I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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It’s the Vassal-Huron-Sparks-Brattle-Hawthorn route from Fresh Pond to Harvard Square. My other gripe is that the return route does not use the same roads (because of one-way streets, among other things). If Lake View Avenue was made two-way-for-bikes, the to/from routes could be mostly the same, and it would have only two stops and one light.

To be fair, my favorite route to Concord Avenue (the one I recommend to other people) also includes five stops and a stop light.

Two cycle tracks

January 22, 2012

One is officially inbound to Cambridge, the other is officially outbound from Cambridge. The two tracks are on opposite sides of Concord Ave.

On one side, we have an almost completely unbroken cycle track adjacent to a sidewalk. There’s only one place on the whole stretch where a car might drive across it. Together they make a great wide flat space, and when it snows, it is plowed.


On the other side the cycle track is cut several times by cross streets and driveways, and sometimes it is level with the sidewalk, sometimes it is level with the street. It is not plowed.


And they could have plowed it, but just decided not to:


The plow didn’t fit on the sidewalk, so they plowed the cycle track here, but only as long as they were forced to.

I have to wonder, what they heck were they thinking when they built this second cycle track? Running bicycles across driveways and cross streets is a recipe for accidents, and after spending all the money to build this thing, they don’t even plow it (and when it’s not covered with snow, it’s often full of gravel and sand). Why waste the money? Why put those arrows on both sides to attempt to guilt cyclists into doing something unsafe? The inbound side is safe and attractive, why not just shift the whole road a few feet and put both directions over there?

Burlington (Massachusetts) or perhaps Nordblom (owner of a good-sized office park in Burlington) has been upgrading some of their roads. Overall, I cannot complain, it is better for me than riding on the Middlesex Turnpike (which is a terrible road; no crosswalks, insultingly incomplete sidewalks, crap in the road, and rumpled pavement).

But, at a shiny new rotary, with shiny new granite curbs and correctly painted crosswalks and yield teeth, they botched the accessible crosswalk:

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It’s about a 4-inch step, where it should be flush instead. Maybe there’s more asphalt coming? Or maybe the asphalt will be raised later, in a crosswalk hump? Both sides have the step, so it seems to not be an accident.

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I had recently become aware of how sharply the danger to pedestrians from car crashes rises with speed, but this post at Copenhagenize makes the point clearly, with pretty pictures. The risk of death at 20mph is only 5%, but rises to 45% at 30mph.

The only point missing is how dangerous (to others) it is to “fudge” the speed limit. 22 in a 20, that’s not really speeding, is it? Use a very conservative estimate of increased risk for small speed increases (exponential between 20 and 30mph), each 2 mph increase in speed compounds 55% onto the risk — so 22mph has a 7.8% risk, 24 has 12%, 26 has 19%, and 28 has 29%. It’s a big deal.

The flip side of this is that adding safety is really cheap; just establish low speed limits where cars might crash into pedestrians, and enforce them, and you’ve made the roads far safer.

The Urban Country describes an experimental bike lane made by anonymous stencil artists and other people working with a small collection of trash to mark the “lane”. A woman died at this intersection because a truck lazily cut the corner close and crushed her. Yet, with paint and trash, we discover that there is plenty of room for traffic and trucks, and there is plenty of room for them to turn with space reserved for bicycles, and people will pay attention to an incredibly ad hoc bike lane. It’s sadly late for her, but now that we know how easy it is, what’s stopping our allegedly safety-minded road departments?

In a perverse sort of way I’ve grown to almost love this slightly gladiatorial style but I fully understand that to most people it would seem almost absurdly hostile as a cycling culture.

Via Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest.

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Blaming the victim

June 2, 2011

This pisses me off. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/us/03bcbike.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

Here in the US, we blame the kids, because after, all everyone knows that kids should be more responsible. Other countries, where they would rather reduce the number of kids hit by cars, they fix the infrastructure, and tell the adults to be more responsible. Guess which works better.

And the dumbass reporter for the New York Times seems not to know any of this. Just another inflatable doll parroting the words of convention and authority.

Or as they phrased it in the Netherlands: “Stop the child murder“.
Perhaps you think that’s inflammatory, but guess which country has safer roads as a result.

This Wired article describing “America’s worst commutes”, based on this article at bundle.com, included a chart for commute volume and length.

Commenter frantaylor noticed that the chart would make Edward Tufte’s hall of shame.

So I fixed it. I hope I have given ample credit above, that nobody minds this modified chart. (If there is a problem, let me know, I will disappear it within minutes if I am online, hours otherwise.) The original is included in both of the articles referenced above, along with a great deal of explanatory text, that deserves reading. Click image for full size.