Accomodating bike speeds by re-timing signals on Valencia Street
As the cyclists in this video point out, re-timing signals for bike speeds (Green Wave) would make roads safer for all street users on Valencia Street. Before even mentioning re-timing signals, this was many cyclists' top request to improve their journey.
Recently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) found that during peak commute times vehicles run more efficiently when signals are timed at the speeds they actually travel during congestion -- 12 to 15 mph -- rather than the current 25 mph. Major bike streets in Portland, the Netherlands and Denmark have been timed for bike speeds and now it is time for San Francisco to ride the Green Wave! For more information read my previous SF Streetsblog article on the topic.
BIKE SPEEDS BY RE-TIMING SIGNALS ON VALENCIA STREET
Janel Sterbentz: Valencia
Street is one of the most biked streets in San Francisco. However,
the signals are timed for cars at 25 miles per hour. When traffic
is flowing at this speed, it’s dangerous for cyclists to ride in the
auto lane when cars park or drive in the bike lane, which happens very
often and is rarely enforced. Cyclists biking at an average speed
usually hit the majority of the 15 red lights [00:30] and to maintain
momentum and energy, many run the red lights, endangering themselves
as well as the pedestrians crossing the street. To prevent this
and to accommodate cyclists, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Odense in Denmark
have timed traffic signals for cyclists on heavily biked streets.
This Green Wave has boosted cyclists’ speeds by up to 30% in Copenhagen.
In Amsterdam trams become about 1.5 minutes faster and buses moving
out of the city centre about 3 minutes faster. Motivated by the
success of the Green Wave in these cities [01:00] I decided to propose
changing the timing to bike speeds which turns out to benefit all street
users. Of the red lights you hit on Valencia, how many do you
run, about what percentage?
Speaker: That’s not fair.
All of them.
Speaker: 10%. One
out of ten, yeah.
Speaker: Maybe 20% on
Speaker: I just treat them
like green lights if there’s no cars coming. They’re not sequenced
well. They’re not sequenced to the pace of the cyclist though.
[01:30] So if they could work on the traffic engineering and sequence
the lights, that would help.
Speaker: The problem, the
traffic lights, that’s the only thing that seems to make a difference.
I mean because that’s really the only thing that slows you down is
like when you can cross the intersections. So I think there was
some way to like get it so that the lights would be a little bit better
timed, you know, might help.
Speaker: Synchronising it
at bike speed more than car speed. [02:00] To give preference
to bikers on Valencia rather than the other streets.
Janel Sterbentz: Would
you support changing the traffic signal timing to bicycle speed so you
can reach all green lights?
Speaker: Yes. I mean
I hit a red light almost every time.
Speaker: That would be
great, and it doesn’t have to be all of them, but I basically stop
at every light.
Janel Sterbentz: How
would this benefit?
Speaker: I think less
people will be running red lights, people run them all the time so if
it was timed for bikers, you know, less people would be running them.
Speaker: Ease of travel,
you know. I mean you don’t have to stop and start and stop and
start, that kind of thing.
Speaker: Make me a safer
rider. Keep the streets safer.
Speaker: Just more fluidity,
I wouldn’t have to run red lights.
Janel Sterbentz: And
if lights were timed for bike speeds, do you think you’d run less
Speaker: Yeah. Yeah,
Speaker: Oh yeah.