Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More on vilage-to-village bike routes

This comment makes it clear that I need to flesh out the village-to-village point a little more:

Given the relative distances and travel times involved, people walk from their homes to village centres. They >bike> from village centre to village centre to village centre and beyond. In choosing where to allocate scarce bicycle infrastructure resources, inter-village upgrades promise far higher impact per resource unit than intra-village collectours. This argument by SR baffles. Do readers agree or disagree?

A commonly made suggestion, as I understand it, is that the provision of village-center-to-village-center bike paths should be a high priority. Such bike paths would be lovely amenities. I look forward to the day that they exist.

But, any focus on village-center-to-village-center bike paths ignores a cold, hard reality. For the most part, it's not that easy to bike to any village center in the first place. And, I presume, biking to village center A would be a prerequisite to enjoying the path from village center A to village center B.

There are a bunch of different types of cycling we want to promote, undertaken by cyclists of varying skills. One particular activity/skill combination is the riding by cyclists of modest skill, experience, and confidence to take care of errands that they do by car, currently: pick up coffee, go to the drugstore, get some food, &c. There are plenty of people who, contra the commenter, don't walk to the nearest village center, but drive. Providing them with safe, comfortable, and convenient bike opportunities might convert some of those car trips to bike trips.

To be clear, these are the people who live near village center A, but are discouraged from biking there by current conditions. They are not prepared to bike from village A to village B, because they can't get to village A in the first place.

So, the goal should be to improve access to village centers, in every expanding circles and by ever more points of entry. Not only would such access increase the amount of a critical bike use and provide the pre-requisite to village-center-to-village-center travel, it ends up providing the paths. It's not, strictly speaking, an either/or proposition. If you can provide someone equi-distant to two village centers access to both, you've created a path between them.

But, let's first focus on getting people from their homes to village centers.


MamaVee said...

I'm with you. center to center is nice- but why limit it? I go from my home to many village centers. Some are easier than others so I visit some more often than others. It's like the bike path over by/in waltham- yeah great Newton has a bike path near by- but I don't really want to take it anywhere so who cares? Give me bike infrastructure that takes me all around the city as well as out of it to other cities.

And if we are going to prioritiz paths how about bike paths straight to T stations. I do a round about loop to get to Newton center with the least amount of traffic. I tend to do that rather than go to the highlands b/c I can take safer roads even though it would be faster and more direct to go to the highlands.

Anonymous said...

It's flattering to see SR respond thoughtfully and meaningfully. Could an helpful addition to this discutation be a definition of the trip distances envisioned here? We visualised "intra-village" trips as being those of up to 1 km round-trip, or about 1/4 to 1/2 mile each way from home to village destination and back; an 8- to 10-minute walk from home or less. We theorised that such a trip would be efficiently made on foot; not so distant that one would bicycle. SR seems to assert a non-trivial number of Americans prefer to bike rather than walk this distance. Should a robust quorum feel this way in the States, that would argue for intra-village bike upgrades. I'd assumed most Americans could walk a mile, would bike only for trips of three or four miles plus. If that's wrong, so too my premise. I apologise if I've made faulty assumptions because as we all know, when you assume, you make ... Reginald.