Friday, June 12, 2015

Grades of Right of Way

'Degree' of Right of Way (ROW)
A: Grade Separated (Elevated/Underground)
B: Separated (Exclusive use, separated by vertical barrier)
C: Dedicated (Exclusive use, separated by painted stripe)
D: Mixed Traffic

This applies for all vehicles: Cars, trains, and bikes. The names change by mode, but the effect is constant: The higher the 'degree', the faster and more safely you can travel; less interference with other modes, less danger of another vehicle intersecting your path.

A: Freeway
B: Best car pool lanes
C: Most car-pool lanes
D: Most roads

A: Subway, (& best light rail)
B: Light rail (inter-urban configuration)
C: Light-rail, in-street for fire-lane
D: Streetcar, or tram.

A: Elevated bikeway
B: Separated bike lanes (bikeways)
C: Most bike lanes
D: Biking in the street.

A bike does not need a road. A road is engineered to support thousands of pounds per square inch. Something much lighter (and cheaper) works. But lets get this out of the way: Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not bicycles. Bikes travel at 5-15 miles per hour, three times of a pedestrian. The geometric design, in terms of clearances, straightness, and pavement quality that works for a pedestrian doesn't cut it for a bike. So we need a bikeway. Bikeways get called 'multi-use paths' so that people can also skateboard, rollerblade, and jog on them. It's a legacy of their historic recreational use.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cycling lanes in SLC

I grew up biking in a context where urban biking was dangerous, drivers indifferent and sometimes hostile. Being killed by being hit behind from a careless/inattentive driver was continual worry. (Which is why I often bike on the wrong side of the road--at least I can see someone coming). Three yeas ago, I didn't care--the risk was an inherent part of the activity. But now...

I want separate bicycle lanes, I want them everywhere, and I  don't care what it does to traffic speeds. When I bike, I bike with family, with vulnerable people. So the separated bike lanes are really nice. Having a lane of parked cars between you and traffic is an enormous comfort--distracted drivers get to crash into a parked car, instead of someone you love. The painted lines are crap, and I sneer that them. Sure, they are better than nothing...but not much. Most were put in place as part of road diets, as an excuse to narrow the road--the bike lanes on 700 East and 300 West most notably.

I think SLC should take a lane off the whole of 3rd South and give me a continuous protected route from Downtown to University. The traffic volumes don't justify the pavement width, anyway. 100 South cars, 200 South for Streetcar, 300 South for bikes and 400 South for TRAX.