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  1. #1
    Senior Member bikerider's Avatar
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    Use the bike path!

    On another forum I came across this link:

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?n...d=183019&rfi=6

    The article, despite the fact that it is mainly drivel, illustates what I see as the big problem with building bike paths (the ones meant as an alternative for roads, anyway) and installing bike lanes: a desire by motorists to get bikes off of roads or onto roads where bike lines exist. It is not surprising that Texas of all places would be the pioneer in this endeavour and it is also not surprising considering the attitudes we all see on the roads today, but the idea of total banishment of bikes on roads concerns me greatly and although we may be far from it now, we seem to be heading in that direction, rather than away from it. In fact, with the declining number of young people riding on the road, it almost seems to be inevitable.

    I find bike paths to be wholly unsuitable for anything other than very leisurely riding and I am not at all convinced that bike lanes solve more problems than they create. In fact, I tend to avoid most roads with bike lanes, as they have simply become a spot for motorists to park, partially due to the complete absence of ticketing. Call me cynical but I sometimes suspect that the only reason bike lanes were ever allowed to exist was so that bicyclists could then be kept off of roads without bike lanes.

    I guess what I am wondering is whether this attitude will grow to influence laws and whether it will make it's way up North.

    Comments?

    Edit: *Minor spelling mistake corrected*
    Last edited by bikerider; 06-08-02 at 12:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Bash US - We'll Bash You
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    Originally posted by bikerider
    It is not surprising that Texas of all places would be the pionneer in this endeavour...<snip>

    Comments?
    What do you mean? Why would you consider Texas to be a leader in something like this?
    I never saw an American flag burned at a gun show.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bikerider's Avatar
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    Are you trolling again?

    In case you are serious, Texas has gained quite the reputation for being anti-bicycle. I cite a recent article (it even includes a quote from the god Lance himself):

    http://www.austin360.com/aas/legisla...501/bikes.html

    I would have thought that Texans would be loathe to restrict personal freedoms like that - at least that's what my socialist education would have me believe.

    Oh, the irony.

  4. #4
    Bash US - We'll Bash You
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    Originally posted by bikerider
    Are you trolling again?

    In case you are serious, Texas has gained quite the reputation for being anti-bicycle. I cite a recent article (it even includes a quote from the god Lance himself):

    http://www.austin360.com/aas/legisla...501/bikes.html

    I would have thought that Texans would be loathe to restrict personal freedoms like that - at least that's what my socialist education would have me believe.

    Oh, the irony.
    The article you linked is vintage a year and a half ago. I wouldn't consider that recent in terms of legislation or news.

    You will find it has been buried in committee if you follow your links.
    I never saw an American flag burned at a gun show.

  5. #5
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    On a fast road, a properly-designed bike lane (particularly at the intersections!) can be a win-win for motorists and cyclists. Parking bans DO have to be enforced; notify your local authorities if people routinely park in bike lanes, as it could be a great revenue source for them.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I would like to see roads made bike friendly by putting the storm drains off the edge of the road, making the curb lane wide enough for a bus and bike to us at the same time, and maintaining a smooth road surface. These things would benefit both motorists and cyclists. If roads must have one lane eliminated to make the curb lanes wide enough, it should be a lane for going into town. Making it harder for cars to get into town than to get out of town would reduce congestion downtown.

  7. #7
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    If people were really serious about helping cyclists, there are much safer and cheaper ways than building separate paths. Also, everyone knows that it's better to separate cyclists from pedestrians than to separate cyclists from motor traffic. Why not
    require motorists to reduce their maximum speed and drive more responsibly (long overdue) which would be the best help for cyclists?

    Separate but equal has never succeeded in this country, and it's not for me, thank you.
    No worries

  8. #8
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    On yesterday's ride, I witnessed two arguments against the viability of bike paths and lanes. First, one of the county highways in the South Jersey Pinelands had a bike lane which covered quite a few miles. It was basically unusable, though, because the lane was strewn with gravel from the road shoulder. This indicates a lack of maintenance, which seems to be fairly common, at least in this area.

    Second, in one of the towns we passed through, there was a bike path paralleling the highway for about 1/4 mile. It, too, was strewn with gravel and was overgrown with overhanging tree branches and brush. This was all the provocation it took for some idiot in an SUV to yell out his window "Get on the bike path!". It seems to be a fairly easy mental leap from "There is a bike path" to "You must use the bike path".

    I do like the idea of bike lanes, but not the way they are often implemented and maintained. Forget bike paths, though, since they are soon taken over by pedestrians, tree roots, and debris.

  9. #9
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    The bike lanes here in philly are great, although there aren't enough of them. Sure, people do drive in them sometimes, and they double park in them, especially in my neighborhood, but overall it's a good thing, I think. They at least work in this town because there are so many bikers.
    I've never heard of drivers being officially punished for parking/driving in the bike lanes. I don't condone this, but I do have a friend that smashes off car side mirrors (sometimes with his bare fist) when they are parked in the bike lane!! I would rather just leave a pre-made note on the car saying what it does to bikers when they use the bike lane.
    I use them daily on my way to work, along with the sidewalk, the street, the city parks, whatever i can get to work. I do go slowly on the sidewalks nowadays tho....
    -brent

  10. #10
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    Bike lanes are sometimes useful--I live in an enlightened area where you don't take too much grief for not using the lane. Where's the rich dude who will finance my ad campaign? Time to guilt-trip the rednecks about NOT riding bikes!
    Allah hates your Cannondale/loves your Suburban!

  11. #11
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    And it sounds like, from that Texas attachment, that said state needs some very large Critical Mass rides.

  12. #12
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    I'm answering one of the questions by pasting a story of a ride I did on Saturday
    For the record, I live in so-called bike-path-wonderland Netherlands


    Yesterday I was on a wonderful road, but the experience was once again muddled by the inferior bike path next to it..

    I was riding on one of the most thrilling roads for a Dutch cyclist: the 7-hill road, which really has about 5 roller coaster hills. We don't have many hills in our little flat country!
    That road has been RUINED a couple of years ago by adding a MANDATORY bike path next to it, which has a sharp angle at the bottom of 3 of the steepest hills.. and a coarse surface as well. Not my idea of fun.. so I take the silky smoooooth road..
    Of course it happened again.. a couple of car drivers leaning on the horn and also, I could have known one car driver with passengers who opened the window and yelled at me to get on the !@#$% BIKE PATH. Hard to conversate at 35-40 km/hr and dangerous too when a window is just at 1 m distance, right? He then cuts me right off and even brakes slightly. I have to pull the brakes to avoid a collision.. oh how wonderful. Luckily the 6 other hills were great.. they would have sucked big time if I had had to do them on the bloody bike path..

    Sorry for the graphic language..

    The funny thing was, that just a few K further on I elected a real bad earthen road, which wasn't rideable, as it was far too muddy.. but it was heavenly quiet and beautiful. Peace of mind at last!
    I wasn't unhappy here because I had voluntarily chosen to walk on that road.. even when it was of inferior quality.
    I have not chosen to cycle at walking speed on an inferior bike path when there is a perfect road next to it...

    Fietser Ivana
    vehicular cyclist : commuter - tourist - randonneur

  13. #13
    Senior Member bikerider's Avatar
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    Fietser Ivana, your experience is exactly what I am afraid of. Clearly the bike paths where you live are meant for slower travelling cyclists and families with younger children who are simply not old enough to understand the rules of the road and to deal with motorists.

    Unfortunately, you seem to like to ride your bike like I do, quickly and adventurously and bike paths are often totally unsuitable for this. Where I live, the recreational multi use paths have a posted speed limit of 20 km/h which I am usually exceeding on the road. If I wanted to move at 5 km/h, I would walk. Fortunately, there is no rule (yet) that says I have to use the path instead of the road, probably becuase the path meanders and so does not really follow any one road for very long. As my original post stated, I am worried that the building of more bike paths and lanes will mean that I have to move more and more slowly and deal with more obstacles in less predictible manners which serve to jeopardize my safety. Your experiences serve to confirm my fears.

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    Bikerider it's worse... bike paths are MANDATORY over here.
    I've been ticketed by a cop in the past who stated upon my protest that the bike path was too uprooted to be riding 25km/hr on it, that if it was that bad I should

    WALK THE BIKE BUT NOT RIDE ON THE ROAD

    It's been only another week that I crossed a traffic light when it was green.. and a cop at the other side who was riding his own private car, turned around and blocked the bike path I wisely chose after I heard him honking... started to lecture me about disregarding safety...
    Geez, I'm wearing a helmet mirror and check it religiously every 5 minutes or even more frequently. Here, only recumbent riders and one out of 10.000 cyclists uses a mirror.. and he tells me I'm being careless..

    Sighing in the Netherlands

    Ivana
    vehicular cyclist : commuter - tourist - randonneur

  15. #15
    Senior Member hosehead's Avatar
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    This is an interesting article. At the end it's all about safety,
    "The laws are there for safety, and everyone knows that the roads are dangerous enough for those in cars obeying the law"

    Yet she thinks her husband's idiotic antics are funny...
    "My husband, Bill, has come up with a slew of ways to rid the streets of these defiant non-path users -- from water pistols to paint guns. Then there's the more traditional, open the door as you pass them on the road stunt. You know, just to scare them. "

    Yeah, that sounds real safe to me. I'm sure they have the safety of cyclists in mind when they shoot projectiles at them or create dangerous obstacles while they are riding and think it's funny.

  16. #16
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    i just read the article at the fore of this thread, and i found that the villager afforded me opportunity to opine about the story at the bottom of the page. I wrote a brief response, which was rather strong in content, but overall it was polite and bereft of profanity or anything else of the sort. I was informed that the opinion would go up upon approval of their web editor-guy.

    the curious thing was, it said i would be the "first" to write an opinion on the article! I'm beginning to wonder if any criticisms will be posted at all! so, i guess i'm posting now to ask anyone else following this thread if they had attempted to post an opinion as well.

    just curious. =0

    tia,
    -rob

  17. #17
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    This is an interesting article. At the end it's all about safety,
    i agree that that's the way they frame it, but really it's about them being inconvenienced. if they were really concerned about safety as they claim then they wouldn't be driving so fast and carelessly as to have much of a chance of killing a cyclist. they're basically saying that they can't/won't drive safely (i.e. more slowly) so they expect to have a few 'accidents' a year and don't want to be liable for killing or injuring a cyclist. so basically it's about them not wanting to be inconvenienced, mainly by having to slow down a little. Oh, but when cyclists say that the bike paths are unsafe b/c they have to slow down b/c of all the pedestrians, then the cyclists are just being selfish: why do they need to ride sooo fast? where FAST is 10-15mph...

    although i didn't live in the Woodlands, i did live in Houston for 2 1/2 years and these bike-paths the author talks about in the article are the classic death-trap kind that run through parks with many blind corners with everything landscaped and running next to kid's playgrounds and basketball courts with kids and rollerbladers and pedestrians all over the place. yet she says [q]We all pay so much money for the parks and pathways that it amazes me to see so many people not using them. Oh, I know the argument that they use, "We're 'serious' cyclists and we need to go faster than the pathways allow us to go. We can't have people in our way."[/q] SHE can't be inconvenienced by having to slow down in her car and maybe pay attention instead of using the cell-phone and doing her nails(you know multi-tasking is 'in'), but she can't understand why cyclists don't joyfully reduce their speed by 50-60% and face more collision obstacles...

    and then from the Texas article:: these same farmers who are complaining in the Texas article about safety and slowing down really are hippocritical: their large slow loads of cattle, grain or horses and their tractors are quite often MORE slow-moving than cyclists and create a much more difficult passing situation, but THEY should be able to use the road while the 'slow-moving' dangerous cyclists should not - they would probably claim b/c they HAVE to use the road for their livelihood whereas the cyclists are all pleasure riders, but a rather frivolous basis.

    Austin has always been a little more laid-back and more cyclist-friendly than Dallas, Houston or San Antonio, but auto drivers in the entire state have been getting more and more agressive and Texas can even be a very dangerous place for SLOW CAR DRIVERS, not just from unsafe driving, but from agressive driving and road rage. EVERYONE speeds in Texas - i "learned" to drive from the masses that 15-20mph OVER the speed limit was the norm...drive the speed limit and you get honked at and tailgated and uglay sneering looks... (i had many experiences while driving and riding in Dallas, Houston, Austin and rural areas). of course there are still a lot of good nice friendly drivers too, just the relatively large number of bad ones ruin it.

    as this discussion about bike paths/lanes has already been covered a bunch of times here, i'll be brief:
    * bike lanes can be good if they are well-designed, kept clean, kept free of parked vehicles AND not mandatory
    * bike paths or multi-use paths can be good for beginning cyclists and for others who are not comfortable riding on the road, but they MUST not ever be mandatory b/c they are simply not safe for higher speed travel

    i've cycled in the Netherlands with the mandatory bike paths and while there are some nice aspects to being completely separated from cars - i.e. your 4-yr old can ride with training wheels as slow as he wants and stop or whatever - but for the same reasons they're not suitable for long-distance or fast riding - i.e. CANNOT be mandatory

    i currently live in Munich Germany where about 90% of the city roads have bike paths and most are mandatory. they are the horrible kind where the pedestrian path and bike path are together separated from cars and so you have to deal with turingin cars and careless pedestrians. often i deem the bike lane unsafe and choose to ride in the street and get honked at by cars and have been instructed but never ticketed by the police to use the bike path. then, the times when it's literally not possible to ride the bike path b/c of construction vehicles parked or a mass of pedestrians in the bike path, the cars STILL honk and yell.

    even though Munich has much higher bike usage than Portland Oregon and, b/c of compact design and trains, being totally car-free is much easier, cycling in Portland is in my opinion safer and more pleasant b/c of the many well-designed, but voluntary bike lanes in Portland compared to the MANDATORY unsafe bike paths in Munich.

    i hope the US will never be a place where any roads other than the highways are off-limits to cyclists... Mandatory usage of bike paths is a really bad thing!
    why drive when you can ride?
    now a fully certified German MTB Guide! (DAV)

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Originally posted by surreal
    the curious thing was, it said i would be the "first" to write an opinion on the article!
    Maybe the editor's on vacation I was also the "first" to post a response to the article. I think it was last Friday.

    Kevin S.
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  19. #19
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I have long been opposed to bikepaths and this article is one of the many reasons. I have never considered them to be particularly safe anyway, but the issue seems to be the old "we gave you a path and now we expect you to use it". How can urban planners expect cyclists to use a facility that, let's face it, was not designed with them in mind.

    Allow me to elaborate a little on my last point. When was the last time a cyclist was actually consulted on where a path would go or how it would be designed? I commute by bike everyday, which means that most of my riding is done with a specific destination in mind. For me, a path that winds through the park for a few hundered metres is as good as useless. To expect me (or any other commuting cyclist) to use such a path is nothing short of ridiculous.

    Then, of course, we have the safety issue. The whole "bicycles are very dangerous and should be on paths lest cars run them over" thing is a myth. Nothing more. There are many of these listed here. Simply put, in my 80,000km or so of cycling, I have seen nothing more dangerous than the path/road intersection, which will have to be encountered if you intend to use paths to travel anywhere.

    To be honest, I wonder whether any of the path proponents have actually ever ridden these paths and tried to go somewhere on them. Many of the local cycling advocates here in Queensland are a case in point. They all celebrate wildly when a path is built, but generally they never actually use the thing.

    If people expect cyclists to use facilities, perhaps they should build facilities that cyclists can use.

  20. #20
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Allow me to elaborate a little on my last point. When was the last time a cyclist was actually consulted on where a path would go or how it would be designed?
    chris

    a very good point. one of the things that makes Portland so good for cycling is that there is a major effort made to ASK cyclists about any road or construciton 'improvements' or projects. When there is a new proposal they usually have an open meeting and ask people to come and comment. In addition, there used to be a dedicated bike planner in every transportation group in Metro (Portland's regional planning group). unfortunately in 2000 they changed this for political reasons and i'm not sure how it is now.

    lastly, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) which is an advocacy group made up of cyclists tracks all of these issues and reviews any new plans and comments HOW CYCLISTS view and of their proposals

    i hate the MANDATORY bike paths here in Munich and the attitude it creates: that bikes do not belong on the road and that it is unsafe for cyclists to ride with cars on the road
    why drive when you can ride?
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  21. #21
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    We often envy the Europeans with their bike lanes but I can see how they would have justas many problems- bikes being shunted off to the side, means that recreational cyclists are forced into lanes with slower-moving commuters and roller bladers, etc. It's the same here- frequently, when I decide that the path is too crowded, I'll take to the road and then motorists feel they can yell at you to get on the path. If there's a path nearby, you're expected to use it.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  22. #22
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    Hah! Fast commuters don't want to be forced into those lanes either!

  23. #23
    Queen of the Pea Pile oceanrider's Avatar
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    My own son reflects the general attitude around here that bikes are in a class with pedestrians and don't belong on the road. Believe me, we have heated debates at my house. I don't see a move toward banning bikes from the road by the installation of well designed road lanes for bikes. I see an accomodation which I'm quite happy to have. The clean well designed bike lane allows me to concentrate on riding rather than whether the next vehicle that bears down me is going to be a problem. I'd like to see every high traffic route fitted with these lanes. What I'm referring to are the true road lanes, not bike paths which are the segregated multi use paths. Those suck for all cyclists except maybe the mellow cruiser.
    Last edited by oceanrider; 08-03-02 at 06:29 AM.
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  24. #24
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    I guess its not surprising to see another So.Fl. rider appreciate the few bike lanes we have around here as they are well designed(you will see poorly designed lanes and paths in the Keys for comparison) and ridable roads are in short supply.It seems whenever they widen/improve a road around here they add a bike lane which is an improvement for bikers .However I am starting to see others on the forums viewpoint of the concern of the trend of getting cyclists off the road.It is no secret that the majority viewpoint is cyclists need to be off the road as evidenced by the emerging popularity of mtn. biking and bike paths.I guess I am somewhat split on bike lanes as well designed ones are appreciated by me however a wide outside lane is also appreciated and does not contribute to the seperate from cars mentality.In Broward now there are extensive plans in place to build a network of bike path/greenways along major roads that crisscross the county (I think the first is planned for Atlantic Blvd from the Glades to Ocean).It concerns me as these would probably connect up with existing bike lanes forming a route bikes were required (or at least exspected by motorists to take) .I experienced in the Keys a mismash of lanes and paths where the motorists expected cyclists to use the paths and found the shoulders or wide lanes much preferable.So I guess I am saying while I appreciated well designed lanes I don't like the idea they are part of the seperate bikes from cars mentality .

  25. #25
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    As I see it, the fundamental argument is whether cycling is a form of transportation, or a form of recreation.

    Race cars are expected to use a track. Pedestrians are expected to use a sidewalk. Carpools have their own lanes and sometimes trucks do to. There are passing lanes on hills and slower vehicles should always stay right. All of these special rules are routinely violated by some.

    The perception I think is that people riding cycles are "playing" while people driving cars are going somewhere. We cyclists aren't seen as having a destination or a real purpose for being on the road.

    Cars on the road idly or just for sightseeing or being used instead of a sort walk to a destination aren't as easily distinguished from the vehicles which supposedly have a purpose. It is very easy I think, because of our distinct appearance for people to assume we are just "playing."

    Do I have a solution? No. Not until there are more cyclists, many more, who are willing to use the road and vote for people who will take them seriously.

    Carl
    Just Peddlin' Around

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