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Old 05-30-01, 01:12 PM   #1
LittleBigMan
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Maps

One day, while riding into work on my bike, another cyclist caught up with me. We talked pleasantly for a while. Then he mentioned something about getting involved in the battle for bike facilities in our area.

The last thing I wanted to do was to offend my new friend. I certainly didn't start out to be offensive. I just blurted out the truth (as I saw it for myself.)

"I'm not that interested in waiting for the government to give me places to ride. I'm not against it, in priniciple, I just don't have time to wait for them to do something. Heck, I just bought a map of the city and surrounding counties and planned my own routes on the streets."

After that, he didn't seem very interested in me. Do I have to be "Politically Correct" before some folks will listen to me?
I personally like the idea of planning my own routes on the streets instead of being confined to a few poorly planned "bike routes." I did it myself without much help and I didn't have to wait on "speedy" local government action.

Am I against government action? No. I would like to see more government action, especially in yanking speeding motorists from the "map." Now that's a plan I can support!
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Old 05-30-01, 01:53 PM   #2
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A map is the best facility you can get, but you have to read it properly. Not all maps are accurate, and many links which are accessable to cyclists are not shown, because cars can't go down them.
In every town I have cycled in, there have been "Samizdat" cycle routes. Often a pesky piece of chainlink fence has been liberated to permit the free flow of people. So called "waste ground" often has a well established tyre track across it. I often wonder it a car-bound city like LA, how far you could get going under and around the freeways.
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Old 05-30-01, 02:14 PM   #3
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Originally posted by MichaelW
I often wonder it a car-bound city like LA, how far you could get going under and around the freeways.
That is one of the first things I discovered when planning a route into the city from a suburban outpost. Traversing freeways, mass-transit heavy rail lines, rivers and creeks can only be done via bridges (over or under.) With the entire city surrounded by a circular freeway "moat," you must pinpoint the bridges before you do anything else.

This is when car-centered planning shows it's flaws. There are fewer alternate routes than would be possible without the freeways.

Last edited by LittleBigMan; 05-30-01 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 05-30-01, 02:42 PM   #4
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I'd rather not see the government get involved in cycling at all, at this point. The reason? Government at all levels is tied up with the petroleum/automotive industry, and it's always going to be motorists who are favored. Always.

Bike paths are paternalistic and serve only to create a ghetto mentality about cycling among both gullible cyclists and the general public. They also quickly become strewn with drunken or just malevolent motorists' broken glass, as well as things that fly off of cars and trucks, and out of them. So they end up posing their own set of hazards, in addition to marginalizing cyclists.

It's ironic that motorists are enjoying a road system that came about in response to the sudden popularity, not of cars, but of the bicycle, in the late 19th century. Just as it's ironic that multi-zillion-dollar auto industry CEO's can be whisked from Detroit to Berlin in a matter of hours, to present PowerPoint presentations on nothing in particular--in airplanes that evolved from the fragile dreams of a couple of isolated bike mechanics: Orville and Wilbur Wright.
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Old 05-30-01, 03:36 PM   #5
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I just purchaced a set of maps that maps out the entire state of Wisconsin, including a ranking of which roads are better or worse for cycling. It's great, because there really aren't a multitude of bike paths in Appleton (it's not completely podunk, but close enough), and I really don't want to sit around and wait for more to pop up. Not only do maps let you plan your own route, but they also ensure that you'll get home (I partially bought the maps just to solve this problem. I'd go out 20 or 30 miles, and have quite an adventure getting home!).

I go home to Minneapolis in two weeks, and I'm very much looking forward to it. Minneapolis and St. Paul have a very extensive park system that includes many bike paths/trails. For some reason, they have not suffered the fate that other trails I have heard about do. They are reasonably well kept, and often far enough from roads that traffic creates neither litter nor noise pollution. They even slap a new coat of asphalt on the paved ones from time to time! I tend to stick to the roads and parkways, for fear of mowing down a rollerblader wearing headphones (I hate that!) or a family, but the paths are sometimes a nice change of pace. I just thought I'd offer it as example how the city can be involved with the cycling community, and still not screw everything up.

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Old 05-30-01, 03:46 PM   #6
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Of course, to counter my glowing review of the trails and paths in Minneapolis, I just remembered the bike lanes downtown. The lanes are there on most of the major streets, which is a definate plus. The problem is that no one but cyclists seem to know that they exist. That includes motorists (obviously), cabs, bus drivers, snow plows, and even (gasp!) the police. I suppose the next logical step would be to educate people about this mythical existance, the bike lane. Maybe then cars will stay out of them. And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.

Here's some not so pretty pictures that help nudge my point along.
http://www.visi.com/~seng/mbma/gallery.html

I also realize that the maps thread may not be the best place for this, but I felt like ranting and I was already here.
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Old 05-30-01, 05:29 PM   #7
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Originally posted by JonR
I'd rather not see the government get involved in cycling at all, at this point.
Tell it, Jon!

It frightens me to think what the government might come up with to "help" cyclists. Just give me a few inches of the pavement that's already there, keep calling my bike a "passenger vehicle," and I'll be happy.
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Old 05-30-01, 06:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by LightBoy
Here's some not so pretty pictures that help nudge my point along.
http://www.visi.com/~seng/mbma/gallery.html

I also realize that the maps thread may not be the best place for this, but I felt like ranting and I was already here.
Great pictures! Truly, "One picture is worth a thousand bike lanes," as old Lin-Somebody-Xian once said.

I have a warm place in my often cold heart for bike messengers and skateboarders, for they serve to shake up, infuriate, and annoy old fuddy-duddies of all ages and persuasions, and just might possibly bring some of them to enlightenment. (But probably not.)

Also, re: rants--everything I say tends to turn into a rant, so I don't look for a special place.
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Old 05-30-01, 07:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonR
I'd rather not see the government get involved in cycling at all, at this point. The reason? Government at all levels is tied up with the petroleum/automotive industry, and it's always going to be motorists who are favored. Always.

Bike paths are paternalistic and serve only to create a ghetto mentality about cycling among both gullible cyclists and the general public. They also quickly become strewn with drunken or just malevolent motorists' broken glass, as well as things that fly off of cars and trucks, and out of them. So they end up posing their own set of hazards, in addition to marginalizing cyclists.
Jon R is absolutely 100% right. The only government intervention I want to see is greater enforcement of existing road rules (speed limits and red lights would be a start). I prefer to use maps than being told I can only use a few specific areas. Heck, finding new and more challenging places to ride is half the fun of this sport!

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Old 05-30-01, 08:25 PM   #10
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I agree that a map is the best place to start. I am still trying to map out a SAFE route to my workplace. I know if I keep looking I'll find it soon.

Pete's riding companion sounds like someone wanting others to jump on "his" bandwagon.

But Pete is right. We shouldn't involve ourselves in these no-win situations. And until society as a whole changes it's view of cycling it will remain a no-win situation. The government is not going to buck the masses to accommodate the desires of a very small group.

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Old 05-31-01, 08:48 AM   #11
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Although I agree, in principle, that bicycles should be respected as passenger vehicles and be afforded their proper place on the road, there are some things governments could do to make it a little safer until we arrive at that point. At the very least, some routes in and out of town should have a shoulder or little extra width to give cyclists a little breathing space and escape route.
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Old 05-31-01, 10:20 AM   #12
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Originally posted by RainmanP
At the very least, some routes in and out of town should have a shoulder or little extra width to give cyclists a little breathing space and escape route.
I agree with you. A wide, smooth curbside lane, along with taming motor vehicle traffic, would go a long way towards helping cyclists. After all, we are taxpayers.

And there's nothing wrong with a nice, quiet path around a lake, as long as I'm not required to ride there. Many laws are already in place which state that a local authority (police) can order me to use a path when it parallels a road. If anyone ever doubted the true goals of "bike paths" before, this should remove any confusion.
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Old 05-31-01, 04:55 PM   #13
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Quite right Pete, this sort of thing happens out here as well sometimes (although it's yet to happen to me). I was just wondering, what are the costs of building these paths? Governments could possibly save money by just buiding a shoulder on the road and having done with it.

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Old 06-01-01, 06:26 PM   #14
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Most of the time, when the government gets mixed up in things they mess it up. And plus, if the government gets mixed up in cycling,then they can regulate it. Just like they mess up scholl systems by giving them money, but then making the school do thus an such. Give the state money, let the state decide how to work its school system, and then hold them to their system.So give cyclists the money, let them do with it as they see fit, and hold them to it. That's actually not a bad idea you know, The South Carolina Department of Bicycling. Sounds great to me!!!
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Old 06-01-01, 09:57 PM   #15
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The South Carolina Department of Bicycling. Sounds great to me!!!
As long as you're in charge, and you split the take down the middle with me--no, wait, now it's sounding like government again....
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Old 06-02-01, 11:06 PM   #16
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Well Jon, you'll have to start one in Kansas!!!
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