Posts Tagged ‘On-road bicycling’

Hines: Bike Path vs. On-Road

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

We recently received an email from an active cyclist in California.  Their relatives in Southeast Michigan could not understand why Hines Drive bicyclists were on the road shoulder instead of the parallel bike path.  She wondered if we could provide an answer.

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To an experienced cyclist, the reasons seem quite apparent.  Riding on the Hines Drive’s wide paved shoulder is:

  • Faster and more direct
  • Much safer at the intersections
  • Free of pedestrians (which you must yield to on the bike path)
  • Better lit at night
  • Plowed of snow and ice in the winter
  • Less flooded after a rain
  • Has less debris (e.g. rocks) that can cause flat tires

Besides, the road lanes are wide, the paved shoulders are generous, and the speed limit is low.  And due to the lack of commercial/residential access along the road, it is absolutely an ideal place to ride a bike.

If motorists can’t safely share this roadway with cyclists then they probably shouldn’t be driving.

Coincidentally in 2004 I was asked a similar question while giving testimony before the House Transportation Committee in Lansing.  Hines Drive passed through one of the committee member’s districts.

We should also mention that Edward Hines, whom the road is named after, was Chief Consul of the League of American Wheelmen in Michigan (forerunner of the League of American Bicyclists), as well as a major “Good Roads” advocate.  Hines invented the double-yellow center line, pioneered snowplowing roads, and created the first mile of concrete pavement.  Hines is just another famous Michigan bicyclist that all road users can thank.

Green Brainstorming Session in Royal Oak

Monday, September 15th, 2008

This Wednesday we will be participating in green brainstorming sessions at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market.  The details on this session are below in the original press release.

Our plan to briefly discuss where we are with respect to our roads, how we got here, and ideas for bringing better green transportation options to Royal Oak.

Press release:

Royal Oak, MI – The Royal Oak Environmental Advisory Board will host a brainstorming session at the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Wednesday, September 17 from 7 to 8:30pm. In an effort to make Royal Oak a more environmentally responsible city, the Environmental Advisory Board encourages Royal Oak citizens to share their ideas at the brainstorm session. Community members will have the opportunity to share their ideas regarding the following topics: recycling, yard waste/compost, air quality, hazardous waste management, energy, water quality, and transportation.

On September 24, the Environmental Advisory Board will set its goals for 2008-2009 using the ideas from the community. For more information, please contact Melissa Damaschke at 248-990-1688.
WHAT: Green Brainstorming Session

WHO: Royal Oak Environmental Advisory Board

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17 from 7 to 8:30pm

WHERE: Farmers Market (316 East Eleven Mile Road; Royal Oak)

Taking the Main Roads

Sunday, September 7th, 2008
Riders getting their glow sticks on

Riders getting their glow sticks on

Last night was the second Motorcity Motorless bike ride out of Royal Oak.  This bi-weekly ride starts at 10 PM on Saturdays in Downtown Royal Oak at Second and Center Streets.

It’s not your typical club ride.

It’s more relaxed. For the most part, riders where normal clothes versus lycra.  Some don’t wear helmets.

But for me, the biggest positive is the ride takes main roads.  Rather than wiggle through neighborhood side streets or take sidewalks, we just take a lane on Main Street, 12 Mile Road, Greenfield, etc. And I’ve talked to many Illinois personal injury lawyers who’ve told me time and again how bad of an idea that is to the bikers.

It was among the safest group rides I’ve ever been on.  We followed the rules of the road better than any group ride I’ve been on.

Why?  Unlike other area rides, we weren’t constantly calling out turns, dealing with parked cars on neighborhood sidestreets, and going through intersections with stop signs.

Were we making a statement about bikes rights to the road?  I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter.

On a related note, this blog entry from Copenhagen talks about some of the signs they have there.

I love this sign. See it all the time. “Cyclists in the driving lane”. It is usually posted when there new segregated bike lanes are being built and the cyclists are redirected into traffic. Don’t worry. It’s not dangerous. We’re used to it, motorists and cyclists alike.

I like the tone. There are cyclists in the driving lane. Period. Adjust accordingly to this fact.

Detroit Bike License Updates

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

As we posted earlier, the Detroit police will soon enforce a 1964 ordinance requiring all bicyclists within Detroit to have a licensed bike.

As expected, the Detroit News published a follow up article:

Detroit Police spokesman James Tate insisted the reason for enforcing the obscure ordinance is not to fine bicyclists.

“We’re trying to get people to register their bikes,” Tate said. “We’ve got hundreds of bikes piled up with no way of knowing who they belong to. The idea isn’t to start handing out tickets to little kids on tricycles.”

If the Detroit Police are seriously concerned about returning stolen bikes, why aren’t they using the National Bike Registry system? The National Bike Registry does provide a way of finding the owners of stolen bikes — and it does it on a nationwide basis.

Unfeasible to Enforce

Yesterday we spoke with attorney Michael Salhaney, who represents the City of Birmingham. We discussed the state law that allows cities to register bikes. He concurred that the state law requires appropriate signs through out the city, making bicycle license enforcement “unfeasible.”

Unreasonable Expectation

Also, as Dustin commented earlier, imagine if all cities started enforcing similar registrations? It’s an unreasonable expectation for cyclists to visit the police station of each city they ride through to register their bike. And it’s even more unreasonable in Detroit since the bike licenses are only for sale Mondays through Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Note that riding an unlicensed bike to the police to get it registered is against Detroit’s city ordinance.

A Better Solution

A much better solution for registering stolen bikes is to use the National Bike Registry, especially since the advent of craigslist and eBay mean stolen bikes are less likely to stay in the city where they were stolen. Cyclists can register their bike on a nationwide basis for roughly $1 per year. Or, they can pay 99 cents to register a recently stolen bicycle, which is a no-brainer.

It’s also critical that cyclists record the make, model, color, and serial number of their bikes. In case a bike is stolen, this is invaluable information that make it more likely the bike can be found. Bike serial numbers are typically found underneath the bottom bracket, where the pedals go through the bike frame.

If you have a camera, you may want to take some photos of the bike and serial number. They may come in useful in case it’s ever stolen.

Another part of the solution? The Detroit Police should set up an account with the National Bike Registry so they can clear out their “hundreds and hundreds” of recovered bikes.

Detroit Police Announce Bicycle License Enforcement

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Detroit bicycle licenseThe Detroit News ran an article today about Detroit Police plans to ticket cyclists in Detroit on unlicensed bikes:

In a city that has one of the nation’s highest crime rates, Detroit cops have been given the order to start cracking down on unregistered bicycles.

Starting Aug. 7, officers will start issuing $55 tickets if bikes are unregistered. The dollar-a-year licenses are good for five years.

“You’d think the Detroit cops would have better things to worry about than giving out fines to people who don’t register their bikes,” said Detroiter Marv Adams, 56.

But it’s not enforceable

But the real story is the law is unenforceable under state law.

To begin with MCL 257.606 sub-section (1)(i) states that local authorities can “[Regulate] the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.” The CIty of Detroit can require bicycle licenses.

However, MCL 257.606 sub-section (3) says that such a requirement “shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected, as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.”

Detroit does not have any such signage nor have we heard of any plans to add any. Posting such signs around all the major city entrances would involve a major cost. I am unaware of any city within Michigan that has taken such a drastic step to make bike license registration an enforceable ordinance.

The Detroit Chief of Police has been alerted to the state law.

The Detroit News expects to run a follow up story tomorrow. They have received considerable feedback on this. Needless to say, this police announcement has not made very many people happy.

In these times of high fuel prices and people looking at alternative means of getting around, we shouldn’t be looking to penalize those riding bikes in Detroit.