I started thinking about writing this piece last night. I submitted it today as a comment to an article in a Florida newspaper. Maybe it should be titled "Old Time Hardline Cyclist's Rant". But I stuck with the title I thought of last night.


It's important for new bicyclists to understand the old-time bicyclists. The oldest bicyclist I ever met was 104 years old in 1974. He was born in 1870, and got his first bicycle in 1892, at the age of 22. He had a few things to say about sharing the roads with cars. Before 1915, there were hardly any cars; the bicyclist had the entire road. Stop signs and traffic lights did not appear before 1917. The bicycle only had to compete with horses and wagons, which never killed anybody.
Some cyclists want to keep bicycling pure. They believe the rules should not be changed on account of the cars.
Many cyclists were mowed down and killed by cars in the 1930's. The League of American Bicyclists started a letter writing campaign to Congressmen asking that all roads should be widened to allow the safe passage of automobiles. The "Highway Lobby" built a lot of roads on-the-cheap, with no shoulder.
The bicyclists will NOT move over until every road has a wide shoulder to pull over onto.

The reasons the bicyclists don't pull over onto the shoulder :
1) There is no shoulder to move onto.
2) Psychologically, people, in this case the motorists, will become conditioned to do as they have done before. If a bike moves over to let your car pass, you will start to expect bicyclists to move over every time. Trouble is not every road has a shoulder.

Notice I have said "shoulder" and not 'bicycle lane". Road shoulders, also called lane margins, can be used for other things. A motorist can pull over to look at a map, for instance. Or it can be used as a break-down lane. Or a truck can park and make a delivery. When I drive my car, I might pull over to let the tailgater pass.
I am in favor of widened road shoulders. I don't believe they need to be designated as "bicycle lanes".

I wish motorists would acknowledge that there either is or is not a shoulder, when passing a bike.