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The case for Bikeability in Houston


WAZ

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West End Bikes in Rice Military and Blue Line Bike Lab on White Oak in the Heights are also great shops. West End has a nice big inventory, and helpful staff. Blue Line has great mechanics, and they're willing to work with you to order anything you might want.

Regardless of what sort of bike you wind up with, I'd recommend spending a little extra on some nice flat-resistant tires. They won't stop everything, but you won't have to swerve into traffic to avoid every bit of broken glass in the bike lanes, either.

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I got a bike at Performance and it was a good experience. I also like Bike Barn. Every time I go to Bike Barn on Kirby to buy something minor, like valve cap or a tire lever, the guys just give it to me for free. Their techs are also really knowledgeable and know how to fix just about everything (but only at the Kirby location...I've had mixed experiences at the other locations). They also have a 24 hour area open to the public at the Kirby location that's basically just a little room with a vending machine where you can buy tubes, patch kits, and other little stuff like that.

You'll want a road bike (thin tires, should be kept almost entirely on paved road) or a hybrid (slightly bigger tires, but still smaller than mountain bike, and doesn't have much knobbiness like mountain bikes, can handle a little bit more off-roading than a road bike). Road bikes are the fastest, but you're less likely to have a blowout from a hazard on a hybrid.

You can load your bike on to just about any Metro bus now. The lever on the front of the bus folds down, you place your bike on the rack, and then you bring an arm down on top to grip the top of your wheel. There are two spaces per bus for bikes. On the big commuter buses that go to the park and rides its slightly different. There's a luggage compartment just to the left of the bus entrance with a bike symbol on it. You pull on the latch and lift up the door and then slide your bike inside.

The train: You can only take your bike on the train during non-commute hours, 9 AM to 3 PM and after 7 PM on weekdays, and anytime on weekends. Best way to stay out of everyone's way is to lift up the seat in the handicapped seating area and stand there with your bike.

You can plan Metro trips on Google Maps. Just choose Directions, type your route, time, and then choose Public Transit. It'll tell you what bus to get on when.

I had a weekday off one time, and decided to take my bike up to Kingwood... The bus driver will let you store your bike in the luggage compartment, and since none of the workers ever have luggage to store. It's really beautiful up there, and I need to do it again.

Edited by totheskies
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I like Bike Barn as well. Another one for great personal service is Daniel Boone cycles on Crawford. Less so is Urban Bicycles on Durham. Cycle Spectrum on Shepherd doesn't have a great selection but I think are probably overall inexpensive. West End bikes has a good selection and really friendly staff.

I would avoid a road bike for city street riding. Houston streets are just in too bad a condition and you'll find yourself fixing flats all the time. Right now I have a hybrid, and while it's not speedy it is resilient enough for fairly heavy usage.

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Daniel Boone Cycles is by far my favorite place to go for anything bike related.

That place reminds me of a toy store I went in as a kid that was over in the rice village. 3 old ladies ran the place, and the toys were stacked so deep you could never find what you were looking for, but if you asked one of the old ladies, they would walk right to the toy in question. They always had what you wanted.

Boone Cycles has anything you could need for a bike, if it isn't on the floor, they have it upstairs and they know exactly where it is at. All of the people working there are knowledgeable and even if you don't know what you're looking for they can find it! Especially if you are replacing components, or building a bike from a frame, they have any missing part, or bolt you may need.

Cyclone Cycles is another great place I've been to and they're friendly.

For those of you who live down in the clear lake area, there is a place called Hurricane Bicycles not a huge selection of bikes, but good parts and the owner is a really great guy he did a lot of free service on my bike when I worked out there that had nothing to do with the parts I bought, unfortunately my office moved, so it's so far away, but I strongly recommend his shop to anyone who is in the area!

As far as road bikes on the streets, you have to be attentive, agile and be ready to be light in the seat to navigate most streets. Also being familiar with the road you're cycling helps a lot so you know when the potholes, cracks or missing manhole covers are imminent.

Some road bikes can fit some pretty fat tires inside the frames these days.

It really all depends on what you want to accomplish though.

Edited by samagon
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Cyclocross bike! Built like a road bike, but with more clearance for wide tires (even fenders!) and cantilever brakes. A low-end 'cross bike can make a great, speedy commuter that can take some abuse. Stay away from the fancy carbon-framed ones, though, you don't need that much technology to commute upon.

Also, Jamis makes some nice reasonably priced relaxed-geometry road bikes that would make excellent commuters (Blue Line carries Jamis bikes, not sure who else in town does).

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West End Bikes in Rice Military and Blue Line Bike Lab on White Oak in the Heights are also great shops. West End has a nice big inventory, and helpful staff. Blue Line has great mechanics, and they're willing to work with you to order anything you might want.

A sure sign of a "real" bike store is an on-premises dog. :)

Interesting article about what is wrong with bike lanes. In short, they are frequently poorly engineered and can lend a false sense of safety.

Bicycle Blunders and Smarter Solutions

It also makes the point that bike parking - a critical component of bikeability in my book - is often inadequate or missing altogether. My bike parking pet peeve is the older racks that are too low to allow you to lock the frame of the bike to them.

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The trouble with most bike racks is that they assume you're locking the wheel to the rack. That's no longer an acceptable solution. If I can't lock my frame to the end of the rack there is not too much point in locking it up.

Edited by kylejack
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The trouble with most bike racks is that they assume you're locking the wheel to the rack. That's no longer an acceptable solution. If I can't lock my frame to the end of the rack there is not too much point in locking it up.

Along with racks that are too low to lock the frame, my other pet peeve is racks that are backed up too close to a wall to let you get the bike fully in. That and places that have no racks at all.

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Riding on sidewalks isn't safe for pedestrians and I don't think gives huge advantages to bikers. I'm not aware of anywhere where that is legal, for good reason.

As far as I know, riding on sidewalks is completely legal except in "business districts".

Section 45-302

No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in the City of Houston within a business district or where prohibited by sign. A business district is defined as "the territory contiguous to and including a roadway when, within 600 feet along such roadway, there are buildings in use for business or industrial purpose which occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway".

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  • 1 month later...

I rode to City Hall today from Med Center to pick up my "Tour de Houston" ride packet for this Sunday's ride. I took Hermann Park, Caroline, La Branch, followed the "BIKE signs" mostly. It kept me away from big traffic movers like San Jacinto and Fannin. Got to Annise's new digs but couldn't find a bike rack. I used a bench. Maybe someday.

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I attended my first Houston Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last Tuesday evening at City Hall. I found out about it through the Bike Houston website.

It is open to the public. There were representatives from: City of Houston - Dan Raine, Metro - Connie Roebuck, H-GAC - Gina Mitteco, Harris County - Connie Clark and Houston Parks & Recreation. The meeting was chaired by David Dick, a long time Bike Houston veteran. I was fortunate to meet these advocates and others who have passionately been pleading the case for all cyclists for 20+ years. I would encourage you to visit Bike Houston on Facebook.

and yes...they all agree that the new Richard Wainerdi Bridge crossing Braes Bayou in the medical center is full of bike paths to NOWHERE. Dan Raine was suppose to meet with the upper echeon of Public Works on Wednesday to resolve conflicts. I hope he can soon report funding for completing the sidewalks, bike trails, bike lanes, and bike paths and connectivity around the Braes Bayou-Medical Center-Hermann Park area since most of my miles happen there.

Please come get involved. Push City Council to adopt a "Complete Streets" ordinance and cycle safely.

I looked up "Complete Streets" and found this:

New USDOT Policy Statement Endorses Complete Streets: On to Implementation

By Barbara McCann, on March 16th, 2010 in Federal

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has issued a new policy statement that calls for full inclusion of pedestrians and bicyclists in transportation projects, with particular attention paid to transit riders and people of all ages and abilities – essentially, a Complete Streets policy. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” he said in his blog yesterday.

Secretary LaHood made a big splash at last week’s National Bike Summit, but his enthusiastic tabletop speech is no match for yesterday’s new policy statement in scope and potential effect, as transportation agencies across the country begin to follow the USDOT’s lead and adopt Complete Streets policies.

The statement details what agencies large and small can and should do to integrate non-motorized modes into future projects:

* Consider walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes;

* Ensure convenient choices for people of all ages and abilities;

* Go beyond minimum design standards;

* Integrate bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated, and limited-access bridges;

* Collect data on walking and biking trips;

* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling and track them over time;

* Maintain sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are maintained, especially during snowy weather; and

* Improve non-motorized facilities during maintenance projects.

We are thrilled and gratified.

This move will make our job easier, as we still have a long way to go toward full policy adoption: fewer than half the states have policies, Complete Streets has not yet become federal law, and only a small fraction of all cities and towns have policies.

National Complete Streets Coalition

I like the idea of not automatically giving cars priority on streets.

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Thank you for a fantastic post and a fantastic thread!! I was riding regularly, but I ran over a pothole one day and didn't recover in time for a car to come and hit my bike (and grazed my hip as well). That happened a month ago, and I've been too scared to touch my bike ever since. The motorist was driving and texting of course, and barely noticed what happened until they looked up and saw that I was writing down their license plate. THEN they pulled a decisive U-turn to come and see if I was okay. Gotta love irresponsible drivers.

Your story has inspired me to put a pen and folded up paper in my seat bag. Hoping to not need to use them for writing down plate numbers.

Hope you get back on the bike soon!

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I like the idea of not automatically giving cars priority on streets.

Not a very good idea. At least not on busy streets. Saw an idiot riding his bike north on Kirby between Braeswood and University the other day,  taking up the right lane and causing all kinds of traffic problems as people tried to get around him. There were plenty of sidewalks and side streets he could had used, at least to give the stacked up traffic a chance to get past him (it was at a peak traffic time) but the a-hole could care less. He wouldn't even pull over closer to the curb.  To me this is the equivalent to driving 40 in the left lane of a freeway. I felt like running him off the road myself and I'm a biking fanatic.  You have to use common sense and good judgment when biking along with respecting other motorist.  

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A sure sign of a "real" bike store is an on-premises dog. smile.gif

Interesting article about what is wrong with bike lanes. In short, they are frequently poorly engineered and can lend a false sense of safety.

Bicycle Blunders and Smarter Solutions

It also makes the point that bike parking - a critical component of bikeability in my book - is often inadequate or missing altogether. My bike parking pet peeve is the older racks that are too low to allow you to lock the frame of the bike to them.

Thank you Sub! I had quit posting on this thread, as no one honored dogs here! I ride with my dog right along side of me. He's very well trained, and takes voice commands like he's human. I rescued him from a freeway accident, where no one stopped to help him. I took him to the vet, and got him back on his feet again - well, at least three of them. One ( left, front ) had to be amputated, as it was mangled pretty badly. He lost one eye, several teeth, and his ears are torn up a little. His coat is a tad mangey looking from the road rash. Yes, I named him "Lucky". He doesn't mind at all, and is quite an athlete, able to keep up with my bike easily. Some people cringe when they see him, but they're just being insensitive. Once they get to know him they really like him. He will bite you, if you try to touch him while he's eating, or pick him up, but show me a dog that won't! He's a big dog anyway, so picking him up is a chore. He probably weighs @ 120 lbs., and appears to be a mix of German Shepherd, and Rottweiler. He hardly ever attacks anyone, mostly snaps at them - so most people really enjoy it when I ride up with him. So, Look for us on the road, and come say, "Hi"!

Edited by Hanuman
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Not a very good idea. At least not on busy streets. Saw an idiot riding his bike north on Kirby between Braeswood and University the other day,  taking up the right lane and causing all kinds of traffic problems as people tried to get around him. There were plenty of sidewalks and side streets he could had used, at least to give the stacked up traffic a chance to get past him (it was at a peak traffic time) but the a-hole could care less. He wouldn't even pull over closer to the curb.  To me this is the equivalent to driving 40 in the left lane of a freeway. I felt like running him off the road myself and I'm a biking fanatic.  You have to use common sense and good judgment when biking along with respecting other motorist.  

What if he was trying to get somewhere on Kirby? Then a side street wouldn't have been an option. Or perhaps he was in a hurry and Kirby was just the most direct route.

The point is, bicyclists have a right to use the road. It's not their responsibility to worry about the effects on car traffic.

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Riding to the right of the lane on a fast-moving street is dangerous. Some car comes along that thinks they can squeak by when they can't and kills a cyclist. Taking the lane forces people to change lanes if they want to pass. It sounds like the cyclist was trying to stay safe. Fringe, sidewalks don't generally work. They're busted up or there's pedestrians on them or they just disappear. Woops where is that sidewalk running off to?? I'm trying to ride down Kirby between Braeswood and University!

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Riding to the right of the lane on a fast-moving street is dangerous. Some car comes along that thinks they can squeak by when they can't and kills a cyclist. Taking the lane forces people to change lanes if they want to pass. It sounds like the cyclist was trying to stay safe.

^^ This.

It isn't convenient for the motorists, but then death isn't convenient for anyone involved.

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Riding to the right of the lane on a fast-moving street is dangerous. Some car comes along that thinks they can squeak by when they can't and kills a cyclist. Taking the lane forces people to change lanes if they want to pass. It sounds like the cyclist was trying to stay safe. Fringe, sidewalks don't generally work. They're busted up or there's pedestrians on them or they just disappear. Woops where is that sidewalk running off to?? I'm trying to ride down Kirby between Braeswood and University!

That's quite true. I tend to instinctively be a bit of a curb-hugger, but after enough close calls with cars that thought they had enough room to pass in the same lane I now make an effort to stay closer to the middle.

It's not that I don't respect other drivers - after all, they have the weight on me - but I have to use the road as well.

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That's quite true. I tend to instinctively be a bit of a curb-hugger, but after enough close calls with cars that thought they had enough room to pass in the same lane I now make an effort to stay closer to the middle.

It's not that I don't respect other drivers - after all, they have the weight on me - but I have to use the road as well.

Its a best-discretion thing. There are plenty of streets where 1) the lane is wide enough to fit a car and a bike 2) the traffic is slow enough or sparse enough not to worry about it or 3) there's a big tidy shoulder to ride on, but absent those three things I am going to take the lane. Kirby is a perfect example of a street where you have to do this.

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Cyclists on roads don't have a lot of rights. Just last year a couple on a tandem in the San Antonio area were plowed by some idiot who veered off the road and he wasn't even ticketed. The motorist wouldn't even give any money to bury the couple and the little daughter is left orphaned. But we don't need a 3-foot passing rule, says Rick Perry, because there are already sanctions on motorists who drive unsafely (as he vetoes a 3 foot passing bill).

kylie.jpg

http://www.woai.com/mostpopular/story/Couple-killed-when-truck-slams-into-drags-bicycle/go3yQ221t0iNLcWTSJZ5Bg.cspx

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Do you?

The "I was born this way" line works well to ensure equal rights for women, minorities, and gays...but cyclists? Cycling on roads is a choice; there are alternatives.

Well.... what if our hypothetical cyclist's only means of transport is a bicycle? And let's suppose he was riding on Kirby because it was the fastest way to get somewhere or he was heading to a business on that block. Is he supposed to ride on the sidewalk? Technically illegal in that "business district". Not sure where the previous poster encountered him "between Braeswood and University" but maybe he needed to use the Kirby bridge to get over the bayou? There aren't many options for bayou crossings that don't involve sharing the road or going 3 miles out of your way to use a pedestrian crossing.

Point is, you can't assume someone is just being a jerk if he or she has to cycle on a busy public road. Do you log onto forums to complain about every delivery truck/moving van/tow truck that slows down traffic, too? These are multi-lane, very urban roads. There will be slow moving vehicles using them on occasion. Take a few extra seconds and go around.

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Well.... what if our hypothetical cyclist's only means of transport is a bicycle? And let's suppose he was riding on Kirby because it was the fastest way to get somewhere or he was heading to a business on that block. Is he supposed to ride on the sidewalk? Technically illegal in that "business district". Not sure where the previous poster encountered him "between Braeswood and University" but maybe he needed to use the Kirby bridge to get over the bayou? There aren't many options for bayou crossings that don't involve sharing the road or going 3 miles out of your way to use a pedestrian crossing.

Point is, you can't assume someone is just being a jerk if he or she has to cycle on a busy public road. Do you log onto forums to complain about every delivery truck/moving van/tow truck that slows down traffic, too? These are multi-lane, very urban roads. There will be slow moving vehicles using them on occasion. Take a few extra seconds and go around.

Then that hypothetical cyclist is hypothetically retarded. They can drive a car, carpool, ride a bus, call a cab, walk, or engage in a combination of those options. Some of these options may take more time, but if the cyclist is so poor that he can't afford bus fare, then his time probably isn't worth very much either...and this is leaving aside the personal danger that cycling as a primary mode of transportation poses and that when he gets hit, injured, and hospitalized, the taxpayers will end up footing his bill.

When it comes down to it, I just think that priority should be given to productive members of society trying to go about their daily business in an efficient and safe manner...and desperately impoverished cyclists (living near Kirby!) don't merit much pity.

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Wow.

So "efficient" means "never having to change lanes to go around a slower road user"?

Hope you never take out an actual "productive" and LAW ABIDING member of society who chooses to ride a bicycle on a busy street because you are too important and busy to be safe. Oh, but that won't matter, since that unfortunate soul will have health insurance and the taxpayers won't have to foot the bill.

Edited by sunsets
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Wow.

So "efficient" means "never having to change lanes to go around a slower road user"?

Not precisely, no, but that's the gist of it. It also means not having to pay Ben Taub to put your hypothetical cyclist's guts back inside him; it's cheaper to pay his bus fare.

Hope you never take out an actual "productive" and LAW ABIDING member of society who chooses to ride a bicycle on a busy street because you are too important and busy to be safe. Oh, but that won't matter, since that unfortunate soul will have health insurance and the taxpayers won't have to foot the bill.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those angry guys that honks his horn, much less run anyone down. I just don't like the traffic laws as they're set up and would prefer to keep them off of easily-congestable roads for their safety and my convenience.

But if they have the means to travel by safer and more efficient means and still choose the lesser option, then that's recreation. And recreational transportation tends to carry a fair bit of risk. I'm a kayaker, I know all about this and have even had a few close calls. But I don't expect for a port authority to slow down ship traffic because I'm crossing a channel. Smaller more vulnerable craft must yield for larger less vulnerable craft, and the rules make complete sense; IMO, the same should apply to most major thoroughfares except when provided dedicated lanes or crossings. Not all vehicles are created equal, nor should they be.

Edited by TheNiche
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 Sorry it took me so long to get back to this but: I saw that cyclist ride all the way from Braeswood to University. That's where I lost him. He could have ridden all the way to River Oaks as far as I know. That's quite a stretch to take up one lane in busy traffic going 10 -15 mph. I believe cyclist have rights but should not be rude. Again it's somebody's right to drive 40 in the left lane on the freeway but it's just not good manners.  Cyclist need to realize their limitations, which a big part of is how fast they can travel vs motorized vehicles.  

Just don't drive like your the only person on the road. In a car or a bike. That's all I ask. 

Edited by Fringe
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Cyclists are more fuel efficient than other modes of transport, so efficiency is all a matter of perspective.

OK, let's go down the fuel-efficiency rabbit hole.

Let's say that an automobile in an urban environment achieves 18 mpg and that gasoline costs $2.75/gal. A two-mile trip would require a $0.306 expenditure of fuel.

Annual food expenditures according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis are about $4,293 per capita, averaging to $11.76 per day. And the average caloric intake according to the American Cancer Society is 2,247 calories per day. So the average calorie costs slightly more than a half cent. But if a cyclist averages about 12 mph, the two-mile trip will take 10 minutes, burning 76 calories according to this source (using a 160 lbs. assumption). The cost of that energy was $0.398.

Ah, but acceleration/deceleration is already built into the mpg estimate for cars; it isn't for cyclists. IF THE CYCLIST FOLLOWS THE RULES OF THE ROAD, stops at red lights and stop signs and refraining from weaving through traffic, he will have to lose and then rebuild his inertia many times. No doubt, that effort would cause his fuel costs to further exceed that of the private automobile. Furthermore, the cyclist typically doesn't have more than one seat on his vehicle, meaning that this analysis blows multi-person cycling trips out of the water.

I'm sure that you're going to rebut by claiming that the exercise is healthy for cyclists and that therefore fuel costs related to food shouldn't matter. And depending on individual circumstances, you may be right. Just understand that I'm going to counter right back that cycling in traffic is a fairly risky enterprise (as comments you've made earlier seem to indicate), and that getting hit by a car or truck is never healthy.

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Cycling on roads is a choice;

So is driving a car. What's the point?

No reason to bike down Kirby though. Excellent alternatives exist, even if the destination was actually ON Kirby. There are bad cyclists that ride bikes. There are more bad drivers in cars. Do we post about every bad driver we see? Nope.

All that said... I spent last week biking around Austin. Even with the SxSW congestion, biking around ATX is very easy. Refreshing to be around drivers that don't freak out around bikes, proper bike lanes, bike racks all over town, etc. The result (or maybe cause?)... tons of bikers getting around instead of taking a car.

Edited by Gooch
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OK, let's go down the fuel-efficiency rabbit hole.

Let's say that an automobile in an urban environment achieves 18 mpg and that gasoline costs $2.75/gal. A two-mile trip would require a $0.306 expenditure of fuel.

Annual food expenditures according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis are about $4,293 per capita, averaging to $11.76 per day. And the average caloric intake according to the American Cancer Society is 2,247 calories per day. So the average calorie costs slightly more than a half cent. But if a cyclist averages about 12 mph, the two-mile trip will take 10 minutes, burning 76 calories according to this source (using a 160 lbs. assumption). The cost of that energy was $0.398.

Ah, but acceleration/deceleration is already built into the mpg estimate for cars; it isn't for cyclists. IF THE CYCLIST FOLLOWS THE RULES OF THE ROAD, stops at red lights and stop signs and refraining from weaving through traffic, he will have to lose and then rebuild his inertia many times. No doubt, that effort would cause his fuel costs to further exceed that of the private automobile. Furthermore, the cyclist typically doesn't have more than one seat on his vehicle, meaning that this analysis blows multi-person cycling trips out of the water.

I'm sure that you're going to rebut by claiming that the exercise is healthy for cyclists and that therefore fuel costs related to food shouldn't matter. And depending on individual circumstances, you may be right. Just understand that I'm going to counter right back that cycling in traffic is a fairly risky enterprise (as comments you've made earlier seem to indicate), and that getting hit by a car or truck is never healthy.

Exercising regularly actually causes the body to use energy more effectively; for example heart rate decreases overall, blood flows more efficiently, muscles burn energy more effectively, and so forth. It would be hard to get a reliable answer based on your calculations. Furthermore, not all calories are created equal. Eating carbs from whole grains and sugars from fruit will allow an individual to get use the energy more efficiently than if you consumed a cheeseburger. So depending on the experiencing of the biker it could vary significantly, just like if you use a prius compared to a F150.

Finally, who cares about your counter argument, this is about efficiency, not safety.

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OK, let's go down the fuel-efficiency rabbit hole.

Let's say that an automobile in an urban environment achieves 18 mpg and that gasoline costs $2.75/gal. A two-mile trip would require a $0.306 expenditure of fuel.

Annual food expenditures according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis are about $4,293 per capita, averaging to $11.76 per day. And the average caloric intake according to the American Cancer Society is 2,247 calories per day. So the average calorie costs slightly more than a half cent. But if a cyclist averages about 12 mph, the two-mile trip will take 10 minutes, burning 76 calories according to this source (using a 160 lbs. assumption). The cost of that energy was $0.398.

Ah, but acceleration/deceleration is already built into the mpg estimate for cars; it isn't for cyclists. IF THE CYCLIST FOLLOWS THE RULES OF THE ROAD, stops at red lights and stop signs and refraining from weaving through traffic, he will have to lose and then rebuild his inertia many times. No doubt, that effort would cause his fuel costs to further exceed that of the private automobile. Furthermore, the cyclist typically doesn't have more than one seat on his vehicle, meaning that this analysis blows multi-person cycling trips out of the water.

I'm sure that you're going to rebut by claiming that the exercise is healthy for cyclists and that therefore fuel costs related to food shouldn't matter. And depending on individual circumstances, you may be right. Just understand that I'm going to counter right back that cycling in traffic is a fairly risky enterprise (as comments you've made earlier seem to indicate), and that getting hit by a car or truck is never healthy.

Note that you switched the discussion from fuel efficiency to cost. They are not the same thing. Here's a hint: fuel efficiency has absolutely nothing to do with money. It has to do with how much distance is traveled per fuel expended. Miles per gallon, for example. The bicycle is the most fuel efficient (miles per kilojoule) transportation available to most people, more fuel efficient than walking or driving. But since you want to discuss cost, let's include the cost of purchase and upkeep for these two forms of transportation, and without doing the math we know that the bicycle wins handily.

Edited by kylejack
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So is driving a car. What's the point?

No reason to bike down Kirby though. Excellent alternatives exist, even if the destination was actually ON Kirby. There are bad cyclists that ride bikes. There are more bad drivers in cars. Do we post about every bad driver we see? Nope.

The point is that cycling down major thoroughfares and mingling with faster, bigger, less cautious traffic for the sake of a commute is a really poor personal choice for the cyclist to make and that aside from his own safety, he is also inducing congestion by his very presence. It's one thing when a cyclist takes dedicated bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, neighborhood streets, or even major thoroughfares that aren't prone to congestion that have good sight lines, larger lanes, and/or lower speed limits.

I wouldn't dare suggest that cycling on all streets ought to be illegal. But there are many thoroughfares where it just doesn't make sense for anybody involved, and where I think that it ought to be a ticketable offense. And it's not as though this is a notion lacking precedent. Cyclists already can't use freeways and nobody's outraged. By your own admission, cycling Kirby is a dumb idea; and there are plenty of other such streets in town just like it. Unless cycling on all streets is to be viewed as some kind of a human right, I don't see why an idea like this elicits so much of a backlash...especially against someone who likes the idea of expanding dedicated bicycling infrastructure.

Exercising regularly actually causes the body to use energy more effectively; for example heart rate decreases overall, blood flows more efficiently, muscles burn energy more effectively, and so forth. It would be hard to get a reliable answer based on your calculations.

I'm going by a third-party calculation of calorie burning that I didn't develop. It is unclear whether it takes into account the average person or a person that is already fit, so that criticism could work for or against your position. There were quite a few other search results for calorie calculators that probably use slightly different formulas. Feel free to make a comparison of them to develop a reasonable range, if you're interested.

So depending on the experiencing of the biker it could vary significantly, just like if you use a prius compared to a F150.

I put forth a very reasonable example, acknowledged what were assumptions, cited my sources, and applied some straightforward arithmetic. Your results may vary, but I would tend to think that a conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that cycling is more efficient than driving holds muster. And probably, given most peoples' individual circumstances, cycling is less efficient than driving.

Finally, who cares about your counter argument, this is about efficiency, not safety.

I'd argue that being in an accident would be rather inefficient in the grand scheme of things...but hey, I was just anticipating a feeble off-topic comeback. I shouldn't have to be constrained by the assumption that the other person's response had to be logical. And obviously there's good reason for this. See below.

Note that you switched the discussion from fuel efficiency to cost. They are not the same thing. Here's a hint: fuel efficiency has absolutely nothing to do with money. It has to do with how much distance is traveled per fuel expended. Miles per gallon, for example. The bicycle is the most fuel efficient (miles per kilojoule) transportation available to most people, more fuel efficient than walking or driving.

That's not in any way relevant to public policy. Let's try to be practical.

But since you want to discuss cost, let's include the cost of purchase and upkeep for these two forms of transportation, and without doing the math we know that the bicycle wins handily.

If we go by the 2010 IRS mileage rate, it's $0.50 per mile for passenger vehicles. Considering the cost of many bikes and the scant amount of actual honest-to-goodness use that most bikes get...and also that the use of bicycles in dangerous places is not reflected for in insurance premiums (the way smoking is) and yet that accidents and sports injuries still must be paid for by society...yeah, I think they're probably at on par with one another.

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But there are many thoroughfares where it just doesn't make sense for anybody involved, and where I think that it ought to be a ticketable offense.

Thanks for the clarification. But if riders are in the streets, and car drivers don't like it... it's just as valid an option for drivers not to drive to avoid cyclists as it is for the cyclists to avoid the cars. Legally speaking, a car doesn't give someone specialized right to the road. Obviously, practicality is something different.

So how would you write your proposed "ticketable offense" statute? What would your criteria for a thoroughfare where bikes would not be allowed be?

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All that said... I spent last week biking around Austin. Even with the SxSW congestion, biking around ATX is very easy. Refreshing to be around drivers that don't freak out around bikes, proper bike lanes, bike racks all over town, etc. The result (or maybe cause?)... tons of bikers getting around instead of taking a car.

i was in austin as well, and had the same thoughts. bike racks everywhere, bikes and cars sharing the roads. this trip i didn't have my bike because i was with a group, but i do enjoy riding my bike there often.

i also spend 10 days in SF post Ike with nothing to do because my work was closed and all the servers were down. I borrowed my brother's bike, and was pretty intimidated at first riding on those streets. but cars cautiously passed me, and i didn't slow down the flow of traffic. the only problem ever was with buses, which got a little scary a couple times because they pass by at speed with little room.

but it was impossible (and illegal) to ride on the sidewalks with all the peds, and when i learned the streets there was no problem. i spent 4-5 hours a day just riding with traffic, and it was great. no cars had any problems, and i didn't have any problems.

in houston, i mostly ride for fun, or run errands. i ride up Montrose every day towards Allen Pkwy (so I'm on the Bayou after < 1 mile on the road), sometimes at 5pm when its pretty crowded. I almost always take the sidewalk because its mostly empty, if there are peds i either go on the grass or jump on the street temporarily if there are no cars. i would love to ride on the road and not have to deal with peds, dogs, ending sidewalks, curbs, but it just doesn't make sense safety wise here, since i know people here have the mindset that bikes don't belong on the roads. its very unfortunate.

btw, searching online UK and Canada offer tax incentives to bike commuters, and also many companies have POV reimbursement (lower than what it is for cars).

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Then that hypothetical cyclist is hypothetically retarded. They can drive a car, carpool, ride a bus, call a cab, walk, or engage in a combination of those options. Some of these options may take more time, but if the cyclist is so poor that he can't afford bus fare, then his time probably isn't worth very much either...and this is leaving aside the personal danger that cycling as a primary mode of transportation poses and that when he gets hit, injured, and hospitalized, the taxpayers will end up footing his bill.

When it comes down to it, I just think that priority should be given to productive members of society trying to go about their daily business in an efficient and safe manner...and desperately impoverished cyclists (living near Kirby!) don't merit much pity.

I really hope that you are saying this to elicit a healthy debate, if not that is very callous and not at all considerate of the choices that people are encouraged to make in our country. You would claim that a valid form of transportation doesn't come up to your muster because it inconveniences you, so therefor whoever is on that contrivance out of choice doesn't deserve to use your roads.

To say that a cyclist doesn't 'merit much pity' because they have other choices, wow. I'm as stunned as others who have already posted.

Not precisely, no, but that's the gist of it. It also means not having to pay Ben Taub to put your hypothetical cyclist's guts back inside him; it's cheaper to pay his bus fare.

If a car hits a cyclist, that driver must carry insurance, so his insurance would presumably pay for it.

If a driver runs from the scene, that isn't the cyclists fault, and if the driver doesn't carry insurance that isn't the cyclists fault.

But if they have the means to travel by safer and more efficient means and still choose the lesser option, then that's recreation. And recreational transportation tends to carry a fair bit of risk. I'm a kayaker, I know all about this and have even had a few close calls. But I don't expect for a port authority to slow down ship traffic because I'm crossing a channel. Smaller more vulnerable craft must yield for larger less vulnerable craft, and the rules make complete sense; IMO, the same should apply to most major thoroughfares except when provided dedicated lanes or crossings. Not all vehicles are created equal, nor should they be.

how about when a sail boat comes across a tug boat? that tug has to get out of the way of the sailboat. maritime law is riddled with all sorts of caveats, and not to mention we're talking about congested roadways vs a pretty large waterway that while being congested, does offer options to change your trajectory by a small amount to attain your goal without using more energy. where with a road that is congested, a cyclist that wants to alter his trajectory has to find another road, which trying to find around kirby and 59 is impossible for at least 3 blocks on both sides.

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Thanks for the clarification. But if riders are in the streets, and car drivers don't like it... it's just as valid an option for drivers not to drive to avoid cyclists as it is for the cyclists to avoid the cars. Legally speaking, a car doesn't give someone specialized right to the road. Obviously, practicality is something different.

There are cases where car drivers don't have a right to the road, such as if there is construction work, an accident, or if their vehicle isn't street legal. Drivers also cannot drive recklessly or disobey posted street signs. Pedestrians also are permitted to utilize the road under certain circumstances and not under others...and sometimes it depends on what kind of road it is. I wouldn't claim that the laws are all perfect, but they exist to serve a practical function and generally are successful at that. And certainly there is adequate precedent to apply similar rules to cyclists.

So how would you write your proposed "ticketable offense" statute? What would your criteria for a thoroughfare where bikes would not be allowed be?

I'm not a lawyer or a traffic engineer, so going into minutia probably won't be very productive. But as indicated in my prior response, I'm OK with it if a cyclist takes dedicated bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, neighborhood streets, or even major thoroughfares that aren't prone to congestion, that have good sight lines, larger lanes, and/or lower speed limits. The availability of alternate routes should also be taken into consideration.

I think Kirby (particularly south of Westheimer and north of Brays Bayou) was the best example of a thoroughfare that would qualify. Westheimer, Washington Ave, Memorial Dr. east of Shepherd, and Shepherd between Allen Pkwy and US 59 also come to mind as places that neither cyclists or drivers should want cyclists to be.

Why don't these cars just ride on the sidewalks?

Why don't pedestrians just walk in the streets? It isn't practical.

Why don't airplanes just land on freeways? It isn't practical.

Why don't horseback riders use Westheimer? It isn't practical.

I really hope that you are saying this to elicit a healthy debate, if not that is very callous and not at all considerate of the choices that people are encouraged to make in our country. You would claim that a valid form of transportation doesn't come up to your muster because it inconveniences you, so therefor whoever is on that contrivance out of choice doesn't deserve to use your roads.

To say that a cyclist doesn't 'merit much pity' because they have other choices, wow. I'm as stunned as others who have already posted.

You put forth a hypothetical scenario and I gave you an honest hypothetical response to it...however unlikely/uncommon it may be.

And your appeal to civil liberties or the intents of the founders amuses me.

If a car hits a cyclist, that driver must carry insurance, so his insurance would presumably pay for it.

If a driver runs from the scene, that isn't the cyclists fault, and if the driver doesn't carry insurance that isn't the cyclists fault.

Regardless of the individual picks up the tab, the injury still reflects an outlay that must be made by society at large to fix up (or dispose of) the cyclist. Let's also be considerate of damage to personal property, mental anguish caused to both the cyclist and the driver, and--going on your hit and run example--the (slight) possibility of having to put a productive member of society in prison.

Who cares which party is at fault if these kinds of accidents can be significantly curtailed by making high-risk thoroughfares off limits to cyclists?

how about when a sail boat comes across a tug boat? that tug has to get out of the way of the sailboat. maritime law is riddled with all sorts of caveats, and not to mention we're talking about congested roadways vs a pretty large waterway that while being congested, does offer options to change your trajectory by a small amount to attain your goal without using more energy.

True enough, and they are there for good reasons. A vessel that is under sail does not have guaranteed propulsion and doesn't even necessarily have an engine. A sudden gust of wind, a sudden calm, or a change in wind direction could create a situation where there isn't enough time for the sailing crew to react. And depending on the width/depth of the channel in question, the presence of oncoming traffic, and the draft that is drawn by the vessels...well it's very important that they don't collide and also important that they don't run aground, and there isn't necessarily that much room for error...so I'm sure you can see where I'm heading. The exact outcome of a scenario is dependent on many variables, and things usually turn out alright, however rules are there for practical reasons with the intent being that the unlikely circumstance of a collision or running aground is made even more unlikely. That's the idea that underlies most of our driving, cycling, walking, boating, and flying rules.

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I [...] was pretty intimidated at first riding on those streets. but cars cautiously passed me, and i didn't slow down the flow of traffic.

I noticed this in Austin. I both rode and drove some of the busiest streets in town. Strikingly cars don't backup behind cyclists on busy streets like they do here. Yet, at the same time, when riding I didn't get buzzed or feel as crowded on the street as I do here. There are obviously some improvements to driver habits acquired with increased bike traffic.

I'm not a lawyer or a traffic engineer, so going into minutia probably won't be very productive.

You proposed the idea of "ticketable offenses" for riding on certain roadways. Like you, I cannot think of a way to define a workable criteria to apply to streets that are OK/NOT OK for cyclists. Number of lanes doesn't work. Plenty of 4-lane roads are bikable, and many 2-lanes are not. Do it by car count? How does a cyclist on the road determine that? We could sign all roadways. Very expensive, and wasteful. Lane width? Cyclists would have to carry a tape measure and measure before riding on the roadway? The point is... it can't be subjective and must be obvious to riders and drivers. "The Niche believes bikes shouldn't be on XYZ street" won't suffice. (not to single you out)

Unless one can come up with a workable criteria... allowing bikes on roadways is an all or nothing deal. Banning bikes from all roads makes no sense. So, we have what we have- cyclist discretion.

I'm OK with it if a cyclist takes dedicated bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, neighborhood streets, or even major thoroughfares that aren't prone to congestion, that have good sight lines, larger lanes, and/or lower speed limits.

All rare commodities ITL. I get your point. But your options don't exist for large swaths of ITL Houston. Even where they exist...many designated bikeways and bike lanes are on very narrow, crowded and busy streets. Examples include Weslyan between Westpark and San Filipe (esp around 59), Washington Ave, and West Gray.

Edited by Gooch
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You proposed the idea of "ticketable offenses" for riding on certain roadways. Like you, I cannot think of a way to define a workable criteria to apply to streets that are OK/NOT OK for cyclists. Number of lanes doesn't work. Plenty of 4-lane roads are bikable, and many 2-lanes are not. Do it by car count? How does a cyclist on the road determine that? We could sign all roadways. Very expensive, and wasteful. Lane width? Cyclists would have to carry a tape measure and measure before riding on the roadway? The point is... it can't be subjective and must be obvious to riders and drivers. "The Niche believes bikes shouldn't be on XYZ street" won't suffice. (not to single you out)

Unless one can come up with a workable criteria... allowing bikes on roadways is an all or nothing deal. Banning bikes from all roads makes no sense. So, we have what we have- cyclist discretion.

What I'm trying to get across is that picking the thoroughfares that are off-limits can be accomplished by people that are qualified to develop appropriate technical criteria. And if specific exceptions have to be made, we can name them in the ordinance. It isn't as though we have to avoid language that would create de-facto zoning.

Enforcement would be as easy as posting signs and designating crossings. As long as the signage is intuitive, as most signage is, it shouldn't necessarily even matter whether a cyclist can read English to get the point across.

All rare commodities ITL. I get your point. But your options don't exist for large swaths of ITL Houston. Even where they exist...many designated bikeways and bike lanes are on very narrow, crowded and busy streets. Examples include Weslyan between Westpark and San Filipe (esp around 59), Washington Ave, and West Gray.

I agree. And as I pointed out before, I'm all in favor of developing new dedicated infrastructure for cyclists, and in the mean time, the availability of alternative routes also needs to be given consideration.

Just because I don't want you guys taking unnecessary risks or inducing congestion doesn't mean that I'm out to get you. I fully understand that some motorists are rude or don't know how to drive, but this persecution complex that cyclists seem to have is also frustrating and only serves to perpetuate tensions and create no-win scenarios.

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I am always amazed at how any discussion of bicycle transport almost always devolves into a car versus bike culture war.

I bike to work 90% of the time and would be AMAZED to see the most modest improvements in biking like 1. Don't allow parking on bike paths, 2. Maintain bike paths and 3. Finish bike paths that have been started.

While I firmly take the pro-bicycle almost contempt-toward-cars point of view the existing bike infrastructure is so deficient that I believe it is hard to talk about a cycling nirvana when there is still a Denali parked on the "bike" path. Seriously, a parked car has more clout than a cyclist!

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Not precisely, no, but that's the gist of it. It also means not having to pay Ben Taub to put your hypothetical cyclist's guts back inside him; it's cheaper to pay his bus fare.

Don't worry, under the new health care plan, this hypothetical cyclist will have to have his own insurance. biggrin.gif

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I am always amazed at how any discussion of bicycle transport almost always devolves into a car versus bike culture war.

Agreed, and I think the problem is that almost all bicyclists are also drivers, but a very small number of drivers are also bicyclists. So the bicyclists are looking for workable solutions that benefit all, while the drivers' typical response to anything that threatens their entitlement complex is to more or less sit back and say something along the lines of "Well, no matter what happens, we've set it up so that we can just run you over and not face any consequences whatsoever, so you'd better be careful if you know what's good for you."

Demarcating bike lanes and designated areas might help the drivers but it won't help the cyclists -- crossings etc. certainly didn't work for LRT, and the typical response is to blame the design of the LRT rather than the stupidity of the drivers.

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Agreed, and I think the problem is that almost all bicyclists are also drivers, but a very small number of drivers are also bicyclists. So the bicyclists are looking for workable solutions that benefit all, while the drivers' typical response to anything that threatens their entitlement complex is to more or less sit back and say something along the lines of "Well, no matter what happens, we've set it up so that we can just run you over and not face any consequences whatsoever, so you'd better be careful if you know what's good for you."

Demarcating bike lanes and designated areas might help the drivers but it won't help the cyclists -- crossings etc. certainly didn't work for LRT, and the typical response is to blame the design of the LRT rather than the stupidity of the drivers.

Personally, I think that the problem is that out of the population of drivers and cyclists, there are rude, careless, and inconsiderate people in each camp. These people are predispositioned to having accidents and generally being a burden to society. But they aren't the ones that bother to engage in discussions such as we're having here, and so responsible drivers and cyclists are associating the behaviors of irresponsible people with the people that are opposing them in the discussion.

Unfortunately, it's not PC to suggest that euthanizing these burdens to society should be considered an option, so the remaining alternatives are that we either pay for their ****-ups...or we idiot-proof our transportation systems the same way we idiot-proof our consumer goods.

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Personally, I think that the problem is that out of the population of drivers and cyclists, there are rude, careless, and inconsiderate people in each camp. These people are predispositioned to having accidents and generally being a burden to society. But they aren't the ones that bother to engage in discussions such as we're having here, and so responsible drivers and cyclists are associating the behaviors of irresponsible people with the people that are opposing them in the discussion.

Unfortunately, it's not PC to suggest that euthanizing these burdens to society should be considered an option, so the remaining alternatives are that we either pay for their ****-ups...or we idiot-proof our transportation systems the same way we idiot-proof our consumer goods.

I will refrain from the silly response that the only perfect solution is grade separation for trains, buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians.

I do want to say that you are absolutely right, we are seeing people on the other side of the argument and giving them the worst label of the people that do those things. Each person on each side of the argument can relate a personal experience of militance they encountered.

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