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Old 04-27-10, 05:27 PM   #1
Coolpick87
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I need your help.

Hello everyone, I know this might be OT, but I am writing a paper about bicycles in traffic, and what we could do to help cyclist. I'm not really looking for the "how to commute" or "commuting tips" kind of thing. More of what we can do as far as rules/laws and infrastructure. And also how commuting by bike can helps us, other than the obvious like weight loss, and gas prices.

I was hoping to maybe get some reputable links or articles for changes in bicycle laws, proposals, and statistics. And I hate to do this but I also have to write about people opposing it. And I need a valid argument against it.

Anyways, thanks for your time.
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Old 04-27-10, 05:42 PM   #2
Seattle Forrest
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Some ways that bike travel ( whether it's commuting, leisure, utilitarian like groceries, etc ) helps both individuals are:

* Health for the cyclist, which goes far beyond weight loss
* Usually it's more economical for the cyclist, mainly in gas, insurance, and car maintenance
* While a car or a bike could be faster in different situations, the bike is much less of a hassle in urban areas, especially to park, and trip times are consistent, so that people can reliably make plans

And society as a whole often benefits:

* More trips being taken by bicycle instead of car means less gas being burned, and less air pollution as a result. This affects everything from asthma rates to climate change.
* Because bikes are so much smaller than cars, especially in terms of width, they need less infrastructure. Seattle is getting ready to take down and rebuild one of our floating bridges, and we're stuck in debates about how many lanes are appropriate for the next 50 years, etc. But it takes a lot more lanes to carry a million cars than a million bikes!
* Congestion isn't the only problem. Bikes rarely create potholes.
* Bikes are quieter, and less dangerous to their surroundings. Neighborhoods are better places to be when there are fewer cars and more alternate forms of transportation. Everybody prefers back streets to main thoroughfares.

Obviously, I live in a major city. Most of what I typically need to do is within a five mile radius to my house, so a bike is a pretty cromulent way to get around. When I go hiking or camping in the mountains, though, a bike stops working; on the same note, if I lived 45 miles from work, I wouldn't think of commuting on my own power. Another caveat is that a lot of cyclists take "joy rides" ( for fun, exercise, or other reasons ) that aren't replacing car trips. I bike around the lake I live on in the evenings pretty often, but not for any particular purpose, and without a bike, I wouldn't be doing this in a car. So it's not that every bike on the street is automatically hitting all of the positives I listed.

Things that would improve the situation would be better sineage to "remind" drivers of their obligations, either wider right lanes or ideally narrower ones and a second lane for passing, and physical barriers. Most drivers cooperate pretty well in sharing the road, and most cyclists are generally polite. But it only takes one. One of my biggest complaints is cars passing too close within the same lane; others are cars failing to yield before making a left turn, and other issues like this. Better protection for bikes in some way, or awareness by drivers, is what I'd love.

I'm not sure what a valid argument against it is ... but I'd say that every idea doesn't need one. I mean, can somebody share a valid argument against the Earth going around the sun?
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Old 04-27-10, 05:51 PM   #3
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You've got to be talking about 520. I was there when I-90 sank. Wow. I had no clue they were thinking about that.

Sorry, I miss my home town. Carry on.
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Old 04-27-10, 05:53 PM   #4
Coolpick87
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I'm not sure what a valid argument against it is ... but I'd say that every idea doesn't need one. I mean, can somebody share a valid argument against the Earth going around the sun?
I tried to tell my professor that there is not really any arguments against commuting by bike, other than that stupid facebook group . But the A-hole told me I had to have a valid argument against if I want to pass. So I'm just thinking about putting about cars hitting a cyclists.
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Old 04-27-10, 10:26 PM   #5
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I tried to tell my professor that there is not really any arguments against commuting by bike, other than that stupid facebook group . But the A-hole told me I had to have a valid argument against if I want to pass. So I'm just thinking about putting about cars hitting a cyclists.
OK, I'm not anti-bike at all, obviously, but I'll see what I can do to play devil's advocate here.

Human nature being what it is -- and not allowing for malice, just inattention and usual lack of focus -- the unprotected nature of travel by bike places additional risk on the cyclist, by an order of magnitude. The POTENTIAL for deadly and tragic consequences goes up not unlike a missile. Also, the almost uniformly slower speed of travel makes flow of traffic through controlled intersections a particular hazard. Again, human nature being what it is, there can be cases of collisions during yellow lights.

As thoroughly documented as the health benefits are for cyclists, there is also the hazard of getting caught unprepared out in inclement weather. The toll on the body from the ride, added to that of fighting off the effects of possible hypothermia (possible even in 50-60F weather), weakens the defenses in the body, opening the rider to illness.

Exercise-induced asthma increases medical costs for the rider.

The same openness and 'vulnerability' that a cyclist faces in traffic creates a potential hazard from people 'of poor repute' -- thugs and criminals. Stopping for a traffic light can open a cyclist to danger from a mugger who might otherwise leave a motorist alone.


There you go.

Now, personally, I regard all these as either negligible or straight horsecrap. But I do know that there ARE people who believe these things fervently.

Good luck with your paper.
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