Pain makes me think harder about avoiding pain. To whit, I had some thoughts about biking in the suburbs last sunday while biking in the suburbs. These are all about enabling bikable scale activities to occur within the much larger matrix of traffic-dependent suburbia.
My first thought was that all road signs should have a smaller orientation sign, sized to be read at 5-15 MPH, that says if the cross street goes to another named street, how far to that street, and how much hill climbing is involved. Put this on every street sign at every intersection, and the suburbs become a lot more useful for bikers unfamiliar with those particular roads.
Second is that developments should offer pass-throughs at the back of their parking lots to connect to adjacent parking lots. Landowners could be free to put cameras on the gates, even put gates that open and close. Being able to cross mid-block would be a tremendous help to bikers trying to move at an automotive scale, and it would keep them out of traffic moving at 45 MPH.
Third, all medians should be bike mountable, especially where there’s a cross street. The curb could even be built up into bollards next to the crossover. The crossover doesn’t have to be a crossover or a crosswalk, really, just go from vertical 6” curb to slanted mountable curb for six feet or do, and I’ll be happier. The current model is that raised medians are used to enforce traffic behavior, with no though given to the ability of bikers to cross the streets.
I already know the objections of the DOTs and MUTCD commitee to this. Their objections are in the context of traffic only, which is why I mentioned things that make them bike or walk scaled, not traffic scaled. If we are going to afford the transportation of tomorrow, and let it give us freedom of choice as well as of mobility, then we had better figure out how to build for more than just traffic.