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Terenig
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Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum and am just learning to ride my Segway/Ninebot One S1!

As I've been learning to ride my unicycle around the streets, I'm noticing that current street design is terrible for anything other than cars or pedestrians. Cars have almost the entire road to themselves and pedestrians have comfortable raised sidewalks.

But vehicles like bikes, scooters, or unicycles must either ride alongside dangerous cars or must ride on small sidewalk annoying pedestrians.

With so many interesting personal mobility options out there, people should have mobility choices! So I'm considering starting a petition to the City of Los Angeles, LADOT, and other relevant organizations to consider rethinking street design.

Here's where I need your feedback!

My first idea for a petition is to call for designated secondary streets to be converted to bike/lightweight wheel priority streets. Attached is a diagram of this suggestion as applied to Los Angeles, one of the cities most sorely in need of car-alternate mobility options!

  1. What do you you all think of this idea?
  2. What are other ideas are there to allow folks to use roads with electric unicycles and other similar mobility options?

The rational for this particular idea:

Primary roads, especially ones with freeway access do most of the heavy lifting of traffic. But secondary roads that are parallel to primary roads in cities on a grid are not as well utilized. We could utilize them better by converting them to bike/lightweight wheel priority streets. Benefits:

  1. Increase street capacity
  2. Dramatically improve safety and comfort of riders AND drivers
  3. Encourage more lightweight wheel usage
  4. Would not negatively impact local businesses or residents as they would still have local access AND parking
  5. It would provide bike/lightweight wheel riders passing lanes! Current bike lanes are frustrating for all: slower riders, faster riders, and drivers
  6. Decrease road noice and local pollution

The barriers between car lanes and lightweight wheel lanes would be staggered to allow riders to access their destination.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 10.49.21 AM.png

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I like the idea of separating wheels from pedestrians, but don't know if having the wheels in the middle is a good idea. Any turns at all will require that the wheels cross fast-moving and large cars which is bad. 

It seems like urban planners are getting a lot better at designing for wheels (mostly bicycles) in a way that prevents conflict with pedestrians and cars. It might be useful to talk with some local urban planners to see what they are doing locally. Here's an article about my area that shows people are at least fighting about it, which is the first step in getting things done. :P

 

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Thanks for the feedback!

Just to clarify, this idea actually calls for only local access to automobiles with a maximum speed limit of 15 mph. These streets would be primarily for light wheels, with local access to motorists, but separated by large barriers. Cars wouldn't use them for traveling on, only to begin and end their trips, if that makes sense.

So any car/wheel interaction would occur only at intersections with slow moving cars moderated by traffic signals.

Think of it like a unicyclist paradise where cars are allowed to exist on the margins! Would that change your thoughts?

Edited by Terenig
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One idea I find very interesting is the idea of mega-blocks. In short the idea is that you couple what normally is four to nine blocks into a single block as far as car-traffic is concerned. Within this mega-block, the focus is on pedestrians, bicycles and so on, with just a trickle of car traffic to serve emergency needs. Instead you have malls, shops, coffee-shops and so on. with parking-spaces on the perimeter. The idea is to make each such mega block an almost self-sustaining unit, where you can basically find most of what you may need within walking distance.

As most western cities are constructed today, cars take up 60-80% of all available outdoor space, but in the mega-block city, that number would fall to 20-30%

The advantages of such an approach would be cities which are more friendly to people and less to cars, but the challenge is of course to make it accessible even to the ones who have to enter by car. So the roads that go around the mega-blocks must be good, the parking spaces must be plentiful and strategically placed, and the ability for non car-drivers to get from mega-block to mega-block must be just as good. Overpasses and equivalent solutions may solve a lot of that. Also the supply streams for shops must be solved in a functional manner.

In such an environment something like a bike, a EUC or other small EVs would be ideal for moving around.

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7 hours ago, Terenig said:

As I've been learning to ride my unicycle around the streets, I'm noticing that current street design is terrible for anything other than cars or pedestrians. Cars have almost the entire road to themselves and pedestrians have comfortable raised sidewalks.

But vehicles like bikes, scooters, or unicycles must either ride alongside dangerous cars or must ride on small sidewalk annoying pedestrians.

I think a great start would be for all streets to have a bike lane. In my neighborhood, 1 street has a bike lane.

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30 minutes ago, MaxLinux said:

I think a great start would be for all streets to have a bike lane. In my neighborhood, 1 street has a bike lane.

Definitely.

Have you tried riding an electric unicycle in a conventional bike lane? Would you feel comfortable?

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1 hour ago, Scatcat said:

One idea I find very interesting is the idea of mega-blocks. In short the idea is that you couple what normally is four to nine blocks into a single block as far as car-traffic is concerned. Within this mega-block, the focus is on pedestrians, bicycles and so on, with just a trickle of car traffic to serve emergency needs. Instead you have malls, shops, coffee-shops and so on. with parking-spaces on the perimeter. The idea is to make each such mega block an almost self-sustaining unit, where you can basically find most of what you may need within walking distance.

Yes, I love that concept. There was a lot of press at one point to superblocks that they were going to try in Barcelona:

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/17/superblocks-rescue-barcelona-spain-plan-give-streets-back-residents

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZORzsubQA_M

That's interesting, so superblocks might be a better way to frame the proposal for lightweight wheel priority lanes. Cool, thanks for the idea!

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I love creative designs for urban streets and traffic flow. Some streets here in San Francisco (Valencia, 14th Street), are what are called "Green Wave" streets. These streets have dedicated (right-side) bike lanes and traffic lights timed at bicycle-like speeds (13 mph on Valencia, 15 mph on 14th). Valencia runs parallel to other streets that offer higher-speed options for cars. This is one feasible and somewhat palatable idea (for our current car-centric cities, for better or for worse) that limits vehicle speed and prioritizes non-car traffic.

San Francisco has a fairly healthy network of bike lanes, though very few are "protected" and even more are shared lanes with urban vehicle traffic. I commute 12 miles a day in these mixed conditions.

Though we could always use more bike lanes here, and more protected lanes in particular, what is more important to me are adequately-engineered solutions for wheels and bikes (~15 mph traffic) through heavy intersections and interchanges. No matter which way I take to work, there are a few "white-knuckle" areas where I need to cross over full-speed vehicle traffic and am largely at the mercy of drivers to stay out of their wheel wells. 

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