Traffic Hierarchy


As Tom Lee points out any discussion of a project like My Bike Lane aimed at getting motorists to stop practices that endanger the lives of motorists inevitably cycles back to someone pointing out that cyclists sometimes misbehave as well. And that's true enough. However, from a policy perspective you need to consider the costs and benefits to different weightings of priorities. A measure like stricter bike lane enforcement that makes life easier for bike riders and harder for car drivers has some clear environmental and public health benefits in terms of at the margin encouraging drivers to shift to walking, transit, or biking.

By contrast, a measure that would be convenient for drivers of private cars but inconvenient for cyclists doesn't seem to have much to recommend it. By contrast, in a conflict between a bike and a bus the policy merits seem to lie with the bus. Buses loading and unloading passengers are constantly interfering with the bike lanes on 7th Street and 14th Street which is annoying if you're on a bike but probably not A Bad Thing in a broader sense since clearly many more people fit on a bus than fit on my bike. The problem here is that the city has seen fit to put its two biggest north-south bike lanes on two of the top three north-south routes for bus frequency. A smarter idea would be to reduce the volume of space on those roads given to private cars and make wider bus/bike lanes (but unlike the alleged bus/bike only lane on 9th street and a part of 7th street north of the mall you'd actually need to enforce it) which would remove the problem of buses needing to cross back-and-forth past the bike lane.

Bike/pedestrian conflicts are, similarly, to be lamented. But the problem here is less evil cyclists encroaching on the sidewalk than the simple fact that such a huge proportion of public space in dense, walkable areas is nonetheless given over to cars. If bikes had more space specifically dedicated to them, then they wouldn't be in the way of people trying to walk around. Go to Amsterdam and you'll almost certainly have a near-collision experience if you stand around in a bike lane, but not otherwise because the bikes are in the bike lanes which are plentiful and well-marked.

Photo by me used under a Creative Commons license