1. My initial letter
  2. Johnson Johnson & Roy/inc's response
  3. Back to Alan Ng's home page

My initial letter

To: badger@access.tsgroup.com
From: agng @ students.wisc.edu (Alan Ng)
Re: Campus Master Plan
Date: March 18, 1996

Dear Johnson Johnson & Roy/inc

I am submitting comments on the plan based on the article in the March/April 1996 issue of "On Wisconsin," in which your e-mail address was given.

My main concern is the short-sighted and small-scale approach taken to bicycle transportation issues. First of all, I quote: "The plan aims to increase safety by separating bikes and cars. . ." (p. 24). This is already misguided. Let me refer you to, e.g., the article titled "Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections", by Alan Wachtel and Diana Lewiston, in the September 1994 ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Journal, vol. 64, no. 9, pp. 30-35. Among traffic engineers who view bicycles as transportation rather than toys, and certainly among experienced bicycle commuters such as myself, it is agreed that separating bicycles and cars _increases_ the danger of bicycle riding. To reduce and oversimplify the arguments, let me note that it is far more hazardous to enter, leave, or intersect traffic flow than to be a part of the continuous flow.

If the Master Plan's goal truly is to allow and encourage bicycle use as a mode of regular transportation, then bicycle traffic must be treated as vehicular, not pedestrian traffic. Accident statistics bear this out in many ways: for example, the most dangerous place for a bicyclist to ride is on the sidewalk.

Beyond safety considerations, efficiency is also hurt by combining pedestrian and bicycle space. Regardless of mode of transportation, one must always travel at the speed of surrounding traffic, whether on foot, on bike, or in a car. The Master Plan therefore dictates that a safe cyclist must not significantly exceed walking speed. However, one of the main and most-vaunted advantages of bicycles over cars (and buses) in high-density urban areas is their speed advantage from point A to point B. And this advantage, proven countless times in organized trials in cities all over the world (including Madison), is only realizable when the bicyclist behaves as a vehicle, obeying all rules and enjoying all privileges accordingly. Finally, the Master Plan should recognize the fact that the Wisconsin State Vehicle Code, since the recent passage of AB96 in the State Legislature, defines bicycles as vehicles.

To put bicyclists in the way of pedestrians, and vice versa, then, risks the safety of all concerned, generates animosity between the users of the corridor, and frustrates the practical advantages of bicycle use.

You are welcome to use these comments in any appropriate setting in the process of defining the Master Plan. I look forward to a response.

Thank you,

agng @ students.wisc.edu		  Alan Ng           Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Bitnet:alanng@wiscmac2	      http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/german/alan.html

Their response:

Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 08:26:20 -0500
From: Stephen Troost
To: agng@students.wisc.edu
Cc: RIGTERR@access.tsgroup.com
Subject: Campus Master Plan -Reply

** High Priority **

Thank you for your input on the Campus Master Plan. We at JJR and the entire Consultant Team agree with your comments, many of which will be incorporated into the detailed Technical Report (currently being drafted) which the State and University will use to guide future campus planning decisions. A significant Master Plan objective is to improve bicycle safety by minimizing non-University vehicular traffic on-campus, reducing community traffic volumes through campus, and simplifying roadway intersections to minimize multiple turning movements. This can be partially accomplished through restricting private automobile use on Linden Drive and Randall Avenue and establishing a one-way vehicular circulation system on Mills and Charter Streets. These recommendations will go a long way to reduce conflict, and unify vehicular circulation directions.

Please feel free to express your concerns to the City of Madison planning staff whom are hesitant to support the necessary roadway modifications.