During his opening comments Evans stated (somewhat paraphrased) [10:20]Completely correct. The effectiveness of bicycle infrastructure shouldn't be judged based on the fast movement of cars. Even more so when the purpose of installing the cycle track was "traffic calming." But,after reading something like this, I can only conclude the following: that safe cycling and the fast movement of cars through the city are inimical; that they both can't be achieved simultaneously; that any bike infrastructure that hinders the driving of cars, in a measured or only perceived way, is viewed as an imposition and "confusing"; and that discussions and oversight of pedestrian and bicycling facilities are still seen by many in the framework of "how does this affect driving." In light of this, I think that cycling advocates need to get to the point- safe cycling and fast, unfettered driving simply don't go together. You can have one or the other, but you can't cut the baby in half. You shouldn't cut babies at all- they're very little and wouldn't like it.
On 15th street, it's critical we keep the bicycle lanes. But the way we got it set up , it's not working right. I know cyclists are reluctant any observations for fear of losing something. I drive 15th street every day, and the way they got it set up is just a recipe for disaster. The left lane is all left turn lanes so you can't go in them, and then they have those bizarre traffic lights with the little bicycle and whether you can make a left or not and it is so confusing and now you have traffic both ways on that left lane and what was once nearly a six lane road has been narrowed down to two lanes and so we have to look at that and we have to look at a better way to do 15th street and I'm getting a lot complaints, of course, from residents and driversHe's also confused by the bike light at 15th from Penn. he talks about it again as "not working" because drivers and residents are complaing and it's confusing.
What I wanted to say, but hesitated and missed my chance, is that Evans was making the classic science mistake of measuring the wrong thing. He's looking at complaints from drivers and residents and determining that the 15th street cycletrack is "not working." But reducing driver and resident complaints was not one of the goals of the 15th street cycletrack. The goals were to calm traffic, provide more options for cyclists and increase bicycle trips. In addition there is the implied goal of maintaining or increasing safety.
For Evans to say that it's not working, he needs to show that it is not meeting one of these goals. But, he doesn't. I'm not sure anyone can. DDOT really can't accurately study them until after they've been in for a year so that they can compare data without seasonal effects throwing the numbers off.
All he has is complaints from drivers - who have been slowed down BY DESIGN - and residents (though he never goes in to what the residents complain about, so that's impossible to address). There ar no complaints from cyclists or pedestrians. There is no evidence that the road has become less safe. There is no evidence of increased speeding. There is no evidence that it is decreasing bicycle trips. There is absolutely nothing to support his claim that it is "not working".
That is not to say that we shouldn't address changes as needed. If DDOT detects a trouble spot, if safety declines or if somehow it isn't meeting it's measurable goals, then by all means, let's fix it. But right now it is probably too early to say that it is or is not working. And we'd need more than a few complaints from drivers to make that kind of determination.
Of course, Evans is a politician. Perhaps measuring public sentiment is the exact right thing for him to do (to be re-elected). But the goal of DDOT is not to get Jack Evans re-elected. It should measure the right things.
The case needs to be made that the conditions that bolster and support safe cycling are the same ones that make an urban environment vibrant and livable and those conditions are simply better for more people than the conditions that lead to faster driving. Period. This isn't meant to be anti-car. I could care less if people drive. I drive. A good amount, too. Driving is fine. Driving works for a lot of people in a lot of situations. It also has its drawbacks (it's expensive and you sit around a lot not moving) and escapes its fair share of road costs. But driving, moving oneself around in a car, isn't the same thing as driving fast and accommodating car traffic doesn't necessarily have to be the same thing as building roads so cars can go as quickly as possible. Every road doesn't need to be a highway. On a somewhat related note, you ever notice how some people run across crosswalks at even the approach of a car? Cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians, but people still feel the need to get out of the road as quickly as possible. I don't think it has to do with safety (or feeling imperiled) so much as the (sub?)conscious deference to speed above all else. The idea of "cars need to go fast vroom vroom so I should get the hell out of the way" is so ingrained that even people traveling by foot are compelled by it. Craziness. Could you even imagine the difference if the mentality was to defer to the most vulnerable users and not those traveling the fastest?
Trying to wrest a bit of road away from "traffic" (cars) for cyclists simply isn't good enough- as we see with the Evans quotes from above. Instead, we have to, euphemistically, "take the lane" and change the entire framework in which discussions like this take place.