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Old 01-03-06, 08:39 AM   #1
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Whether to us advocacy means building bicycle facilities, improving road conditions, learning and teaching others to ride in traffic more effectively or educating the public, I suspect we can agree that if we are cyclists that use our bikes for transportation, we all want to be able to do so safely, comfortably and conveniently. It seems to me that those of us who support bicycle facilities because they want to get from A to B as hassle-free as possible and those of us who prefer roads without them want the same convenience. We just disagree on how this can be accomplished because we prefer different facilities. This may never change.

Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?

Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
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Old 01-03-06, 08:59 AM   #2
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I don't think it's possible. If we take our cue from what works in other countries where riding a bike is a basic and accepted a form of transportation, than I don't think the two philosophies will ever come together.

The biggest impediment to riding a bicycle for basic transportation safely in this country is ATTITUDE! Many cyclists have an inferiority complex they have inherited from growing up here which is only reinforced by the attitude of motorists, highway engineers and municipal planners - all of who relegate the bicycle to second-class transportation status and all of whom have NEVER ridden a bike ANYWHERE for the most part.

Look at Asian and Euro cities - cyclists riding on huge open boulevards not on 6' wide bike paths. Piazzas in the center city free of automobiles. My sister just came back from Germany. They have several layers of public transportation - a subway, a trolley and inter-region rail service plus bus service - all in one city! In older metropolitan areas (east coast cities) there is just not enough room to construct bicycle facilities to match what is found in other parts of the world.

To my mind, the solution in Metro areas is simple:

1) reduce the speed limit.
2) dedicate the right lane of multi-lane roads to buses, bikes and right-turning vehicles
3) re-educate the public to respect not only the rights of cyclists but pedestrians as well
4) INFORCE THE LAWS!!!!
5) When roads are upgraded, construct the right lane 14' wide with signage
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Old 01-03-06, 10:07 AM   #3
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I don't think it's possible. If we take our cue from what works in other countries where riding a bike is a basic and accepted a form of transportation, than I don't think the two philosophies will ever come together.
I thought most of your post was very thought-provoking. But I'm not sure I can agree with the above statement.

Here in the U.S., I think that we'll probably see a limited implementation of bike facilities, more as a compliment to road cycling than as a total, universal solution. That's how it's happening where I live, so most cyclists will have options to use both, and that means the philosophies will come together, at least in daily practice.

On my route, I ride about 15 miles each way. Less than two miles are on bike facilities, and those are optional as there are many other routes.

Bike facilities already exist, so cyclists will push for them to be made safer, not eliminate them. And cyclists who prefer facilities will understand that they'll never get facilities everywhere they want to ride, so they'll learn to adapt to the road more and more. In the end, it will be a hybrid system.

As for me, I prefer the road. But I'm not against letting people who want bike facilities have them, too.
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Old 01-03-06, 10:19 AM   #4
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3) re-educate the public to respect not only the rights of cyclists but pedestrians as well
I keep seeing this "Educate the public" thing. Exactly how does that happen? In my state they eliminated driver's training from schools, and I understand the same is true elsewhere. You read a little pamphlet, and then take a short test -- And THAT'S IT for educating the public!

The "public" wants to drive while talking on cell phones. The "public" believes they own the road. The "public" thinks they're doing a good thing buzzing around in vehicles the size of small apartment houses.

I see absolutely no inclination on the part of the public to restore driver's education, get off the phone, drive reasonably sized vehicles, or pay for service announcements telling them to share the road with bicyclists.

The best hope to get the public interested is to get more of the public on the roads. And the only way that's likely to happen in the U.S., if at all, is with steep increases in gasoline prices.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:03 AM   #5
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Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?

Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
Sure. That's the way it is here where I live. We have a MUP by the beach on the route I take to work each day. It's difficult to use when the tourists are thick. But we can easily ride in the street. You get no hassle from the law for opting for the street over the path.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:05 AM   #6
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I keep seeing this "Educate the public" thing. Exactly how does that happen? In my state they eliminated driver's training from schools, and I understand the same is true elsewhere. You read a little pamphlet, and then take a short test -- And THAT'S IT for educating the public!

The "public" wants to drive while talking on cell phones. The "public" believes they own the road. The "public" thinks they're doing a good thing buzzing around in vehicles the size of small apartment houses.

I see absolutely no inclination on the part of the public to restore driver's education, get off the phone, drive reasonably sized vehicles, or pay for service announcements telling them to share the road with bicyclists.

The best hope to get the public interested is to get more of the public on the roads. And the only way that's likely to happen in the U.S., if at all, is with steep increases in gasoline prices.
I guess this post pretty much covers the completely pessimistic viewpoint.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Whether to us advocacy means building bicycle facilities, improving road conditions, learning and teaching others to ride in traffic more effectively or educating the public, I suspect we can agree that if we are cyclists that use our bikes for transportation, we all want to be able to do so safely, comfortably and conveniently. It seems to me that those of us who support bicycle facilities because they want to get from A to B as hassle-free as possible and those of us who prefer roads without them want the same convenience. We just disagree on how this can be accomplished because we prefer different facilities. This may never change.

Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?

Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
I don't see why not.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:19 AM   #8
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We have a MUP by the beach on the route I take to work each day. It's difficult to use when the tourists are thick. But we can easily ride in the street. You get no hassle from the law for opting for the street over the path.
Same here, no hassles, even though the law says the local authorities can order me to use the path that's adjacent to the roadway, if I understand it. I'd like it better if the law wasn't written that way.

"Thumbs up" to the wisdom of local police on that one.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:20 AM   #9
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Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them?
I can agree to that. The question is whether the guy in the car agrees, and whether he cares. I think in most places bikes ARE allowed to not use the bike lanes, yet I've read lots of stories here about drivers deciding to "educate" the cyclist by pushing them off the road.

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Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?

Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
Certainly WE can agree to safety standards, IE **IF** there are bike lanes, they should not be in the door zone, they should be kept swept, they should be X feet wide, they should be immediately to the right of straight-through lanes, not to the right of right turn lanes, etc.

Again, the problem is not us, the problem is whether the people who PUT the lanes there will agree to that.

But if you're asking whether we can present a united front to those people who need convincing, then I think probably so.

But there is a subset of cyclists who won't even talk about bike lanes, even to admit to what constitutes a good (or least bad) one.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:21 AM   #10
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Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?
Well, in theory an advocacy group can represent all of its members, even if sometimes concentrating on one specific cause or other. In practice, however, this seldom works: advocacy attracts zealots (who by definition can't compromise) the way cow patties attract flies.
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Old 01-03-06, 12:15 PM   #11
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As others have said, it seems to boil down to the Three E's:
Engineering - design & build bike facilities, including everything from WOL's and bike-capable sensors to MUP's.
Education - not only riders, but motor vehicle operators & law enforcement, including judges.
Enforcement - fair & level enforcement of all laws for all vehicles.

Sounds like a basic culture shift would be required for the USA. And I'm trying to change my little part of it, by riding as a legal vehicle on the roads, educating riders, drivers & cops, and working as a citizen member of the local Metro Planing Organization.

The sheep have let a wolf into their fold, but have not realized it yet.

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Old 01-03-06, 01:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Whether to us advocacy means building bicycle facilities, improving road conditions, learning and teaching others to ride in traffic more effectively or educating the public, I suspect we can agree that if we are cyclists that use our bikes for transportation, we all want to be able to do so safely, comfortably and conveniently. It seems to me that those of us who support bicycle facilities because they want to get from A to B as hassle-free as possible and those of us who prefer roads without them want the same convenience. We just disagree on how this can be accomplished because we prefer different facilities. This may never change.

Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?
My thoughts exactly. By and large, I think this is happening already, given the sum total of all the forces pulling at cycling advocacy, at least in my area.

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Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
In theory, probably not. We bicker too much about the color of the frosting.
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Old 01-03-06, 02:40 PM   #13
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Can't we have bicycle facilities while also supporting laws that protect a cyclist's right not to use them? Can't we agree that there are certain safety standards that bicycle facilities must have?

Can't we have our cake and eat it too? What do you think?
I really don't think it's possible.

The very existence of a segregated cycle facility on a "shared road" is much too easy to interpret as an official sanction of the notion that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars. And as long as most people (not to mention most law enforcement officers and even most cyclists) believe that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars - a notion/opinion we bicycling advocates should challenge at every opportunity - all onstreet segregated cycling facilities on "shared" roadways do is add fuel to their fire.

I don't see how we can have it both ways.
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Old 01-03-06, 02:43 PM   #14
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Da Tinker said it: "The sheep have let a wolf into their fold, but have not realized it yet."

Brian confirmed the "have not realized it yet" aspect: "By and large, I think this is happening already, given the sum total of all the forces pulling at cycling advocacy, at least in my area."
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Old 01-03-06, 03:19 PM   #15
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In many ways the biggest problem facing transportational cycling is recreational cycling.

Most cycling facitlities are designed with recreational cyclists in mind -- even though the primary funding source in the US is the federal Department of Transportation, which insists that recipients certify (wink, wink) that the facilities are primarily transportational in nature. From a purely numerical standpoint, it makes sense. There are something like 100 million recreational cyclists and perhaps 3 million transportational cyclists in the US.

While recreational cyclists want to have fun, transportational cyclists want to get somewhere useful. In general, when someplace usefule exists, other people want to go there as well, and they go by car, so there is a road that goes there. What transportational cyclists generally want is just to be able to use the existing roads.

From an advocacy perspective, there is an important difference as well. Transportation is a right, ensconced in common law, the constitution, and federal and state laws. Recreation is an amenity. So transportational advocacy is largely about access and enforcement of rights, and recreational advocacy is largely about agitating for facilities.

These two types of cycling don't always work at cross purposes, but sometimes they do. The classic example is recreational advocates arguing for facilities because the roads are too dangerous, which provides ammunition to those who would ban cyclists from the roads.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:07 PM   #16
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In many ways the biggest problem facing transportational cycling is recreational cycling. ...
This is certainly true in many places. We can only hope that recreational cyclists view the rest of us favorably when they drive a car.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:41 PM   #17
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In many ways the biggest problem facing transportational cycling is recreational cycling.

Most cycling facitlities are designed with recreational cyclists in mind -- even though the primary funding source in the US is the federal Department of Transportation, which insists that recipients certify (wink, wink) that the facilities are primarily transportational in nature. From a purely numerical standpoint, it makes sense. There are something like 100 million recreational cyclists and perhaps 3 million transportational cyclists in the US.

While recreational cyclists want to have fun, transportational cyclists want to get somewhere useful. In general, when someplace usefule exists, other people want to go there as well, and they go by car, so there is a road that goes there. What transportational cyclists generally want is just to be able to use the existing roads.

From an advocacy perspective, there is an important difference as well. Transportation is a right, ensconced in common law, the constitution, and federal and state laws. Recreation is an amenity. So transportational advocacy is largely about access and enforcement of rights, and recreational advocacy is largely about agitating for facilities.

These two types of cycling don't always work at cross purposes, but sometimes they do. The classic example is recreational advocates arguing for facilities because the roads are too dangerous, which provides ammunition to those who would ban cyclists from the roads.
+1
This does seem to be right at the heart of the dichotomy of the situation...
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Old 01-03-06, 05:12 PM   #18
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[sarcasm]

Yup, damned those recreational cyclists. They are not worthy.

[/sarcasm]
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Old 01-04-06, 08:24 AM   #19
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The very existence of a segregated cycle facility on a "shared road" is much too easy to interpret as an official sanction of the notion that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars. And as long as most people (not to mention most law enforcement officers and even most cyclists) believe that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars - a notion/opinion we bicycling advocates should challenge at every opportunity - all onstreet segregated cycling facilities on "shared" roadways do is add fuel to their fire.

I don't see how we can have it both ways.
I think the average motorist is more intelligent than we like to give him credit for. After all, it's the intelligence of the average motorist that vehicular cycling depends on for safety, and if motorists were incompetent, none of us would dare venture out on the roadways. We'd all be cringing with fear and screaming to be given separate facilities for our own protection.

Take the high-occupancy-vehicle lane (HOV lane) for example. This leftmost lane on freeways is reserved for vehicles carrying two or more occupants, and although there are violators of this requirement, everybody at least understands the rules of their use. But when it comes to bike lanes, we get overly paranoid and panic at the notion that motorists will think that cyclists are restricted to these lanes, even if we're not. After all, it's a restricted lane for cyclists--but that doesn't mean people can't understand the concept that a restricted lane is not the only lane a cyclist can use. If people understand HOV lanes, they can also grasp bike lanes: both are lanes restricted to certain users, but you don't have to use them. Not rocket science.

Where I get angry is when authorities pass laws allowing police to order cyclists onto an adjacent path. That's where I draw the line, and it's an obvious attempt to get cyclists off the roads in order to speed up traffic flow.

And yet, it has been said that there are very few transportational cyclists, by proportion, in the U.S. as compared with recreational cyclists and especially motorists. Therefore, what real purpose would be served to remove that small percentage of cyclists from the road? There just aren't enough of them to fuss about anyway. They don't ride in groups (generally,) and are easy to overtake.
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Old 01-04-06, 08:44 AM   #20
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Where I get angry is when authorities pass laws allowing police to order cyclists onto an adjacent path. That's where I draw the line, and it's an obvious attempt to get cyclists off the roads in order to speed up traffic flow.

And yet, it has been said that there are very few transportational cyclists, by proportion, in the U.S. as compared with recreational cyclists and especially motorists. Therefore, what real purpose would be served to remove that small percentage of cyclists from the road? There just aren't enough of them to fuss about anyway. They don't ride in groups (generally,) and are easy to overtake.
There are probably even fewer (as in infinitesimally small) cases where transportation cyclists are negatively affected by legal enforcement of such rare "laws". Certainly not enough for distant anti-bike lane ideologues to get their hair on fire and justify obstructionist rants/tactics.
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Old 01-04-06, 09:36 AM   #21
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There are probably even fewer (as in infinitesimally small) cases where transportation cyclists are negatively affected by legal enforcement of such rare "laws".
There is no need for them in the first place. They set a bad precedent. Get them off the books.

The last thing we need is to be considered "at fault" as an "unintended road user" when we're the victim of the negligence of an "intended road user."
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Old 01-04-06, 10:22 AM   #22
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There is no need for them <"laws allowing police to order cyclists onto an adjacent path> in the first place. They set a bad precedent. Get them off the books.

The last thing we need is to be considered "at fault" as an "unintended road user" when we're the victim of the negligence of an "intended road user."
So where are any of this things (which we don't need) happening to transportation (or any other) cyclist as a result of "laws allowing police to order cyclists onto an adjacent path"?

My take is that the threat of such "laws" to actual cyclists exists almost totally in the fevered imaginations of anti bike lane legal "theorists."
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Old 01-04-06, 10:58 AM   #23
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So where are any of this things (which we don't need) happening to transportation (or any other) cyclist as a result of "laws allowing police to order cyclists onto an adjacent path"?

My take is that the threat of such "laws" to actual cyclists exists almost totally in the fevered imaginations of anti bike lane legal "theorists."
The laws are redundant. It's already legal for a policeman to order a cyclist to pull over if traffic is backing up behind him unnecessarily.

In the case of this particular law no justification is necessary, other than that there is an adjacent bicycle path. If that sits well with you, it's your call. But I've read where it's been used to order a cyclist off the road at nighttime, which was not a safe choice for the cyclist because a friend of his had been attacked at night on that same path.
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Old 01-04-06, 11:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
My take is that the threat of such "laws" to actual cyclists exists almost totally in the fevered imaginations of anti bike lane legal "theorists."
Tell that to the CHP officer, and the management that backs him up, who said that the "spirit of the law is that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars".


Quote:
Originally Posted by DCcommuter
These two types of cycling don't always work at cross purposes, but sometimes they do. The classic example is recreational advocates arguing for facilities because the roads are too dangerous, which provides ammunition to those who would ban cyclists from the roads.
I see just as much, if not more, clammering for facilities by commuters as I do by pure recreationalists. Recreational cyclists are out to get miles in, so they are willing to find quiet low traffic routes where traffic skills are less important and the perceived need for facilities is less (in particular, the ability to "create" gaps is not required). It's the transportational cyclists, who are unable to avoid traffic, and are frustrated by their difficulties in navigating through it, to the point of thinking their problems could be solved by facilities.
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Old 01-04-06, 11:47 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Tell that to the CHP officer, and the management that backs him up, who said that the "spirit of the law is that cyclists should stay out of the way of cars".



I see just as much, if not more, clammering for facilities by commuters as I do by pure recreationalists. Recreational cyclists are out to get miles in, so they are willing to find quiet low traffic routes where traffic skills are less important and the perceived need for facilities is less (in particular, the ability to "create" gaps is not required). It's the transportational cyclists, who are unable to avoid traffic, and are frustrated by their difficulties in navigating through it, to the point of thinking their problems could be solved by facilities.
Actually there are two kinds of recreational cyclist... there are those that "want to get the miles in," such as myself, and there are those that generally are found in parks and on paths... and it is this latter group that generally facilities are built for... those that are sometimes called "class 1 riders*". They probably will never ride a bike at 25MPH on the flats and most likely will never ride beyond 10 or 12 miles in a day.

Now the interesting thing is that college students can also be called transportational riders and are generally also moving at the same pace as these slow recreational riders.


* I have never seen an actual classification of riders, but I do remember sometime back that one city (Philidelphia, perhaps???) classed all the riders and those that would likely use a path or bike lane... and the majority were called "class 1 riders."
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