Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 7, 2010 at 12:01am

Tacoma Could Learn a Lot About Constructing Bike Lanes From NYC

It is encouraging to see more and more bike lanes being installing in Tacoma.


                   Bike lanes being installed on 21st Street. Photograph by: Kevin Freitas

                  
Yet, sometimes, it feels like Tacoma is trying to re-invent the wheel on so many urban design issues.

Here is a great video from Streetfilms showing the various techniques for constructing bike lanes including how to construct bike lanes to reduce the incidence of bicyclists being hit by car doors which are opening.

The proper construction of bike lanes:

Enjoy!



comments [27]  |  posted under Tacoma

Comments

by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 12:21am
Could Tacoma learn something from NYC?

Well I learned something from watching the video. The NYC streets with all their various markings, street signs, coloring schemes are highly confusing. I would like to mention that NYC is a much more urbanized city than Tacoma. By this I mean there is a much greater distribution of cyclists relative to drivers so the intense focus on the needs of cyclists is expected. It would be nice if the narrator of the video would have mentioned the cost per mile of the various strategies they had developed. With that information Tacoma's cyclists could devise a strategy to tax themselves to pay for a similar build out.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 1/7/2010 @ 12:40am
I think all should be taxed for bicycle lanes as we will all benefit from the improved environment and healthier population that bicycle riding provides. People without cars pay for road maintenance in Tacoma so why not have drivers pay for bicycle lanes? Seems reasonable to me. More bicycle lanes would translated to more people riding bicycles and thus fewer cars on the road. Fewer cars on the road equals less wear and tear on the roads. Looks like win win all around. It could be easily justified that car drivers should contribute even more to the creation of bicycle lanes to compensate for the destruction to our environment, health and safety hazards they provide, and wear and tear on our public roads.

by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 1:12am
Streets suitable for motor vehicles are a civic requirement. How would fire engines, police cars and ambulances get to your house in an emergency? Ever see a garbageman picking up refuse on his Schwinn? How about the pizza drivers? If they delivered on bicycles Crenshaw, your Canadian bacon pizza would be delivered cold! A traditional street can be used by everyone, bike lanes...not so versatile.

Nevertheless, if the provision of NYC-style bike lanes is of import to our local cylists it would behoove them to develop a financing stategy that would assure the non-cyling community that they would shoulder a proportion of the cost. Enough of the funding for special interests, give us a break.

by KevinFreitas on 1/7/2010 @ 6:39am
Aside from arguing about the financials (for another post, perhaps) it's awesome to see some of these alt designs come about. Portland has one of the bike lane inside parking strip designs in testing I believe. This sort of thing would be ideal on a couple wide streets like most of Center Street and Tacoma Ave.

I don't think it's confusing to have new methods of organizing the road at all but with proper awareness and driver/cyclist training it can become as normal as stop and go.

I'm off to ride in to work on the shiny new and safer path along 30th!

21st Street bike lane construction photo by Kevin Freitas :)

by Dmitri on 1/7/2010 @ 6:42am
There's this mythology that car drivers pay for the roads and are taxed to death, while bike riders are freeloaders.

About three dollars of the REAL cost of gasoline and its side effects is subsidized by the public, even the non-driving public. Every person who gets on a bike or on a bus is one fewer car in front of you on the road. Every bike in a bike lane is one fewer bike in your traffic lane, making you dodge around it.

If gas cost what it should, alternatives would be worth investing in. And maybe people would think twice before driving three blocks to the store.

How about a shoe tax to pay for sidewalks. There's a really abusive special interest group: pedestrians.

A coherent transportation strategy helps everybody, even whiny car drivers.

So, vie ME a break.

by tacoma1 on 1/7/2010 @ 6:54am
The safety of our citizens is definitely one of the more important civic requirements that government has. By separating the cars from the bicyclists and pedestrians, our city officials are performing their civic duties exactly as they should be.




by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 7:58am
"How about a shoe tax to pay for sidewalks?" Dmitiri

Do you think the taxpayers should pay for the sidewalks?

"The safety of our citizens is ... one of the more important civic requirements that a government has" tacoma1

More important than new furnitiure, new cars, and raises for overpaid city employees?

by tacoma1 on 1/7/2010 @ 8:06am
Fredo
I thought that this thread was about the importance and different uses of bike lanes. For the record, I don't believe the city should install new furniture in bike lanes, or park their new cars, or park the "overpaid city employees" in the bike lanes. They should, however; install as many bike lanes as possible.

by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 8:35am
tacoma1

I thought it was already decided that these lanes were a good thing. I'm prepared to move on to the financing. In the big scheme of things where do bike lanes fit in? Assuming they are not Tacoma's number one priority, which is a fair assumption, how would you rate the lanes in terms of priority? The new council has established three priorities: new furniture for city offices, new cars for city employees and new pay raises. Where should they rank bike lanes? And what current expenditure should we curtail, if need be, to accommodate the bicyclists?

And for the record, I don't think a comfortable chair at the top of the 30th St. hill for the use of bicyclists is really such a bad idea...brilliant in fact. Thanks tacoma1.

by tacoma1 on 1/7/2010 @ 8:58am
Bike lanes are a part of a complete street, and part of our city transportation system. They get funded with the roads budget that we have. If the current funding is insufficient, we just can't build anymore roads. The bicycle is the most efficient transportation machine that mankind has every invented. Bicycles produce virtually no noise or pollution, take up very little space, and are affordable for almost everyone. They are not the problem. Cars are extremely inefficient, noisy, expensive, take up tons of room, and responsible for 50% of the air pollution in our city.

Cars no longer have sole ownership of the streets. The citizens of Tacoma paid for the streets, and they have ownership of the streets. Cars can use their part, bicycles can use their part, and pedestrians can use their part. I for one, use all three parts (never at the same time, of course) on a regular basis.

So the city can raise my taxes if they want to pay for the bike lanes and street cars. Once we expand our street car and light rail system, plus add some more bike lanes, I will save thousands of dollars each year by eliminating one car out of my garage.

by Erik on 1/7/2010 @ 9:15am
I don't think it's confusing to have new methods of organizing the road at all but with proper awareness and driver/cyclist training it can become as normal as stop and go.

Some roads are able to handle different methods. More urban areas might have different needs than neighborhood areas.

I like the idea of a row of parked cars serving as a "wall if steel" and protecting the bicyclist.

Thanks for the picture Kevin!

by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 9:35am
"...the city can raise my taxes if they want bike lanes...I will save thousands of dollars each year" tacoma1



Why wait for the city to raise your taxes? Just cut them a check with a notation on it that says 'bike lanes' and mail your donation today. This will enable you to begin saving money much sooner.

by Erik on 1/7/2010 @ 9:49am
@Fredo

Sounds like you have been hanging around with Washington DC based Automobile Users Trade Organization (AUTO) lobbyist Veronica Moss, who objected to the Tacoma's traffic calming measures:

i.feedtacoma.com/Erik/contrary-dc-based-...

No doubt she would share your opposition to bicyclists and bike lanes as well.

by fredo on 1/7/2010 @ 10:16am
Erik, as delightful as the thought of "hanging around Veronica Moss" might be I'm actually a bicyclist. Therefore I oppose neither bicycles nor bike lanes.
There's really no reason to oppose bike lanes...except for their cost.

So why don't we talk financing? The NYC style bike lanes you showed in your posting will be expensive-we're not talking about paint-we're talking about complete street redesigns. And the new bike oriented street designs will be expensive to maintain. Tacoma can't maintain the existing street system. Until someone comes up with a financing scheme that cash-strapped Tacomans can afford or until someone makes some changes in the spending proclivities at city hall, NYC style bike lanes will remain...an unrealized feedtacoma Utopian dream.

By the way do you have Veronica's number?

by mike.hahn on 1/7/2010 @ 11:25am
Kevin, great bike lanes on 30th. Let's just hope they don't "complete" them down the hill into Old Town. Sharrows, please! We can probably all agree that blanketing the city in "one size fits all" bicycle lanes is not the answer... as drivers come to expect that cyclists belong "over there", our lane positioning options become hampered and conflicts will increase.

by Erik on 1/7/2010 @ 11:38am
By the way do you have Veronica's number?

Interesting you should ask Fredo. Yes, you can meet her if you wish. I know she has other fans on Feed Tacoma.

Veronica will be appearing in NYC on January 18th, 2010 to address an upcoming Streetfilm gathering to "counter the propaganda" of the bicyclists and other urban boosters.

See Below:

____________________

Streetfilms Spectacular 2010
by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on January 7, 2010


You are invited to the first you-gotta-be-there event of 2010. So don't be that I'm-so-sad-I-missed-it-person and plan to be there.

On Tuesday, January 19th we'll be hosting: �Streetfilms Spectacular 2010: A Celebration and Opportunity to Help Support the Future of Streetfilms� in the Penthouse at the Open Planning Project.

Come by and meet the team. See what Streetfilms is working on. Give us feedback on what youve liked in the past and what youd like to see us tackle in the future. And most importantly, learn about exciting new opportunities to fund part of our work!

And, as an extra once-in-a-lifetime treat, our very special guest will be A.U.T.O. lobbyist Veronica Moss (seen so scoundreliciously here driving her SUV and here bemoaning the new Times Square.) When she got wind we were throwing a party, Ms. Moss told us someone needs to be there to counter that propaganda stuff you guys produce."



So shell be holding a press conference. We have no idea what to expect, but bring your questions. And she promised if you are nice to her, shes going to pose for photos afterwords.

Doors open at 6 pm and and the official program begins around 630 pm which will consist of speeches, films, and surprises. Well have a bounty of snacks and drinks. Buy a t-shirt. We hope to see you there. Click here to RSVP

Tuesday, January 19, 6-9pm
148 Lafayette Street
Take the L N, Q, R, W, 6, J or M trains to Canal Street.
M6 stops nearby at Broadway and Howard.

www.streetfilms.org/streetfilms-spectacu...

by dltooley on 1/7/2010 @ 12:43pm
Great set of alternatives - quite a bit of paint, but certainly cheaper than new pavement. There are lots of streets in Tacoma that have the available unused width to do this.

by Heatherrebel on 1/7/2010 @ 2:32pm
Hmmmm...I'm not sure Tacoma wants to emulate NYC in this regard. As a New Yorker, I can tell you that this fair city definitely lacks bike lanes, which does not stop bikers--including delivery guys--from thinking they are Lance Armstrong. The result is that every few years an old person gets killed by a biker on the sidewalk racing to deliver someone's Chinese food, and a LOT more often bikers get hurt or killed by cars on the street (as a community news reporter it seemed like I would have to do a story on another biker killed or severely injured almost every month in Union Square). So despite its many virtues New York is not a great town for bikers. The streets are not constructed to handle it, the drivers don't respect it, etc. Yet with typical NYC "tude" bikers bike anyway, and the results are not good. Don't go down our road, Tacoma, but instead, set up better roads (and bike lanes).

by Mark Monlux on 1/8/2010 @ 7:28am
What Tacoma needs is more peppy music, just like in this video.

by david on 1/8/2010 @ 11:47am
@Heatherrebel: The fact that there are so many problems with is why NYC needs to regulate bicycling through lanes and education. People will be biking in the streets and sidewalks if there's no other pace to ride. Making them part of the city with rules to follow is meant to cut down on such accidents. I don't agree with the idea that taking care of our bicyclists will create more granny-killing biker jerks.

@Fredo: Bike lanes in our transportation infrastructure will save the taxpayers money. Bikes don't destroy roads like cars, don't pollute like cars, don't take up valuable parking spaces on our roads like cars, don't force you to sit still more than we already do like cars, and don't kill and maim people like cars... all of which saves us a great deal of money even when you account for needing to paint roads and hand out rule-books.

Also keep in mind that the likelihood of getting in an accident decreases the more bikers are on the street.

by fredo on 1/8/2010 @ 12:00pm
david-"bikes don't destroy roads like cars"

Yes, but there's a corollary. Bike riders don't contribute to the construction and maintenance of roads like car owners. If the desire is to remove cars from the road and decrease auto ownership then you should be prepared for lower revenue for the provision of roads. This isn't rocket science.

by L.S.Erhardt on 1/8/2010 @ 3:08pm
I thought this dead horse was beaten already

by david on 1/8/2010 @ 3:58pm
Fredo, car owners contribute a very small part of construction and maintenance costs through their car usage. Everyone's paying for the roads. When that small amount of taxable car usage is compared to how much we save with more bike riders, car owners should be paying the bicyclists directly.

If you're advocating we raise gas to at least $6 a gallon to pay for road usage, then you can talk to me about bicyclists not pitching in their fair share.

by panachronic on 1/8/2010 @ 4:47pm
I found some choice quotes in this thread, just begging for a gentle Fisking...

"With that information Tacoma's cyclists could devise a strategy to tax themselves to pay for a similar build out."

If Feed Tacoma's cyclists are representative, such taxation will have to be imposed coercively. We've already seen cyclists react to such an idea with hostility, based on their notion that they are doing us all such a huge favor.

"People without cars pay for road maintenance in Tacoma so why not have drivers pay for bicycle lanes?"

Roads are an engine of commerce and a channel by which to deliver essential services, so they truly do benefit all citizens. But bicycle lanes benefit only cyclists.

"Aside from arguing about the financials (for another post, perhaps) it's awesome to see some of these alt designs come about."

The safety benefits of bicycle lanes are grounded in standardization. If drivers and cyclists are forced to constantly analyze unfamiliar striping treatments and symbols, the safety benefits will evaporate rather quickly. Innovation is fine, but it is important to find ONE standard that works, and stick to it.

"Every person who gets on a bike or on a bus is one fewer car in front of you on the road."

A fine proposition this is. Buses are great, but every driver who chooses his bike over his car becomes one more bicycle in front of us on the road. In the absence of bike lanes, this is a detriment to drivers; not a benefit. Yes, this point is an argument if favor of bike lanes, in a way, but the more important point is that the cyclists' rallying cry of "we reduce congestion!" is a myth.

"A coherent transportation strategy helps everybody, even whiny car drivers."

This is a chunk of irony so thick that one can cut it with a knife.

"They should, however; install as many bike lanes as possible."

Right after they finish with the potholes. ETA for completion... some time after we are all dead and gone.

"By the way do you have Veronica's number?"

Email me. By the way, she's available now. Three-date rule, you know.

"Also keep in mind that the likelihood of getting in an accident decreases the more bikers are on the street."

I'd love to see your evidence for this. Intuitively, I'm pretty sure that actual data would prove this assertion to be false.

"If the desire is to remove cars from the road and decrease auto ownership then you should be prepared for lower revenue for the provision of roads."

If this were really true, Tacoma would be virtually car-free already.

"Fredo, car owners contribute a very small part of construction and maintenance costs through their car usage."

Bilge. Here, have some facts:

On the state level, vehicle users directly fund over 50% of WADOT's budget.
www.wsdot.wa.gov/Finance/budget/BudgetPi...

On the city level, the picture is less clear because much of the city's money is co-mingled among all funding sources. However, only about 10% of the city's budget is expended for transportation, while revenues come chiefly from sales tax, B&O tax, utility taxes and property taxes, in roughly equal proportions. I think it's safe to assume that the vast majority of people paying that 10% expenditure are car owners.
cityoftacoma.org/File.ashx?cid=1285

by david on 1/9/2010 @ 8:14am
"On the state level, vehicle users directly fund over 50% of WADOT's budget." - Cool! Thanks for the link! I had always had the transportation budget's sources wrong in my head.

"I'd love to see your evidence for this" - A link explaining that increased bicyclists is safer... www.livablestreets.com/streetswiki/safet...

"Roads are an engine of commerce and a channel by which to deliver essential services..." - You can add "for bicyclists" or "for car drivers" in there and it would work. You're coming from the point of view that cars are and will be the primary user, but bicycles could be an option for many if we let it be.

"But bicycle lanes benefit only cyclists." - and car lanes benefit only vehicle drivers and sidewalks benefit only pedestrians. The majority of streets will always be dedicated to cars and car users should be paying for most of the roads. We should still have bike lanes and sidewalks.

"but it is important to find ONE standard that works" - I agree, but finding a standard that works takes time. There was a time when driving signals and signs weren't standardized and people experimented with different ideas and until one standards rose to the top. I personally like simplicity. I don't want crazy colors. I would like solid color bike lanes for bikes to follow. Cars don't always know they can't park or driver there when they look like normal shoulders with pictures of bikes on them here and there.

"cyclists' rallying cry of "we reduce congestion!" is a myth" - I haven't yet found evidence that more bikes = less cars, but I also haven't yet found that more bike lanes = more congestion. Here's a link to new bike lanes on a very busy bridge (www.worldchanging.com/archives/010706.ht...). Car traffic didn't change much in either direction, but pedestrian usage went way up. That means more people are being transported through the city, which is always nice. I still hold to the idea that with increased bike acceptance, standardization, and provisions, we will lower car congestion.

Now, back to paying for bike lanes. More bike/foot traffic through cities make for healthy cities and makes streets more attractive (unless seeing bikes makes you mad or you don't like people) and safer (safety and comfort in numbers). One part in making businesses more viable in our city. I'm going to need to look into how much the general public pays for the roads a bit more.

Roads are for everyone though and I hold to the idea that there should be aspects of the road that are for everyone, not just those who can afford or desire to have a car. Biking on the sidewalk is illegal because they're for pedestrians, yet bicyclists are common pedestrians and not a motor vehicle. There should be a separate sidewalk-like area for bicyclists where it is useful or necessary for safety, flow, and access for these wheeled pedestrians.

If Tacomans want bike lanes, pothole-free streets, and sidewalks, we need to be willing to pay for it. If the transportation budget already can't fill potholes then we must raise taxes. Should we turn bikes into non-pedestrian entities and make them park in parking lots and pay for licenses and have the costs (except gas) of cars? Should we treat bike lines as being for the good of the community like sidewalks and possibly raise sales prices or property tax?

Or will we demand bike lanes while complaining about having to pay for them and end up with something half-assed that benefits only some of the people some of the time and costs more than it should?

by david on 1/9/2010 @ 8:15am
Holy cow that was longer than I realized!

by panachronic on 1/9/2010 @ 10:43am
I am LOLing at the Liveable Streets link, and the logic behind their conclusions, which seems to be:

(a) more bicyclists on the road will improve safety for cyclists, because then the number of cyclists involved in accidents is a smaller proportion of the whole,
and
(b) more bicycles on the road will improve safety for cyclists, because they will impede traffic and slow down the cars.

Sorry, but that doesn't gain much traction with me.