Bicycle Infrastructure Fail(s): “The primary problem is that traffic engineering … still has influence on planning and urban design.”


Which is why, when you remark to an engineer that your city won’t ever get the streets right until it decides that one really must break eggs to make an omelette, and the engineer replies that “every day I break more eggs than Waffle House,” it’s perfectly clear just how big of a broom will be needed for the toxic clean-up.

Or maybe a scythe and a few pitchforks wouldn’t hurt, either.

If we design cities for humans, with respect for the human experience, safety, logic and ease-of-use, you wouldn’t see stuff like a bike lane in the middle of a street, or sharrows, in any city.

Ding ding ding — that magic word, sharrows, which is the invariable “do nothing and declare victory” tactic of the Rosenbarger sect.

To paraphrase Stonewall Jackson: “Fire ’em. Fire ’em all.”

Bicycle Infrastructure Fail(s), by Mikael Colville-Andersen (Cities of the Future)

… Best Practice in bicycle infrastructure is basically a century old. Dedicated bike paths date from 1892 when an equestrian path was turned over to bikes on Esplanade in Copenhagen. In 1915, the first on-street, curb-separated cycle track was installed on Strandboulevarden. From there, protected bike infrastructure spread out around the world.

Over 100 years, the infrastructure has been tested by easily hundreds of millions of daily cyclists. Planners have tweaked and experimented, made mistakes and fixed them and ended up with a Best Practice that is simple, effective, safe and cost-efficient. Generations of planners and engineers have done an amazing job and just handed us everything we need on a silver platter. There are only four types of infrastructure in Danish Best Practice. One of the designs fits any street in the nation and any street in any city in the world. Copy-paste, baby.

Why, then, do we see crap like in the photo, above, showing up on city streets? Who, in their right mind, would ACTUALLY choose to put cyclists in the middle of a street with speeding cars on either side? Certainly not anyone with an understanding of the bicycle’s role in urban life as transport or a sincere desire to encourage cycling and keep people safe. As I suggested on Twitter, find the person who is responsible and fire them. A flippant remark – but still a serious one.

The primary problem is that traffic engineering, in certain countries, still has influence on planning and urban design. In America, where this infrastructure was put in, bicycles are placed in the same category as motorized vehicles. In countries that GET the bicycle’s role in cities, they are regarded as fast-moving pedestrians and we’ve been planning for them for a century.