Dissent of the Day: Bikes vs transit?

As mentioned in the comments for the Monomodal fixation disorder article, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit did a followup article on the subject. In the responses to that article, Human Transit commentor Eric Fischer said something quite interesting:

For some bike people, the issue is that they fear being hit by large, fast, heavy vehicles and see fast buses as especially threatening. I am personally antagonistic toward transit projects that damage the pedestrian environment by narrowing the sidewalks or replacing stop signs or timed signals with actuated signals in an attempt to gain speed.

In other words–if you’re on a bike, the bus (or the train, especially in-street surface rail) is just another vehicle which poses a hazard, and ought to be calmed (slowed down) to make a safer environment for pedestrians and two-wheelers.

Transit planners, on the other hand, frequently view technological improvements to bus service–including (though not limited to) signal priority schemes–as important tools in the toolbox, as making bus service faster and more reliable not only improves the quality of service for passengers, but lowers operating costs.

This may not be directly relevant to Portland, as Portland doesn’t have much in the way of BRT-style bus treatments; and much bus traffic through downtown is routed down the transit mall, with other streets being preferred avenues for bike traffic. (OTOH, MAX gets signal priority downtown, but the rails provide cyclists with additional reasons to avoid the tracks). But when and where traffic calming schemes are applied, how much should transit be exempted from attempts to slow vehicular traffic down?

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