Paris Imports Idaho Bike Law

Cycling on the Place Concorde Photo: ALAMY

A while back we wrote about the Idaho Stop Law in our post about Why Cyclists Run Red Lights and are pleased to discover that an American export has taken hold in Europe.

Paris (France) is the latest city to experiment with allowing people on bikes to proceed through red traffic lights after first making sure it is safe to do so, and holding cyclists responsible in case of a collision.

Signage posted on the traffic poles will inform riders of their options, and is considered safer than having dedicated cycling lights installed.

Bike riding has soared in Paris since hundreds of new cycle lanes have been added and the availability of the ‘Vélib’ rental bikes encourages commutes, errands, and even city tours by bike.

Infrastructure encourages participation

Thanks to the increased availability of safe cycling lanes (sometimes against traffic) and the availability of cycles to ride on them by tourists and locals alike, problems arise at intersections with masses of bike riders crowding around cars and filtering up to the light.

When the light changes, cars must re-navigate their way around the riders until the next light and so on, until tempers flare and frustrations boil over to confrontations.

According to the municipal authorities, “It makes cycle traffic more fluid and avoids bunching up cyclists when the traffic lights go green for motorists.”

Outside the capital, the law has been tested in the cities of Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Nantes where, “these experiments have led to no rise in the number of accidents,” according to Paris’ town hall.

Commuters love the idea as it saves time in their commute and is less stressful.

Courtesy and Consideration go a long way

France is the latest country bringing a piece of their own “private Idaho” into their borders.

The law has already been adopted and is in force in Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway).

Even as we continue to add cycling infrastructure and bike rentals around the south-land, (with 23 funded projects set to begin), the atmosphere of mutual respect for users of our roadways is lagging the countries mentioned above, not to mention several other states!

With appropriate planning and consideration for Complete Streets, perhaps the current entitlement attitude expressed by the few, will bloom into the realization that roads are for people, and with the expected increase in density on our roadways, we may experience a private Idaho of our own.

OC Bike Collision Demographic

We’ve presented charts and figures for counties and cities regarding collisions with bike riders showing the counts of fatalities and injuries, (in Newport’s case even the degree of injury), and who was at fault for the collision yet there’s still something missing.

To better target our educational outreach, we need to know “who are these people”, or who these people are that are colliding or are being collided with on our roadways.

The overview results are surprising and interesting, so we thought we’d share some top level charts for the county:

2010 Race Demographic

 The classifications for race are assigned in the collision record database, and the 23% being “not stated” may indicate shoddy record keeping by the reporting agency in 2010.

2011 Race Demographic

In 2011 record keeping improved in the county, shrinking the “not stated” to a negligible number (9). While it would appear that Whites either quit riding their bikes and causing collisions, or previous educational efforts are bearing fruit, we suspect more of the latter than the former.

Obviously the largest jump in colliding riders are the ones identifying with the Black and Asian categories, with a slight decrease in the Hispanic and Other categories.

So far for 2012 there aren’t too many records from Orange County with demographic information. As noted in an earlier post, some PDs are better at taking care of “administrivia” than others in getting their paperwork submitted in a timely manner. We also found that collision demographic data lags the actual collision record submission such that there may be a collision record with 2 parties injured, yet the party record is not there!

Such is the risk and result when working with preliminary data, so until the county demographic records show up, we present the 2012 collision demographic for the state:

2012 State Demographic Race

This might be something you’d expect to see from a state wide coalition like the CBC or even CABO, and while we can, it’s far beyond our charter to do so and this was done just to see if we could.

Since you asked, yes we have the city by city breakdown for the county, and they will be contacted regarding educational outreach efforts. On the other hand they are always free to contact us!

And since you’re wondering where this all came from…

All collision records are collected and maintained by the CHP SWITRS (Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System) database. There are actually 3 parts to the complete information record: collision, party, and victim. The record caseid (a unique identifier) is what ties the 3 segments together and we created a way to allow party information to be tabulated by any criteria we choose within the items contained in the database.

The process is time consuming and a lot of checks and balances are built in to avoid record duplication or omission, however that is part of the value-add provided by the Orange County Bicycle Coalition.

Your membership and donations help fund this effort, thanks for your support!

Commuter Survey Update

Commuters prefer safety and speed with:

  • 57% using class1 MUPs during their commute.
  • 29% using additional public transportation (bus, train),
  • 43% are either lucky enough to live close to work , or are totally hardcore commuters by riding the first and last mile during their commute.

South County and the Beach Cities have good participation, and we’d like to see more involvement from the inland and north county areas.

Let’s hear from Anaheim and Santa Ana, Orange and Buena Park, and all cities in between!

Take the commuter survey here, Thanks for Your Participation.

Road Donuts Good for Diet?

Are donuts good for the diet?
When speaking about roadways the answer appears to be yes. Of course, in this case donuts refers to roundabouts such as we see in Orange or Irvine.
When seen from above, roundabouts look like donuts placed at intersections.

City of Orange

City of Orange “Road-Donut” with a park

City of Irvine – Twice as Good

Roundabouts are different than traffic circles in that there no signals or controls. Traffic in the circle has priority, or the right of way over traffic entering the circle forcing drivers to slow down and enter the circle as gaps in existing traffic permits. Because there are no traffic controls the flow is continuous, resulting in increasing the traffic throughput through the intersection.

Properly designed roundabouts don’t allow for tangential entries. All entries point to the center of the roundabout forcing vehicles to decrease their speed to navigate to the right, although some modern designs have flared entries by adding a lane for increased capacity. Pedestrian safety is improved by routing separate crosswalks away from the intersection so they only have to deal with traffic in one direction at a time.

The problem for traffic/ transportation engineers is maintaining the flow-rate to areas downstream of the roundabout so  a shift in congestion (and resulting delays) does not occur.

History

Roundabouts or gyratories were designed in 1877 by the Architect for the City of Paris, Eugène Hénard. In 1907 the Place de l’Etoile became the first French gyratory, followed by several others in the city. American architect William Phelps Eno designed New York City’s Columbus Circle which was built in 1905. The main difference in the two men’s designs lay in the diameter of the center island. Hénard favored an island of at least 8 meters (26 feet), while Eno favored a smaller diameter. Perhaps it is from here that we have the “Portland” and “Seattle” designs of today.  Regardless, the United States favored traffic circles and rotaries being controlled by signal devices for the rapidly growing automobile population which resulted in such traffic tie-ups that they fell out of favor by the 1950s.

Land values also contributed to the demise of circular intersections because eliminating land consumed by the safer free flowing roundabouts, or signalized traffic circles, meant that buildings could be built with greater density and greater profit.

Today and the Future

After recently taking a look at the intersection of Bayside and PCH, and every intersection along the way to Laguna Beach, the question arises, “could what was old become new again”? Therefore as a thought experiment we present the following ”

Proposed Makeover

Proposed Makeover in Newport Beach

Each blue dot represents an appropriately designed and implemented roundabout built to the highest safety standards and Complete Streets guidelines. Traffic would flow smoothly to and from the coast as well as up and down through Newport Beach, making this area not only a pleasure to travel through (as in commuting) but a pleasure to travel to (as in tourists).

Since this area was bought from the state by the City of Newport Beach, we suggest a serious consideration be made by city planners in their five year planning strategy to accommodate greater numbers of roadway users while increasing their safety on the City’s roads.

While we don’t have the hard numbers, some savings will result from decreased costs of city response to collisions, and elimination of electrical signals and their associated maintenance. With minimal reconfiguration of existing infrastructure, we are confident of the merits of this design. Maybe in a future post we’ll put up some soft numbers to quantify the potential return.

And there you have it, a brief introduction of roundabouts which if applied properly, will serve the County and City well in reducing speed, reducing air pollution, increasing traffic throughput, and most importantly increasing roadway safety for all road users far into the future.