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Nice article: Bicycling for Thinner Texans and New Businesses

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Nice article: Bicycling for Thinner Texans and New Businesses

Old 08-18-13, 10:54 AM
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Nice article: Bicycling for Thinner Texans and New Businesses

https://tinyurl.com/lhgfhjv

From the The Texas Tribune via the N.Y. Times Web site.
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Old 08-18-13, 12:46 PM
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In car-clogged communities around Texas, a biking movement is gaining speed. Midsize and large cities are expanding bike trails and putting roads on “lane diets” to accommodate bike lanes.

"About two to three miles is the sweet spot where it really can be more efficient and faster to take a bike..."

Advocates say the goal is to see bicycle use become more common around the state, even if, in most cases, bikes only supplement a transportation routine that still relies more on automobiles.

“We’re not trying to take away cars,” Ms. Murphy said. “That’s the fine line you walk. Our media campaign is ‘There’s enough road to go around.’ ”
Road diets, encouraging bicycle use... Not really trying to take away cars, but suggesting that there is a sweet spot where the use of a bicycle is more efficient...

OMG these folks better watch out, they might just get accused of being "anti-motoring... "
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Old 08-18-13, 01:46 PM
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I don't care much for programs that sell short-trip cycling as a cure for obesity. Sure, it's better to ride a bike a couple of miles than to sit on a motorized couch, but not by much. This sort of oversell seems likely to lead to disappointment and even a bit of backlash as the folks selling the virtues of bicycles lose credibility.

I briefly lived in TX a couple of decades ago. I went in with an open mind and was even seriously looking for a house to purchase. After a very short time, I was so repulsed by the racism and obesity that I decided I would not raise my child in that environment. I'm not exactly small (6'2", 190#), but I dwarfed by the mounds of adipose waddling up and down the grocery aisles. If anyplace has hit rock bottom in terms of diabesity, it must be TX. With only one direction to go, I hope there is some success at thinning the populace.
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Old 08-18-13, 02:14 PM
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I would heartily agree on the "lane diet" line. One that that drove me absolutely nuts is one of the local roads they re-did this spring where they widened the width of the road. Previously it was a narrow winding two lane road with 8-10 foot wide lanes and no shoulder edge to speak of with only about 6" of pavement to the right of the white fog line. When they were finished re-doing it they painted the road lines so it now has 12-13 foot wide lanes with a very narrow 1-foot wide shoulder edge to the right of the fog lines and then they cut rumble strips into that so that unless you want to ride on rumble strips continuously you can't ride a bike to the right of the white fog line even if you were brave enough to consider a shoulder edge only a single foot wide as preferable to ride rather then to ride about 1/3 of the way out into the main lane to give people the idea that they need to swing wide when they pass.

All they had to do was make the lanes a consistent 10-foot wide and have 3 to 4 foot wide shoulder edges to the right of the white fog line and then cut their rumble strips into the first foot of that outside the white line and that would have made a good place for us bicyclists to ride on a 2 to 3 foot wide strip of nice smooth fresh pavement far enough outside of the main traffic lane to be reasonably comfortable about not getting passed too closely especially with a strip of rumble strips between us and the main traffic lane. But, oh no, instead of widening the total width of the road and widening the lanes just enough to fully accommodate big 18-wheel rigs (consistently 10 foot wide lanes with a wide shoulder is sufficient for heavy commercial truck traffic much less cars) and combine that with wide shoulder edges for a safety buffer zone for motorist traffic and also as a good place for cyclist to ride they had to make a freaking race-track out of that curvy road !!!

Two entirely different messages sent by the exact same width of paved roadway depending on where the lines are painted and especially where the rumble strips are cut. On way is to make big wide lanes that send the message to motorists to relax and wander all over the lane and drive really fast because the lanes are so wide and they have plenty of room to swoop around the corners. The other way is to keep the lanes of reasonable width, not too narrow, but not too wide either to tell motorists to stay awake and hold their line and not wander all over especially with rumble strips to get their attention the moment they start to cross the white line and let them know to stay out of the shoulder edge unless they absolutely have to use it for a legitimate reason and to slow down on the curves because the lanes aren't double car wide so they can swoop through them like it's a freaking race track !!!

So, yes, when it comes to lane width especially unless it's a freaking controlled access freeway with alternate routes available (controlled access bicycle freeway?) for other traffic already in existence then make the lanes wide enough to accommodate heavy truck traffic safely but still keep them from getting so wide that it encourages motorists in general, especially those of the 4-wheel variety from making gashole road hogs of themselves. Lanes that aren't too wide so as to encourage misbehavior combined with wider shoulder edges on high speed roadways isn't just good for cyclists its also good for the general safety of motorists as well and keeps them from using the extra road width which is their safety net as a freaking trampoline (your not supposed to use a safety net as a trampoline or a hammock, its only supposed to be there to cover you in an emergency). For full size heavy vehicles that is exactly what a paved shoulder edge is, a safety net only, where as for us cyclists that don't put near as much load stress on the roadways and need a decent place to ride out of the main flow of traffic when its speed becomes much greater then ours a decent width and condition paved shoulder edge or the absence of it can make the difference between a nice peaceful leisurely ride and a very stressful situation for both us and other road users.

Motorists don't need 12 to 16 foot wide lanes and they really don't actually "need" anything much over 10 foot width on most roadways. They can spare us a few feet of width and in the process actually make themselves safer overall as well because generally motorists drive better and more safely in lanes that aren't overly wide because the narrower width psychologically cuts their over confidence down to size.

Last edited by turbo1889; 08-18-13 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 08-18-13, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I don't care much for programs that sell short-trip cycling as a cure for obesity. Sure, it's better to ride a bike a couple of miles than to sit on a motorized couch, but not by much. This sort of oversell seems likely to lead to disappointment and even a bit of backlash as the folks selling the virtues of bicycles lose credibility.

I briefly lived in TX a couple of decades ago. I went in with an open mind and was even seriously looking for a house to purchase. After a very short time, I was so repulsed by the racism and obesity that I decided I would not raise my child in that environment. I'm not exactly small (6'2", 190#), but I dwarfed by the mounds of adipose waddling up and down the grocery aisles. If anyplace has hit rock bottom in terms of diabesity, it must be TX. With only one direction to go, I hope there is some success at thinning the populace.

While my left wing sensibilities have left me with no great appreciation for the "great state of Texas" the arrogant, elitist tone of your post makes me reconsider my liberal standing- I would hate to reek of such condescension. But it's the internet and tone is hard to read and appreciate so perhaps it is I who have judged you too harshly- if so, I apologize.

In any case, I do take issue with your condemnation of "short trip cycling being touted as 'cure' for obesity". There is substantial evidence that even something as simple as removing people's television remote controls, having them take the stairs instead of an elevator, walking to the market or to the subway as opposed to taking a car has a positive effect on their weight and general health. Bicycling for short trips is undoubtedly a positive factor in reducing obesity rates. And it should be part of a more wholistic approach- I don't think anyone in their right mind would automatically and simplistically call it a 'cure' in and of itself.

You can read countless accounts on Bike Forums of people who started biking with small trips around town, partly because it was all they were capable of, and eventually found themselves using the bike to commute or for more transportation and recreation all the while losing considerable amounts of weight and getting healthier.

Do you expect obese people to get out and start riding 50 miles/day and embarking on a rigorous training regimen? They'd give up in no time. IMO, we should be encouraging people to start with something small and manageable like a ride to the grocery store or around the block and let the natural enjoyment and feeling of accomplishment of getting somewhere under their own power do its thing.
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Old 08-18-13, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
While my left wing sensibilities have left me with no great appreciation for the "great state of Texas" the arrogant, elitist tone of your post makes me reconsider my liberal standing- I would hate to reek of such condescension. But it's the internet and tone is hard to read and appreciate so perhaps it is I who have judged you too harshly- if so, I apologize.

In any case, I do take issue with your condemnation of "short trip cycling being touted as 'cure' for obesity". There is substantial evidence that even something as simple as removing people's television remote controls, having them take the stairs instead of an elevator, walking to the market or to the subway as opposed to taking a car has a positive effect on their weight and general health. Bicycling for short trips is undoubtedly a positive factor in reducing obesity rates. And it should be part of a more wholistic approach- I don't think anyone in their right mind would automatically and simplistically call it a 'cure' in and of itself.

You can read countless accounts on Bike Forums of people who started biking with small trips around town, partly because it was all they were capable of, and eventually found themselves using the bike to commute or for more transportation and recreation all the while losing considerable amounts of weight and getting healthier.

Do you expect obese people to get out and start riding 50 miles/day and embarking on a rigorous training regimen? They'd give up in no time. IMO, we should be encouraging people to start with something small and manageable like a ride to the grocery store or around the block and let the natural enjoyment and feeling of accomplishment of getting somewhere under their own power do its thing.
No, I don't expect morbidly obese people to roll out and ride centuries this weekend, in spite of the fact that I have seen more than a few 350#+ folks ride moderately hilly centuries. My concern is that many people will believe the propaganda that riding a few miles at a snail's pace will make them fit and trim. In my experience, these folks are likely to hang the bike up after a few months and never ride again because it, "didn't work". Granted, these are the same folks who went to aerobics classes two or three times per week and eventually quit those when they didn't lose any fat.

Please note that I did say these short rides are better than nothing. My concern lies in the overselling that I have seen and heard. Sure, some folks will roll a short ways, enjoy the effect it has on them, and then proceed to ride more and even take other steps to regain their health. That's great when it happens, but I think it would happen more often if they knew more going in. Slowing the rate of degradation is not quite the same as improving one's health, although I agree it is a reasonable place to start.

As far as my condescending tone towards TX, let me explain. In the early '90s, I took a position at a university in TX. On my first day on campus I was appalled to hear other faculty refer to people as "********". The city was rigidly racially segregated. Remember, this was the '90s, not the '50s. I only saw one instance of a white person in the company of a black person. The school integration plan involved busing kids from the white side of town as an intact classroom for one year during their elementary years. For that year, they used a classroom on the black side of town, but didn't really interact with the other students. I could elicit a warm welcome if I said I was from Sacramento, but if I told people I was from San Francisco, they immediately turned cold. I interpreted that as homophobia. The local newspaper had a dozen articles in the first month about the scandalous notion of teaching sex ed in the HIGH SCHOOLS! I could go on, but let's just say if someone had asked me for directions to TX, I would have said, "It's four decades back and two dimensions over."

So, aside from the extreme obesity I observed (I've never seen so many "all you can eat" places in one city), I was repulsed by what I heard and saw. Sadly, our nation as a whole has moved in that direction in the intervening years. Still, I hope the efforts to change and improve the situation in TX are fruitful. As much as I disliked what I saw, I did meet some wonderful people there who were making the best of what they had. I hope for their sake it gets better.
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