How To Build a Culture of Bike Safety

bike lane, segregated, Vancouver.jpg

As I've settled into life in Florida, I've found myself for the first time using a bicycle as a form of transportation instead of as a form of leisure activity. And, as an urban designer involved in a team that designs bicycle and pedestrian master plans, I've become increasingly aware of the factors that make urban bike use a feasible — or not so feasible — choice.

The Risk & Fear Factors: While I might actually be safe riding my bike down a neighborhood collector road on a dedicated bike lane, when I'm alongside two 10-foot lanes of traffic I do not feel safe. Therefore, I don't ride there. It's a question of perceived risk vs actual risk. As it turns out, I am not unique. Linda Baker in Scientific American has suggested that, when cycling, women are more adverse to risk than men.

The Gender Gap: Baker has also suggested that cycling to work impedes a woman's ability to conform to social norms, including makeup, dress, and hairstyles. That issue would be a big bite to chew, so I'll put aside addressing it here. But consider: While cycling has become a big grass roots movement through organizations like Pro Walk/ Pro Bike and The National Center for Bicycling and Walking, there is an enormous gender gap among users. Planner Jan Garrard states, “If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’—just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female.” I personally can't remember the last time or if I've ever seen a woman on a bicycle on the Tampa streets.

Nearly all the new riders on US roads in the last 20 years have been men between the ages of 25 and 64. Taking into account the national demographics, this means that we are currently designing bike-friendly streets for a relatively small constituency.

How can we provide cycling options in a way that reaches out to more users?

The Infrastructure Factor: Substantially lowering the risk of cycling can be best accomplished through a change in infrastructure. Cycle tracks, like the one in New York City, are becoming more popular. Because of the complete physical separation from the threat of cars, all users perceive — and experience — a lower threat to their safety. The problem, besides the constant challenge of funding, is finding the right-of-way to accommodate bikes, especially in a car-centric culture like Florida. There has to be evidence of a high enough level of ridership to justify cutting out a lane from a congested street. It's a chicken and the egg conundrum: there is not the required ridership now because a majority of 50% of the population doesn't feel safe.

A good compromise might be to allow room for a physical separation between a one-way bike lane and car traffic. Creative use of medians and plantings, as in Denver, is one example of this. Simply placing parallel parking between car traffic and the bike lane is another.

The Get-More-Riders Factor: Building a bike culture is more than just infrastructure, but building appropriate spaces is an integral piece. As Billy Hattaway, a Florida DOT official pointed out to me, if we don't create bike lanes that cater to a larger part of the population we might lose the justification to have bike lanes at all.

At the Congress for the New Urbanism annual conference, Wesley Marshall showed evidence proving that the more cyclists there are, the more safe it is to bike. There is a belief by some transportation planning engineers that more cyclists and users in the road make it unsafe, but "safety in numbers" is true. It's partly because drivers are more aware of cyclists when they see them more often; they're on the lookout for them.

The Land Use Factor: People will only choose cycling as a mode of transportation if it is convenient and efficient. Ridership in parts of the city without mixed-uses and with low density will be low compared with more urban areas with many commercial/residential/institutional uses nearby and close together. Riding to a local grocery store to get a gallon of milk is realistic. Riding to a Wal-Mart for your weekly shopping is not. But Marshall's research showed that the biggest aspect of achieving bike safety is intersection density. The more intersections there were in a development, the safer it was for riders. At first thought this seems to go against common sense, because intersections are the sites of many crashes, but more connectivity = slower speeds = more awareness. Connectivity also allows for more mixed-uses and higher densities. Many cities put their resources into developing recreational cycling trails. While this is admirable, as a “wanna-be” cyclist, I'm a proponent of putting those funds into street design, instead. Putting the infrastructure on routes where people go in their everyday lives will lead to the biggest increase in ridership.

A lot of factors need to come together to increase ridership and bridge the gender gap in cycling. I'm someone who would love to ditch my car in favor of my bike on my daily commute, but risk aversion holds me back. Providing a lane along the side of the road is not enough: we must examine the evidence and psychology behind riding in order to make it a real choice for the majority of the population. Otherwise, we will find ourselves losing the justification to provide cycling options at all.

Erin Chantry is an Urban Designer in the Urban Design and Community Planning Service Team with Tindale-Oliver & Associates. She is also the author of the blog At the Helm of the Public Realm.

Photo: Protected / Separated bicycle lane on Dunsmuir Street, downtown Vancouver, Canada, by Paul Krueger



















Subjects:

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

As I've sunk into life in

As I've sunk into life in Florida, I've ended up despite anything that might have happened before utilizing a bike as a manifestation of transportation in place of as a type of relaxation action. What's more, as a urban architect included in a group that outlines bike and person on foot expert plans, FunMazas | niche relevant dofollow blog comments

I'll say it again: Whatever

Hear me out. Aw, man, wow, Build a Culture of Bike Safety and top essay writing services! Wow! The end is nigh! Erin Chantry - thanks for injecting a note of relativity to facts into this content. Please let me comment on that. They should have tackled the corporations that ruled them and orchestrated their maelstrom of misinformation. Why are you even commenting on the ifs and buts and whys, WITHOUT even mentioning Build a Culture of Bike Safety and top essay writing services in your replies, which are red hot needles in our eyes. Would Erin Chantry 's message resonate any other way?

hotelinsuranceplans

Nobody needs to inform you the actual changing nature from the hotel business. Between federal government regulatory alter and safety and health issues, it's all that you can do to stay in front of an changing, growing business. So how can you think which hotel insurance plan package you purchased is performing? hotelinsuranceplans

It s easy to lost your

It s easy to lost your weight and must be do exercise regular basis and i am happy to read your valuable article. buy viagra without prescription

If would be very difficult

If would be very difficult to do it for bicycles. Even people on motorbikes do not follow the basic rules. I hope this gets appreciated by some.

sports and technology

I have bookmarked your

I have bookmarked your website because this site contains valuable information in it.I am really happy with articles quality and presentation.trucking factoring company

It's a chicken and the egg

It's a chicken and the egg conundrum: there is not the required ridership now because a majority of 50% of the population doesn't feel safe. cell phone spy software
cell phone listening

This article made me think

This article made me think that I should also use bicycle as mode of transportation. This article is most encouraging and it covers almost everything under the topic. I liked the way all the factors that must be considered for the safety of the bikes.
cheap self storage and storage units prices

health and safety online

health and safety online training - Safety Media provide over 50 top quality health and safety e-learning courses.

Great post about this. I'm

Great post about this. I'm surprised to see someone so educated in the matter. Great blog, all posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and i appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Keep writing..! - Hotel di Semarang

As I've settled into life in

As I've settled into life in Florida, I've found myself for the first time using a bicycle as watch magi anime a form of transportation instead of as a form of leisure activity. And, as an urban designer involved in a team that designs bicycle and pedestrian master plans, I've become increasingly aware of the factors that make Minamoto-kun Monogatari manga read urban bike use a feasible — or not so feasible — choice.
The Risk & Fear Factors: While I might actually be safe riding my bike down a neighborhood collector road on a dedicated bik

a fantastic read

This became truly very helpful site. I truly enjoyed what sort of written content had been published. I will be content to help save this web site in to our folder. Many thanks! The way you express yourself is awesome.Hey, your blog is great.. - Hotel Murah Semarang

I am find information on

I am find information on this topic as I am working on a business project. Thank you posting relative information and its now becoming easier to complete this project. - tempat baju branded

interesting issue

I also find this issue to be quite amusing, especially here in South East Asia, the trends to use bike everywhere people goes has start to increase dramatically. Every Sunday here in Indonesia, some cities have implemented car-free day where some major roads are blocks for motorcycles and cars.
Well...hope bicycle will earn its place in making a green-economy.
hotel murah di Semarang

I am very interested for

I am very interested for this post.This site is so helpful. I am just so done with finding junk via the internet, So i want some information for sharing this side with some of my friend. Thanks. - toko sepatu online