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12/08/2010: "Stripes & Icons"
Had an amusing "Twiversation" between @bicyclefixation and @lacbc yesterday, which I'll copy in below:
Happy #twowheeltuesday! Share your Tuesday bicycling adventures and we'll pass it along.
December 7, 2010 12:26:58 PM PST via web

BicycleFixation @lacbc Rode usual Tue 38 miles round to S. Pasadena to visit Velo Retro & yes, rode the York Bl. sharrows! #twowheeltuesday

Has anyone spent #twowheeltuesday by riding the extended 4th Street Sharrows? We're another step closer to the 4th Street Bike Boulevard!
about 22 hours ago via web

@lacbc "Has anyone spent #twowheeltuesday by riding the extended 4th Street Sharrows? " Of course; it's part of my route to S. Pas.
about 22 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to lacbc

@BicycleFixation So you get the new 4th Street Sharrows & the new York Blvd. bike lanes in one ride? We're jealous.
about 22 hours ago via web in reply to BicycleFixation
Indeed, I was pleased to enjoy both the new 4th Street sharrows (which I wrote about on this very blog a day or two ago) and the new bike lanes on York Boulevard in Highland Park on the same day.

However, there's no need for jealousy; the stripes and icons will be there for a long time to come, we hope--and besides, they happened to be on the route I usually follow on Tuesdays to visit with Chuck of Vélo Retro fame.

What there is need for is some good sense, as I noticed almost immediate online whining about the placement of the York Boulevard lanes...which are indeed in the door zone.

But this is not as bad as it seems. (That's a polite way of saying, "But so what?") The fact is that there really isn't room to put them anywhere else without eliminating either all curbside parking or the center left turn lane. While I am personally all for eliminating excess car parking, it ain't gonna happen there, and the bike lanes did happen, and I do believe they will improve safety.

How? By legitimizing our presence to the considerable motor traffic on York, that's how. In fact, it seemed to me that cars were giving me a wider berth than usual as I rode that stretch of the boulevard--and I ride it at almost the same time every Tuesday morning almost every week of the year. So these door zone lanes may actually let you ride farther from parked cars by giving you more room on your left!

And the fact is that we know, from numerous studies, that stripes and icons don't increase safety very much by themselves. What they actually do is twofold: they reiterate the (longstanding) legitimacy of our presence on the street, and they gently invite the timid who would might fear riding on unmarked boulevards. And the presence of more riders--the "safety in numbers" effect--does reduce accident rates once a certain small-c small-m critical mass is achieved. As in New York City, where accidents numbers went down as cycling tripled.

I have found motorists leaving more room as they passed me on newly sharrowed streets as well. If people feel less crowded, feel a bit coddled on the streets, more of them will ride more often, and the big safety improvements will then follow.

Comfort matters. Perception creates reality. A stripe won't stop a three-ton car. But acceptance of cycling will sharpen its driver's attentiveness, and it may even tempt him or her to try a bike next time!

So though I've been riding for decades without benefit of stripes or signs, I say, let's have more of them--even thought they really just elaborate the obvious. They do get more folks out on the road on bikes, and that makes all of us safer and happier.

Now, if the city would just install the bike corral that was approved and promised for York Boulevard months ago, all those new-riders-to-come would have someplace to lock their bikes safely while they shopped, sipped, or strolled...but so far no action....

Now, if you really want to get jealous, today I also rode the Spring street bus/bike lanes today--our barely-known precedent for the Wilshire bus/bike lanes to be discussed tomorrow at Metro. Read about it here.

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