Car-Free Bike Lanes:
M. Bluejay's Presentation to City Council
This is text of the presentation I made to the Austin City Council on March 2, 2006, trying unsuccessfully to get them to approve car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. As soon as I can figure out how to do so, I'll make a Flash movie to show all 41 slides.
Hello, Councilmembers. I'm Michael Bluejay, I run BicycleAustin.info, [slide] which received a Best of Austin award from the Austin Chronicle, and my site BicycleSafe.com [slide] has been translated into several languages and used by groups all over the world. I've also biked on Shoal Creek Blvd. for twenty years now, and I'm assuming most of you haven't bicycled on Shoal Creek, at least not during rush hour, [slide] because if you had then I don't think you'd be poised to approve this dangerous striping plan.
Here's what we have now which is what you're set to approve. [slide] Unlimited parking on both sides of the street, in the bike lanes. The problems with this are that it's dangerous, [slide] it violates national safety standards, [slide] it goes against the recommendations of your own staff, [slide] and it opens the City up to liability. [slide] And of course it makes the bike lanes pointless if cars can park in them.
So let's look at why your agenda item is so dangerous. Cyclists trying to get around parked cars have two options: They can stay close to the parked car, in which case they risk getting The Door Prize when a motorist unexpectedly opens their door in the biker's path [slide] , or if they veer into the traffic lane then they risk getting run over from behind.[slide] Here's a child on Shoal Creek trying to manuever around a parked car and faced with those same two deadly choices. [slide]
The Door Prize
Okay, so let's take a look at some cyclists who were killed by The Door Prize.[slide]
Other cyclists killed by the same hazard you're set to approve are:
Veering into traffic
Okay, well, of course, as a cyclist you don't have to ride in the door zone, you can risk your life in another way by venturing into the traffic lane. And here's what it looks like when you do. [slide] Notice the motorist illegally crossing the double yellow line on Shoal Creek in order to get around the cyclist. [slide] And this motorist is driving completely in the oncoming traffic lane. [slide]
Hogging the lane
Also notice that the current design isn't just bad for cyclists, it's also bad for motorists, because they've got all these damn bikers in their way, making them nervous and slowing them down. [slide] But give the cyclists a true bike lane like your staff is recommending and then traffic moves much more freely for everyone. [slide]
Now, the popular myth is that the current plan was a compromise between various stakeholders. Here's why that's absolutely untrue:
The City also needs to consider the liability if it goes the unsafe route.
There are more cases of cyclists suing cities on BicycleSafe.com.
Now, the first thing the lawyers ask is, "Did you follow the standards?" I don't think you want to be in the position of saying, "No, we ignored the national AASHTO safety guidelines and the advice of our own staff because some of the neighbors thought that unlimited parking on one side of the street wasn't good enough for them."
Convenience vs. Safety
Many neighbors would like parking right in front of their house. Me, I'd like to not get KILLED while bicycling on Shoal Creek. And that's what this comes down to: The neighbors and the cyclists have different wants, but they're not equal wants. Which is more important: CONVENIENCE, or SAFETY? [slide] I'd like to repeat it again: What's more important: CONVENIENCE, or SAFETY?
So to summarize:
If you do decide to approve this item then I hope you can answer the following questions for us:
Thank you for your time. [slide]
Put this calendar on your website! Copy and paste the following code:
To link to the calendar on its own page, use the address: https://BicycleAustin.com/calendar
I've tried without success to get local groups to add their events to this calendar (Bike Texas, the Yellow Bike Project, City's Bicycle Program, Bike Austin, etc.)
If you'd like to help edit the calendar, or at least add your group's events to it, then please let me know!
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