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  1. #1
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    Winter Cycling and Separated Infrastructure

    For those of us in the colder climes we are now entering that time of year when it's darker earlier, the roads start getting icy, there are patches of black ice, eventually snow etc.. This will be our reality pretty much through to late March or early April here in New England.

    As I peruse the Commuter forum there's lots of discussion around these issues with riders talking about donning their winter gear, reflective gear, keeping their lights charged and mounting their studded snow tires. But inevitably the chat becomes more serious when we become what one poster described as "an eight ball on the pool table" during inclement weather and particularly during icy conditions.

    This is where "sharing the road" with 3,000 lbs of sliding steel gets real.

    So what is a cyclist to do?

    I am particularly interested in the opinions of those who spend so much time in BF discrediting separated bike infrastructure. Especially those of you in sunny California, Arizona, Hawaii or even the more temperate Northwest I am curious what you recommend to your chilled brethren.

    Do we avoid riding altogether until the temperature climbs back above freezing?

    Do we "take the lane" on a newly plowed street?

    What's the best way to negotiate snow plows and trucks?

    How's that whole VC thingie work in' for ya' as opposed to a nice plowed bike path?

    For some of us we have separated infrastructure to ride on and the main issue is plowing- will they or won't they?

    The point I'm trying to make is that resisting infrastructure may work for you where you live but frankly, I'd be hard pressed to ride to work year round in Boston without a bike path- but I do wish they would plow it more often- but that is another issue.

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    You've hit on the main reason I have chosen to never live where the water spends much time as a solid. I simply don't want to deal with the problem of the frozen stuff. As I see it, you often can't effectively ride anywhere but the tire track, since the sloped icy stuff on the edges isn't going to work out so well. Add in the motorists who don't have effective defrosters/wipers and are thus driving blind, and it's more of a pain than I want to deal with.

    If I had to live in the northeast, midwest or western mountains, sure, I'd cope. I'd light up like a solstice tree and take the lane where the shoulder or bike lane are inadequate. I'd appreciate and use the bike paths, just like you do. Heck, we only get rain here and the paths are a joy in the winter due to the lack of crowds on them. I suppose it's similar when they are snow or ice covered.

    I suspect from the tone of the OP that he thinks most of us who oppose poorly implemented bike-specific infrastructure are opposed to all bike-specific infrastructure. That's not the case. Don't expect us to support door-zone bike lanes, mandatory use laws, side-paths with intersection/driveway issues, cycletracks and bike lanes/paths to nowhere that escort us into danger or routing that makes it take twice as long as it should, but when something is done well we applaud and use it. It's a bit more nuanced than pro or anti infrastructure.

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    I'm not convinced the typical segregated bike infrastructure is sufficiently segregated to be trusted to save me from 3,000 pounds of sliding steel. Certainly most of what we see in NYC isn't.

    So in answer to the OP, winter is a time when I need to use discretion, and sometimes alter hours, or skip work on snow emergency days, or use public transit. However bike infrastructure wouldn't affect the decisions much except maybe at the fringes.

    I commute to work because I enjoy it and it makes sense for me, not because I'm on any kind of mission. When it doesn't make sense, I don't take the bike.
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  4. #4
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    First off, up where I am you can count your lucky stars if a separate bike path is plowed off in the winter time with any regularity. Usually the paths just disappear under the snow and where private drive-ways and business parking lot entrances are they even pile up great big snow and ice banks from the plowing that are the last to melt and stay into the spring. In fact there was a civil case won a couple years back by a cyclist who had his neck vertebrae cracked and had partial loss of feeling and movement abilities after hitting what was left of one of those plow berms in the spring and going down hard face plant style. The business who had built up the plow berms across the path was ultimately found liable and there was a bunch of anti-cyclist hub-bub in letters to the editor and the comments sections of the local rags that carried the story.


    Secondly, you are most certainly correct that winter VC cycling takes ones skill levels to a whole different level and I do not deny that I personally "chicken out" on some days and take the car instead. Not all of those days are the ones you would think they would be. Its actually safer sometimes to cycle in the middle of a terrible blizzard when there is an "Emergency Travel Only" announcement in effect and they close down all the schools and only those in the most necessary employments have to report to work then on a beautiful sunny day with a short thaw that turns the snow packed roads into slush and mush goo on top of a ice bottom with every yo-yo in their 4-wheel drive out on the road driving like their 4-wheel drive can magically stop quicker because its a 4x4 (doesn't matter how many drive wheels when you hit the brakes its the road conditions, your tires, your braking technology, and braking technique that make a difference 4x4 only has more "go" traction absolutely zero braking advantage) and they all have cabin fever and want to go dash around in the sun.

    For VC winter cycling the colder the better (cold hard back is far better traction for you and all the cars around you then thawing slick mush), the stormier the better (so long as you have extremely good lights, definition = better then cars) because people actually drive more carefully and also the idiots have a high probability of already being in the ditch.

    The greatest problem I personally have had with winter VC cycling and also winter shoulder edge riding (up here they generally do plow the shoulder edges although some times you can't tell where the main lane ends and the shoulder ends) is the snow plows. I have been scooped up and plowed off the road right along with the snow. That's not a joke and actually if your going to be hit from behind one of the great big half circle plows that are like 4' diameter half circle on the road side of the plow and 7' diameter half circle on the ditch side of the plow and strongly tapered to the side (what they use up here mounted on the front of a dump truck with the back full of sand and salt and a spreader on the back) is actually the best thing to be hit from behind with. I just get scooped up and blown out the side into the snow drift with the snow being plowed off the road. Only light bruising on my personage and repairable damage to the bike. The only thing I can think was that it must have been kind of like being surrounded by my own personal airbag protection bubble with all the snow in the plow along with me when it happened. I wasn't watching behind me and was pedaling into a howling wind towards home with hardly anyone else on the road and all of a sudden I heard this roar right behind me and all of a sudden I was surrounded in snow and my rear wheel on my bike was going up in the air and I was thinking "What the ^$^$ ???". And then I was flying through the air surrounded by flying snow with my bike flying next to me but me no longer on it and I landed in the snow and see these orange flashing lights and pick myself up and see the @$$ end of what I know is a plow with its flashing lights going off into the distance and then I realized what had happened and started doing a quick inventory of myself looking for damage and after that did the same with my bike.

    You probably don't believe me but that what it be. Still don't like it of course especially because plow driver didn't even stop and later claimed he didn't even know he had plowed me off the road and I have nightmares about what could have happened in a true deep bank or otherwise where the discharge end of the plow wasn't open and blowing everything out but up against a solid ice berm or rock face on the inside of a sharp corner or something along those lines in which case it would be a meat grinder and the thought scares the daylights out of me. And now I make absolutely sure that don't happen to me anymore because I've gotten a whole lot more diligent about always watching me backside and don't loose myself in thinking about what is ahead while pumping into the wind like what happened that time or anything else like that.

    Long story short, yah, totally separate plowed infrastructure would be nice. But its that "totally" part of "totally separate that is the real fly in the ointment. At least in urban areas side-paths and roads and entrances to parking lots and all that are always crossing each other and those intersection points is where cars are always sliding into each other in the winter months and I as a cyclist usually also have the worst time at the intersections as well with just like I was driving a car idiots trying to slide into me. Yes, impacts can happen from behind as well and I've avoided many of them by watching my back well enough to take proactive action and not panic myself and keep my traction and angle to the opposite side they are angle sliding in so that they slide by me on one side (could be either and there really isn't a pattern). Could be wrong but I think I've got better traction then most of them or a better feel for the road or something by being on bike because I seem to be able to out maneuver cars on my bike with good studded snows in the slick.

    It's no picnic I agree and a lot of people think I'm nuts even feel the need to pull along side and tell me so through rolled down window but so far I'm still alive although I've had some close calls and then that snow plow incident and there have also been a few light bumps back and forth as well.

    But then I'm not a strict VCer and I choose to either VC or shoulder edge ride whichever one I feel is the better choice depending on the situation so I can't give you a strict militant VCer view point. And, yes, especially when a snow plow is coming up behind me on a lonely deserted road where I haven't seen anyone else besides him for a couple miles and he shows no signs of letting up I will even get off the road and hike off to the side ten feet or so and let them fly past and then get back on the road. So I'm not an idiot or a militant hard liner VCer but, yes, I do winter cycle "in the road" and while I agree the "odds" are worse then in the summer you don't have to become a victim of them and can still cycle in the winter without separate infrastructure and do so successfully and still keep your skin.

    You just really have to maintain institutional awareness and have really good lights (= better then car. Powerful rotating strobes like used on the top of emergency vehicles are a good idea) and, yes, sometimes even be smart enough to take the car instead on some days.

    And unless you have totally separate infrastructure or very close to it where the intersection conflict issues are taken care of where the getting slid into danger is highest those bike side-paths aren't going to help much even if they do get plowed. And, yes, I have used them sometimes when they did get plowed (usually only for short sections in towns) or the snow on the path was not too deep to ride on it even though it hadn't been plowed and I can absolutely assure you that the intersections are very dangerous on the side-paths and are where people in cars are sliding into people in other cars much less going through them on a bike from the side out of the main view so people don't see you until it could be too late in the summer months and on slick winter roads is too late 99% of the time, not really any "might be" about it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    ...I suspect from the tone of the OP that he thinks most of us who oppose poorly implemented bike-specific infrastructure are opposed to all bike-specific infrastructure. That's not the case. Don't expect us to support door-zone bike lanes, mandatory use laws, side-paths with intersection/driveway issues, cycletracks and bike lanes/paths to nowhere that escort us into danger or routing that makes it take twice as long as it should, but when something is done well we applaud and use it. It's a bit more nuanced than pro or anti infrastructure.
    Not exactly. You read far more into my tone than is there. I could just as easily imply from your post that because I support bike paths and other forms of separated bike structures that you feel I do not also oppose poorly implemented infrastructure.


    If there is anything implied in my tone it is that there are sometimes blanket condemnation of bike infrastructure and a strong emphasis on our "rights to the road" as our sole priority- not by all but by some and often they are in areas with less challenging climates. For those who do choose to ride in climates with "water as a solid" for a good portion of the year infrastructure that separates us from automobiles as much as possible is sometimes a welcome respite from the roads.

    Often times the infrastructure of Northern European countries is castigated as inappropriate for North America. IMO it depends on where in North America.

    But yes, you're right- light up like a Christmas tree and use those bike paths that are discredited by so many as being worthless because on roughly forty or fifty sunny, warm days out of 365 they are crowded and less than ideal for those fair weather commuters who only use them at that time.
    Last edited by buzzman; 11-24-13 at 01:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    About the only true separated cycle track situation I can think of is an elevated "skyway" upper level system of track ways. Which if covered would also be superb for winter riding with no need to plow them off if they were covered.

    Unfortunately, only in dense large city centers do I think there could be any potential for that to come to pass as a financial possibility where such infrastructure could be built and used by enough people with a price tag that was a low enough percentage of the budget.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbo1889 View Post
    First off, up where I am you can count your lucky stars if a separate bike path is plowed off in the winter time with any regularity. Usually the paths just disappear under the snow and where private drive-ways and business parking lot entrances are they even pile up great big snow and ice banks from the plowing that are the last to melt and stay into the spring. In fact there was a civil case won a couple years back by a cyclist who had his neck vertebrae cracked and had partial loss of feeling and movement abilities after hitting what was left of one of those plow berms in the spring and going down hard face plant style. The business who had built up the plow berms across the path was ultimately found liable and there was a bunch of anti-cyclist hub-bub in letters to the editor and the comments sections of the local rags that carried the story.


    Secondly, you are most certainly correct that winter VC cycling takes ones skill levels to a whole different level and I do not deny that I personally "chicken out" on some days and take the car instead. Not all of those days are the ones you would think they would be. Its actually safer sometimes to cycle in the middle of a terrible blizzard when there is an "Emergency Travel Only" announcement in effect and they close down all the schools and only those in the most necessary employments have to report to work then on a beautiful sunny day with a short thaw that turns the snow packed roads into slush and mush goo on top of a ice bottom with every yo-yo in their 4-wheel drive out on the road driving like their 4-wheel drive can magically stop quicker because its a 4x4 (doesn't matter how many drive wheels when you hit the brakes its the road conditions, your tires, your braking technology, and braking technique that make a difference 4x4 only has more "go" traction absolutely zero braking advantage) and they all have cabin fever and want to go dash around in the sun.

    For VC winter cycling the colder the better (cold hard back is far better traction for you and all the cars around you then thawing slick mush), the stormier the better (so long as you have extremely good lights, definition = better then cars) because people actually drive more carefully and also the idiots have a high probability of already being in the ditch.

    The greatest problem I personally have had with winter VC cycling and also winter shoulder edge riding (up here they generally do plow the shoulder edges although some times you can't tell where the main lane ends and the shoulder ends) is the snow plows. I have been scooped up and plowed off the road right along with the snow. That's not a joke and actually if your going to be hit from behind one of the great big half circle plows that are like 4' diameter half circle on the road side of the plow and 7' diameter half circle on the ditch side of the plow and strongly tapered to the side (what they use up here mounted on the front of a dump truck with the back full of sand and salt and a spreader on the back) is actually the best thing to be hit from behind with. I just get scooped up and blown out the side into the snow drift with the snow being plowed off the road. Only light bruising on my personage and repairable damage to the bike. The only thing I can think was that it must have been kind of like being surrounded by my own personal airbag protection bubble with all the snow in the plow along with me when it happened. I wasn't watching behind me and was pedaling into a howling wind towards home with hardly anyone else on the road and all of a sudden I heard this roar right behind me and all of a sudden I was surrounded in snow and my rear wheel on my bike was going up in the air and I was thinking "What the ^$^$ ???". And then I was flying through the air surrounded by flying snow with my bike flying next to me but me no longer on it and I landed in the snow and see these orange flashing lights and pick myself up and see the @$$ end of what I know is a plow with its flashing lights going off into the distance and then I realized what had happened and started doing a quick inventory of myself looking for damage and after that did the same with my bike.

    You probably don't believe me but that what it be. Still don't like it of course especially because plow driver didn't even stop and later claimed he didn't even know he had plowed me off the road and I have nightmares about what could have happened in a true deep bank or otherwise where the discharge end of the plow wasn't open and blowing everything out but up against a solid ice berm or rock face on the inside of a sharp corner or something along those lines in which case it would be a meat grinder and the thought scares the daylights out of me. And now I make absolutely sure that don't happen to me anymore because I've gotten a whole lot more diligent about always watching me backside and don't loose myself in thinking about what is ahead while pumping into the wind like what happened that time or anything else like that.

    Long story short, yah, totally separate plowed infrastructure would be nice. But its that "totally" part of "totally separate that is the real fly in the ointment. At least in urban areas side-paths and roads and entrances to parking lots and all that are always crossing each other and those intersection points is where cars are always sliding into each other in the winter months and I as a cyclist usually also have the worst time at the intersections as well with just like I was driving a car idiots trying to slide into me. Yes, impacts can happen from behind as well and I've avoided many of them by watching my back well enough to take proactive action and not panic myself and keep my traction and angle to the opposite side they are angle sliding in so that they slide by me on one side (could be either and there really isn't a pattern). Could be wrong but I think I've got better traction then most of them or a better feel for the road or something by being on bike because I seem to be able to out maneuver cars on my bike with good studded snows in the slick.

    It's no picnic I agree and a lot of people think I'm nuts even feel the need to pull along side and tell me so through rolled down window but so far I'm still alive although I've had some close calls and then that snow plow incident and there have also been a few light bumps back and forth as well.

    But then I'm not a strict VCer and I choose to either VC or shoulder edge ride whichever one I feel is the better choice depending on the situation so I can't give you a strict militant VCer view point. And, yes, especially when a snow plow is coming up behind me on a lonely deserted road where I haven't seen anyone else besides him for a couple miles and he shows no signs of letting up I will even get off the road and hike off to the side ten feet or so and let them fly past and then get back on the road. So I'm not an idiot or a militant hard liner VCer but, yes, I do winter cycle "in the road" and while I agree the "odds" are worse then in the summer you don't have to become a victim of them and can still cycle in the winter without separate infrastructure and do so successfully and still keep your skin.

    You just really have to maintain institutional awareness and have really good lights (= better then car. Powerful rotating strobes like used on the top of emergency vehicles are a good idea) and, yes, sometimes even be smart enough to take the car instead on some days.

    And unless you have totally separate infrastructure or very close to it where the intersection conflict issues are taken care of where the getting slid into danger is highest those bike side-paths aren't going to help much even if they do get plowed. And, yes, I have used them sometimes when they did get plowed (usually only for short sections in towns) or the snow on the path was not too deep to ride on it even though it hadn't been plowed and I can absolutely assure you that the intersections are very dangerous on the side-paths and are where people in cars are sliding into people in other cars much less going through them on a bike from the side out of the main view so people don't see you until it could be too late in the summer months and on slick winter roads is too late 99% of the time, not really any "might be" about it.
    Thank you for such an extensive response!

    You certainly articulate a lot of the challenges of winter cycling.

    One thing I do get from your post is that a well designed and well maintained separated bike infrastructure would be preferable than getting scooped up by snow plows on the roadway.

    In my case the bike path I take into Boston (originally built in the 1970's) was allowed to fall into disrepair and ignored for decades when local bike advocacy was fixated on "road rights". Once the path became riddled with pot holes, broken pavement and overgrown vegetation along its sides it was all the easier to say how worthless it was. Eventually it was rediscovered, not by a cycling organization but by a group dedicated to restoring the Charles River park. In the roughly 8 miles I am on it I cross only 6 intersections. They are by no means ideal intersections but their infrequency and my practice of dealing with them every single day makes them easily manageable.

    Were they more regularly plowed in the winter it would be fantastic but even at the somewhat paltry regularity with which they are plowed they are still usable a good portion of the year.

    BTW, I, too, am not averse to taking the bus or train or stay home when there is an emergency travel warning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    Not exactly. You read far more into my tone than is there. I could just as easily imply from your post that because I support bike paths and other forms of separated bike structures that you feel I do not also oppose poorly implemented infrastructure?


    If there is anything implied in my tone it is that there are sometimes blanket condemnation of bike infrastructure and a strong emphasis on our "rights to the road" as our sole priority- not by all but by some and often they are in areas with less challenging climates. For those who do choose to ride in climates with "water as a solid" for a good portion of the year infrastructure that separates us from automobiles as much as possible is sometimes a welcome respite from the roads.

    Often times the infrastructure of Northern European countries is castigated as inappropriate for North America. IMO it depends on where in North America.

    But yes, you're right- light up like a Christmas tree and use those bike paths that are discredited by so many as being worthless because on roughly forty or fifty sunny, warm days out of 365 they are crowded and less than ideal for those fair weather commuters who only use them at that time.
    I was reading more in than was there. However, I believe there have been implementations in the past that you have supported that I would find substandard. On the continuum, we will sometimes draw the line in different places, although our ideal builds would probably be quite similar.

    I suppose I get a bit over-sensitive about our right to the road and the role bike-specific infrastructure plays in that because I have spent the majority of my life in states with mandatory-use laws. It is rather unpleasant to have some ignorant motorist try to "teach me a lesson" by nearly hitting me just because I am riding where the law dictates I have a perfect right to be. I think it is reasonable to trace this conflict back to the poorly designed infrastructure and, as you know, all to many USaian proponents of what is done in N. Europe support these implementations. After all, the bike lanes in Amsterdam are mostly fully in the door zone, so some folks think that is how they should be. Considering the number of doors that have opened next to me as I sped past outside the door zone, I likely wouldn't be riding anymore if I had made a habit of riding in the door zone.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    . . . One thing I do get from your post is that a well designed and well maintained separated bike infrastructure would be preferable than getting scooped up by snow plows on the roadway. . .
    Correct, but it is also true that road rights still need to be preserved as well. If you build good enough bicycle infrastructure with the exception of the occasional sole malcontent you don't have to require cyclists to use it. If cyclists aren't using a piece of infrastructure and instead choose to risk riding in the road instead that should tell you something about the infrastructure in question and the answer is not to use force and violence of law enforcement or vigilantes "to force" cyclists to use it "for their own safety". Hey, we generally want to keep our skin and we are the ones with skin in the game so if cyclist aren't using it then it needs to be fixed, as apposed to "making them" use it.

    Sounds like this is what happened with the path your talking about, path fixed and then all of a sudden cyclists are using it. Imagine that, do it right and they use it. On the other hand make dangerous "cycle infrastructure" that is only intended to get cyclists the "hell off of our road" and "the hell out of our sight" and build it with that kind of mindset and don't be surprised if cyclists don't use it.

    . . . In the roughly 8 miles I am on it I cross only 6 intersections. They are by no means ideal intersections but their infrequency and my practice of dealing with them every single day makes them easily manageable. . . .
    Situations like that are also perfectly acceptable to me as well. There are a couple rail trails I use that fit that kind of definition (mainly because they follow old rail beds which were designed to have minimal intersections with roads in the first place since rail/road crossings are dangerous but in the opposite direction as in train smash car and kill driver rather then car smash bike and kill rider). And I have no problem with them except for some minor annoyances and grumblings about how they did set-up some of the intersections they do have but because they are infrequent enough they are a wiser and safer choice then the road. To such an extent that I even have trouble sometimes with pace-line packs of roady riders taking up the whole width of the path from edge charging down on me head on and expecting me to get off the path and out of their way. You know its a good path when even the roady group rides are using it instead of the road which is almost unheard of at least in my area.

    . . . BTW, I, too, am not averse to taking the bus or train or stay home when there is an emergency travel warning.
    For the record, actually I said it often worked the other way around for me and the days were its a terrible winter blizzard with an emergency travel warning and they close the schools down (and public transit buses as well) can actually be safer days to ride on the road as a cyclists including VC riding "in the road" and "taking the lane" compared to a beautiful sunny clear day during a thaw where all the hard pack on the roads melts into slush goop on top of ice and every freeking idiot with cabin fever is trying to get out on the roads with their 4x4s and "play in the sun" and tear around slipping and sliding all the way and crashing into each other because they think spring has come and the roads are all okay because its melting don't you know.

    I'm more likely to take the car on those days then the emergency travel only middle of a blizzard days and its scary enough in a car on those beautiful sunny thaw days !!! Those are the days where the odds are against you even in a protective cage much less on bicycle.

    I much prefer to speak of other people doing stupid dangerous things having a risk to me in terms of "the odds" rather then the "its dangerous to ride a bike" terminology. "The odds" doesn't have the "blame the victim" flavor that the "its dangerous to ride a bike" terminology does while still acknowledging the reality of the risks.

  10. #10
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    If it's snowing, here, I break out the car.

    Side effect of liking small wheels and a tadpole recumbent trike being my preferred ride. Tadpole recumbents with smooth tires, plus snow accumulation, equals stopping dead with a spinning rear wheel.

    Generally the trails around here do get plowed a day or two after a storm, though.

    And, one huge difference between Dutch cycling infrastructure and the same infrastructure here is the legal frameworks and societal attitudes around it. The different liability laws, as well as much more people feeling that cyclists belong (and cyclists having a strong political lobby of their own), help a lot, even in cases where the infrastructure is something that would create motorist/cyclist conflict in the US. (They do have a lot of good ideas, but some of their implementations only work in countries where the culture and law make cyclists less vulnerable. Not that changing the culture and law here is a bad idea, either.)

    Plus there's the whole, Amsterdam isn't the gold standard of Dutch cycling, from everything I've heard, factor.
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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    Yes, that cyclists belong and to take things even further have a right to travel unmolested on the public right of ways (including roads) where as driving a dangerous automobile is a privilege not a right and comes with equivalent responsibilities, specifically like not hitting thing due to driving too aggressive and fast for conditions and treating other people, especially peds. and cyclists not as trespassers on motorists sovereign turf but rather vulnerable users with more right to be there then them and have this infused both in the cultural norm and the written laws and court precedents as much as possible is an important step forward.

    And not just for VC on roadway access but also for semi-separate infrastructure users wherever contact and interaction takes place (usually at intersections). In fact it may actually be more important in that later case then the former. Mandated separate infrastructure use goes completely against this and is a symptom of the deeper problem.

    As I have said before and I will say again if you build the infrastructure right the vast majority of cyclists will use it, if you don't then some of them, sometimes even the majority won't use them. Also, if cycle infrastructure use is not mandatory but rather optional and left up to the choice of the cyclist then the designers and builders are far more concerned about getting it right because they know they have to in order to get people to use it.

    Same applies to maintenance and, yes, also plowing and de-icing of such once its built.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 11-24-13 at 12:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    I was reading more in than was there. However, I believe there have been implementations in the past that you have supported that I would find substandard. On the continuum, we will sometimes draw the line in different places, although our ideal builds would probably be quite similar.

    I suppose I get a bit over-sensitive about our right to the road and the role bike-specific infrastructure plays in that because I have spent the majority of my life in states with mandatory-use laws. It is rather unpleasant to have some ignorant motorist try to "teach me a lesson" by nearly hitting me just because I am riding where the law dictates I have a perfect right to be. I think it is reasonable to trace this conflict back to the poorly designed infrastructure and, as you know, all to many USaian proponents of what is done in N. Europe support these implementations. After all, the bike lanes in Amsterdam are mostly fully in the door zone, so some folks think that is how they should be. Considering the number of doors that have opened next to me as I sped past outside the door zone, I likely wouldn't be riding anymore if I had made a habit of riding in the door zone.

    In all likelihood you might find the bike path I ride into Boston on every day as "sub standard". And I would more than likely agree. I would also rate the roads I could choose as an alternative as "sub standard" as well. They are also poorly maintained, pot holes and broken pavement often under construction for the crumbling gas and electric infrastructure under the pavement with poor designs at intersections and inadequate accommodations for the thousands of parked cars along its side as well as the entrances and exits from the hundreds of parking lots and businesses that line the route. The road was originally designed more than two centuries ago, eventually paved in the 1920's with increasing urbanization and building along its edges up to the present day.


    Riding this road in the winter with ice and snow only exacerbates its poor conditions. I guess what I find somewhat disingenuous is to bemoan the poor design of bike infrastructure and ignore the piss poor condition and design of so many of our roadways.

    While we do not have mandatory use laws here in Massachusetts I, too, have been "taught lessons" by arrogant motorists wishing to assert what they feel is their exclusive right to these roads. Aggressive driving in the winter is heightened by the lack of road space for bicyclists and motorists to safely "share the road".

    I'm all for the right to the road but let's go the step further and make them roads worth fighting for the right to ride on. Otherwise I'd prefer to go for the separated alternative when it suits my needs- even if it is beneath my, or other's, standards.
    Last edited by buzzman; 11-24-13 at 01:13 AM.

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    we don't really have enough snow/ice to make out-of-control vehicles into a problem. I have felt that way in my car though -- one snowy commute, the same idiot almost rear-ended me 5 times. I tend to ride on roads that don't have a lot of traffic. The bike path near me isn't plowed. The other municipalities in the area decided to plow, but the closest one decided they were accepting too much liability(?) by clearing the bike path. I rarely use it anyway

    Last year I rode on the gravel fire roads in the nearby state forest quite a bit. There is one road where the snow was fine until the bottom, where there is a curve and there was a sheet of ice all winter. I never felt endangered there, but I came upon a large number of wrecks. Nobody ever accepted my offers of help extracting their car for some reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    In all likelihood you might find the bike path I ride into Boston on every day as "sub standard". And I would more than likely agree. I would also rate the roads I could choose as an alternative as "sub standard" as well. They are also poorly maintained, pot holes and broken pavement often under construction for the crumbling gas and electric infrastructure under the pavement with poor designs at intersections and inadequate accommodations for the thousands of parked cars along its side as well as the entrances and exits from the hundreds of parking lots and businesses that line the route. The road was originally designed more than two centuries ago, eventually paved in the 1920's with increasing urbanization and building along its edges up to the present day.


    Riding this road in the winter with ice and snow only exacerbates its poor conditions. I guess what I find somewhat disingenuous is to bemoan the poor design of bike infrastructure and ignore the piss poor condition and design of so many of our roadways.

    While we do not have mandatory use laws here in Massachusetts I, too, have been "taught lessons" by arrogant motorists wishing to assert what they feel is their exclusive right to these roads. Aggressive driving in the winter is heightened by the lack of road space for bicyclists and motorists to safely "share the road".

    I'm all for the right to the road but let's go the step further and make them roads worth fighting for the right to ride on. Otherwise I'd prefer to go for the separated alternative when it suits my needs- even if it is beneath my, or other's, standards.
    Putting the two bolded sentences together, here's the way I see it: Roads that were built many decades ago generally require a substantial investment to bring up to a reasonable standard for all users. I don't give them a total pass, but I understand why a traffic planner/engineer isn't spending time on them when there is no funding. Bike infrastructure is mostly fairly recently installed. There is no excuse for making it dysfunctional, even marginally so. Why are we still putting bike lanes in door zones? Why are side path on busy streets with many driveways and intersections being built? These are rightfully bemoaned, IMO.

    Should we make all our roads work for all modes? Well, no. I'm good with some segregation. However, all too often we default to unnecessarily crappy road builds, whether they have bike-specific features or not. This is what I find frustrating and the people who provide cover for such crap, at least locally, are the folks who idolize Amsterdam and organize annual field trips there for indoctrination purposes.

    Once again, I feel that we are united in opposition to roads that are built or rebuilt without proper consideration of users who are not sitting in an automobile, be they cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders or in a wheelchair. We just draw the line in different places regarding what we are happy with as sufficient (not that we would make any different choices regarding routes, given what is available).

    For what it's worth, I am currently communicating with the consulting firm that will shape a possible bike path to our largest suburb fourteen miles west of town. I don't oppose bike paths at all and this one could be a substantial addition to our community. However, if the final design is defective, then I will oppose it until the defects are redesigned. I will be fighting the Copenhagenistas if/when this happens, since they would prefer something, no matter how defective, rather than hold out for a good implementation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Putting the two bolded sentences together, here's the way I see it: Roads that were built many decades ago generally require a substantial investment to bring up to a reasonable standard for all users. I don't give them a total pass, but I understand why a traffic planner/engineer isn't spending time on them when there is no funding. Bike infrastructure is mostly fairly recently installed. There is no excuse for making it dysfunctional, even marginally so. Why are we still putting bike lanes in door zones? Why are side path on busy streets with many driveways and intersections being built? These are rightfully bemoaned, IMO...
    Much of what you describe here is bike infrastructure which is being integrated into an existing and, in many cases, inadequate roadway.

    There will inevitably be compromises because we are so often revamping an existing roadway to more appropriately serve the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. Very little bike infrastructure is built from the ground up and all new. Even rail trails are are limited by the crossings, intersections and pathways that have long since been defined.

    IMO, much of the infrastructure that is being added for bicyclists has, if nothing else, a traffic calming effect and while imperfect, in most cases, does not leave cyclists any more exposed to danger than without. Unless you have some info I am not privy to most studies show some improvement to cyclist safety with added infrastructure or a negligible effect on safety but an increase in ridership.


    I'm approaching 60 and I've heard the "I'll wait until it meets my high standards" argument for decades as nothing got done. Finally, and ironically, it was non-cycling organizations that pushed for change and things started to get done. Perfectly?- No. But most of what's been done where I do much of my riding has been improvements and much of it will make a difference for me personally as I ride this winter whether on the road or bike path.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post

    I'm approaching 60 and I've heard the "I'll wait until it meets my high standards" argument for decades as nothing got done. Finally, and ironically, it was non-cycling organizations that pushed for change and things started to get done. Perfectly?- No. But most of what's been done where I do much of my riding has been improvements and much of it will make a difference for me personally as I ride this winter whether on the road or bike path.
    I'm just a couple years younger than you, but have spent my life on the other coast. I've spent the last forty years watching ever-more bike-specific infrastructure being built. The express purpose of much of it has been to get cyclists out of the way of motorists, not to increase safety nor to increase ridership. In fact, I have witnessed first-hand massive declines in ridership that coincided with large increases in infrastructure, although the latter was unlikely to have caused the former (population-type change, reduced fuel costs, demographic changes, income changes and density issues were much more likely the causes). Of course, no one gathered the data since this occurred in the late '80s/early '90s and back then such numbers were not collected.

    While we are still putting in infrastructure from the ground up, both car-dominated and bike-specific, the majority of what happens out here is also redesign/rebuild. I guess the real problem for me is that the folks on the pro-segregation side of the line tend to think that anything that separates bikes from motor vehicles is automatically good, which is clearly not the case, and then carry that philosophy forward into every aspect of what they push to get done.

    For example, my city just restriped a street that extends from downtown twenty blocks to the west into the only neighborhood that is populated by non-car people. We successfully pushed to get a bit of on-street parking removed, which was the only positive thing that happened. The traffic planners/engineers (planner is proudly Copenhagenista, engineer is proudly pro-car) then proceeded to substantially widen the travel lanes, which unnecessarily placed the bike lanes that still had parking next to them completely in the door zone. Then, just outside my neighborhood's sphere of influence, they buffered the bike lane that does not have parking next to it to the travel lane instead of buffering the bike lane with parking from the parking to move it away from the door zone.

    There are two problems with this approach:
    1. It pushes the buffered bike lane further from the line of sight of vehicles coming onto or leaving the road at the many intersections and driveways. This also pushes the cyclists deeper into the debris-zone of the gutter.
    2. It unnecessarily pushes the bike lane fully into the door zone. There is a much greater chance of being doored than of being hit from behind on this 25 mph road.

    So, we went from a lousy build (mostly door-zone bike lanes) to a mediocre build (some proper bike lane, much door-zone bike lane and some nearly-out-of-sight bike lanes). This could have been an excellent change, but the car-fearing philosophy of the segregationists left it crappy. This type of badly done change is happening throughout my region and may be responsible for our loss of cyclists over the past four years (while most places are seeing increases).
    Thus, the fight between many (maybe most) longtime cyclists and the mostly newer segregation-preferring folks. Sure, we have large areas of agreement, but their overriding fear of motorists tends to lead to some extremely bad compromises.

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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    It's not fear of motorists (I have a healthy fear of the nut job, speed demon, idiot, reckless, territorial aggressive, and/or just straight out aggressive segment of motorists) but rather a very base line instinct that "flight or fight" are the only available options and that of those options the fight option is impossible to win and thus the only choice remaining is the flight option.

    First off the "fight or flight" is a false choice on an animal instinct level. There are many, many, many more options available all of which require a higher logic thinking above the base animal level. Unfortunately many members of the human race are not used to normally thinking above the base level especially under stress. Secondly the idea that the flight option will always save you from harm is far from the truth even at the base animal level much less a higher level of consciousness.

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Sorry I missed your rant when you first posted buzzman.

    Since you mention Hawaii, you clearly are directing your rant towards me as well. Sorry you are not able to ride VC in the winter.

    I am not sure why you are not able to ride VC in winter. I was riding VC as a 12 year old, north of Denver year round.

    I do admit that it was a little more interesting riding in Washington DC during snow storms. Those people barely know how to drive on sunny days. But I never considered it more dangerous for cycling. It actually seemed safer than motoring, since when someone else went into a skid, I had more options for getting out of the way of a skidding motorist.

    One mid day Washington DC snow storm when they decided to shut everything down and send people home, I was extremely happy to be cycling. It was a blast riding in fresh snow again. During the 28 mile ride home, I watched three different motorist skid into other motorist, none of which presented a risk to me. There was a 3 to 5 car smashup in Maryland on a main highway north of DC. One car was flipped onto its roof. It completely shut down the highway causing all the motorist to take a 2 hour detour. I asked the state trooper detouring traffic if I could cycle through and he said "Sure, no problem". So I was having a good dinner while all those others were still stuck in traffic.

    Again, I am so sorry you are having such a hard time riding VC in winter. But please stop taking swipes at me just because I currently live in Hawaii.

    Currently sitting in Hawaii watching my Broncos kick NE's butt.
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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    I am aware of buzzmans "agenda" but at least so far I've been able to reason with him so I will answer his questions honestly. Someone having an agenda is not a problem that will push me to the point in and of itself of having problems with that person so long as they are willing to engage critical thinking skills and actually have a reasonable conversation. Heck, I have agendas of my own, but if you ever get to the point where you are so blinded you can't engage your critical thinking skills any more that's when you have gone off the deep end with your agenda. I have yet to see evidence that buzzman has reached that point.

    Me personally on low speed roads, anything with a speed limit of 25-mph or slower I am almost completely pro-VC and anti-segregation with the exception of semi-separate hill climbing lanes. I am especially adamant in this "agenda" of my own when it comes to either residential roadways which are supposed to be traffic calmed anyway regardless of the presence of cycle traffic or not for basic safety concerns alone (especially kids) and any roadway residential or business district with roadside parallel parking so if the traffic and behavior of motorists in such areas are such that it is dangerous for cyclists to ride VC that is only a symptom of a far bigger safety problem that is being cause by aggressive belligerent drivers and possibly also aggravated by infrastructure engineering and condition and regardless of cyclists presence or not that larger problem must be dealt with and in so doing it once again becomes ideal for cyclists to VC ride in such areas. Also, when there are more then one lane in a direction of travel on such low speed roads allowing faster overtaking vehicles to pass without having to wait to use the oncoming traffic lane its ridiculously stupid to be claiming VC cycling is causing undue hardship for motorists especially at those low speeds anyway.

    However, once speeds start getting higher then that, especially on high traffic roadways I consider VC riding to be only a coping mechanism implemented due to infrastructures failure to safely and properly accommodate the effective travel needs of all users. On such high speed roads I strongly support the implementation of appropriate and well engineered infrastructure that is designed to safely meet cyclist needs for effective travel as well. In order for this to actually happen such infrastructure must not be designed by people whose desire is to get cyclists "the hell off the road, the hell out of the way, and the hell out of our sight !!!"

    For me personally on many of the roads I travel that are both high speed and high volume traffic the only infrastructure accommodation I need is a ride-able shoulder edge of sufficient width and surface condition. And I am perfectly happy with just that and in many cases it would be my preference since its hard for them to goof up that request, where as if you specify bicycle lane instead they often goof that up or even worse if you specify separated side-path they really, really, tend to goof those up very badly and not just at the intersections.

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    Quote Originally Posted by turbo1889 View Post
    I am aware of buzzmans "agenda" but at least so far I've been able to reason with him so I will answer his questions honestly. Someone having an agenda is not a problem that will push me to the point in and of itself of having problems with that person so long as they are willing to engage critical thinking skills and actually have a reasonable conversation. Heck, I have agendas of my own, but if you ever get to the point where you are so blinded you can't engage your critical thinking skills any more that's when you have gone off the deep end with your agenda. I have yet to see evidence that buzzman has reached that point...
    Thanks Turbo.

    I certainly appreciate your agenda and got the gist of most of it and it makes a great deal of sense.

    I am curious, however, what you think my agenda is exactly?

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Currently sitting in Hawaii watching my Broncos kick NE's butt.
    How's that workin' out for you now? Last I heard the score was 34-31, NE and the game is over.

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    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    I think your agenda is to get as much cycle infrastructure as possible right now including some that others such as myself would consider "shoddy at best" in order to increase ridership as much as possible and thus ultimately get cycling accepted towards an ultimate goal of all good infrastructure everywhere, preferably an expansive separate path network that goes everywhere roads go.

    I personally don't see that strategy working and a whole lot of injuries and death among especially inexperienced cyclists due to them trusting dangerous infrastructure to protect them when it often does not and worst sometimes puts them in unexpected and sudden danger (usually at intersection crossings which I think a lot of path advocates fail to fully appreciate the conflicts created) and I also see it resulting in a whole lot of both actually legislated and enforced by perception even if not actually legislated mandatory cycle specific infrastructure use. All this mainly the result of shoddy infrastructure going first into low speed urban streets where it is least needed and can be the most dangerous because of all the intersection conflicts and parked car door zone conflicts and also the most highly desired by motorists to get cyclists out of their way.

    But I do understand the appeal of that strategy.

    But then its possible I've misread you but I have read a lot of your posts and that is the jist of what I've got. If need please correct any misconceptions I might have and your free of course to also attack the problems I see with it as well.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 11-25-13 at 12:06 AM.

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    Wherever Buzzman sits on this issue, that was a well worded description of the conflict within the cycling community Turbo. Of course, there are many folks who don't buy into any of it, but the two most vocal camps appear to be those in the "build what we can get now and we'll fix it after we get folks riding" and those of us who see that as a recipe for failure just as the stars are aligning for successfully getting significant numbers of Americans onto bikes.

    I suspect it doesn't really matter who's right.

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    How's that workin' out for you now? Last I heard the score was 34-31, NE and the game is over.
    Yeah it happens sometimes. I think they have a better record this year than either your favorite college or NFL team, right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbo1889 View Post
    I think your agenda is to get as much cycle infrastructure as possible right now including some that others such as myself would consider "shoddy at best" in order to increase ridership as much as possible and thus ultimately get cycling accepted towards an ultimate goal of all good infrastructure everywhere, preferably an expansive separate path network that goes everywhere roads go.

    I personally don't see that strategy working and a whole lot of injuries and death among especially inexperienced cyclists due to them trusting dangerous infrastructure to protect them when it often does not and worst sometimes puts them in unexpected and sudden danger (usually at intersection crossings which I think a lot of path advocates fail to fully appreciate the conflicts created) and I also see it resulting in a whole lot of both actually legislated and enforced by perception even if not actually legislated mandatory cycle specific infrastructure use. All this mainly the result of shoddy infrastructure going first into low speed urban streets where it is least needed and can be the most dangerous because of all the intersection conflicts and parked car door zone conflicts and also the most highly desired by motorists to get cyclists out of their way.

    But I do understand the appeal of that strategy.

    But then its possible I've misread you but I have read a lot of your posts and that is the jist of what I've got. If need please correct any misconceptions I might have and your free of course to also attack the problems I see with it as well.
    That's almost it, Turbo. I think you shaped it a bit to bolster your own arguments but that's fine. If anything I might say, "cycle infrastructure when possible" as opposed to " as much cycle infrastructure as possible" or I might say, "cycle infrastructure when and where appropriate"- and that is often the disagreement as to whether it is appropriate.

    But it was something B. Carfree said in his post that spurred me perhaps to more clearly define where I stand on these issues. (please forgive the lengthy post)

    Quote Originally Posted by B.Carfree
    I suspect it doesn't really matter who's right.]
    Since it's A&S in BF's, where we tend to like agendas and lines in the sand so we can stand on one side or the other and lob our digital word bombs at one another. Here is my line in the sand and bit of history to it:

    For years I could have cared less about bike lanes and bike paths. In fact, I deliberately ignored them. No one could force me to ride on the broken pavement of the paths that ran along Memorial Drive, Soldiers Field Road or Storrow Drive. I even once, on tour, rode the South East expressway out of Boston on a 200 mile day of riding from Maine to Providence, RI. Give me a road and I would ride it. I worked in the best shop in the area as a mechanic and sales person, raced with the best of the local riders (and often won). When we did our training rides we not only " took the lane" we owned the lane for as long as we wanted. I rode every where and every day. And, most importantly, I still do.

    But something changed.

    I lived in Cambridge, MA at the time, the Mecca of political correctness, a place where freedom was espoused but rules and forms were the norm and trumped freedom if necessary. Cars are everywhere in Cambridge but everyone hates them. A place filled with politics and paradox.it was the early 1980's and a fellow racer was dating a woman who rode a bike every where, not like us though, a bike with a basket and fenders and a cushy seat and she rode it everywhere really slowly. But she was political and socially conscious and she wanted more people on bikes and she and some other like minded cyclists started an advocacy group called Boston Area Bicycle Coalition. Well, knowing I liked politics and bikes my friend thought I should go to one of the meetings. At first the meetings were fine all kinds of pie in the sky ideas about more bikes and a better world. But then the hard core bike riders started to come, guys like me. And they could care less about that stuff. They wanted their right to the road. They felt that was threatened. We don't need no stinkin' bike path. And bike lanes?!- You're kidding right? Eventually those guys dominated, won out and the other voices were silenced.

    And who was right? Does it matter?

    Fast forward several years and some of the socially conscious, make a better world people finally got the City of Cambridge to build a bike path along side the Fresh Pond Pkwy. This group of parents, ordinary well meaning Cambridge types worked diligently against tremendous opposition by several of the bike riding experts and against opposition from the city and finally won and got this path put in that circumvented a particularly gnarly stretch of road.

    I was on the fence about it but happened to know some of those people who advocated for it and liked them. I went to the ribbon cutting ceremony. There were families and people on bikes and balloons and children and among the crowd two fully kitted "bike experts" passing out fliers condemning the path and making dire pronouncements of how many people would die and be seriously injured due to the path. Their real agenda? They were terrified it would lead to mandated use of the path because that stretch of road was currently legal to ride on.

    At that point I knew what side of the line in the sand I was on. Was I just a person on bike trying to make a better world for as many people on bikes as possible or was I a self righteous, know it all biker wanting to make the world better for myself? For all my riding I'm just a guy on a bike NOT a bike expert. so take everything I say with a big grain of road salt. (for those of you in more temperate climes this might be hard to find).

    Who was right?

    More than ten years later that bike path is still there, is used every day by hundreds of cyclists with no deaths or serious injuries.

    Sometimes the "Copenhagenistas" are right and sometimes the "bike experts" are right but philosophically I'll stand on the side of those who want facilities that serve all ages and all types of riders not just the hard core like me.

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