Category: bicycling advocacy

City of Santa Clara to study bike lanes on Tasman

The city of Santa Clara will hY consider bike lanes for the 1.5 mile portion of Tasman Drive within city limits between the Guadalupe River and Calabasas Creek. A consultant will study traffic on Tasman and propose ways to reconfigure the lanes on Tasman to make room for bike lanes. The green line below shows the study area.

Tasman bike lane study area

Tasman Drive is a major east-west roadway and designated bike route across the north end of the city of Santa Clara roughly halfway between Highway 237 and U.S. 101. In Santa Clara, Tasman Drive provides access to the Great America amusement park, the Santa Clara Convention Center, and several outdoor sport facilities. The new 49ers football stadium is under construction across the road from the convention center. Tasman Road is also an important feeder to growing employment and residential traffic along North First Street in adjacent San Jose.

Between the Sunnyvale city limits and Great America Parkway, Tasman is a four lane divided road serving 13,000 vehicles per day. Tasman becomes a six lane divided road serving 17,000 vehicles per day east of Great America Parkway. According to traffic modeling formulas used by Caltrans, the four lane portion of Tasman has a capacity double the current traffic, while the six lane portion can handle over 46,000 vehicles per day. The speed limit for all of Tasman within Santa Clara is 40 MPH and it operates at “C” Level of Service.

The question the city of Santa Clara asks: Where can they put the bike lanes without widening the existing right-of-way?

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For the six-lane portion of Tasman (shown above with a bonus left turn lane added), the answer is easy — convert the entire right lane to a bike lane and you still have enough spare capacity for free flowing traffic. You might even be able to squeeze in a half mile of street parking or tour bus pullouts along here.

For the four lane portion of Tasman (shown below), the answer might be a little trickier. and there’s probably no way to give this part of Tasman a road diet without reducing capacity. This is why the city will pay a consultant the big bucks — $56,500 — to try to come up with three alternative road configurations of their own.

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The Santa Clara city council has made some bold decisions recently regarding bike and transit access. They apparently feel somewhat obligated to improve the bike accessibility of Tasman Drive — this is, after all, a designated bike route in both the city and county bikeways plan. The bid, however, makes the usual tail-wagging-the-dog assumptions about traffic impacts and projected volumes that mostly ignores any mode of travel that doesn’t involve the infamous single occupant motor vehicle in spite of state and regional policies stating a need to reduce traffic levels for various reasons.

The 49ers are helping to pay for this study, and they’re a major stakeholder for this project. About 21,000 parking spaces will be accessible from Great America Parkway (it’s the main Great America lot), while a big chunk of the remaining parking will be built off of Tasman Drive. Will the 49ers be okay with a lane reduction on Tasman?

Time will tell. The engineering consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates has four months to complete the design of their proposals and obtain CEQA clearance for bike lanes on Tasman, so watch for public hearings beginning something in August or September.

Thank you to Mike Rosenburg at the Mercury-News for research help. He writes about the city’s $56,500 contract with Kimley-Horn. You can find the full bid details here. I use traffic count data from 2008; employment and traffic are higher today. The Kimley-Horn study will gather up-to-date numbers.

Villainy and Redemeption

Bring up LeBron James at the water cooler and you have yourself a conversation. In the time of a lengthy NFL lockout, a budding NBA lockout and the Cubs mired in 5th place, good news is hard to come by. LeBron James dug himself a pretty darn big hole with a large segment of NBA fandom with The Decision a year ago, but he continues to do good in his hometown. Some say he could do more, but let’s allow this to just be a good thing.

San Francisco Wiggle PSA

“San Francisco has too many hills and too much traffic to be enjoyable and safe for cyclists.”

Or: “The Urban Myth that desperately needs to be exposed for what it really is: a myth.”

San Francisco has long been a great place to ride, and broad-spectrum bicycle infrastructure upgrades have made it even better in the past few years. Miles and miles of new, clearly-marked bike lanes, traffic calming measures, bike boxes, and designated routes that avoid busy streets and go around the steepest hills are just some of the things cyclists in the City by the Bay are smiling about.

One of the oldest and most used of the designated routes in SF is the “Wiggle” . (more…)

Cycling in Benin: Donation Drive for Benin National Team

The Benin National Team have a knack for piecing together road bikes from miscellaneous components. Photo credit: Christoph Herby
Our favorite former pro racer turned Peace Corps Volunteer and blogger, Christoph Herby, has stirred up tremendous interest in supporting the Benin National Team with his recent “Cycling in Benin” posts. His most recent post is “Dreaming of the Champs Elysées.” (more…)

Study claims cyclists at fault in only 10 percent of crashes

I was hoping to put this off until tomorrow, but it’s breaking news right now on the NYT, Freakonomics, and the LCI list.

A few days ago, the University of Toronto released an interview on it’s website with Dr. Chris Cavacuiti. Here’s an excerpt:

Dr. Chris Cavacuiti of the department of family and community medicine is a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and an experienced cyclist who commutes on his bicycle and races competitively. He was recovering from a serious cycling accident when he began his research on cycling health and safety.

…While there is a public perception that cyclists are usually the cause of accidents between cars and bikes, an analysis of Toronto police collision reports shows otherwise: The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study.

The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling.

On Wednesday, the university added this correction:

Dr. Chris Cavacuiti has informed us that his interview contains a factual error.

In the interview, Dr. Cavacuiti is quoted as saying “The [Toronto Collision] study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents”. Dr. Cavacuiti has asked us to make readers aware that the Toronto Collision study was actually designed to look at the cause of bicycle/motorist collisions but not culpability.

It is actually several studies conducted by the Charles Komanoff and member of the Right of Way organization in New York that concluded that concluded that cyclists were strictly culpable for less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents.

Dr. Cavacuiti would like to apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.

Komanoff’s study – if that’s the right word for it – is available on the Cars Suck website. A reasonable person would be hard pressed to expect unbiased, objective information from an organization with such a name, and in fact, Komanoff’s study is little more than an anti-motoring diatribe laced with emotionally loaded phrases. For that matter, the study itself is called Killed by Automobile. If you really want to read it, follow this link to Cars Suck, then click on Research/Killed by Automobile. Please wash your hands afterward. This is a raw exercise in fear mongering, as in riding-a-bike-is-a-horribly-dangerous-experience, and as any rational, experienced cyclist knows, it’s totally wrong.

• Right of Way systematically analyzed a full year’s fatalities (1997) for cause and culpability (neither city nor state authorities do so). Our criteria for culpability are largely based on New York State traffic law, and are detailed below, beginning on p. 17. Driver culpability could not be ascertained in 22 percent of cases; drivers were clearly not culpable in only 7 percent, they were strictly or largely culpable in 58 percent, and partly culpable in an additional 13 percent; combining the two latter categories, drivers were at least partly culpable in at least 71 percent of all New York City pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.

• If we exclude the 22 percent of cases in which culpability could not be determined (because police accident reports were missing, incomplete, illegible, or contradictory), the proportions are: driver strictly or largely culpable, 74 percent; driver partly culpable, 16 percent; driver not culpable, 10 percent.

Right Of Way frames crash culpability primarily in terms of driver action rather than that of the pedestrian or cyclist, though the pedestrian’s actions may be relevant to the collision and should be considered in any case.

Let’s reiterate that last – Right Of Way frames crash culpability primarily in terms of driver action – it’s telling us that Right of Way draws conclusions, then looks for data to support those conclusions. That’s not advocating for better conditions for cyclists. It’s political gamesmanship and nakedly partisan. This does nothing to improve conditions on our roads. It merely serves to increase conflicts.

Please don’t fall for this.