Adding Bike Lanes Reduces Traffic Delays

Bike lanes are wonderful. We’ve already seen that bike lanes create jobs, save lives, and help local economies. Now from New York City there is a transportation report that says adding bike lanes can reduce traffic delays.

So what happened here to overcome the traditional idea that bike lanes lead to car delay? No doubt many factors were involved, but a DOT spokesperson tells CityLab that the steady traffic flow was largely the result of adding left-turn pockets. In the old street configurations, cars turned left from a general traffic lane; in the new one, they merged into a left-turn slot beside the protected bike lane (below, an example from 8th and 23rd). This design has two key advantages: first, traffic doesn’t have to slow down until the left turn is complete, and second, drivers have an easier time seeing bike riders coming up beside them.

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Helsinki Wants to Send Cars to Purgatory

The Helsinki bus station theory will change you life and now the Finnish government wants to change people’s lives by making cars pointless. In the coming decades they will make use of data and various transportations to make owning a car a pointless exercise in futility. In many urban centres car ownership is a fool’s game and Helsinki is just making this point clearer.

The ultimate solution for Finland is to create an app for on-demand transport.

As the new system is envisioned, you would use an app on your smart phone to say where you are and where you want to go, and the app would not only give you all the best options, but it would allow you to pay on the spot. This new network, envisioned by a graduate student, would include also cars on demand, but not privately owned.

Interestingly, this new system was designed by a young woman, Sonja Heikkilä. Heikkilä wrote a white paper outlining all the features of the system, which she says will be more attractive to Millenials than car ownership. Here’s how it would work, according to Heikkilä:

“Imagine that Piritta boards a tram, alights from it a couple of stops later, and hires a bicycle to travel to work. After work, she orders a car of [sic] demand responsive transport and travels to the sport hall, where her training equipment already waits for her. Finally, after practice she shares a ride in a shared car and travels home. Piritta uses all services through her personal mobility operator and the use of services is charged directly from her account.”

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Thanks to Mike!

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Swedes Get Free Bikes if They Promise to Drive Less

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Car traffic cripples cities and destroys them. For the last hundred years the common solution to transportation issues was to cater to car drivers and this has left us with endless traffic and awful pollution. The solution today is a mixture of public transit and encouraging people to ride bikes.

In France, they are paying people to ride bikes. They figure it’s cheaper to pay cyclists than to pay for car-only infrastructure.

In Sweden, they want families to get rid of their large vehicles and hop on bikes. In an interesting pilot study people who promise to drive less and ride their bicycle instead will get free bikes. This will lower demand on roadways while improving the health of participants.

Sweden faces some of the same infrastructure problems as the U.S. Most cities have been planned with cars in mind, so cycling to Ikea to run an errand might not seem easy.

“In some cases, it can be challenging to use a bike to, for example, do your shopping, or take your children to preschool and then get to your workplace in the morning,” Waern says. “And while this is absolutely true in some cases, the fact of the matter is that this can be more a mental barrier than an actual one. Most people can, with the right bike and a bit of planning, manage to do all these things and more.”

The project hopes to start to break down those mental barriers by sticking with each participant for six months.

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Reducing Highway Size Doesn’t Negatively Impact Congestion

Nobody likes being stuck in traffic and in the recent past the solution was to build more roads (or add more lanes). Ironically this makes traffic worse as an increase in traffic capacity means more people will drive places. These narrow-minded solutions are still applied in some places like Toronto where Crack-Mayor removed bike lanes. Hopefully the next time transportation options are being looked at crack-voters will come to understand that the best way to make traffic flow better is to not cater to car drivers.

Whenever some city proposes taking lanes away from a road, residents scream that they’re going to create a huge traffic snarl. But the data shows that nothing truly terrible happens. The amount of traffic on the road simply readjusts and overall congestion doesn’t really increase.

For instance, Paris in recent decades has had a persistent policy to dramatically downsize and reduce roadways. “Driving in Paris was bad before,” said Duranton. “It’s just as bad, but it’s not much worse.”

So where did those other drivers go? Many of them switched to public transit, which in Paris has increased by 20 percent in the last two decades. Other trips have simply been avoided, or done on foot. It’s not just Europeans who are eager to get out of their cars. San Francisco removed a highway section, called the Central Freeway, that carried nearly 100,000 cars per day in 1989. The boulevard that replaced it now only carries around 45,000 daily cars and yet they move. (Yes, I’ve been stuck in traffic on Octavia Boulevard, but it’s not like you never get through.) Perhaps the biggest success story has been in Seoul, South Korea, where the city tore down a highway that was considered a vital roadway corridor, carrying 168,000 cars per day. After replacing the cars with a river, parkland, and some smaller roads, traffic didn’t get worse and many other things, including pollution, got better.

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San Francisco Fluctuates Parking Prices, Reduces Wasteful Driving

Car culture in North America has led to massive subsidies for car drivers that go pretty much unnoticed. One of these subsidies is in the way of “free parking,” which is anything but free. Cars occupy space during the day that could be used for productive means or green space, instead cars sit unused with nobody inside of them most of the time.

In San Francisco they have changed their municipal parking system to reflect market demands for parking space. The result is a drop in people who “cruise” looking for parking spaces. Therefore, car drivers have become a little less destructive in the city.

According to a study published last month in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, the program has worked. San Francisco’s occupancy goals have been met, and “cruising” for parking — driving around and clogging up streets after you’ve already reached your destination — is down by 50 percent.

The group of researchers — who represent the University of California, Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon and transit consultancy Nelson\Nygaard — analyzed the 256 blocks subject to SFpark and compared them to a 55-block control group. With access to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s data, the team had a total of more than 2.4 million data points during metered hours to analyze.

Using a model to simulate a driver looking for parking (the model “cruises” down a street and, if it doesn’t find any open spaces, takes a series of random turns until it does), the researchers estimated that the blocks under SFpark saw a 50 percent reduction in cruising. They also found that the program met its goal of a 60-80 percent occupancy rate for spots. Under the program, if occupancy was below 60 percent, parking rates were cut by 25 cents. If more than 80 percent of spots on a block were occupied during metered hours, rates were hiked by the same amount.

Read more at Next City.

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