The video embedded below describes “How the Dutch got their cycle paths“. Key was a rapid increase in the cost of energy – mirroring in a large part, today’s economic crisis.
In the early 1970′s the formation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) caused a spike in oil prices. In the Netherlands, that lead to a government policy that encouraged cycling transportation. 40 years later the result is an extrodinary decrease in traffic death and injury, shorter average commute distances, and a rise in the quality of life an entire nation.
Today “Peak Oil” and/or the rise of Finance as an dominant sector of the economy, has lead to increased speculation in oil – and has again caused a spike in the price of energy. The same problems as the Netherlands solved through diversifying their transportation planning approach, now offers an example for North America today.
Along with this excellent lesson from a very recent implementation, are the understandings amoungst Urban Planners of the “New Urbanism” school – that cities have reached their peak holding capacity for automobile traffic; and a understanding by climate scientists – that we must reduce carbon emissions going froward or face extreme economic and political hardship in the near future … all pointing that progress lays in this direction.
Some great lessons also in the video for political tactics that might work today – towards beginning a great project to create separated bicycling infrastructure that is key to reaching the critical mass of commuters that do not use the automobile — in order to result in the quality of live improvement we all – including Mayor Ford – desire.
The project to create connected, separated cycling infrastructure from the suburbs to the cities core would be a generational project that will require an investment of Billions. It would be an investment in the future; a way to jump start the economy today; and a way to pull away from the dead-end economic policies that are leading to less public spending at a time when we must re-new our countries aging, great cities.
Here’s the description – with links intact – from under the video:
In this video from CTV Vancouver Island - posted May 23, 2012 – participants left from various points in the city of Victoria British Columbia, one driving a car, the other a bicycle – to see which one could get to the same destination fastest.
The Bikes won hands down.
One problem – the bike representatives didn’t seem to be aware that they had to follow traffic laws during the trials!
Still, I’d bet that a test of this here in Toronto would show that the bicycle IS faster than a car in rush hour traffic. Different distances from different areas of the city might reveal some interesting metrics.
Next year during Bike Month we should try this here in Toronto.
I don’t ride like I do is this video very often any more, it’s illegal, it’s dangerous for other road users, it’s bad for the discussion Toronto is currently having about sustainable transportation, it’s bad for advocacy towards more bicycle infrastructure — and it’s bad for my health.
Towards a common sense discussion about bicycle transportation, I ride according all the traffic laws (except streets posted One Way to calm traffic, and 4-way stop signs along quiet streets I think should be cycle-ways – should be posted ‘Yield to Bicycles’).
I uploaded this because it is important that we have a discussion about how messengers are forced to ride in the core doing their jobs – it is a fact of life – and I think the discussion should begin with a better understanding of the much vilified, underpaid, over-worked, unrepresented, professional Bicycle Messenger – who’s working conditions are the most dangerous of any job in this economy.
This is how Messengers ride for example, as the end of the day approaches and they need to get packages off before receptionists leave for home at 5pm. At this time of day in the Core, traffic is extremely heavy and frantic – or grid locked. So Kamikaze riding usually includes massive numbers of pedestrians jay walking while the cyclist races between lanes of stopped cars, personally risking door prize injuries – and risking the safety of others (usually pedestrians) – while going 25 kph.
Some riders love this style of riding – they are addicted to it. It’s a Master of the Universe feeling doing this – and in heavy traffic, well, you can imagine the adrenaline rush.
On the ride in this video I had to get from Woodbine and Danforth to Carlaw and Queen in 10 minutes because I promised someone I would be at a free Bike Clinic on time (especially this week because we were short mechanics). So I reverted to a ‘before time’ style of riding to do it – Kamikaze Courier. While I was at it, I thought I’d show you a Messenger’s ‘POV’.
In this video I never stop – I slow at a couple of major intersections – but I never stop. When a courier has packages on that are time sensitive, this is how they get them there on time.
Do not try this at home. I had one full year under by belt as a messenger before I rode like this – and I know this particular route like the back of my hand.
Ride Time: 14:35
Total Distance: 5.09 km
Average Speed: 20.94 kph
I could have taken 2 minutes off the run with more Kamikaze riding on this route. I stopped riding Kamikaze at the top of Jones Av and took a leisurely pace south off Gerrard down Galt to Dagmar, to Dundas and down to Queen via Boston Av.
But I was still less than 5 minutes late for the start of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic.
South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic is every Thursday (year ’round) from 1pm until 3pm – at 955 Queen Street East – through the front doors, on your right in the main lobby.
On Monday I recorded a ride along the Dundas Bike Lanes from Leslieville to Lockwood Av near Woodbine, with my Samsung ES25 Digital Camera.
Didn’t think much of it while it was happening – I messengered for three years – this stuff happens all the time in the core … but in Leslieville, and in the Beaches, this stuff happens at a far lower frequency …
But not today.
Here it is, edited from a 9 minute ride down to 60 consecutive seconds of Cyclist’s Hell.
On another Video Bicycle Ride that I posted today, I sum up this ride,
“..and look’n back on it – there was no indication then – but look’n back on it, I was going too fast. And I didn’t pick up on that cue until after the 5th incident. That’s how you get killed. “
Live and learn.
I should note – that these video’s are about educating cyclists through the benefit of my virtual experiences – but they are also for other road users, so they have the benefit of seeing the experience of a cyclist, from the cyclist’s point of view.
So for example, in incident 1 – as a automobile driver, when you poke the nose of your car out into the bike lane, AND, don’t ever come to a complete stop – you force the cyclist to make a choice. In incident 1 I never saw the driver come to a stop, so I had to choose: change lanes or stop. If a car was coming up on my left I’d be down to one choice, stop.
I might have been able to to that before hitting the ‘creeping noser’. If not, we would have then had a pleasant conversation about replacing my bike; and you later, with your insurance agent about replacing your front left quarter panel, and increasing your insurance rate.
This is the case of the pedestrian who walks out onto the Crosswalk, lights flashing – but the view of the Crosswalk is partially obstructed by a car parked too close to the Crosswalk.
In this case the Pedestrian is acting in a completely correct manner. I should have seen the lights and slowed. I did not so that set up the following: neither I or the car in front of me sees the flashing lights; I don’t get the benefit of seeing the car in front brake (because he goes straight through at speed) and, I don’t see the pedestrian until it to late for braking. So I look behind to my lsft and change lanes immediately. If a car was coming on my left my ‘bail out’ was towards the curb – behind the pedestrian – (hopefully there are no other pedestrians there).
In incident 3, making a three point turn on a major thoroughfare, just past a busy intersection with the light green on the street your using – that is a dangerous move and an inconvenience for all road users.
To the mini-van driver just past Coxwell who made the 3-point turn – thanks for stopping on the right side after your turn – and I noticed (while I was editing the video), you also signaled right turn at the end - indicating you were staying put over there – thank you – that showed you were aware of everything that was going on around you.
Except for the timing of the 3-point turn, excellent driving.
In incident 4 – same as incident 1 – the car coming out of the allyway nosing into the Bike Lane, AND not coming to a complete stop – same as above. With a car coming from behind – my ‘bail out’ was into your left front quarter panel.
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I manage two blogs here at BikingToronto: "@Blog_FreeWheel" and the "Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki". The Blog and the Wiki are two sides of a coin - the blog to discuss bicycle routes and the politics of bicycle routes - and the Mapping Wiki to publish bike route maps contributors and I have discovered to help city planners, cycling advocates and road users to choose and advocate for, safe and efficient cycling routes on Toronto's busy and dangerous car-centric infrastructure.