TagNetherlands

Tucson has every kind of bikeway

A bicyclist rides north on the “Highland Avenue” separated bike path on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona.

(This is the second post about Tucson, and the fifth about my December 2009 trip to Arizona.)

I had heard that Tucson was a bicycle friendly town. I didn’t know just how friendly until my dad and I rode our bikes around town and  happened onto one of the many bike-only separated paths. You can see the campus bike map (PDF).

There are probably 10 different names for this kind of path. It’s not a separated path because there’s no adjacent roadway accessible to automobiles. You could call it a multi-use trail, but it’s not really a trail. The path is part of the city’s street grid; some streets “dead end” into the entrance so bicyclists don’t have to turn onto another street to go straight, they simply enter this bicycle only path. In some places, the path is grade separated and travels under a shared street.

I like this kind of bikeway a lot. I know they are standard fare in the Netherlands, and it’s nice to know they are standard fare somewhere in North America.

See the full photoset of bikeways in Tucson.

Riding under Speedway Boulevard on the “Warren Avenue” bike path.

Typical morning commute in Amsterdam

William Hsu, a staffer at the San Francisco bike shop, My Dutch Bike, took this video in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to show how the Dutch flow through intersections – read William’s words. Taken at the corner of Marnixstraat and Elandsgracht (map).

Marc at Amsterdamized has the full story.

Helmets, hygiene, hair… help?

I subscribe to a Google News feed for “bike parking” where I find many articles about grander issues but they get caught in the search. When people talk about increasing or improving bicycling, they almost always talk about parking (it’s a necessity). A recent article talked little about bike parking; The short blurb about a hygiene “problem” of helmet hair piqued my attention.

A bicyclist on her first commute by bicycle wears a helmet in San Jose, California.

Helmets

As DOTS pushes biking, gender gap persists” (by Lauren Redding in the Diamondback, student newspaper from University of Maryland). DOTS is the University’s Department of Transportation Services, which has a goal of 9% of students getting to campus by bike and recently conducted a count that found only 20% of biking students are female. The article cites DOTS as saying that safety and hygiene are the major barriers that keep the frequency of women bikers low. Somehow, hygiene is related to helmet hair.

Helmet hair is not as important as building safe bicycling routes to the school, educating students on how to ride safely and locking their bikes correctly. The article in no way describes the University’s Transportation Services group as “helmet pushers,” but this comment bothers me: “For women especially — when you put on a helmet, you mess up your hair.”

Let’s stop building bike lanes and deal with this, stat! Okay, for real: There is a gender gap, but dealing with helmet hair will never match the effects of making cycling safe (or normal) on increasing the number of women who bike.

After I began an obsession with Dutch bikes and bicycling “culture” (a culture of safety and high numbers riding bikes), I learned more about helmets and the reasons people use them. My position about wearing and promoting helmets has changed somewhat, but my behavior, so far, hasn’t. Rarely does a Dutch person wear a helmet. From the research:

In the Netherlands, a survey of pediatricians found that 94% never wear helmet, but that 82% agree that helmet use should be advised for children (source). Overall, “less than 1% of adult cyclists wear helmets, and even among children, only 3–5% wear helmets” (source: “Making Cycling Irresistible” [PDF], the best article describing bicycling in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, comparing it to countries with low bicycling rates, United States, United Kingdom, and Australia).

I bought this new helmet in Summer 2009, to be more comfortable and to look better. Like I said, my position has changed, but my behavior hasn’t. I think everyone should make their own decision about helmets; helmets are only useful to prevent head injuries once a collision or crash has occurred. It’s more important to build facilities and educate people to reduce the likelihood of a collision or crash.

My Dutch fixation continued to the end of the last semester – I presented and wrote a paper for my Sustainable Development Techniques class about what makes bicycling in the Netherlands safe and easy, and how the United States can learn. Dutch bicycling presentation for class (PDF) and the Dutch bicycling presentation for class (DOC).

The bike helmet-American relationship is amusing. I can’t explain it as eloquently as Mikael Kolville-Anderson in Copenhagen: he mentions it a hundred times (search of Copenhagenize for the term “helmet”). The latest news, although not about America, but relatable: Israel is getting ready to repeal part of the all-ages helmet law, which is seen as discouraging bicycling in the country.

© 2014 Steven Can Plan

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