Bike Infrastructure: Lanes/Paths, Parking, Bike Shops
Bike lanes and paths, bike parking, and bike shops are needed for mere mortals to feel comfortable biking.
Unless there are dedicated bike lanes we scardey cats will stay in our cars. The minute there are safe bike lanes, we'll be on them.
Qarl Johnson commented
To support true alternatives to cars there is a need to create an intermediate speed lane for folks going 10-30kmph including cyclists, boarders, rollerblades, Segways, motor chairs, electric bikes. Peds just don't mix well with others going faster than them.
Close by bike parking is essential. I took for granted easy lockup on parking meters usually directly in front of my destinations in Victoria BC. Then the city installed these blue parking towers and made the former meters impossible to lock to. Now in downtown Victoria there is a bike parking crisis. Like in the early days of cars downtown commuter cyclists fill up the majority of bike parking spots. I now go to the regional malls to get stuff as I know I can easily lockup there!
Andy Bury commented
Often, roads are designated "safe" or otherwise, but I find that the same road might be safe going one direction, and not safe going the other direction. Safety codes should be assigned directionally.
For instance, I ride down a steep grade going to work, and back up it coming home. There is no shoulder on this road in some places, but riding down this road is safe because I am keeping up with traffic. Riding back up that grade would be very dangerous in the road, and should be marked accordingly. However, it does have a large sidewalk, and riding on the sidewalk is legal, so I ride up the sidewalk going home. I would somehow code the road as safe going both ways, but with notes describing what I have noted, above.
Safety may have something to do with time of day as well.
Cathy Tuttle commented
How do you quickly assess "low stress" places you would feel comfortable biking with children and seniors? What's the simple element we can use to distinguish what makes for "safe" cycling? — it is not necessarily a bike lane.
Enforced speed, intersections and crossings prioritized for peds/bikes. How do you map that?
Sean Hayford Oleary commented
Important to be careful -- around here (Minneapolis) there are a lot of large suburban highways with poorly designed "bike paths" (really just wide sidewalks made of asphalt) with many street and driveway crossings. Google Maps always favors these routes, even though they're unsafe and unpleasant. Some sort of balancing act with number of crossings, speed of the road, etc would be useful.
Chris McCahill commented
I second Allen's point. 1 - Length of lanes/path. 2 - # bike parking spaces. (Bike shops are just a market response to cyclists.)
James Osborne commented
+1 to Michael Wolf. A hierarchy is critical for weighting to be appropriate.
Bike -dedicated infrastructure per se is not important as long as the roads and legal infrastructure are safe for cyclists. For example, Ontario's laws allow a cyclist to "take the lane" where there is no bike lane. Provided the speed of traffic isn't too great and doesn't promote dangerous driver behavior, then any street in Ontario with a high walk score should also have a high bike score.
Regarding 'shared-use' lanes, the feasibility of general sidewalks for cycling at low-to-moderate speeds should be germane, as well.
Dave Holland commented
Bike infrastructure is the basics required to maintain bicycling, that already exists. The subject of bike lanes, paths, etc. indicates this should be titled individual perceived bicycling comfort for given ability.
This should be split into subcategories like those Michael Wolf proposed.
Christopher Porter commented
Type of bike lanes (separated lane preferable to painted bike lane) and the network of connections are both important.
The Cycling in Cities lab at the University of British Columbia has some good research on route density.
The key finding:
"Since cyclists are unlikely to detour more than about 400 meters to find a route with bicycle facilities, a bicycle route network with designated facilities spaced a minimum of every 500 meters should be the goal for urban areas where there is a desire to increase the modal share of cycling."
Bill Veno commented
A distinction needs to be made about bike paths and shared use paths - if possible. Paths are less functional for utilitarian cyclists if they are congested with recreational cyclists and non-cyclists.
Michael R Wolf commented
Weighting is critical. Here's a rough order of preference.
- Bike path with no traffic crossings (See Reston, VA)
- Bike path with traffic crossings (See Burke-Gillman. Different crossing density in Ballard vs Pinehurst)
- Physically separated bike lane (none known here. See Netherlands or Scandanavia.)
- Dedicated bike lane
- Shared lane
- Interstate (See Adventure Cycling trans-continental route in Wyoming. 8 foot shoulder with 6 foot rumble strips requiring bike travel in high speed, high blow-over vehicle lane!!! Yes, it's legal to cycle on I80 for a bit. It's the only road available.)
Allen Muchnick commented
"Bike infrastructure" is a very broad and vague term and thus difficult to assess. Every roadway provides "bike infrastructure", except where bikes are banned, and a well-connected grid of ordinary local streets is the most useful form of "bike infrastructure". While bikeways, bike parking accommodations, and bicycle retail stores are often beneficial, they should probably be assessed as three distinct categories. Because bike shops tend to local near more bikeable population centers, they are an indirect, but secondary, indicator of an area's bikeability.
+1 for what Jeff said. Bike lanes are incredibly important for me. I would travel out of my way just to ride in a bike lane instead of sidewalk or hectic 5-lane thoroughfare. And I would love to live/bike in Portland!
This one is far & away the most important. Come 2 Portland sometime & see how the city worked with the biking community. Cars are a minority but it started with the leaders in the town themselves biking to work. It's all about bike lanes.