What are we doing wrong and who do we need to influence to change funding priorities?
Local advocacy group wanted me to join citing a "recent" DOT survey showed most felt safer on bike paths than on roadways. The data showed people preferred riding on roads than on bikeways, but the road preference data was split between roads and roads with bike shoulders so pathways numbers were higher than either single road number. Obviously the author of the report wanted to fund bikeways.
So what's feeding this attitude that bikes are unsafe on the road?
Is it as simple as just parents telling kids to stay off the roads and never having bike rider safety education for non-minors?
Is it as simple as a prejudice that only poor and uneducated still ride bikes instead of driving the latest hummer?
Is it as simple as bikes are toys and not valid transportation vehicles?
Fear is if we are ineffective in driving a stake in the ground that bike are both safer on roads than bikeways and a legitimate method of human transportation, we will become more marginized and forced to only ride on bikeways.
So what do you think?
1. What's the underlying cause[s] of prejudice against bikes on roads? and
2. Who do cyclists have to start influencing to change this situation?
Jamis Sputnik, Lemond Poprad. Retired: Centurion LeMans Fixed, Diamond Back ascent ex
I think one of the reasons folks associate danger with cycling on the road is because they see the potential danger when driving on those same roads. Many roads are terrible to drive on both the infrastructure, but other drivers behavior as well. It is hard to image from a car driver seat that the road could even approach safe while on a bicycle. There are daily car accidents on these roads, it is easy to imagine from the driver seat that cyclist would fare worse (which is actually not the case)
I'll admit I get this feeling on the rare occasions I drive on the same roads I cycle on. I say to myself 'wow, its looks crazier than I thought' But for some reason from a bike it doesn't look as bad.
Finally there are some roads I ride on during rush hour that are not easy to ride on, they do take great care and skill to ride on safely.
When I see the word "advocate" redflags go up. Manypeople, myself included read between the lines and see "opinionated, overbearing, uncompromising individuals or groups with a very onesided agenda, where the opposite exists only as an adversary".
I ride roads and paths, I am entitled to use both, so I do. I prefer bike paths because I don't have to deal with motor traffic, and the ones around here are very good. But paths don't always take you where you want to go.
The prejudice against bikers comes from the aholes out there that feel they must let people know that they are also entitled to the road by using uncivil tactics just for the sake of being a prick. holding your course on narrow roads as traffic backs up behind you. A few months ago, I brought up that the isue of some idiot riding on main roadway of PCH through newport beach (a six lane road at the point, he was riding), There was absolutely no reason for him to be in the main roadway, since there was a 8 foot wide bike lane created out of the same surface, and of the condtion of the main highway. The guy was clearly wrong, and half the posters here made up excuses justifying this assclowns actions.
The way it should be done is by creating public awareness campaigns on grass roots level. Share the Road is a good start, but hardly has the visibilty that is needed to effectively change peoples habits and opinions. A strong PR campaign is whats needed to get the general public aware of sharing the road. And it has to be a saturation campaign funded by state, regional government groups as well as bike dealers/manufacturers and enviromental groups.
The next thing is the cyclist (and motorists) must realize they can't have it all. awareness and enforcement of wexisting laws should be an adequate start. Common Courtesy will go along way. Think about that the next time you have ten cars riding your arse , unable to pass because you have to "take the road"
Start attending public traffic planning meetings. I can't say what they are called where you are, but they exist. Call your local government and ask. Pay attention to the notices in your local paper (in Columbus, they tend to appear in neighborhood newspapers). They may be ad hoc committees looking at specific areas, but if you regularly show up at meetings (and stay polite) you can have a lot of influence.
Once you learn where to go, show up and bring constructive solutions. Realize that you will likely be in for a multi-year struggle for anything worth doing.