Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"City Transportation Engineer Atul Patel explained that sharrows are not bike lanes". No, they just officially encourage cars and bikes to share the same physical space.
Mixing bicycles and cars in the same physical space will lead to injuries and deaths and none of them will be to the occupants of the cars. Every successful urban bicycle program separates cars and bikes - the physics of a 4000 lb car hitting a 200 lb bicycle are simply overwhelming.
Who has the 'right' to the road is not the issue - protecting lives is.
Posted by S, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Hopefully the safety issue will be addressed and resolved, especially where cars are now doing u-turns in middle of streets. Yet this is a beginning to becoming bike friendly and that's good. Bikes are here to stay and that's good, too.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
No doubt that bikes are here to stay but why not learn from the experience of European countries who learned long ago that mixing cars and bikes does not work. Or do we have to be really dumb and learn the hard way?
"Perhaps the most important reason for the higher levels of cycling in northern
Europe—especially among women, children, and the elderly—is that cycling is much
safer there than in the USA. Both fatality and injury rates are much higher for cyclists in
the USA compared to Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Averaged over the years
2002 to 2005, the number of American bicyclist fatalities per 100 million km cycled was
5.8, compared to 1.7 in Germany, 1.5 in Denmark, and 1.1 in the Netherlands (see Figure
3). Thus, cycling is over five times as safe in the Netherlands as in the USA, which
probably explains why the Dutch do not perceive cycling as a dangerous way to get
"The provision of separate cycling facilities is the cornerstone of Dutch, Danish,
and German policies to make cycling safe and attractive to everyone. They are designed
to feel safe, comfortable, and convenient for both young and old, for women as well as
Posted by Alan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm
Peter, I think the point is that bikes are already in the area, and the sharrows will provide guidance on how to do it more safely. Bikes on sidewalks are more dangerous (I believe one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is bikes on sidewalks getting hit by cars on driveways due to blind spots; being hit from behind when in clear view is not so common). Certainly, improved separate bike paths would help, but they have to use the options they have, and make them as safe as they can.
I don't think they should banish bicycles from downtown Menlo Park.
Are you suggesting that they should banish cars from downtown? :)
Posted by su, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm
How about a high school or scout project with materials provided (donated?). Or is there an MP clause or exclusionary contract against creative problem/monetary solutions? $9000 - overall budget is not much, but a little here, a tad there.....
Posted by Alan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm
Ah, Peter -
As far as I can tell, I do not believe bicycles are forbidden from all roads in Europe. According to the "Sharrow FAQ" from the city of San Carlos, "shared-lane markings have gained acceptance in European and Australian cities".
Get specific: if someone is not going to use these roads to bicycle to downtown - what is the alternative? Sidewalks are more dangerous. Where is the space for a bike path or lane? The whole point is that there is no room. Given the space they have, I think they're trying to create the safest environment.
These particular roads ... are somewhat busy, but traffic moves quite slowly to begin with, as there are crosswalks and other reasons to slow down. I think a car 15-20 mph is realistic for this area. These sharrows only extend for a few blocks. The busiest roads - Santa Cruz and El Camino - will not have them.
Posted by errands biker, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm
Folks - bikers already bike on these streets. The sharrows should make it more clear that the road is to be shared. I am not a serious biker but I think it's nuts not to bike around to run errands rather than use a car.
Dedicated lanes would be far far safer. They are possible if the council and city would only make it happen. Some ideas:
Widen Menlo enough to allow a full lane - give the property owners the same amount they can build on their property as they can now. The additional amount needed shouldn't be a lot
Make Menlo 1-way west-bound, with angled parking on one side, bike lane on the other. Make Oak Grove 1-way east-bound similarly.
Menlo Park could be a lot more bike-friendly. Even San Francisco and Paris have added bike lanes in the middle of their hearts. We can, too.
Posted by menlo rider , a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm
There are many competing interests on roadways with residential and commercial parking, thru traffic, and bikes. Bikes are on these roads already and, yes, it can be dangerous. Sharrows will raise sensitivity to the issue and hopefully improve safety. Thinking that dedicated and separate lanes cn be the norm across MP is not practical. You have to deal as best possible and find ways to provide for multiple modes as needed. European roadways are safer for a number of reasons, but the most important is a culture of bike and cars operating together. Each expects the other on the road and travels accordingly. Dedicated paths help, but it is the culture that matters most.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 7:26 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"hopefully improve safety" is just that - a hope.
"Bikes are on these roads already and, yes, it can be dangerous." You are so right.
"Thinking that dedicated and separate lanes cn be the norm across MP is not practical." Would you prefer more injuries and deaths? Just eliminate parking on one side of any road and you have space for a dedicated bike lane on both sides of that road.
Sharrows are an official encouragement/sanction to mix cars and bicycles in the same physical space. The result will be more injuries and greater liability for the jurisdictions that install sharrows.
PLEASE take the time to read the above postings and their references - there is no data that supports European mixing of cars and bikes:
""The provision of SEPARATE cycling facilities is the cornerstone of Dutch, Danish,
and German policies to make cycling safe and attractive to everyone. They are designed
to feel safe, comfortable, and convenient for both young and old, for women as well as
See article for references to supporting research. I prefer well-seperated bicycle trails, but there's good arguments against having a parallel bicycle path:
"When presented to the Committee in Sacramento on 19 June 1974, Cross's study showed the opposite: only 0.5% of car-bike collisions had occurred between straight-ahead cyclists and overtaking straight-ahead motorists."
"A 1994 study in Palo Alto, California by A. Wachtel and D. Lewiston concluded that 'Bicyclists on a sidewalk or bicycle path incur greater risk than those on the roadway (on average 1.8 times as great), most likely because of blind conflicts at intersections. Wrong-way sidewalk bicyclists are at even greater risk, and sidewalk bicycling appears to increase the incidence of wrong-way travel." and "Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at these intersections.' It concluded 'the aim of a well-designed roadway system should be to integrate bicycles and motor vehicles according to the well-established and effective principles of traffic law and engineering, not to separate them. This conclusion is in accord with the 1981 and 1991 AASHTO Guides and the California Highway Design Manual'."
Posted by David Roise, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm
Peter Carpenter is basically arguing for the second-class treatment of bicyclists by spreading the superstition that bicycles and cars can't safely coexist on the same roadways. In support of this bogeyman, he cites a single reference for the argument that a European-style segregated bikeway system is in all cases safer than the shared use of roadways by cars and bicycles that is more common in the U.S.
In contrast to Mr. Carpenter's very slanted citation, the Wikipedia reference cited above by Alan provides a much more balanced presentation of the pros and cons of segregated bikeways. For an even stronger rebuttal of Mr. Carpenter's biased views, please take a look at John Forester's web site (www.johnforester.com) and the articles linked therein. Mr. Forester is famous for his advocacy of vehicular cycling, which is also termed "effective cycling", because it allows for the safe and efficient integration of bicycle traffic into our existing roadway system. He has famously noted that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles". I certainly trust Mr. Forester's many decades as a bicyclist and traffic engineer more than I do Mr. Carpenter's single citation, his personal antipathy towards bicycles in the roadway, and his incessant repetition of the unsupported opinion that riding a bicycle in traffic is somehow dangerous. I have personally been practicing vehicular cycling for most of the nearly fifty years I have been riding a bicycle, and I have yet to collide with a car. Indeed, you may see me on my frequent trips through downtown Menlo Park, riding smack-dab in the middle of the travel lanes. Car drivers and I tend to get along really well, since I ride predictably, I follow the traffic laws, and I basically act like a car--albeit a somewhat slow car.
With respect to the Almanac article and the impending installation of "sharrows" on Menlo Avenue and University Drive, the beauty of a well-placed sharrow is that it indicates where a bicyclist should ride 1) to avoid being "doored" by a parked car, 2) to be highly visible to approaching cars--from both behind and in front, and 3) to discourage drivers from squeezing past the bicyclist where there isn't room for a car to pass safely. It also emphasizes the bicyclist's right--yes right--to take the lane under appropriate situations, such as where the lane is too narrow for a car and bicycle to share safely side-by-side. The only thing a car driver suffers from having a bicycle ahead of him or her in the lane is a few seconds of time.
As more and more people are riding bikes around Menlo Park, I have noticed that both bicyclists and car drivers are more comfortable with an integrated traffic flow. Ultimately, this makes for a calmer and slower traffic behavior in our downtown, which is good for everyone. I am sure that self-proclaimed experts like Mr. Carpenter will continue to yammer about the dangers of bicycling, but I choose to ignore them. I would rather be out riding my bike.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
" the dangers of bicycling, but I choose to ignore them. I would rather be out riding my bike."
You may be dead right about your right to the road but I prefer to have public policy which avoids death and injury rather than encourages the mixing of 4000 lb automobiles with 200 lb bicyclists. And I suspect that any bicyclist who is injured while using a marked sharrow will include the city in their law suit.
"Peter Carpenter is basically arguing for the second-class treatment of bicyclists"
No, as stated above "I believe that pedestrians, bicyclist and automobiles should all be accomodate on public thoroughfares whenever each can be accommodated safely."
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
" the Wikipedia reference cited above by Alan provides a much more balanced presentation of the pros and cons of segregated bikeways"
Yep - " A 2010 study in Montreal, Canada, by Lusk et al., compared the motor vehicle-bicycle crashes and injuries on six Montreal cycle tracks (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads) with comparable reference roads (a parallel road with approximately the same intersection frequency and cross traffic). The authors found 2.5 times as many cyclists rode on the cycle tracks compared to the reference roads. They also found that the relative risk of injury was lower on a cycle track than on the comparable reference road (the average being 0.72 the relative risk). They concluded that "[c]ycle tracks lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates compared to bicycling in the street"
The New York City Department of Transportation implemented a bicycle path and traffic calming pilot project for Prospect Park West in Brooklyn in 2010 and published their results in early 2011. It created a two-way bicycle path with a three-foot parking lane buffer and the removal of one lane from motor vehicles. They found that weekday cycling traffic tripled after the implementation; cyclists riding on the sidewalk fell to 3% from 46% (the count included children who are legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk); speeding dropped from 74% to 20% of all vehicles; crashes for all road users were down 16% and injuries to all road users were down 21%.
An unfunded 1997 study by William E. Moritz of North American bicycle commuters calculated a relative danger of different facilities based on the survey results of "[fraction of crashes] divided by the [fraction of miles ridden on that facility]". Moritz calculated a relative danger of 1.26 on a major street with no cycling facilities, 1.04 on a minor street with no cycling facilities, 0.5 for streets with bike lanes, and 0.67 for mixed use/"bike" path. The "other" category which mostly included sidewalks had a relative danger of 5.32. Moritz made it clear that this was "[n]ot a statistical or random sample of BCs [bicycle commuters]."
As for John Forester's web site - there is ZERO data their, just his opinion.
Posted by David Roise, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm
ZERO data on John Forester's web site??? Um, what about the two books he wrote, both published by The MIT Press and described extensively on his web site? Both have whole chapters on accident statistics that support the safety of vehicular cycling on non-segregated roadways.
Do you dispute all data, or just data you disagree with?
Posted by Menlo rider, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm
For those of you who want to help make a difference, engage with the city in some way, data and opinions in hand, to try to help make MP a safer bike town. Talk is cheap but you need to engage in the real issues at hand. We cannot snap fingers and make all streets 6 feet wider and all cyclist and drivers more attentive. Deal with the situation at hand and help make it better. MP is trying but can always find more ways to improve.
Posted by cyclist, a resident of another community, on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm
Peter - I don't have any hard data from you, other than Forester's data in his books (as David pointed out). However, here is what I can tell you from years of personal experience riding my bike in all kinds of traffic on different kinds of roads:
1. Bike/pedestrian paths that are completely separated from the road (set back from the intersection) are inferior for transportation due to extremely limited speeds (usually max 15mph due to pedestrians) and extremely frequent stops due to cross streets. The intersections tend to be dangerous due to turning traffic, and the presence of pedestrians leads to danger for all trail users. I avoid using such paths for transportation whenever possible, since it can take much longer and is more stressful than riding on real roads. If all roads had such paths, there would be no such thing as a "through" road for cyclists, we'd be forced to stop every block.
2. Bike-only paths that are physically separated by a curb or similar from vehicular traffic are great - as long as there aren't any opportunities for traffic to turn in front of or into you. Bicycle traffic should only be to the right of right-turning traffic when turning right. Unfortunately, bicycles are frequently found to the right of right-turning cars due to misplaced bike lanes and drivers who don't understand that they are supposed to merge into the bike lane and turn right from it. Luckily, the law states that one of the times bicycles are permitted to leave the bike lane is when a turn is possible, which means that I frequently take the lane before intersections where traffic can go right or straight. I have had many a close call when I have been unable to take the lane and cars not using turn signals turn in front of me or into me.
3. In my experience, generally the best roads for cycling on are those with an adequate bike lane that is clearly marked. Because it is marked, drivers of cars know to keep an eye out for bicycles and tend to be more cautious when turning. In general, cars stay out of the bike lane and bikes stay in the bike lane, with the exceptions of bicycles turning left (take the lane as necessary) and cars turning right (merging properly, not cutting off a bike).
4. Sharrows are a special case - usually sharrows are put in when the road is not wide enough for a standard bike lane. The presence of sharrows is not likely to cause more cyclists to ride on the road than before, but it may help drivers be more aware that cyclists may be present (and to pass with care).
5. Some signs and marking about bicycles seem to be more about legitimizing the presences of bicycles than actually making anything safer, which hopefully reduces the number of drivers out there who hate cyclists and are out to get us. Relations between cyclists and drivers of cars tend to be strained due to the negligent and reckless actions of a few cyclists and a few drivers. As a cyclist, I heartily wish that more traffic laws were regularly enforced for cars, the most important one being use of turn signals.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"1. Bike/pedestrian paths that are completely separated from the road (set back from the intersection) are inferior for transportation due to extremely limited speeds (usually max 15mph due to pedestrians) and extremely frequent stops due to cross streets. "
Properly designed bikeways do NOT permit pedestrian traffic.
"2. Bike-only paths that are physically separated by a curb or similar from vehicular traffic are great - as long as there aren't any opportunities for traffic to turn in front of or into you"
Properly designed bikeways include separate lights/turn controls for cars and bicyclists.
Compromise solutions like sharrows are just that - a compromise.
It would be much better to give up a lane of parking and have dedicated bike lanes on both sides of the street.
Posted by cyclist, a resident of another community, on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm
I'm with you there on giving up parking spaces. Also yes, properly designed bikeways do not permit pedestrian traffic, but I have never seen one in the US. As for separate lights/turn controls for cars and bicyclists, yes that might work if every intersection had a light, so may be appropriate for dense city areas and streets like El Camino. Such separated bikeways block parking and business driveways anyway, so would only be practical in dense city areas regardless - I don't see those happening anywhere on the Peninsula. I'd be happy with regular bike lanes and less parking.
Posted by Observing Bicyclists, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm
Bicyclists, please hand-signal your turns. Don't be unpredictable. (On Oak Street last night, a bicyclist just ahead of me began to slow to make an unsignaled right turn. The distance between us diminished and soon I found myself uncomfortably close behind this person as we both turned).