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Five Key Lessons From Europe’s Vision Zero Success

Cross-posted from the Vision Zero Network

Berlin, Germany

From the moment that Vision Zero began capturing attention in American cities, we’ve heard many admiring references to its success in Europe, particularly in its birthplace of Sweden.

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to research those experiences and their lessons for the growing number of American communities working to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. As part of a fellowship with the German Marshall Fund, I’m spending two months visiting Stockholm, Sweden; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Berlin, Germany to interview experts and observe first-hand their approaches to traffic safety. The goal of my research: to gather and share replicable lessons for American communities, particularly in urban areas, where we’re seeing the most momentum for Vision Zero.

First, a disclaimer: I’m still actively researching and interviewing, so it’s too soon to share my sense of the “full story.” Please consider these early impressions.

And, second, a clarification: What the Swedes — and to a lesser extent the Germans — call Vision Zero, the Dutch call Sustainable Safety. While there are many similarities to what can generally be termed a “safe systems approach” to transportation, there are more differences than I realized between their efforts. (But more on that in a future post…)

So what have I observed thus far? Here are five initial  takeaways, focusing on areas that seem relevant to the U.S. experience and worthy of more exploration.

1) Managing speeds — and speed differentials — is a top priority

In all three of these countries, the leaders of traffic safety efforts emphasize that managing speed is the number one determinant in their successes in improving safety.

Read more…

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SFPD Driver Strikes and Kills Cyclist “DJ” Pinkerton, 23, on Dangerous Road

Persia at Sunnydale Avenue in McLaren Park, where Pinkerton died, is set for a safety upgrade next year. Screenshot from ABC 7

Persia at Sunnydale Avenue in McLaren Park, where Pinkerton died, is set for a safety upgrade next year. Screenshot from ABC 7

Donald “D.J.” Pinkerton, 23, was killed on his bike in a crash with an SFPD driver on Friday night at a dangerous intersection at the edge of McLaren Park which is set to get traffic calming improvements.

The SFPD has told reporters that officers are still investigating the crash, which occurred at about 9 p.m. at Sunnydale and Persia avenues in the Excelsior District. Based on reports so far, Pinkerton was riding down a service road from the weekly bike polo event he organized when an SFPD officer driving a cruiser struck him.

DJ Pinkerton. Photo via ABC 7

DJ Pinkerton. Photo via ABC 7

SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told KPIX, “They were just driving regular, no lights or sirens, not going to a call, just regular, routine driving approaching this intersection.”

D11 Supervisor John Avalos said SFPD Ingleside Station Captain John McFadden already told him that the crash was Pinkerton’s fault, and that he “may have been intoxicated.”

“I feel like what I heard was, it wasn’t our fault, it was his fault that it happened,” Avalos told Streetsblog.

“This is a tragedy,” Esparza said in a statement soon after the crash. “Our thoughts go out to the bicyclist’s family, as well as our two officers involved as this is a tragic incident.”

Esparza added that SFPD is conducting “a thorough investigation” of the crash, and that “an administrative process will also be conducted for the member driver involved, which is standard procedure to include toxicology sample.”

SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Noah Budnick said the organization’s staff “were shocked when we learned of Donald ‘D.J.’ Pinkerton’s death.”

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Supe Kim, SFMTA Get Tips From Copenhagen on Creating a Bikeable City

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Supervisor Jane Kim (left) rides in Copenhagen with SFMTA officials. Photo: People for Bikes

Supervisor Jane Kim and SFMTA officials took a trip last month to learn about best practices from two leading bike-friendly cities: Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden.

“I’d assumed that [Copenhagen] always had a bike culture,” Kim told Streetsblog. “I was surprised to learn that they also had a cars-first culture through the 60s and 90s. They’ve actually spent the last 25 years working to shift that.”

Kim joined a delegation including SFMTA Chief of Staff Alicia John-Baptiste, Communications Director Candace Sue, Livable Streets planner Mike Sallaberry, and board member Gwyneth Borden. The trip was organized by the national advocacy group People For Bikes.

“Not only are senior citizens getting around in a healthier way,” noted Kim, “they feel safe doing it. And that’s exciting.”

The delegation met with Copenhagen planning officials and a former mayor to learn about how the city made bicycling the most convenient way to get around.

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The Top 100 Neighborhoods for Bicycle Commuting Have a 21% Mode Share

More than half of people in Stanford University's central campus commute by bike. Photo: ##http://travelchew.blogspot.com/2013_12_01_archive.html##TravelChew##

More than half of people in Stanford University’s central campus commute by bike. Photo: TravelChew

City rankings of bike-friendliness — while fabulous click-bait for their purveyors — obscure dramatic differences among neighborhoods. Los Angeles doesn’t appear on any cycling top 10 lists, but the area to the north and west of the University of Southern California has a 20 percent bicycle mode share. The city of Miami Beach is no bike heavyweight, but around Flamingo Park, nearly one in every four trips to work is made on two wheels.

Robert Schneider, an urban planning professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, wanted to go beyond the city rankings. He and his assistant, Joe Stefanich, examined 60,090 census tracts to find the top 100 U.S. neighborhoods for bicycle commuting [PDF]. Taken together, they have a 21 percent bicycle mode share. Compare that to the U.S. as a whole, with its piddling 0.6 percent mode share. The full list is available on this PDF.

Here’s what Schneider and Stefanich found:

  • Stanford University is a biking powerhouse. The central campus has a 52 percent mode share, the highest in the country. Five census tracts in and around the campus make it into the top 100. (Check out our coverage of Stanford’s transportation demand management program to find out more about how they did it.)
  • Stanford is not alone. College campuses in general support biking like nothing else. Of the top 100 census tracts for bike commuting, 68 are within two miles of a campus.
  • The polar vortex ate your bicycle. Seventy of the top 100 tracts have mild climates with fewer than 10 days a year with temperatures that don’t go above freezing.
  • The Amish will rival your beardiest hipsters for bike love (and beards for that matter). Only, many of them don’t exactly ride bikes but these hybrid bicycle scooters. Four tracts in rural areas of Ohio and Indiana with significant Amish populations have bike commuting rates between 15.7 and 18 percent.

It's not quite a bike, but it'll get you in the bicycle top 100. Photo: ##Inhabitat##http://inhabitat.com/amish-designers-hand-made-these-colorful-kick-scooters-on-a-farm-in-pennsylvania/##

It’s not quite a bike, but it’ll get you in the bicycle top 100. I’ve been waiting to feature one of these on Streetsblog since my last visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a year and a half ago. Photo: Inhabitat

The common threads you’d expect to find running through these top bicycling neighborhoods are all there: good bike facilities, lots of car-free households, higher population density, fewer hills.

This list has the same weakness as every other study on bicycling: It’s based on the American Community Survey journey-to-work data, so it doesn’t look at transportation patterns for anything but commuting, which makes up less than 20 percent of all trips.

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Tell Bay Area Bike Share Where You Want Stations in the Tenfold Expansion

With a tenfold expansion secured last week, Bay Area Bike Share launched an interactive online map where you can weigh in on where the next wave of stations should go in SF, the East Bay, and San Jose.

Suggest locations for Bay Area Bike Share’s expansion on a new interactive map.

The map received 1,500 spot suggestions within the first 12 hours of its launch, said Dani Simons, spokesperson for Motivate, the bike-share operator. The map is powered by the “Shareabouts” tool created by OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization.

Motivate promises to expand Bay Area Bike Share to 7,000 bikes by 2017, with 4,500 in SF, 1,000 in San Jose, and 1,400 in Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. Another 155 bikes would be added in Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Mountain View if those cities opt in to the program by contributing their own funds.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the public administrator of Bay Area Bike Share, may also issue a grant to study bringing the system to other “emerging communities.”

The SF Bicycle Coalition “really encourages San Franciscans to participate in the public planning process so we can create the most dense system possible for our dynamic, growing city,” said SFBC Executive Director Noah Budnick in a statement last week.

“Combined with robust transit in this area, [Bay Area Bike Share] will make it easier than ever for East Bay residents and workers to choose an active commute,” said Bike East Bay Executive Director Renee Rivera. The organization “looks forward to working with our cities and local businesses on planning a bike-share system that truly serves our communities and boosts our local economy.”

Via Streetsblog California
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Modesto: A Model Bike-Friendly City?

Sylvan_Bikes

Bike lanes featuring the first use of green paint in Modesto were installed in 2012 along Sylvan Avenue. Photo: Michael Sacuskie/TED

The California central valley town of Modesto is not usually high on anyone’s list of cities embracing cutting-edge pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. But that may change soon.

Modesto is one of the oldest cities in California, but like other central valley towns, it grew to accommodate car travel, with wide, fast streets, plenty of parking, and little attention given to other modes. In fact, the city may be best known as the setting for American Graffiti, George Lucas’ nostalgic look at teenagers in a world of cheap gas and oversized cars.

In recent years, however, the city has been quietly applying Complete Streets principles on its roads. It has added buffered bike lanes when it repaved, built roundabouts at major intersections, added bike parking corrals in thoughtful ways, and created temporary plazas with the idea that once people experience them they will want to make them permanent.

And last month the City Council approved a project that includes a road diet on College Avenue and a curb-protected, two-way bike lane along nearby 9th Street. The project will connect two campuses of Modesto Junior College to relatively new bike lanes on Briggsmore Avenue, considerably adding to the city’s bike network. This project alone will put Modesto at the forefront of bike-friendly infrastructure in California, ahead of other cities where advocates struggle to convince planners, and planners struggle to convince the public that safer street designs will work for everyone.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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New Federal Guide Will Show More Cities the Way on Protected Bike Lanes

Oak Street, San Francisco. Photo: SFMTA.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Protected bike lanes are now officially star-spangled.

Eight years after New York City created a trailblazing protected bikeway on 9th Avenue, designs once perceived as unfit for American streets have now been detailed in a new design guide by the Federal Highway Administration.

The FHWA guidance released Tuesday is the result of two years of research into numerous modern protected bike lanes around the country, in consultation with a team of national experts.

“Separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-stress bicycle networks,” the FHWA document says, citing a study released last year by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. “Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided.”

Among the many useful images and ideas in the 148-page document is this spectrum of comfortable bike lanes, starting with bike infrastructure that will be useful to the smallest number of people and continuing into the more broadly appealing categories:

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SFMTA Says It’s Just Getting Started on Protected Bike Lanes

Mayor Lee rides with SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire (behind) and SFBC Executive Director Noah Budnick (right) on Valencia Street this morning. Photo: Volker Neumann, SFBC

City officials gathered for another Bike to Work Day rally at City Hall today to cheer for bicycling, celebrating a 206 percent jump in ridership since 2006, according to a new annual bike count released by the SFMTA today. There was the usual citation of bike traffic on eastbound Market Street at Van Ness Avenue: 76 percent of all vehicles between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. were bikes.

So, was it another feel-good event in lieu of action? Maybe not…

After significant wins at the ballot box in November, these Bike to Work Day festivities felt a little different. There was legitimate cause to believe the city will accelerate its progress on bike infrastructure.

In 2015, the SFMTA expects to implement or start construction on an unprecedented 23 miles of bikeway upgrades, Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire told Streetsblog. Then the real boom in bike infrastructure is expected to start in 2016, when “we’re going to look back and say, that was nothing.”

“We’re definitely going to be seeing more, better, and faster,” said Maguire. “That’s where we want go with the Bike Strategy.” As someone who helped deliver improvements at a rapid clip in New York City, Maguire’s word carries weight.

At the rally, Mayor Ed Lee touted the planned ten-fold expansion of Bay Area Bike Share and noted the need for “more sustainable ways to get around” as development and population increase.

“We are making it easier and safer to bike around our city with improved bike infrastructure and bike-share opportunities,” Lee said in a statement. “Biking isn’t just fun, practical and healthy; it also helps cut down on congestion. Every person on a bike is one less person in your traffic jam or fighting for a parking spot.”

A fine speech, but one that the mayor has given before without making the necessary decisions to back it up. It was only two months ago that Lee refused to say that protected bike lanes, which encourage bicycling and save lives, are more important than car parking.

Here’s the roster of officials who biked to City Hall this year along with Mayor Lee: SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, and Supervisors Eric Mar, Mark Farrell, Julie Christensen, Katy Tang, Jane Kim, and Malia Cohen. Absent were Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos, Norman Yee, John Avalos, and London Breed.

What’s different this year is that voters sent some clear signals at the polls. “Every neighborhood in San Francisco is asking for safer streets,” said Maguire. “What the design looks like on every block is going to be different, but there were victories for Prop A and Prop B, [voters] defeated Prop L — it was proven at the ballot box. That’s the kind of momentum we want to go by.” Proposition L, a cars-first advisory measure, was funded last year by Lee backer Sean Parker.

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Via Streetsblog California
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Happy Bike to Work Day, California

BTWT2015Ride

Mayor Albrecht Schröter of Jena, Germany follows Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates on a ride to city hall. They’re riding the blue bike-share bikes that will soon be available in the East Bay. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Yes, yes, every day is bike to work day, but today is the day we get to celebrate it. Here’s a photo of one group of happy participants in Berkeley, California, where the mayors of Copenhagen, Denmark and Jena, Germany joined Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates for a “mayorpalooza” bike ride through town.

We’re putting together a post with photos from all over California. Do you have photos of Bike to Work Day, or Bike Month, in your city? Share them with us!

Send them to melanie@streetsblog.org

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Wiggle Safety Upgrades Delayed Over Turn Bans to Reduce Thru Traffic

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The Wiggle would become safer and calmer with upgrades like a traffic diverter at southbound Scott and Fell streets. But Lower Haight neighbors oppose left-turn bans aimed at attracting cross-town drivers to Divisadero Street. Image: SFMTA

Improvements that would make the Wiggle calmer and safer have been delayed after continued driver protests against three left turn bans on Divisadero Street proposed as part of the project. Approval of the project was removed from the SFMTA Board of Directors’ Tuesday agenda and postponed until June.

Hoodline reported that some members of the Lower Haight Neighbors and Merchants Association can’t stomach the all-hours left turn bans from Divisadero on to Haight Street, and peak hour bans for turns on to Hayes and McAllister Streets.

The SFMTA says the bans are intended to complement the Wiggle improvements, which include a traffic diverter on Scott Street. By keeping cut-through drivers moving on Divisadero, the main driving route, that street would become the more attractive driving option. “This will reduce Scott Street’s appeal as a cross-town route, making it a more pleasant place to walk, bike, and live,” says an SFMTA fact sheet [PDF] on the Wiggle improvements.

“We want people to get where they need to go safely while keeping heavier traffic on Divisadero,” Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire said in a statement. “The SFMTA’s proposals for Divisadero will improve traffic flow, cut down on congestion and reduce spillover traffic into the neighborhood. We have worked with the community extensively on this project, and we wanted to take a little more time to better understand the concerns of the Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association.”

A major feature of the planned Wiggle upgrades is a large sidewalk bulb-out which would physically block drivers from entering southbound Scott at Fell Street. That would reduce the car traffic on Scott, which runs one block parallel to Divisadero, that degrades the livability of the neighborhood and congests the intersection at Haight. The improvements also include raised crosswalks, bulb-outs with rain gardens, and textured pavement.

“Thousands of people bike and walk through the Wiggle every day, and they and the neighborhood residents deserve a street that works for them,” said Tyler Frisbee, policy director for the SF Bicycle Coalition. The SFMTA’s project “enhances the residential, family-oriented nature of the community and ensures that everyone is able to walk, bike, and enjoy the area in a safe, inviting place. This project will reduce the amount of water pollution and runoff from these streets, minimize traffic congestion for neighbors, and improve safety for people walking and biking. That is a clear win-win.”

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