Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Downtown Bike Loop

Downtown Bike Loop, originally uploaded by plattypus1.

The new Downtown Bicycle Loop is a roughly 6-mile loop that uses mostly existing striped lanes and the Fairmount-Tequesquite portion of the Santa Ana River Trail. New lanes will be appearing on the southern side of Downtown near 14th street.

The city has designed this path with cyclists in mind. Besides the brilliant signage, pictured above, Public Works has ensured that every bit of the loop in both directions is either on the major phase of stoplights- meaning that you don't have to trigger the light to get a green- or that the loop sensitivity is high enough to detect bicycles. This is really the beginning of a high-quality system of bike routes throughout the city- wayfinding signs are planned to be added to the loop when the 3rd/Blaine bike lanes are complete, noting the connection to UCR.

Below is a MapMyRide.com map of the new loop. I encourage everyone to get out there and ride it.


Rene said...

There is no way that I'll ride with my kids on Market street. If I do ride with my kids on Market St, there will be people who would yell at me for subjecting my kids to danger.

The bike lanes need to be safe for kids to ride on. Market St. does not fit that bill.

I doubt it will be a successful recreation bike trail, no matter how much I want a nice bike loop around downtown Riverside to succeed.

You wrote, "The city has designed this path with cyclists in mind". Sure, it's designed for fit and healthy cyclists (mostly for male athletes), not for family to ride on. That's the problem. If the bike lane is not safe for a mother with kids, it will be doomed. That's what makes bike lanes successful in Portland, OR because the bike lanes are mostly dedicated bikeways and safe for any person to ride on.

We need to promote more dedicated bikeways, not to share the busy streets with cars.

I wonder what happened to Commerce street / 8th street bridge proposed route?


JN said...

Rene- The Commerce/8th proposal is still going through, but the railway owns the bridge that the City wanted to use. They're currently in talks over acquiring the right-of-way.

On your safety critiques, I disagree entirely. Would I like to see a city like Copenhagen, with grade-separated paths everywhere? Sure. But bike lanes (and especially ones like the Market St. lanes, which are highly visible and don't suddenly end) are a safe solution to the problem of putting bicycle infrastructure on the street.
You say you couldn't take your children on the bike lanes- I also disagree. If your kids are old enough to be able to ride in a straight line (and this isn't sarcasm, it's actually a measure of competence), they're old enough to ride a bike lane.

Also, what you said about Portland is demonstrably false. Check out this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=34809&a=181308 (PDF)
This is Portland's bicycle network. Most of the map is outlined in green, which means "shared roadways"- lower-traffic streets with wide shoulders. Not even a bike lane. There are only a few major bike-only paths (purple) in the city, mostly along the rivers and along I-205. (They also show a lot of little one- or two-block paths, which really show what Portland's cycle infrastructure is about- making their street grid more complete for bikes than it is for cars.) Even bike lanes (blue) aren't terribly plentiful.

What Portland has done, what San Francisco has done, is to normalize the presence of cyclists on city streets. In those cities, we are an expected part of the traffic flow, and are treated accordingly. The only way that happens is through driver education, and through mass adoption of the bicycle as a mode of transport, especially when ridden properly- ie, not on the sidewalk against traffic, like I see so many riders in Riverside doing. Blocking ourselves off from cars only makes drivers ignorant of what to do on those occasions when we do need to use the streets- and make no mistake, we will need to use the streets for a long time to come. Cyclists have a right to the streets, we shouldn't let ourselves be intimidated off of them.

Would I love to see Riverside become a city like Copenhagen, with grade-separated bicycle paths along every major street? Sure. Is that going to happen? Not while I'm around. We don't have the money, the time, the political will or the right-of-way for such a system. What we do have is plenty of wide city streets, and paint. Lots of paint. Paint is cheap, and can provide many of the advantages of a grade-separated bikeway without the cost. Let's face it, none of our governments are exactly flush with cash right now.

Also, what's with this slur against male cyclists? Are you saying that women are inherently more timid creatures? Or poorer cyclists, unable to hold their line on a street? And, of course, if a cyclist isn't male, she must be a mother. My feminist theorist colleagues would have a field day with this comment.

Rene said...


I agree about your statement that we need to normalize the presence of cyclists on city streets. How do we get the cyclists on city street?

That's my premise: The bike lane on Market Street should not be considered a part of the downtown bike loop. If the commerce/8th proposal goes through, it should be re-aligned.

I was in rush writing my first comment. I'm just unhappy about Market Street segment of the bike loop. It's better to move with what we have, not wait for railroad companies to give us their properties.

I misspoke about Portland's dedicated bikeways. I refer to Portland's bike loop (not its bikeways) that are mostly off path.


If we want to promote downtown Riverside bike loop, we should at least try to find the majority of the bike loop to be off-street (which I know is harder to do). I wonder why not we use Locust Street instead?

I know that we will not succeed in getting average cyclists on Market Street's bike lanes because it's perceived as not safe. Can you imagine a father or mother walking on bike lane with a baby stroller? It will not happen because there is a safer option, that's on the sidewalk next to the bike lane. That's where I will ride with my 3 kids aged 7, 5, and 3. My kids can ride straight, but the cars are going very fast (25 to 40 mph) on Market Street. It is a few seconds away from a fatal accident on Market Street.

I have seen people from the walks of life while hiking on Mt. Rubidoux mountains. They spent time and energy to drive over and hike on the trails. It's safe and easy to walk carefree because it's perceived as safe. Why doesn't they ride bicycles instead?

I don't see it happening on Market Street bike lanes. Based on my observations, the riders are mostly male cyclists. I want to see more average cyclists who have no clue what 3 piece crankshaft is located.

Regarding your comment about feminist colleagues having a field day with my prior comment, that's not what I implied. I just stated that the bike lanes need to be safe for a mother or father with kids to ride on. It's a simple statement. The "perceived" safety of bike lanes have nothing to do with the skills or gender of cyclists.

Regarding "perceived" safety, take a look at the Portland Bike Loop link again:


They made an effort to point out at least 4 "caution" areas that the cyclists need to be aware to "protect" themselves. That's what the City of Riverside need to promote if they want to get more average cyclists on its bike lanes other than painting the bike lanes. The city needs to make the bike lanes more safer, or at least promote its safety.

Rene said...

Here's my second part of comment:

Regarding my comment about male cyclist, I'm trying to recall a point that was brought up in Maples' "Pedaling Revolution", but I don't have the book with me and I don't want to do him injustice by misquoting his work.

In New York Times article, I found a line that almost echos my sentiment behind my comment about a typical male cyclist:
"As Mapes points out, when more women begin riding, that will signal a big change in attitude, which will prompt further changes in the direction of safety and elegance. I can ride till my legs are sore and it won’t make riding any cooler, but when attractive women are seen sitting upright going about their city business on bikes day and night, the crowds will surely follow."


We need to be more inclusive to design bike lanes to make sure that the average cyclist can feel safe and comfortable using the bike lanes.

Guess who graces the front cover of LA bicycle Plan? Of course, a male cyclist.

Another article with money quote:
"Ms. Stern has advocated for improved bicycle access throughout the San Fernando Valley while also working to ensure public safety for women cyclists."

I believe I rambled too much.

Thank you for the opportunity to flesh my thoughts. It's been a while. Also, I want to commend you for maintaining a blog about transportation in Riverside which I found enjoyable to read.

JN said...

Thanks for your comments, I do appreciate them.

Did you know that sidewalk riding, compared to riding with traffic, actually increases the risk of bicycle-automobile collisions by over three times?

See here: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/library/Accident-Study.pdf

The sort of collision that separated bicycle facilities are designed to eliminate, that of a cyclist being struck from behind, consist of only around 8% of collisions, and most of those are in dark, rural areas on high-speed roadways. In reducing collisions, bike lanes are actually *better* than bicycle paths or sidewalk riding.

What you're talking about here in terms of cycling infrastructure is not safety per se, but the appearance of safety. These are two very different things. Your children would be much better served learning to ride in accordance with traffic laws, as vehicular cyclists, than riding on the sidewalk.

See here: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/PracticalCycling/VCIntro.htm

You'll also note that, on the Portland Bike Loop, none of the "CAUTION" areas are on streets, and the loop does include significant on-street sections, including some without any bicycle facilities at all- they're simply labelled "Low-traffic Street".

What we need to do to improve cycling safety here is NOT to segregate cyclists on to off-street paths, but to educate cyclists on how to operate their vehicles in the traffic flow. And we should start young- Denmark includes vehicular cyclist training in their school curriculum as early as first grade.

Oh, and I see parents walking giant strollers in the bike lane all the time, here on Canyon Crest (a 45-MPH street). They drive me nuts, because by not using the sidewalk they force me into the traffic lane.

Kaleb Pinson said...

Does anyone know of a bike rental company that I can use to ride this bike loop?