Fewer Stop Signs Attract Motorists, Not Cyclists

stop-sign-bikes_0095In Winnipeg, city planners are looking at ways to make cycling a more attractive option for commuters. Fewer stop signs for cyclists eyed While changing traffic law to allow “Idaho Stops” would have to happen at the provincial level (same as in Ontario) there has been another idea put forth. The report suggests:

“Reducing the number of unwarranted stop signs on streets identified by ATAC will improve the efficiency of these routes for cyclists as well as reduce unnecessary vehicle stops, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce traffic-noise levels and may promote overall compliance at stop signs in general”

Of course, this doesn’t sound like a good idea. Removing stop signs will increase traffic speeds and is likely to attract more motorists than cyclists. Streets without stop signs are highways something Winnipeg resident Dan Prowse elegantly points out:

DEAR EDITOR:

Reducing stop signs on routes preferred by cyclists “to reduce unnecessary vehicle stops, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce traffic-noise levels” (Fewer stop signs for cyclists eyed, March 5) makes sense if you are thinking about cars. If you are actually thinking about saving fuel, reducing emissions and reducing noise, or if you are actually thinking about the interests of cyclists, which was the reason for the City of Winnipeg transportation report, the decision is absurd. The proposed approach would only attract more cars to use routes favoured by cyclists making it more dangerous to cycle.

The quoted report doesn’t want to treat bikes and cars differently. But that is the whole point — bikes are different. Cycling is three to 10 times more space efficient (in road use and parking space) and 100 times more energy efficient. Being energy efficient means no fuel, no emissions and essentially no noise.

I became a convert to active commuting almost 40 years ago in Toronto based on the superior mental and physical condition of my retirement-age boss who walked to work. Since then, I’ve mostly walked but also run, cross-country skied and biked to work. In the last year, I’ve become an all-season cycler, commuting to downtown Winnipeg.

With modern technology, winter cycling is no longer a miserable experience.

I’ve got cheap clothing that keeps my skin warm and dry, studded tires, amazing LED lights with lithium batteries that will light up signs two blocks away at -30C and hi-tech goggles. I, with two or three dozen other co-worker cyclists, would have to be the president to have a better parking spot. My route is relatively safe. My commute times are often better than a car and shorter than the bus. My commute is as scenic as a holiday. In winter rush hours, it is a delight biking under bridges on the river trail from Churchill High School down the Red River and up the Assiniboine compared to driving over those bridges.

What’s not to like about biking? More frostbite risk in biking than walking. It takes the city a couple of days to plow the cycle/walking path from Osborne to the Forks. There aren’t enough safe routes to keep bikes and cars apart. Most drivers are very considerate but probably only professional drivers appreciate how big a safety zone cyclists need.

About 75 per cent of regular cyclists stop for winter, not because of the cold, but because there are insufficient safe routes.

We can fix those things, but only if we treat bikes differently than cars.

It’s taken me about 40 years of trying out commuting options to figure out what Apple, and before them, Sony have demonstrated so well — elegant solutions to human needs that are space and energy efficient married with good technology are winners. Let bikes work.

DAN PROWSE

Winnipeg

LINK

Stop Sign photo via BikingToronto Flickr Pool

The Tyee Looks at MakerCulture and BikeCamp

Via The Tyee:

How MakerCulture Is Reinventing Politics

Cyclist advocacy movement: bike camp

Hundreds of cyclists huddle in a cramped conference room. The room’s walls are covered with pieces of paper on clipboards. At the top of each page are suggestions on how to best promote cycling issues in Toronto, followed by a series of empty dots. Jason Diceman, a facilitator for BikeCamp, yells above the crowd.

“Read these, fill in one dot to record your opinion! How many dots?” Diceman playfully asks the crowd. “One,” the crowd responds. “Tell your friends!” Diceman jokes. “Fill in one dot and sign the sheet!” As Toronto’s next municipal election approaches, city cyclists join forces to strategize about how to get their issues on the agenda.

The Toronto Cyclists Union (TCU) and community members met at BikeCamp in mid-October last year to outline what issues they want to push for during the 2010 mayoral race. Their strategy is decided on democratically. The TCU aims to act on those ideas which received the most dots.

What were BikeCamp’s three top ideas? The first is get a segment on cycling rights and rules into Ontario’s driver handbook and driving courses. Second, to promote a specific route or bike lane with support from wards across Toronto. And the last is to get cycling education in schools.

Brainstorming is the easy part, according to Margaret Hastings-James, a BikeCamp organizer and avid cyclist. The hard part is actually getting people to work on those projects. “The most important thing that will come out of today is getting some new energy. People that are interested to pick up on some specific campaigns or events and to actually run with that and make it their own project,” Hastings-James explains.

Hastings-James has been a bike advocate since 2003, after she was hit by a car while cycling. Luckily her injuries weren’t serious, but the accident made Margaret realize the need for more bike lanes and stricter traffic rules. Although hundreds of cyclists showed up for BikeCamp in October, only a small group donates their time to bike advocacy.

“You come and there’s people here all presenting awesome ideas and then they leave the room and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to implement all this?'” says Hasting-James. ¬† But she remains positive. Rising gas prices, concern for the environment and crowded streets have increased participation in cyclist movements. Only decades ago bike advocacy was virtually unheard of, but now attracts support from people in all walks of life.

“It’s really encouraging to see a lot of new faces here today. I find that the movement in general in Toronto is changing face,” said Hasting-James. “It’s not the same die-hard sort of ‘enviro’ freak types… there’s a lot of variety in people here.” In only one year of operation the Toronto Cyclists Union is 730 members strong. And continues to grow.

Read the full article here.