10:24 pm in Uncategorized by BruceMcF
Last week, I came across a post at People for Bike, called Four Simple Lessons from Austin’s Brilliant Bike Plan Update … and after reading the post, I clicked on through to the overview of the Bike Plan Update that they were referring to, and it was even better than they said. Once I saw that, I know that Sunday Train was going to talk about both Austin’s Awesome Bike Plan and the Four Key Lessons that People for Bikes draw from it:
- 1) The point of bike plans isn’t to appease bikers, it’s to make bikes useful to everyone.
- 2) Good biking makes good transit better.
- 3) You’re not going to turn every long car trip into a bike trip – all you have to do is turn short trips into bike trips.
- 4) A good bike network increases the capacity of your entire road system.
So follow me below the fold to consider both these four important points and also the general Awesomeness of Austin’s Bike Plan Update.
The Point of Bike Plans is to Make Bikes Useful for Everyone
The point of a Bike Plan is to make Bikes useful for everyone. When taken seriously, that is tremendously useful in avoiding both a narrow plan that only caters to one type of cyclists, and in avoiding thinking of the Bike Plan as a kind of minority-interest pandering component of transport planning.
“Useful to” does not mean “potentially useful to”, or “conceivably useful to”, it means actually useful to, and directs us to think about the full range of ways that a cycle path can be useful. And “everyone” means just that. It means that all classes of cyclists are considered. And it means that benefits to having a cycle network to all other transit users are also considered.
The slide above and to the right is taken from the slideshow developed by Austin Engineer Nathan Wilkes focuses in on the first point. It identifies four types of transport cyclists, with estimated shares among the total population (not just the current cycling population):
- The strong and fearless cyclist, accounting for about 2% of the Austin population. These are the cyclists that will take their legally entitlement to ride in the public right of way, and will, for example, “take the lane” when required for safe riding (indeed, a minority of these cyclists will even take more than their legal entitlement to ride in the public rights). While these cyclists do not require a dedicated bike infrastructure, they do indeed benefit from it;
- The enthused and confident cyclist, accounting for about 15% of the Austin population. These are people who may not be comfortable riding in a general traffic lane with heavy automobile traffic, but are comfortable riding on unprotected cycle lanes and on side streets with lighter traffic.
- The interested but concerned cyclist, accounting for about 39% of the Austin population. These are people who are reluctant or unwilling to ride without protection from higher speed or high volume automobile traffic, but willing to cycle in protected lanes or on streets with light automobile traffic traveling at low speed;
- The No Way No How cyclists, accounting for about 44% of the population. These are people who will not bike, but will rely exclusively on some other means of transport.
- While a system of painted, unprotected cycle lanes accessed by the regular system of side roads caters to only one fifth of the Austin population as prospective cyclists, a system of protected and buffered cycle lanes and cycleways accessed by a system of side roads including appropriate traffic calming features directly caters to a majority of the Austin population as prospective cyclists.
An important part of the Austin cycle network is the “8-80 test”: “An 8 year old traveling with an 80 year old should be able to traverse the city comfortable and safely.” The system has a design speed of 10-15mph, to accommodate commuter cyclists. The design bicycle includes tandems, trail-a-bikes, trailers, and cargo bikes.
To target not just every type of rider and their bike, but also riders across the Austin area, the target spacing between designed bike routes for the completed network is 1/2 to 3/4 mile in the central city and near transit stations, where short trips are most common, with increase spacing further away, with routes designed to connect residences to major employment, retail and educational centers.
And what about the 44%? After all, they may not be a majority, but addressing the needs of everyone means everyone, not “50% plus one”. We’ve already seen that in lessons (2) and (4). An effective bike network makes good transit better, and that benefits all transit users, whether or not they bike. And an effective bike network increases the capacity of the road system, which benefits all drivers, whether or not they bike.
A Well Designed Bike Plan Makes Good Transit Better