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Vehicular Cycling (VC) No other subject has polarized the A&S members like VC has. Here's a place to share, debate, and educate.

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Old 06-24-07, 05:46 AM   #1
Tom Stormcrowe
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The biggest aspect of the VC/BL debate seems to be IMPASSE

How would you propose we address this as a group? What compromises are possible? How can we work together as a joint advocacy group to create a saner view for all sides of this debate rather than screaming at each other from our respective positions? As it stands right now, if we had to present to any government body, all the impression that they would get would be one of chaos and a distinct lack of a cohesive group.

Discuss this amongst yourselves and please keep the personalities out of it. I submit that as it stands right now, the conflict only undermines us and detracts from our credibility as a group. How does this serve advocacy in any meaningful way?

Final point: No one viewpoint get's ALL their agenda in a democratic society, our whole society is founded on compromise. Strip your basic ideas down to their minimal basic "Have to Have" list, and let's see what kind of synthesis can be generated from both sides of this debate.
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Old 06-24-07, 07:47 AM   #2
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I think we've tried this tact. As always, the devil's in the details. On a broad level, we are all cyclists and all want to improve the cyclist's lot out on the road. At the detail level, the disagreement is on implementation; with one side seeing cyclist training as the key issue and the other side seeing engineering design (of the roadway) as the key issue. As always, the solution to the problem lies somewhere in the middle, but to get to the appropriate mix requires leadership at a local level; something which is impossible on the internet, no matter what is the forum.

As I see it, the forums have to be a place where the two extremes can lay out their best case for their proposed solution. As long as the discussion doesn't get personal (as it all too often has in the past; and I'll admit, I've been part of the problem at times), then the two cases are layed out and individuals can make their own better informed (we hope) opinion about the subject to carry into the real world.

I've given up on seeing the forums as a place where peace and harmony on a controversial subject can exist. It is impossible to enforce that kind of peace without some extremely heavy handed mod'ing to control and lead the conversation. Frankly, I think the disagreements are fine, as long as it doesn't get to the level where it becomes personal. HH and I had many a discussion in the past which was purely discussion on a technical and philosophical basis. Both him and I, in the past, have gotten frustrated with each other and turned it personal, and I regret this.

Hopefully, we can all cool off and start discussing this problem in a rational way again. But realize that there will never be any consensus on a forum on the internet, where leadership of the discussion is impossible. Only in real life can a consensus be formed, and it has to come from a leader talking to people who trust this person's decisions and philosophy.
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Old 06-24-07, 10:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
I think we've tried this tact. As always, the devil's in the details. On a broad level, we are all cyclists and all want to improve the cyclist's lot out on the road. At the detail level, the disagreement is on implementation; with one side seeing cyclist training as the key issue and the other side seeing engineering design (of the roadway) as the key issue. As always, the solution to the problem lies somewhere in the middle, but to get to the appropriate mix requires leadership at a local level; something which is impossible on the internet, no matter what is the forum.

As I see it, the forums have to be a place where the two extremes can lay out their best case for their proposed solution. As long as the discussion doesn't get personal (as it all too often has in the past; and I'll admit, I've been part of the problem at times), then the two cases are layed out and individuals can make their own better informed (we hope) opinion about the subject to carry into the real world.

I've given up on seeing the forums as a place where peace and harmony on a controversial subject can exist. It is impossible to enforce that kind of peace without some extremely heavy handed mod'ing to control and lead the conversation. Frankly, I think the disagreements are fine, as long as it doesn't get to the level where it becomes personal. HH and I had many a discussion in the past which was purely discussion on a technical and philosophical basis. Both him and I, in the past, have gotten frustrated with each other and turned it personal, and I regret this.

Hopefully, we can all cool off and start discussing this problem in a rational way again. But realize that there will never be any consensus on a forum on the internet, where leadership of the discussion is impossible. Only in real life can a consensus be formed, and it has to come from a leader talking to people who trust this person's decisions and philosophy.
I think that Brian has not stated the difference accurately. Here is his view of the controversy: "At the detail level, the disagreement is on implementation; with one side seeing cyclist training as the key issue and the other side seeing engineering design (of the roadway) as the key issue."

Vehicular cyclists are as interested in good road engineering as the bikeway promoters are in their kind of engineering. Much of the argumentation by bikeway advocates states the vehicular cyclist position as advocating narrow outside lanes. That is not correct at all. Suggestions for what can be done to improve existing roads are given in my Bicycle Transportation. Furthermore, bikeways do not even reduce the need for proper training of cyclists; that training is just as necessary with bikeways (of the American pattern) as without them.

Furthermore, there is a much deeper difference, that concerns: How should cyclists operate on the roadway? If cyclists should operate as drivers of vehicles, then society and government should both accept and accommodate that use (in all aspects from paving to training) and should not complicate the problem by building facilities that are based on the opposite concept. If, on the other hand, cyclists should not operate as drivers of vehicles, then it would be appropriate to build facilities for that non-conforming use. Looks simple, doesn't it?

Here's the catch. Nobody has built a system that allows cyclists to travel freely and safely without obeying the rules of the road. In a way, the Dutch sidepath system is nearest to that, but it is not ubiquitous even there.

Instead of obeying either principle, we have an irrational combination of both principles that nobody can understand, which, therefore, is controlled by superstition. One system is the vehicular system, that is required by the operational characteristics of vehicles and drivers, and for which the road system is designed. The other is the motorist-invented view of cyclists as incompetent road users who must be kept out of the way of motorists, lest they be crushed, and which is now institutionalized in the form of bikeways, which are believed to make cycling safe for incompetent cyclists. This view has great social acceptance, which is the problem, because, of course, it is false.

The idea that bikeways will persuade large numbers of motorists to switch to bicycle transportation is the foundation of anti-motoring bicycle advocacy. This is based on the social belief that bikeways make cycling safe for incompetent road users. And this belief is pure superstition.

Therefore, we have a conflict between the rationally based vehicular cycling principle and the bikeway superstition. It is difficult to find a compromise between two such different modes of thought.
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Old 06-24-07, 10:48 AM   #4
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Therefore, we have a conflict between the rationally based vehicular cycling principle and the bikeway superstition. It is difficult to find a compromise between two such different modes of thought.
There ya have it. One side is rational, and based on principle, and the other side is over run by psychotic superstitionalists. mmmmm popcorn
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Old 06-24-07, 10:50 AM   #5
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John, and Brian both;

I sure never said it would be easy....actually, it'll be extremely difficult! I believe both sides are in reality, working to a common goal though, just diametric opposites in path to the goal.

John, why don't you lay out your "Have to have" list. Let's see how it can be implemented in a manner which is safe. *I suspect cyclist training is right up there at the top. You too, Brian.

I agree that cyclist training is very important. At the least, it can't hurt! My question is, and both sides of this debate need to express their views:
What can be done to implement a cyclist training program, either voluntary or public funded, so as to achieve the maximum effect for the minimal cost?

As I see it, there is also the issue of motorist awareness:

How can we effectively express our rights, duties and obligations so that John Q Motorist understands we have the right to ride the roads?

Third question:
It follows that there are cyclists that will NEVER be comfortable riding in traffic, no matter how well they ride. How do we accommodate them? Are they to be eliminated from the equation altogether?

This group of questions gives us a starting ground to brainstorm from to reach a compromise that is palatable by all, hopefully. It's worth a try....after all, which is better, to try to win all and miss the mark, or to make the trip a series of steps, each toward the goal, but ensuring a far greater probability of eventual success?
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Old 06-24-07, 10:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewaday
There ya have it. One side is rational, and based on principle, and the other side is over run by psychotic superstitionalists. mmmmm popcorn
Dewaday, what we have are different viewpoints, but a common goal, and your post is another example of this issue. Before a dialogue even starts, you already discount any attempt at compromise.

I can tell you this much: If you decide your effort will fail, you have a 100% chance of that prediction coming to pass. It's called self fulfilling prophecy. At least I'm making an effort to bridge the gap rather than posting inanities.
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Old 06-24-07, 10:55 AM   #7
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some people will have the preference to be generally "out-of-the-way" of cars while cycling. no getting around that. you can not "train" that out of them. whether that's out of the way in fact or in perception, that's a preference. that's why I feel we need to have both facilities and VC, because all riding styles and preferences are not the same.

we need to be able to advocate for all preferences, not try to force one mode for all. AND this is, in my mind, all part of a bigger picture of re-creating our cities and streets on a more human, less auto-centric, scale...not anti-motorist, but just creating a more even playing field.
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Old 06-24-07, 10:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rando
some people will have the preference to be generally "out-of-the-way" of cars while cycling. no getting around that. you can not "train" that out of them. whether that's out of the way in fact or in perception, that's a preference. that's why I feel we can have both facilities and VC, because all riding styles and preferences are not the same. we need to be able to advocate for all preferences, not try to force one mode for all.
Which is my point entirely!
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Old 06-24-07, 11:05 AM   #9
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Commencing the debate by referring to the other sides position as superstition seems like a counterproductive approach to reconciliation, and is what invariably causes these efforts to fail. good luck
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Old 06-24-07, 11:11 AM   #10
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yep, the my-way-or-the-highway-ers on each side are going to have to live with some compromises, I think.
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Old 06-24-07, 11:12 AM   #11
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vehicular cyclists can ride infrastructure rich communities. vehicular cyclists can ride on a road with a bike lane.

I feel the foresterite camp doth protest too much. compromise needs to be seen from that camp; bike advocacy includes multi-facted efforts including bike infrastructure, cyclist education, public education, lobbying for greater rights for cyclists.

leaving the onus of cycling advocacy soley on education leaves the bicycling community sorrily misrepresented.
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Old 06-24-07, 11:17 AM   #12
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I've several times in past year and in past month offered what I view as a compromise bike facility design - not a 'final compromise unworthy of discussion', but what I consider a good starting pointf or constructive discussion, that takes into account considerations from 'both sides'.

Interestingly I've observed whenever I've done this discussion seems to immediately peter out or change topic and the argument starts in a different thread. I sense that folks don't want constructive discussion or the format of online discussion dynamics doesn't work well for this.

here are a few of those posts:
Outsider's view of the bike lane debate: "One guy ruined it for all the other guys."
Legality of taking the lane
Are *any* bike lanes good bike lanes?

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Old 06-24-07, 11:29 AM   #13
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Which is why I'm trying the concept of a moderated thread (No, not a Blue Star BF Moderator type moderator, but a neutral referee that can keep it on topic and a dialogue going instead of both sides shouting), call it an experiment on my part personally and not representative of Bike Forums official policies. I'm in this thread only in the role of, I guess a better term might be as a mediator or facilitator of dialogue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I've several times in past year and in past month offered what I view as a compromise bike facility design - not a 'final compromise unworthy of discussion', but what I consider a good starting pointf or constructive discussion, that takes into account considerations from 'both sides'.

Interestingly I've observed whenever I've done this discussion seems to immediately peter out or change topic and the argument starts in a different thread. I sense that folks don't want constructive discussion or the format of online discussion dynamics doesn't work well for this.

here are a few of those posts:
Outsider's view of the bike lane debate: "One guy ruined it for all the other guys."
Legality of taking the lane
Are *any* bike lanes good bike lanes?

Al
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Old 06-24-07, 11:41 AM   #14
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I also think of BF A&SVC as a lab for discussion of ideas, ideas both for practical application as well as ideas that can help folks learn to improve their riding in traffic.

I do not think of it as any representation of cyclists agenda to any outside body. In fact locally cycling advocacy organizations work first internally and with each other and present a cohesive message to goverment. Keep the healthy debate within, but as the output provide a single voice communication.

Anyway if there is any common ground on what cyclists want materially (as opposed to who to train or not), it is wide pavement. Locally this has worked well as adocacy has successfully changed new road designs from original 12' wide outside lanes to 16' ones. No debate was needed as how to stipe them as the width supported adding additional striping at a later date if the road every became an 'important cycling' road - no debate was needed as these roads were otherwise ignored by cyclists. The great work the advoacy has done here is not about striping, but reviewing statewide road projects and flagging them to add more outside lane width when needed - for roads that are not really even on the cyclist radar.

Al
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Old 06-24-07, 12:12 PM   #15
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I don't know if this qualifies as a compromise or not. I think the roads need to be rebuilt from the ground up to better accomodate all users. Most of the road features that give cyclists a problem would probably not be solved by bike lanes. specifically, the problem areas include:
merges and diverges,
high speed limits,

tricky multi-lane intersections,
high-speed arterials replacing the slower grid system,
narrow traffic choke points due to expressways, train tracks and geographical features,
narrow bridges and underpasses,
and many other road "improvements" designed to increase carrying capicity for cars only.
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Old 06-24-07, 01:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
I sure never said it would be easy....actually, it'll be extremely difficult! I believe both sides are in reality, working to a common goal though, just diametric opposites in path to the goal.
Actually, Tom, I don't believe the two sides have a common goal at all. I think the two extreme positions are:

1- Only one method of cycling is correct/safe/best/acceptable/to be promoted. Uses very narrow definitions (e.g. bike lanes are not "vehicular" etc.).
2- Many methods of cycling are correct/safe/best/acceptable/to be promoted, and in particular a priority is placed on facilities other than standard lanes on roads.

In this case, the goals are not only different, they are complete opposites. Group 1 wants to re-shape cyclists/cycling - even going to the extreme of excluding many cyclists - for the sake of their vision of what is best. Group 2 wants to re-shape the transportation infrastructure, including most (all?) cyclists but going to the extreme of excluding existing and often adequate roads.

Of course few people are extremists, but usually the extremists are the loudest in any crowd.
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Old 06-24-07, 02:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
Strip your basic ideas down to their minimal basic "Have to Have" list, and let's see what kind of synthesis can be generated from both sides of this debate.
I have to have clean pavement and motorist cooperation.

I have to have a cold, cold water bottle...er, I got that covered.

Shade is nice...
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Old 06-24-07, 03:33 PM   #18
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Tom,

The so called VC camp, have already told you the bike lane they would not oppose. Which is a reasonable compromise from the "VC side".

Are *any* bike lanes good bike lanes?

Bike lane advocates find such minimum standards unacceptable (no compromise), since their position seems to be any bike lane (no matter how dangerous) will somehow produce more butts on bikes. Hawaii has terrible bike lanes, and the bike lane advocates push for more bike lanes, while ignoring any discussion to fix the extremely dangerous ones to the above standard. Hawaii has a mandatory use law, but the bike lane advocates are not willing to use any of their effort in repealing that law.

Forum admin has taken a position that VC is the problem, not bike lane advocates, by relegating VC to a sub-forum rather than making it a VC/BL sub-forum.
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Old 06-24-07, 04:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
The so called VC camp, have already told you the bike lane they would not oppose. Which is a reasonable compromise from the "VC side"..

Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
well, that was Al talking. are you saying he speaks for all of you guys?


Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
Bike lane advocates find such minimum standards unacceptable (no compromise),
well, that's not true. some do, some don't... I would approve of a bike lane like Al mentioned. But I would not call that a "minimum standard", I have trouble with that concept because it is inflexible... different situations are going to require different solutions as far as facilities go, and one size does not fit all.

to me, this is another example of "all or nothing" thinking that accomplishes little in the real world. But, I admit that I personally am OK with a lot of facilities, including BLs that are NOT 6 feet wide, that many of you guys seem to have a tizzy over...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
since their position seems to be any bike lane (no matter how dangerous) will somehow produce more butts on bikes. .
a misstatement of my position, certainly, and probably of a lot of other people. this seems to be a problem across the board-- people not understanding what other people are for or against. maybe we can all work on that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
Hawaii has terrible bike lanes, and the bike lane advocates push for more bike lanes, while ignoring any discussion to fix the extremely dangerous ones to the above standard. Hawaii has a mandatory use law, but the bike lane advocates are not willing to use any of their effort in repealing that law. .
well, that seems to be something you need to talk to your local people about. I would definitely oppose mandatory use laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI
Forum admin has taken a position that VC is the problem, not bike lane advocates, by relegating VC to a sub-forum rather than making it a VC/BL sub-forum.
the problem is no compromise attitudes and ultimatums and blanket statements, and putting words in others' mouths from all sides.

examples:

"their position seems to be any bike lane (no matter how dangerous) will somehow produce more butts on bikes."

"Bike lane advocates find such minimum standards unacceptable (no compromise)"
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Last edited by rando; 06-24-07 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 06-24-07, 04:49 PM   #20
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I wish you all the best of luck. Already we've had people accusing each other of all sorts of rigidity. I would like to know who is the rigid one on the anti-Forester side, because I am having a hard time knowing who that is. Names? I'm not happy with auto-centric road design, but that doesn't mean I must have bike lanes everywhere no matter what. I'm a vehicular cyclist who uses on-street cycling facilities and refuses to use sidewalks. I also refuse to ride 4 mph up steep roads with high-speed traffic and narrow lanes, unless I'm under duress. So shoot me for having a practical, woman's approach to the whole thing.
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Old 06-24-07, 05:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rando
well, that was Al talking. are you saying he speaks for all of you guys?...


well, that's not true. some do, some don't... I would approve of a bike lane like Al mentioned. But I would not call that a "minimum standard", I have trouble with that concept because it is inflexible... ...

a misstatement of my position,
You read the thread once, try reading it again, since it has many of the so called "VC camp" positions on Al's post.
Are *any* bike lanes good bike lanes?


Thanks for making my point that many are OK with substandard bike lanes.

I was not responding to a post from you, why do you falsely imply such.

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Old 06-24-07, 05:24 PM   #22
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... and refuses to use sidewalks...
In other post, you have told us about a sidewalk that you do use. No big deal, but at least be consistent with your claims.

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Old 06-24-07, 05:34 PM   #23
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I would like to know who is the rigid one on the anti-Forester side, because I am having a hard time knowing who that is. Names?
Bek is a good start. I would put him at the top of your list.
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Old 06-24-07, 06:21 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
John, and Brian both;

I sure never said it would be easy....actually, it'll be extremely difficult! I believe both sides are in reality, working to a common goal though, just diametric opposites in path to the goal.

John, why don't you lay out your "Have to have" list. Let's see how it can be implemented in a manner which is safe. *I suspect cyclist training is right up there at the top. You too, Brian.

I agree that cyclist training is very important. At the least, it can't hurt! My question is, and both sides of this debate need to express their views:
What can be done to implement a cyclist training program, either voluntary or public funded, so as to achieve the maximum effect for the minimal cost?

As I see it, there is also the issue of motorist awareness:

How can we effectively express our rights, duties and obligations so that John Q Motorist understands we have the right to ride the roads?

Third question:
It follows that there are cyclists that will NEVER be comfortable riding in traffic, no matter how well they ride. How do we accommodate them? Are they to be eliminated from the equation altogether?

This group of questions gives us a starting ground to brainstorm from to reach a compromise that is palatable by all, hopefully. It's worth a try....after all, which is better, to try to win all and miss the mark, or to make the trip a series of steps, each toward the goal, but ensuring a far greater probability of eventual success?

You are trying hard, Tom, in a good cause. So I put at the top of my list what I have put at the top of my list for decades.

1) Societal and governmental acceptance of the principle that cyclists using roadways should operate according to the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles. Given that, everything that is needed, within resource limits, will be produced: road design, road construction, cyclist training, motorist training, law enforcement training. None of these are unknowns; they just are not being done because society thinks otherwise about bicycle transportation.

2) Any facilities for non-vehicular cycling should be regarded as nice but not necessary, and such facilities must not contradict the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles.
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Old 06-24-07, 07:36 PM   #25
Tom Stormcrowe
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OK, we have a summary of positions and in all honesty, the viewpoints aren't that different, goal wise.

VC:
  • Education, recognition and compliance with road laws.
  • Bike infrastructure that is built needs to be compliant with safe operation if intended for a transportational alternative rather than a recreational use and must be clean and well maintained.
  • Bike infrastructure isn't absolutely necessary but can be very nice if properly designed.

Most of the BL responses are to the effect:
  • The Bike lanes aren't the exclusive solution
  • Bike lanes must be safe, and clean
  • Must be convenient to use
  • Bike infrastructure will increase "butts on bikes" as it will encourage riding by riders less comfortable with traffic and can accommodate various levels of skill. Dianne's statement about climbing a steep hill at 4 mph with fast traffic is a great example of comfort levels.(Could this be addressed with a protected climbing lane for bikes similar to the protected climbing lanes for heavy trucks like the ones up over Grapevine?)

If you read the summary, you can see that the two sides aren't as far apart as the arguments indicate. Still think there isn't room to discuss and work toward a unified front?
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