Cycling Activists Pitch 4 Cycletracks

NH BIke MonthA new campaign is building support for protected bike lanes so people feel safer cycling in the city.

Cycling advocates Caroline Smith and Elizabeth Nearing, forces behind May’s Bike Month, hopped on the latest episode of “In Transit” on WNHH radio to discuss the campaign, called “4 Lanes 4 New Haven,” and the way more cycling infrastructure can change the way people navigates New Haven.

They were joined by Adam Rawlings, of not-forprofit Neighborhood Housing Services, who talked about the way the campaign’s gains would allow neighbors more access to local jobs.

The campaign calls for four protected bike lanes in New Haven by 2020. The city has designed the first planned protected bike lane, connecting the west of the city to downtown.

“We’re really really excited about a future of New Haven where these kinds of bike lanes are able to cross through as many neighborhoods as possible,” Smith said.

Organizers first had specific ideas about where they wanted to see bike lanes.

Smith said she wants to see one on Grand Avenue, which sees many commuting cyclists and passes through at least two neighborhoods.

But they decided instead to see if there was any excitement about the idea of installing the lanes, before making decisions on where they should be located.

“This bike lane campaign gave everyone the opportunity to say yes and to buy into something and to connect,” Nearing said. During Bike Month, people were able to interact with the bike lane projects — helping to build pop-up bike lanes and plan events — and feel as though they had more access to the decision-making process, she said.

This year’s Bike Month organizers hosted bike events in neighborhoods outside the usual bike-activist hubs of Westville, East Rock, Wooster Square and downtown. They asked people who attended the events to finish the statement: “I want 4 Lanes 4 New Haven because…”

During events in neighborhoods including Fair Haven and Whalley, Edgewood and Beaver Hills, people were more invested in the campaign’s goals than Smith originally expected. “We didn’t even have to get the campaign statement out of our lips for them to say, ‘I absolutely support this campaign. This is not only something that I understand and I’m excited by, but this is part of my daily livelihood,’” she said.

“There are a lot of people who would either drive or they would bike,” Rawlings said. “If you make some subtle change in the environment, where people are likely to do more things that are actually healthier and better for the environment, it’s this little nudge.” People who would otherwise not cycle, might change their habits with better infrastructure, he said.

Organizers collected 185 responses, most of which named safety as a reason to install more protected cycling lanes.

“I do not want the cars tailgating me or harassing me as I try to ride peacefully along the road. I want to arrive safely and without stress,” one woman wrote.

Another wrote that her daughter had been hit twice while cycling in the city.

Another that she wanted to teach her daughter how to ride.

“They will be ‘traffic calmers’ and allow drivers to see their BEAUTIFUL CITY!” wrote Devil Gear Bike Shop’s Matt Feiner.

City transit chief Doug Hausladen said he understands the intent of the campaign: to have “everyone from the age of eight to 80 feel comfortable on their bike path.” The city has been working to find the necessary space on the roadway to install protected cycle lanes.

The controversial proposed project on Edgewood Avenue is the first case in New Haven where officials have designed a lane that removes a travel lane, along with parking. The removal of the travel lane allows enough space for a five-foot two-way protected cycletrack — a catalyst for the campaign.

“We look for our community to find good ideas,” he said. Some of the biggest calls for protected bike lanes have focused on the Tomlinson Bridge. People have called for the upcoming two-way protected cycletrack on Water Street to extend past East Street, over the Tomlinson Bridge, connect to Connecticut Ave and get over to the park system on the East Shore, he said.

The city is also starting to work to redesign the existing bike lanes on Howard Avenue.

“We’re thinking about commutes” instead of just recreation, in an attempt to get lanes going through the city in all directions, Hausladen said, . Recommendations to the city transit and engineering departments for locations for new lanes are welcome.

Click on the above sound file to hear the full conversation on WNHH radio’s “In Transit” program.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 22, 2016  1:07pm

“I do not want the cars tailgating me or harassing me as I try to ride peacefully along the road. I want to arrive safely and without stress,” one woman wrote.Another wrote that her daughter had been hit twice while cycling in the city.City transit chief Doug Hausladen said he understands the intent of the campaign: to have “everyone from the age of eight to 80 feel comfortable on their bike path.” The city has been working to find the necessary space on the roadway to install protected cycle lanes.

Give me a break.When is the city going to crack down on cyclists running stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks?

posted by: Noteworthy on June 22, 2016  1:22pm

I Don’t Want 4 Lanes 4 New Haven Because Notes:

1. Protected bike lanes are not going to get people out of their cars. It may get others who take the bus out of the bus and on to a bike but it will do nothing with cars.

2. We do not need the Taj Mahal of bike lanes. We did that already with the schools and the outcomes are nearly the same. We just now have a ton more debt. Want bike lanes? Paint them.

3. A campaign with only 185 responses out of 135K residents is not much. More people vote in the 26th than have signed up for this self centered campaign - less than one quarter of one percent.

4. It is pitiful that the bike elites, demand the same rights and more over motorists, but then in the same breath, demand special, separate and really expensive bike lanes.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on June 22, 2016  2:47pm

ThreeFifths,

Your spite for cyclists spits in the face of your spite for residential development. A bicycle is the cheapest form of transportation besides your feet. We need to make the roads safe for cyclists for the benefit of everyone. This is not an elitist issue.  I try to see your perspective on both issues when I read your comments, but statements like the one above make me inclined to throw all of your arguments out.
I know that’s a bit harsh. Just tired of the anti-bike rhetoric when it’s a fundamental safety and equity issue.

posted by: anonymous on June 22, 2016  3:05pm

“Protected bike lanes are not going to get people out of their cars.”

Wrong. The City of Seville, Spain went from 0.2% ridership to over 6.6% in just 6 years after investing in a comprehensive network of cycle tracks.  http://www.pas-csc.org/protected-bike-lanes.html. There are countless similar examples. 

The cost benefit is 100 to 1, which is why literally every other city in the U.S. is now aggressively taking this approach.  Despite the rhetoric and modest efforts coming from City Hall and the DOT, Connecticut cities are falling farther behind as we speak, dragging the state’s economy along with them.

posted by: Nathan on June 22, 2016  3:08pm

“Just tired of the anti-bike rhetoric when it’s a fundamental safety and equity issue.”

Why is there any reasonable expectation of equity?  Despite the spun stats by some commenters on these NHI stories, cyclists are a tiny portion of the users of the road infrastructure.  And with regard to equity, where are the comments from cycling advocates strongly committing to obey the traffic laws?

Having made that point, I’ll perhaps surprise some people and offer my advocacy for separate, protected cycling paths: bikes and motor vehicles don’t mix well in many road situations.  I’ve had a cycling member of my family injured by a motor vehicle in a hit-and-run accident.  It’s safer and better all around for everyone, whenever possible, to separate those users of the roads.  That doesn’t mean any design goes, especially ones that fail to consider the rights of local property and business owners.  It means it is a good goal that should be worked toward in a way that balances that goal with all other considerations.

posted by: Walt on June 22, 2016  3:34pm

I’m fully with 3/5 on this one.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on June 22, 2016  3:39pm

@ 3/5’s & Noteworthy—

You all are s-o-o-o-o-o behind the times with your thinking.

Kids, students, bike commuters (and those who can’t afford a car!) should be given a small portion of our roads to get around town safely, and providing those means shouldn’t be the big deal that opponents like yourselves are making it out to be.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on June 22, 2016  3:52pm

Nathan,

I don’t understand your response to my comment. Equity means equal access for all irregardless of their percentage of the population. Additionally, like many others here, I support the notion and believe the data that suggests that increased safety for cyclists means increased cyclists commuting safely which includes not riding on the sidewalk.

posted by: TheMadcap on June 22, 2016  7:13pm

Some of you are right, we should have nominal surface level equality. That means I take the center of the road and y’all follow behind me at 13mph.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 22, 2016  7:21pm

posted by: BenBerkowitz on June 22, 2016 3:47pm

ThreeFifths,

Your spite for cyclists spits in the face of your spite for residential development. A bicycle is the cheapest form of transportation besides your feet.

Show me were I have wrote spite for cyclists I have always said that if I get a ticket for breaking the traffic laws.They the same thing should apply to cyclists running stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks. Are you saying that it is alright for cyclists to run stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on June 22, 2016 4:39pm

@ 3/5’s & Noteworthy—

You all are s-o-o-o-o-o behind the times with your thinking.

How is enforcement of the laws on the books that say cyclists can not run stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks behind the times ?

My bad. I feel the same way for those who ride Mopeds.

posted by: Username06443 on June 22, 2016  8:34pm

Very nice to have captions under each picture re-stating entirely what was written on the placards. Why only a portion, however, under the first picture?

posted by: William Kurtz on June 22, 2016  9:10pm

Oh please.

And with regard to equity, where are the comments from cycling advocates strongly committing to obey the traffic laws?

The transportation-debate equivalent of, “why don’t the ‘peaceful’ Muslims condemn terrorism???”

Where is the equivalent pledge from motorists? The pledge to “strongly committing” to obey the laws—all of them:

1. No driving in excess of posted speed limits.
2. Coming to complete stops at all stop signs.
3. Refraining from all handheld cell phone and electronic device use while driving.
4. Observing all no turn on red signs.
5. Leaving the requisite 3 feet when passing a person on a bike and passing that person only when it’s clear and safe to do so.

When you can look in the mirror and say that you’ve gone the last week without violating those fundamentals then think about asking for pledges.

posted by: Bradley on June 23, 2016  6:10am

Bike lanes will provide benefits for drivers and pedestrians as well as cyclists. As 3/5ths has repeatedly noted, some cyclists ride on sidewalks and violate traffic laws. The reason people ride on sidewalks is that they do not feel safe riding on streets. Bike lanes will substantially reduce this problem. They will also reduce the number of cyclists riding in the middle of the traffic lanes. (Published research shows that even the much-maligned sharrows have these effects.) 

Bike lanes are hardly a panacea, and there still will be idiots riding through red lights without paying attention to traffic. Increased education and enforcement of traffic laws are needed in addition to engineering solutions. But bike lanes will benefit all road users.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 23, 2016  9:16am

Nathan,
What are your thoughts on the Americans with Disabilities Act from 1990 and the resultant ADA Accessibility Guidelines (https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/background/adaag) that require the inclusion of wheel chair ramps, larger bathroom stalls, special parking provisions, lifts, among other infrastructure for building projects. Why should the built environment be designed to be accessible for such a such a small percentage of the overall population - those with mobility limitations?

posted by: KevinKevin on June 23, 2016  12:08pm

Give me a break.  When is the city going to crack down on motor vehicle operators running stop signs, running red lights, speeding, drunk driving, driving without insurance, following to closely and riding on the sidewalks?

posted by: KevinKevin on June 23, 2016  12:16pm

I ask motor vehicle operators to pick one law, just one, and follow it 100%.  Obey the speed limit, make complete stops at stop signs, following too closely, do not blow through yellow/red lights, phone/device use while driving.  Pick just one law and comply 100%.  That’s right, you can’t even do that can you?

posted by: Nathan on June 23, 2016  4:17pm

What I see is various cyclists confirming what is claimed: that they know they deliberately break road laws regularly, the weak argument that other people (e.g. motor vehicle operators) do it too.  Enforcement efforts should increase dramatically, targeting all users of the roads.

Jonathan Hopkins, ADA law is a wonderful goal gone bad in the details at times.  I’ve seen at least one local business almost not open because of an absurd set of requirements that cost tens of thousands of unexpected dollars to be compliant.  There must be a better way to offer exceptions in some cases.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 23, 2016  9:25pm

posted by: William Kurtz on June 22, 2016 10:10pm

When you can look in the mirror and say that you’ve gone the last week without violating those fundamentals then think about asking for pledges.

When can you look in the mirror and say that cyclists running stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks last week without violating those fundamentals then think about asking for pledges.

posted by: KevinKevin on June 23, 2016 1:08pm

Give me a break.  When is the city going to crack down on motor vehicle operators running stop signs, running red lights, speeding, drunk driving, driving without insurance, following to closely and riding on the sidewalks?

Tell you what.Go to traffic court and look at who is there and have to pay the most fines.I bet you it is not cyclists.

posted by: William Kurtz on June 24, 2016  7:42am

Tell you what.Go to traffic court and look at who is there and have to pay the most fines.I bet you it is not cyclists.

Tell you what. Go to the hospital emergency room and look at who is there and find out how many of those injuries were caused by cars and how many were caused by bicycles.

As I have said in this forum many times, all travelers have an obligation to use the roads and streets safely, responsibly, courteously, legally and ethically, whether they are on foot, on bikes, or in cars. But only one of those groups has a record of causing horrifying carnage with few, if any consequences.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 24, 2016  3:29pm

posted by: William Kurtz on June 24, 2016 8:42am

Tell you what. Go to the hospital emergency room and look at who is there and find out how many of those injuries were caused by cars and how many were caused by bicycles.

How about the number of people hit by bicycles riding on the side walks?How about Bicycle Accidents and Contributory Negligence on the part of the bicycles.?

posted by: RobotShlomo on June 24, 2016  4:25pm

Wrong. The City of Seville, Spain went from 0.2% ridership to over 6.6% in just 6 years after investing in a comprehensive network of cycle tracks.  http://www.pas-csc.org/protected-bike-lanes.html. There are countless similar examples.

The problem with that is we don’t live in Seville, Spain. Many people in Europe don’t even own a car because gas is very highly taxed, and a license in country like Germany will cost you as much as $2,000. When you’re paying $12 a gallon for gas, then a bicycle becomes a more viable option.

As admirable as this campaign is, I believe it was on this very site that something around 3% of New Haveners ride a bicycle. If this isn’t what you’d call a “special interest”, then I don’t know what is. Like I keep saying, this is a difficult city to get around, and while it’s admirable that Mr. Hausladen wants to make it more “bike friendly”, the reality is that since most of jobs have migrated outside the city center, bicycling is not convenient for everybody beyond being purely recreational. For many riding a bike to Stamford or where every is just not feasible, and not everyone wants to show up to work sweaty and with smelly armpits.

posted by: Bradley on June 24, 2016  7:54pm

RobotSchlomo, while the transportation environment is indeed different in Europe and the U.S., your logic is faulty. The price of gasoline in Spain was substantially higher than in the U.S. before the bike infrastructure was built, and bike use was quite modest. Since the U.S. vs. Spain price ratio did not substantially change in the period after the infrastructure was built, the increase in bike use in Seville was not a function of gas prices. Bike usage has increased in many U.S. cities (including New Haven) in recent years, even as gas prices have declined.

posted by: William Kurtz on June 24, 2016  9:59pm

“How about the number of people hit by bicycles riding on the side walks?How about Bicycle Accidents and Contributory Negligence on the part of the bicycles.?”

Sure, how about them? They don’t even show up in the data:

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 25, 2016  8:55am

posted by: William Kurtz on June 24, 2016 10:59pm

“How about the number of people hit by bicycles riding on the side walks?How about Bicycle Accidents and Contributory Negligence on the part of the bicycles.?”

Sure, how about them? They don’t even show up in the data:

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

Depends on where you get you Data from.You seem to duck the question I put on the table and that is When is the city going to crack down on cyclists running stop signs, red lights and riding on the sidewalks?Are you saying that it is alright to enforce the law on one group and not the other? Are you saying that there is no Contributory Negligence on the part of the bicycles.?