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  1. #1
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    A Petition Needed for Bike Lanes...ideas?

    Hi people.

    I teach a citizenship class at the high school and we have been focussing on Global Awareness and citizenship action. I want to get the students active in the community and I figured a great way to do so, would be to get a petition going to give to the Mayor asking or demanding safer bicycle transportation routes in the form of Bike Lanes. The students will be able to walk around in their community asking for signatures. I'm thinking when all the signatures are collected, we might have a bike field trip to city hall to personally deliver the petition to the mayor.(need to look into the legality of that though)

    My question to BF members. Although I will have the students create the petition, I need to be able to guide them appropriately. Has anyone here ever created such a petition before? I would like to have one to use as a template. I have never done anything like this before, so these are un-chartered waters for me.

    Two classes 30*2 = 60 students, plus myself I figure we can get a fair amount of signatures collected in a short time.

    The City does have a 'bike plan', but it is pathetic and focuses on trails that cut through parks. Very little emphasis on bike lanes.

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    Why not let them use their own thinking skills? Give them a sample of what you'd write to lobby your wife for a new bike. : ) Maybe a persuasive work memo. Let them use logic to think about what would be appropriate for a business or governmental body. Give them examples of advertising, etc.

    Good luck on that new bike.

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    When you get your bike lanes, please make sure that the highway engineers design them AS A LANE. That means, if there is to be a right turn lane, the bike lane must be located to the left of the right turn lane, and appropriately marked.
    First thing I would do is to contact City Hall and ask about who is in charge of that. Things like 'kids gathering a petition' mostly is a PR effort; it's the sort of thing you create a news release for, then stage to happen to a Mayor who knows to expect them to coincide with some other substantive policy suggestion hitting the debate floor in the respective legislative body (usually much lower key, but nonetheless responsive to public opinion). It's not enough to do it in isolation, as that doesn't actually accomplish much, and you'll need to work with people like engineers or planners to create a policy to be unveiled in response to the pretty picture of all the cute doe-eyed kids presenting to City Hall. Find out who would be responsible, create a proposal in their language, get it into them, then march.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    ...The City does have a 'bike plan', but it is pathetic and focuses on trails that cut through parks. Very little emphasis on bike lanes.
    The city clearly knows what it's doing.

    On street cycle lanes are dangerous and a complete waste of money. Cyclists are much better off cycling within current traffic rules and this can be greatly helped with road user education.

    Therefore you're better off creating a practical syllabus for ALL road users on how to behave in traffic and their legal rights and requirements.

    Especially important are:
    - observation, awareness and spacing for drivers (traffic laws may need a refresher from the drivers original test especially the ones related to slower road users)
    - not undertaking, road positioning, spacing and road safety (lights, signalling, traffic laws) for cyclists
    - observation, awareness and safety (visibility and traffic laws) for pedestrians
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

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    Thanks so far:

    VincentPaul, the kids WILL create the petition... I just want to have some background on this type of action as i've never made a petition of this sort before. I want to know what to expect from something like this. But this indeed will be a student made proposal.

    Markhr, the city is not favorable to cyclists. I'm sorry but I disagree with you, a cyclist is better off in a bike lane, rather than having to share a lane with cars that are swerving to avoid them. Every time I hit the road I feel my life is in danger, hence why I ride on the sidewalk, but that itsn't much safer either.

    Justice Zero, thanks for the suggestions. I'll try to co-ordinate with city officials. They have received petitions in the past but not much has been accomplished by them. However I feel we have to keep hammering down on our politicians until they listen.

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    This is more of an Advocacy & Safety kind of question, but I'm afraid that if you were to ask over there you'd find that there is -- how to put this gently -- a lack of agreement among cyclists as to the effectiveness of bike lanes. At times this lack of agreement results in an argument that is heated and even uncivil. I think you've already got a taste of that from the far more laid-back and civil commuters here.

    Beyond the cyclist community, be prepared that transportation is usually the single most contentious issue in an urban area. You may find that a lot of people don't think too highly of cyclists, and that space is at a premium on the roads and no one is going to give theirs up without a fight. That would be a lesson for the kids, but it may not be the one you're looking to teach at this point.
    The United States of America is the only democratic nation in the world to deny citizens living in the nation's capital representation in the national legislature. District residents have no vote in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. www.dcvote.org

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    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    I disagree. Downtown Toronto is pretty good sharing the roads/sharing the lanes. I hardly have any incidents riding on non-bike lane roads. (yeah obviously some aggressive drivers who don't respect cyclists) Bike lane roads the right hook is far more common. The suburban speedaways in Toronto not so friendly - need natural design (like destinations and on street parking) to slow the zoom zoomers down.

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    You might need more than designated lanes; Chicago's experience has resulted in a proposal for fines.
    See thread Chicago crackdown on JAM's
    `,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,`,
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    Thanks so far:

    VincentPaul, the kids WILL create the petition... I just want to have some background on this type of action as i've never made a petition of this sort before. I want to know what to expect from something like this. But this indeed will be a student made proposal.

    Markhr, the city is not favorable to cyclists. I'm sorry but I disagree with you, a cyclist is better off in a bike lane, rather than having to share a lane with cars that are swerving to avoid them. Every time I hit the road I feel my life is in danger, hence why I ride on the sidewalk, but that itsn't much safer either.

    Justice Zero, thanks for the suggestions. I'll try to co-ordinate with city officials. They have received petitions in the past but not much has been accomplished by them. However I feel we have to keep hammering down on our politicians until they listen.
    A side walk is WAY more dangerous than the road. Corners are that much more blind, peds arn't looking for you, cars aren't looking for anything besides a ped, car doors and building doors open into your path, obstacles like benches, hydrants, trash bins to swerve around, just to name a few.

    That said, bike lanes have serious right hook issues, so if you are going to try and get more in Toronto make sure they have some sort of design to deal with that as best as possible. But remember, even if a road doesn't have a specific right turn lane, at every block there is a potential for a car to turn right across your path when you are in a bike lane.

    The best thing I can say to you, or anyone, is take the (normal car) lane, and when you take the lane don't hug the shoulder. TAKE THE LANE. That way a car can't swerve around you unless the other lane is open. (not that they won't still occasionally try)
    In the words of Einstein
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    Hi people.

    I teach a citizenship class at the high school and we have been focussing on Global Awareness and citizenship action. I want to get the students active in the community and I figured a great way to do so, would be to get a petition going to give to the Mayor asking or demanding safer bicycle transportation routes in the form of Bike Lanes. The students will be able to walk around in their community asking for signatures. I'm thinking when all the signatures are collected, we might have a bike field trip to city hall to personally deliver the petition to the mayor.(need to look into the legality of that though)

    My question to BF members. Although I will have the students create the petition, I need to be able to guide them appropriately. Has anyone here ever created such a petition before? I would like to have one to use as a template. I have never done anything like this before, so these are un-chartered waters for me.

    Two classes 30*2 = 60 students, plus myself I figure we can get a fair amount of signatures collected in a short time.

    The City does have a 'bike plan', but it is pathetic and focuses on trails that cut through parks. Very little emphasis on bike lanes.
    The idea that bike lanes make cycling safer has been fairly well discredited, and for very good reason. As far as I know, government officials and official documents pretty much stopped claiming that bike lanes make cycling safer in the early 90s. Unfortunately, the myth that bike lanes make cycling safe persists.

    Arguably, especially for inexperienced kids, bike lanes make cycling less safe, because they give the inexperienced cyclist a false sense of security. The real danger is at intersections, including midblock junctions with driveways, alleys and commercial entrances, and bike lanes really compound these dangers: through cyclists are guided to stay right of right turning motorists - a recipe for disaster.

    Instead, I would suggest contacting CAN-BIKE in Toronto to see about getting these students into some courses. The citizen action project could involve promoting these courses so that more Toronto cyclists can learn some skills and practices that will actually make cycling safer.

    CAN-BIKE cycling courses for young cyclists and adults will boost your skills, safety and cycling pleasure. Join the two-wheeled revolution. You can help set the pace for Toronto's 900,000 cyclists!

    Learn from the best
    All instructors are fully accredited in CAN-BIKE, are knowledgeable about the Highway Traffic Act and have advanced cycling skills. In fact, all Toronto Police bicycle patrol officers are required to take CAN-BIKE 2.
    http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/canbike/index.htm

  11. #11
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    Thanks so far:

    VincentPaul, the kids WILL create the petition... I just want to have some background on this type of action as i've never made a petition of this sort before. I want to know what to expect from something like this. But this indeed will be a student made proposal.

    Markhr, the city is not favorable to cyclists. I'm sorry but I disagree with you, a cyclist is better off in a bike lane, rather than having to share a lane with cars that are swerving to avoid them. Every time I hit the road I feel my life is in danger, hence why I ride on the sidewalk, but that isn't much safer either.

    Justice Zero, thanks for the suggestions. I'll try to co-ordinate with city officials. They have received petitions in the past but not much has been accomplished by them. However I feel we have to keep hammering down on our politicians until they listen.
    Please, please, at least you should take the CAN-BIKE course. Teachers of all people should not be perpetuating myths like this, especially when safety and lives are at stake.

    This is not a matter of opinion. The debate about bike lanes is not about safety, except in a very indirect way. The only way the safety argument is even attempted any more is based on the dubious premise that bike lanes significantly increase ridership, and more riders on the road makes motorists more aware of bicyclists, and that's why bike lanes make cycling safer. Otherwise, the pro-bike lane argument is all about making cyclists feel more comfortable (because they believe they are safer in a bike lane - never mind that they are not).
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 02-07-08 at 11:36 PM.

  12. #12
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    I'll look into the that Can-Bike Course. I actually live in the Sub-urbs...NOT Toronto (as my profile says). In the burbs where I live, the city has the space to create safe bicycle pathways. If a city like Toronto can find room for bike paths than suburbia shouldn't have a problem. I'm an advocate of bike lanes..what can I say...I like them. Many people on here like them and others don't, I guess its a personal opinion. As for studies that state the opposite..im curious to see who published those studies. For example were they sponsored by bike hating politicians?

    As for young students though, most ride on the sidewalk. How many school kids do you see on the roads battling for space with cars? None. If the space was there though, they would use them.

    Also, there are many different types of bike lanes...coloured ones...other lanes with barriers between the bikes and the cars,,etc.. Simply turning a blind eye and saying "let cyclists compete for space with cars" is not the answer.

    ** Just browsed through the Can-Bike course...its interesting, but not $100 fee..i'm a pretty defencive driver as it is. Thanks, but no thanks.
    Last edited by macteacher; 02-07-08 at 11:52 PM.

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    The only times i've been in danger from cars is when I have been either off on the shoulder/bike lane, or when i've been on a sidewalk. Sidewalks are so stupidly dangerous that I learned to avoid them right quick, along with bike paths - every car around drives right through those at full speed without blinking an eye or looking, pedestrians materialize in my path and never even notice me, the surface vanishes into holes without notice. On the bike path or shoulder, I have issues with being left-hooked by drivers who pass me on my left, then turn right. This is why I said that if you have a bike lane that goes straight through the intersection, it has to be to the left of every right-turning lane as well as to the right of every left turning lane. That's not actually possible on a road that only has one lane in a given direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    ** Just browsed through the Can-Bike course...its interesting, but not $100 fee..i'm a pretty defencive driver as it is. Thanks, but no thanks.
    If you won't do the bike safety course, then at the very least, go to http://bicyclesafe.com/ and read through everything there twice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    I'll look into the that Can-Bike Course. I actually live in the Sub-urbs...NOT Toronto (as my profile says). In the burbs where I live, the city has the space to create safe bicycle pathways. If a city like Toronto can find room for bike paths than suburbia shouldn't have a problem. I'm an advocate of bike lanes..what can I say...I like them. Many people on here like them and others don't, I guess its a personal opinion. As for studies that state the opposite..im curious to see who published those studies. For example were they sponsored by bike hating politicians?

    As for young students though, most ride on the sidewalk. How many school kids do you see on the roads battling for space with cars? None. If the space was there though, they would use them.

    Also, there are many different types of bike lanes...coloured ones...other lanes with barriers between the bikes and the cars,,etc.. Simply turning a blind eye and saying "let cyclists compete for space with cars" is not the answer.

    ** Just browsed through the Can-Bike course...its interesting, but not $100 fee..i'm a pretty defencive driver as it is. Thanks, but no thanks.
    I know it is counter-intuitive that bike lanes don't make cycling safe, and may even make cycling less safe, but hopefully you teach your students by example to reach conclusions based on facts, and not misinformed intuition.

    There have been many studies made by bike lane proponents since it was first observed that bike lanes seemed to make cycling less safe back in the 70s. Many of these studies were done specifically to show that bike lanes make cycling safer, yet none have succeeded.

    Although it's 12 years old, a good (and free) place to start is Jeffrey Hiles' paper, "Listening to Bike Lanes". link. It's written to refute John Forester's arguments against bike lanes, but he actually concedes the safety issue, and defends bike lanes on other grounds, which basically amounts to your "argument": "what can I say...I like them."

    Do not underestimate the value of what you can learn for $100 from a CAN-BIKE course - it could very well save your life. But if you're good at learning from books, I strongly recommend Forester's Effective Cycling (the basis for the CAN-BIKE course), John Franklin's Cyclecraft, and John Allen's StreetSmarts. The latter is available for free online here. If you have a strong stomach for a lot of bickering and some real argument and debate, the Advocacy and Safety forum here at Bike Forums is also a good resource.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    If you won't do the bike safety course, then at the very least, go to http://bicyclesafe.com/ and read through everything there twice.
    Yes, that too, though it's on the light/simplistic side. But a good intro.
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 02-08-08 at 12:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    ** Just browsed through the Can-Bike course...its interesting, but not $100 fee..i'm a pretty defencive driver as it is.
    With all due respect, anyone who believes that bike lanes and sidewalks make cycling safer doesn't have the understanding of basic traffic safety principles required in order to be a "pretty defensive driver".

    In order to be a "pretty defensive driver", you have to understand where the biggest threats to your safety are. But if you understand that, then you realize that riding in bike lanes and on sidewalks doesn't make you safer, and probably, if not certainly, makes you less safe.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    Thanks so far:

    VincentPaul, the kids WILL create the petition... I just want to have some background on this type of action as i've never made a petition of this sort before. I want to know what to expect from something like this. But this indeed will be a student made proposal.

    Markhr, the city is not favorable to cyclists. I'm sorry but I disagree with you, a cyclist is better off in a bike lane, rather than having to share a lane with cars that are swerving to avoid them. Every time I hit the road I feel my life is in danger, hence why I ride on the sidewalk, but that itsn't much safer either.

    Justice Zero, thanks for the suggestions. I'll try to co-ordinate with city officials. They have received petitions in the past but not much has been accomplished by them. However I feel we have to keep hammering down on our politicians until they listen.
    We have bike paths that are separate from automobile traffic. They are a huge success; bike commuting has taken off since they were built. The American bike lanes that I have seen pictures of seem to be little more than lines painted on the street with no physical barrier, so it's not surprising to me that many cyclists oppose them. It's just too easy for cars to drive and park in them.

    If I were you, I'd try to get physical barriers separating those lanes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    Markhr, the city is not favorable to cyclists. I'm sorry but I disagree with you, a cyclist is better off in a bike lane, rather than having to share a lane with cars that are swerving to avoid them. Every time I hit the road I feel my life is in danger, hence why I ride on the sidewalk, but that itsn't much safer either.
    Bike lanes are great for mild mannered recreational cyclists. Though someone who needs to transport themselves from point A to Point B, they're useless. Why? Because the Bike lanes don't go anywhere useful they're an excuse to exclude cyclist from other roads (why aren't you using the Bike path/lane ...). A lot of transportation money has been put forward towards creating recreational bike paths rather than improve the road system or to design the roadways properly to begin with. The largest problem with bike lanes is that they won't be cleaned by the municipality. When funds run low they won't be fixed. When they're separate paths they're used for anything but cycling and the cyclist who do use it can't go very fast. That's a recreational path not a transportation path.

    In case you're wondering I'll be starting my commutes to work soon. I'm already a long distance cyclist and ride the roadways. Oddly enough there are bike lanes located in the Pine Barrens of NJ. A popular place for cyclist but one with such low traffic that they are unnecessary and the afore mentioned cleaning is a problem because the driving drunks tend to dispose of the bottles onto the bike lane making them useless. What a waste of tax payer moneys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    We have bike paths that are separate from automobile traffic. They are a huge success; bike commuting has taken off since they were built. The American bike lanes that I have seen pictures of seem to be little more than lines painted on the street with no physical barrier, so it's not surprising to me that many cyclists oppose them. It's just too easy for cars to drive and park in them.

    If I were you, I'd try to get physical barriers separating those lanes.
    Bike paths separated from automobile traffic can be nice, though they have their issues too - where they intersect roads, alleys, junctions, etc. Such paths that run alongside roads... sidepaths... in urban and suburban areas are really nothing more than glorified sidewalks and are particularly dangerous (more dangerous than bike lanes) because they typically intersect so many midblock junctions, directing cyclists to cross paths with motorists who are likely to not expect and notice them. Now, a bikepath through a park, or a sidepath along a long rural road with no intersections/junctions, that's different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squegeeboo View Post
    A side walk is WAY more dangerous than the road. Corners are that much more blind, peds arn't looking for you, cars aren't looking for anything besides a ped, car doors and building doors open into your path, obstacles like benches, hydrants, trash bins to swerve around, just to name a few.

    That said, bike lanes have serious right hook issues, so if you are going to try and get more in Toronto make sure they have some sort of design to deal with that as best as possible. But remember, even if a road doesn't have a specific right turn lane, at every block there is a potential for a car to turn right across your path when you are in a bike lane.

    The best thing I can say to you, or anyone, is take the (normal car) lane, and when you take the lane don't hug the shoulder. TAKE THE LANE. That way a car can't swerve around you unless the other lane is open. (not that they won't still occasionally try)
    exactly - Macteacher get off the sidewalk and ride with the traffic. You'll be safer, faster and MUCH more visible to drivers.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    Bike paths separated from automobile traffic can be nice, though they have their issues too - where they intersect roads, alleys, junctions, etc. Such paths that run alongside roads... sidepaths... in urban and suburban areas are really nothing more than glorified sidewalks and are particularly dangerous (more dangerous than bike lanes) because they typically intersect so many midblock junctions, directing cyclists to cross paths with motorists who are likely to not expect and notice them. Now, a bikepath through a park, or a sidepath along a long rural road with no intersections/junctions, that's different.
    I realize that your opposition to bike paths and lanes is almost religious in fervor, but I must say I disagree with you nonetheless. If a network of bike paths is properly built, they are nowhere near as dangerous as riding out in the street. Most of our intersections are protected by large, colorfully-painted speed bumps which force drivers to slow down before crossing a path. Traffic lights for both cyclists and drivers also contribute to safety.

    In a city where only a handful of us dared cycle just a few years ago, there are now thousands of us, thanks to these new paths that allow for a much safer commute. I invite you and anyone who shares your opinion to come over and see for yourselves.

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    Wow....my initial request has been transformed into a debate. I think often what we are looking at here are our own cities and how they work. An individual who see's bike lanes not working in their city believes they won't work anywhere else. I live in Suburbia...i'm not sure how many people understand what suburbia is. Yes, I use the sidewalk for 50% of my commute, but it is not a city sidewalk with people and cars passing through. These are boulevard sidewalks... almost 5 meters wide (grass & snow collectors included at times). Why are they a pain? They are annoying at intersections and driveways (and where they reach those areas I use the road) but the road isn't much safer. Again, maybe the roads in your city are safer, but mine are not.

    Driver and cyclist education is great and am a proponent of education but that usually falls on deaf ears (I will read the article you posted).

    Maintenance: Some of you believe the bike lanes become dirty waste lands. I doubt that would happen here. I live n cleanville. The city does a fabulous job at cleaning the streets, sidewalks...heck, they even wash them (shoulders included).

    Recreational lanes: Yes they are great....but I need to commute to work..to the grocery store, not through an area of manicured wilderness

    You may ask then, why don't I like sharing the roads with the cars.... it's because the lanes are not wide enough. Cars swerve past, honking, changing lanes to avoid collisions... sharing a lane with a semi, is not safe. There is no counter argument to that. Sharing a lane with a hummer is not safe. Taking a lane is a great idea, but the 50 motorists behind you will be honking their horns, yelling and cursing as they pass. (besides slower vehicles move to the right).

    Many have made the argument of car doors swinging open. Yes that is a danger in Toronto.... but where I live in the suburbs, the main streets don't allow for parking on the side...i'll never see a door swing open, unless its one of those delivery trucks that make those odd stops.

    Bike lanes (where I live - or wider right lanes) are the answer. The city HAS the space to build them, but no political will.

    Ultimately some sort of physical barrier between car lanes and bike lanes would be best but involves more foresight then our politicians have. Someone mentioned the bike lanes in seville spain. Do you have pics? I can't just swim across the lake to check them out.

    Lastly for the 'right' hook argument... a degree of responsibility falls on the cyclist themselves. You know you are approaching an intersection. Make the necessary adjustments and cycle with caution. yes those right turn lanes are dangerous and this is where cyclist awareness and driver education comes into play.

    Now...back to my original question...any answers?

    P.S. I did take a bicycle safety course in grade school...even was given a license I still use my hand signals that I learned back then, now when I cycle.
    Last edited by macteacher; 02-08-08 at 07:06 AM.

  24. #24
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
    You may ask then, why don't I like sharing the roads with the cars.... it's because the lanes are not wide enough. Cars swerve past, honking, changing lanes to avoid collisions... sharing a lane with a semi, is not safe. There is no counter argument to that. Sharing a lane with a hummer is not safe. Taking a lane is a great idea, but the 50 motorists behind you will be honking their horns, yelling and cursing as they pass. (besides slower vehicles move to the right).
    You keep on saying 'sharing a lane'. You don't want to share a lane, you want to take a lane. That deals with 95% of the safety concerns of biking on roads. As for motorists beeping or shouting at you as they pass, who cares, let them shout, words don't hurt you, give them a little wave if you really want to, that pisses them off even more and makes for great entertainment.
    In the words of Einstein
    "And now I think I'll take a bath"

  25. #25
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Argh. An A&S post masquerading as a Commuting question.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

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