Sunday, May 10, 2009

PUMA Needs Exclusive Lane

I am sure you have heard about the GM and Segway joint venture called Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). Just this weekend I read an interesting article titled Will GM Design Your Next Car? In this article Parade Magazine interviews Larry Burns, head of R&D for GM, and asks some great questions about the future of mobility. Larry hits on many key points supporting a shift towards smaller vehicles, including the PUMA high-tech electric scooter. Most notably, he points out that sustainable transportation is about more than petroleum and global climate change, its also about congestion and safety - which, coincidentally, are the two underlying reasons for developing motorcycle infrastructure.

So, Larry, GM, and Segway, I would like to make a suggestion. If you really want to design the vehicles of the future you also need to help with the infrastructure of the future. PUMA will not be successful if you are asking customers to drive in in mixed traffic alongside SUVs - its too dangerous (according to the NHTSA, you are 35 times more likely to die, per vehicle mile traveled, on a scooter or motorcycle than you are in a passenger car). We need to develop priority lanes for new innovative electric scooters like the PUMA that can be shared with bicycle commuters and other vulnerable road users.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

WW2 German Motorcycle Track

This image of a motorcycle track near Rochefort, France was sent to me by a couple biking through the area and can also be found on their blog ( I was aware that the Germans used motorcycles during the war but had never before heard of a motorcycle track used in this manner. Apparently, these narrow concrete tracks were built by the Germans to patrol large areas of concurred territory. They are now used for cycle paths.

My interest in posting this image is to provide some historical context and also show that a motorcycle track can be a highly efficient option to move a single person - not unlike the 80% of American Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) commuters.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cycle sales help Honda cope with down economy

I came across this article (Cycle sales help Honda cope) that, in summary, states that Honda is expected to post a significant profit largely due to its motorcycle sales. It goes on to state that most of these sales are in southeast asia where motorcycles are used for everyday transport and while the $20,000-30,000 Honda car and SUV sales have plummeted, sales of relatively affordable motorcycles have held strong.

“Motorcycles are more resilient against a recession than cars because these products are used in Asia for people’s main mode of transport,” said Makoto Haga, president of Tokyo-based hedge fund Wing Asset Management Co. “Motorcycles give Honda an advantage over its rivals.”

What are the implications for the rest of the world? What if cash-strapped Americans were to turn to efficient and affordable motorcycles as a means of everyday transport? What would it take to make this happen? In my opinion, safe motorcycle infrastructure is needed, the riders will follow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Motorcyclists celebrate opening of London bus lanes

Autobloggreen reported on the opening of London's bus lanes to motorcycles. "Looking to ride safely while saving a little time and using a bit less fuel", there was definitely cause for celebration within the London area motorcycle community as described in the following post:

Posted Jan 8th 2009 at 8:02AM by Jeremy Korzeniewski. To celebrate Transport for London's recent decision, a group consisting of local Honda motorcycle dealers, members of the Motorcycle Industry Association, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the British Motorcyle Federation and the Metropolitan Police BikeSafe squad decided to take a first commemorative ride through the city, ending at the historic Ace Café in Wembley.

Pro-motorcycling groups have created a Code of Conduct that all cyclists are urged to follow while using the bus lanes. As it is, just 5 percent of London's roads are made up of red bus lanes, but the impact on the city's traffic should be much larger. It's hoped that if things go well over the 18-month trial period that the Mayor of London has instituted, other London boroughs may make similar allowances for bikers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

American Planning Association National Conference

I will be giving a poster presentation on Exclusive Motorcycle Lanes at the APA National Conference this spring in Minneapolis. This will be a great opportunity to engage planning professionals in the merits of establishing motorcycle infrastructure in the US. I will be sure to report back to this blog on the feedback I receive from the conference.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Safe Routes Scooter Rally, Melbourne, Australia

In Melbourne the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has been holding a Safe Routes Scooter Rally for a few years now to shine a spotlight on scooters as a valid mode of transport and to demand that government make allowances for scooters in their transport policy. Here are a few of their positions that, by the way, are all relevant in the US:

“VACC is calling for the implementation of designated and signed ‘Safe Routes’, access by scooter riders to certain designated bicycle lanes, filtering in stationery or slow moving traffic and allowing boxed turns at certain busy intersections,”

“With high petrol prices, many people are tightening their financial belts. Some see scooters as a viable means of transport because they are cheap to buy and run, easy to park and are environmentally friendly."

“Sales are soaring and yet, the Government and transport policy makers seem oblivious to their existence and growing relevance."

"There is no sign of the boom in scooter and motorcycle sales abating. Road sharing must be made safer for scooter and motorcycle riders. Neither regulation, nor training, nor traffic management and infrastructure has kept pace with the boom in sales of two-wheeled transport. Clearly cars and poor road sharing practice pose the greatest risk to scooter riders."

“Riders are doing their bit for the economy and environment by taking to scooters. Now the Government has to do its bit and provide protection for these responsible, but vulnerable, members of society."

"Scooter sales are booming. Some brands are up nearly 60 percent on last year. They are a cheap alternative to cars, they benefit the environment because they leave a tiny carbon footprint, they reduce congestion on roads and they reduce pressure on city parking spaces. It is time for the Government to take them seriously and to accommodate scooters in our road planning and traffic management systems."

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Encouraging more people to get on their bike, whether pedal or powered"

In my opinion, this is a very insightful position by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

“One of the ways we can ease congestion is by encouraging more people to get on their bike, whether pedal or powered, and I believe they should be able to share our bus lanes successfully and safely. At the end of the trial period I will listen carefully to the views of all our road users and then make a decision about whether this should be a permanent arrangement.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Motorbikes Rule Jungle Town

Very interesting article from Brazil. What if these were all fuel efficient motorcycles or scooters, maybe even electric motorbikes - please remind me why we all need to drive cars in the US?

This article also makes a good argument for using motorcycles as a form of economic development as they are considerably more affordable than automobiles. "The ease of acquiring a motorbike has helped fuel the growth of the city, which has doubled in population in the past 20 years, surging past neighboring Leticia, which has about 35,000 residents and about 10,000 motorbikes. "

That Roar in the Jungle Is 15,000 Motorbikes
TABATINGA, Brazil — This sweltering Amazon outpost is a border town on the move — on two motorized wheels, that is.
During the afternoon rush hour, Tabatinga’s main avenue is a sea of scooters and motorcycles. Whole families pile onto a single scooter, even families of five: husband, wife and three children. Mothers breastfeed infants while fathers navigate a road nearly uncluttered by traffic signals.
With more than 15,000 motorbikes and only 47,000 people, Tabatinga resembles a small version of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, another chaotic place where cars take a distant back seat as the preferred mode of transportation.

For rest of article see link: nytimes

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bicycle Infrastructure = More Bicyclists

Imagine that, safe bicycle infrastructure brings more bicycle commuters! This same logic would prove successful for scooters and motorcycles. With evidence mounting, you would think that DOTs across the country would take a serious look at EMLs?

See article from NY Times: Commuter Cycling is Soaring, City Says.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why motorbikes and vehicles have nothing in common

This article (Why motorbikes and vehicles have nothing in common) makes some great points. Especially the argument that motorcycles are not cheaper than cars when you factor in the cost of the funeral and cremation. The article also makes the obvious statement that both cars and motorcycles are viable forms of transport. However, that motorcycles are only treated as a hobby form of transport - at least in Britain and other Western, developed countries.

Why are motorcycles only a "hobby form of transport"? My answer is because they do not have safe infrastructure to travel on.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"If you build it, they will use it..."

This article from Portland shows that, with regards to bike lanes, " if you build it, they will use it..." I bet that this same logic would apply to EMLs.

.......Remarkably, the results showed that although only 8 percent of city streets are equipped with any kind of bike infrastructure, 51 percent of trips were taken on them. To Dill, this means that most riders are seeking out such routes, even if they are not the shortest. “People are going out of their way to use bike infrastructure,” Dill said. Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator with the Portland Office of Transportation, is excited by Dill’s findings. “Basically it confirms the story we have been telling — if you build it, they will use it,” he said.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Exclusive Motorcycle Lane in Vietnam

Here is a picture of an EML from Vietnam that shows scooters, bikes and small motorcycles adjacent to a highway with cars and trucks. EMLs are found primarily in Asian countries where large numbers of motorcycle riders already exist. However, as gas prices rise and road congestion worsens, the benifits of commuting via motorcycle/scooter/bike are being realized throughout the rest of the world.

The following link from the The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) shows costs and benefits of EMLs, including a 40% crash reduction:

Scooters and Motorcycles in Bus Lanes

In the UK a three year study has shown that scooters and motorcycles can safely use bus lanes.

Petition to use bus lanes
Politics & the law
23 February 2007 14:41
Riders can now let Tony Blair know what they think about bikes in bus lanes by signing an online petition demanding we’re allowed to use them.

The petition, on Number 10’s website, says: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow the use of "Bus Only" lanes by scooters and motorcyles throughout the UK without penalty at any time.”

More than 1,000 names have already been added with five months to go before it’s submitted to Blair.

We reported last month that transport authorities in London were still stalling on letting us use bus lanes despite a three year limited trial showing it would not lengthen bus journey times or deter cyclists.

Riders’ rights groups say access to bus lanes in the capital is a key step to access across the country.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Complete Streets Introduced in the House

Here is some encouraging news, seems like there would be many opportunities for EMLs under this legislation.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cyclists pedal scared on Triangle roads

The Raleigh News and Observer ran an article today titled Cyclists pedal scared on Triangle roads. I also heard a story this morning on a local radio show where the DJs were discussing how they would love to ride their bikes to work but that they would not take the chance because the roads are so dangerous. A few people also called in and said they only ride their bikes on the greenway systems, but would also love to ride to work, for the exercise, to save on gas and other expenses of operating an automobile.

Can someone out there tell me why it is that two wheeled vehicles do not have their own infrastructure? It is almost as if no one in the US has even considered this very simple idea.

Monday, April 28, 2008

As gas prices rise, so do 2-wheeler deaths.

As gas prices continue to rise, more and more people across the country are turning to motorcycles, scooters, and bikes as a form of transportation. Unfortunately, this trend has also led to a dramatic increase in 2-wheeler deaths. In my home state of North Carolina, motorcycle fatalities have tripled in a decade - it seems like every time I open up a newspaper there is a new story of someone being killed on a motorcycle or bike.

If motorcycles, scooters, and bikes had their own, exclusive lanes, most if not all of these deaths could have been avoided. In my opinion, the best way to curb this disturbing trend is by bulding a network of EMLs. No matter how careful of a rider you are, you can not prevent what would only be a minor fender bender accident between two vehicles from turning into a fatality if one of those vehicles is a motorcycle, scooter, or bike.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A preliminary analysis of EMLs along the federal highway F02, Shah Alam, Malaysia from the Overseas Centre Transport Research Laboratory Crowthorne Berkshire United Kingdom shows that EMLs dramatically improve motorcycle safety.

It is my premise that if EML commuter routes were provided in the US, the number of motorcycle, scooter, and commuting bicyclists would significantly increase due to the increased safety of these modes. Vespanomics has also commissioned similar studies that show the positive impact that a mode shift to scooters would have on the environment and congestion.

With $4/gallon gas on the horizon, shouldn't we be considering EMLs?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Estrada proposes exclusive lanes for motorcycles

A bill has been filed in the Senate that seeks to establish motorcyle lanes along busy roads and streets across the country to minimize motorcycle accidents. Authored by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Senate Bill No. 2076, known as "Motorcycle Lane Act of 2008," requires the construction of one-half-meter lanes on both sides of the road for exclusive use of motorcyles.
Under the bill, the Department of Public Works and Highways, in coordination with local government units, is tasked to construct the motorcycle lanes.

If passed into a law, motorcycle drivers who do not use the lanes will be penalized by a maximum of six years imprisonment or fined of not less than P5,000 but not more than P20,000, or both at the discretion of the court. The DPWH and any local government unit which violate any provision of this Act shall be fined of not less than P10,000 but not more than P20,000 at the discretion of the court. The penalty does not prohibit any motorcycle driver who met an accident due to the absence of the lane from filing damage claims against the DPWH and the local government units that violated this Act.

The bill seeks an appropriation of P10 million to construct the lanes. In his explanatory note, Estrada said accidents involving motorcycles continue to increase. Citing data from the Metro Manila Development Authority, Estrada said there were 116 deaths and injuries in motorcylce accidents in Metro Manila in 2006 alone. He said this represents a 26.6 percent increase over 2005 figure. Estrada said Congress had passed a law requiring motorcycle drivers tp wear helmets but it was not enough to minimize deaths and injuries to motorcycle riders.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lives at Risk in Bus Lane Trial Cover-up say BMF

Lives at Risk in Bus Lane Trial Cover-up say BMF
Monday, 28 Jan 2008 08:10

The British Motorcyclists Federation have accused London Mayor Ken Livingston’s office of putting motorcyclists lives at risk by failing to authorise the use of London’s bus lanes by motorcycles. The BMF will now be making a formal complaint against the Mayor who is also Chairman of Transport for London. This follows the leaking of a long overdue Transport for London (TfL) report in to the use of bus lanes by motorcycles. The report (the findings of which of not been disputed), shows that accidents were nearly halved over a three-year period on two trial routes where motorcycles were allowed into bus lanes. In fact it found that when motorcycles were allowed access to bus lanes, it proved safer for all users, pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers and motorcyclists, with a 42 per cent fall in the overall rate of collisions. Speaking on the report, BMF Chairman Anna Zee said: “Considering that the Mayor set a target for a 40% casualty reduction across London and the only group that has not met this are motorcyclists, this is a disgraceful affair. The report was available in September but has been suppressed for political reasons. Lives are being put at risk for political expediency.” Comparing the trial routes of Brixton Road and Finchley Road with a control route, the report found that accidents directly involving motorcycles fell by 45 per cent, while those on the control route increased by 19 per cent. Also down were pedestrian casualties by 39 per cent against a three per cent rise on control route. On the perceived danger to cyclists, the report shows that collisions between cyclists and motorcyclists fell by 44 per cent. Summarising, the draft report said: "These figures demonstrate that crashes involving powered two-wheelers and other vulnerable road-users become more infrequent even when considering the increased concentration of riders." A year ago the BMF welcomed the news that a TfL review was underway of its trials that ran between 2002 and 2005, but has bemoaned the fact that despite repeated requests, the report has still not been published. Commenting on reports that Mayoral staff have now ordered a re-write of the report to avoid a green back-lash from the cycle lobby, the BMF say that this is like living in a dictatorship where everything is manipulated to suit the state. BMF Spokesman Jeff Stone said: “We’ve been involved with the campaign for wider bus lane access for over twelve years now. These findings match what we know from elsewhere and I find it bizarre that an expensive report set up to establish the facts has confirmed what we have been saying – but has been suppressed because it doesn’t suit. This smacks of political interference from the highest level.” Ends Note 1: In March 2007 the Government issued a new Traffic Advisory Leaflet (TAL02/07) to Local Authorities that specifically encouraged a more objective assessment to be made of bus lane use by motorcycles. The Government’s Motorcycling Strategy (published in February 2005) also sought to facilitate motorcycling as a choice of travel within a sustainable transport framework. Note 2: Existing Bus lane access sites Bristol has operated a permanent bus lane access since 1996 and Reading since 1999. Other sites are in: Northern Ireland, Birmingham, Colchester, Derby, Bath, Hull, Swindon, Richmond on Thames, Newcastle on Tyne, Sunderland and the M4 bus lane. Being trialled in London are the Finchley Road (A41) at St John's Wood to Hampstead, the A23 to the South and A13 to the East. Motorcycles are also allowed to use some HOVs (High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes). Those in Leeds and South Gloucestershire have been used for some years while others will include the southbound stretch of the M1 from junction 13 near Bedford to junction 7 near Hemel Hempstead, and the M3 north from junction 3 near Bagshot to the M25 turn-off at junction 2, both areas already popular with motorcycle commuter users.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Scooters Could Save American Consumers 14 Million Gallons of Gasoline Per Day

New York, NY, May 22, 2006 - As gas prices soar to record highs, a new national survey released today found that 30% of U.S. consumers would be extremely or somewhat likely to consider using a motor scooter for their everyday transportation needs. According to the survey conducted in the first week of May of 2006, these individuals indicated a willingness to transfer 35% of their weekly mileage to a scooter.

By comparing the results of the survey to Department of Energy national averages for fuel consumption and emissions, the findings establish that if Americans were to utilize one of the latest eco-friendly scooters available in the market today, they could, in aggregate, reduce national fuel consumption by 14 million gallons of gasoline per day and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 324 million lbs. per day.

"Scooters" were defined in the survey as two-wheel vehicles that can reach 40-100mph, whose average cost is $2,000 or above. The survey was fielded by ICR on behalf of Piaggio Group Americas, the manufacturer of the Vespa® brand scooter and a leading manufacturer of two-wheel vehicles.

"The benefits of scooters are well known around the globe, as they are part of the daily behavior for millions of people worldwide," said Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas. "While growing in popularity, scooters are only marginally embraced in the U.S. where millions of individuals drive cars in situations where motor scooters would be perfectly appropriate and convenient. Scooters are an additional transportation solution to help reduce consumer gas spending, but also provide an environmentally friendly transportation mode as a result of its high MPG and modern engine technologies."

The survey found other strong factors motivating consumer's willingness to consider utilizing a scooter, including environmental concerns and overall cost savings. The survey found that 33% of Americans would be likely to use a scooter to reduce emission harmful to the environment, 35% would be likely to use a scooter to save $25.00 a week on gasoline.

This survey underscores the growing popularity of two-wheel vehicles. Scooter sales have increased tremendously over the past two years and manufacturers are preparing for a busy summer of record sales. U.S. sales of all Piaggio brand scooters through its dealer network increased by an impressive 15% in 2005. These achievements were driven by the launch of new dealerships, new products and overall increased brand awareness in key U.S. markets. Piaggio, which re-entered the U.S. market in 2000, now has dealerships in over 100 locations - over 50 of which have opened since January 2005.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Motorcycle bus lane pilot study from London

Pilot study

Bus lanes operate in order to give buses priority over general traffic in London. Motorcycles, and other privatised forms of motor traffic, are not permitted to use bus lanes in London to ensure this priority is successful. Approval is required from the Department of Transport (DfT) in order to change this regulation.

The Mayor, and TfL, receives many requests from motorcyclists to be allowed to use bus lanes across London. TfL has also discussed this issue with the motorcycle organisations and while we understand their reasons for wanting motorcyclists to use bus lanes, there are concerns over the impacts of existing users of these facilities, particularly in terms of the safety for users such as cyclists.

As a result we have introduced three pilot studies, with approval from the DfT, to help inform the London and national debate on whether or not to allow motorcycles to use bus lanes.

Motorcycle, Bus, Taxi and Bike Lane from UK

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Scooter Lanes Controversy Hits Camden

"Kolley Kibber" writes: Planning permission has been given to a motorised scooter lane on Fortess Road. After months of campaigning Betty Tingwell, a local senior citizen, and Sheila Bow, whose five-year-old son was knocked down by a scooter in January, have persuaded Camden Council to build a pathway specifically designed for motorised scoters. The path will run from Ashton Court Retirement Home, Ascham Street to Hampstead Heath bowling green taking in parts of Fortess Road and Highgate Road. The Council finally yielded after five hundred people signed a partition in support of the project. Betty Tingwell was delighted with the result and spoke out for retirement communities everywhere. "I am so tired of having to weave in and out, people walk incredibly slowly. I urge other scooter users in London and anywhere else for that matter to push for the cause, you can change things for the better" Mrs Bow was just relieved to be able to walk with her son in safety. "Ashton Court is a particularly expensive home. All the residents have money to spend and it seems many of them choose to spend it on these blasted scooters. The streets round are packed with scooterists many of which drive dangerously fast and a lot of the drivers can't see very well."

Major Intersection in China - Note the Bicycle/Scooter Lane

Motorcycle Lane Highway Ramp

Sunday, December 30, 2007