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Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

  1. #1
    Development Rider scottieducati's Avatar
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    Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    So as an antithesis to this thread, I'm currently engaged in a project at work to "pitch" ideas for future funding to the various US DOT modes (NHTSA, FHWA, etc.). One thing that frustrates me living and working in and around Boston, is how unfriendly it is for people who want to commute on two wheels. It's getting better for bicyclists, but certainly not for those of us on motorized cycles. With news like this talking about congestion, I have come across some impact studies like this, that discuss how 2-wheeled commuting could perhaps be one of few ways to proactively combat congestion in areas where they simply can't make the roads any bigger (like Boston...)

    There's also work out of MIT that is using cell data to pinpoint traffic tie ups.

    It seems to me if you could target particular areas that are growing, contribute to congestion, are under-served by public transportation and do not have room on the roads for expansion and get even small %'s of the population to consider commuting by two wheels instead of four, you could actually help make commuting in Boston easier instead of harder.

    I don't want to go after licensing or driver/rider training in the basic sense, it's too much of a "political" fight with states that issue licenses and MSF's monopoly on training.

    What I do see are several barriers to commuting on two wheels that might prevent someone taking their cage into work every day from giving it a try:

    - Licensing costs, MSF in MA is now pushing $300 for the BRC.
    - Lack of legal lane filtering (huge priority IMO to make commuting and urban riding safer for all 2-wheeled folks)
    - Lack of legal lane splitting (I am for this, but it's too hard to police and keep the idiots from doing stand up wheelies between lanes on the highway, and not a concern for city riding)
    - Lack of intersection markings for bicyclists / scooters / motorcycles (such as the "bike box" at the front for filtering)
    - Lack of overall awareness of cycles
    - Confusing laws in terms of who can use bicycle lanes (I see scooters in them all the time, sometimes motorcycles... why can't we share and if so, what is the line? Clearly a bicycle lane isn't big enough for a full-dresser or ST bike or anything large
    - Scooter "restricted" (<30 mph) vs. "unrestricted" and different licensing paths for each (permit vs. MC endorsement)
    - Obviously, general DRIVER training is needed, or even actual SAFETY enforcement on the roads (getting away from speeding tickets as the only type of enforcement) is needed, again I think this fight (against LEO's, why would they want to give up such a profitable scam as pulling people over driving with the flow of traffic that's all above the speed limit?), but again these are BIG efforts to undertake.

    Curious to hear the breadth of opinions here. Am actively developing this idea / thought process and have support for it within work. Either way, this idea WILL end up in front of some very high senior administrators.

    The jist of where I am now, is to:

    1) Try to identify a "commuter bike" concept that could include all small forms of 2-wheeled transport. Electrics and motos up to 300cc's is kind of where I'm at.
    2) Identify route planning resources and outreach to those areas that cause / suffer from extreme congestion
    3) Provide basic training, more than what a permit requires but perhaps less or *different* than what full MSF type moto training provides. This must be free or low cost and focus on traffic strategy, route planning, intersection behavior, etc.
    4) Work to allow lane filtering, and proper pavement markings to support it, at key areas / intersections / roads.
    5) Define what powered vehicles (electric assist bikes, etc.) can use bicycle paths (not bike lanes, but dedicated bicycle paths)
    6) Encourage more shared cycle parking (scooter / moto parking) on city streets in areas of the city people commute TO
    6A) Encourage more shared cycle parking at private parking lots / garages
    7) Outreach to LEO's regarding new policies (lane filtering) and work to enforce safe driving habits (tailgating, not using signals, distracted driving, etc.)
    7A) Outreach to the public that there's a shift towards safety for cyclists, and promote the benefits of commuting on 2-wheels vs. 4, with an emphasis on shorter travel times and benefits (such as being able to filter at intersections or shared use bicycle lanes on particularly bad areas, etc.)

    Curious as to what everyone might think could get more people IN to street riding / commuting versus all the talk about people leaving street riding.

    What incentives would you need? If you commit to commuting on two wheels, shouldn't your insurance on your car go down, etc? Could we incentivize the purchase or other costs associated with owning and operating a "commuting cycle"?

    What legal changes would you like to see made? What are your thoughts on lane filtering versus lane splitting, etc. and do they impact your willingness to commute?

    Anyhoo, thoughts appreciated from all.

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    CCS/LRRS #83

  2. #2
    Lifer
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Your ToDo list is comprehensive, but focuses on issues usually known only to current riders. I'm not sure how much it'll do to sell new riders. It's like trying to make oil changes easier for the owner as a selling point to new riders. They don't know it's a problem yet.

    I think you're on to something at the end. Selling points on how much you could save on gas, insurance, parking, tolls, or time commuting. "9 out of 10 Boston commuters could save $100/mo by commuting on a motorcycle". Or "Get Prius-like mileage for a fraction of the cost". Similar to the way insurance companies, or infomercials advertise. It's sad that those selling techniques work, but I think that's how you'll accomplish your goal.

    I think the desire isn't there in the general public because it's seen as a hobbyist activity that comes with a lot of risk. If you can generate the desire, through direct benefit such as money or time savings, they'll start to figure the rest out.

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  3. #3
    Lifer
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    I agree with most of your plan. And I think your first three points (cost of rider training, lane splitting, and lane filtering) may be three of the biggest obstacles to getting people to commute on bikes. New England weather and New England drivers are arguably two others. Weather you can't do much about. Drivers we can, and should.

    There needs to be an initiative to get Boston metro area drivers to chill the fuck out. There is too much "mee fiiiiirrst" testosterone bs on our roadways. People drive way too aggressively (not necessarily way to fast) and just generally seem to have no regard for anyone around them. That somehow needs to change.

    I see that as a pre-requisite to even thinking about lane splitting or filtering. Until that happens these incentives to ride are non-starters as general opinion is that these practices are suicide even if they were legal. It's ingrained in the way we drive cars.

    And I argue the "idiots doing wheelies while splitting" are no more of an issue than the idiots doing wheelies elsewhere in traffic. That is not a reasonable argument against splitting. That an over caffeinated, me first, I'm special ass-hat in their luxury suv will run you over is a reasonable argument against. Fix that.

    The costs and bureaucracy involved in getting a MC licence in MA are a real issue as well. I personally know of at least two drivers that are interested in motorcycles or scooters and don't move because of the costs and complexity of getting licensed.

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  4. #4
    Development Rider scottieducati's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    It's funny reading these posts, after my commute home (took the cage today) and seeing so many shenannigans PRE rush hour (about 4 pm) such as the guy who cut me off (right lane to left lane) with zero signal; a guy in a civic swerving literally JUST in front of people's bumpers to try and get a couple cars ahead... (who I caught up to later b/c they were all over their lane matching speed w/ the guy to the right while fumbling around for a phone cord or something)... or the drivers sticking their noses halfway into the intersection blocking those with the right of way from making a left hand turn.... I was thinking to myself, maybe there's no point if we don't get at the core problem of how crappy our drivers are.

    I just don't know how to do it, no political will to have restrictive licensing schemes (it disproportionately hurts poor / non-urban areas where you NEED a car to survive)... so how do you provide the incentive to accommodate serious driver training?

    Then again, there's enforcement. What we have now are LEO's who are responsible for enforcing safe driving, yet have zero regard for safe driving or desire to enforce it. They're too busy setting speed traps and ticketing people going WITH the flow of traffic (often whom are driving perfectly safely), because everyone on the road is speeding. It's all done because it's easy revenue and they can point to the technology (radar gun) and say "SEE this PROVES you were speeding!" without so once as thinking of whether their speed was safe since everyone else was going the same speed. Oh yeah, most of the popular locations are where road speed limits are NOT set by Federal law at the 85th percentile, specifically SO everyone is speeding.

    I can't see the latter getting addressed. If it were to be, it would need to come from the top and have political support which is hard to get since LEO's, towns, even the state and the court system count on the revenue. Policing intersection violations, poor driving, etc. actually takes effort (and more manpower) and potentially yields more "judgement" based offenses that can / could be fought so it's not a "sure thing."

    I really would like to see better driver training AND a focus on traffic *SAFETY* enforcement (not revenue generation via speed traps) but I just don't see how a system so corrupted as our current one can be saved.

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    Last edited by scottieducati; 10-06-14 at 04:32 PM.

    CCS/LRRS #83

  5. #5
    Senior Member MHenry600's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    I think the ticket revenue problem is much like a worker becoming dependent on overtime pay. The process begins with the first few tickets here and there (hours of OT) and it's all peachy. Who can't use the extra cash for stuff. When it builds up and keeps coming for a while, sweet, now the towns can afford the things they couldn't get before, but decide to "finance" too many things instead of paying just cash. At that point, if you remove the extra income and go back to what they should be dependant on, they're screwed. They're already on the hook for the extra money and have no option. Too many municipalites depend on the extra revenue these days, so of course they don't want to lose that.

    The downfall of the system is becoming dependant on something that's not "regular" income. The police department should never have become the source of income it is today. If they are too busy providing income they can't be focused on protecting the good of the people, and the two are certainly not always the same.

    The other ones just enjoy the extra cash and keep going with the easy targets like you said.

    That's probably far enough off topic.

    On topic, I have commuted/am commuting all year when it's above 35-37 and not raining in the morning (don't mind getting wet on the way home). Driver awareness and teaching them saftey like you said is a big thing. There are so many people that just don't care. Other than that, I can't think of much since I clearly already don't need more convincing to do it. One thing that would be nice, would be different tolls for motorcycle than cars in more places. I've never seen that, at least everywhere I've gone (but heard of it).

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  6. #6
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Parking could be cheaper and more accessible. Tolls could be lower -- if I have less impact than a car, why should I pay the same toll?

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  7. #7
    its in my blood caloots's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    I think they should offer a lane for motorcycles on the highways.

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  8. #8
    Lifer Stromper's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Go to Taipei Taiwan

    You will see a working scooter society

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  9. #9
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by caloots View Post
    I think they should offer a lane for motorcycles on the highways.
    Or just offer more HOV lanes..

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  10. #10
    Lifer burnham's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    You want an opinion? With a push-up bra you could have a nice rack of lamb up there.

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  11. #11
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Grom

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  12. #12
    Development Rider scottieducati's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Actually I just want an excuse to run a pilot training class on a bunch of "accessible but fully functioning motorcycles" *ahem*grom*ahem*.....

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  13. #13
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    You seem to be focused on commuting into "Boston". If that's the case that's fine.

    There are other significant commuting problems than the Boston surface roads. If you're target audience is people commuting from the burbs to Boston, I need not apply.

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  14. #14
    Development Rider scottieducati's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Doesn't have to be IN to Boston. More like, inner 128, or inner 495... part of the selling point for making things more 2-wheeled friendly is the ability for bikes to help alleviate congestion.

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  15. #15
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Make it easier and safer to commute - extend the car-pool lanes to 25-miles outside city limits on major highways. That would limit intrusions from cars to the left or right and would usually result in a faster commute. Where there's no car pool lane, legalize lane splitting and filtering and heavily advertise the change.

    Make parking cheap (free), safe, and easily accessible. Create micro-lots for bikes scattered throughout the city, covered to protect from the elements (something like bus stops), with video cameras that allow people to check on their bikes using their browsers, and with heavy-duty embedded anchors to lock the bikes, like this -



    Pro-rate the insurance discount to the amount of training completed. Give riders multi-bike and low mileage discounts just like drivers get.

    For the 'commuter bike' consider adding a modulated headlight, driving lamps, big bright tail/brake lights, and a 139dB horn. Adding lighting and a real horn to my commuting bike made a huge difference in the quality of my commute. Lane intrusions dropped dramatically from the lights. I've only used the horn a few times, but when I do, people retreat back their lanes very quickly because they think their about to hit a truck.

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    Last edited by oVTo; 10-06-14 at 10:23 PM.
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  16. #16
    Lifer golden chicken's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Make gasoline $6/gallon.

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  17. #17
    Lifer
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by golden chicken View Post
    Make gasoline $6/gallon.
    Wouldn't do a damned thing.

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  18. #18
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by scottieducati View Post
    Actually I just want an excuse to run a pilot training class on a bunch of "accessible but fully functioning motorcycles" *ahem*grom*ahem*.....
    A Grom training fleet? Sounds perfect. You'll need to upgrade all of the handlebars to gold. Gold handles much better.

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  19. #19
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    I support your plan. Specifically, legalized filtering would really improve my commute, allow me to commute during rush hour instead of before 7am, and significantly improve my quality of life.

    The stated reason why US DOT doesn't support filtering/splitting is that there are not enough motorcyclists.
    IMO there are not enough motorcyclists because there isn't sufficient advantage to commuting on two wheels.
    There isn't sufficient advantage because you can't filter.

    Getting filtering legislation passed is going to be tough. I suspect you'll have more luck getting more parking. Maybe easy to find parking will provide enough incentive. I don't think that people are that sensitive to increases in gas prices, but a congestion tax on cars ala London might do the trick if you could get it passed.

    Weather is a big obstacle for a lot of people. England has a heathy biker community, so the real issue is winter. At the end of the day, most people are still going to need a car.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member B440's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by reks95 View Post
    Weather is a big obstacle for a lot of people. New England has a healthy biker community, so the real issue is winter. At the end of the day, most people are still going to need a car.
    This^ is your major flaw.

    All of the extra parking, lanes, splitting, perks, are all for nothing if they cannot be utilized 365 days a year. Non-motorcyclists will see it as a waste of resources 6+ months a year.

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  21. #21
    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    The costs and bureaucracy involved in getting a MC licence in MA are a real issue as well. I personally know of at least two drivers that are interested in motorcycles or scooters and don't move because of the costs and complexity of getting licensed.
    If you do the permit then license route it's $45 dollars and you have to taken a written test then a road test. If you want to take a safety course it's about $300 and that's all you do. I don't really see how that's excessive.

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  22. #22
    Lifer
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by obsolete View Post
    If you do the permit then license route it's $45 dollars and you have to taken a written test then a road test. If you want to take a safety course it's about $300 and that's all you do. I don't really see how that's excessive.
    I think you need a MA permit before doing an MSF course in MA, in order to get licensed through them. And according to Training Wheels, you need to prepay the $15 licensing fee when doing the $30 permit test so you can be licensed ASAP. Then their BRC course is $295. Total is $340.

    I think your point still stands though, that for the average middle class person this is not very expensive considering it's a two-day event providing running bikes to crash test. The unfortunate aspect is the younger, tight budgeted rider who will likely want to skip the $295 course and just DIY on the test. Well, if you believe the BRC is an important step to keeping new riders safe.

    Can you get us tax breaks on training courses or protective gear? Maybe under the guise of encouraging motorcycles as a 'green' option? It's a bummer to tell people the initial costs of getting in to safe motorcycling, even when cheap as possible.

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  23. #23
    Development Rider scottieducati's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Only once in the past few years have I been able to ride every month of the year, I do get that weather is a factor. Then again, you could always argue offering training that people can take every spring to reset their skills could help too and that instead of seeing weather as a limitation, try to find the opportunities. Finding another use, or breaking down infrastructure like micro lots could be an issue though. Great ideas, keep em comin!

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    Last edited by scottieducati; 10-07-14 at 02:10 PM.

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  24. #24
    Lifer Falko's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Motorcycles can do anything and not be pulled over. Make them above the law.

    Ok, now back to reality.
    1. Reduced registration costs for motorcycles AND one car in the household per motorcycle and licensed rider.
    2. Motorcycle parking, make several convenient spots MC only (with a big fat fine otherwise) from April 1 through Oct 31.
    3. Reduced registration costs for MC's under 500cc.
    4. Reduced cost MBTA passes for MC riders for winter time usage.
    5. Get involved with that ride share program and get them to give points for MC commutes as well as sharing rides.
    6. Open sidewalks for bikes 250cc and under. (Ok, stepped off the reality cliff again)

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  25. #25
    go faster cdovego's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts/Opinions: How to increase commuting by two wheels?

    Talk to Dennis Kobza (bay area riders forum B.A.R.F) in CA, he leads the same type of program in CA and has made a huge impact out there. I'm more than positive he'll have great advice for you.

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