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News & Notes

→ The Boston Globe: As cycling gains popularity, an anti-cyclist bias remains

No matter one’s opinion of cyclists or their riding habits, they are practically defenseless against the smallest sedan, never mind an SUV or a truck. Drivers simply have to take the high road — not only around cyclists who abide by the rules of the road, but even around selfish cyclists who don’t. Shaving a few minutes along the way can’t possibly outweigh the risk of maiming or killing a fellow human being.

→ Streetsblog: Wooing Suburban Drivers With Cheap Parking: A Losing Strategy for Cities

During the era of interstate highway construction, and the resulting demographic shift from city to suburb, municipalities worked to provide auto access to their downtowns, hoping this access would support economic growth. However, mounting evidence shows that greater automobile access came at the expense of the very economic vibrancy cities sought and does not help reduce roadway congestion. Costs associated with accommodating cars, particularly for parking, are outweighed by the long-term economic costs.


→ The International: The Death of the American Mall and the Rebirth of Public Space

The link between this New Urbanist development and a mall REIT is significant. It points to a danger raised by city planner Ann Satterthwaite: that post-mall neighborhoods will simply become outdoor malls, as controlled and sterile – and state subsidized – as indoor shopping centers. The return of Main Street is an undeniable trend, Satterthwaite writes in The Encyclopedia of Community. “But the mall Main Street is more a privately controlled theme park than a public street with its diverse people and activities and freedoms.” If Satterthwaite is right, we haven’t yet found a way to live beyond the mall.


→ Planetizen: The Most Important Urban Design Decision Vancouver Ever Made

When it came to my turn, my answer took a big picture and perhaps surprising approach, depending on your definition of urban design. In Vancouver, a city often referred to as “a city by design”, the most important urban design decision we ever made, the decision I loved most, is actually usually referred to as a transportation decision.

In 1997, the city approved its first influential Transportation Plan.


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10 Responses to News & Notes

  1. Jack February 28, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but cyclists are extremely annoying.

    They act like they own the road and the sidewalks on which they don’t belong. I’ve had hundreds of them just ride past me on the sidewalk without even providing a warning of their presence.

    They’re even worse on the roads as they feel that they have the right of way over pedestrians. Cars are better mannered than most cyclists.

    If you’re driving – forget it. Watch yourself get held up by someone who can’t go over 10 miles an hour.

    To see the worst virtues of cyclists in action, walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Watch them rudely tell you to get out of the way and ignore all pedestrians.

  2. Matt February 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I’d follow up that drivers of automobiles in their 2000+ pound roll cages are annoying too. Not yielding to pedestrians, not stopping at stop signs, rolling right turns at stop signals, causing gridlock by positioning their vehicles in intersections, driving while intoxicated and distracted, inexplicably and unpredictably yield the right of way, pull out into and force through traffic to stop to make a left turn.

    And don’t get me started on those annoying pedestrians who stop unexpectedly, change speed, don’t move in a straight line, step into the street without looking, and then step towards the danger when warned that someone is trying to get by them.

    And then those bicycle riders: how is anyone supposed to NOT hit one of them as they blow through stop signs, ride the wrong way, go too slowly, weave through traffic when I’m stuck in a traffic jam on North Main, aren’t wearing any sort of lights or circus clown bright clothing, and then ride as though the law says they’re held to the same rules as vehicle drivers.

    Its carnage out there.

    Or not.

  3. Jack February 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Say what you want, I have always had better luck with cars and pedestrians than cyclists.

  4. barry March 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    I’m just curious where in Rhode Island there are hundreds of bicyclists on a sidewalk. That is where I would like to live or spend time.

    I suspect hostility to bicyclists by many motorists is partlly because they know bicycling is a superior life-style to driving, its healthier, less polluting, quieter, more economical, better for cities, and they hate the fact that others are doing it and not them.

  5. Runaway Jim March 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    I have no problem with bicyclists. I have problems with bicyclists who insist on running stop signs/lights. I have problems with bicyclists on sidewalks thinking they have a right to move faster than pedestrians and that pedestrians should get out of the way (really, I think the law should ban bicycles from sidewalks).

  6. Andrew I March 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    The intensity and irrationality of much hostility towards bicyclists can only originate in the lizard brain. “I’m killing myself to pay for this macho car to impress girls yet these twerps on bicycles are getting more action than me.”

  7. Ryan March 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    I have no problem with bicyclists. I have problems with bicyclists who insist on running stop signs/lights. I have problems with bicyclists on sidewalks thinking they have a right to move faster than pedestrians and that pedestrians should get out of the way (really, I think the law should ban bicycles from sidewalks).

    Jim nails it.

    I would submit that we should not only be mindful of legitimate criticism leveled at bicyclists, but that we should be very careful to treat bicyclists and bicycling with an even hand relative to pedestrians and transit riders. Preferential treatment towards one mode over all others, no matter how “healthier, less polluting, quieter, more economical, better” that mode is, is never good. We’ve been to this show before, we know how it ends. A lot of us, in fact, spend a significant amount of time advocating for undoing the damage caused by the last time we as a society made a decision to prioritize one mode of travel over all others.

    Bicycling is indeed objectively better for all involved than driving, but a “bike culture” with the “bike as king” is no better for pedestrians or transit riders than our current car culture is.

  8. Runaway Jim March 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Going along Ryan’s thinking, my view is a hierarchy, kind of like in the boating world. Right of way is given to vessels based on size and ability to stop, turn, etc. On city streets, right of way should be given to the one least likely to cause injury… so pedestrians sit at the top of the list, followed by bicyclists and then motor vehicles (including motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds). I don’t want to hear “get out of my way” from behind me by a bicyclist when I’m walking down the sidewalk, just like a bicyclist doesn’t want to hear a car horn from behind on a narrow street.

    Now… all that said, pedestrians have to be cognizant of other modes of transportation and not take their sweet ass time crossing a street, not crossing a street diagonally (and I’m not talking about crossing diagonally across an intersection), and not just jump out in traffic wherever they please and get pissed when cars don’t stop on a dime (even if the car is supposed to yield the right of way).

    And the law says that bicycles need to obey traffic laws, which means stopping at stop signs and stop lights and not riding the wrong way down one way streets. It also means that if they’re riding on a sidewalk and they come to an intersection that says “Don’t Walk”, they have to stop and wait like pedestrians.

  9. Andrew I March 2, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    In all seriousness now:

    The day when it makes any sense to worry about possible ill effects of “Preferential treatment towards one mode” which is “healthier, less polluting, quieter, more economical, better” could not be further off. Almost everything about how people move about the city will have to change first.

    People who ride bikes on the sidewalk do so because they do not feel safe on the street.

    Most parents do not let their children ride distances in the city because they do not feel it is safe.

    Adults who would be willing to travel by bicycle try it once or not at all because it is just too scary.

    Those nasty, arrogant bicyclists that people get all hot and bothered about are the only people who remain after most of the population has been scared out of considering the bicycle as a transportation option. The reality of our streets is why folks with a ballsy daredevil streak happen to be overrepresented out there on bicycles.

    We have spent trillions to ensure that as much automobile travel as possible can be accomplished at cruising speed, without stops or obstacles. The driver so inconsiderate as to drive at the posted speed limit in the left lane is one of the few characters more hated than the smart aleck bicyclist.

    Even more so than driving, bicycling depends for its pleasure and efficiency on being able to maintain a steady pace, without constant negotiation with other occupants of the space through which you travel. Nothing in today’s built environment or rules of the road, written or defacto reflects this fact. It should not be too much to ask that cyclists be able to make good time crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The six lane vehicular deck needs to be reconfigured to safely accomodate bicycle traffic. Stop blaming bicyclists for the fact that the walkway is not adequate for their needs.

    Nothing in the built environment? What about the lovely Rhode Island bike paths? Ha. Years ago I thought, cool, a highway for bikes where I can ride tranquilly and efficiently. In fact, unless it is a weekday, or raining, even on the bike path the message is “How dare you expect to ride that thing at an uninterrupted 13mph?”

    Bicyclists, unwelcome practically everywhere, have a perfect right to be pissed off. We are at square one in the progression to a time when

  10. Andrew I March 2, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Oops, fixing that last paragraph.

    Bicyclists who simply expect to ride their machines the way they were intended to be used are unwelcome practically everywhere. We are at square one in the process of making bicycling a balanced part of the overall transportation picture.

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