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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-23-08, 05:38 PM   #1
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Car-less society

Is our North American society ready for cycling as an alternate to using a car?
In Europe, bicycles are everywhere. Cars are used only for long distances or by those few who want to use them (or by tourists and taxis).
Bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and cars get along quite well on the streets of Paris.
But why is this not true on the streets of North American cities?
Various levels of government laud the idea of making our society greener by reducing the use of cars.
They suggest using bicycles or walking or using public transportation.
That sounds great, but are bicycles a practical alternative in your city?
If you ride your cycle to work, or to college, or shopping, you need to find a safe place to park it or it will be stolen.
If you lock your bike into the rack that secures the front wheel, you may come back to find that some or all of your cycle is missing.
I don't think we are going to stop thieves even if we use the biggest and best bike locks.
At the very least, they will steal your computer.
They will even steal that $10 bike that you picked up at the thrift store.
Currently, the only solution is to ride with a partner who will guard the cycle while you do your business.
What do you do if your partner is not available or wants to shop with you? You drive your 15 mpg car at $5 a gallon or you make many trips for groceries using public transportation (i.e., a bus with 3 or 4 passengers but uses more fuel than your car ever did).
My suggestion: throughout the city we need metal bicycle lockers with a hook to hang the front wheel and those zero-clearance locks that are next to impossible to cut with bolt cutters.
Make the lockers coin operated to recover the cost.
Will this happen in our life-time? I doubt it.
What is your suggestion to make cycling viable in your city?
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Old 04-23-08, 05:55 PM   #2
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I would LOVE to see any bicycle infrastructure...even the wheel bender racks! There is a mall very near the hotel I am staying in, NO BIKE RACKS or even light poles you could lock up to. If the friggin' politicians want to do something useful (instead of bangin' their chops about "lowering" gas prices) they need to mandate bicycle lockers at all public transit terminals (planes, trains and bus) Good bicycle racks at any retail area and any other infrastructure that they can produce ASAP. I have been using Amtrak to travel back and forth from my home to my jobsite vs driving a truck (430 mile round trip) Amtrak on both ends has no secure parking for cars or bikes. I am going to get a folder (Brommie) for at least some of my traveling trips.

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Old 04-23-08, 07:30 PM   #3
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These freeways in European cities are all full of taxis. They're just unmarked taxis. And tourists.

And cars get stolen all the time, too. Doesn't stop people from driving them.
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Old 04-23-08, 07:34 PM   #4
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I think all this infrastructure would happen if a) there were more cyclists using their bicycle for transportation and b) if these same cyclists were somewhat vocal about their needs and rights. My thought is how to get more people out on bikes.

For this I think you need to develop some equanimity. It will happen when it happens. Till then, lock up you bike to whatever is solid, don't ride you best bike to the grocery store... and then have fun biking. Perhaps if people get to see the fun factor, they might join you. At least... some of them will.
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Old 04-24-08, 03:43 AM   #5
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I agree whole heartedly with Gerv. There needs to be more demand for such things. Here in Ohio we are just making head way getting extra wide shoulders and bike paths.

Maybe we should develop a gps chip to be built into the frame of the bicycles and when it's stolen, the police can nail the SOBS. As of right now, there is no crack down on bicycle theft, basically it comes down to lack of resources and the inability to track something like that. Of course, if we all started insuring our bikes (I'm not sure there is such a thing) the insurance companies would push for something to be done.
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Old 04-24-08, 05:28 AM   #6
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I agree whole heartedly with Gerv. There needs to be more demand for such things. Here in Ohio we are just making head way getting extra wide shoulders and bike paths.

Maybe we should develop a gps chip to be built into the frame of the bicycles and when it's stolen, the police can nail the SOBS. As of right now, there is no crack down on bicycle theft, basically it comes down to lack of resources and the inability to track something like that. Of course, if we all started insuring our bikes (I'm not sure there is such a thing) the insurance companies would push for something to be done.
Until a couple of things happen there is not going to be much overall improvement in the infrastructure. One: it isn't politically advantageous to support wide spread cycling transportation based specific infrastructure. Two: we have too many groups claiming to support/speak for cyclists, you have the VC crowd, the CM crowd, the separate facilities crowd, the bike lane crowd, the MUP crowd....etc. Personally I like what they did in Denmark, separate but equal facilities. Then we have the issue of complete lack of training for cyclists and minimal/poor training for drivers, as well as the lack of personal responsibility of just about everybody.

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Old 04-24-08, 05:50 AM   #7
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What couple of things do you feel need to happen?
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Old 04-24-08, 08:04 AM   #8
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Is our North American society ready for cycling as an alternate to using a car?

What is your suggestion to make cycling viable in your city?
Make it stop raining.
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Old 04-24-08, 08:22 AM   #9
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bragi - you live in the wrong part of the country to ask for it to stop raining. That's like me asking for a clear day. I think we get 3 clear days a year.

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Old 04-24-08, 10:31 AM   #10
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What couple of things do you feel need to happen?
We need ONE group to work on infrastructure design parameters, we need ONE group to lobby for the necessary improvements. Something along the lines of the ADA that provides for handicap access.Or the whatever the national design standard is for various class of roadways. Currently the laws are so fractured from state to state, as well as the design standards for bike lanes, parking, etc. Provide the necessary funding.

We also need to get cycling education BACK into the elementary schools, we need to greatly improve driver education to something more than the minmal > 40 hours that it currently is required in most states. In NC it is 30 hours of classroom and 6 hours of practical. Graduated licensing is a step in the right direction, but needs to be more heavily enforced. And speaking of enforcement, ENFORCE TRAFFIC LAWS! on everybody including cyclists. If we started TODAY it would probably take at least a generation to get where we need to be. FWIW Denmark has been at it since the '50s.

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Old 04-24-08, 10:42 AM   #11
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Make it stop raining.
Go to La Quinta, CA. I remember one 15 month period without a drop of rain. And the roads were flat, had wide curbs and the streets were pretty fresh so very few potholes. Of course there are 120 degree temps in summer and plenty of goathead thorns.
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Old 04-24-08, 11:46 AM   #12
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I remember being stuck in traffic crawling along at about 5-10 mph on the ring road when i was traveling from paris to a suburb about 40 Km away. You are a bit disillusioned when you say that people only use cars in europe for long trips. Have you actually experienced traffic in europe? When i was in budapest for a year i noticed that the traffic on the roads was comparable with the good old USofA, with most cars carrying only one person. When you consider the center of the city, often with very narrow street, of course you do not have the same traffic. Horrible traffic exists, it is just pushed back and hidden from the center-city (which is not a bad thing IMO).

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Old 04-24-08, 11:49 AM   #13
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I remember being stuck in traffic crawling along at about 5-10 mph on the ring road when i was traveling from paris to a suburb about 40 Km away. You are a bit disillusioned when you say that people only use cars in europe for long trips. Have you actually experienced traffic in europe? When i was in budapest for a year i noticed that the traffic on the roads was comparable with the good old USofA, with most cars carrying only one person. When you consider the center of the city, often with very narrow street, of course you do not have the same traffic. Horrible traffic exists, it is just pushed back and hidden from the center-city (which is not a bad thing IMO).
hahaaa

I would love to ride my bicycle through that traffic jam and just laugh while I do it !!1
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Old 04-24-08, 12:02 PM   #14
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The thinig that people do not realize here is that bicycle infrastructure is not only some striping on the road to create bike lanes. We need to think about bicycle specific signage and signaling. That will create more accountability for cyclists to follow the rules and not force cyclists to follow rules that are in place to control motor vehicle traffic. Why do cyclists not follow rules of the road? Because those rules are for motor vehicle and cyclists don’t like having to follow rules that should not apply to them. Make the bicycle signage and signaling and I would follow the rules more closely.

In Europe they enforce the rules of the road because it makes sense when you have rules that are applicable to bicycles. Here we stripe some bike lanes and say “well, there’s you bike lane, but you’re a vehicle so follow the rules for motor vehicle traffic”, and that is stupid in my opinion.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:21 PM   #15
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The thing that people do not realize here is that bicycle infrastructure is not only some striping on the road to create bike lanes.
Count yourself lucky that your streets are even wide enough to take that small step. Around here most of the lanes were designed for closely packed Model-Ts, not SUVs and bicycles trying to share a lane. On second thought, maybe we do have bike lanes... but they are 3" wide.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:23 PM   #16
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The thinig that people do not realize here is that bicycle infrastructure is not only some striping on the road to create bike lanes. We need to think about bicycle specific signage and signaling. That will create more accountability for cyclists to follow the rules and not force cyclists to follow rules that are in place to control motor vehicle traffic. Why do cyclists not follow rules of the road? Because those rules are for motor vehicle and cyclists don’t like having to follow rules that should not apply to them. Make the bicycle signage and signaling and I would follow the rules more closely.

In Europe they enforce the rules of the road because it makes sense when you have rules that are applicable to bicycles. Here we stripe some bike lanes and say “well, there’s you bike lane, but you’re a vehicle so follow the rules for motor vehicle traffic”, and that is stupid in my opinion.
I'm kind of confused with what you're looking for. What kind of signage do you want? As far as signaling I always signal and 95% of the time I come to a complete stop at stop signs. I tend to be more safety conscience on my bike than I am in my car.
I agree with the previous posts when someone said more education. What gets me is 80% of traffic will move far to the left of me when I am riding; however, motorcycles, those that advocate "share the road" tend to fly right past me. That is just a pet peeve of mine.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:27 PM   #17
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I'm kind of confused with what you're looking for. What kind of signage do you want? As far as signaling I always signal and 95% of the time I come to a complete stop at stop signs. I tend to be more safety conscience on my bike than I am in my car.
I agree with the previous posts when someone said more education. What gets me is 80% of traffic will move far to the left of me when I am riding; however, motorcycles, those that advocate "share the road" tend to fly right past me. That is just a pet peeve of mine.

I mean traffic signals and signage that are there for the control of bicycle traffic, such as stop lights only for bikes that turns green 5-10 sec before the motor vehicle traffic stop lights, allowing some separation of traffic flow. Also, i believe that stop signs should have a sign below that is basically a bike within a yield sign letting bikes know that they can treat the stop as a yield sign and letting cars know that they should yield to bikes.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:30 PM   #18
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example




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Old 04-24-08, 12:31 PM   #19
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example
I've never seen anything like that, what about a traffic light, doesn't that necessarily do that same thing. Forgive me I didn't see your post before the pic.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:33 PM   #20
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The timing is different to allow bikes a "head start" to separate traffic flow better.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:33 PM   #21
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I mean traffic signals and signage that are there for the control of bicycle traffic, such as stop lights only for bikes that turns green 5-10 sec before the motor vehicle traffic stop lights, allowing some separation of traffic flow. Also, i believe that stop signs should have a sign below that is basically a bike within a yield sign letting bikes know that they can treat the stop as a yield sign and letting cars know that they should yield to bikes.
I really like that idea.
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Old 04-24-08, 12:41 PM   #22
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The timing is different to allow bikes a "head start" to separate traffic flow better.
What if one prefers to be behind the faster vehicles to avoid being passed again?

Al
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Old 04-24-08, 12:41 PM   #23
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I've never seen anything like that, what about a traffic light, doesn't that necessarily do that same thing. Forgive me I didn't see your post before the pic.
Those are in Europe, primarily Denmark and the Netherlands. We would do well to follow their example, IMHO. They have done a lot right. In Copenhagen around 1/3 of the population commutes by bicycle year round, with the number swelling to over half in the nicer months. We are also talking about a city of around 1.7 million! It can be done. I like the fact they are actually closing down traffic lanes to cars to allow for additional bikes. There is one stretch in the city that was getting about 11,000-15,000 cars a day, vs 25,000+ bicycles past a given point, the cars lost...the road is now bicycles only and they expect the count to soon exceed 35,000 a day.

I realize that not all American cities are as compact as Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but we HAVE to start somewhere.

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Old 04-24-08, 12:50 PM   #24
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What if one prefers to be behind the faster vehicles to avoid being passed again?

Al
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Old 04-24-08, 01:06 PM   #25
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Is our North American society ready for cycling as an alternate to using a car?
Nope.

I went to college in a small town out on the Great Plains. It was certainly possible to bike everywhere in town that was important, but biking to neighboring towns that were anywhere from 30 to 150 miles away would be a pretty bad idea.

Of course, there would be the issue of carrying my tuba, or a couple hundred pounds of sound equipment, etc., but that's unusual; most people don't have that kind of junk that needs regular hauling.

People keep bringing up Europe as a good example, but they keep forgetting how different it really is. Over there, everything is close -- if you drive for three hours, you're in another country. If it's too far to bike in an hour, you can find a train that'll take you there.

That's just not true in most of the U.S.

I'm not even going to get into anti-theft protection, bike lanes, and all that stuff because plenty of people don't even ride bikes often enough for that to matter.
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