Greater Greater Washington

Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together

Despite the fact that streetcar tracks can be hazards to cyclists, bikes and streetcars are great allies.


Amsterdam bikes and tram. All photos by Dan Malouff.

They both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets. It's no coincidence that the same cities are often leaders in both categories. In the US, Portland has both the highest bike mode share and the largest modern streetcar network. In Europe, Amsterdam is even more impressive as both a streetcar city and a bike city.

With that in mind, here's a collection of photos from Amsterdam showing bikes and streetcars living together.

Of course, it doesn't just happen. It's easy for bikes and streetcars in Amsterdam to avoid one another, and to interact safely, because each one has clearly delineated, high-quality infrastructure.

Chalk it up as one more reason to build good bike lanes.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Greater Greater relies on support from readers like you to keep the site running. Support us now keep the community going.

Support us: Monthly   Yearly   One time

Greatest supporter—$250/year
Greater supporter—$100/year
Great supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Greatest supporter—$250
Greater supporter—$100
Great supporter—$50
Supporter—$20
Or pick your own amount: $
Want to contribute by mail or another way? Instructions are here.
Contributions to Greater Greater Washington are not tax deductible.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for Arlington County, but his blog posts represent only his own personal views. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives car-free in Washington. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post

Comments

Add a comment »

The fatter tires also help

by JJJJ on Jul 8, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

I know I'll get flamed, but look at the lack of lycronauts. No faux road racers in sight.

Shocking that civic biking is more popular when the bikers are sane and sensible. Doesn't Portland eat our lunch when it comes to bikers obeying road signs (thinking back to Alpert's encounter with a biker running a red light).

Not trolling, but I fully expect people to chime on why going really fast on bikeways and selectively following laws is a good idea.

by the truth on Jul 8, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

One thing I don't see: Riders riding parallel to tracks, in between or immediately next to tracks.

by Michael Perkins on Jul 8, 2014 1:13 pm • linkreport

"I know I'll get flamed, but look at the lack of lycronauts. No faux road racers in sight. "

Cyclists adjust to coniditions. If we had Amsterdam's infra, few people would choose bright clothing for visibility, and if we had such short commutes, few would focus on speed and being aerodynamic. And I think in the countryside in the NL you will find lyra, etc.

"Shocking that civic biking is more popular when the bikers are sane and sensible."

Again, I think the causality is reversed, and IIUC some in the NL do go through stop signs, etc.

"Not trolling, but I fully expect people to chime on why going really fast on bikeways and selectively following laws is a good idea."

since this is about streetcars, I don't know why you feel a need to raise questions that are either strawmen or have been answered.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 1:24 pm • linkreport

@the truth
Looking at their attire, it seems like it is cold weather when these were taken. Scarves, coats, etc.
I don't think pictures taken at any given intersection in December here would look much different.

I wore tech gear today because it is 90 degrees, and you may have described me as a "lycranaut". I also ride rather fast on the CCT because I have a 14 mile ride to work, and prefer to not take hours to get there. (that said, I do consider myself to be courteous to other trail users).

by engrish_major on Jul 8, 2014 1:24 pm • linkreport

For the record, that "Truth" is not me.

by The Truth™ on Jul 8, 2014 1:37 pm • linkreport

As I've said before, if you are riding more than a mile or two, you're doing it wrong. You should move closer to work or take transit.

Streetcars appear to be in the center of the street, not on the edges.

As MPerkins said, not parallel.

Also, not sure if the streetcars have bike racks but you can see they are a major waste of time.

by charlie on Jul 8, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

I just spent a few days in Amsterdam. It's a beautiful city. The Dutch are more bike friendly than I ever imagined. And they ride along roads with streetcar tracks as if the tracks are not even there.

by UrbanEngineer on Jul 8, 2014 1:45 pm • linkreport

My bike commute is 6.5 miles one-way, and I love every mile of it. It certainly feels right to me.

by The Truth™ on Jul 8, 2014 1:51 pm • linkreport

@The Truth™; my bad. I should have said under 5 miles, was thinking of walking not biking.

by charlie on Jul 8, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

A lot of people who work in downtown DC (and inner Arlington) cannot find the combination of housing, price, and neighborhood that works for them within 5 miles of their workplace. Some have an SO who works further out and need to compromise on location. Some already owned a house further out when they got into bike commuting are not inclined to move their household.

And plenty of people do commutes longer than 5 miles and enjoy them.

From a policy POV the optimal target for growing cycling is certainly the under 5 mile commutes, but that does not mean folks who bike further are "doing it wrong".

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 2:10 pm • linkreport

But should we cater our infrastructure to those who choose to live far out and commute in (by bike)? Core improvements should be made first and foremost.

by cynic on Jul 8, 2014 2:17 pm • linkreport

Just wanna point out that I had nothing to do with the making of this post.

by Jasper on Jul 8, 2014 2:21 pm • linkreport

cynic

I agree that the target market for public policy efforts to increase bike commuting should be the 5 mile and under segment.

I am not sure however where there is proposed bike infra aimed at long distance bike commuters in particular.

As for core vs elsewhere, AFAICT pretty much each jurisdiction is pursuing its own bike plans. There isn't a core vs suburbs tradeoff. Maybe within some jurisdictions, but I'm not seeing that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 2:22 pm • linkreport

@ Walker:A lot of people who work in downtown DC (and inner Arlington) cannot find the combination of housing, price, and neighborhood that works for them within 5 miles of their workplace.

And thanks to CaBi, you can do part of your commute by bike.

by Jasper on Jul 8, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

I don't think we need to fret about anyone catering to long distance bike commuters, anytime soon.

Additionally, everywhere is within 5 miles of a place that is within 5 miles of a destination (etc.) So if everyone is focused on their "core improvements" then there will be seamless improvement for all.

by The Truth™ on Jul 8, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

I am not sure I've ever heard the argument that by cycling more than a handful of miles to work that "I'm doing it wrong".

Do you think that we should get rid of the trail network that many commuters use? Or is your main beef with the attire that this type of commuting encourages? (I have never quite understood the obsession with what cyclists wear anyway. There is never an argument about cycling without someone mentioning lycra.)

I live in an area with many choices of mode, which is one of the myriad reasons why I choose to live there (downtown Silver Spring). I can take Metro rail, bus, bike, or drive. Some days I take Metro, and some days I cycle. And when I cycle, I can go the 7 miles through the city, or I can choose the 14 mile route using the CCT, which is the route that is safest and most pleasant.

Find me a place within 5 miles of my office near Farragut North that gives me easy access to this many transit choices, is in a dense walkable neighborhood, has good public schools, and is under $500,000 for at least two bedrooms, and I'll consider moving.

by engrish_major on Jul 8, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

The big difference between Amsterdam and DC is that Amsterdam's major streets with tram lines have clearly separate lanes for bikes, cars and trams.

DC's H St does not.

"THEY BOTH HELP PRODUCE MORE LIVABLE, WALKABLE..."

Amsterdam is "walkable" because it's dense, and its streets generally have a great mix of commercial and residential use, not because it has bikes and trams. They actually make walking more difficult and dangerous, as anyone who's ever walked about Amsterdam Centrum knows.

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 3:23 pm • linkreport

Amsterdam is "walkable" because it's dense, and its streets generally have a great mix of commercial and residential use, not because it has bikes and trams.

The bike and public transportation use (and walking) is what enables those densities. If retail and residential had to attract people who had to drive all the time it couldn't possibly be that dense.

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

MLD No, likely Amsterdam was dense before bikes and public transit.

by asffa on Jul 8, 2014 3:49 pm • linkreport

Amsterdam...it's dense and incredibly humane. Not only can streetcars and bikes co-exist wonderfully, but they can do it with legalized pot. Who are these supermen you speak of?

by Thayer-D on Jul 8, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

The center of Amsterdam was dense before bike or rail were invented, but I suspect there are parts of the city built later. And that the oldest parts retain their livability in part because there are transportation options other than walking and driving.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 3:56 pm • linkreport

I've started wearing a lot more lycra and fancy jerseys on my commute because people bitch and moan about them so much.

Never used to.

by Greenbelt on Jul 8, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"The bike and public transportation use (and walking) is what enables those densities. "

Amsterdam was dense and "walkable" before any tram or bike was in use. In fact most of Amsterdam Centrum predates 1800.

@AWalkerInTheCity

"And that the oldest parts retain their livability in part because there are transportation options other than walking and driving."

If AMsterdam is "walkable" which the author and I agree, then "transportation options other than walking and driving" are irrelevant.

My claim is only that trams and bikes didn't cause Amsterdam to become "walkable." It's walkable because it's dense and mixed-use.

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

"If AMsterdam is "walkable" which the author and I agree, then "transportation options other than walking and driving" are irrelevant."

I have a friend who lives in the NL. He cannot understand why there is not more biking and transit in the US, and thinks they add to livability in the NL. I have not asked spefically about central Amsterdam. Do you think that if central Amsterdam lost its transit, and its bike infra, it would not lose some of its quality of life?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 4:37 pm • linkreport

Amsterdam was dense and "walkable" before any tram or bike was in use. In fact most of Amsterdam Centrum predates 1800.

Plenty of US cities were built during the same era of walking transportation (DC, Boston) and yet are not as walkable as Amsterdam. Cities are not static or set in stone - they change. People also change and adapt their lives to new technology. Had Amsterdam decided like many cities in the USA that the car was how everyone should get around it would not be as walkable as it is now.

It's walkable because it's dense and mixed-use.
So why is Amsterdam like that and Denver isn't like that? Businesses require X customers to survive - the way people get to businesses is important. Transit and biking are required NOW because people in Amsterdam live at lower densities than they did 200 or 300 years ago when you had large families living in tiny spaces.

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 5:00 pm • linkreport

Going really fast and wearing technical gear are related. Going really fast and selectively obeying laws are not. Portland is Portland, and conclusions drawn from its rate of obedience to the law and the wearing of lycra there seem a bit forced to me. I'm fairly sure my wearing wicking attire this morning did not cause any of the multiple violations by cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.

But just to be sure, I'll repeat the experiment every day this week.

by Crickey7 on Jul 8, 2014 5:01 pm • linkreport

While living in the UK, I never saw anyone dressed in lycra on a bike riding unless they were actually out training for a race (and those people rode out of town and trained on deserted secondary roads outside of town where traffic, both bikes and cars, was less). May I suggest that you look at http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/ to see how most people around the world actually dress when cycling. When both my wife and I rode our bikes everywhere, I can only think of a couple of times in 5 years that I thought twice about getting on my bike in anything from flip-flops to a tux (but I will say that my wife had more issues with formal wear and her bike).

by Thad on Jul 8, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"Do you think that if central Amsterdam lost its transit, and its bike infra, it would not lose some of its quality of life?"

Bike infrastructure in Amsterdam matters to its quality of life because biking is a national pastime in NL and most Amsterdamers bike at least once a day (compared to less than 5% of Washingtonians). So bikes are an important part of Amsterdam's culture, which is very different from DC.

As to trams, Amsterdam also has a subway system, buses, and hundreds of miles of canals. So I don't see a tram as being necessary or important to the quality of life of the city. If anything, it's a hindrance b/c it makes biking and walking harder to do.

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 5:06 pm • linkreport

@asffa
MLD No, likely Amsterdam was dense before bikes and public transit.

I didn't say biking and transit CREATED the density. I said they enable the density NOW.

Are all cities just as dense as they have always been? No.

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 5:08 pm • linkreport

@Thad
How often does it reach 90 degrees with high humidity in the UK? If you can ride a dozen miles in outfits such as in your link and then be able to sit comfortably at your desk, then more power to you. For much of the year in DC I cannot even conceive of wearing clothes like that to ride to work.

by engrish_major on Jul 8, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

"Bike infrastructure in Amsterdam matters to its quality of life"

So, bike infra helps make Amsterdam more livable. Quite apart from walkability.

"because biking is a national pastime in NL and most Amsterdamers bike at least once a day (compared to less than 5% of Washingtonians). So bikes are an important part of Amsterdam's culture, which is very different from DC"

Given the climate and topography here, and lower costs of auto ownership I do not see DC or ArlCo getting as high a share of bike commuters as Amsterdam. But in those sections of DC where bike usage is very high, it seems to be an important part of the culture, and its importance is growing - despite the relatively poor infra, bike laws, etc.

"As to trams, Amsterdam also has a subway system, buses, "

And I don't think anyone is suggesting DC or NoVa drop heavy rail or buses. For transit to add the most to QOL we need to pragmatically address which mode works best in which location. I am not aware of people in the NL pushing to drop the trams in order to improve QOL.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 8, 2014 5:13 pm • linkreport

So bikes are an important part of Amsterdam's culture, which is very different from DC.

Ahh yes, the wishy-washy "well it's because these people are just different from those people!" People in Amsterdam just like biking better? Isn't there some reason for that?

Basically nothing in the world is the way it is because some humans have some special spark in their soul that makes them different than other humans. Many things can be explained by historical events, or geography, etc.

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 5:13 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"Plenty of US cities were built during the same era of walking transportation (DC, Boston) and yet are not as walkable as Amsterdam."

Certainly not DC, which was mostly built well after 1800, and was had farms/plantations within the district up to the 20th century. Plus most of DC today (i.e., outside the "L'Enfant City") were considered suburbs and not built as dense, walkable places. Central DC, however, and Downtown Boston are just as walkable as Amsterdam Centrum.

"So why is Amsterdam like that and Denver isn't like that?"

First Amsterdam is over 12,000 people per sq. mi, Denver's density is only 4,000/sq mi. Denver is also a much newer city, most of which is annexed suburbs built during the highway era.

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 5:14 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"Ahh yes, the wishy-washy "well it's because these people are just different from those people!" "

No, but it's a fact that most Amsterdamers ride bikes, which has been the case for many many years. That can't be said for DC.

That's not to say that bike infrastructure in DC is bad, just that in response to AWalkerintheCity's question if losing bike infrastructure would change Amsterdam's quality of life, the answer would be yes, because most residents are bikers. Most Washingtonians are not.

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 5:19 pm • linkreport

I don't want to be Amsterdam, and smell like pickled herring.

by Crickey7 on Jul 8, 2014 5:34 pm • linkreport

@Brett
The argument being made here by some is that Amsterdam is the way it is just because it was always that way, and bikes and transit don't do anything to help that. In fact, you argued that bikes and transit are a hindrance to Amsterdam. That's incorrect.

Is there a dense city in any developed country without robust public transportation options?

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 5:53 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"I am not aware of people in the NL pushing to drop the trams in order to improve QOL."

Not implying they did, just in response to the question if losing trams would diminish quality of life, and my opinion is "no."

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"The argument being made here by some is that Amsterdam is the way it is just because it was always that way"

Who's making that argument? I just said Amsterdam (and NL) has a longstanding bike culture and most people there ride daily, unlike in DC, US.

"In fact, you argued that bikes and transit are a hindrance to Amsterdam. "

That's not my argument.

It's that bikes and transit haven't to do with why Amsterdam is "walkable."

by Brett on Jul 8, 2014 6:01 pm • linkreport

"Amsterdam is "walkable" because it's dense, and its streets generally have a great mix of commercial and residential use, not because it has bikes and trams. They actually make walking more difficult and dangerous, as anyone who's ever walked about Amsterdam Centrum knows."

That was your response to the idea that "[bikes and trams] both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets."

It's that bikes and transit haven't to do with why Amsterdam is "walkable."

They actually do, because without bikes and trams, people would need another mode for their medium-distance travel, which would mean the city would likely have to change to a more auto-friendly and less walkable environment. Or people wouldn't easily be able to get to all that dense retail in the center, and it would suffer as a result.

by MLD on Jul 8, 2014 6:15 pm • linkreport

Note: these pictures are from Amsterdam Centrum, which is old. Very old. But most of Amsterdam was built in the last two centuries, and Amterdam-Zuid is less than a few decades old. If you go on any streetview there, you'll see the same.

It all has to do with the way infrastructure is built. It is a simple fact that if you build infrastructure, people will use it. If you do it smart and don't build roads, bridges and railroads to nowhere. Other than that, there is no difference between a road, a side-walk, a railroad and a bike-lane. Build it in a place where people need transportation, and people will use it.

In a dense city, the American dream of doing everything by car is simply not feasible. So, you need to have other options. America has long ignored biking. So it is utterly unsurprising that if you build a little bike-infrastructure, it will be used.

Will Americans ever be as fond of biking as the Dutch? Probably not, but that's because this country is huge and Holland is tiny. Holland is 4h by 3h driving (or riding a train). A bit bigger than Maryland. Most Dutch consider anything over an hour a huge trip that you need to pack snacks for. in DC, we call that a commute. The Dutch never need to travel further. Meanwhile, Americans don't blink to fly from DC to San Fran to visit a friend's wedding. Go that same distance from Amsterdam and you end up in Baghdad. Moscow is half that distance.

So, America needs a different mix of infrastructure than the Netherlands. HSR makes no sense within Holland, only for foreign destinations. Flying makes a lot of sense in the US. Not in Holland. You can get anywhere faster than you could get through security in an airport.

But, America can do a hell of a lot more with biking. Especially in urban areas. Both for commutes, pleasure and just simple transportation. Want to be bold? Get rid of those silly school buses and send kids to school on a safe bike path. That would save counties a boatload of money.

by Jasper on Jul 8, 2014 8:38 pm • linkreport

I'm guessing a plus Amsterdam has for biking is it looks like you don't need a Norwegian trampe. Looks pretty flat. And it was laid out dense because people used to walk around.
Walkable density occurs more often where jobs are available, where attractions that give people comfort and rest happen, too within a short stroll.
http://www.allcountries.eu/netherlands/amsterdam.htm

Jasper - about your get rid of buses comment - children aren't always assigned to their nearest physical school.

by asffa on Jul 8, 2014 9:59 pm • linkreport

I'd guess at least part of the reason you don't see the Dutch wearing lyrca is they tend to be more fashion conscious while American culture is more pragmatic and less conformist.

It's easy to spot American tourists in Europe because they are usually the least fashionably (but most pragmatically) dressed.

There was a hilarious article a few years ago about Dick Cheney attending a somber outdoor ceremony at Auschwitz "dressed ready to operate a snowblower" while every other dignitary was wearing formal long coats, formal hats, etc.

Americans march (cycle?) to the beat of their own drummer and lyrcanauts, hipsters on fixies, and recumbent cyclists are no different.

by Falls Church on Jul 8, 2014 11:05 pm • linkreport

This forum shouldn't be called "Greater Greater Washington", it should be called: "Cars are bad, but people who like to bike ride, walk, take the bus and the light rail are good and we the undersigned are advocating that this agenda be enforced in Washington D.C. and its environs". I like some of your silver line articles but I'm tired of these boring articles and their generalizations.

by getreal on Jul 8, 2014 11:17 pm • linkreport

Well, I conducted the experiment. I wore my cheap Nashbar cycling shorts and jersey advertising a German beer brand and, sure enough, rampant driver and pedestrian lawbreaking occured all around me. Clearly, I am some kind of vehicular Typhoid Mary, causing lawbreaking by wearing lycra, even though I break no laws. I am chagrined.

by Crickey7 on Jul 8, 2014 11:52 pm • linkreport

Crickey7 If somebody doesn't like what you wear - they can wear something else.

by asffa on Jul 9, 2014 1:20 am • linkreport

Cars are people, too, but remember - Everything in moderation.

For the most part, I've always used cars for all transportation since I was old enough to drive. That remained true after I moved to DC about 5 years ago. Still, by habit, I used my car exclusively for another couple years. To my suburbanized eyes the metro, and especially the bus, was a dirty, messy, crowded, and convoluted way to get around.

Once I "discovered" how convenient the metro (trains and buses) could be, I started riding them exclusively for my commute for the next couple years. However, during that time, I was still using my car for everything else.

Recently, since I've "discovered" how easy it is to get around the city on a bike (and getting easier with every project), my first instinct is not to grab the car keys when making a local errand, anymore. Instead, I pause and ask if it's really appropriate to fire up the $35k machine sitting in my garage to go retrieve $20.00 worth of tacos from one mile away, or to get to my bank two miles in the other direction to get some documents notarized. Now, grabbing the bike in these situations is a no-brainer for me.

Meanwhile, I get a real kick start to my work day by riding in on my bike. I look forward to riding it home, too. For one, it's the end of the workday, and who doesn't like that? But I can also take in the sights that had long ago become invisible to me, and make casual little stops along the way, if I want. I don't worry about a packed bus or missing it by 10 seconds, or single tracking, etc. My bike is there and ready to pop wheelies all the way home (wee wee wee).

by The Truth™ on Jul 9, 2014 7:47 am • linkreport

asffa:Jasper - about your get rid of buses comment - children aren't always assigned to their nearest physical school.

I live between a primary, middle and high school. If the amount of kids that get on the buses in my neighborhood are all not assigned to the nearest school, Fairfax needs to rethink how it assigns kids to a school. The real problem is off course that all these schools are not designed to be walked to, and surrounded by high speed road. The primary school is back into a park. Walking through the park could be pretty quick, and - horror - kids could fall into a stream, but driving takes 10-15 minutes.

To contrast, I biked 2 km to primary and 5 km to middle/highschool. My brother did 6km. That was more or less the norm. I had several friends who did 18km, up and down. Holland does not have many hills. But it has have hills in certain parts, mostly the south. Kids still bike. And it has a lot of rain and wind. Good luck biking on a dike into the wind in the rain.

by Jasper on Jul 9, 2014 9:50 am • linkreport

I think the neighborhood school thing is huge. Afterall, it's one of the main reasons the middle class fled many of our cities. Not that it was a good thing, running away from blacks moving in and school desegregation, but it shows how important this is to people. I'm not slamming busing becasue in many ways it was well intentioned, but for the sake of health and neighborliness, they ought to bring back as many walkable schools as possible.

by Thayer-D on Jul 9, 2014 10:24 am • linkreport

@MLD

"That was your response to the idea that "[bikes and trams] both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets."

Yet, I only mentioned "walkable" in what you quoted...that bikes and trams did not create a "walkable" Amsterdam, and that they make walking more dangerous. No need to put words in my mouth.

"They actually do, because without bikes and trams, people would need another mode for their medium-distance travel,"

If a place were truly "walkable" then "medium-distance travel," whatever that means, would not be necessary. Besides, I've already addressed that Amsterdam has a subway and buses and doesn't need trams.

by Brett on Jul 9, 2014 2:28 pm • linkreport

wow, we sure have gotten diverted from the question of how bikes and street cars can coexist.

I dont want to speak for Dan, but heres what I read it as. Biking makes cities more walkable, in large part because they calm traffic, and add to the mass of people who can and do walk (because they have a range of alternatives to driving.) Transit also adds alternatives to cars, and enables the creation or maintenance of higher densities. I do not think he meant to say that street cars uniquely do so - clearly the best way for transit to add to walkability is to choose the best transit mode for the location. Debating which mode is the best, or if street cars are ever the best, is something that has been debated quite enough times here, and is I think a diversion from Dan's point.

I also think that to suggest that a truly walkable place has no need for any mode other than walking is setting an incredibly high bar for a city after the pre-industrial era. I doubt there are many people in Amsterdam who rely only on walking and never bike, use transit or drive. And I doubt they would consider it liveable if walking were the only option.

Ergo, MLD is in essence correct. A liveable area needs alts to driving for trips longer than walking distance. Thats biking and transit. Exactly which mode of transit is best for a given location is a worthy debate, but not germane to the point.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 9, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

"I also think that to suggest that a truly walkable place has no need for any mode other than walking is setting an incredibly high bar for a city after the pre-industrial era."

Apparently you and MLD define "walkable" differently than (what I thought was) the obvious definition that Mirriam-Webster and I use: "capable of or suitable for being walked."

It has nothing to do with riding anything.

"MLD is in essence correct. A liveable area needs alts to driving for trips longer than walking distance. "

LOL. That's mixing apples and oranges, as livability is not the same as walkability. No one here to my knowledge has argued that "transit" or alternative transport doesn't help make place liveable.

by Brett on Jul 9, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

"I also think that to suggest that a truly walkable place has no need for any mode other than walking is setting an incredibly high bar for a city after the pre-industrial era."

"Apparently you and MLD define "walkable" differently than (what I thought was) the obvious definition that Mirriam-Webster and I use: "capable of or suitable for being walked.""

It has nothing to do with riding anything.

"MLD is in essence correct. A liveable area needs alts to driving for trips longer than walking distance. "

LOL. That's mixing apples and oranges, as livability is not the same as walkability. No one here to my knowledge has argued that "transit" or alternative transport doesn't help make place liveable."

If a place isn't liveable, you won't keep the density that makes it walkable.

I think that's MLD' point.

But in reality, if Amsterdam lost its bikes and its transit, it would have more cars. Which would make it less walkable. And people without cars, deprived of bikes and transit, AND exposed to more auto traffic, would move out - making it less dense and adding to the decline in walkability.

If DC is going to be MORE walkable, it needs more density. Much more likely with more biking and transit than without. And it needs to get that density withoout a proportionate increase in auto trips - again more likely with biking and transit than without.

So, back on topic, you can ride with trams in a segregated lane, or riding across but not parallel. That means for parallel trips in place where there isnt room for parallel bike lanes in the same street as the tram - like H Street and Columbia Pike - you need bike boulevards on parallel streets.

That looks like it will work much better near H Street than near Columbia Pike. Because - permeable 19th century street grid.

Is there thought to improving the connectivity of the proposed bike blvds in S arlington?
more

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 9, 2014 3:04 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"If a place isn't liveable, you won't keep the density that makes it walkable."

Apples and oranges, again. If by "liveable," you mean high quality of life (as in Mercer's annual survey), then there are many places that are very dense but considered not "liveable," like Dahka or Lagos, and some less dense, like Melbourne, that are considered "liveable." High density is rarely cited as a key criterion in a city's liveability.

"But in reality, if Amsterdam lost its bikes and its transit, it would have more cars. Which would make it less walkable. "

That's speculation, not "reality." Again, Amsterdam was "walkable" before the advent of bikes, transit and cars.

"If DC is going to be MORE walkable, it needs more density. Much more likely with more biking and transit than without. "

Not necessarily, but higher density and/or walkability is even more likely with more high-paying employers, retail options, restaurants, cultural institutions, etc.

If your theory were correct, then Deanwood, which has a Metro Sta., Cabi, buses, etc., wouldn't have such a low "Walkscore" and low density.

"That looks like it will work much better near H Street than near Columbia Pike."

Yet DDOT didn't plan any segregated lanes on H, which is why the new streetcar is worse for traffic flows than the existing buses.

by Brett on Jul 9, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

"Apples and oranges, again. If by "liveable," you mean high quality of life (as in Mercer's annual survey), then there are many places that are very dense but considered not "liveable," like Dahka or Lagos, and some less dense, like Melbourne, that are considered "liveable." High density is rarely cited as a key criterion in a city's liveability."

Multiple transportation choices are, including walkability. Walkability is very difficult without density. Having walkability is of course not the only criteria - it doesn't make a city with low income, high crime, etc liveable. Whether Melbourne is as liveable as Amsterdam is another question. I think it clear that Dan assumed an unwalkable city is also unliveable. You may disagree.

""But in reality, if Amsterdam lost its bikes and its transit, it would have more cars. Which would make it less walkable. "

That's speculation, not "reality." Again, Amsterdam was "walkable" before the advent of bikes, transit and cars."

Obvuiously, in 1650 lacking bikes and transit did not lead to cars. This is 2014, and cars exist. You may beleive that its only "speculation" that taking transit and biking away from a city where both carry large numbers of people would not lead to higher auto usage. I am not sure what to say to that.

"If your theory were correct, then Deanwood, which has a Metro Sta., Cabi, buses, etc., wouldn't have such a low "Walkscore" and low density."

Necessary but not sufficient is the phrase we are looking for here.

Smoking leads to cancer. That folks who dont smoke get cancer, and that some smokers never get cancer, does not invalidate that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 9, 2014 4:23 pm • linkreport

Apparently you and MLD define "walkable" differently than (what I thought was) the obvious definition that Mirriam-Webster and I use: "capable of or suitable for being walked."

Obviously. In the context of this article "walkability" is a specific term, not just "places where you can walk." By the "dictionary" definition nearly anything is walkable. We're talking "walkable urban environment" which goes way beyond "capable for being walked."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walkability
"Factors influencing walkability include the presence or absence and quality of footpaths, sidewalks or other pedestrian rights-of-way, traffic and road conditions, land use patterns, building accessibility, and safety, among others."

LOL. That's mixing apples and oranges, as livability is not the same as walkability. No one here to my knowledge has argued that "transit" or alternative transport doesn't help make place liveable.

In the context we and this article are talking about, walkability and livability are almost inseparable. If you want to argue about "walkable" as "does it have sidewalks" or a simple "CAN you walk there" then that's just being insufferably pedantic.

by MLD on Jul 9, 2014 4:39 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"Multiple transportation choices are, including walkability."

That's your opinion. Merriam-Webster, I and the etymology of the new word "WALKability" disagree.

"Having walkability is of course not the only criteria - it doesn't make a city with low income, high crime, etc liveable. "

I obviously know, which is why I used Dhaka and Lagos as examples.

"You may beleive that its only "speculation" that taking transit and biking away from a city where both carry large numbers of people would not lead to higher auto usage."

That's not my belief. I just said your statement about Amsterdam was speculative, not "reality." I could also speculate that boats would once again be the key means of transport for longer distances in Amsterdam in the absence of bikes and trams.

"Smoking leads to cancer. That folks who dont smoke get cancer, and that some smokers never get cancer, does not invalidate that."

LOL...I can play that game too. Bikers run stop signs. That bikers who don't run stop signs does not invalidate that bikes run stop signs.

Perhaps "bikes and transit" MAY lead to density and/or walkability. But using Deanwood as an example, clearly bikes and transit do not necessarily lead to more density and/or walkability.

by Brett on Jul 9, 2014 4:49 pm • linkreport

LOL...I can play that game too. Bikers run stop signs. That bikers who don't run stop signs does not invalidate that bikes run stop signs.

Perhaps "bikes and transit" MAY lead to density and/or walkability. But using Deanwood as an example, clearly bikes and transit do not necessarily lead to more density and/or walkability.

Maybe you need to look up the difference between "peer-reviewed research that comes to conclusions" and "pulling a bad comparison out of your butt." Because what you're doing isn't the former.

Walker made an "X leads to Y" comparison. I don't see one in your statement. Would you disagree that bikers who run stop signs are more likely to get hit? And that the fact that some bikers who run stop signs are not hit does not invalidate that?

To be clear, just because you can pick out one place where transit has not led to walkability doesn't mean that transit has no effect on walkability. And it definitely doesn't show that walkability is possible without transit.

by MLD on Jul 9, 2014 4:56 pm • linkreport

"Smoking leads to cancer. That folks who dont smoke get cancer, and that some smokers never get cancer, does not invalidate that."

"LOL...I can play that game too. Bikers run stop signs. That bikers who don't run stop signs does not invalidate that bikes run stop signs."

that is true, but only because English allows one to use a collective noun without a modifier, so its not clear if "bike run stop signs" means all, most, many or few. If one percent of bikes run stop signs then 'bikes run stop signes is true" thats why making statements about groups without including appropriate quantitative modifiers is dangerous. "blacks mug people" "Jews lend at high rates of interest" "Muslims blow up buildings" "washington post columnists are idiots"

But again, the relation of transit in particular to density is a quantitative one. In general transit does lead to density. it correlates well, and the causation runs both ways. And thats true even if pre-industrial cities were dense, and some areas near transit are not for oen reason or another. I think you know that, I am not sure the point of this endless quibling.

Is the topic of riding a bike near a street car that uninteresting?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 9, 2014 4:58 pm • linkreport

Brett's just taking down the urbanist-industrial complex, one GGW comment at a time!

by MLD on Jul 9, 2014 5:00 pm • linkreport

@MLD

Using the wikipedia definition you gave, where does it mention bikes or trams? Thanks!

"In the context we and this article are talking about, walkability and livability are almost inseparable."

The author did not say they were inseparable, and the point I've maintained was that they are not the same, as there are many walkable places that are not considered "liveable" and vice versa.

"If you want to argue about "walkable" as "does it have sidewalks" or a simple "CAN you walk there" then that's just being insufferably pedantic."

Both the dictionary definition and the wikipedia definition you quoted have nothing to do with bikes or trams period.

And in an urban context, I consider walkability to include walking distance to things like work, school, retail, markets, post offices, etc., i.e., a dense, mixed-use community, as I've stated before.

by Brett on Jul 9, 2014 5:08 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"And it definitely doesn't show that walkability is possible without transit."

By definition, again, "WALKability" hasn't to do with "transit." And there are many "walkable" places without bike lanes or trams.

@AWalkerIntheCity

"without including appropriate quantitative modifiers is dangerous"

You did it but now want to lecture me why it's "dangerous." Absolutely classic.

"Is the topic of riding a bike near a street car that uninteresting?"

My first comment was exactly about that, and my second comment was about a specific claim made in the article. I've stayed on topic and did not derail things to smoking and English lessons.

by Brett on Jul 10, 2014 9:50 am • linkreport

I am not going to debate who first derailed things. We have a long debate about street cars vs other transit (cause like we've never discussed that) about the dictionary definition of walkability vs the wiki definition, the role of walkability in liveability, the role of transit in density, and the history of Amsterdam.

And very little on biking near tracks.

so lets get back to that

"The big difference between Amsterdam and DC is that Amsterdam's major streets with tram lines have clearly separate lanes for bikes, cars and trams.
DC's H St does not."

well first, a lot of the pictures are of folks riding OVER the tracks, but not parallel. Establishing that one can safely ride over the tracks, perpindicular, in the presence of street cars. I don't think thats really abouut the bike lanes, or about seperate street car lanes.

as for the multiple lanes - well I suppose you could have made the track lanes on H Street transit only, and taken out all the parking to make room for bike infra. I guess DC wasn't willing to do something that radical there.

So they are instead encouraging biking on the parallel streets. ArlCo is trying something similar in S Arlington. I note in the ArlCo case, lots of cyclists avoid riding on Col Pike anyway (though one prominent advocate does ride on Col Pike now)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 10, 2014 10:04 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"I am not going to debate who first derailed things"

There's no need to debate since our comments are still visible on this page.

"about the dictionary definition of walkability vs the wiki definition"

It was clear we were using walkability to mean different things, and both the dictionary and wikipedia define it as I.

"well first, a lot of the pictures are of folks riding OVER the tracks"

And that doesn't negate the fact that there are dedicated lanes for both bikes and trams.

"well I suppose you could have made the track lanes on H Street transit only"

Precisely my point. Otherwise, I think it's pointless to build a tram that's less versatile than a bus.

"...and taken out all the parking to make room for bike infra."

It's unnecessary to remove ALL the parking, as in the photos above.

by Brett on Jul 10, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

"well first, a lot of the pictures are of folks riding OVER the tracks"

And that doesn't negate the fact that there are dedicated lanes for both bikes and trams.

But its not clear to me why dedicated lanes for either matter to someone riding perpindicularly over the tracks. Again, this sounds more like a quibble than an objection.

"well I suppose you could have made the track lanes on H Street transit only"

"Precisely my point. Otherwise, I think it's pointless to build a tram that's less versatile than a bus."

And once again, you are trying to drag this from the topic of biking near tracks, to the modal choice. The modal choice was clearly made for reasons other than biking, and has been rehashed here endlessly. It is what it is.

"...and taken out all the parking to make room for bike infra."

It's unnecessary to remove ALL the parking, as in the photos above.

I'm not clear that the Amsterdam street is the same width as H street. I believe that to leave 2 lanes of auto/tram traffic in each direction on H, and to keep at least the existing sidewalk width, and to get bike lanes in both directions, you'd need to take out parking on at least one side of the street.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 10, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

@AWalkerIntheCity

"But its not clear to me why dedicated lanes for either matter to someone riding perpindicularly over the tracks. "

How on earth does one would ride a bike perpendicularly over tracks going either east or west on H Street?

"And once again, you are trying to drag this from the topic of biking near tracks, to the modal choice. "

The article's title is not "Biking near Tracks" it is "Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together." All I did was say that Amsterdam's system works better b/c of its dedicated lanes that H Street will not have. That's on topic.

"...you'd need to take out parking on at least one side of the street."

Perhaps, but that's a far cry from removing "all" the parking.

by Brett on Jul 10, 2014 12:05 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or