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Annals of Cycling – 70

November 16, 2012

An occasional update on items from the Velo-city.

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SEATTLE DOES A VANCOUVER

From The Sun Break:

Seattle’s Department of Transportation is holding a series of Bicycle Master Plan public meetings, as the city embarks on something of a sea change in its strategy for bicycling infrastructure. In a major shift, the city is admitting that simply painting bike lanes or “sharrows,” especially in the highly trafficked downtown core, isn’t working.  Physically separate bike lanes, also called cycle tracks, are in the offing.

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TORONTO DOES A STUPID

From Chris Hume in the Toronto Star:

The decision to remove the bike lanes from Jarvis is wrong in principle, devastating in perception.

The practical consequences will be bad enough, especially in the years ahead, but the symbolism of such a regressive move is worse. …

Even in times of rampant self-interest, this sort of behaviour is unseemly, even odious. But more to the point, it’s self-destructive. At the very moment when the city needs to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles; it loses its nerve. It empowers drivers as it disenfranchises cyclists — and, we might add, pedestrians

How stupid is that?

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SENIORS STATS

Cycling deaths of seniors is a big problem in the Netherlands.

With regard to older cyclists, Goldenberg (1992) found that they were over- represented in collisions with vehicles in the Netherlands. Compared to younger age groups, the proportion of older cyclists colliding with cars, trucks and buses was between 25 and 40 percent higher. In many of these cases the older cyclist approached a priority road from a side road and was attempting to cross a multi – lane road with high traffic volumes and speeds.

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THE EXISTENTIAL QUESTION: CYCLIST OR NOT-CYCLISTS

Answer here.

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ANOTHER REASON TO LIKE TRACKLESS TROLLEY BUSES

From Metro:

Streetcar tracks may be a factor in almost a third of all bicycle crashes in Toronto, new research suggests.

Of 276 Toronto cyclists interviewed, 90 reported that streetcar tracks were directly involved in their crashes, says Kay Teschke, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

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AT LEAST WE’RE ON THE LIST

Tenth on Outside’s Ten Best Bike Cities in North America: Vancouver.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2012 2:36 pm

    On the “Another Reason to Like Trackless Trolleybuses” item Teschke’s work has gained considerable traction (pardon the pun) with those arguing that streetcars/light rail/trams are incompatible with cycling. The logic seems to be that streetcar tracks cause problems for cyclists in Toronto and are therefore bad for cyclists everywhere. This is a few leaps too many as it ignores the specifics of why Toronto’s streetcar tracks may be especially problematic for cyclists. It’s too bad Teschke’s work (http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762) didn’t look into the specifics in a bit more detail as she notes, “Streetcar or train tracks were found to be particularly hazardous to cyclists, a finding that does not appear to have been reported elsewhere.” This suggests that they might not be as much of a problem elsewhere.

    Why might the tracks be more problematic in Toronto?

    First, the Toronto track design appears to have wider flangeways (grooves) than tracks elsewhere. I don’t have the dimensions but this would certainly be a factor as it makes it much easier for a bicycle tire to get trapped. Many sections of track are not full grooved rail, so the inside of the groove is concrete, which deteriorates (or is built to) to leave a wider groove (http://www.flickr.com/photos/taestell/6923433422/)

    Secondly and likely most importantly, many of the streetcar routes in Toronto are in the centre lanes of four-lane streets where on-street parking is also provided. This puts the outside rails very close to where cyclists are going to be riding when parked cars are present and and a cyclist attempting to avoid a car engaged in parking manoeuvres or with a streetside door open is going to be forced on to or close to the tracks. This condition compounds the general safety issues of cycling on streets with on-street parking as noted in Teschke’s study. Additionally, where there are track junctions between streetcar routes, the curves are such that there are relatively shallow angles between the tracks (particularly for right-turns) and the path of cyclists – not good. One obvious solution would be removing the on-street parking as that would remove two main threats to cyclists, though that would not be without major opposition.

    More modern light rail/tram installations are generally in the centre of wider streets and the track space is not shared with any vehicles or bicycles. Where crossings are provided, these tend to be perpendicular and and so much less of a hazard to cyclists. The Spadina and St Clair lines in Toronto are built on this model so it would be very interesting to see if there were any correlations between streetcar tracks on these streets and cyclist injuries. In Europe, cycling and trams seem to happily coexist in a great many cities – take Amsterdam for example, renowned for both extensive cycling and tram networks. I’ve also personally observed many cyclists riding on tram tracks in Europe, examples here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCSqQMT

    So, just because there are safety issues between streetcar tracks and cyclists in Toronto does not means that such issue are unavoidable in new tram/streetcar systems there or elsewhere. The local conditions in Toronto need to be taken into account.

  2. December 1, 2012 3:48 am

    Ian Fisher is right, What works – or doesn’t work – in Toronto may be the reverse elsewhere. I believe that US, and therefore probably Canadian, track standards may have a wide groove owing to the use of ‘railroad’ type flanges on interurban trams, which had to run over city tracks, and therefore required wide grooves. In the UK and the rest of Europe this was virtually unknown – where interurbans existed I believe they used the same track standards as city trams, with a narrow groove. But use of standard flat bottom rail may not be a problem, the groove is usually scraped into the wet cement and can be as narrow as liked and the groove is not necessarily widened by passing trams or cars.
    London was particularly bad as to the grooves, since lack of maintenance during the war plus the intention to get rid of trams, meant in many cases the rail head had worn down and was at a substantial slope to the horizontal, thus giving the appearance of a three inch groove in place of a one and one eighth inch groove. Not to mention the conduit which added another one inch slot in the road surface.
    Perhaps motorists in Toronto park rather further from the kerb than they ought? If so, then they will stick out further, and make it more awkward for cyclists to keep clear. But that won’t stop that perennial pest, the driver who opens his door without checking to see that it is clear – and cyclists should ride as far as possible outside the line of the car so that a lazy driver, who does not bother to turn his head and look back, can still see the cyclist in his wing/door mirror.

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