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Thread: Bicycle boulevards as transportation alternatives

  1. #1
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Bicycle boulevards as transportation alternatives

    Bicycle Boulevards?
    Does this actually work well? Is it a favorable solution to reduce vehicular traffic and allow more space for bicyclists? Most of all, is it efficient overall?

    Any Portlanders out there? If I am not mistaken, a few of these are out there.
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    While I'm sure the cyclist appreciate them, I'm just not convinced that any bicycle-related improvements actually REDUCE vehicular traffic.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    As someone who does a lot of riding, I'm a little skeptical of bicycle boulevards. These inevitably take on a lot more traffic than just bicycles and are always de-facto Multi-Use Paths. Here in MA, the Minuteman Bikeway (running between Bedford and Cambridge) is too unsafe to ride at any decent speed due to all the pedestrian traffic. Bikes are only effective as transportation if their riders can get where they're going in a timely fashion, and being forced to brake for joggers, walkers and rollerbladers every few seconds.... isn't timely.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    While I'm sure the cyclist appreciate them, I'm just not convinced that any bicycle-related improvements actually REDUCE vehicular traffic.
    I just watched a video online addressing the issues and what not. In fact, what Portland did has reduce vehicular traffic and still maintains this.
    The link to the video is below.
    http://homepage.mac.com/trorb/TOPP/i...heater189.html

    Thanks for the input Jeff!
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    As someone who does a lot of riding, I'm a little skeptical of bicycle boulevards. These inevitably take on a lot more traffic than just bicycles and are always de-facto Multi-Use Paths. Here in MA, the Minuteman Bikeway (running between Bedford and Cambridge) is too unsafe to ride at any decent speed due to all the pedestrian traffic. Bikes are only effective as transportation if their riders can get where they're going in a timely fashion, and being forced to brake for joggers, walkers and rollerbladers every few seconds.... isn't timely.

    You do have a point. Well bicycle boulevards are primarly for bicyclists and really do not allow motorists to get on this path from most intersecting streets. Right?
    Wider sidewalks could help there in MA.
    Last edited by MM1648; 30 Jul 2007 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Need to add a word.
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    Might be feasible in China....

    I doubt it would get much use in Phoenix or Las Vegas NV in the summer
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  7. #7
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    Bicycle Boulevards in Berkeley

    Here is an article about Bicycle Boulevards in Berkeley, CA,

    http://www.theworldedition.com/trans...n/berkeley.php

  8. #8
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    You know, now that I think about it, bicycle boulevards are a good thing even if only from the angle that they notify drivers to expect to encounter bikes. Riding in an area full of hostile drivers who don't expect to see bikes sucks, and things like this (along with road signs with the "bike" symbol on them) help condition them to show respect to cyclists.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Sorry, I did a quick google, but still can’t really work out what a Cycle Boulevard is, is it basically a normal road with signage and some improvements to prioritise cyclists?

    Jeff has a point, but the more humble aim of most UK authorities is to ‘reduce the growth in traffic’. We currently have about 2,300 cyclists a day using our main cycling commuter route into the city centre (an old railway line, completely free of traffic which ends right in the city centre, sheer luck). Monitoring leads us to a best guess of about 8,000 cyclist a day entering the centre. 8,000 extra cars a day would have a major impact on the city centre, so these often very cheap measure can be cost effective. In fact, a recent survey of 10,000 employees in the city centre showed more cycled in than used the bus… it was ‘self selecting’ group, but it demonstrates how cycling can make a real contribution to combating traffic growth and congestion.

  10. #10
    An important point is that a "bicycle boulevard" can be implemented in many different ways; there is no set standard-you won't find it in the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, nor the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

    Wikipedia defines them as "a shared roadway which has been optimized for bicycle traffic."

    The City of Berkeley has developed a "Bicycle Boulevard Design Tools and Guidelines Public Review Draft Report" that details their interpretation of them, which many have noted were actually implemented.

    Then there are places that develop unique projects that I would call a bicycle boulevard, but may not be noted as such. Various traffic calming efforts such as intersection neckdowns, bollards and other landscaping are implemented which restrict vehicular traffic, while promoting bicycle and pedestrian traffic. I recall a few around the CU-Boulder campus.

    To address the traffic 'reduction' issue, I'd offer that bicycle boulevards DO reduce traffic on a specific street at a high magnitude, but true metropolitan-level auto travel reduction would take an effort of a large scale, combined with many other techniques. The holistic efforts of Portland, Davis and Madison result in bicycle mode splits near and over 10%-while most of America is closer to 1%.
    Mode split = infrastructure + culture + nature

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Minneapolis doesn't really have bike boulevards (two lanes down the middle of Hennepin and Marquette Aves don't qualify as bike-friendly), but they do have a "bike freeway" (their term, not mine) with two one-way bike paths and a two-way ped path, all parallel and adjacent. I can say that you can, in fact, go pretty fast on that one. They were able to get the space when two RR's with adjacent ROWs were abandoned almost simultaneously.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  12. #12
    It seems like reducing traffic speed via speed bumps was key to the success in Portland. There's nothing more annoying to a driver than having to slow down and wait in order to "share the road" (it happens in the Hamptons alot since we only have one major artery). If the general flow of traffic has been reduced to the same spped that a bicycle travels then spped bumps eliminate that frustration.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Big Green Scott View post
    It seems like reducing traffic speed via speed bumps was key to the success in Portland. There's nothing more annoying to a driver than having to slow down and wait in order to "share the road" (it happens in the Hamptons alot since we only have one major artery). If the general flow of traffic has been reduced to the same spped that a bicycle travels then spped bumps eliminate that frustration.
    I think its fair to say that low traffic speeds is one of the reasons for the dramatic growth in cycle modal share in this city. Albeit its not anything we have done to slow traffic down, but traffic speeds are simply now so slow that cycling is a good deal quicker in the central areas. So theres your answer; 'do nothing', and traffic congestion will promote cycling...

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    Quote Originally posted by njm View post
    Minneapolis doesn't really have bike boulevards (two lanes down the middle of Hennepin and Marquette Aves don't qualify as bike-friendly), but they do have a "bike freeway" (their term, not mine) with two one-way bike paths and a two-way ped path, all parallel and adjacent. I can say that you can, in fact, go pretty fast on that one. They were able to get the space when two RR's with adjacent ROWs were abandoned almost simultaneously.
    We are working on getting a bike boulevard in Minneapolis.
    Daniel

    We are working to link Theodore Wirth Parkway with the Mississippi River via a 26th Avenue North Bikeway and Greenway.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wirth_River_Greenway/
    The Wirth River ~ 26th Avenue North Bikeway and Greenway Coalition is to facilitate community involvement and support in developing the 26th Avenue Bikeway and Greenway Project in Minneapolis.

  15. #15

    Neighborhood Greenways

    So many bicycle boulevards are being coined "neighborhood greenways" in such places as Portland and Seattle. We are working on getting one here in Chicago and the city has decided to use this descriptor. At the point we are at here, it may seem like "greenwashing" to call them this, I'll admit. Generally we are only looking at residential traffic calming, by means of improving bike and pedestrian facilities; but I think ultimately we want to address things like storm water runoff and using better indigenous plants in the added greenspace.

    Not using "bicycle" in their descriptor helps show that it is multifaceted and has many positive impacts on a neighborhood; not just something for cyclists. For instance, there have been studies showing increased property values, decreased crime, decreased traffic accidents, and other advantages beyond the bike-ability. Still, the public involvement process has come with some hurdles but it's moving along. I'll post pictures if and when we get some things installed.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We have one (yes, 1) bicycle boulevard in my city. Well, technically its three roads, but its part of one route. In this case it amounts to a regular, fairly low traffic flow road with special signage and an 18mph speed limit (sections of this road not designated as a BB are 25mph). That’s really it. I ride along a section of this route every day in my commute. For the most part, I would say that it does make drivers more aware of bikes, but they also have one of those speed signs that show your mph and so its not clear if that or the BB signs (or the neckdown next to the sign) are really what are slowing folks and making them pay attention. Whatever the case, its an improvement. I would not say this has reduced vehicular flow. But this is one of only few E-W streets in this area, so I don't see much alternative in that regard.

    But there is no bicycle lane on this road, for example. Its too narrow, so in part I believe the BB is a response to that issue and the challenge of creating some key connections for the larger bicycle network. If that is the goal, I would say it works quite well.

    As an avid cyclist, in my mind nothing compares to a designated bike lane or, better yet, linkage to paths (that are separated from the road network) for getting around town. To be fair to drivers, its not just about looking out for bikes, but the challenge of paying attention to a lot of factors. Giving us our own lane (where feasible) makes all of that a lot easier except at intersections. I stay in my lane, you stay in yours and its just like dealing with other cars. The worst are “routes” where you share the road with other vehicles. Out in the country with a wide shoulder is one thing, but in the urbanized area, it can be downright terrifying.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  17. #17
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    Bicycle planner from Portland here, I'm happy to answer any questions about Bicycle Boulevards and clear up any misunderstandings. Some facility designers put up some signs and lay down some sharrows and call it good. There is much more to a bicycle boulevard than just that.

    Do they work?
    When designed well, yes. Absolutely.

    What are they?
    Bicycle boulevards are connected network of streets designed to have a 'low-stress' shared roadway bicycling environment.

    What are the key attributes?

    An interconnected network, linking origins to destinations needs to be the goal. Often the routes run parallel to busy streets to offer people an alternative to bike lanes or other stressful conditions. One purpose of bike boulevards is to serve a population hesitant to ride on other conventional facilities. Without a network of routes, they offer limited utility to this population.

    Volume and speed management is vital. Volumes should not be higher than 1500 cars per day, and travel speed should be below 20 mph. This leads to a lower likelihood of being passed by a car while riding, and more comfortable passing conditions when it does happen. This is achieved through liberal application of traffic diversion (closures to autos) and traffic calming (speed bumps, mini traffic circles.)

    Enhanced crossings are necessary. No matter how comfortable the road is, it is for nothing if crossing the street is a challenge or feels unsafe. Median islands, hybrid beacons, and other improvements may be necessary to improve crossing safety or reduce bicyclist delay. Crossings of busy streets are often combined with traffic diversion to limit auto volumes.

    Identification of the route is required. Signs and pavement markings help tell all users that they are on a bicycle boulevard, and that bicyclists should be expected.

    Wayfinding is necessary. Because riders are using back streets, they are often disconnected from the land uses and landmarks they are familiar with. It is important to identify common destinations along the route to help users navigate.

    On a well designed bicycle boulevard bicyclists tend to ride in the center of the lane/road rather than off to the side. Automobiles queue up behind bicyclists until there is a safe passing opportunity, which sometimes is difficult to encounter on high bike volume routes.

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