will almost always ride to the side of vehicles

This article has a video of a cyclist riding down the middle of a motorized travel lane on Winnetka Ave, which probably has a posted speed limit of 40 or 45 miles an hour, in the San Fernando Valley section of the city of Los Angeles. This video is a fair representation of the stress level that you would have to go through to ride down the middle of most primary streets in the San Fernando Valley.

I took part in a study by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that was to determine if putting in sharrows symbols on a roadway would make riding a bicycle in the middle of this marking any safer than riding closer to the parked cars. There were six streets that these tests were done on and each street had before and after sharrows rides of about one hundred passes from cycling test dummies, like me, that rode at a steady pace of 12 miles an hour in front of cars. It was often very stressful, with drivers honking and occupants of the vehicles yelling at the cyclists in much the same way as the video I posted above shows.

A recent study of the rate for collisons of motorized vehicles with bicyclists that were riding on cycle tracks in Montreal showed less collisions with motorized vehicles when riding on the cycle tracks that were placed between parked cars and the curb compared to riding on a comparable street nearby.

To make bicycling appealing to a wide range of demographics, cities should work on lowering the stress level for cycling.

Harry Lieben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry Lieben said...

In Germany's cities the bikes are thrown in with pedestrians in one lane and you have to bump up and down curbs at every crossing. Outside the cities the bikepaths are way to narrow. No wonder Germans don't like 'em. The situation in the Netherlands may look similar, but isn't. The cyclepaths are wider, separated from pedestrians and at crossings the cyclepath's asphalt along priority roads continues level, it has clear markings to indicate that also cyclists cycling along the road have priority. Busy intersections get special attention in their design. Last but not least: cycling is nowhere safer despite the fact that a lot of people of all ages and gender cycle. This is mainly thanks to our great cycing infrastructure with many separated cyclepaths. Not only is cycling between fast moving heavy cars more dangerous; on separated cyclepaths I have way more control over my safety than on the road. On the road I have to rely on the attention of car drivers who get distracted, they can have a bad day or just had a fight and drove of angry. The cyclists have to suffer the consequences of these human conditions because they are more vulnerable.The car driver may feel bad about hurting a cyclist, but the damage is already done.
BTW: I have cycled a lot in Germany, coast-to-coast across the USA, Britain, Sweden, Slovakia and France so I do know how the situation abroad is.

Unknown said...

@Dennis Hindman
"A major reason why most cyclists are hit by motorized vehicles at intersections, rather than between intersections, is due to the much greater liklihood of motorized vehicles and bicycles being in the same space at the same time"

This is nothing new. At least 60% of all accidents happen on intersections or other places where
traffic directions cross each other.
This is not exclusive to cyclists.
On a straight lane almost nothing happens, there is only psychological "need" of separation because some anxious people "feel" safer that way.

But the truth is, these people get run over by the lorry at the next crossing. At least they felt safe ...

Mikael Colville-Andersen said...

Nobody has "proved". But these people try desperately to do so. In America, UK and... of course... Germany. But fortunately, nowhere else.

But their theory is flawed and I just wish they would realise they have blood on their hands, @mucradblogger....

mucradblogger said...

Dear Michael,

I'm actually shocked by your very dogmatic point of view and aggressive style of discussion.
I thought we could leave that style of discussion to our opponents, but it seems i was mistaken there.

We in Germany and especially here in munich have been living with that kind of cycle lanes that you seem to consider the holy grail.
We've seen what they can do and can not.

want some examples?





(I didn't do cherry picking, i opened the website of a local newspaper and searched for "cyclist" "incident" "bike lane")

We believe that they offer a false security. People want cycle lanes because they are afraid of getting too close to cars. And wasn't it you yourself who slammed very eloquently the "culture of fear"?

We think that the wish for cycle lanes as far away from cars as possible is driven by fear, not by ratio.

Fortunately, the highest german court recently set very high requirements for creating (mandatory) bike lanes. They only allow them now along roads which have a very high rate of traffic *and* a very high incident rate. This lead to a lot of cycle lanes having their mandatory usage revoked.

And guess what, accident rates didn't rise.

To you actually talk to cycling activists in other countries at all?

domotion2011 said...

Whoa! heated discussion........My two cents worth of experience is that all places are unique in the evolution of bicycle lanes. That's what we call them in Minneapolis MN USA. Our city has predominately lanes running along side moving traffic. It is rare to run them between parked cars and the curb. The "right hook" is the killer either way. Free parking seems to be the major problem, not placement of bicycle lanes. Imagine a city that placed a value on "all" street parking and change will occur.

Unknown said...


"But their theory is flawed and I just wish they would realise they have blood on their hands"

Come on, blood on our hands: I liked your ideas about the promotion of a culture of fear, but apparently this all just marketing BS as you are doing the same on people which don't share your gut feelings.

Do you have to offer any better theory besides your gut feeling that all people feel safe on hidden bicycle lanes somewhere?

And of course it is just by chance that the fatalities in bicycle related accidents happen most often on intersections where cyclists appear "out of nowhere"
into the observed and used driving space of car and truck drivers.

How many accidents of cyclists on a straight road inside city can you actually name to prove anything about your safe gut feeling, (and which would have been avoided by cycling infrastructure)?

Dennis Hindman said...

Here's some key statistics about bicycle crashes from page 58 of a report produced by the city of Portland Oregon.

This document states that 68 percent of bicycle crashes occur at intersection. That also means that 32 percent of crashes happened elsewhere.

90 percent of all crashes are caused by human error. There is no physical barrier to prevent a driver (due to human error) from encroaching on the unprotected space of a bike lane that is placed to the left of parked cars. Whether that be parking in the bike lane or driving in the bike lane. Most people realize this and the thought of riding in a unprotected bike lane on a busy street would crate a stress level that is beyond what they will accept for themselves or their children.

On page 54, of this city of Portland document, it states that in 2006 the city did surveys and focus groups to better understand bicyclists and non-bicyclists.

This survey found that 60% of the residents were interested, but concerned. They would cycle under the right circumstances.

Seven percent of residents would cycle if there were some kind of infrastructure, such as bike lanes.

Only one to two percent of residents would bicycle regardless if there was any cycling infrastructure. So, people that are advocating that cyclists should be riding in mixed traffic are likely only going to convince at most two percent of the population to do that.

This study of six cycle tracks in Montreal shows that the crashes from cycle tracks that run between parked cars and the curb have less collisions compared to riding in a nearby street.

This study on low-stress bicycling indicates that to get the largest amount of people to cycle, you must reduce the perceived stress level.

The argument for bicycling in mixed traffic seems to go like this: 'Which place has the lowest amount of bicycling crashes, the moon or any city bike path in the Netherlands? The moon right? So its safer to ride on the moon.' The fact that there is a lot less bicycling being done on the moon compared to a Dutch bike path doesn't seem to faze these advocates.

Another way to put this same argument is that there is less bicycling accidents between intersections compared to intersections. The fact that even the most fearless road-warrior cyclists almost never ride in front of fast moving vehicles between intersections, and so therefore the vehicles are much less likely to encroach on the cylists space to hit them compared to intersections, doesn't seem to register to these promoters of mixed traffic bicycling.

mucradblogger said...

There also are numerous studies that come to the conclusion that separate bike lanes lead to a higher accident risk, or at least do nothing to make cycling safer.

A study of the german "Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen" from 1992 noted a significant higher risk for accidents for cyclists using inner-city bike lanes.
(R. Schnüll e.a.: Sicherung von Radfahrern an städtischen Knotenpunkten, Bericht der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen zum Forschungsprojekt 8952, 1992)

The ratio between accidents at intersections and in between them is in germany about the same as you say - about 60/40%. So separate bikepaths may improve your safety by a tiny margin in the 33%/40% part whilst greatly deteriorating it at the 60/66% part? Moon/Netherlands anyone?

While speaking of the netherlands, they are often named the model country because of their huge cycling rate (27% wasn't it?) and their "cycling infrastructure", mostly meaning bike lanes. Interestingly, the Netherlands are not outstanding good on bike injuries. In 2006, 40% of all crash victims in need of hospital care were cyclists, which is not at all better than the average in other comparable European countries with much less cycling infrastructure.

We see, while not everyone may agree, the "bike path scepticists" have at least some reasonable and scientifically backed points. We should be able to discuss the safety of cycle lanes on a reasonable basis without personal insults or by simply ridiculing the others point of view. Simply talking about them as "sectists" does not do the evidence presented justice. Any scientist doing such would be called a fraud or a holy warrior.

We should leave that style of dealing with opinions others than our own to the helmet lobby and their siblings.

Shining Raven said...

It is fine to advocate for a certain point of view, but one should present arguments fairly, and mikael dismisses arguments against "hidden" bicycle paths out of hand without any good evidence.

Even in Copenhagen, with good lane and track designs, it turns out there are more bicyclists involved in accidents after the introduction of bicycle tracks and lanes, even accounting for the increase in bicycle traffic.

Check here: http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/wiki/research-docs

S.U. Jensen, C.Rosenkilde & N.Jensen (2007), Road Safety and Perceived Risk of Cycle Facilities in Copenhagen


Key findings of the study as summarized on the "cycling embassy" website:

"Investigated accidents and traffic counts before & after the construction of cycling facilities, evaluating 8,500 accidents, with the original (Danish) studies to be found at http://www.trafitec.dk & http://www.vejpark.kk.dk. Found that constructing cycle tracks resulted in a slight drop in accidents (10%) & injuries (4%) between junctions but that accidents and injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders rose (by 18%) at junctions. Overall, an increase of 9-10% was found. Some road designs with cycle tracks were safer than others and women were more affected than men (18% vs 1%). The increase was particularly large among women under 20 and older female pedestrians. There were fewer accidents with cars hitting cyclists from the rear, cyclists turning left (across traffic) and cyclists hitting parked cars and more cyclists hitting other cyclists, more being hit by cars turning and more accidents between cyclists and pedestrians, with collisions between cyclists and bus passengers rising the most."

So accidents increase at intersection after introducing bike facilities, and there are more accidents among pedestrians and cyclists than before, and more accidents among cyclists.

I think any honest discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of bike infrastructure should take this into account.

In the same vein, I will say that the study *did* find that the introduction of bike infrastructure *increases* bike traffic significantly, at least in the situation that pertains in Copenhagen. So there is a big advantage to having bike infrastructure, because it gets people on the bicycle. So that is good. And overall, it might be worth it.

But it is simply not true that "100 years of cycle track experience" dictate that bike lanes should be hidden behind parked cars, and that traffic engineers who design bike lanes in such a way that cyclists can actually be seen by motorists "should be relieved of their duties". In fact, they seem to be up-to-date on the current research literature.

One last point: I always find it completely incongruous that Copenhagenize on the one hand advocates against the culture of fear, against the automobile, and to "take back the streets" for the bicycle, and then goes on to advocate to *not* take back the street from the automobile, but to put bikes away from cars and to leave the street to the automobile.

As a stop-gap measure in our current car culture, this might make sense, but I have the vision that bicycle traffic becomes the predominant type of traffic in cities again, and that the automobile gets relegated to a small role on the side. I cannot see how one can realize such a vision - that Copenhagenize seems to share on some strategic level - by putting bicycles on separate tracks. I have never understood how this is supposed to work in Mikael's vision of the future, and how you can get from separate infrastructure to a "taking back" of the streets.

mucradblogger said...

@Shining Raven

you write "I have the vision that bicycle traffic becomes the predominant type of traffic in cities again, and that the automobile gets relegated to a small role on the side. I cannot see how one can realize such a vision - that Copenhagenize seems to share on some strategic level - by putting bicycles on separate tracks. I have never understood how this is supposed to work in Mikael's vision of the future, and how you can get from separate infrastructure to a "taking back" of the streets."

I agree. Although i wouldn't emphasize the "taking back the streets", it isn't a territorial fight. I see that more pragmatic, apart from the safety arguments.

First: There is a certain ammount of traffic in the cities, pedestrians, cyclists, cars, lorries, buses, other. There is only so much space for all that traffic combined as the houses won't shrink, would they. An infrastructure that tries to give separate space to each will have to make ammendments for some while squeezing in others. It also will take up more space than when you provide shared space to some of those. Also shared space is more flexible to adapt when the ratio of those different kinds of traffic (or other factors) change over time.

Second: There also is psychology involved. Car traffic was pushed hard in times when there wasn't talk about evironmental issues, peak oil, climate change and so on. So car drivers are used to thinkof the road as their own, and everything else being obstacles. Cyclists were (and still are) educated to "hinder traffic" as little as possible. To think of themselves as something that should be in the way of the "real traffic" as little as possible.

With bike rates at 10%, at 20%, this concept is not valid any more. A means of transport that has a share of 10, 15, maybe 20% is not something to keep away form the "real traffic", it *is* traffic.

Car drivers need to learn to share the space, and bike riders need to learn to claim their part of the space. This isn't being sectical, this is being honouring the facts.

Any attempt to provide separate space for all different kinds of traffic will result in one party paying the price space-wise and(or safety-wise. With adapting a given "car - pedestrians" inner city infrastructure to a "car - bikes/pedestrians" one, it will be the cyclists paying the price. We see that here in Germany: Cycling rates rose from 10% in 2002 to close to 20% 2012 (Munich), but the infrastructure didn't grow. Now there are all kind of conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists that have their roots simply in too many cyclists too close to pedestrians. Those conflicts don't show in actual accidents (in fact, very few of all accidents with injured pedestrians are caused by cyclists, in Vienna for example as few as 5%), but in Cycling getting a very bad image. We have the infamous "Kampfradler" discussion raised by our traffic minister, no less. We could do without.

It may (and i believe from own personal experience it will) also increase safety. A bit as in the "shared space" Model which seems to work pretty well.

Dennis Hindman said...


I'll explain this invalid argument, that people keep advocating, another way. If you have a group of 1,000 cyclists called X that ride a total of 10,000 miles a year, which had a total of 10,000 collisions with vehicles in a year, compared to 10,000 cyclists named Y that ride 100,000 miles a year and also have a total of 10,000 collisions with vehicles a year, then the conclusion by many is that the amount of accidents with both the X and Y groups are the same. This is true, but the rate of collisions with vehicles per mile ridden is not. You are at a much higher risk of colliding with a vehicle in the X group than you are in the Y group.

The Netherlands has five times more bike paths than bike lanes, with 29,000 km of bike paths and 120,000 km of roads. Are you saying that they are wasting their money on unneeded and unsafe bicycling infrastructure? That they would have just as high a cycling rate and a lower rate of injury if they would simply abandon this strategy?

As far as I can tell, the countries with the lowest cycling rates in the western world have the weakest bicycle infrastructure.

As cited under the abstract in my link above from the research report about the safety of Montreal cycle-tracks versus riding in the streets: 2.5 percent more people rode on the cycle tracks studied in Montreal compared to the nearby streets. In the Netherlands, 27% of the trips are by bike, 55% of the riders are women and the injury rate is 0.14 injured/million km. In the U.S.,0.5% of commuters bike to work, 24% of adult cyclists are women and the injury rate of cycling is at least 26 times greater than in the Netherlands.

Not only does the stress of cycling on the streets decrease the rate of cycling, but it also increases the rate of injuries by not having protection from motorized vehicles.

mucradblogger said...

@Dennis Hindman

Your first paragraph: Yes i'm aware that simply counting number of casualties doesnt work. Did that try anyone here?

You ask: "The Netherlands has five times more bike paths than bike lanes, with 29,000 km of bike paths and 120,000 km of roads. Are you saying that they are wasting their money on unneeded and unsafe bicycling infrastructure?"

Let me ask you: Is the mere fact that a government spends money on something a proof that it is a good thing and has no side effects?

You ask: "That they would have just as high a cycling rate and a lower rate of injury if they would simply abandon this strategy?"

A lower rate of injury: Yes, i believe this. Such a high rate of cyclists? possibly. You seem to assume the high cycling rate in the Netherlands comes predominantly from bike paths. Well, there are studies that researched which factors influence bike usage in a positive way. There were plenty of those factors: topography, city size, social and psychological factors (how much is a car a sign of status), historical factors (has cycling always been a "normal" way of mobility) and so on.
Cycling was very common in the Netherlands before they started to build bike paths in 1971, which was considered the dernier cri. That also may be why countries with high cycling rates have lots of bike lanes (if we disregard China, India or Vietnam...).

You keep on citing that one study from Montreal. I can cite a few that show the absolute opposite. Does that make one of us a sectist?

About the stress factor: Stress is something very sujective. Take a person from, lets say, central Nepal, who has never been inside a car and take him for a car ride in your home town. He will be overwhelmed by the speed and the noise, stressed, no matter how safely you drive. (On the other side, he will maybe very calmly face a night out in a mountain area and simply to the right things to stay safe, which i wouldn't.). Somehow i have the feeling that certain countries are development countries when it comes to traffic cycling, the USA being one of them. I lived in Chicago a short while in 2000 and found it a very nice place to ride a bike...

I showed the video you linked in your previous post to some friends here. Their reaction was the same as mine: "If that is stress, i'd love to have that kind of stress". :) I agree you do have one nutter in a car near the end, but that's hardly the default, isn't it. You have his license plate, take him to court. We are talking risks in ordinary everyday traffic, at least that is what i thouht, not the 1 odd screwball you meet every no and then.
The rest is what i would call a nice, (safe) stroll in an area with very few friedly car drivers.

I'm tempted to do a video from an ordinary ride in my home town. Drop me a note whenever you come to munich and i "take you for a ride" :D (I mean it, mail address see link behind my name).

Tallycyclist said...

@Dennis Hindman

The impression I get from comments of those with extreme opposing viewpoints is that they have probably never cycled in places like Denmark or Holland. And if they did, they probably thought it was boring and/or lacking any adrenaline rush for them.

I use to have a very strong urge to post replies to those who disagreed with me, especially when it came the efficacy of separated bike infrastructure. But I've come to realize that it's pointless to try and argue with people who vehemently oppose these things. You won't likely have any more success than you would trying to convince someone like John Forrester. So I don't usually get myself sucked into a never-ending debate anymore.

Dennis Hindman said...


Here are the slides that were part of the presentation that was given by Dutch traffic engineer Hillie Talens at the ThinkBike workshop in Los Angeles last year. On page 19 there is a graph that shows the rate of cycling and the rate of cycling fatalities over the years in the Netherlands. Its very clear that as the cycling rate plummeted after WWII, the cycling fatalities increased. When the Netherlands started to install bike paths in the early 1980's, the cycling rate increased and the rate of cycling fatalities decreased to an even lower level than they were when the cycling rate was higher before bike paths were extensively installed. These changes were not entirely due to installing bike paths, but it is clear that there is a relationship.

In paragraph 3,on page 3, of this article written by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler article, the authors explain that the cycling rate of the Netherlands, Holland and Germany plummeted from about 1950 until 1975. In 1950, cycling in the UK was at 15%, higher than in Germany at the time. The cycling rate in the UK is now 1.5%. Focusing on people, rather than mainly cars, has made a big impact in increasing the cycling rate in these three European countries compared to the UK or the USA and cycling infrastructure certainly played a part in that.

In another research report, John Pucher and Ralph Buehler compared cycling rates and bike/path statistics of the 90 largest US cites. Their conclusion? There is a clear relationship between the cycling rate and the amount of cycle paths or lanes per population.

Here's another research report, that John Pucher was a co-author of, in which there was a review of the international infrastructure, programs and policies to increase cycling. Their finding was that most of the aggregate-level studies found a positive and statistically significant relationship between bike lanes and the level of cycling and the individual studies had mixed results.

Did you happen to notice that the person that was riding in the video, that I provided a link to, was the only person cycling anywhere in the video? To say that this was not stressful, is to contradict the overwhelming majority of those commuting to work in the area as demonstrated by the fact that everyone else was in motorized vehicles.

If you think this guys bike ride is typical of the rate of cycling in Los Angeles, here's a 2011 bike count by LACBC that on page 20 shows total bike counts at 33 intersections and a list of any bicycle instructure that is at these locations. Its clear that there is a relationship between the cycling rate and whether there is any bicycle infrastructure.

There is also a graph, on page 24, that has three intersections which had by far the largest increases in their cycling rate compared to the 2009 counts. These were the only ones of the 17 intersection in the graph that had either bike paths or lanes installed between 2009 and 2011. Washington/MarvinBraude and WoodmanOrangeLine have bike paths.

The majority of the miles of streets in Los Angeles are low-enough stress for most adults to cycle on. These streets are called residential and are usually contained within a grid that is typically a one half mile square which is surrounded by non-residential streets with lots of vehicles moving at a high rate of speed. In other words, they are islands for low-stress cycling, surrounded by much higher-stress streets that discourage most people from cycling on them. This makes for a fairly unuseful route for anything other than short trip recreational cycling.

mucradblogger said...


"The impression I get from comments of those with extreme opposing viewpoints is that they have probably never cycled in places like Denmark or Holland.

Actually, i did, for example i've been to Groningen, which is kind of a model cycling town if i'm not much mistaken. I'va also cycled in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Vienna, Milano, Ravenna, Cesena, Cadiz, Palma de Mallorca, Bozen, Chicago, Schaumburg/IL, to name a few, and of course i've cycled all my life in my hometown.
Especially the german cities have close to 50% of their roads equipped with bike lanes.

And if they did, they probably thought it was boring and/or lacking any adrenaline rush for them.

Erm, no. I lake a safe ride as much as anyone. Only i don't think a bike lane does anything to enhance my safety.

If only danger freaks say it is safer to ride where they can be seen by cars, then among those danger freaks we can count the highest german administrative court and the legislative authority - since 2001 it is illegal in germany to equip roads in inner city zones where 30km/h is the maximum speed with mandatory bike lanes, just to name an example.

mucradblogger said...

@Denis Hindman:
Thanks for the links, please give me a bit of time to read the sources you named and a few others!

I think we have do differentiate here. There are really two questions:

1 Are they safer, and
2 Are they pushing bike usage

About 2:
There are a lot of studies out there that take this as a given fact and don't question it. There are other studies that try to find out what makes people use a bicycle. This is a tough question to answer because there are a lot of factors for that: topolgy, climate, image of cycling, available infrastructure, safety, comfort, average length of ways, social 'conditioning' (=is it 'normal' to use a bike) and so on. People weigh these factors, but it is sometimes subjective - there are things people *think* are dangerous which in fact are not, for example (see helmet discussion) and so on.

I plan to do further research as this discussion we have here has grabbed my interest very much. I will come back here and let you know... ;)

keep on cycling,

Dennis Hindman said...


Here's another John Pucher research report that focuses on New York City.

This city is an interesting case study in that almost the entire focus of improving the cycling rate has been in increasing the amount of bike paths and lanes. The results indicate that increasing the cycling rate is similar to baking a cake in that you need other ingredients besides just flour for irresistability and to make it rise.

New York City has a very low amount of bike parking per population.

There are also problems with the police not attempting to reduce bike theft or keeping pedestrians and vehicles out of the bike lanes.

The upcoming 10,000 bicycle sharing system, that will start this summer in New York City, will improve on several of the problems for cycling. There will be bicycles for rent within a easy walk throughout lower Manhattan and northern Brooklyn. Bike parking will be much easier using the bicycle sharing kiosks when you rent a bike with the vendor moving the bikes around to where there is a shortage or removing some where the racks are full.

I would expect the bicycle sharing installation to at least double the cycling modal share within a year in the areas of the New York City where the bikes are placed. Afterall, New York City only has 6,260 bike parking spaces throughout the entire city currently and the bicycle sharing system is creating more than 10,000 additional bike parking spaces available in some of the most densely populated areas of the city where the alternatives for traveling are predominately by foot, taxi, limousine or transit. More than 70% of residents of Manhattan do not own a car.

mucradblogger said...

Thanks for the link! following the some of the sources in that study led me to other papers, like

Bicycle Commuting and Facilities in Major U.S. Cities:
If You Build Them, Commuters Will Use Them – Another Look
Dill and Carr 2003
Another one that is often quoted is "Nelson, A.C. and D. Allen. If You Build Them, Commuters Will Use Them. Transportation Research Record,1997" - i couldn't find an online source yet.

At a first glance, it seems all the researchers are less certain of the effect of bike lanes than you guys are...

let me quote Dill & Carr:

As already discussed, the analysis does not indicate the existence or direction of a cause-effect relationship. People may be commuting by bicycle more because there are more lanes and paths. Alternatively, because people are commuting by bicycle, the city is building more bike lanes and paths

The same study says about Nelson and Allen: They found that each additional mile of bikeway per 100,000 people is associated
with a 0.069 percent increase in bicycle commuting, holding the other factors constant. The authors did not,
however, interpret this as a cause-effect relationship.

Dennis Hindman said...


Here is a recent study from the University of British Columbia on the impact of transportation infrastructure on risk of injuries while cycling.

The report is very clear. Cycle tracks are safer than no bicycle infrastructure and residential streets where traffic is diverted also has a lower incidence of injuries.

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