Bike Racks at Highlands P&R

Some cool bikes images:

Bike Racks at Highlands P&R
bikes

Image by VeloBusDriver
Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride bike racks. Nice try, but something about this picture seems wrong.

Biking Through Cornfield
bikes

Image by Chemophilic
Taken at Tomb of Princess Wang Zhaojun. The person at the upper right corner was biking on a small dirt path.

Bikes use extreme caution on streetcar tracks
bikes

Image by Steven Vance
Bicycle riders in Seattle are suing the City of Seattle for not providing enough warnings about streetcar tracks in the South Lake Union neighborhood. They allege the City installed warning signs only after several bike-track crashes.

A sign on Stewart Street in Seattle, Washington, advises bicycle riders to use EXTREME CAUTION when crossing the streetcar tracks. These signs are coming under question in a lawsuit this week.

Read more on my blog, Steven can plan.

36 thoughts on “Bike Racks at Highlands P&R

  1. johnm2205

    Yes good lines but I think it is a little boring sorry
    This was voted a miss from Hit, Miss, Maybe, WHY? **

    Reply
  2. Generaal Gibson

    Absolutely a cool shot.And the warnings are so true.As a very frequent cyclist in Amsterdam I know the importance of crossing those track at the right angle…When I had a job in the bike shop,I saw lots of damage,caused by these tracks!
    Nice blog,BTW!

    Reply
  3. Steven Vance

    The article that I linked to hasn’t published yet. You should come back and read it. Do many Amsterdammers have accidents because of the tracks? Does AMS have warning signs like these?

    Reply
  4. Generaal Gibson

    No,Steven,in Amsterdam no signs like this one.Most people in Amsterdam suffering from this are tourists,with their rented bicycles.Not all of thewm,of course,but most inhabitants do know the danger ;-)

    Reply
  5. Steven Vance

    I thought so.

    The issue here is about education and awareness. These signs don’t explain the very specific danger. I can ride my bike across these tracks at a high speed at a perpendicular angle and experience no danger.

    But at any other angle, there’s danger.

    How do you best teach and inform people in cities where this (cycling and streetcars) is new, or rare?

    Reply
  6. Generaal Gibson

    That is a good question:my father-a cyclist pur sang,no drivers license-learned me from the beginning that in Amsterdam there are two major dangers:cabdrivers and trams.Cabdrivers think they are God,but do not behave like they are,and the tram can not avoid you.Traffic in Amsterdam is a kind of anarchy in itself,and the streetcars seem to be there since Pleistocene,so they are kind of natural.However,most serious accidents with cyclists involved happen with trucks,drivers have a relatively large dead spots in their mirrors.And since traffic increased so much,which goes for the size of the trucks also,this is a major problem.Accidents with trams happen most to-again-tourists,not familiar with them.
    BTW:more caution is advised,in case it is raining:the tracks can be very slippery.And at really dangerous spots,special mirrors are installed,and electronic warning systems,to let you know a tram is coming.

    Reply
  7. Steven Vance

    Interesting to know about the mirrors and electronic warning systems. The streetcars here have a manually-operated horn. No lights or other warning systems, though.

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  8. Generaal Gibson

    I will take some pictures for you,if you like.And the streetcars in Amsterdam (and The Hague and Rotterdam)have very loud bells.

    Reply
  9. Steven Vance

    This sign is slightly more descriptive of the actual problem, but it doesn’t provide directions or advice on what I should do – it only describes a situation that I might get myself in, but not how to avoid it.
    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/luton/2230577851/]

    Reply
  10. Amsterdamized

    tram tracks, well, yes, they are a thing to look out for. Most Dutchies, including me, have experienced the wrath of them at least once, as a general ‘woops’ moment or when drunk.. Everyone knows that you need to cross them at a big enough angle. That’s it. Nothing more to it.
    Tram tracks are just one of the many aspects tourists on bikes have to deal with. Quite a large portion of them are intimidated by ALL the traffic modes in this compact city, so you’ll see them salmoning on paths, riding sidewalks or just freeze up in the middle of a stream of consciousness…aka flock of people on bikes :) .
    There are mirrors, yes, but I can’t say I use them, maybe I’m too much of an experienced Amsterdammer ;) . I have a few photos of those, will look them up when I have time, Steven.

    Reply
  11. Steven Vance

    What does everyone think of the signs that Seattle is using (the original photo) and the sign Portland is using (the photo in the comments)?

    Do either "inform" bike riders? Do either "educate" them? Are they effective in any way?

    Reply
  12. Stephen De Vight

    The Portland sign certainly does a better job to inform of the danger, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a better sign idea. The things that would need to be included to fully convey the message are 1) that there are tracks in the roadway 2) there is a channel for the flange next to each rail and 3) bike tires can get stuck in the channel and cause a crash. The Portland sign covers #2 & #3 quite well but relies on the rider to realize the involvement of the tracks. Seattle’s signs convey #1 and the warning of danger ahead.
    Either way I have a hard time supporting the bicyclists position here, the danger is clearly visible and should be considered part of the danger of riding a bike (along with potholes, uneven pavement, etc). As the gentleman from Amsterdam indicates, it’s something they are clearly able to negotiate on a daily basis. This is just the result of a few clueless and careless people trying to make money off of the city. Unfortunately they’ll probably get away with it considering Seattle’s position of bending over backwards for the militant bicyclists.

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  13. SD70MACMAN

    Sadly, the gentleman from Amsterdam doesn’t realize how little Americans seem to think for themselves.

    How about crossbucks? Universal railroad crossing symbol. If you don’t notice it, you’re dumb.

    Reply
  14. Steven Vance

    @Stephen De Vight: I think a sign should only be advertised to turning bike riders. That is where the danger manifests itself.

    How about: "BIKES – Do not turn on or over tracks. Cross, then turn."

    @Mike: The issue is that wheels get caught in the gap between the rail and the rail bed.

    How can we best indicate that on a sign, or, how can we best educate bike riders widely and effectively.

    We can call people dumb all we want because of their failure or inability to learn, but there are those who don’t realize their bike tire is the exact width of the gap.

    Reply
  15. wittco.gmbh

    I prefer the photo in the comments as it has shock value which does 2 things: (1) it makes people wonder what is going on and its visual appeal is such that it does not blend in with other signs in such a way that a person will seek out the answer to what it means. And it involves people on bikes so a person on a bike will want to know and will find out. Hell, it is pretty easy to know what it means especially with the surrounding area as a clue. (2) I know what it means so it works for me. I see it right away and do not think, "Hey, bike route sign" which is what the original sign tells me, even if incorrect. In addition, the original sign’s bike is too small in comparison to the RRX. The sign comes across as a RRX sign.

    Bonus complaint about original sign: it requires two signs.

    Personal opinion, and not that of a city planner: If you cannot figure out the guy being thrown from his bike because he did not avoid the ruts in the street, too bad. You will know next time. Experience = knowledge.

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  16. wittco.gmbh

    How about we just educate those around us–educate our friends and family. Our kids. That is cheap. Even free. I educate my sons in the same way: look both ways before crossing the street. I will also say, cross tracks at a perpendicular. Easy.

    How large of a problem is this issue, Steve? I do not mean to belittle it. However, this is one of those things that I wonder if there is something else that may be more important, given limited funds and time.

    Reply
  17. wittco.gmbh

    Not all signs need to inform and educate at the same time. In many cases, to try to do so will muddle both.

    Reply
  18. Steven Vance

    @wittco.gmbh: Read the blog post to learn how big (or small) of a problem it is.

    Six bike riders in Seattle are suing the city (that’s where the original/top photo comes from). Cities across the country are expanding existing systems or getting new systems. We continue to promote cycling at the same time. There’s gonna be conflict, and I predict it will happen more often.

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Reply
  19. wittco.gmbh

    I am suing Portland because I was walking on my block and did not see the curb at the end of the block. I fell and scuffed my knee. There should have been a sign to inform and educate me so that I did not make the fall. The city should protect me. The city should make sure that I am safe and remove any need for me to think.

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  20. wittco.gmbh

    This came from your blog post, "Bicycle riders have been navigating tram and streetcar tracks in Europe for 100 years. What knowledge can European riders and planners share with us?"

    What can Americans learn? I will tell you. Be thoughtful. Be aware. Be smart. Learn some self awareness techniques. Be in charge of your own actions. If an area of town is new, slow down and learn it. Look at the road. Watch for people….

    European riders have being doing this for 100 years. Sounds like "they" deal with the reality of riding a bike in a street in a city.

    This is a case where people on bikes may have garnered too much attention. People can sue for just about anything. I did not get specific details from your post and I do not know these people who are suing. However, it seems a little extreme. It reminds me of the episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes the safety guy for the city. The city was riddled with signs for everything, EVERYTHING.

    I don’t know. I guess I am just appalled that this spilt-coffee-to-the-crotch-while-driving situation exists.

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  21. ajft

    You can’t teach common sense. From day one you realise that if you walk around outside and step on a shiny piece of metal it’ll be slippery, and as a result it’ll be even slipperier if you ride over it. I’ll bet those tracks have been there for years, and everyone has managed to walk across the road and step over them, and realised at the same time that if they get their foot caught they’ll trip over — but apparently only in America can you sue people for failing to figure this one out for yourself. America, land of the mega-lawsuit.

    Reply
  22. Lucas van Grinsven

    I find the fat Schwalbe tyres dubbed "Big Apple" that they put on the "utility bikes" that are now all the rage in Amsterdam are a big step forward. I never have to worry about the tram tracks anymore, being able to negotiate them at any angle and even in wet weather. And despite their thickness, they don’t slow you down thanks to smart profile. Being from Amsterdam, I thought I didn’t care about these things because my gene pool tells me how to cross a tram track, right? Wrong. I’ll be the first to admit this was inspired by pure arrogance. It shows that there’s plenty of room for innovation in bicycling, and cycling policies.

    Reply
  23. Steven Vance

    @Lucas van Grinsven: During my visit to Portland, Oregon, in April 2010, I rented a Dutch bike with Schwalbe tires (not sure if they were Big Apples or Marathons). I had the same experience of being able to confidently roll over streetcar and light rail tracks at any angle without worrying about a crash.

    I like that you mention that just because you are from Amsterdam you should know this. Common sense is (ironically) not common and special facilities ("streetcar tracks") need special education ("don’t cross at certain angles").

    Chicago and New York City are two big American cities that will not need to figure this out.

    Reply
  24. WillJL

    I’m going to second wittco.gmbh on this issue, though I agree that clear signage, such as: " Caution: Bicyclist should cross tracks perpendicularly" would suffice for those of us who simply can’t pay attention to the road. On the other hand, suing the city for not paying attention to what is going on around you is just stupid. If we use the same logic, there should be "Don’t ride your bike suddenly out in front of fast moving cars" signs about every 25 ft.

    If cyclists go suing the city over such inane b.s., couldn’t it start to build animosity amongst the city council against cyclists in general? I’m all for bicycle activism, but actions that make us all look like a bunch of cry-babys who can’t look where we’re going are not going to help our cause. It will set precedent that building cycle-friendly infrastructure is expensive, troublesome, and a magnet for complaints.

    Reply
  25. Steven Vance

    @WillJL You said, "It will set precedent that building cycle-friendly infrastructure is expensive, troublesome, and a magnet for complaints."

    This speaks to me the most.

    I heard a story that a politician wanted to remove a bike lane from a street in order to "prevent" bike riders from riding on that street after an incident *near* said bike lane.

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  26. WillJL

    A place pertinent to this issue is the Burke Gilman trail on Shilshole Ave in Ballard. Where Shilshole crosses under the 15th Ave bridge there are tracks that awkwardly cross the road (you can find this easily on google maps). At this point, there is a bike lane painted clearly in yellow over the tracks to direct cyclists to cross perpendicularly (and make motorists aware of the need for cyclists to merge into traffic). I see this as a reasonable approach that the city has chosen for alerting both cyclists and motorists to the dangers of the tracks there, and yet accidents still happen. I think this shows that there is really no extent that the city can reasonably go to that will replace common sense on the part of the cyclist.

    As cyclists, if we really want to see bicycle infrastructure move forward, suing the city is quite unproductive, and it will only make enemies where we need friends. If cyclists choose to adopt an arrogant attitude of entitlement, we’ll be taking for granted the fact that Seattle is already one of the most bike friendly places in America.

    Yes, having your front tire pulled from underneath you and falling in the road is unpleasant, embarrassing, and painful, but its not the city’s fault. It is also avoidable though, and just in the same sense that police and the DOT cannot sit in the passenger seat and force car drivers to drive sensibly and slowly, the city of Seattle cannot afford to find every single dangerous spot for cyclists and bubble wrap it and mark it with bright pink lettering.

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  27. Euro Joe

    with regards the signs explaining the tracks and how to cross them etc etc. it cant be done, you may have noticed that when i sidewalk is closed the sign no longer says "cross here" or "use of side" this is due to people crossing and being hit by a car and suing. If signs tell people how to cross, they will fall and sue, its a lose lose situation.

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  28. Steven Vance

    @Euro Joe: Can I sign tell people what NOT do do?

    In Chicago, I notice that signs say, "Sidewalk Closed. Use Other Side."

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  29. Euro Joe

    thats when it gets into the legal side of things, "Sidewalk Closed. Use Other Side." seems safe enough as its not too directing, if i was my job tho i would stick with sidewalk closed

    Reply

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