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Old 08-11-02, 03:50 PM   #1
Inkwolf
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Letter to the editor--for what good it does.

Green Bay, Wisconsin is at the end of two rail-trails (Mountain Bay and Fox River) and probably a third soon, as a right-of-way is being negotiated for the train track from Green Bay to New London.

Consequently, Green Bay is trying to become a little more cyclable. They plan to add lanes to most major streets, over the next 20 years, at the time of normal street maintenance. After my ride to Green Bay, though, I decided to write a letter to the paper based on what I saw there.

I'm pleased that Green Bay is making the effort to be more bike-friendly. But it's going to take more than marking off bike lanes to make Green Bay a good place to cycle. Some serious public education is necessary, since it's clear that neither the cyclists or the motorists in Green Bay know the laws.

And where are they going to learn? I stopped at the Green Bay DMV/DOT this spring to ask about the city and state bike laws. They gave me a 'Bike Safety' coloring book and a pamphlet on wearing helmets. Can't we do better than this? As to the bike lanes which have already been created in Green Bay--there are cars parked over them whenever I see them. Perhaps the city could post some No Parking signs, or slip a friendly warning on some windshields? It's pointless to create bike lanes, only to have bikes weaving in and out of them to avoid parked cars.

For those who don't know, here's a really brief overview of the cycling rules. Bikes ride on the street (NOT the sidewalk!) and they follow the direction of traffic. Bikes must obey traffic signals. Cyclists should ride single file, as close to the right of the lane as is practical. (Note--too far to the right, and you could hit a pedal on the curb and lose control of the bike...similarly, stay out of right-turn lanes if you're going straight, and get in the middle of the lane before a left turn.) Cyclists should use hand signals--ten to one the motorist behind you won't remember what they mean, but they will at least realize that you're planning to do SOMETHING.

Cars are required to leave THREE FEET of clearance when passing a bike. (Another reason not to ride TOO far to the right--if cars have room to squeeze past you without leaving the lane, many will try.)

I'm looking forward to the day when Green Bay will be a safe and pleasant place to bike!


I don't know that anyone will read it, but it would be nice if it helped a little bit. I think Green Bay is going to have to learn the hard way, though. Maybe next time I'm in town I'll soap the words "Bike Lane!" on some windshields....
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Old 08-11-02, 04:10 PM   #2
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Good effort to do your part!

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Cyclists should use hand signals--ten to one the motorist behind you won't remember what they mean, but they will at least realize that you're planning to do SOMETHING.
Now THAT is the truth! I give the right-turn signal by making an L with my left arm, and I'm sure the majority are baffled... our laws were rewritten to allow the more-intuitive "right-arm-pointing-right" signal, but I don't know if I want to re-learn my ingrained habits. Besides, with my arm length, I might be getting snagged on auto antennae as I pass...

I like your overall tone, it's not the typical "everyone is against us" approach.
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Old 08-11-02, 04:29 PM   #3
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Seattle likes to brag on how bike friendly they are when they are not. I guess they think they are because the Burke Gillam trail is one of the first rail to trail projects in the country. But they lack any real bike lanes they have given us a couple of token ones, but none where it is really needed. I find that smalller communities actually have better bike lanes ( maybe due to the federal grants available to them)

[QUOTE]I stopped at the Green Bay DMV/DOT this spring to ask about the city and state bike laws. They gave me a 'Bike Safety' coloring book and a pamphlet on wearing helmets. Can't we do better than this?[QUOTE]

And as long as everybody considers a bike a toy, this is what we are going to see. I once read in the paper how the bicycle was the number one selling toy in the world. Were they considering my toys (Road and cross bikes) neither ones I use as toys but as means of transportation. We need to educate from an early age, that yes you can have lots of fun on a bike, it is a means of transprtation and not a toy. Bike laws should be part of drivers education and included in the drivers test. Now heres one that I think will raise some comments. If you are going to ride in the street, your vehicle should be licensed bike included as should there be some kind of test for knowlege of road rules like for cars. So an endorsment on your license/ID card. Oh yes I don't think the license fee for the vehicle should be as much as for a car.
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Old 08-11-02, 05:26 PM   #4
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Everyone -- Please write letters to newspaper editors, to legislators, to city councilmembers, etc. We can make a difference, and we can make streets safer and more inviting for bicyclists. Joining an advocacy group does not hurt either.
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Old 08-11-02, 07:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Inkwolf
...Green Bay is trying to become a little more cyclable...After my ride to Green Bay, though, I decided to write a letter to the paper based on what I saw there.
Too often, DOT folks don't really know what bicyclists need. They've been taught what motorized vehicles need down to a science, but cyclists are an afterthought. So what they give us is based on one single premise: cars are for serious transportation while bicycles are for recreation. The few who ride bicycles as transportation represent an obscure minority whose needs can't be seriously considered.

In Atlanta, there is a "Stone Mountain - Atlanta Bike Path" which was unveiled as part of the 1996 Olympic hooplah. I live in Stone Mountain and work in Atlanta. If I take the street, I can get to work safely in 60 minutes. If I take the "bike path" I can get to work in about 100 minutes, dodging bus patrons who stand on the path while waiting for the bus at convenient covered benches at bus stops along the path.

Unless serious cyclists speak up, planners will continue to throw doggie biscuits at us and teach us to beg.
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Old 08-11-02, 07:30 PM   #6
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(Great job, Inkwolf!)

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Old 08-11-02, 07:40 PM   #7
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i'm sure it's safe to ride and you have all the trails and roads to yourself on packer sundays.
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Old 08-11-02, 09:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by LittleBigMan

Too often, DOT folks don't really know what bicyclists need. They've been taught what motorized vehicles need down to a science, but cyclists are an afterthought. So what they give us is based on one single premise: cars are for serious transportation while bicycles are for recreation. The few who ride bicycles as transportation represent an obscure minority whose needs can't be seriously considered.
I may have said this before, but just in case nobody heard me, I really think bike paths are built with other motives in mind. Basically, it's just a way to impress the motoring majority by doing something to rid the road of 'those bloody bikes'. Hence there is no thought given to cyclists' needs (either in terms of safety or actually being able to go somewhere).

Unfortunately, too many cycling advocacy groups measure 'success' in terms of how many paths and so on are opened, without ever asking if it has made any real improvement to cycling conditions.
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Old 08-11-02, 10:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris L


I may have said this before, but just in case nobody heard me, I really think bike paths are built with other motives in mind. Basically, it's just a way to impress the motoring majority by doing something to rid the road of 'those bloody bikes'. Hence there is no thought given to cyclists' needs (either in terms of safety or actually being able to go somewhere).
This is so true, bike paths aredesigned mainly with the recreational rider in mind. Here in Seattle we have the Burke Gillam trail which is only good for commuting if you live or work on it. My office is right on the trail but the bus system doesn't get me there so I hardly ever use it. If you ar lucky enough to live on it (pretty high rent district) but work downtown you either have to go way out of your way to find a road with a bike lane (which routes you up and over a hill that is un-necessary or battle your way on a road that people use to avoid the traffic of the freeway so it is full of cranky drivers in a hurry.
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Old 08-12-02, 06:43 PM   #10
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Green Bay is like a lot of cities, and it's the same here in Montreal. While it's true that Quebecers own more bikes than any other canadians, and that Montreal is one of the more cycle-friendly cities (ask anyone who lives in Toronto), we have a long way to go. Early in the summer we have events like the Tour de L'Ile, it's just a big festival event. It's part of the effor to riaise interest in cycling, those events are largely aimed at people who ride once a week and go five miles an hour. The rest of the time, little is done to make cyclists lives easier. There are roads which are in horrible shape, intersections which are dangerous, especially some which intersect with bike paths (although some have been repaired), and bike paths which are utterly useless to anyone going over 5 miles an hour. IMHO it has to be more than just a salutory effort to get people out on some dopey, mass ride with goofy hats, clowns and face-painting. It has to be a sustained effort, not just one big day of activities! It's not just about getting people to ride bikes and wear helmets.
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Old 08-14-02, 12:43 PM   #11
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Looks like my letter might see print...the Press-Gazette just called and asked permission to print it in their People's Forum section.

Doesn't it seem a bit odd that the paper would call and ask to print something you sent them in the hope that it would get printed? I suppose it's to protect them against the chance of someone firing off a drunken rant that they are embarrassed by later, or somebody sending in a letter under someone else's name.
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Old 08-14-02, 01:00 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Inkwolf
Looks like my letter might see print...the Press-Gazette just called and asked permission to print it in their People's Forum section.
I would be interested in seeing it in print. Post the link when it is online
Oh yeah way to go more people need to write the media for our cause. We are part of the solution not the Problem
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Old 08-14-02, 01:29 PM   #13
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Actually, you guys inspired me- I'm going to write an op-ed piece for my local daily, basically saying what I said in the post earlier, how the city has to make an effort to make daily life for cyclists easier. It's not enogh to just have events and then say how great montreal is for cyclists- what with horrible roads, dangerous intersections, abusive motorists. I've written for them before. I don't know yet if they'll accept it- I haven't pitched it yet, but if they do run it I'll let everyone know.
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Old 08-15-02, 08:56 AM   #14
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I write a few letters a year to our local daily on the subject of, bicycle and pedestrian facilities are a waste of money the real necessary improvement that our spineless local government refuses to consider is more stringent enforcement of traffic laws.
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Old 08-19-02, 05:38 AM   #15
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http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/..._5570277.shtml

Well, they printed it--first letter in the Sunday paper, no less! Right above the bible-toting homophobe letter and the make-English-our-official-language letter! I thought it might get buried in the more insane rants that the sensationalistic rag--er, I mean, the most popular local paper--prints during the week.

Of course, they cut out my sarcastic line about motorists and hand signals...too bad, that was the best line in the letter, IMO.
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Old 08-19-02, 06:48 AM   #16
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Originally posted by Inkwolf
http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/..._5570277.shtml

Well, they printed it--first letter in the Sunday paper, no less! Right above the bible-toting homophobe letter and the make-English-our-official-language letter! I thought it might get buried in the more insane rants that the sensationalistic rag--er, I mean, the most popular local paper--prints during the week.

Of course, they cut out my sarcastic line about motorists and hand signals...too bad, that was the best line in the letter, IMO.
Pity about the cuts, but great to get it published
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Old 08-19-02, 10:56 AM   #17
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Letters to the editor often get cut, not so much for content or because they're worried about inflammatory remarks, but relaly for space. The letters they get are often much longer than what you see in the paper!
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Old 08-19-02, 11:25 AM   #18
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Good go, Colette!

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Old 08-20-02, 08:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by ngateguy
This is so true, bike paths aredesigned mainly with the recreational rider in mind. Here in Seattle we have the Burke Gillam trail which is only good for commuting if you live or work on it.
The B-G may have started out being a great bike path but it is no longer just a bike path and as such has become almost useless to people who want to use it legally for commuting. Not that many observe it (I've been guilty of violating it often) but there is a speed limit which sometimes goes down as low as 10MPH in some spots. Most often it is 15MPH which is itself too slow for even recreational cycling. The B-G is a multi-use trail and thus is not suitable for those wishing to use it for actual transportation. The only recourse is the streets and although Seattle drivers tend to be more mindful of cyclists than drivers I've encountered in other cities, that's like comparing moldy bread to moldy cheese. And with the influx over the years of people from places where cycling isn't as popular, things are not getting better.
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