BikeBridge has been working on an idea we are calling a Cycling Backbone Route (CBR) network. It is our hope that such a network would provide a planning basis for where (and how) the City focuses on cycling infrastructure developments. The CBR network would allow cyclists to ride year-round from and to any part of the city within a bike-prioritized, uninterrupted framework. Essentially, cyclists could use existing roads and trails to reach a backbone route and then the connected network to reach other sections of our city.
A CBR is infrastructure and other supporting structures and systems that give priority to city-wide travel by bicycle.
Backbone routes broadly connect all sections of the city to each other: West-East (including the river valley), North-South (including Crows Nest Trail/Rail corridor), Lethbridge College to Downtown, access to South East warehouse retailing, access to and throughout Industrial Parks, access to downtown, access to University, access to West Lethbridge retail centre. The Backbone functions like a transit route in that the cyclist accesses the nearest route by utilizing existing and unspecified roadways, pathway, etc.
The CBR network allows cyclists to traverse the city quickly, directly, safely, using moderate to low energy, year round.
A CBR primarily utilizes existing roadways, augmented by dedicated bikeways where needed to maintain connectivity (satisfy standards). In order of priority, the CBR is applied using the following infrastructure and supporting systems:
1. Secondary and residential streets as Bicycle Boulevards
2. Arterial roadways as designated bike lanes
3. Dedicated Bikeways
1. Bicycle Boulevards
A bicycle boulevard is a low speed street which has been optimized for bicycle traffic. Bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor vehicle traffic but allow local motor vehicle traffic. They are designed to give priority to cyclists as through-going traffic. They are intended to improve cyclist comfort and/or safety through various means:
- discouragement of non-local motor vehicle traffic;
- low speed limits;
- low motor vehicle traffic volumes;
- free-flow travel for bikes by assigning the right-of-way to the bicycle boulevard at intersections wherever possible;
- traffic control to help bicycles cross major arterial roads; and
- a distinctive look and/or ambiance such that cyclists become aware of the existence of the bike boulevard and motorists are alerted that the street is a priority route for bicyclists.
Bicycle boulevards use a variety of traffic calming elements to achieve a safe environment. For instance, diverters with bicycle cut-outs at mid-block allow motorists to enter the block in order to park or otherwise access a property, and allow cyclists to continue to the next block as well, but do not allow motorists to continue.
Bicycle boulevards often have higher road surface standards than other residential streets, and encourage riders to use the full lane, encouraging parity between bicycles and motor vehicles.
Bicycle boulevards have a snow removal (winter maintenance) and cleaning priority.
2. Designated Bike Lane
Bike lanes should only be required where routes cannot be provided using bicycle boulevards (given overall standards of safety and directness). Dedicated bike lanes are specifically markers areas on existing arterial and collector roadways for use only by cyclists (except where it is necessary for access purposes by other transportation users). Bike lanes include on street standardized lane marked areas that are maintained for all season use and include considerable signage, left turn cycling boxes and traffic signal activation.
Bike lanes have a snow removal (winter maintenance) and cleaning priority.
3. Dedicated Bikeways
Dedicated bikeways should only be required where a route cannot be provided using a bike boulevards of bike lanes (given overall standards of safety, directness and fitness).
A dedicated bikeway is essentially a two way physically separated (by distance or structures) bicycle freeway maximizing speed and minimizing intersection with other transportation users and minimizing physical requirements (grades). Bikeways are not “multi-use” facilities and may therefore required provision of separated facilities for pedestrians.
Bikeways could utilize exiting roadways using physical separation of cars from bikes using: planters, motor vehicle parking, and medians.
Bikeways have a snow removal (winter maintenance) and cleaning priority.
(US) Alliance for Biking and Walking Releases 2012 Benchmarking Report
The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released its comprehensive report on cycling and walking infastructure, funding, and safety for 2012. The report shows that increasing bicycling and walking are goals that are clearly in the public interest.
Where bicycling and walking levels are higher, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes levels are lower. Higher levels of bicycling and walking also coincide with increased bicycle and pedestrian safety and higher levels of physical activity. Increasing bicycling and walking can help solve many serious problems.
As this report indicates, many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done.
Bicycling and Walking Levels
- 12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
- From 2000 to 2009, the number of commuters who bicycle to work increased by 57%.
- In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car. Residents of the largest U.S. cities are 1.7 times more likely to walk or bicycle to work than the national average
Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
- 14% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are bicyclists (1.8%) or pedestrians (11.7%).
- In the 51 largest U.S. cities, 12.7% of trips are by foot and 1.1% are by bicycle, yet 26.9% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians and 3.1% are bicyclists.
Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians. Adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities and make up 6% of bicycling trips, yet account for and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.
Public Health Benefits
Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%.
- Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75%, while the percentage of obese children rose 276%.
In general, states with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have the lowest levels of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes and have the greatest percentage of adults who meet the recommended 30-plus minutes per day of physical activity.
Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects.
Cost benefit analyses show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.
2012 Benchmarking Report
According to a Dec. 1st Technology Review article, “The first analysis of data from shared bicycle networks in Europe, reveals some surprising urban cycling patterns In 2005, the French city of Lyon introduced a shared bicycle system called Velo’v that has since inspired numerous other schemes around the world. Velo’v differed from earlier schemes in its innovative technology, such as electronic locks, onboard computers and access via smart cards. The system now offers some 4000 bikes at almost 350 stations around the city. Most residents agree that the system has transformed the city from a grid-locked nightmare to a cyclists dream, with some 16,000 journeys now being completed each day.”
“All this presents researchers with an interesting opportunity. Since its introduction, the system has kept track of the start and finishing location plus travel time of every journey. Today, we get a detailed analysis of this data from Pablo Jensen at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and a few amis. They looked at 11.6 million bicycle trips in Lyon between May 2005 and December 2007. The result is the first robust characterisation of urban bikers’ behaviour, they say…Over an average trip, cyclists travel 2.49 km in 14.7 minutes so their average speed is about 10 km/h. That compares well with the average car speed in inner cities across Europe…”
Source: Technology Review
By Stu Walker
For BCA BikeShorts
Are you a
member of the Alberta Motor Association (AMA)?
Here is some good news, sort of. If you are traveling by bicycle in BC or South Central Ontario and bend a rim or shatter a derailleur you are likely eligible for “Bike Assist”. Both BCAA and CAASCO have recently announced that they provide road side assistance to their members while cycling. And, according to Vicki Sherwin, Director of AMA Member Services, if you are an AMA member you can make use of these services while riding in those provinces.
This is an important step by both BCAA and CAASCO. It means they have come to realize that the bicycle is a means of transportation, that even though their members own and drive automobiles, many also use a bicycle for at least some of their personal mobility needs. BCAA and CAASCO seem to have taken the view that the future is not the past. They have tuned in to a growing desire and need for alternatives to using a motor vehicle for each and every trip.
Will “Bike Assist” be available here in Alberta anytime soon? Hard to say, but according to Vicki Sherwin, “AMA is truly open to the idea of “bike assist” as our goal is to satisfy our member’s personal mobility needs. In addition, a move in this direction would support and align with our advocacy efforts around the environment and continued sustainability through “green” initiatives“.
How open the AMA is to implementing “Bike Assist” remains to be seen. In a world of rapidly rising personal transportation uncertainty, many organizations, businesses and even cities still seem slow or even blind to the idea that they may have a role to play in mitigating that uncertainty. In the context of post peak oil and rising fuel costs; global pressures that will almost certainly assign at least some carbon costs to motorists; and pressures on insurers to manage increasing catastrophic weather loses; many of us will soon be seeking support for alternate ways to get around, like the bicycle.
For more information:
BCAA Bike Assist
CAA SC Ontario Bike Assist
Bike Assistance Oregon/Idaho
Betterworldclub Bike Assistance