Urban Replanning

I don’t know much about designing roads- but I think I know a little about it just from biking around the city. I really think the streets could be designed to better suit everyone’s needs. Maybe something like this:

Urban Replanning

By doing it this way, suddenly all the unpredictable things are predictable and tucked inside neat little painted lines.

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  • Ian Brett Cooper August 16, 2012   Reply →

    Don’t worry, we’re getting there. Another few years and we’ll need a Ph.D just to navigate in downtown areas. And the more complexity they add, the more smug they get about making roads ‘bike friendly’. Meanwhile, more people get confused on the road and it just gets more dangerous.

    Just give me a strip of tarmac 20ft or more wide – we all know what to do on that. We keep right, we go at a reasonable speed and we use what we learned in our Driver’s Handbook. Does it really need to be more complicated than that?

    May the god of cycling protect us from traffic engineers and their infernal roadway paint!

    • BobBentBike August 16, 2012  

      Around here the urban planners get the credit for these “innovations”, not the engineers.

    • Ian Brett Cooper August 16, 2012  

      Here in MD, if you complain about paint on the road, you get to talk with a transportation engineer, who dutifully tells you that the painted stripe/sharrow/etc. meets guidelines. When you explain why it doesn’t, he/she goes silent. I’ve had this happen twice now.

    • Dan Fazzini August 21, 2012  

      Yep, same here. Actually you usually get the cite to the MUTCD *only* when it is in DOT’s favor. But they cite some exception when they ignore it or just don’t follow it themselves.

    • DOT/employee September 5, 2012  

      yes, this is true, I work for a DOT.
      it even frustrates me because we are not consistent with our own standards.
      we wiggle with the “engineering judgement” clause.

    • focus503 August 20, 2012  

      With 20 ft of tarmac, SUV’s would soon be 16.5 ft wide, and 25% of car drivers would still cut corners, and drift in and out of their lane like they haven’t got a care in the world

    • Brian Potter September 19, 2014  

      Ian, amen. I’ve had great luck on narrow multi-laned roads with NO special markings or bike “infacilities.” Drivers change lanes to pass. Simple driving behavior.

  • mech1 August 16, 2012   Reply →

    This is incredibly clever idea! Meeting everyday all those groups and this is really easy and good solution 😉

  • Louie Garcia August 16, 2012   Reply →

    I love this, especially the “circling fixie bike box’!

  • Steve August 16, 2012   Reply →

    Let’s apply Boyles Law here… you know the one, a gas will expand to fill it’s space…

    Order is good, but the members of Kaos (get smart??) are even better. For every one of us compliant control agents, Kaos deploys 3, 1 upstream salmon biker, 1 double parked car driver and 1 I’ll put my my truck here because the legal truck spots are full of cars with the blinkers on forcing the UPS trucks to park in the bike lane.

    Sometimes i picture a street with no markings… and wonder, usually out loud, would it be any different.

    • JCH August 20, 2012  

      Steve, look up the concept of Shared Space. It proposes just that; remove the markings and force people to think and interact (i.e. negotiate) with other roadway users. We have become so dependent upon being told everything to do that we shut off our brains (so that we can text, talk, etc).

      This diagram is actually a great demonstration of why even with the best planned/engineered infrastructure one cannot blithely go along and expect to be free of interaction and conflict on a roadway, even if space is separated (except for where it is not, which is one of those unfortunate realities that is often ignored). Roads and other transportation facilities are dynamic environments with constantly changing conditions and interactions.

  • Janice August 16, 2012   Reply →

    What is a “shoaler”? (sorry, not from a ginormous city)

  • John Romeo Alpha August 16, 2012   Reply →

    It would appear that the cartoonist POV lane has risen about 12 feet above it all. Or is this drawn from the tall bike lane?

  • Charlie August 16, 2012   Reply →

    I had never heard of shoaling before, but now that i know, yes it is so annoying! Why do people insist on doing that after I’ve already passed them? It’s almost as bad as the clueless bicyclist who I’ve passed and then catches up to me at a red light, but just keeps going through the intersection at the exact same slowish speed, cross traffic be damned. Maybe it’s like the movie Speed, except they are not allowed to go below 8 mph.

    I try not to even shoal cars when I can avoid it (mainly on roads with narrow lanes and no bike lanes). If a car has passed me and I catch up to it at an intersection, and I know there is not enough space for both of us side by side after the intersection, I wait behind it, not to the side or in front of it. I see so many cyclists pass the car and then wait in front of it. You know the driver is just going to want to pass you again. Why would you do this? It’s annoying to the driver and more stressful for you!

    • bluebullet August 20, 2012  

      Cars don’t emit exhaust from the front. That’s my main reason.

  • MrDotbike August 16, 2012   Reply →

    If they ever did that in my neighborhood the utilities would have it dug up and obscured in a few weeks…

  • Invisible Visible Man August 16, 2012   Reply →

    I was pondering the infuriating lack of any rational system of road organization down here in New York as I cycled this morning through downtown Brooklyn. And I wrote my own blogpost touching some of these points a few weeks ago – http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/07/grids-lights-and-why-new-yorks-traffic.html . You know all too well, however, what the problem is. The cars would honk and complain any time a cyclist strayed outside one of the cycle lanes. And the abandoned cars would stop anywhere but the abandoned cars spot…

  • Invisible Visible Man August 16, 2012   Reply →

    I once, incidentally, saw hazard-warning lights described as “park anywhere lights,” which I liked.

  • Ethan Fleming August 16, 2012   Reply →

    The problem has noting to do with the layout of the bike box. The problem is that drivers are not intelligent enough to figure out the purpose of a bike box and to stay behind it. On the other hand intelligence has nothing to do with trying to pass the drivers test these days no matter what state your in.

    I used the bike box a few weeks ago to cut in front of a car to make a left turn. Soon as the light turned green he rammed right into my rear tire and tried to tell me that Im not allowed to do that even though the bike box is there and perfectly clear. the funny part is a little into the argument we had, he decided to call the cops. As soon as the driver told the cop what he did, thinking he was in the right, the cop decided to revolk his license. I cracked up. As for my bike thankfully the only damadge was that he popped the rear inner tube.

    • Invisible Visible Man August 16, 2012  

      I’m taking a wild guess that your cop wasn’t in New York City or he’d have found a way to pin the blame on you.

    • Ethan Fleming August 23, 2012  

      No, This was in Boston on Comm Ave, just outside of Kenmore Square.

  • sky August 16, 2012   Reply →

    tongue-in-cheek sky-biking concept, it solves everything and nothing:

  • Kitty Cat Stevens August 16, 2012   Reply →


  • Lee Hollenbeck August 16, 2012   Reply →

    So also in the ” pedestrian shoalers” area, put the I-pod zombies. I ring my bell and say passing left, still they are clueless and in their own world.

  • John Schubert August 16, 2012   Reply →

    What Ian said!
    Competent professionals know that half the people who use the streets are below average in intelligence. And the other half didn’t read the press release about the cute new design.
    “Glance recognition” is a key element of good design of traffic control devices. A new design, no matter how cute, can be dangerous if it flunks the glance recognition test. And the more places you make a vehicle operators look as he approaches an intersection, the more any individual sign or marking is going to flunk that test.

  • cyclingbuddy August 16, 2012   Reply →

    anyone notice the wrong way bike lane is the same as the red light express lane? solve two problems at once?

  • Dave Himes August 17, 2012   Reply →

    Sort of a swiss army/quantum mechanics of transportation – all solutions are possible at the same time and we have a tool for it…somewhere!

  • D August 17, 2012   Reply →

    Don’t forget that you really need to have some boxes and/or lines on off-road cycle paths too. The number of cyclists (and joggers wth ipods (grrr!!!)) who don’t consider that it just makes sense for everyone to stay on the same sides of the cycle paths as if they were using a road (another Bikesnobbism – no salmoning!).

    It just makes it all a bit more predictable if you can expect which side you will meet oncoming people, or which way they will travel around a roundabout… (sortry – I’m in the UK and we have roundabouts).

    • Ian Brett Cooper August 17, 2012  

      Cycle paths in your area are wide enough for people to use only half of their width? Luxury! Around here, they tend to be 3ft wide, so any passing or oncoming traffic has to turn off into the grass. Just one more reason I avoid them like the plague.

    • D. August 20, 2012  

      There’s an unsegregated shared-use path alongside the main road into the city, that I use sometimes. About a third of it is a long straight flat section about five feet wide. The rest (the bits going up and down hills, where you really don’t want to have to stop halfway up) are only about three feet wide (and pot-holed, and overgrown). But everyone knows what to do on the narrow bits; it’s on the wide bits where people go “Whee! Look how spacious this is… Why, I think I will wander about over the whole thing in a state of bicycle bliss!”

  • Steve Prefontaine August 17, 2012   Reply →

    The dreaded “j” word:


    Also, aren’t those on foot supposed to be going the “wrong way”?

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