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Old 02-13-07, 12:17 PM   #1
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Letter to the Editor-Bicycle Lanes

I decided to cross post this , a letter to the Editor of a newspaper in Florida. The Article was about the 3 foot passing law,err, the 5 foot bicycle lane standard, rather.
Maybe you can glean a few ideas and write a letter to the Editor of your own local paper.
Paraphrase if you have to. Here goes:

Road shoulders are not found on all roads. Road shoulders are great to have if one is riding a bicycle, enabling cycists to move over, out of harms way. I've myself have cycled over 135,000 miles since 1972. I only got hit from behind once, but because I had a big metal cargo box on the rear of the bike, the only damage was to the right headlight of the car that hit my bike. That happened on tenth avenue in New York City which has 6 lanes, all southbound. The road shoulder in that case was full of parked cars. But the driver could've moved left like everyone else. Instead, when he saw there were no cars in the far right lane which I was in , he chose my lane and hit my bike. The light was red anyway, and if my bike hadn't stopped him, he would've got creamed by a cross-town truck. But I digress.
Road shoulders are good things to have, everyone would benefit from road shoulders, e.g.- it could serve as a breakdown lane if your car gets a flat tire, trucks could use road shoulders to park on when making deliveries, and the Police could use road shoulders to pull over DUI suspects.
Generally, a road shoulder is called 'the bicycle lane' whether it's official or not. ( A road shoulder, in case you don't know, is the pavement between the white fog-line on the rightmost edge of the roadway, and the curb.)
But sometimes, there is no shoulder to the road. Cyclists get horns blown at them, which really hurts the ears*, but the motorist is oblivious to the fact that there is no shoulder for the bicycle to move over onto.
These oblivious motorists who blow their horns often yell curse-words, but they don't show up at public hearings when road improvements are being discussed at at Town Hall. Will the five foot wide "Bicycle Lane" be new pavement added to the existing roadway? (a shoulder) Or will the white fog-line be moved five feet to the left, taking road away from the cars? It's important for everyone to show up at the public hearing to let the Mayor and the Highway Department know that you want the bicycle lane added to the road, and not taken away the existing roadway.
As for the question of whether the cyclists will use the new bicycle lane, it appears that there have been cases of bike lanes being built and then never getting swept. The lane gets covered with debris, sand , broken glass, leaves, twigs and seeds that fall off of trees, making it unusable. Someone has to call the Department of Public Works to make sure the road shoulder gets swept by a mechanical sweeper.

*Car horns can hurt the human ears. If you feel you have to blow your horn, blow it at least a hundred feet behind the cyclist, not when your right on top of them.
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