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  1. #1
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Best Cycling Cities?

    I read that certain US cities were rated the best for bicycling. Atlanta rated the worst.

    That said, I must rant a bit.

    The article mentioned that the "best" cities for cycling had the most mileage of trails, paths and bike lanes (etc.) Government initiatives rated tops.

    Hold up.

    Government is vitally important, but not the leader in this game.

    Cyclists are what make a city "best" for cycling. Government is more like a "please me" helper that panders to the loudest voice.

    Who is the voice?

    CYCLISTS.

    :thumbup:
    No worries

  2. #2
    We drive on the left. Dutchy's Avatar
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    Who is the voice? Good question.
    Down here (Adelaide) we have heaps of bike lanes and paths. The government has just bought 90acres of land for specific MTB trails, there will be varying levels of difficulty for all skill levels, all tax payer funded. I don't know how these thing come about though. We have Bike SA which is our local bike voice, but I rarely hear them in the media, so I don't know how we get such good cycling facilities. Interstate visitors comment on how many bike lanes we have. We now have the Tour Down Under which attracts about 500,000 spectators along the route over 6 days, so this raises cycling awareness to the general public, but we have had a good amount of bike lanes for years. Every time a road is built or re-marked they try to add bike lanes if possible. I can't complain about the facilities here, but I have heard that Melbourne and Sydney are way behind.

    CHEERS.

    Mark
    I'd rather be riding.

  3. #3
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    I live in Montreal (which by the way, is regularly rated as one of the best in NA) and it seems to me that it is both the infrastructure and the cyclists that count and the environment of course. Here in Montreal we have many cycle paths that go from near the city center in virtually all directions out.

    Montreal is an Isalnd and at least 4 of the bridges have dedicated bike paths on them (How many more on the north have them, I'm not sure). So what makes this a good place to bike and commute is that it is fairly easy to from prettymuch anywhere out of the city center into it and back out again!

    Then you have the attitude of the general public. Motorits in general are considerate. Busses a bit less so but not problematic and trucks are pretty good too.

    Overall, I cannot think of a major problem with the cycling in Montreal. Except the somewhat disjointed bike paths on the West Island (where I live). Though there could be problems on other parts of the island that I am not aware of.


    My !



  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    like any listing, the criteria are always hard to set...

    but i agree pretty much with the Bicycling magazine listing of Best Cycling Cities (North America only) which usually has Portland Oregon and Montreal Canada at the top...

    i figured i'd look up the newest study before i said too much more - and yes, Portland and Montreal are there again as they have been for the last 3 years with Portland #1 as Best Overall City for Cycling. also listed are Austin and Seattle and Denver:: from Bicycling Magazine http://www.totalbike.com/news/article/515/ for October 2001 list

    i've lived in 6 cities now in my adult life and visited and ridden in a bunch of cities across the US (OK, not much i the Midwest) and i think Portland is by far the best:
    * great usable well-designed commuting bike lanes as well as bike paths for 'recreational' riding
    * local government that thinks about bikes when doing anything (buidling a road, designing a park, etc)
    * tons of cyclists and commuters
    * activist groups like BicycleTransportationAlliance (BTA) http://www.bta4bikes.org/ of Citizens for Sensible Transportation
    * great trails and roads in or just outside the city for great rides after work
    * more considerate auto drivers (although still not so great but better than most other places)
    * bike racks everywhere
    * bikes allowed on rail and busses
    * good employer attitude towards cycling with many showers/secure racks

    other:::

    * Vancouver BC is great for a big city
    * Seattle WA is OK but too big and spread out and sprawled (compared to Portland)
    * Corvalis OR and Eugene OR
    * Austin TX is way better than anything else in the South where autos rule
    * Boulder CO is awesome! with more bikes than people in the community
    * Davis CA is good
    * San Francisco CA in the city is good (although a little dangerous and huge hills)

    most East Coast cities are OK in the city center but horrible out in the 'burbs:
    * Boston
    * New York
    * Philadelphia
    * Washinton DC

    i've also commuted in cities that suck for bikes (but you can still ride of course)
    * Houston TX
    * Dallas TX
    * San Antonio TX
    * Worcester MA

    and non-US there are a lot of good ones:
    * Munich Germany where i live now is great - i'd say Portland is still better, but Munich is close and the subway and train system make being truly carefree easier (i find it difficult in the US to be truly car-free for vacations or places far away since train/bus is often not so good) --- the bike lanes in Munich as not as well designed as in Portland and despite more total riders there's not a strong feeling of being part of the 'bike community' as in Portland (waving to cyclist, talking about commuting, most employers with bike racks and showers, etc)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  5. #5
    serial mender
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    Portland, OR. Simply a lovely city in so many respects, not the least of them cycling.

    Salt Lake City. Only tolerable because the roads are so wide that you sometimes get confused as to which way the streets run (i.e. is it going east-west or north-south).

    Madison, WI. Not bad. The old joke--2 seasons, Winter and Road construction--applies, meaning that your best commuting bike is an MTB.

    With respect to the lack of "cycling community" in European cities, I think it might come from the fact that a bicycle riding is such a normal part of life, that no one sees much of anything special about it. Bike riding is just one other sensible means of transportation. Hence there is no reason to bond over it. It helps that the infrastruction is built to handle bikes and the cost of gasoline makes car use much more judicious. Heck, I see more folks (women and men) over 60 on bikes on their way to the grocery store than I do commuters with paniers or racer-types in jerseys and padded shorts.

    In the U.S. if you commute or ride "seriously" you immediately become something out of the ordinary. Afterall, you turn yourself into a weirdo by not taking the car--it's practically "un-American" . I used to get honked at regularly in the U.S. I have never had this happen in Germany. (Have you had any bad experiences here, Nathan?) The only time I have heard Europeans say that a particular city is bad for biking is when it has a lot of hills.

    Cheers,
    Jamie
    Last edited by jmlee; 04-24-02 at 09:44 AM.

  6. #6
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    Littlebigman, I think the article you are refereing to was in Bicycling Magazine. Now while a good and imforative article I felt it was incomplete. I believe they only went with cites that had populations of no less then either 100,000 or was it 500,000 people, I don't remember. Thats not really all that fair.

    Heres why I say that. I live in Sioux City, Iowa, population about 90,000 people. The largest city in Iowa has only 300,000 people in it, Des Moines, this does not include the suburbs. Des Moines is a great place to cycle. They have lots of trails and plenty of good roads to ride on. Plus a ride every April called Mayors Annual Ride for Trails. Its put on by the Parks and Rec. dept. The proceeds goes towards new and improved trails. Which means its the city govt. that is getting behind cycling in Des Moines. And in Sioux City there are lots of safe places to ride plus 2 real good trails, one of which is only about 3 yrs old. And I'm sure there are lots of other cities that are about the size of Des Moines andSioux City that are just as safe and pleasent to cycle in. But did Bicycling even consider cities like Des Moines and Sioux City? No, they were only interested in larger urban areas.

    So to me the article was incomplete and very biased to the larger cities.

  7. #7
    I am a lonely visitor RegularGuy's Avatar
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    The best cycling cities are places like Tolono, Pesotum, Tuscola, and Camargo: small towns with easy access to low-traffic paved backroads. The only thing wrong with these particular little towns is that they are in the flattest part of the midwest.
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  8. #8
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    San Diego usually ranks pretty high on such surveys, because of the climate and because we cycling activists (including some northern California transplant named John "Effective Cycling" Forester) are so outspoken. Most motorists I encounter treat cyclsts with respect, and most, but certainly not all, roads accommodate us pretty decently. The biggest problem areas are the CalTrans-designed free right turns, merges, and diverges at the mouths of freeway access ramps, as well as many non-freeways which are designed to look and feel like freeways.
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  9. #9
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    jmlee,

    here in Munich there are bike paths next to almost every major street - this is good in general except most of the lanes are between the parked cars and the pedestrian sidewalk and i prefer bike lanes next to the cars between the normal traffic lanes and parked cars - in general car drivers are pretty good and are well-trained to look carefully for bikes before turing right, but they're not usually expecting someone going 30+kmh... so i've had a few close calls. also cars entering are usually only concentrating on cars and often pull right in front of me or block the bike lane while waiting for space to clear in the car lanes. also pedestrians often walk in or across the bike lane (i have and use frequently my bell here!) - the worst are people who park their cars, then think they're 'off the road' and blindly appear from nowhere in the middle of the bike lane!

    on small roads or outside the city car drivers are pretty nice or at least as nice as in the US (there's always the exception with a guy who thinks he owns the road and anything slowing him down is evil)

    on of the biggest problems i have is when i decide the bike lane is unsafe because of many pedestrians or unsafe setup from parked cars and blind spots: drivers seem to have little patience when there is a bike lane nearby and you're not in it and instead riding in the street...on a major 2-lane each direction divided street i rode 200m in the left lane to make a left turn (otherwise would have had to ride 200m extra and wait for a light) and a guy in a car from behind pulled within 2 inches of me in the same lane when there was a free lane open to the right and i was signalling for left turn just b/c he was pissed off that a bike was in front of him and would have to slow down and/or change lanes! actually i think if the bike lane has an official sign designation then you are REQUIRED by law to use the bike lane - actually BMW and other car groups are also supportive of bike lanes b/c it gets bikes 'off the road' which i think is the wrong attitude... (John Forrester makes good arguments why bikes should ride with cars instead of separately or worst of all with pedestrians)

    bike parking is often pretty inadequate here and most of the bike racks that do exist must have been designed by non-cyclists or in the 70s or something: my wide MTB tires don't fit in most and many have just a slot for the front wheel and no place to secure the bike with a lock.

    in relating to John E's post: yeah, John Forrester has done some great stuff for cycling and bike commuting in the US! i really like his vehicular cycling principles... (thus a reason why i dislike bike lanes next to the pedestrians as here in Munich)

    as far as a 'biking community' or biking attitude: i think you're right in general about Europe, but the comparison analogy i think of is: when people in cars in rush hour see a person on a bike here in Munich they think practical: 'that person is saving money and time by commuting to work on bike and getting fit too - but it's too much of a hassle for me with rain and sweating and all - besides it's just too much work so i'll just the subway or drive'. and in Portland the thinking is jealous: 'wow, that guy is so lucky he can bike to work - i wish i were on my bike today or i wish i could bike to work but (i have to drive clients around or transport equipment or drive 50 miles or work so late or have no time)'
    why drive when you can ride?
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  10. #10
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Bike lanes on the pedestrian, rather than the traffic, side of parked cars sounds great for 8kph/5mph cyclists, but it is lousy for the rest of us. I wonder how many people get "doored" when a car passenger opens the curbside door abruptly!

    I realize that Forester is controversial, even within the cycling community, but he is trying to protect us from being marginalized and relegated to glorified sidewalks, with a high probability of collision at every intersection and without the right to use far-side turn lanes and other roadway features. Fortunately, largely because of his efforts and those of other cycling activists, most California cities are far more bike-friendly than average. Even our Drivers' Handbook depicts cyclists making vehicular turns from the appropriate lane.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  11. #11
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    You know, it's strange. When I first started commuting just over a year ago I would have said New Orleans is a terrible area for cycling. Bike lanes? Non-existent. Bike paths? A couple. Bike signage? Practically non-existent. After over a year and more familiarization I'm thinking it's not so bad. None of the above things has changed. In fact construction has one of the two bike paths closed as well as a spot on Lakeshore drive which is a popular riding area. But commuting isn't bad. The area is pretty compact. The main streets generally have extra space and reasonable traffic speeds. Now I realize that it is possible to get from one place to another pretty comfortably on a bike once you know the way though sometimes the best route is not the most direct route. MOST motorists are reasonably considerate.

    The recreational cycling scene is pretty decent. There is an active racing/training community of several clubs, teams and unattached that do regular training rides - fast paced 20-25 mile training races Tuesday and Thursday evening in the summer, slightly less intense 40-50 mile training rides early on Saturday and Sunday, with an even less intense steady 40-50 mile 20-21 mph ride a little earlier on Sunday. The westbound lanes of Lakeshore drive are closed to motorized vehicles on Saturday and Sunday, providing a straight uninterrupted shot of about 5 miles, about 3 miles uninterrupted right now with a bridge unde construction. Besides the more serious stuff there is a recreational "touring" club that offers organized city and country rides on Saturday and Sunday, usually one of each both days. The city rides are short and slow paced (20-25 miles) and designed to offer even beginners an opportunity to ride. The country rides always offer 25-30, 40-45, and 50-60 mile options with groups at different speeds from 10 mph to 20+.

    Add to all that the fact that we can ride year round, and I'd say it's not a bad place at all for cycling. We now have a couple of people in cycling coordinator type positions in the state dept of transportation and regional planning commission that seem genuinely interested in trying to improve infrastructure and atmosphere for cycling. Hopefully they will be able to make some progress.

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  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Don't get me wrong. I don't claim Atlanta is a gem for cycling, after all, I'm no expert. But here's my personal beef (yes, it was "Bicycling" magazine)...

    What makes a city (for me) good for cycling is
    the quality of the roads, not the number of bike paths or bike lanes. Bike paths and lanes have an understanding with me: I know they are intended to help me, but I avoid them, having cut my teeth using them. Just like as a kid, I played everywhere except the "playground," which not only seemed dangerous to me, but also boring.

    I do not think paths or lanes make a city better for cycling. Overall, what makes cycling best for me is when motorists recognize my place in their lane and know how to view me as part of traffic.

    No worries

  13. #13
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    From what I gather, Stone Mountain is sort of near atlanta- like a burb? (Like Kennesaw Mountain).

    Funny how in the warmer climates of the U.S., like Texas and the Southern States, cycling sucks. You'd think it's just the opposite! I've heard how in some cities like Houston and Dallas, you never even see ANYONE on a bike- not just roadies, anyone just riding a bike! It amazes me that Lance Armstrong comes from Texas. Interestingly enough, it seems that a lot of the american cyclists come from big cities. George Hincapie is from NYC, Christian Vandevelde is from Chicago, Lance Armstrong is from Austin, and I think Bobby Julich is from Philly? Go figure!

    The only bad thing about Montreal, cycle wise is the condition of some of the roads- you think the Koppenberg is bad? We get potholes big enough for a baby to take a bath in. Remember that old photo of the little boy swimming in the dinosaur footprint? Some streets never seem to get repaired. ANd montreal motorists can be totally rude, stupid and oblivious, however, they aren't THAT bad. I mean, you won't hear about cyclists getting shot.

    However, last night, I had a horrible upsetting experience. We were at the hospital (in laws there for tests) and went through emergency. Then I saw a guy on a stretcher with a neck brace- obviously a cyclist wearing some kind of team jersey.I heard him say something about how he'd been on a bike path and a car went up on the path and hit him! However, later I saw him sitting up so he wasn't paralyzed or anything, but his face was all scraped up. I heard him say he'd fallen on his face- I guess he went flying! Poor guy! Not the kind of thing you want to see, trust me, but it certainly could have been worse. I'm sure he was okay. But it was really upsetting- you think yikes ,it could be me! I don't hear of that kind of thing happening that often, cars going up on the path, but freak accidents can happen anywhere.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  14. #14
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by wabbit
    From what I gather, Stone Mountain is sort of near atlanta- like a burb? (Like Kennesaw Mountain).
    Yes, Stone Mountain is a satellite city of Atlanta, about 12 miles away as the crow flies. The park itself is a nice place to ride a bike, with 25 mph. speed limits and free access by bicycle, nice natural surroundings, good hills if you want to climb. Also, as Raymond said, once you find your way around [Atlanta] by bicycle, there are a lot of great ways to get around without ever leaving the street.

    I don't mind Atlanta being called "bad for cyclists," because I figure the pressure will only help my interests.

    By the way, that injured cyclist you saw. He said the car came onto the bike path and hit him. Well, I don't know exactly how that happened, but I can say this: many bike paths that follow next to the road are crossed by dozens and dozens of driveways, sidestreets and other entrance/exits for cars. This is the main reason I left the path, because of so many near misses (and pedestrians, etc.) I think a car is very likely to hit a cyclist on many of these paths.
    No worries

  15. #15
    Donating member Anastasia's Avatar
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    Gotta say I agree with LittleBigMan on this.

    Bike paths, or the "multi - use" paths that are around here are crowded with:

    kids - unpredictable, usually getting in your way

    truely recreational cyclists - which I am not, when there is a gaggle of these types it's a pain in the arse - plus they ride at a whopping 5 mph.....

    dogs - unpredictable, but up to a chase and willing to rip your leg off....

    Give me the street. In Ohio, bicycles are considered "vehicles" which have the rights of "motor vehicles". However, most motor vehicle drivers in this state don't pay any attention to this part of the drivers manual you get before taking a test....

    I would rather take my chances with the uninsured motor vehicle drivers in this state than running over a small child....

    I wish this state didn't have such a SUV - bigger, bigger, bigger is better attittude. Ohio is sooooooo tied to the motor vehicle production in this country - there are Ford and Honda plants in this area....

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  16. #16
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    I have to say, I don't know the whole story about the cyclist who was hit. That's what it sounded like, but really, I don't know all the details. Except he was hit by a car. Fortunately, he seemed to be okay.

    As for bike paths, we've all had tons of discussions about how useless they can be- Montreal is no exception. We hvae many bike paths that stretch throughout the city, but they also have the usuall non-cyclist traffic of kids, people walking dogs, people pushing strollers, kids on scooters, etc. Much worse on weekends. Mount royal is also popular with mountain bikers, but DON'T go on weekends, especially sunday. Weekends are much more crowded (especially with nice weather) and sundays are the stupid tam-tam jam, which means it's even more crowded with spaced-out hippies, dopey teenage slackers (and often, their own kids) and various other stoned-out flakes which make it impossible for cyclists. However, the bike paths aren't bad on weekdays and there are some paths which aren't used very much at all, and Mount royal is great on weekdays.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  17. #17
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i have to agree about multi-use bike paths and many bike lanes being not so great and more for recreational cyclists (if no one else is around then they're often great, but...) and the multiple users and road crossings can be dangerous...

    and i think the bike paths here in Munich next to pedestrian sidewalks are not so great...

    but, having lived in Portland i do believe that bike lanes can be great when they are properly designed and set up. In portland the lanes are designed with fast moving cyclists in mind and almost always provide a way to easily migrate into the appropriate lane to make left/right turns or whatever. Almost every bridge has a good bike lane... the smaller roads have no bike lanes and you ride in the normal traffic lanes and because of the large number of cyclists and bike awareness of motorists, you are usually treated quite well. But on the big 2-4 lane roads where cars travel 30-55mph there is usually either a bike lane stripe ´painted or a wide shoulder for cyclists AND parking in the bike lane is considered a significant offense that is ticketed so almost no one except like UPS does it. these are roads that otherwise might be unsafe or unpleasant to ride - i personally am a very experienced cyclist and don't have the 'fear' that many people have but i still don't like riding in 45 speed limit (means speeds of 60mph) 2-lane traffic when cars are changing lanes and trying to get somewhere as fast as possible... the bike lanes really help here.

    anyway, my point is that IF they are well designed to allow efficient and safe 'fast' cycling travel and not just set up to keep bicycles off the street like many places seem to be or just with recreational cyclists in mind, BIKE LANES can be great!
    why drive when you can ride?
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  18. #18
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    as for someone's post about cities in the the South and Texas in particular:: i grew up in Dallas and while there is a decent bike race/club community there, as was said, you almost NEVER see cyclists on the thousands of miles of asphalt on Dallas city streets - drivers don't look, speeds are high - and the car is king - i rode my 10-speed from age 14-15 and then got a car and didn't think about bikes again until i was in college (it's a cultural thing too and peer pressure counts when you're 16 - for me i got laughed at when i would show up all proud on my bike and that's hard when you're a teen)

    Lance grew up in Plano a suburb of Dallas - he's 1 year younger than me and i grew up about 15 miles south of him - and in Lance's book he addresses quite well i think about how he was a total outcast for being 'weird' and riding his bike in Dallas. And, as Lance also says, Austin is a totally different place and much better for cycling - people are more laid-back, more relaxed, drive slower and are less concerned about what you wear and you 'image'... (i lived 5 years in Austin and 3 years in Houston and my parents now live between Austin and San Antonio)

    Houston and San Antonio are the same except there is LESS of a bike club/racing community there (although, SA and Houston have a fair number of mountain bikers)

    but to answer someone's question as to why many southern cities are less than ideal for cycling and commuting in particular:: a big reason is that most of the southern cities are younger than the east coast or west coast or northern cities AND have been growing much faster in the the last 30 years since everything is sprawl and designed for long-distance car use::: most of the development in a place like Dallas has happened in the last 30 years and it has virtually no compact residential areas - only a central business district and then suburb after suburb after suburb and then huge multilane roads and freeways connecting everything - a nightmare for cyclists! smaller streets that force lower auto speeds are in my opinion about the best thing for cyclists - it not only slows cars down and causes them to be more aware b/c maybe a car or a kid or whatever could be a few feet ahead, but it is also aesthetically attrative and pleasant... a cyclist can behave like a 'normal' vehicle at 15-35mph, but in the 35-60mph range bikes cannot assimulate into the traffic.

    or to put it another way, these cities have been designed exclusively for high-speed auto use with large parking lots and freeways and multilane arterial roads with 45 or 50mph speed limits, etc. and no thought has been put into other transportation methods like cycling or walking (the city planners of the last 20 years would probably question the use of including cycling as a transportation method in large cities). fortunately this has started to change a little in the planning community in the last 10 years although the old methods are already in place - thus attemts like bike paths that at least show a step in the right direction even if of questionable actual value (although on the other hand, they encourage people to try cycling and help nurture kids and the recreational cyclists so bike paths are not all bad)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  19. #19
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    Nathan, yes, Bonn seems to be designed much like Munich, according to your description. I, too, dislike the paths which are physically separate from the road. As you said, it puts the bikes with the pedestrians, which has proved to be more dangerous in my experience. Hence, I am almost always on the road. Aside from the occasional dumb thing, car-drivers are simply way more attentive here than in the U.S. I just wish they would apply that attentiveness when they are out for a walk (on the multi-use paths--at least the one which I can't avoid easily).

    But, I have never yet here been honked at or had someone try to run me off the road or something. But, there is a type of driver--usually in a large Mercedes or BMW--which likes to pretend for a moment that he cannot pass me. Then upon passing me, floors it to the point of egregiously violating the speed limit. I always have to think, "is he really trying to prove that his 300Hp engine is faster than I am?" It's a guilt complex, of course.

    I also fully agree with your description of biking attitudes. In Europe, for many people bikes are purely a practical matter.

    And, I think that many of these considerations are infrastructural. Like Nathan suggested about southern cities, most U.S. cities matured during the age of the automobile, and are thus built around them. To compare again with Europe, many European cities grew close to their present sizes just before automobile dominance (mid-19th cent to early 20th). They had to accommodate existing infrastructure to the cars, not the other way around. Hence, too, the extensive rail networks.

    Portland provides again a great U.S. counter-example. With its severe urban-sprawl limitations, it has encouraged a much higher population density--one that begins to approach many European cities. Hence it has great mass transit and has worked hard to make bicycling a viable transportation option.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by jmlee; 04-26-02 at 03:29 AM.

  20. #20
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nathank
    ... smaller streets that force lower auto speeds are in my opinion about the best thing for cyclists - it not only slows cars down and causes them to be more aware b/c maybe a car or a kid or whatever could be a few feet ahead, but it is also aesthetically attrative and pleasant... a cyclist can behave like a 'normal' vehicle at 15-35mph, but in the 35-60mph range bikes cannot assimulate into the traffic.
    YES! This is why I am pushing so hard for communities to implement WELL-CONNECTED grids of sub-35mph/55kph traffic-calmed streets, so that one can get from point A to point B on a bicycle, on foot, in a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, or on a mobility scooter. In some cases, this will require slowing traffic on some of the arterials and converting some of the sweeping free turns and merges into right-angled, traffic-calmed configurations. Thanks to us baby boomers, the demographics will be ripening for this sort of change, but we need to establish alliances with advocates for the environment, public health, the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. The automobile is king on the Interstate highway system; it need not, and should not, be king on neighborhood streets or even the arterials which link neighborhoods.

    What I envision is simply that the fundamental natural right to safe, convenient mobility should not be restricted to those whose physical abilities, budget, and conscience allow them to drive everywhere.
    Last edited by John E; 04-26-02 at 07:57 AM.
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  21. #21
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    John E,

    great... sounds like you're right on track there...

    and yes, i think that's exactly what is needed - i won't claim Portland is perfect and John Forrester makes some criticisms of the bike path system in Portland, but the GRID INTERCONNECTION is another important theme in Portland - the idea that:
    1) there should be multiple ways to a destination, maybe a major street but also many small streets that also connect as in many older communities. but most newer suburbs have the cul-de-saq or other circles where only 2 or 3 and often only ONE street lead out of a community which forces all traffic onto one large road which is horrible for cyclists and pedestrians by increasing traffic, speeds and distances
    2) attempt to reconnect nearby areas that are not easily connected b/c of large roads or highways or ramps or interchanges, so pedestrians and cyclists have a shorter and convenient option --- for example, my sister lived in a suburb of Philadelphia and less than 200m straight-line distance from a huge shopping mall, but a freeway separated the two so in order to bike or walk there you had to take the high-speed service road almost 2 miles or almost 4 miles if you didn't use the freeway service road - ridiculous!

    i am not an anti-car person, and i believe the car has some good uses, but as the primary means of transportation in cities the car is horrible. in cities, cars are:
    * inefficient (require lots of space, low speed b/c of traffic, parking requirements, gas, etc.),
    * polluting
    * dangerous
    * unaesthetic
    * anti-social so breaking down 'community'
    * encourage low-density sprawled development that leads to more traffic and pollution

    if you live in a small town and don't believe these things are true, visit a big city like Dallas or Houston or Denver or Atlanta or Phoenix or Austin and drive around during rush hour - then ask people how it was 20-30 years ago and it's very likely how your small town is now and then think about how it might be in 20 years... and yes, there are exceptions in places that are not growing, but developed land is growing at like 3 times the rate of population in most of the US --- ok, actually i don't know the statistic here, 3 times is only a guess...

    if you're not already famalir with the New Urbanists, check out some of their ideas. it's basically a movement in architecture and city planning to create communities that are more 'livable'. it's a relatively new thing (a little over 10 years now i think) and there are some major criticisms, the main one being that's it's all pipe dream and unreal, and then others like that it causes gentrification and is bad for low-income people, etc... but i think almost all of it is very reasonable and doable... there are many sources on the web, but a start is http://www.cnu.org/about/_disp_faq.html. In genral, New Urbanism attempts to break the trend in city deisgn in the post-war years to design communitites solely for the 'grand automobile' and do what's cheapest rather than what makes sense.
    why drive when you can ride?
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  22. #22
    b_rider
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    Originally posted by LittleBigMan
    Don't get me wrong. I don't claim Atlanta is a gem for cycling, after all, I'm no expert. But here's my personal beef (yes, it was "Bicycling" magazine)...

    What makes a city (for me) good for cycling is
    the quality of the roads, not the number of bike paths or bike lanes. Bike paths and lanes have an understanding with me: I know they are intended to help me, but I avoid them, having cut my teeth using them. Just like as a kid, I played everywhere except the "playground," which not only seemed dangerous to me, but also boring.

    I do not think paths or lanes make a city better for cycling. Overall, what makes cycling best for me is when motorists recognize my place in their lane and know how to view me as part of traffic.


    I agree with your sentiment of what makes a city a good place for cycling. I know in my post I focuesd on bike trail. Like you I prefere to ride on the publis streets. The only time I use the trails is when I want to get from part of the city to the next with out climbing hills, more like a recovery ride. Otherwise I stay on the city streets. The reason I mentioned the bike trails is the article in Bicycling use this as one of many parts of their "scoring" method for the cities that they ranked.

    For the most part in my area the traffic is not to bad. There are streets that you simply do not ride on, it is suicide to do so. I think in every city that has a population of 5,000 or more this is the case. But even in a city with the size of population that I live in there are not that many of these streets. And there are ways to get to where you want to go in the same direction these busy streets go and avoid riding on these streets.

    Now let me ask you this littlebigman. Do you believe or is it in your opinion that every street in every city, no matter how big or small should be safe enough for cyclists to ride on, provided it is lawfully allowed? Heres a example of a not so safe street in Sioux City. Its called Gordon Drive. The speed limit on Gordon is between 35 and 45 mph going through town. It is one of the, if the busiest street here in Sioux City. Do you believe that cyclist should feel safe to ride on Gordon. BTW in Iowa a cyclist can ride on any street, road, highway or interstate where there is not a minimum speed limit posted. gordon does not have a minimum limit posted. Also a cyclist in Iowa is allowed one half of one lane according to law. So legally a cyclist is allowed to ride on Gordon. Now there are other safer streets to ride on that go the same direction as Gordon, they are residental and only around 25 to 30 mph. So is your opinion that regardless if there are other safer routes to take, you believe that all streets should be safe enough for cyclists?

  23. #23
    Donating member Anastasia's Avatar
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    Wabbit -

    It was me that was hit by a van (which was driven by an uninsured motorist) and I am recovering.

    I hope to be back in the saddle no later than June 1, 2002.
    Seven Cycles Alaris Ti - Like riding a magic carpet :love:
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    Anastasia

  24. #24
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    Nathank, It was I who posted about warmer climates and bikes, and you're right. It's the newer cities which sprawled out into endless burbs and don't allow for walking, cycling or even public transit. Toronto is like that, although they do have public transit and the GO trains for commuters to the burbs. But like big american cities, it developed and sprawled out into endless burbs so even commuting for cyclists is horrendous. In montreal you see commuters all the time but toronto is totally designed for cars, cars cars, even if they do have subways etc. The traffic is heinous. They don't have the network of trails and paths that Montreal and its buroughs have. However, it's still not as bad as say, Dallas. For one thing, people actually do walk around in Toronto- I bet in dallas you probably never even see a pedestrian! As for Lance, I have heard of Plano and it sounds like a totally gawdawful place.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  25. #25
    sandcruiser thbirks's Avatar
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    I've read a couple of these "best cities" articles. Sometimes I get the feeling that the people compiling the lists never even visited the cities.
    "only on a BIKE"

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