May 21, 2013
…or perceived safety and objective safety of the cycle tracks
Usually, Urban segregated bike lanes (cycle tracsk) are perceived as safer than non segregated one, by many cycle advocates and public alike. Alas most accident statistics say otherwise, and most scientific studies conclude, consistently overtime, that segregated bike lanes impair safety by ~20% ( summarizes and complete previous studies, see also a list of studies at ), some older studies putting this number up to 4 fold time higher .
Of course, it is possible to find some studies saying otherwise, but usually those studies show significant methodology shortcomings. To focus only on recent Canada centric examples:  draws conclusion on cycle track from a field study conducted in cities not having such infrastructure per sei, as seen in  and  compares a cycle track set on a one lane residential street to a reference street carrying up to 6 lane of traffic (more critics here and there):
In urban area, most of the cyclist accidents are due to conflict with motor vehicles (85% in French cities according to the OSNIR), and most of them occur at intersection: In Canadian cities, 50% of fatal accidents and 72% of accidents resulting in serious injury occurred at intersections .
Thought, that a separated bike lane can remove potential conflicts along a road, and is recognized to reduce risk in such cases, it makes matter worse at intersections: This is mainly due to the fact cyclists, not on the road, tend to be overlooked by other road users, generating conflict at road intersections. The increased risk for cyclist is illustrated below:
Aware of this fact, Some transportation professional organizations don’t recommend separated bike lane, it is the case for the AASHTO in the USA, or the CERTU for urban area in France. A position supported by many cyclist organizations, be in France (FFCT, Fubicy) or Germany (ADFC), which have been at best rather neutral on the development of segregated cycle track, in some case opposed, and consistently advocating against the mandatory use of it. That eventually became the case for most of the french cycle track, circa 2000. For this later purpose a new road sign has been introduced, and Germany is following track:
An issue is that motorists tend to ignore the difference, and harass cyclists not using the cycle tracks
Traffic engineers, on their side, sometimes eager to remove cyclist of the road for their “good”, have worked to increase the safety of separate bike lane:
Reintroduction into general traffic at intersection
Treating cyclist as pedestrian at intersection
Cycling Commuters are generally not impressed by those treatments, which are just slowing down their commute, even when the obligation to walk the bike at intersections (Hong Kong case), is obviously widely disregarded by cyclists using such facilities.
The Copenhagen’s Treatment: Blue cycle crossings
It has been “invented” in Copenhagen in 1981: The basic idea is to mark the area of conflict between motor vehicles and cyclists blue so road users pay more attention to this conflict and cyclists have a lane marking through the junction area. Alas, while it is found effectively reducing the number of accidents (and injuries) with one line, it increases it with 2 blue lines or more, according to .
A reason for that is that, it becomes too much solicitation for the motorist than he can process – resulting in an increase of rear ending collisions and red light runnings; and provides a false “sense of safety” to the cyclists, becoming more complacent- not doing head check or using hand signals according to , what is consistent with the “naked street and risk compensation theories.
…and more often that not:
Separated bike lanes come with a panoply of restrictive sign
All, in the name of cycling safety of course…
But at the end, it is sometimes better to give-up
…than to cut the trees:
Should we be Against the separated bike lane?
or…Should we support the helmet law under evidence of greater safety provided by the helmet
Both generate passionate debates, and unfortunately, both generate biased scientific literature too.
Same logic apply to the cycle tracks: there is no need to deny their negative effect on road safety, or to produce biased studies to try to counter evidence, to support them: that is only conductive of complacency with poorly designed cycle tracks which do no good for cycling. Former Vancouver Planning Director, Brent Toderian was able to implicitly recognize the safety issue and supporting it : What is important is to produce evidence that the positive effect they induce outweigh their negative ones
 Traffic safety on bicycle paths – results from a new large scale Danish study, ICTCT workshop Melbourne, 2008
 Signalreglerade korsningars funktion och olycksrisk för oskyddade trafikanter – Delrapport 1: Cyklister. Linderholm, Leif, Institutionen för trafikteknik, LTH: Bulletin 55, Lund 1984
 Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street, Anne C Lusk, Peter G Furth, Patrick Morency, Luis F Miranda-Moreno, Walter C Willett and Jack T Dennerlein, Injury Prevention, February 2011. doi:10.1136/ip.2010.028696.
 Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study, Teschke K, Harris MA, Reynolds CC, Winters M, Babul S, Chipman M, Cusimano MD, Brubacher JR, Hunte G, Friedman SM, Monro M, Shen H, Vernich L, Cripton PA., American Journal of Public Health: December 2012, Vol. 102, No. 12, pp. 2336-2343.
 Safe Cycling: How Do Risk Perceptions Compare With Observed Risk?, Meghan Winters, Shelina Babul, H.J.E.H. (Jack) Becker, Jeffery R. Brubacher, Mary Chipman, Peter Cripton, Michael D. Cusimano, Steven M. Friedman, M. Anne Harris, Garth Hunte, Melody Monro, Conor C.O. Reynolds, Hui Shen, Kay Teschke, Injury Prevention, Canadian Journal of Public Health , Vol 103, No 9, 2012
 Bicycle Quaterly
 Gary James
 Conclusion of both  and  are drawn from a study carried from May 2008 to Nov 2009 in Toronto and Vancouver. To the bets of our knowledge, it was no “cycle track” in Toronto, and the only ones able to qualify in Vancouver, were an experiment started on July 2009 on Burrard Bridge, with no intersection along the ~1km cycle track segment, and a ~300m segment in one direction on a quiet street (Carral street) with ~300 cars at peak hour with only one very quiet intersection (Keefer street) featuring ~120 car at peak hour (From City of Vancouver’s 2006 traffic count) what is barely representative of a typical cycle track: The result provided for the cycle tracks is hence certainly irrelevant, and that is the reason it stands as an outlier.
 Bicycle Infrastructure Studies review by Ian Brett Cooper
 Bicycle Guidelines and Crash Rates on Cycle Tracks in the United States, Anne C. Lusk, Patrick Morency, Luis F. Miranda-Moreno, Walter C. Willett, Jack T. Dennerlein, American Journal of Public Health, July 2013
  draws conclusion by comparing current crash rate on some cycle tracks with some numbers collected, sometimes in specific situation- like a study on Boston’s bike messengers- more than 10 years ago, without correcting them of external factors, like significant general crashes reduction rate in the last decade, and well documented safety in number effect affecting more particularly the cyclists. Furthermore, one could argue that the “crash rate” is a very poor, if not uncorrelated, proxy, to qualify the safety of a road infrastructure: Roundabout are well-known to increase the rate of crashes, vs a signaled intersection, but they are also well recognized to reduce the risk of serious injuries, most of the crashes being limited to fender-bender type. In other word, a crash rate ratio is not representative of the safety social cost of an infrastructure…what ultimately matter. More awkward  suggests that “The AASHTO recommendations may have been influenced by the predominantly male composition (more than 90%) of the report’s authors” without being able to substantiate this assertion, showing that we have here more a opinion paper: attacking the gender of authors to disqualify their works, seems pretty petty at best!
 Vulnerable Road User Safety: A Global Concern, Transport Canada, 2004.
 Safety effects of blue cycle crossings: A before-after study, Søren Underlien Jensen, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 40, Issue 2, March 2008
 Evaluation of Blue Bike-Lane Treatment in Portland, Oregon. Hunter,W.W., Harkey, D.L., Stewart, J.R., Birk, M.L., Transportation Research Record 1705, 2000
 The finding of  seems in fact to suggest that the increase in accident and injuries are mainly among motorists, and eventually moped: so that in fact the blue line could effectively be not than “unsafe” for cyclists. Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t provide detailed break down of the injuries according to the transport mode. In any case, the measured global effect is a negative one
 Vancouver Embraces Bikes, Adds Lanes, Tim Newcomb, Planning;, Vol. 77 Issue 2, Feb2011
That is from their May 7th, 2013 issue, which is rich of Transportation perspective,…,
and eventually illustrates the dichotomy of thought on it between the Western world and Asia
As you could know, Beijing is facing massive traffic issues, and here like too often in North America before, it is considered that the pedestrians are the problem. Enforcing the jaywalking laws is not an easy matter but it is deemed necessary by chinese,…this to be a “world class” country… at par with the USA…
In Vancouver, Councillor Heather Deal, whose devoted great amount of VPD time and taxpayer money to enforce the local jaywalking laws, couldn’t agree more .
In the Meantime, it is worth to note that in the not so “world class” countries such UK or France, jaywalking is legal as in many other European countries, and still it is generally safer to be a pedestrian there than in Vancouver and more generally in North America.
Cycling in Hong Kong raises a safety issue
Cycling is pretty much foreign to Hong Kongers: the fact that the Chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling alliance, Martin Turner, is a British raised individual is tale telling…And when cycling is considered it is mostly for recreational purpose, could lament Martin. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidences seem to show that cycling is on the rise in Hong Kong, like anywhere else, but it seems to be little appetite to quantify that:
Statistics show that bike accidents are on the rise too. Helmet laws and bike licensing, are called by some quarters, to reverse this worrisome trend!
Turner has another opinion, and is lobbying for bike rack on bus, like in San Francisco, or Vancouver,…a North American specificity not seen Europe. This promise to be a tough sell, but there is lot of things to do to improve cycling in Hong Kong beside that:
The debate concerns the redevelopment of the former Hong Kong’s airport: Kai Tak, which still look pretty much like below:
The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) of Hong Kong has a grand vision for the site, which seems reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s cite radieuse, including a “people mover” under the form of a monorail :
Veolia operating The Hong Kong Trams, is making the case for a tramway. Many readers of the South China Morning Post support this idea. Norman Y. S. Heung, project manager at the CEDD Office, explains it is “Practically impossible to accommodate tram system at Kai Tak”, because taking too much road space (sic)…Worth to note that most of the area is not even built yet!
Many other arguments are advanced in favour of the Monorail, which is also presented as a tourist attraction… but at the end the quality of the urban environment is not one of them. It is also explained that the “walking environment will be improved by provision of footbridges and [underpasses]“ (sic).
So Does the Kai Tak’s monorail will look like the Chongqing one , or does Hong Kongers will push for a different street experience, may be on the model of the Kunming’s Zhengyi Rd?
 See the video and other information at Hong Kong CEDD
 Old Cat
 Vancouver launches campaign to educate ‘fragile’ pedestrians, Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, February 07, 2012.
April 25, 2011
Interesting picture since it highlights how “dull” can be the architecture standard in Vancouver, but Denman street is still a great street (by Vancouver Standard) in a well desired neighborhood.
That illustrates more than perfectly the thesis that what is important is not how high or architecturally interesting is a building, but how it meets the people where they are-on the ground…Thesis defended by architect Jack Diamond at a city of Vancouver sponsored event last Tuesday night …and a reason explaining the success of Vancouver urbanism (somewhat termed vancouverism) , in despite of somewhat bland architecture to speak the least.
Denman has all the ingredients to be a great street:
- It is properly oriented to benefit of sunlight most of the day, while still offering interesting lighting condition changes during the day
- It Connects the south and north shore of the peninsula, with great vantage viewpoint at both end, and inviting perspective on English bay
- Stanley park, the beaches, the seawall, all provide a great deal of pedestrian traffic to capitalize on
- It is a human scale short stretch street making a consistent beautification project of it very doable
That said, Denman suffers of some flaws to become a “great” street: it doesn’t capitalize on its natural strengths but tends to ignore it.
After touring the Stanley park, riding the seawall, or lazying on the beaches, the natural prolongation of those hedonist moments is to enjoy some more urban time at a sidewalk cafe…
Sure, Denman, doesn’t lack of cheap food joint, and also has some patio restaurants, but does it offer what we are expecting in such location?
On Denman, there is no sidewalk cafe allowing you to enjoy, while still contributing to, the street-life (what could epitomize the “european style sidewalk cafe” experience). Since Denman street is a very short street which is experienced by virtually 100% of Vancouver tourists the lack of proper treatment of it by a city so pride of its image is for the least, curious.
Why there is no European style sidewalk cafe here ? Is it due to a cultural difference or a poor treatment of the street, which call for lack of inviting experience? is it a fatality Denman street has to resign to ?
Since sidewalk cafe experience can be found in numerous place in North america, and in less extend in Yaletown, Cultural differences fail to explain why Denman shouldn’t be able to offer such an experience.
- There is no lack of people, and potential customers, but the street is not designed for enjoyment…sidewalk are too narrow and crowded, and clearly not sized to allow sidewalk cafes.
- In despite of lack of bike lanes, cyclists are numerous, but bike rack are at a premium,
- vehicular traffic is heavy on Denman, but in fact of the 4 lanes dedicated to vehicular traffic, one is used for parking most of the time, and erratic movement on traffic lanes, like left turns, cyclists, bus stops, jaywalkers, directional lane at Robson….make the street not having much more throughput capacity that a reasonably designed 2 traffic lanes street.
Reduction of Denman to 2 traffic lanes + a median lane is a necessary step to a greater street.
- The median lane can be used to avoid slower traffic like cyclists, bus stopping, right turning vehicle or as “storage” lane for left turning
- the median lane can also encourage “responsible” jay walking what is good in heavy traffic area, since it relieve congestion at designated sidewalk crossing, and contribute to make the street a more “shared space”
- The sidewalk should be the main beneficiary of the space reallocation. benches should be installed and sidewalk patio should be encouraged.
The inspiring model could be “cappucino strip” (south terrace) in Fremantle, Australia:
Denman is on the notoriously slow number 5 route. There is little reason to think that the alteration of the street as suggested above should affect this route. That said this route has considerable flaw as illustrated below:
The problem, is not that much the driver giving an insanely circuitous route, the problem is that the transit system is designed in such a way that the driver answer is a correct one!
The Translink route map extract below shows why:
The Vancouver centric view of the transit network, make the transit option from North-Shore to the Westend not necessarily appealing. Thought that the Georgia bus stop is a mere 350 meters away of Robson, it can be a pain to have to walk that distance either under the rain or in the cold. To add to the frustration, people using the route 6, will have to spend extra time at the time point at Davie and Denman.
All that can be corrected easily:
- Extend both routes 5 and 6 to Denman North to provide direct seamless connection at Georgia street with the countless bus routes using this later corridor.
That extension adding less than 1km to each bus trip, could have limited effect on operating cost, but could make the system much more comprehensive in the area.
That is: there are lot of reasons to revisit the street space allocation and transit in the Denman area
 Gordon Price
 Exploring Denman street- From English bay to Cola Harbour Dana Lynch, Inside Vancouver, June 16, 2009
 Achieving new height in archiecture excellence, April 19, 2011
October 23, 2010
…or a bike commuting adventure in Richmond
Richmond with its flat land should be a paradise for cyclists, and indeed it offers interesting trails on the dykes and elsewhere. Stephen Rees has extensively covered them and others Richmond related cycling issues in a serie of posts [sr1][sr2][sr4], so here is another view focusing more on utility cycling, that is basically cycling to go to work/study. Below is a snapshot of what makes such cycling an adventurous proposition in Richmond
The bike lanes or lack of…
It is not the least advantage of a cycle lane to behave like a legal, safe, and comfortable queue jumper, avoiding inhalation of polluted air by cyclists on congested road, and making this mode more competitive with other commuting choice.
|It makes little sense to promote cycling by asking cyclist to breath car exhaust in middle of traffic congestion |
… But Richmond replaces the bike lanes when it is most needed, by one of its avatar, the sharrow, as seen below:
As explained by New York City DOT engineers , when there is not enough right of way to implement a dedicated lane or traffic is light and calm enough to justify a shared street, a chevron marking (also called sharrow) could be used raise awareness of motorist…Richmond still has to learn how to use appropriate horizontal marking for bike facilities
The network or lack of…
Richmond city provides a cycling map, where the simple fact to draw a bike on a road, seems to justify the classification of it as a bike lane. A ground survey of the bike lane could lead to the more realistic map below:
basically, the Richmond city center is serviced by a a backbone of 2 bike lanes, the north-south bike lane,along the path of the former interurban (gardencity, Granville and railway) and on the east of Garden city by an East-West bike lane along Westmintser hwy.
In despite of some commendable effort in the right direction, like the raised bike lane on the road 3, bike lanes are still fairly disconnected and basically don’t provide much needed connections to the Canada line or the Kwantlen college.
Connection to the Bridgeport station
Nevertheless, Bridgeport station is reachable by a bike lane connected to the rest of the network… at least up to a certain point:
Connection to the Canada line bridge
A recent addition to the bike lanes netwok has been the connection of the Canada line bridge to the rest of the bike network through Van Horne road in an industrial precinct…but probably that the 12 meters wide road was judged still on the narrow side, so a bike lane takes place in only one direction! (opposite direction is a shared path).
Notice that in general cyclists use an alternative and more pleasant route via Riverport road.
Better to ignore the signage
At Great Canadian way and Sea island way intersection, cyclists are the object of less care than the landscaping, and a cyclist following sign could put himself in an uncomfortable if not outright unsafe spot.
First a satellite view of the situation
The cyclist travelling from West to East on Sea island Way will encounter a suite of sign designed to his attention. A first sign suggest he will have to do a right tun where the on ramp lane merge. The sign indicates that the cyclist should be still on the road:
A second sign seems to disagree with the first one, since it assumes that the cyclist should be on the sidewalk, and then suggest a very strange procedure to the cyclist obeying to the first one:
Law abiding cyclist need to be lucky…
or prepared to spend very very long time…at ever red light. This is due to the fact that most of the secondary roads have traffic light activated by induction loop…not triggered by bike
The right turn lane…
…or how to make a cyclist like a pin in the middle of a bowling lane
As the above picture illustrates, advanced right turn lane gives way to probably the most disconcerting disposition of bike lanes, de facto defeating the purpose of those bike lanes, which is to provide a secure environment to the cyclist.
Motorists seems unsure on the way to negotiate a right turn with a bike lane in the middle of the road: some will pass a cyclist on the right… some others on the left before tail gating the bike….
In Richmond, yield to cyclist is definitely not an option!
Needless to say, intersections in BC (most of them arranged as above), are especially treacherous for cyclist, where more than 60% of the accidents happen, and going straight seems the most dangerous proposition for a cyclist 
Obviously, there is some better way to implement bike lane with advanced right turn lane, and generally, they are implemented like below in Europe
because the “yield to cyclist” could be not obvious to the BC motorist  and horizontal “yield” marking less frequent here than in Europe could be not as well understood , additional vertical sign, nowadays rarely seen in Europe, could be required here
In cyclist friendly jurisdictions, Yield to cyclist is the only option!
…and not surprisingly, those jurisdictions have usually much safer road safety record than BC.
Richmond BC, is like a child learning to bike. It seems to be full of good intention, but lack of understanding and method. European cities was not much different a quarter century ago, it is just that Richmond needs to work much harder in order to not fall behind.
 While, it is generally the law to yield to cyclist, like to pedestrian, on a right turn in Europe, law seems to be far less consistent across North american jurisdictions which usually don’t treat cyclist as a vulnerable user of the road, see bike lane and right turn difference in Oregon and California or, for a more awkward regulation, the Ontario MTO explicitly indicates that right turning vehicles have priority on cyclists.
 European countries, and more generally country adopting the Vienna convention road signage, use thick dashed lane as a horizontal “yield line” marking, the equivalent in North america is usually a line of triangle, used in New York City as illustrated in the video of the NYC DOT.
 number from www.bikesense.bc.ca
 It is what is required by the BC motor vehicle act section 158