A gorgeous spring day today in Boston and running a little late so I take the streets and roads route downtown- about an 8.5 mile ride.
I ride this route in what could be called a model vehicular style- call me Dr. Vehicle. I ride right in the center of the right lane for much of the route, stop at traffic signals, pass buses only on the left. I make great time and the route is direct. However, in addition to the countless interactions with automobiles on this route I pass through 88 intersections, pass dozens of parked and double parked cars, ride through construction zones and encounter packs of jaywalking Boston University students who think nothing of stepping off a curb and into the path of an oncoming vehicle of any type but seem to particularly favor cyclists.
My ride home tonight at 10 pm I went the alternate route- the bike path (an MUP along the south side of the Charles River). I ride about a mile to get onto the path and then ride 8.5 miles on the path and then another mile home. So a little longer ride. Riding at 10pm I encounter only a handful of couples walking along the path, a few joggers and one cyclist going the opposite direction. Long sections of the path are completely my own little private road. The magnolia and dogwood trees are in full bloom, the river an inky black, owls swoop over my head, the lights of Harvard University reflect in the mirror-like surface of the water- in other words it's spectacularly beautiful. Because the path is empty and is intersected only 6 times on the entire route I can hammer along at a brisk pace if I want.
After 30 years living in Boston finally this bike path has received some improvements and not necessarily due to the advocacy of cycling organizations but because of bike/ped coalitions and the Charles River Conservancy. In fact, many of our most vocal bike advocates have downplayed the significance of this bike path, often pointing out it's poor condition as an example of it's failure as a transportation infrastructure.
My question is how does it serve a cyclist like me when cycling advocacy organizations put their primary focus on our rights to the road and either ignore, oppose or downplay the significance of bike infrastructure? 30 years of that kind of advocacy has changed absolutely nothing about riding on the roads in Massachusetts. It is no different. No better. No worse. But advocacy for infrastructure actually makes a noticeable difference.
So please tell me why I shouldn't put my advocacy time, effort, support and money for bike/ped coalitions like Livable Streets instead of supposed bike advocacy groups that stress cyclist education and road rights? I currently support both but seriously question the efficacy of the second in accomplishing anything tangible.