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Interesting thought re cars/cyclists/etc.(60 posts)

Interesting thought re cars/cyclists/etc.Dog
Dec 10, 2001 7:31 AM
Auto drivers become irritated when cyclists, while riding on public roads, slow them, cause them worry while passing, or actually get in the way. Cyclists counter that they have a right to the roads, same as the cars, so basically, "live with it."

Then bike paths were created. Not long after, they were redesignated "multi-use paths," or something equivalent.

Soon, cyclists were becoming irritated that pedestrians, while walking, jogging, or blading on the public bike paths, slow them, cause them worry while passing, or actually get in the way. Pedestrians counter that they have a right to the paths, same as the bikes, so basically, "live with it."

Where to from here?

re: Interesting thought re cars/cyclists/etc.morey
Dec 10, 2001 7:36 AM
basically, you are right. I will not ride in a multi-use park on weekends because it is crowded with in-liners, joggers, and for me, worst of all - Kids. I have found a few Rails-to-trails that are great. But, you are right-What are we to do?
Dec 10, 2001 7:41 AM
It seems we have acquired the same mindset as drivers concerning "their" roads. Dedicate single use roads/paths?
Dec 10, 2001 8:03 AM
This would be ridiculous. In-liners probably hate bikers, joggers, and walkers, who in turn hate each other. Dedicated single use paths would require one for walkers, joggers, etc. etc. I do not know how to solve this conundrum!
I've got an ideacyclinseth
Dec 10, 2001 8:15 AM
no motorvehiles anywhere except for hiways. This motorvehicle-centric society we live in absolutely insane!!!

I know I'm getting off the subject a little, but what is an unacceptable failure rate? 50,000 murders per year in the US alone. Do you think we'd see any VCRs or toaster ovens if they had that kind of record?

Thank God I've got my therapy appointment this afternoon.

I think I'm going back to school to study the psychgology of motorists, motorvehicle enthusiasts (who are a complete mystery to me) and motorvehicle culture.
I agreefishwheel
Dec 10, 2001 9:51 AM
why is it that the right to an automobile is sacred. Think about how much money goes into road repair to facilitate urban sprawl. Anything else that was this dangerous would require a lot more regulation and restrictions.
Dec 10, 2001 8:21 AM
an interesting point

I think it's about what and how you think of as 'cycling'. Multi-use paths are generally fine for commuting and non-serious riding. In the Netherlands it is common for bladers and even mopeds to use bike lanes - but it's rare to see anybody in the lane that can't keep or may (greatly) exceed the speed of a Dutch cyclist (on a big Dutch bike). They don't stay there for long if they can't...

When I have ridden in NL I totally change the way I ride - it's very relaxing, not fast and certainly not a workout. This approach makes cycling an accessible way of life.

As for car drivers - I think serious education about other road users who have a right to use public space and infrastructure is key. Also, making a driver automatically 50% liabile for any accident with a pedestrian or cyclist will change the way drivers use the road.

Having said all this - problems must be dealt with locally as urban v suburban v rural cycling all present unique problems and require bespoke solutions.

Driving, and cycling is a privilege not a right.
Dec 10, 2001 9:58 AM
MJ's right. It all depends on what you regard as cycling. I'd have to guess that most of us on this board ride at an average speed of between 15-22 mph. That's a very narrow range, which is too fast for pedestians and casual bike riders, yet too slow for motor vehicles. The average joe out for a ride on a bike path may be cruising at 7 or 8 mph and can avoid pedestrians (or they can avoid him). We're out to push ourselves, accumulate mileage, and enjoy the thrill of speed. Those attributes don't mix with bike paths.
Unfortunately, they often don't mix with roads, either. Drivers use roads for transportation, which they frequently regard as a necessary evil. If you just need to get from Point A to Point B, you may get upset at something that represents an impediment (like a farm vehicle, road construction, or cyclists). If you're out to enjoy your BMW, you may feel the same way when you encounter a cyclist that we do when we come to a stop sign.
Too many of us don't pay enough attention to stop signs, and too many drivers don't pay enough attention to us.
Let's face it, we want roads to be dual-purpose: transportation and recreation. But I don't know that there are enough of us to provide the economic justification needed to make roads safe for both purposes. And as for more people switching from cars to bikes if the roads were safer? Forget it. It'd never happen, and even if it did, we'd complain about that, too, unless everyone on those bikes was riding 15-22 mph!
Fundamental questionscottfree
Dec 10, 2001 8:11 AM
Bike paths are, in general, a bad idea. Bikes should be on roads, in traffic. Bike riders should learn to operate in traffic safely, efficiently and (to the extent possible) without unduly annoying or freaking out motorists.

Bike paths do not encourage development of such skills, force bikes to interact with pedestrians, bladers and others that are less predictable than cars, reinforce in the minds of motorists that bikes should be somewhere other than roads ("Hey, you have a bike path to ride on, what more do you want, get off my road!") and in fact are the worst of all possible worlds for cycling and cyclists.
no, dog, we all live with it, or we take up track riding. It'sbill
Dec 10, 2001 8:22 AM
a big, messy world, and I'm not sure what else there is to say about it.
I really don't mind the multi-use trails. I kind of like them. I know what I'm in for, hazards and all, and I know that there are stretches where I have to slow for bikes, bladers, runners, strollers, etc., and stretches where I can go miles in an urban area without worrying about cars and such. I personally get a kick out of seeing everyone out having a good ol' time. My average speed on my computer may be slow because all of the stopping and starting, but constantly accelerating up to speed is training, too, right? Riding on the road is a different sort of fun, with a different set of hazards, and I like both.
I thought that they were always indicated as "multi-use" pathscyclinseth
Dec 10, 2001 8:05 AM
to begin with. But in any case, our society as it is now designed is totally upside down. Currently the hierarchy is AUTOMOBILE-UBER-ALLES. Anybody else be damned to eternity in hell. Where as in a sane society, all else should defer to the pedestrian with the motorist at the bottom of an ideally up-side-down pyramid. But to answer your question, just as we expect motorist to "just deal with it" I think as cyclists we should accomodate and defer to our fellow non-motorvehilists. Paths in my mind, are for connecting one area to another on a human scale, not neccessarily a race track.

However, there is no excuse for rollerbladers. They are truly a menace to everyone.

I wish society would wake up to the tyranny of the automobile that we live under.
roller bladersfishwheel
Dec 10, 2001 10:10 AM
However, there is no excuse for rollerbladers. They are truly a menace to everyone.

Including themselves. My wife tried rollerblading last year (despite my advice)and broke her wrist. I did a little research on prevention and found that the CDC was concerned with rollerblades as a public safety issue. The accident rate is very very high for a noncompetitive activity, and there is no interest in safety by users and manufacturers. The jury is still out on whether or not wrist guards are actually very helpful.

My thought on why its dangerous. To ride a bike you have to know how to ride a bike, but roller blading doesn't seem to have this limitation.
Live with it! nmMel Erickson
Dec 10, 2001 8:55 AM
Go back to what's right...KEN2
Dec 10, 2001 9:45 AM
The big difference between your two scenarios is that . There are good reasons for this... visit for a hard-core advocacy earful on this whole topic. No matter what misinformed motorists may think, the fact is that by their nature bicycles are wheeled vehicles and can be operated much more safely among other vehicles than among pedestrians and pedestrian-like conveyances, whose distinguishing characteristic that does not mix well with vehicles is their ability to instantly change direction.

Do you bow to social pressures and bullies in other areas of your life? Then why let such bogus considerations decide where you will or will not ride *legally*? There are certainly methods to cycle more safely on the roads and in traffic, called effective cycling or vehicular cycling (see ).
Tyranny of the majorityDavid Feldman
Dec 10, 2001 10:23 AM
When the same relationship occurs between groups that exists between drivers and cyclists words are used such as "oppressors" and "terrorists" to describe the party in the position that drivers are in. No question--drivers have become social bullies, in a position of gross overprivilege and underregulation. Remember, the police should treat every driver like a king--a Rodney king!
or turn it aroundfishwheel
Dec 10, 2001 9:47 AM
As a cyclist I am annoyed (and scared) by cars that throw caution to the side and put my safety in question by passing too close cutting me off etc.. As a pedestrian on a sidewalk(or multi use trail), I am annoyed and scared by bicyclists that ride fast around blind corners, expect everyone to get out of their way etc. As someone who likes to hike in the woods I am annoyed and and scaraed by mountain bikers who ride recklessly in areas that have a lot of foot traffic.

The bottom line is that everyone should be concerned with the safety of others first, and their fictitious right to speed second. If you want to ride without worrying about pedestrians and roller bladers, you probably need to ride on the road. If you are to afraid of cars you should ride on a path ( but safely and a little slower). If you are ad river that hates cyclists slowing them down all the time, you shouldn't have a license because your mindset proves you are not socially responsible enough to respect the rules that attempt to minimize the casualties from your 2000 pound weapon.
Yep...what if you were in XX's shoes?kenyee
Dec 10, 2001 10:48 AM
Good post.

Picture yourself as what you're not for a minute.
Picture yourself as a pedestrian.
Picture yourself as a roller blader.
Picture yourself as a driver.
Picture yourself as a motorcyclist.

Everyone needs to be more considerate of others instead of being so self-centered. I agree it's a cycling forum, but there are so many posts that are self-centered:
cars/SUVs are gas hogs and always have bad drivers
pedestrians are erratic on MUTs
roller bladers are erratic
kids are erratic
pets are erratic
MTBers are too slow and erratic
newbie cyclists are too slow and erratic

Everyone seems concerned w/ nowadays. Unfortunately, the outcome when you have an incident w/ something larger can be deadly (and then the driver will have to worry about jail time and lawsuits). Or if you run over a kid while cycling and kill the kid.
Words everyone should live by: Be considerate. Be safe.
Me? Self centered?Ahimsa
Dec 10, 2001 5:16 PM
"SUVs are gas hogs"

Yep, I said that. I'd say that is a fact and it has no relation to your other assertations.

I'll say it again just for laffs: "Great big, eight person seating, over sized underused cargo space equipped, offroad four wheel drive vehicles with huge engines that waste petroleum, only to be used to drive one or two people around an urban area are STUPID."

I'm sorry if you own one and feel attacked here. I suppose I'm just self centered.

Drive on.


you're the one who feels attackedkenyee
Dec 10, 2001 5:39 PM
That msg wasn't meant toward you.

I'll let you figure out the implications of that.
You are an amusing one for sure...Ahimsa
Dec 10, 2001 7:02 PM
Implications? What? I'm paranoid now too? OH NO! You're out to get me. AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You kill me man. Fuuuuuunny!

You really got all of us analyzed. I remember your assault rifle posts awhile back too. Yeesh.

Listen, these are just message board toss offs. No big deal, eh? No one here is gonna change the world, or "help someone with their problems". Dig?

Half the time you misinterpret someone's post. The other half you generally take a flipant remark as some kind of political statement. Relax.

SUVs suck. Bicyclists are great. Tea is nice. Zealots are scary. I'm on occasion prone to zealotry. So is everyone. Life moves on. We laugh.


as are youkenyee
Dec 11, 2001 7:48 AM
Ever show that post to your coworkers?
I'd love to hear what they said about you :-)
You are an amusing one for sure...Ahimsa
Dec 10, 2001 7:50 PM
Implications? What? I'm paranoid now too? OH NO! You're out to get me. AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You kill me man. Fuuuuuunny!

You really got all of us analyzed. I remember your assault rifle posts awhile back too. Yeesh.

Listen, these are just message board toss offs. No big deal, eh? No one here is gonna change the world, or "help someone with their problems". Dig?

Half the time you misinterpret someone's post. The other half you generally take a flipant remark as some kind of political statement. Relax.

SUVs suck. Bicyclists are great. Tea is nice. Zealots are scary. I'm on occasion prone to zealotry. So is everyone. Life moves on. We laugh.


Aaah double posts! Now there's two of me! Heh heh heh. [nm]Ahimsa
Dec 10, 2001 7:51 PM
Dec 11, 2001 1:45 AM
I can even hear hammers.
Kenyee nailed it (-wanna make sure that gets read the right way)Leisure
Dec 11, 2001 1:50 AM
Critical Mass... the can of wormsTig
Dec 10, 2001 10:20 AM
Like most or all of us here, I fully support responsible bicycle use on public roads. That's a no-brainer. Having been run over once makes it a bit personal as well. We all know that far too many drivers take chances with our lives when they don't see us or react negatively towards us. There are wise ways of handling this conflict. I can understand some of Critical Mass's anger, but can't support their methods.

I ran across this link this morning and the videos of a motorist vs. cyclists clash disturbed me for many different reasons. I was ticked at both parties for their brash anger and violence. These aggressive riders possibly representing all riders in some motorist's and law enforcement officer's eyes could be damaging beyond all repair. You need to watch "part 1" and "part 2" to understand what I mean, as well as recall the negative press these events received.
We are all CM riders whether we think so or notHarry Hall
Dec 10, 2001 12:20 PM
Cycle Oregon, Seattle to Portland, their equivalent rides in your area, USCF races, disease rides, whatever--bicyclists in groups annoy a certain number of drivers by our/their very existence. Critical Mass won't make it any worse and only the motoring environment changing to where
drivers have to actually obey traffic laws and maybe even pay real-world prices for gasoline will make it any better.
The problem isn't how to improve the behavior of bicyclists it's how to control the behavior and roll back the excess of privilege enjoyed by MOTOR vehicle users. May we get our asses handed to us in the coming Middle Eastern oil war--we deserve it!
I strongly disagreebrider
Dec 10, 2001 2:33 PM
Critical Mass is a subset of cyclists, and a small minority at that. You say we're ALL critical massers. Wrong! There is a fundamental difference. It's called respect for the rules of the road. USCF races have rolling road closures, where the goal is to pass through as quickly as possible while providing for the safety of both motorists and riders. ALL mass rides (I've done STP twice, RAMROD 3 times, several other mass rides) include an emphasis to ALL THE RIDERS that we are to obey the rules of the road (as far as enforcing a 35mph speed limit on the descents from Mount Rainier). Critical Mass' intent is to lock up the roads as long as possible and flagrantly diregard the rules of the road. How does this garner respect? I believe Critical Mass has done more to set cyclists back in the minds of motorists. You wanted to elevate the awareness of cyclists in the minds of motorists? Well congrats, you've accomplished that. Now they're all LOOKING for us so they can run us down. This isn't an issue of who deserves it. It's an issue of COEXISTENCE and MUTUAL respect.
Come to the State where the In-line Skate was invented.Scot_Gore
Dec 10, 2001 10:23 AM

I live in Minneapolis. Here, in the areas where there are high volumes of both pedestrian and bike traffic the city is trying to build two trails where possible.

We have a highly utilizied chain of lakes park system in the city. Around the three most popular lakes there is a dedicated pedestrian (and their pets) path and a seperate path for bikes, bladers, ski skaters, etc. Don't get me wrong, these are high volume areas regardless, so the difference between your 8 mph biker and your 18 mph biker still has effects. But, as a resident I appreciate what the cities trying to do, and I live with it.

In areas where the utilization is not so high it's still "multi-use" trail. But in those areas my experience is that there enough breathing room for the cyclist.

I would place Minnesota in the top 5 bike friendly US states. Many cities in the metro area have extensive trail networks and we have 100s of miles of rail to trail throughout the region and Wisconsin is right next door with 100s more.
Depends on how you define "Bike-friendly"KEN2
Dec 10, 2001 11:22 AM
I don't consider what you describe to be particularly "bike friendly;" these measures are more "motorist friendly." The trail networks and rail-to-trail conversions you describe simply cater to the motorist agenda of "get bikes off the roads and out of my sight."

I describe bike-friendly as vigorous enforcement of all vehicle laws, including speed limits (routinely exceeded by 10-15 mph almost everywhere), harassing behavior by motorists, and, yes, blowing off stop signs and other unlawful behavior by cyclists. I'd like to hear from others who can make a case on these terms for their region or city being bike-friendly...
Depends on how you define "friendly"!!!!!!!cioccman
Dec 10, 2001 11:32 AM
I don't describe any place that only allows for any outdoor activity whatsoever but for less than six months a year as friendly at all!!!! :)

I need sun and ocean and golf and cycling year around. Temps down to the 40's unless I've traveled there with skiis are not friendly in my opinion! :)
Depends on how you define "friendly"!!!!!!!Scot_Gore
Dec 10, 2001 11:59 AM
It's true!!!!

Our trails have always been multi-use, with the user determined by the number of inches of snow on the surface.

We have plenty of outdoor activity in the winter but most of it requires skis, skates, sleds or (if your inclined to motors) snowmobiles.

By the way, if it gets to 40 we take off our coats and talk about what a nice day it is. :)
Depends on how you define "friendly"!!!!!!!Scot_Gore
Dec 10, 2001 12:33 PM
I forgot to mention.....

I'm not one of them, but plenty of folks ride year round here.

I find myself at stoplights checking out the ride and the clothing to see what it takes to bike in sub-zero. I have an very short commute (1.1 miles) and flirt with the idea of joining in. But, MAN IT LOOKS COLD !!!!

If one you sub-zero bikers is out there, chime in with your experience.
sub-zero ridingguido
Dec 10, 2001 1:58 PM
One mile? Put on your stocking cap, wrap a scarf around your chin, big sweater under your parka, snow mittens, an extra pair of socks, goggles or eyeglasses, and go! You'll be there before you even get warmed up.
cold ain't so bad...ohio
Dec 10, 2001 2:02 PM
In fact when it gets cold enough the black ice turns nice and sticky, like your tongue to a telephone pole...

You can always add more clothes; it's the road conditions that make winter commuting crappy. freezing rain, while car splash through slush puddles kinda sucks, while I used to have a blast back in school getting to my winter classes plowing through 6 inches of fresh snow on the sidewalks. Note: this was on a very bike friendly college campus, and with that much snow I couldn't go fast enough to hurt anyone, even myself. If I took a digger it was in soft, soft pow. Now I confine myself to the roadways...
It's only cold on the outsidefishwheel
Dec 11, 2001 9:38 AM
.....outside my body that is. Admittedly I do less recreational riding inthe winter, but I still commute daily (8 miles each way now) and ride for fun occasionally. Ever ridden your bike for 5 miles in 8 inches of fresh powder, trust me you won't be too cold. My biggest problem from winter cycling (when there's good snow) is my jaw gets sore from the stupid grin I have on my face. One really cool thing when the snow gets deep is parking the bike just stays up whenever you stop. When it gets close to 0 F it does hurt a little for the first few miles.

I like living in temperate areas. Winter can be a drag at times, but it keeps away alligators and most poisonous snakes and bugs plus it's a lot of fun.

It just isn't that cold out there.
It's only cold on the outside,guido
Dec 11, 2001 12:00 PM
That's what people don't realize. Working generates a large amount of heat that trapped between your skin and layers of clothing, warms you up very quickly. Rode home one February afternoon from a friend's house as a heavy, wet snow started falling. About half way the snow started to accumulate on the road, and build up a nice layer on my jersey long sleeves. I kept shaking it off until I realized I was warmer the more it built up. Igloo effect. Snow built up on front derailleur, preventing downshift into small ring until I scraped away the slush. Snow stayed wet on road surface, so had no traction problems. Imagine mountain bike knobbies or even 700c cyclocross would be fine on dry, flaky snow or hardpack on roads.
Depends on how you define "Bike-friendly"Scot_Gore
Dec 10, 2001 4:48 PM

I was waiting to see if anyone else waded in with "Bike-Friendly" city examples. None so far, so I'll jump back in.

Check out this link:

You'll see 5 year plans for incorporating the bike into the cities transportation system and planning. I think the cities making a legitmate effort to make the bike a valid commuting option. It's a worthy effort for a place that (as was pointed out above) gets cold and multi-inch snowfalls are the norm, not the exception.

See if you there's anything that you like.

What's the weather like in, say, Feb.? (nm)grzy
Dec 11, 2001 9:43 AM
re: Find a Velodrome...Tylerman
Dec 10, 2001 10:24 AM
But then the experienced riders would gripe about the slower people below the pass line, who would have to drop into the infield and would gripe about the kids riding the wrong way...And then the recumbent riders would show up and everything would go to hell.

Unfortunately you are talking about a major rededication to cycling by the city council, which is the equivalent to pedalling backwards on an incline. And if by some miracle you can convince your councilmen to do something, here comes Dean Kamen shilling his new toy which needs it own dedicated path because it's faster than Joe Walkabout but slower than Peter Pedalmeister. Oh the confusion!

BTW, my truck has 6 fork blocks and gets 12 mpg, so I am constantly caught in a dilemma with my buddies since I can haul everyone and their steed, but at what cost?!?!?!
simple--slow moving traffic stays to the rightgtx
Dec 10, 2001 10:26 AM
This is a very simple principle, it's just that Amercians have a real problem with it--whether it's people driving 55 in the left lane on the freeway, people letting their kids ride their trike right down the middle of the bike path, etc. Americans also don't know how to pass, and they aren't very good drivers--that's why you get traffic backed up behind bikes (who, as you said, are sometimes actually blocking the road). I've lived and done quite a bit of riding in Italy and never had any issues with cars over there, simply because everyone obeys this very simple law--slow traffic stays to the right. Try going slow in the left lane or blocking traffic in Italy and see what happens--you'll find a Mercedes with it's horn blaring and high beams on rammed up your @ss at 200kph.
Hmmm....observations from the Front LinesGreg Taylor
Dec 10, 2001 10:58 AM
I live/commute in a fairly dense urban area (I work in Wash. D.C. and live over in Virginia) and I've had a chance to watch the dynamics on our local bike trail/multi-use path along the Potomac River (The Mt. Vernon Trail). This bike trail (yes, it is marked as a "bike trail") parallels the George Washington Parkway, which is a major thorofare and commuter artery in the area.

- During the weekday, it is a godsend for those of us that want to commute by bike. Simply put, I couldn't commute by bike if it weren't for the bike trail. The roads into Washington are 4 lane divided highway (no shoulder) that run at 60 mph. I'd be toast if I tried.

- During the weekday, the path is mostly occupied by "serious" cyclists who are commuting in. During "nice" weather, you get a higher level of joggers, rollerbladers, etc. during the evening ride home. Momentarily annoying, but still far less aggravating that braving traffic in a you live with it.

- During the weekend, however, you won't find a serious cyclist caught dead on most parts of the Mt. Vernon bike trail. It's too dangerous. There are too many people with too few brain cells engaged to ride a bike at more than a gentle roll. Unless we start an agressive plan to depopulate the DC Metro area (and as a multi-generation native to the region, it is a measure that I would strongly support -- and I'm willing to help make the tough decisions on who stays and who goes), there is probably nothing that we could do to keep these "interlopers" off of "our" bike trail. Not that we really want to anyway, because there are other, better options for riding on the weekend.

-- So, the answer is obvious. On the weekends we get a group together and ignore the path next to the Parkway, and go and ride on the Parkway itself. Weekend traffic is light, making it a safer and more entertaining proposition.

-- This, however, recently engendered an editorial in the Alexandra Gazette bemoaning the fact that there were "still" bikes on the Parkway after the Park Service had poured money into a repaving project for the Mt. Vernon trail. The response to the editorial and, indirectly, the repaving project? If anything, the number of bikes on the Parkway itself has increased on the weekend....
Do you "Stop and Dismount Before Crossing"?MB1
Dec 10, 2001 11:51 AM
Like all the signs at intersections direct cyclists to on the Mt.Vernon bike trail?

Sure, Don't You?! And I Also Strictly Observe....Greg Taylor
Dec 10, 2001 12:37 PM
...the 15 mph speed limit at all times, just like you. (HAH!) Lordy, lordy, lordy...nothing but a bunch of scofflaws around here.
It all has to do with the idiots who are faster than you . . .Scott B
Dec 10, 2001 12:12 PM
and the morons who are slower than you :-) But the problem isn't even solved when roads, as opposed to paths, are closed to vehicular traffic. Take Beach Drive, in Northwest DC, for example. On weekends, this two lane windy road is closed in stretches for most of about 4 1/2 to 5 miles. You would think this would be the perfect place to do some speed work on a bike, but the problem is there are so many bladers, hikers, kids learning to ride, and dog walkers (with dogs either not on a leash or on a 20 yard long leash) all taking advantage of this open space, that it's not safe to really "motor" there either. The road is very windy, so you might be doing 20+ and come around a corner directly into mommy, daddy, and a 5 year old taking up an entire traffic lane or more. Don't get me wrong, I understand this is the perfect place to teach kids to ride, but it's really the closest thing to a dedicated bike area (or should be) that I can think of. The road continues on past the "closed to vehicular traffic area" and is a signed bike route, but you still get the occasional idiots in cars who yell at you to get off the road and onto the path that parallels the road most of the way. All this despite the fact that the posted speed limit is either 20 or 25 mph. I simply won't ride the multi-use paths on weekends, and when I'm forced to, I want to clothesline the idiot bikers who weave in and out at speed, thinking it's their private path.
re: peaceful coexistenceguido
Dec 10, 2001 1:45 PM
Americans are spoiled. Motorists don't want cyclists to contend with, cyclists don't want cars or pedestrians to deal with, ad nauseum. On route 1 in Vietnam back during the war, the largest vehicle had the right of way in any given situation. All others just got out of the way. Never saw an accident on route 1, full of army trucks, cars, mopeds, 3 wheeled motor jitneys, bicycles, donkeys and cows loaded down with cargo or pulling wagons, walkers carrying loads across their backs. In Jamaica, I'm told, the cops throw the book at motorists who hit cyclists or any of the other "slow moving vehicles." Transportation arteries going in or out of every third world city are heavily populated with all kinds of traffic. But here, well meaning planners try to separate motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians by building limited access high speed expressways and "bike paths." And frankly, that shows the extent of their view of cycling as a transportation mode.

Taking what I learned about how the Vietnamese share the roads, I've had no problems cycling around LA, DC, Dallas, or Longview-Kilgore-Tyler in East Texas. You travel on the old grid of streets layed before automobiles could go faster than 45mph. Speed and traffic density is not an issue: you can negotiate the course easily at 10-15mph with hardly an interruption. You go right through traffic jams. If you have to, you can even go on the sidewalk or cut through a square or a park. You have the best of both worlds: at one moment you can behave like a pedestrian, another like a wheeled vehicle. You have the most options of any transportation mode.

Smug in this knowledge, why would any cyclists wish for a network of roadways only for his use? "Bikepaths" turned out to meet a pent-up demand for parks and places people can walk, take the baby out in a stroller, run and roller blade, and ride a bike. The fact that they are so crowded on weekends means that many more of them should be built, which is happening.

We've long seen the limitations of car travel, and now air travel. Our country is sufficiently populated that a rail system will eventually be economically feasible. The savings on energy and land use would be significant. Travelers just have to get used to multi-modal transportation: bike-train-bike, or car-train-metro-bus-walk, or bike-bus-metro-bike, even bike-fly-bike!

Over-powered cars foster impatience and ever higher speeds, which many of us take over into our cycling. We go as fast as we can, all the time, with the lightest equipment, and our ability to speed makes us proud. But commuting or running errands need not be that way. We can all, cars, bikes, skaters, walkers, be patient and considerate of one another, accomodate a less than perfect world, and think out of the box.
re: peaceful coexistenceKEN2
Dec 10, 2001 2:34 PM
Sorry, but you're position controverts any pretense of the bicycle as a law-abiding vehicle, something I'm not willing to give up without a fight. I don't want bike lanes or bike paths or "a network of roadways for my own use." I want respect for my right to use the public roads as a bicyclist, and I'm willing to earn that respect by acting as a vehicle that follows the largely predictable patterns of interactions among vehicles. You're idea of ad hoc riding on your own terms ("go right through traffic jams," "go on the sidewalk or cut through..." negates the bicycle-as-vehicle and essentially gives the right to motorists to treat us as lawless and unpredictable.

And the supposed Vietnamese principle sounds suspiciously like a US might-is-right edict grafted onto your Route 1. In any case, its logical ramifications are that my SUV trumps your Yogo trumps Joe's motorcycle trumps Jane's bicycle... so shall we just assert our rights to the road based on size? If the purpose of laws is to ensure civil order, this sounds like a recipe for anarchy on all our roads.
re: anarchy on the roadsguido
Dec 10, 2001 8:58 PM
I don't mean to suggest anarchy on the roads, but merely the idea of mutual respect of all road users, just what you are saying. Obviously when an SUV comes up from behind on a two lane road, you can't get off the road, but you can get over as far to the right as practical, and if the SUV hangs and the coast is clear, motion the SUV to pass.

You don't "ride on your own terms." You ride on the terms of the road, just like you would drive a car or walk. That's all I'm trying to say. The laws give us the right to the road. All we have to do is assert that right, and its actually pretty nice out there. We don't get caught in gridlock, and can take footpaths, options not available traveling by car.
Dec 10, 2001 2:53 PM
Of course everyone is annoyed/pissed off - we all want our needs solved above everyone else's. It all has to do with the "me" attitude that is so fashionable in 21st century America. Hell, if we don't like something we sue. Ultimately no one realy likes to share when they can have the whole pie.

The drivers of cars ave to get used to the idea that they don't own the damn road. Easier said than done. Bikes belong on the road due to their speed. It's critical that cyclists uphold their end of the deal and operate under the same set of rules. Easier said than done. Bike paths are nice for casual riding but it's not pracitcal to try and contain a group carnking along at a stiff pace. It's irresponsible to be racing along a bike path knowing that there are other users out there. Easier said......

The pedestrians and people with kids need to be protected from the cyclists, the cyclists need to be protected from the cars. It's all a matter of speed, manuverabilty, and who winds up suffering the most injuries (not that any bike wreck is a nice thought). Cars have the upper hand b/c they never lose.

As I see it the real problem is that bikes aren't considered a viable means of transportation and that most roads are not well designed. It is compounded by the fact that cyclists don't fully accept the responsibilities of being on the road. The "live with it" attitude is just blind reinforcment of the status quo and doesn't acknowledge the possibility that things can be improved. Just like our country took on the whole drunk driving issue we could achieve change with cars vs. bikes with education and legislation. The recent legal victories on bikes vs. cars is an encouraging sign, but it isn't the solution since it only comes after an unfortunate accident.

Ever notice how some people never get in "accidents" while others can't seem to avoid them?
One Culprit Is Real Estate Development...Greg Taylor
Dec 10, 2001 7:30 PM
One of the things that has happened here outside of DC is that an emphasis has been placed upon moving high volumes of traffic generated by the wall-to-wall suburban development that has occured here -- the REAL root of the problem in our neck of the woods, if you ask me. Some of our better bike routes are being killed by the volume of traffic that new housing developments generate. They turn once quiet roads into major commuter arteries. Hell, I was actually sad to see a local federal prison (Lorton) close down because the land was sold off for development. More damn houses and traffic. It was an old-style prison farm and was situated on a pretty piece of land. The thing that boggles my mind is that these new houses are being built in the shadow of a landfill and hazardous waste incinerator, which was located adjacent to the prison (Ok, Lorton Prison isn't REALLY a pastoral is, however, one of the larger tracts of undeveloped land in the area now in private hands). Ok for prisoners, but would YOU live there? It tells you something about the state of things when new houses are being built next door to a trash dump.

One hopeful development has occured on a loop that I like to ride. There is some major road reconstruction going on to (gag) accomodate a batch of new housing developments. A bike lane has sprouted up! It's obviously not designed by a person that rides, but the mere fact that bike traffic was taken into consideration at all is a great step forward...
Dec 11, 2001 9:36 AM
Well given that no politician in his/her right mind is going to rein in real estate development in the name of biking what do you suggest? I guess I don't see real estate development as the real cause - it's the symptom. Many people want a new house full of new things so they can drive their new SUV to their new job - hey, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. You're not agains the American Dream and owning your own home are you? If you are then it smacks of NIMBYism. So given that we as Americans have this burning urge to control and reshape the land, one has to accept that development happens. I'd say that a more thoughtful approach would involve planning the development, but nobody wants to talk about it or spend the money and time. Ain't no way you can live outside a large metro area and the nation's capital and expect it to stay serene and pastorial - it's not realisitic. If you want to live in the sticks then go live in the sticks.. Just don't expect things to stay stagnant in an urban environment. I honestly don't think you can have it both ways. Ultimately it's not the development that's the problem - it's the fact that they don't do anything to upgrade the roads. I'm pretty sure they don't have this problem in rural Iowa
The housing and the jobs/stores are too far apartbikedodger
Dec 11, 2001 9:48 AM
Zoning plays a part in the traffic messes that seem to get worse every year. The housing that is built is far away from any jobs and shopping areas. Walking/biking is not usually an option as the distances are too far for most people.

Back before cars became cheap and used by most people, the housing had to be near the jobs and there were samll stores on almost every block. This is no longer the case and cars are a must have for most people.

sprawl and how to deal with it...guido
Dec 11, 2001 2:01 PM
There are a few nice roads I can't ride on now, because of the heavy traffic built up on them by developers. As in NVA, the nice country roads developers build their neighborhoods off of, aren't usually widened until a few years after the residents have moved in. It's hardly ever the other way around.

The upside is that these roads eventually get seamless shoulders, because ISTEA mandates shoulders as bicycle friendly, and they come with the federal funding. I've seen everything on shoulders, from abandoned cars to broken beer bottles, even dreaded rumble strips, but all a cyclist needs is a shoulder, and everyone's happy.

The denser the population, the thicker the traffic, the slower it flows, to a point, now true in every major city, where getting from point to point within a 6 mile radius on a bicycle is as fast, if not faster, than by car, bus or rail.

The new urban planners are trying to get developers onto the idea that more compact population centers, surrounded by parks or green space, with pedestrian-bike paths, bus and rail service as well as roads, is the energy efficient way to go. This is pretty much the way cities were in the twenties, before everybody had a car they could drive to their half acre "country estates."

So take heart. Designing a city to be bicycle and pedestrian friendly is now hip amoung urban planners, and cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, San Diego, are showing that it's viable and people like it.
re: Interesting thought re cars/cyclists/etc.davidl
Dec 10, 2001 3:53 PM
On a personal, consciousness-kind of level...

When I rode motorcycles I always thought one of the good things about riding them was developing an increased sense of vigilance. The same thing holds true for cycling. I try to ride as if the sob's are trying to kill me. It's just difficult to keep the edge throughout the whole ride. I have found an increase in the cars passing a little too close lately. Thing is, there's absolutely nothing I can do about it except be grateful I wasn't hit.

The fact is there really is not anything one can do about aggressive or stupid drivers, skaters, joggers, etc. except allow for them. Just face facts that they're going to act that way and adjust accordingly. Take different routes, pretend everytime you have to slow down you have a hard acceleration practice, and so on.

If I let all this get to me, I am renting them space in my head. I am allowing them way too much time and attention when I could be doing something constructive. One thing is to try and take the right action in each case; obey the law, be on the right side of the situation, don't do anything stupid. Have you noticed on this board how many retaliation stories end up as losing propositions - more trouble than they're worth?

All this does not mean that cyclists who like to organize and lobby and so forth should not try to change laws and policies.

I am always better off when I ride hard and watch out for the sob's - they're all trying to kill me !
re: Interesting thought re cars/cyclists/etc.Bernie
Dec 10, 2001 4:32 PM
I think most of us know that bike paths can indeed be more dangerous than the road. Ride the road and just ignore them cars that beep at you cause they're scared to pass. And remember, we indeed live in a screwed up world with plenty of screwed up people who just perceive bikes as irritating flys on the wall. Not everyone sees the beauty of a bike.
Give me bike lanes any day of the week.Leisure
Dec 11, 2001 1:33 AM
Somebody else pointed out one of the last times this issue was raised: when trying to ride the way the law tells you to, cars are angry with you, not watching you, don't give you proper right of way, and basically you are never safe. So he learned to ride the way most of us ride: on the sides of the roads instead of in the lanes, crossing when it's safe and uncrowded instead of going by the lights. I've learned the same thing. For me, safety comes first, and if the law can't figure that out it can go to hell.

As it's already been pointed out, bike lanes don't guarantee safety from cars, but it's a lot safer than staying on the road. Some drivers will be pissed at you for riding slower than traffic, others will be pissed at you for riding with, and still others will be pissed that you're riding faster. They're often all the same drivers. They can't be pleased, they weigh ten to a hundred times what we do, and (in part as a consequence of this) some of them have no qualms about smashing us. The law has yet to figure out that last part. Just avoid cars and hope they reciprocate.
I don't mind if roller bladers want to use the bike lanes, or even joggers for that matter. They may be putting themselves at more risk by being in closer proximity to cars, but I'm not in any more danger if I just ride semi-defensively. Joggers and bladers weigh what I weigh, and are slow enough that I can see them in plenty of time. I ride like I drive, and it doesn't bug me if I have to slow down for a few seconds or say "excuse me" when I come up behind a jogger. In fact, the more people use multi-use paths the better. It'd do a lot to change people's attitudes on their own driving if one in four people used multipaths instead of one in forty. Just think about how many of those joggers are also soccer-moms driving their kids to school in those blasted SUVs (-just one example in several, nothing against soccer moms per se). So, I'll choose tolerance and deal with it.
Give me bike lanes any day of the week.Harry Hall
Dec 11, 2001 9:12 AM
Two things; I'll vote for any politician who has the cojones to even talk about the need to diversify our transportation and, on those times when I have witnessed a car breakin or theft attempt I have done NOTHING, not yelled, not called cops. It is to the advantage of society to have enough folks get cars vandalized or stolen to maybe give up on driving part of the time. THE PROBLEM IS THAT DRIVERS ARE OVERPRIVILIGED AND UNDERCONTROLLED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Give me bike lanes any day of the week.KEN2
Dec 11, 2001 9:44 AM
If "safety comes first," did you know that as a bicyclist you are ten times more likely to be involved in an accident on a multiuse path than you are on the road?

The supposed dangers of riding properly on the roads have been much exaggerated. Sure, we see a few high-profile deaths every year, but extrapolating those to "high danger" when riding on the roads flies in the face of statistical reality. You're more likely to die from a lightning strike or a car hitting you as a pedestrian, than you are from a bicycle/car collision.
I'd want to know where the hard numbers came from.Leisure
Dec 12, 2001 2:51 AM
Even if, for the sake of argument, I was ten times more likely to get hit on a multiuse path, I would still be getting hit by someone/thing that weighs approximately what I weigh going no faster than I am. This is quite different from a car/SUV 10 to 100 times my weight going 2-3 times my speed that will roll right over me. Sorry, but I will still take the multiuse path.

As for getting hit as a pedestrian, when you include my wee childhood years I have spent much more time as a pedestrian than as a bicyclist. I have never even been close to getting hit by a car walking, even as a small child. But in the comparatively small amount of time I've spent on a bike, I've nearly been hit by cars close to a dozen times, and I ride extremely defensively. The guys in my LBS can recount dozens of their own stories of actually getting hit, as can most customers that frequent the store. So far I've seen nothing but the same on this page.

The first law of statistics is that people can make them say whatever they want. For example, a statistician of any particular motivation could look and say that more pedestrians than cyclists in America may get hit per year by cars, selectively leaving out the fact that the average American spends probably 20-100x more time commuting on foot than on a bike. Most people won't have any way of asking about the details. Always read carefully and consider the quality and motives of the source. All parties have their own motives and agendas. Your safety is typically not one of them.
I'd want to know where the hard numbers came from.bikedodger
Dec 12, 2001 8:07 AM
While I do not have a reference available, I have read that the serious accidents related to multiuse paths occur at crossings/intersections with roadways. Those at mid-block are the worst as most just dump the cyclist at an unprotected part of the road.

Statistics can be very iffy in comparing safety between various modes of transportation. Do you use per mile, per trip, per hour, etc. If I fall over because I forgot to unclip at a stop sign and scrape my hand on the pavement, is that an accident? I is never reported to anyone so it certainly doesn't appear in any statistical analysis of cycling accidents.