Adrian Covert & Alexa Forrester, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
What if we told you there was a cheap and easy way to reduce traffic in Santa Rosa by as much as 25%?
It’s called Class IV protected bike lanes.
Every day, about a quarter of all car trips in Santa Rosa are less than 2 miles. That’s about a 10-minute bike ride for the average adult, comparable to the amount of time it would take to drive that same distance and park. For these small trips, biking is a time-competitive and virtually free alternative to cars that also strengthens physical fitness and generally creates good community vibes (join the Taco Tuesday Ride from Humboldt Park to Mitote Food Park if you don’t believe us). Bikes are also quiet, clean and require little public space.
Yet just 1.6% of all trips in Santa Rosa are made by bike. Bikes are used about six times less often in Santa Rosa than in San Luis Obispo, and 16 times less often than in Davis. Despite its comparatively miserable weather, Amsterdam residents are 24 times more likely to bike to their destination than Santa Rosa residents.
This is an infrastructure problem. Santa Rosa’s bike lanes are almost entirely made up of Class II bikeways — painted lines along the shoulder of a road. Riding mere feet away from increasingly distracted drivers behind the wheels of increasingly large vehicles is neither safe nor pleasant. Since 2012, nearly 500 cyclists have been injured by cars in Santa Rosa, including two who were killed. Small wonder cycling in the city is limited to the most fearless riders.
Santa Rosa could have as many as 24,000 new homes by 2050. To avoid the city becoming choked with car traffic, we must provide safe biking and scooting infrastructure for those who want that option, especially for short trips.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/opinion/close-to-home-santa-rosa-needs-protected-bike-lanes/
Dan Farber, LEGAL PLANET
The US takes a major step forward on the path to carbon neutrality.
Late Friday, the House passed Biden’s infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better law. As the Washington Post aptly observed, the bill is the biggest climate legislation to ever move through Congress. It also attracted key support from some Republicans, which was essential to passing it in both houses of Congress. Biden is pushing for an even bigger companion bill, but the infrastructure bill is a huge victory in its own right.
One major area of spending is transportation. Some of that goes for roads and bridges. But as the Washington Post reports, there’s a lot of money for rail and mass transit:
“Another $66 billion will go to passenger and freight rail, including enough money to eliminate Amtrak’s maintenance backlog. Yet another $39 billion will modernize public transit, and $11 billion more will be set aside for transportation safety, including programs to reduce fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists.”
There’s also $7.5 billion in funding for zero and low-emission buses and ferries. There’s another $7.5 billion to build out charging capacity for electric vehicles, and $6 billion for energy storage.
The law also addresses a big bottleneck in the energy system: lack of adequate long-distance transmission capacity. We will need much more robust transmission to achieve a carbon neutral grid. For instance, Iowa can generate more wind power than it can get to markets in Chicago and further east. Transmission also helps to deal with weather issues: even if it’s too cloudy for solar in one state, the sun may be shining a state or two over. The effort to build new transmission has been stymied, however, by resistance from utilities and state governments.
Read more at https://legal-planet.org/2021/11/08/infrastructure/
Aaron Short, STREETSBLOG USA
A 13-year study of a dozen cities found that protected bike lanes led to a drastic decline in fatalities for all users of the road.
Cities that build protected lanes for cyclists end up with safer roads for people on bikes and people in cars and on foot, a new study of 12 large metropolises revealed Wednesday.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico discovered cities with protected and separated bike lanes had 44 percent fewer deaths than the average city.
“Protected separated bike facilities was one of our biggest factors associated with lower fatalities and lower injuries for all road users,” study co-author Wesley Marshall, a University of Colorado Denver engineering professor, told Streetsblog. “If you’re going out of your way to make your city safe for a broader range of cyclists … we’re finding that it ends up being a safer city for everyone.”
Marshall and his team of researchers analyzed 17,000 fatalities and 77,000 severe injuries in cities including Denver, Portland, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City and Chicago between 2000 and 2012. All had experienced an increase in cycling as they built more infrastructure. (Update: All of those cities also have varying rates of gentrification, which needed to be factored into the results, specifically because of “the safety disparities associated with gentrification.” Researchers said safety improvements in largely gentrified areas “suggest equity issues and the need for future research.”)
Researchers assumed that having more cyclists on the street was spurring drivers to slow down — a relic of a 2017 study that found that cities with high cycling rates had fewer traffic crashes. But it turned out that wasn’t the case.
Read more at https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/05/29/protect-yourself-separated-bike-lanes-means-safer-streets-study-says/