Tue., June 14, 1994
EAST-WEST GATEWAY "TRANSPORTATION REDEFINED" PUBLIC STATEMENT
by Bob Soetebier
St. Louis Metro Area
Bicycling Advocacy Coordinator
My name is Bob Soetebier and I am the St. Louis Metro Area Bicycling
Advocacy Coordinator -- a voluntary position I initiated and have held
In order to represent bicyclists, and as as an on-road bicycling
advocate, I was appointed in 1981 by then St. Louis County Executive Gene
McNary to a four-year term on the St. Louis County Board of Highways and
Traffic. Additionally, I served on The [St. Louis] Mayor's Ad Hoc
Bicycle Committee. I've also had the distinct honor of serving as the
BICYCLE USA/L.A.W. Missouri Government Relations Advocate, as well as the
BICYCLE USA/L.A.W. Missouri Bicycle Touring Information Director.
In recognition of my local, regional and national efforts in
promoting bicycling safety and advocacy of on-road bicycling, I was
awarded the 1986 BICYCLE USA/L.A.W. National "Volunteer of the Year"
Award at the BICYCLE USA Nationally Rally held that year here in St.
Louis at Washington University. I have received similar recognition and
awards from the Ozark Area Council of American Youth Hostels, the St.
Louis Bicycle Touring Society, and from another national group,
Bikecentennial (now known as Adventure Cycling).
I founded and had the pleasure of serving as the only 3-term
chairman of the not-for-profit Bicycle Federation of St. Louis (now
defunct.) During my tenure as chairman of the B.F.S.L., I initiated and
spearheaded a major bicycling safety and on-road bicycling advocacy
campaign in the St. Louis Metro area.
Over the past 15 years I have bicycled on-road over 85,000 miles.
Now that you have a brief overview of my qualifications, I submit
for your consideration the following:
The time is long overdue that we recognize the bicycle's valuable
contribution to our society. Automobiles are a major contributor to air
pollution (and to the "Greenhouse Effect") both locally and nationwide.
An automobile's engine is the most inefficient in it's first 5 to 15
minute warm-up driving period. Most auto trips are below 5 or 10 miles,
which is well within reasonable range for anyone travelling by bicycle
within a half-hour or so. Even if only 10% of these short trips to work,
school, library, store, etc., were made by bicycle, it would have a major
impact on our air quality and health and fitness; not to mention going a
long way toward helping achieve compliance with the regions'
federally-mandated EPA air quality-attainment standards!
Put simply and directly: Bicycling -- as a non-polluting,
energy-efficient, healthful transportation alternative -- needs to be
heavily promoted while we still hopefully have time to save ourselves
from our own "fuelishness"!
Toward this end, employers should be encouraged to provide showers
and locker facilities for employees as part of their company
health/fitness plans (good for reducing insurance rates!) Also, all
commercial businesses, places of employment, and public facilities, --
such as government buildings, libraries, schools, shopping centers,
bus/train/Metro Link stops, etc. -- should be required to provide
adequate, under-cover-from-the-weather, secure bicycle parking facilities
in highly visible vandal/theft-free areas immediately adjacent to
For the good of everyone in our area, a massive public education
campaign on all levels promoting the "Share the Road: It's the Law"
message to both bicyclists and motorists is urgently needed. This
mass-media educational campaign should involve and employ TV, radio,
newspapers, community groups, schools, Missouri and Illinois Automobile
Associations, etc. At the same time, this all-age/all-level educational
campaign should particularly stress that, BY LAW in all 50 states,
bicyclists have "the same rights and duties as operators of motor
vehicles"; and therefore, *belong* ON the road.
St. Louis Metro Area [and all Missouri and Illinois] residents --
bicyclists AND non-bicyclists alike -- should all be given the
opportunity to view the excellent 41-minute "Effective Cycling" video.
This video is based on John Forester's book and his internationally known
and respected educational program of the same name, which emphasizes
assertively defensive, vehicular-style, safe and efficient
("claiming-rightful-space-on-the-road") bicycle operation.
As a first step toward this effort, I have already gotten both the
St. Louis City and St. Louis County Library systems to purchase copies of
the "Effective Cycling" video. At the very least the Effective Cycling
program should also be incorporated into all Missouri and Illinois
school's "Driver's Education" programs; starting in grade school
classrooms and continuing through high school, etc.
Everyone should keep in mind that bicycles cause absolutely no wear
and tear to our roads. Yet, like everyone else, bicyclists pay personal
property taxes which provide money for the maintenance of city and county
roads. Therefore, bicyclists are actually subsidizing auto usage on our
roads; NOT the other way around! It logically follows that since
bicyclists are paying much more than their fair share of
road-maintainence costs they should not be relegated to typically
inferior-surfaced, notoriously poorly maintained, inherently hazardous
and intersectionally conflicting roadway "sidepaths."
In addition to the validity of the above statement, further evidence
of bicyclists subsidizing auto usage on our roads was published on April
26, 1993 in the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" "Drive Time column entitled,
"Are Drivers Getting A Free Ride?" Quoting from that column:
"...Jim MacKenzie has a thought for you: ...Sure, drivers pay
billions of dollars a year for gas and oil, repairs, insurance and
taxes. But what drivers pay is hardly enough to cover the real costs of
driving, Mackenzie and other researchers said in a report for the World
Resources Institute in Washington."
"In fact, in many ways, they are getting a free ride."
[As noted in the column, what it boils down to is this --- with all
"Using the research group's figures, EVERYONE in the nation --
INCLUDING BICYCLISTS, bus riders and walkers -- pays $1,200 a year to
"So the question arises:"
"WHO'S SUBSIDIZING WHOM?"
[The above stated dollar-amount figure is based on many factors,
some of which include: The annual cost of highway patrols, traffic
management, the effects of auto-related noise and air pollution, the
military cost of "protecting" Middle East oil supplies, etc. Based on
their analysis, the true cost of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. in 1993
should have been at least $4.18!]
To top this all off, bicyclists even have historical precedent on
their side: The League of American Wheelmen -- now known as the League
of American Bicyclists; a.k.a. BICYCLE USA -- was founded over a century
ago in 1880. It is the oldest national bicycling advocacy organization
in the U.S. Before the "Turn of the Century" (years before automobiles
started to be mass-produced) when bicycling was in its "heyday", L.A.W.
initiated the "Good Roads Movement". This resulted in the first
asphaltic-paved roads in the U.S., and an entire system of
asphaltic-paved roads throughout the nation! --- [L.A.B./BICYCLE USA is
still going strong today with an effective ON-road bicycling advocacy
Now that you have been presented with undeniable and
*well*-documented legal-, fiscal-, environmental-, health- and
fitness-related information in regards to the reasons why bicycles and
bicycling should take precedence ON our roads, it is vitally necessary at
this time to turn our attention to the dangerously misguided efforts by
otherwise generally well-meaning, but incredibly naive and mis-, or
ill-informed, "separated-from-the-road" bicycle path/trail and bike lane
"facilities" advocates. Such efforts to "get bicycles off the roads" end
up placing bicyclists in unavoidably EXTREMELY dangerous and
counterproductive riding situations.
According to the Jan./Feb., 1994 BICYCLE USA/L.A.B."Bicyclists
Advocacy Bulletin" by Noel Weyrich -- who is the League of American
Bicyclists' new National Director of State and Local Advocacy, and is
spearheading the BICYCLE USA/L.A.B. "Bicycle Advocacy Assistance Program":
"Using data in a recently released FHWA [Federal Highway
Administration] National Bicycling and Walking Study, they decided to
measure the air quality benefits created if five percent of all auto
trips (work and non-work) under five miles were converted to bicycle
trips. This is the approximate level of cycling activities achieved in
numerous metro areas with reasonable active bicycle programs, including
Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Seattle."
[Weyrich further notes in this "Bicyclists Advocacy Bulletin" ---
All emphasis added.]:
"In both of these cases, the underlying assumption is that
scattered bicycle trails and bicycle lanes are what most effectively
boost the level of auto-to-bicycle trip conversion. But the FHWA case
study shows this is NOT true. Washington, D.C. has MORE miles of bike
paths THAN Seattle, BUT Seattle has FOUR TIMES the rate of bicycle
commuting BECAUSE of a comprehensive city bicycle program that provides
promotion, bike parking, and bike-friendly [NOT separate 'bike lanes']
streets. Goal-driven comprehensive [EDUCATION/PROMOTION] programs, it
turns out, cost LESS than trails AND YIELD BETTER RESULTS."
As can seen by the many well-documented attachments, so-called
"bicycle paths" and "bike lanes" are inherently hazardous "facilities",
and should most definitely NOT be promoted for bicycle use (neither for
recreational or transportation purposes.) Such "separated-from-the-road"
"facilities" are very expensive to design, construct and maintain -- and
they are rarely, if ever, adequately maintained. In addition, they are
frequently COUNTERPRODUCTIVE AND DEADLY.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
NINE OUT OF TEN of ALL auto/bicycle collisions occur at intersections
with sidestreets and driveways, with the bicycle rider getting hit
head-on or broadsided; not "run over" from the rear! It is precisely
because of their INHERENTLY hazardous and unavoidable intersectional
conflicts with EACH AND EVERY sidestreet and driveway that so-called
bicycle sidepaths actually double or triple [at MINIMUM] the incidence of
auto/bicycle collisions, AS OPPOSED TO riding upON a parallel or adjacent
Other hazards involved with bicycle-path use include (but are not
limited to): Narrowness of width; overhanging branches; build up of
debris; congestion (from joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, other 2- and
3-abreast bicycle riders, etc.); lack of maintenance; the threat of
head-on collisions between bicyclists and other bicyclists, and
pedestrians, due to two-way bicycle traffic on a single path; which can
also result in even more hazardous auto/bicycle intersectional conflicts!
More than 30 states, including Illinois, have repealed their
"mandatory-use" sidepath laws specifically because of the inherent
hazards involved with bicycle path use, AND because of the attendant
financial liabilities of such separated-from-the-road bicycle
"facilities". As an example of such taxpayer financial liability: The
city of Austin, Texas lost $4.5 million dollars from one single bicycle
path-injury lawsuit! --- Unfortunately, the state of Missouri still
retains it's dangerous "mandatory-use" sidepath law. Regardless, with,
or without, such a mandatory-use sidepath law on the books, the inherent
hazards of such facilities do not diminish.
The following is quoted from L.A.W./BICYCLE USA's 1989 "How To...
Repeal a Mandatory Sidepath Law":
"The most obvious complaint is that bicyclists may be forced to
use inadequate, dangerous, badly maintained paths that do not necessarily
take them where they want to go. They are almost always slower and less
direct than the roadway."
"Separate bike paths are notorious for collecting all kinds of
debris -- broken glass; litter, gravel and sand; soil and plant material
-- and for having poor surfaces -- potholes; crumbling edges; no
markings; dangerously positioned utility covers." --- "All of these
problems not only make the paths uncomfortable to ride, they add to the
danger. Cyclists have to swerve to avoid hazards, or skid in the loose
debris [*particularly* at intersections!] Inadequate lighting merely
compounds the problem at night." --- "The very regular maintenance
required to prevent these hazards developing, and to ensure snow and ice
clearance in the winter, can make the paths very expensive to keep in
"In most situations the very nature and design of sidepaths makes
them more dangerous than the ordinary roadway." "Riding along the
ordinary roadway bicyclists enjoy the same right of way AND PRIORITY
[emphasis added] as all other vehicles. On a sidepath that priority is
lost at every intersection with a side road and driveways. Each of these
intersections adds to the exposure and danger of a cyclist using the
path." "Cyclists on a sidepath are frequently obscured from motorists'
view by utility poles, trees and shrubs, parked cars, phone boxes and
other obstacles. This makes intersections more dangerous, as a bicycle
may appear 'from nowhere.'"
"A cyclist on the roadway, by contrast, will usually be clearly
visible to motorists. This should ensure that motorists are aware of the
existence of cyclists and they will be expecting to see them at
intersections and other locations. On a sidepath, cyclists are 'out of
sight and out of mind.' As a result, cyclists are actually more likely
to have accidents with other vehicles when using a sidepath."
Also, quoting from the July, 1993 Bikecentennial "BikeReport"
magazine monthly "Advocacy Update" column written by John Williams,
editor of "Bicycle Forum" magazine (he also conducts nationwide bicycling
advocacy training seminars for bicyclists and highway department
officials for Bikecentennial and the Bicycle Federation of America):
"For bicycles, the most commonly used manual is the AASHTO
[American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials] Guide
for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 1991." "... the types of
facilities the [AASHTO] Guide recommends against...the worst include:
Bike paths adjacent to roadways. These include sidewalk bikeways and
similar ideas and they can be deadly. They make intersection conflicts
between motorists and bicyclists even worse than they already are. From
the motorist's point of view, bicyclists entering cross streets from a
path come out of 'nowhere'."
The following are some of the more important pertinent excerpts
quoted from the American Association of State and Highway Transportation
Officials "Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 1991". [All
emphasis is added.]:
"BICYCLE LANES TEND TO COMPLICATE BOTH BICYCLE AND MOTOR VEHICLE
TURNING MOVEMENTS AT INTERSECTIONS."
"...A SEPARATED BIKEWAY SYSTEM COMPOSED OF BICYCLE PATHS AND
LANES... IN FACT, SUCH SYSTEMS CAN BE UNNECESSARILY EXPENSIVE and do NOT
PROVIDE for the VAST MAJORITY of bicycle travel. Existing highways,
often with relatively inexpensive improvements, must serve as the base
system to provide for the travel needs of bicyclists."
"Improvements for motor vehicles...should avoid adverse impacts
on bicycling." "...overall goals for transportation improvements should,
wherever possible, include the enhancement of bicycling." "Roadway and
roadway maintenance improvements can reduce conflicts between
pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists and can correct conditions unsafe
for bicycle riding." "Roadway conditions should be examined and, where
necessary, safe drainage grates and railroad crossings, smooth pavements,
and signals responsive to bicycles should be provided." "It is
important that grates and utility covers be adjusted flush with the
surface, including after a roadway is resurfaced." "The grates should be
replaced with bicycle-safe and hydraulically efficient ones."
"Neglected maintenance will render bicycle facilities unrideable,
AND THE FACILITIES WILL BECOME A LIABILITY TO THE STATE OR COMMUNITY."
"It is usually more desirable not to construct a bicycle facility than to
construct a poorly planned or designed facility. ...emphasis should
usually be given to low-cost improvements (e.g., bicycle parking, --
["Bicycle parking facilities are essential to encourage utilitarian
bicycling. To be effective, bicycle parking must offer protection from
theft and vandalism. Desirably, it should also provide protection from
weather damage."] -- removal of barriers and obstructions to bicycle
travel, roadway improvements, and non construction projects such as mapping.)"
"In general, multi-use paths are undesirable; bicycles and
pedestrians do not mix well." "Walkers, joggers, skateboarders, and
roller skaters can, and often do, change their speed and direction almost
instantaneously leaving bicyclists insufficient time to react to avoid
collisions." "Similarly, pedestrians often have difficulty predicting
the direction of an oncoming bicyclist will take." "BICYCLE PATHS CAN
INVOLVE CONFLICTS BETWEEN BICYCLISTS, MOPED OPERATORS, ROLLER SKATERS AND
PEDESTRIANS on the facility AND BETWEEN BICYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS AT
HIGHWAY AND DRIVEWAY INTERSECTIONS." "A HIGH PROPORTION OF BICYCLE
ACCIDENTS OCCUR AT INTERSECTIONS." "At intersections, motorists are
often not looking for bicyclists...particularly when motorists are making
a turn. Sight distance is often impaired by buildings, walls, property
fences, and shrubs...especially at driveways."
"Some problems with bike paths located immediately adjacent to a
roadways are as follows:"
"MANY bicyclists will use the roadway INSTEAD OF the bicycle path
BECAUSE they have found the ROADWAY to be SAFER, MORE CONVENIENT, OR
BETTER MAINTAINED. BICYCLISTS USING THE ROADWAY are OFTEN SUBJECTED TO
HARASSMENT BY MOTORISTS who feel that in all cases bicyclists should be
on the path instead."
"Bicyclists using the bicycle path generally are required to stop
or yield at ALL cross streets and driveways, WHILE BICYCLISTS USING THE
ROADWAY USUALLY HAVE PRIORITY OVER CROSS TRAFFIC, BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE
SAME RIGHT OF WAY AS MOTORISTS."
"Stopped cross street motor vehicle traffic or vehicles exiting
side streets or driveways may block the path crossing."
"FOR THE ABOVE REASONS,...WIDE CURB LANES OR SHARED ROADWAYS MAY
BE THE BEST WAY TO ACCOMMODATE BICYCLE TRAFFIC ALONG HIGHWAY CORRIDORS..."
In addition, to better accommodate all roadway users and promote
shared-road use, the American Association of State and Highway
Transportation Officials "Guide for the Development of Bicycle
Facilities, 1991" recommends widening right-hand lanes to a width of 14
feet without a curb, or 15 feet with a curb wherever possible. It is
VERY important to note that this is in addition to any additional width
added by roadway shoulders, which are typically non-continuous, debris
laden, poorly surfaced, crack- and pothole-plagued, and ill maintained.
To further promote and increase bicycling activity for
transportation, health and fitness, and recreational and tourism benefits
throughout the region, I would hope that you would all take the time to
peruse the attached copy of my "MAJOR ON-ROAD BICYCLING ADVOCACY
GOALS". This list of my proposed on-road bicycling advocacy goals was
formally presented last year to the newly-formed Missouri Bicycle
Federation. The goals were endorsed and published in their quarterly
newsletter. I believe you will find that achieving the stated goals
would be of tremendous benefit to all area residents.
In addition, I've attached a copy of the very informative brochure,
entitled: "Improving Local Conditions for Bicycling." This excellent
brochure was produced by John Williams, editor of Bikecentennial's
"Bicycle Forum" (the Journal of Bicycle Programs.) This brochure
contains some excellent suggestions which can be easily and readily
implemented on a local and region-wide basis.
This concludes my public statement.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
For Better ON-road Bicycling,
St. Louis Metro Area
Bicycling Advocacy Coordinator