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  1. #1
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    why bikes are unpopular

    i am in the lower economic strata and i ask my friends why they take the bus instead of the bike and more often than not it is because of not feeling "safe". perhaps if the main roads were more accomadating people would use bikes more often for their trips since taking a bus is such an inconvience.

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    It would be a much needed improvement if there were more bike lanes in more places. Of course there is always the fear of crazy drivers. In theory, if there are better roads for riding, more people will ride, thus decreasing the number drivers with a cell phone. There are always risks no matter how we travel, Unfortunate but true.

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    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    I am in a middle economic strata and my friends ask me why i bike instead of driving. I tell them so i don't turn into a total fatbutt like them and cause I like it.

    Convince them it's fun. they'll come around, or at least start thinking about it.

    In the last couple years, as gas prices have risen, I am seeing 4-5 times as many bikers in this college town. That means 2 bikers per day instead of 2 per week.... but still, it's gathering momentum.

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    I am in the upper ecomonic strata and people don't ask me why. They can tell I have fun, I get "you're just a big kid comments" Or "How do you stay thin at your age?"
    Not too much to say here

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acorn54 View Post
    i am in the lower economic strata and i ask my friends why they take the bus instead of the bike and more often than not it is because of not feeling "safe". perhaps if the main roads were more accomadating people would use bikes more often for their trips since taking a bus is such an inconvience.
    This is just an excuse, biking is extremely safe. 43,000 dead car drivers would say so, if they could.
    Not too much to say here

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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acorn54 View Post
    i am in the lower economic strata and i ask my friends why they take the bus instead of the bike and more often than not it is because of not feeling "safe". perhaps if the main roads were more accomadating people would use bikes more often for their trips since taking a bus is such an inconvience.
    They also have the perception that bicycles do not belong on the street. I got a long lecture by a motorist who told me to get on the sidewalk as she passed, and then I caught up with her to inform her of the real laws. She observed that the land yacht ahead of her had had to "swerve" around me to miss me, but acknowledged that I was at the right side of the road. The Mommy in her could not bear to see me in such danger I guess. I could not convince her of the error of her perception of Arkansas and Little Rock highway laws.

    Note to self. You will not convince them, so don't lose your temper.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  7. #7
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    I like the bus because I can read and talk to my kids. It can take me and the kiddos further than I can bike with them. I have a free bus pass through work. I get fewer chilblains in the winter when I take the bus. I don't have to park. I get to talk to my neighbors as we wait at the stop and ride the bus to our destinations.

  8. #8
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that bicycling is, in fact, unpopular. I've read that the numbers of cyclists in the US has declined in the last decade or so, but my own observations tell a much different story. When I first started bicycling to work a few years ago, I usually saw no other cyclists on my commute; now I see at least a dozen, usually a lot more. The bike shops in my area are so busy that I usually have to make an appointment several days in advance to have my bike fixed (which has, in fact, inspired me to do mostly my own work).

    As for bicycles being dangerous, it depends on you. If you jump from road to sidewalk and back again, run lights, pass on the right in heavy traffic, ride at night in black clothing with no lights, and generally act stupid, natural selection will eventually assert itself. Personally, I think bicycles are safer than cars if you ride like an adult. (Statistically, there are more deaths per million miles on a bike than there are driving in the US; however, the deaths per million hours on a bike are far lower than there are by car. Make of this what you will. and don't ask me the source, I forget, but I promise I'm not just pulling this out of a hat...)

    There are, of course, people who get killed riding through no fault of their own, but this is true of most human activities, and it's ridiculous to imagine that riding a bike is any more dangerous than, say, attending classes at a university without wearing a kevlar vest.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  9. #9
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    I personally think bikes are simply unpopular because cycling is *honestly* an unpleasant experience in a lot of cases.

    In general the experience is sort of patchy: unfriendly and extremely car-centric street designs are common, unfriendly drivers are common, bicycle security isn't well, secure.. Personally, thats my biggest irk: $120 on Kryptonite's *top* level bike chain only to find a video of it being cut down like it was tinfoil with a pair of bolt cutters 3 days later..

    You can't count on there being a good bike rack waiting for you at each destination, let alone a bike rack at all.

    Bicycle adjustment and maintenance is much less costly than vehicular maintenance (granted) but its much more present and finicky, in my opinion. Granted, there are some very simple and enjoyable cycling technologies out there, but none without their drawbacks. Hub gears can cost more than a lot of non-cyclists want to spend on their first bike by themselves, for instance.

    Additionally, I would imagine there are a whole lot of people who experience cycling as buying a poor bike from a department store, wobbling around the street or a sidewalk, having some kind of mechanical problem, meeting a hill, getting yelled at and so on - and just giving up.

  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    As for bicycles being dangerous, it depends on you. If you jump from road to sidewalk and back again, run lights, pass on the right in heavy traffic, ride at night in black clothing with no lights, and generally act stupid, natural selection will eventually assert itself. Personally, I think bicycles are safer than cars if you ride like an adult. (Statistically, there are more deaths per million miles on a bike than there are driving in the US; however, the deaths per million hours on a bike are far lower than there are by car. Make of this what you will. and don't ask me the source, I forget, but I promise I'm not just pulling this out of a hat...)
    That is actually an extremely valid point. The real reason bicycles are perceived as "dangerous" by a lot of people is simply because those people have not had any form of training or education in how to ride properly. Just look at some of the posts on these fora from newbies and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Those of us who regularly ride for transport know full well that cycling is more than just balancing and turning the pedals. However, most people don't realise this, and without this realisation, any cycling experience they have is highly unlikely to be a pleasant one. Then of course, there is the old marketing saying that a person who has a negative experience generally tells 30-50 people about it (contrasted with the 3-5 they tell about a positive experience), and before you know it, there is suddenly an over-hyped perception of cycling as a "dangerous" activity.

    For those who want to build lots of bike lanes to attract cyclists, just be careful what you wish for. Remember that even if these lanes succeed in getting all the untrained people on their bikes (which is highly unlikely and certainly hasn't been my observation in a city that spends more money on "facilities" than entire states), you'll them have to share tha narrow strip of bitumen with all those untrained cyclists wobbling about all over the place. It certainly doesn't fit with my vision of a cycling utopia.

    The real solution lies in training people in riding a bicycle in traffic. For children at school I think it's essential. Cycling is a skill they can use throughout the rest of their childhood and well into adulthood. They might also graduate into better drivers if they already have several years of being trained to ride on the road (and to therefore expect cyclists to be on the road). The only downside with this is, of course, that the benefits would be more long term, and probably less visible in the immediate future that simply building a "facility", and that doesn't win votes or donations to "advocacy" organisations.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    That is actually an extremely valid point. The real reason bicycles are perceived as "dangerous" by a lot of people is simply because those people have not had any form of training or education in how to ride properly. Just look at some of the posts on these fora from newbies and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Those of us who regularly ride for transport know full well that cycling is more than just balancing and turning the pedals. However, most people don't realise this, and without this realisation, any cycling experience they have is highly unlikely to be a pleasant one. Then of course, there is the old marketing saying that a person who has a negative experience generally tells 30-50 people about it (contrasted with the 3-5 they tell about a positive experience), and before you know it, there is suddenly an over-hyped perception of cycling as a "dangerous" activity.

    For those who want to build lots of bike lanes to attract cyclists, just be careful what you wish for. Remember that even if these lanes succeed in getting all the untrained people on their bikes (which is highly unlikely and certainly hasn't been my observation in a city that spends more money on "facilities" than entire states), you'll them have to share tha narrow strip of bitumen with all those untrained cyclists wobbling about all over the place. It certainly doesn't fit with my vision of a cycling utopia.

    The real solution lies in training people in riding a bicycle in traffic. For children at school I think it's essential. Cycling is a skill they can use throughout the rest of their childhood and well into adulthood. They might also graduate into better drivers if they already have several years of being trained to ride on the road (and to therefore expect cyclists to be on the road). The only downside with this is, of course, that the benefits would be more long term, and probably less visible in the immediate future that simply building a "facility", and that doesn't win votes or donations to "advocacy" organisations.
    Agreed, however, lack of knowledge doesn't stop them from attempting to drive a 4,000+# piece of machinery that they have no clue how to operate properly. I am in full agreement that education is the key...to many things. Ignorance can be corrected, stupid you are stuck with. When I was in school, back in the dark ages, I can recall actually having bicycle education, hand outs, and practice on the school grounds. I don't remember much if any of what was taught, just that we had it. Until we develop a safe(r) method of providing for cyclists, whether it be facilities, laws, or social acceptance you will have a hard time convincing the average person to cycle in anything other than a separate location. Most roads, intersections, neighborhoods, cities and towns ARE NOT designed with any cycling in mind. I drive a fair bit, as in a fair bit more than I wish I had too. I am constantly looking at places and figuring out how or if I would ride my bike at that location. One of the worst situations that I see, is where what used to be a nice road to ride on 20 years ago that leads from a neighborhood to a business district, has become a 5+ lane abortion, that is intersected by high speed merges, and freeways. Neighborhoods are usually dead end, which DOES NOT allow for effective use of anything but a car for transport. There is one near me, that if there was a back "entrance" it would be less than 1/4 mile from the grocery store, but because it is gated to keep riff raff like myself out (I wouldn't live there if they gave me a house BTW) it is over 3 miles to the store by the time you wind yourself out of it and thru the gates.

    Until planning includes pedestrians and cyclists in the total transportation mix you are going to have a hard time convincing people that a bicycle is viable form of transit, especially in the carcentric US of A.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  12. #12
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Its safer riding in a group, which makes me think of- bike-pooling.
    Find people on a similar commute and ride together.

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    It's a bigger problem than just urban sprawl--though that's certainly a major contributor. I had to fight tooth and nail with my LBS's to get back into cycling. In the period between when I used to ride in the early 90's and when I started up again in 2006, the cycling world had changed dramatically. Bikes for general use, better known as utility bicycles, were virtually impossible to find. Everything had to have a niche-usually in the context of an "EXTREME" sport. Racks, carriers, baskets, etc. were frowned upon and kept in the back if they were kept at all. The message from the salesmen was clear. Bicycles for daily use were not available. You were a good customer if you were an extreme athelete or if you were a suburban schlub who planned on hauling some bikes out to a local trail on the SUV a few times then forgetting about them in the garage.

    I see the situation slowly improving, thankfully. There are more European style utility bicycles and cruisers available, and less emphasis on the "extreme" end of sport cycling. I think this is a response to the aging customer base. But much more could be done.
    ''On a bicycle you're not insulated. You're in contact with the landscape and all manner of people you'd never meet if you were in a car. A fat man on a bicycle is nobody's enemy.''

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  14. #14
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Agreed, however, lack of knowledge doesn't stop them from attempting to drive a 4,000+# piece of machinery that they have no clue how to operate properly.
    Yes, but it has big comfy seats, a roof, a stereo, videos, cell phones and the internet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  15. #15
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I can recall actually having bicycle education, hand outs, and practice on the school grounds. I don't remember much if any of what was taught, just that we had it. Until we develop a safe(r) method of providing for cyclists, whether it be facilities, laws, or social acceptance you will have a hard time convincing the average person to cycle in anything other than a separate location.
    There's more to it than that. Building facilities won't stop people getting flat tyres, for example. The fact is, most people have no idea how to fix a flat, or perform any other basic repair, yet the ability to do this relatively quickly on a bicycle is one of the main advantages of cycling. In the last two years I have been averaging one flat tyre every two weeks, yet haven't been terribly impeded because I have the knowledge of how to fix them. Again, this is something else that people need to be trained in and informed about if they are going to consider cycling as a realistic transport option.

    And once again I'll ask the question: Do you really want to be sharing "facilities" with untrained, incompetent cyclists who will put you in danger?


    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Neighborhoods are usually dead end, which DOES NOT allow for effective use of anything but a car for transport. There is one near me, that if there was a back "entrance" it would be less than 1/4 mile from the grocery store, but because it is gated to keep riff raff like myself out (I wouldn't live there if they gave me a house BTW) it is over 3 miles to the store by the time you wind yourself out of it and thru the gates.

    Until planning includes pedestrians and cyclists in the total transportation mix you are going to have a hard time convincing people that a bicycle is viable form of transit, especially in the carcentric US of A.
    It's the old chicken and egg dilemma. Neighbourhoods like this are only built that way because it's what people want. People want the "gated" community miles from nowhere, that's why they all bought houses there. We hear all sorts of talk from "advocates" about needing "more people cycling" so that we get "more facilities", then we hear talk about needing "facilities" or "friendly neighbourhoods" to "encourage cycling". So which is it?

    I tend to think that for all the whining about it on fora such as this one, the reality is that in most places, these "facilities" are a long way off, if they're ever going to happen at all. If people are ever going to consider the bicycle as a realistic transport option, they need to learn to deal with gated communities, roads without facilities, and flat tyres. Until this happens, and more importantly "advocates" start to realise the importance of it, most people will continue to consider cycling as nothing more than a fringe recreational activity for a few die-hards.
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  16. #16
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmoline View Post
    It's a bigger problem than just urban sprawl--though that's certainly a major contributor. I had to fight tooth and nail with my LBS's to get back into cycling. In the period between when I used to ride in the early 90's and when I started up again in 2006, the cycling world had changed dramatically. Bikes for general use, better known as utility bicycles, were virtually impossible to find. Everything had to have a niche-usually in the context of an "EXTREME" sport. Racks, carriers, baskets, etc. were frowned upon and kept in the back if they were kept at all. The message from the salesmen was clear. Bicycles for daily use were not available. You were a good customer if you were an extreme athelete or if you were a suburban schlub who planned on hauling some bikes out to a local trail on the SUV a few times then forgetting about them in the garage.

    I see the situation slowly improving, thankfully. There are more European style utility bicycles and cruisers available, and less emphasis on the "extreme" end of sport cycling. I think this is a response to the aging customer base. But much more could be done.
    I don't think of North American style of riding as "extreme" so much as sporty. Cycling is often refered to as a "sport" and all you have to do is sit along the sides of any nice bike path and see the Lance Clones ride along in the finest too tight "bike uniforms" that discouraged any but the most monied crowd from joining in. Thank God I grew up before this madness happened. In the late 1960s and a little later, there was no spandex, no overrated bike shops pushing all that overpriced unnecessary accessories on the unsuspected. I grew up near a nice Dutch bike shop that imported the nice what is known here as utility bikes and I stick with them ever since-now in the form of folding bikes.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by acorn54 View Post
    i am in the lower economic strata and i ask my friends why they take the bus instead of the bike and more often than not it is because of not feeling "safe".
    Riding a bike does not feel safe if you can't see whats coming up from behind. I don't feel safe riding on the roads either unless I'm using a Take A Look mirror. Knowing what's coming up from behind is a huge confidence boaster. Tell your friends to get this mirror and your fear of the cars goes away.

  18. #18
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    The reason bicycles are unpopular in the US is the opposite reason that people let TV think for them. It requires people to do things for themselves. The reason so many think it's dangerous is because they drive like everyone else is in the way.

    Sorry for the sour grapes but I'm tired of our (I'm in the US) car centric society.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncherry View Post
    The reason bicycles are unpopular in the US is the opposite reason that people let TV think for them.
    There maybe something to this. I've always said the bicycle is considered the poor mans motorcar. The person using a bicycle is considered too poor to own an automobile. It's an image problem that forces millions to go out and buy cars.

  20. #20
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    There's more to it than that. Building facilities won't stop people getting flat tyres, for example. The fact is, most people have no idea how to fix a flat, or perform any other basic repair, yet the ability to do this relatively quickly on a bicycle is one of the main advantages of cycling. In the last two years I have been averaging one flat tyre every two weeks, yet haven't been terribly impeded because I have the knowledge of how to fix them. Again, this is something else that people need to be trained in and informed about if they are going to consider cycling as a realistic transport option.
    Flat tires are to me a minimal issue. I seldom get them. If we had a sizable cycle commuting population a couple of people could be outfitted with "service" bikes to ride along the heavily used routes to provide assistance. Similar to the current trucks they use along the interstates for motorist assistance. Or we could even develop something along the lines of AAA. Or a person COULD assist a fellow cyclist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    And once again I'll ask the question: Do you really want to be sharing "facilities" with untrained, incompetent cyclists who will put you in danger?
    I would rather ride around incompetent cyclists than incompetent motorists...



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    It's the old chicken and egg dilemma. Neighbourhoods like this are only built that way because it's what people want. People want the "gated" community miles from nowhere, that's why they all bought houses there. We hear all sorts of talk from "advocates" about needing "more people cycling" so that we get "more facilities", then we hear talk about needing "facilities" or "friendly neighbourhoods" to "encourage cycling". So which is it?
    I don't want them and I am sure there are many others, I suspect if we didn't build them people would live where the housing was. But that is just me. But by NOT having ANY form of cycling facilities, like racks and access other than high speed arterials to shopping centers is not helping. Give equal access to ALL forms of transportation including walking. Problem is a matter of scale...if walking is a 1, a bicycle is +3 and cars run from +15 and up. This means a facility for a single pedestrian needs to be increased by a factor of 15 to make it work for a single car. Think access roadways, parking lots, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
    I tend to think that for all the whining about it on fora such as this one, the reality is that in most places, these "facilities" are a long way off, if they're ever going to happen at all. If people are ever going to consider the bicycle as a realistic transport option, they need to learn to deal with gated communities, roads without facilities, and flat tyres. Until this happens, and more importantly "advocates" start to realise the importance of it, most people will continue to consider cycling as nothing more than a fringe recreational activity for a few die-hards.
    I think that the Americans in particular and many other nations will hang onto their cars until the pumps either run dry, or a single fill up costs more than the monthly car payment. Facilities of some sort will come, all it takes is vision. I hold up Copenhagen, Denmark as a working example (there are others). The Danish goverment made a conscious decision to support bicycle infrastructure. Today upwards of 65% of the Copenhagen population commutes to work by bike. The numbers vary by the season, and they have some miserable winter weather, but even then over 1/3 of the people still commute by bike. They are in the process of closing down a major roadway in the heart of Copenhagen to cars...to make rooms for the bikes. There are less than 15,000 cars a day using that road and over 25,000 bikes a DAY! So the bikes are getting more room.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 03-01-08 at 07:34 AM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  21. #21
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post

    I would rather ride around incompetent cyclists than incompetent motorists...

    Aaron
    Same here, but I have few encounters locally with incompentent cyclists, they won't stay incompetent for too long since our local incompetent motorists generally eliminate the incompetentcy right out of them.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Another reason came to mind as to why bikes are so unpopular....people are pure T lazy...period. Anything that requires effort and not handed to you is bad

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  23. #23
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    Almost no one uses the "main" bike lane in my town because it is the most dangerous place to ride here. There are a few other bike lanes here and there which rarely are used because they are in completely random places that make no sense. Yet we also have an MUP that runs for 4.5 miles right through the middle of town, and on a nice day it is completely packed with cyclists and pedestrians. I very rarely see anyone else biking on the streets. I've been commuting to work for a little over a year and a half and in that time I've seen two other commuters (in a town of over 90,000). I've had people tell me it's too dangerous to bike on the road because of "all those crazy drivers", then those very same people will get in their cars and drive just as badly as everyone else! News flash, YOU are a crazy driver! Occasionally I'll ride with one of my coworkers to pick up lunch and it is amazing how badly the average person drives. Speeding, tailgating, no turn signals, braking waaay too late, every single one of them. It's no wonder they are afraid to bike on streets, the streets are filled with people that even they consider bad drivers.

  24. #24
    ... thelung's Avatar
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    Im poor and get around mostly by bike... most other poor people ride really ****ty bikes though, when you see them on a bike at all. like an old huffy with half inflated knobby tires. i'd pick the bus over one of those too.

  25. #25
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Same here, but I have few encounters locally with incompentent cyclists, they won't stay incompetent for too long since our local incompetent motorists generally eliminate the incompetentcy right out of them.
    Like the fellow riding against traffic in New Brunswick two weeks ago who felt the need to cut in front of me as I approached. I guess the car following me scared him.

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