This topic is part of a larger project encompassing sustainable transportation in Houten: http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/e4b40/Sustainable_Transportation_in_Houten.html For the paper, please go here: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B6H2L0n6eVY3NzQ2NTQ1MjEtM2M0NS00NDU2LTg3YTMtOWUxMTI0OTc4MTUx&hl=en_US
Bicycling in Holland –Signalized Intersection Practices with cycle tracks
This is a chapter of a project encompassing bicycle facilities in Holland. http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/bd54f/Bicycling_Facilities_in_Holland.html
By Kate Petak, Kourus Monsef, and Ian Trout
Although they are relatively new in the US, bicycle signals have been used for many years in The Netherlands. The purpose of bicycle signals is to provide safety, directness, comfort, and ease of use for cyclists. Bike signals increase safety because they alert drivers that there are cyclists in the vicinity and reduce conflict by using methods such as advance green, which allows bicycles to move independently of cars. Bike signals provide directness in both time and distance. Delays can be limited by maximizing right of way and minimizing wait time. The alignment of the signal should follow the most direct route across the intersection whenever possible. Bike signals increase the comfort and ease of use for cyclists because the signal heads are placed in easily seen locations on the right side of the cycle track so that cyclists don’t have to reference car signals.
According to the CROW design manual for bicycle traffic, “collisions between cyclists and cars are the most significant cause of serious traffic accidents involving cyclist. Over half of these accidents occur at intersections within built-up areas (58%) and of these particularly at intersections with 50 km/h roads (95%).” In order to provide safety and comfort to the large number of cyclists in The Netherlands, the CROW manual endorses the use of traffic control systems (TCS) for intersections where between 10,000 and 30,000 pcu/day need to be handled. The CROW manual ranks TCS second to roundabouts in terms of bicycle safety. Intersection practices involving TCS commonly consist of a signal, any possible advance detection such as inductive loops, microwave detectors, and a bicycle push button.(Figures 9 and 10) The safety features of a bicycle signal include less conflict with vehicles, advance green lights, advanced stop lines, and protected left turns. They are important in reducing the number and severity of bike-car accidents by minimizing the speed difference between vehicles and cyclists at intersections. TCS’s can also significantly impede the flow of cyclists. The CROW manual states that “an average waiting time of less than 15 seconds is good, while one of more than 20 seconds is poor.” The maximum waiting time at a bike signal inside the built-up area is 90 seconds; outside the built-up area it is 100 seconds. A shorter cycle length (less than 90 seconds) is more beneficial for cyclists than the generally accepted time of 120 seconds for auto traffic. Extended green is not currently used for cyclists.
The CROW manual states that road management authorities should develop TCS policy with regards to priority. For example, “a basic principle that can be applied is that main cycle routes have right of way at intersections inside the built-up area. It is also possible to indicate maximum values for waiting times or cycle times.” Comparing this with US practices, the AAHSTO guidelines state that cyclists can have extended green cycles and that the signal should “provide sufficient time for a rolling cyclist who enters at the end of the green interval to clear the intersection before traffic on a crossing approach receives a green indication”. Average waiting time at a bike signal was not stated. Advantages for bikes and bike safety is that the minimum green time for cyclists is longer than the minimum green time for cars and the all-red phase at intersections involving cyclists is increased to the longest interval used in local practice. Detection used in the US includes not only inductive loops and microwave detectors, but also video and radar technologies.
In The Netherlands, bike signals can be located at the same height as a vehicle signal head, at a cyclists eye level, or in both places. (Figure 1) When placed at eye level, a smaller size signal display is used. Usually bike signal heads were measured to be 8-in (20-cm) in diameter and lower signal heads are 3 ft (1-m) high with a 3 in (7.5-cm) diameter face. The signals can have either solid lenses or blackened lenses with bike pictograms.
Figure 1: bike pictogram signal (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Figure 2: solid lenses bike signal (Rijswijk, Netherlands)
There are no flashing indications on the signal heads except at night. Advanced green phases for bicycles are sometimes used simultaneously with a red phase for right-turning vehicles.
The bike signals are located on the near side of the intersection, whereas pedestrian signals are located in the middle and far sides of the intersection.
Additional signal heads that are used may have directional arrows in red, yellow and green indications. Figure 3 shows this type of bike signal which was taken at a T-intersection at Buitenhofdreef and Griegstraat in Delft, Netherlands.
Figure 3: Bike signal using left directional arrows @ location #9
Figure 4: Straight arrow bike signal
Bicycle signal detection at traffic signals is used to alert the signal controller of bicycle crossing demand on a particular approach. Bicycle detection occurs either through loop detection, push button, or a combination of both. (Figure 5) Induction loops are placed at the signal, in advance, and for queue detection; sometimes, microwave detectors, placed on the signal post above the signal head, are used in conjunction with the loops. (Figure 8)
Figure 5: signal with queue and loop detection in Houten
Figure 6: signal with loop detection and microwave detection @ location #4
Figure 7: intersection of Julianalaan and Oostpoorweg @ location #3
Figure 8: intersection of Oostpoortweg and the A13 entrance ramp @ location #4
The microwave detector was used only at a few intersections that we travelled through, such as Julianalaan at Oostpoortweg and Oostpoortweg
Signal design practice and loop detector layout varies in the Netherlands (as it does in the U.S.) Most of the intersections have a single loop detector located just in front of the stop bar. (Figure 6) Some have two loops right in front of the stop bar, located just a couple of feet apart from each other. Advance detection loops are placed well ahead of the intersection (about 80 feet) and will trigger the light to turn green so that the cyclist does not have to stop. Theo Muller of TU Delft indicated that the loops aren’t used for extension in many instances.
The current standard of “push” buttons consists of a yellow post with a red light on it. (Figure 10) The red light comes on when a bicycle has been detected via the loop detector or by the cyclist manually activating it. The post is located at a height that is easily accessible for most cyclists to comfortably reach while remaining on the bike. The loop detector is calibrated to detect bikes so that in most cases the cyclist does not have to manually activate the signal. The old push buttons are small round buttons that, when pushed, would cause a light to come on at the bottom of the box; however, many of these had lights that were no longer operational. (Figure 9)
Figure 9: old push button @ Westlandseweg and Papsouwselaan
Figure 10: new push button with light @ Westlandseweg and Provincialweg location #5
There are two main types of countdown indications given to cyclists. They consist of LED lights that either form numbers that count down or form a ring of dots that gradually disappear, much like a clock. (Figure 11) These indications are placed adjacent to the light for easy visibility. The clock signal is the preferred countdown method because it has a greater compliance rate, as the numbered countdown can deter cyclists from waiting the designated cycle length. Both the countdown and the clock have variable speeds: the countdown can skip numbers if the car cycle is shorter than expected and the clock signal can tick down slowly or quickly, also depending on the car cycle. A special bicycle warning signal is given for bus and tram crossings. (Figure 12)
Figure 11: Bike signal with a countdown timer attached @location #10.
Figure 12: Warning devices activated by buses or trams approaching @ location #7.
Conflicts usually occur at intersections where there are different types of travelers crossing each other’s path. One of the important factors in order to reduce these conflicts is the design of an intersection along with proper cycle lengths for each signal. Good design will indicate to those that are approaching the intersection what their action should be and who will yield to whom. Bicyclist and pedestrians are at a disadvantage regarding conflict points due to their lesser size and visibility. The CROW manual has the following guidelines: conflicts are to be avoided, but sub-conflicts between motorists and bicyclists is acceptable so long as:
There are not a lot of right turning trucks
The cycle track is one way in the direction of the ongoing through traffic.
The intensity of motorized traffic turning is not greater than 150 pcu/h.
In comparison, NACTO suggested that in order to resolve right turn conflict, a car signal with a no right turn arrow is put in, and “an active display to help emphasize this restriction is recommended”.
One of the ways in order to reduce the conflicts between motorized vehicles and bicyclists is having an advanced stop line for the cyclist. This provides cyclists time to clear the intersection and increased visibility. The following figures demonstrate an example of this application. In this location, the traffic signal and stop bar for vehicular traffic is placed 40 ft behind the bike signal and stop bar. Also in Figure 13, there is a warning sign for motorists making a right turn to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Figure 13: Vehicle traffic signal indicating caution for cyclist and pedestrian traffic @ location #1.
Figure 14: The bike stop bar and the vehicle Traffic signal and stop bar in the background
Left turn Design
Left turns can be made in a variety of ways. They can be made with a left turn signal as in Figure 3, an immediate turn from one cycle track to another, or a segmented turn by crossing one street and then turning and crossing the other street. By using green waves, cyclists can often make the left segmented turn without having to stop. There is an example at the intersection of Westlandseweg and Buitenhofdreef in Delft. (Figure 16)
Figure 15: direct left turn signal with left turn stacking lane @ location #3.
Figure 16: segmented left turn @ location #6.
The system can be set up for recall, but the recall setting varies among intersections and time of day. The recall setting is on if the red light comes on automatically, as the system is effectively pushing the button for cyclists whether or not any cyclists are present. At night, some intersections, for example Julianalaan at Oostpoortweg, have flashing yellow lights for cars and bicycles at all approaches.
This functions as an all way yield. In this situation, the bike signal cannot be activated and the pedestrian signal is turned off altogether. The flashing yellow policy puts a lot of trust in the relationship between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to be aware of each other and yield.
Bike signals give independence to cyclists so that they do not need to refer to car signals at intersections. Bike signals increase safety and compliance and are easy to use. In cities, a series of signals can be set up such that there is a green wave. For example, onRaadhuisstraat in Amsterdam the green wave is set to 18 kilometers per hour so that cyclists can easily
cross multiple roads without stopping. The video can be seen here:
An advantage of having bike signals operating independently of car signals is that the phasing can be altered in order to favor cyclists. An example of this is the “twice green” traffic light regimes. In The Netherlands, there is concern about bicycle delay at signalized intersections. According to Fietsbalans, although average delay has decreased in recent years, only 40 percent of this improvement is due to improvement in the signal timing. According to Bo Boormans, director and traffic control expert of DTV consultants, having a “twice green” phase is the most obvious way to reduce waiting time for cyclists. This means that the cyclists will have two green lights per cycle. For more information go to:
Measurements and observations
The stop line is typically located halfway in between the signal pole and the push button. The distance between the signal pole and the push button ranges from 5 to 10 feet, though there are exceptions such as in Figure 3. At Westlandseweg and Provincialweg, (Location 5) the stop line for cyclists was about 40 feet ahead of the stop line for cars. In addition, conflict between cyclists and right turning cars was eliminated by providing approximately 11 seconds of green time to cyclists getting to the median, then providing green time to right turning cars. The phasing varied depending on the detection of right turning traffic. The green time for cyclists at this intersection varied from 5 seconds to 15 seconds. In comparison, the green time for cyclists in Davis, CA, as stated in the NACTO guidelines, ranges from 12 seconds to 25 seconds.
Left turn bike lane and a straight bike lane @ location#2. Weaving of cars is permitted as seen in 2nd photo, creating a sense of insecurity and deteriorating the sense of safety.
Another photo of the left turn bike signal @ location #3
Transit priority TCS coupled with a bike signal @ Provincialeweg and A. Flemingln
bike signal @ Haantje and Beatrixlaan
intersection where weaving is a potential conflict at location 11
bus activated warning device
bike signal just outside Houten with a countdown signal on the lower level signal head
CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic. English Language Edition. 2007.
Hendriks, Ron. “Twice Green Almost Always Feasible”. 2010. Fietsberaad. 23 Jul 2011.http://www.fietsberaad.nl/index.cfm?lang=en§ion=Kennisbank&mode=detail&repository=Twice+green+almost+always+feasible
Fietsberaad. “Green Wave Raadhuisstraat”. 5 May 2009. Fietsberaad. 23 Jul 2011.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVuRjQgoomU&feature=related
Peter Koonce blog: Microwave Detector for Bicycle Traffic in Delft. 12 July 2011.http://koonceportland.blogspot.com/2011/07/microwave-detector-for-bicycle-traffic.html
Traffic Engineering Applications Signal Timing
Homework 2.1.1: Estimating Capacity
Complete the following assignment by answering in 1-2 paragraphs using internet research and field data collection, if appropriate. Please cite sources.
What is the capacity of a single lane of traffic?
Capacity is the maximum hourly volume that can pass through an intersection for a lane or lane group. Referring to the formula c=s*g/C, the capacity depends on the saturation flow rate, s, and the effective green ratio, g/C (g=green time, C=cycle length). Based on HCM 2000, the base saturation flow rate for a single lane of traffic at a signalized intersection is 1900 passenger cars per hour per lane. Research conducted for the 1985 HCM showed that the capacity for critical lanes at signalized intersections was about 1400 vehicles per hour. This includes the effects of lost time and can be used as a planning-level estimate. Different regions of the country use different standards for capacity. In Maryland, studies have shown critical lane volumes above 1800 vehicles per hour at urban signalized intersections. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04091/07.cfm
From Missouri DOT, the practical capacity of each lane of a signalized approach is 1000 cars per hour of green time per 10 ft of travelway width where conflicts with parking, turning, commercial vehicles, and pedestrians are at a minimum. http://epg.modot.mo.gov/index.php?title=233.4_At-Grade_Intersections_with_Signal_Control
Measure the flow at a busy signalized intersection for 15 minutes. Describe your observations.
The traffic flow was observed at the intersection of SW 4th Ave and SW Market St. SW 4th Ave is a 3-lane road with south to north traffic flow only and permitted parking is available on both sides. The right lane is a shared right turn and through lane. On SW Market St., also a 3-lane road, the traffic flows from west to east only and the left lane is both a left turn and a through lane. The intersection is displayed below:
Traffic flow was observed for the right turn lane on SW 4th Ave from 5:20PM to 5:35PM on Friday for both car and bike modes. The left lane on SW Market St was observed both in the morning and evening peak hours, and the middle through lane of SW 4th Ave was observed in the morning peak hour. The signal cycle is 60 seconds at this intersection and green time is split equally between the two phases..
The cars in the left lane on Market queued up when pedestrians were crossing the North side of 4th; however, once the first car was able to go, the other cars could move smoothly too because the pedestrians were done crossing, and lagging pedestrians did not typically arrive. The headway was the same for cars turning left and going straight; in the field, the gaps between cars also appeared to be the same. On Market St., the light was timed to turn green as approaching cars were arriving from the previous light. The only time that queues held over to the next cycle was if there were an abundance of pedestrians crossing 4th on the north side and holding up the left lane of traffic. Once a queue was cleared, lagging cars did not typically arrive. The left lane on Market is a de facto left turn lane, with 87.5% of cars turning left. The few cars going straight in the left lane switched lanes on the next block.
The through traffic on 4th repeatedly had hold over queues due to traffic lights downstream. This inhibited the ability of this intersection to move cars through the light; the most cars to get through a light were 11; unimpeded by the next signal, the numbers could have been higher. This probably didn’t affect headway, but would affect the actual capacity of the road versus its theoretical capacity. At this approach, cars would arrive and move through the intersection well after the queue passed through.
For the right turn/through lane on SW 4th, the queue was sometimes created anew a few seconds after it was cleared. Right turn movements from SW 4th Ave onto Market St were smooth flowing. Some of the cars turning right onto Market St. found a gap and turned on red. No conflict was observed with pedestrians crossing Market St. The right lane appeared to be a de facto turn lane, as through traffic volume was higher in the middle and left lanes.
The collected data and calculations can be found here:
How much time is necessary between successive vehicles in a traffic stream at a signalized intersection?
Based on our observations, only 2 seconds are needed between successive vehicles (if the drivers are all paying attention) when measured from the 4th car through the 10th car. Additionally, the headway is also 2 seconds for the 1st through 4th vehicles.
The HCM states that saturation headway ranges from 1.8 s to 2.4 s (HCM 2000, p. 8-26). Given a capacity of 1400 veh/hr (conservative planning-level estimate), the time between successive vehicles is 2.57 seconds. At a capacity of 1800 veh/hr, the time between successive vehicles is 2 seconds. This is based on the formula, c=3600/t, where c is capacity and t is headway.
Homework 2.1.3: HCM and Lost Time
What determines the capacity of a lane group?
HCM, 2000: The capacity of a lane group can be determined using the following equation when the cycle length and green length are known.
ci = capacity of lane group i (veh/h),
si = saturation flow rate for lane group i (veh/h),
gi /C = effective green ratio for lane group i.
The saturation flow rate for a lane group needs to be adjusted from a base value for a variety of situations, such as: the number of lanes in the lane group, lane width, heavy vehicles, approach grade, parking lane or parking activity adjacent to the lane group, the blocking effects of buses that stop within the intersection area, area type, lane utilization, left turns in lane group, right turns in lane group, pedestrians conflicting with left turn movements, and pedestrian and bike crossing for right turn movements. Once the saturation flow rate is set, the capacity is dependent on the percentage of green time allotted to the direction in question.
From Missouri DOT, the practical capacity of each lane of a signalized approach is 1000 cars per hour of green time per 10 ft of travel way width where conflicts with parking, turning, commercial vehicles, and pedestrians are at a minimum. This capacity is reduced 1% for each 1% of commercial vehicles and uncontrolled left turning movements, and 0.5% for each 1% of right turning vehicles. http://epg.modot.mo.gov/index.php?title=233.4_At-Grade_Intersections_with_Signal_Control
What effect does phasing have on capacity?
Phasing has a drastic effect on capacity. Since capacity depends on the effective green per cycle, the amount of green time allotted to each phase has a direct effect on capacity. Optimizing phasing creates a high traffic flow and capacity for the intersection while minimizing delay. The simplest phasing is two phases, one for northbound and southbound and one for eastbound and westbound movements; however, inefficient two phase signal design creates conflict and reduces the capacity of intersection. For example, if there is a high volume of left turns for any direction, through vehicles sharing the lane with left turning vehicles are delayed until the left turning vehicle can find a gap to cross the opposing traffic stream. In this case, changing from two phases to three phases can improve the traffic flow and capacity of the intersection. On the other hand, designing for too many phases will increase the lost time during a cycle and reduce the capacity. From the HCM 2000, the lost time is doubled when both streets have protected phasing (16 seconds) versus permitted phasing (8 seconds) (HCM 2000, p. 10-22). As a result, an appropriate phasing will optimize the capacity of the intersection.
When is more green time not desirable?
Excessive green time is not desirable if the queue is cleared and traffic on the other side is waiting. Also, long cycles mean longer waiting times for pedestrians and cyclists. Shorter cycle times, under 80 seconds, are found in bike- and pedestrian-friendly places such as the Netherlands and Portland, while longer cycle times, over 80 seconds, are found in places like Florida and Texas, where it is unpleasant to be a cyclist or pedestrian. The HCM 2000 states that “headway may increase somewhat when green time becomes quite long. This effect implies that green phases longer than 40 or 50 s may not be proportionally as efficient as shorter phases.” (HCM 2000, 8-27)
In Chapter 6, the uses of city neighborhoods, Jacobs argues that only three types of neighborhoods are useful: street neighborhoods, districts composed of about 100,000 people, and the city as a whole. Street neighborhoods should be overlapping and interweaving, districts should mediate between city and its streets by making the city aware of problems that are too large for the street to handle and to have sway over votes and power, and the city as a whole brings together people with communities of interest. The “ideal” neighborhoods that city planners plan for is 7,000 people–too large to be a street neighborhood but too small to be a district. The US fails miserably at creating districts.
Portland has done an excellent job of creating these three layers in the city. Each commercial street has its own business district (Hawthorne, Belmont, Division/Clinton, Alberta); in addition, there are neighborhood associations, neighborhood coalitions, and the city as a whole. The neighborhoods tend to contain about 10,000 people and the neighborhood coalitions contain between 120,000 and 200,000 people; these numbers conflict with Jacobs ideas, but many of these neighborhoods don’t have clear boundaries and are just a clean way of organizing the city. Many people who reside in one neighborhood may be closer to businesses in an adjacent neighborhood. The districts are larger than what Jacobs proposes, but they work effectively in Portland to bring city resources to street neighborhoods as well as to influence city policy. I agree with this method of disseminating resources to a city, as it seems well organized and fair. I am not sure how other US cities function, but this method seems to have success in Portland. Many people here are active in their neighborhood, maybe because this type of organization makes it easy for people to stay informed and get involved.
Jacobs states that effective planning should aim to foster lively and interesting
streets, to make the fabric of these streets as continuous as possible
throughout a district, to intensify this fabric with the commingling
of parks, squares, and public buildings, and to emphasize the
functional identity of areas large enough to work as districts.
Differences, rather than duplications, make for effective cross-use
and a person’s identification with his larger area. People need time
in a neighborhood in order to find each other and begin to form
organizations and eventually districts. A district, in order to have the opportunity to thrive, needs three things: a start of
some kind, a physical area, and time.
Amsterdam has an extremely continuous network of lively streets; the downfall to this is that the streets everywhere look the same. This is because the buildings are of similar sizes and ages. In my short time there, the only district I heard mentioned was the red-light district. Maybe the city has other well defined districts with unique features, but I was not aware of them. They have done such a good job of mixing primary uses and having high densities and short blocks, but all of the buildings look the same, so there aren’t distinguishing characteristics of different districts. I’m sure there is cross-use with the variety of shops in the city so that every area isn’t simply a duplication of another area.
In the US, mixed use developments are becoming very popular. However, many of these, seen for example in Seattle, fall into the trap of duplicating the same design over and over again, which discourages cross-use. In both of these cases, Jacobs’ theory that buildings be of varying ages and characters is disregarded: in Amsterdam, all of the buildings are too old and in Seattle, too new. Unfortunately, in the US, it seems like districts don’t form because they don’t have a start, although they do have a physical area and time.
Jacobs states that people must have access to fluid and mobile lifestyles so they will stay in a neighborhood throughout the course of their lives, rather
than move to different sanctioned-off neighborhoods that cater to only
one class and lifestyle.
This is one of the most important points in the book. So many new developments are homogenous and completely barren. Why are developers allowed to build like this? Absolutely no good can come of these areas; they are wastelands. Portland has done an great job of creating diverse housing needs in each neighborhood so that people can live in the same neighborhood as they work. Laurelhurst is an example of a neighborhood with both million dollar homes and small studio apartments. However, the outer limits of the city are much like suburbs of other cities: fiscally homogenous developments with giant shopping centers. I’ve never understood why people would choose to live in places like that.
In Chapter 7, Jacobs focuses on the four generators of diversity. In order to understand cities, we have to look at the mixture of uses rather than separate them out. Having some diversity stimulates more diversity, and diversity is generated by various efficient economic pools of use that they form. The four conditions of generating diversity are:
*A district must serve more than two primary functions to ensure the presence of people at varying hours of the day
*Blocks must be short
*Buildings must vary in age and condition and be intermingled
*There must be dense concentration of people, including residents.
These conditions will generate different results in different places, but having all four will give the city its best chances.
This is the most important chapter in the entire book, as it explicitly outlines what is needed in order to create vibrant districts as well as where dull areas are lacking. Many large cities succeed at all four of these conditions in at least one area of town. Cities such as New York, Chicago, and London have no problem with population density, varying ages of buildings, and short blocks in many parts of town, so that districts with more than two primary functions, such as Greenwich Village, Wrigleyville, and the East End are easily successful. So many US cities fail at creating districts with more than two primary functions. For example, many sports stadiums are surrounded by blight because they don’t assimilate into the neighborhood well and there aren’t other primary uses in the neighborhood to keep businesses going. This is the case for the Rose Quarter in Portland and all sports arenas in Houston. However, Fenway Park in Boston, Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, and Qwest Field and Safeco Field in Seattle fit in to their neighborhoods well because of the diversity that exists independently of the fields.
Cities with short blocks, like Portland, have the potential to be very walkable because they are built on a more human scale than cities with large blocks. Cities built with large blocks, for example Houston or Rotterdam, are not set up on a human scale, which makes walking around undesirable and liveliness unthinkable.
Buildings of varying ages and condition can be seen along Hawthorne, Belmont, and Alberta streets in Portland. This condition is vital in order for a district to not seem gimmicky.
Dense concentrations of people is where Portland doesn’t meet Jacobs’ requirements. However, there are many successful areas of the city that have the other three elements and a low concentration of people. I think this low density makes these neighborhoods even more livable because urban single-family homes are highly desired, but maybe Portland doesn’t fit Jacobs’ definition of a large city as outlined in the introduction.
Many cities do not contain all four of these traits and are successful anyway. These four traits, when present, will give cities their best chances at having successful districts, and cities with a lot of blight should make every attempt at creating these four traits.
Birk’s presentation was fairly general, but there was some good information in it. I liked that she outlined Portland’s progression
from normal city to bike-centric city because the steps Portland took are steps that can be applied to cities all over the country. I really liked her perspective on the attitude of the planners: if you plan for bikes and pedestrians and encourage them, people will be more likely to bike and walk, and if you plan for cars going as fast as they care to through town, that’s what people will do. The results were very persuasive: healthier citizens, better air quality, and lower accident rate as ridership increased. In addition, the entire bike network was built for the amount of money it would take to build just one mile of urban freeway, so it is a smart and thrifty investment to make that can vastly improve the livability of a city. I didn’t like her presentation style at all because it seemed more like an act than a genuine call to action; this was further demonstrated by the fact that she had a bike onstage
as a prop but never used it. However, the main point is that Burke conveyed some very important information to large groups of people, and that is how change starts.
The next big events that will make Portland more like the Netherlands is the success of the test cycle tracks, the increase in quantity of bike signals, and the continued growth of ridership. It would be great to see separated cycle tracks like in the Netherlands, but any kind of cycle track implemented on a large scale in the city would be great to see. Although it is fairly easy to bike in Portland, the sense of safety is vastly greater in the Netherlands because of the separation of modes of transport. Bike signals increase the visibility of the cyclist to drivers and indicate that bikes are being encouraged to use the space. Growth of ridership will occur naturally as more bike facilities are created; this growth will stimulate even more growth because the more cautious people will start cycling as facilities get better and accident rates drop.
My perspective on transportation is heavily influenced by the places I have lived. Growing up in Houston, I never questioned the complete dominance of the car. However, soon after I started driving to school (a 35 minute commute on the highway during rush hour), I started experiencing severe stress headaches. After years of waiting in anticipation to have a car, I didn’t want to drive anymore after only a few months. After spending some time in Boston and London, it seemed like second nature to walk
and take the subway everywhere. The transit systems there are so ingrained in the culture and it was both easy and pleasant to use them. For the first time in my life, city travel was relaxing instead of frustrating. In order for me to stay sane, I knew I needed to live somewhere where I didn’t need to drive everyday; thankfully, I found Portland.
Thinking forward to the shortages of goods that this generation will soon face due to global climate change and overpopulation, I believe that some of the biggest changes in lifestyle will take place with regards to transportation (and water resources). My interest in transportation engineering stems from my firm belief in what cities of the future will need to be like in order to be sustainable. It’s pretty simple: cities need to be fairly dense and have transit consisting almost exclusively of rail, electric buses, bicycling, and walking. These are changes that need to start happening right now; it is vital not only to our health, but to the health of our planet.
Simple video that says it all
The Dutch are always concerned with making traveling easier and ‘more pleasant’ for the cyclist. Where conflict points occur, they always allow for easy eye contact to be made between the driver and the cyclist. This creates a more humanistic transportation network, meaning you can’t just get in your car and barrel down the road without paying attention, which is what the US network has succeeded at creating.