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Making More Sense Of US Cycling Impermanence From A Dutch Visitor's Observations

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Making More Sense Of US Cycling Impermanence From A Dutch Visitor's Observations

Old 06-22-13, 02:25 PM
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Making More Sense Of US Cycling Impermanence From A Dutch Visitor's Observations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2THe_10dYs

It has been a little over a month since I returned to driving only. I know many of you are probably rather disappointed about the choice I was forced to make. Since the fateful day I drove off the car lot with my new bike replacement-the car-I have been returned to the bosom of polite society (US). While I have gained back my rightful claim to a piece of pavement and-yes, finally-being taken seriously, I have also lost much more in return . My bikes are now disassembled, packed in boxes, and in permanent storage at a location far from my residence to prevent myself from getting too tempted to once again use them.

As for the reasons I had to make, let me introduce you to someone here that has the unique ability to show you with words and images in a way I cannot do so well. I could not transmit why bikes always take a back seat in this country any better than this Dutch visitor describing it so well. Here is an overview excerpt from his own Bicycle Dutch blog and it’s accomplying video above.

"............Of course I know it is not really possible to say something in general about “cycling in the US”. There are many different places with very different cycling cultures. But I have now visited the US so often and I have been in so many places, that I do observe some general patterns that I think may be interesting to share...............The main difference between the US and the Netherlands is that cycling is not seen as transportation in the US by the general public. Only very few people use the bicycle to go from A to B for their daily business. For the average American cycling is something kids do or when you do cycle as an adult, it is mainly for recreational purposes. And you dress up for the part: wearing hi-viz, a helmet, with a bicycle to match, one the Dutch would call a ‘race bike’. The social pressure to wear a helmet in the US is enormous and it is almost completely absent in the Netherlands. In that respect the two societies couldn’t be further apart.....….......... the outfit of the average rider in the US gives cycling an image of a ‘dangerous activity’. On top of that, traffic makes that cyclists seem to be in a constant “hurry”. Not surprising that cycling this way only appeals to a small group: the younger and fitter adults, mostly male.......... I was disappointed to see that most lanes are just paint (that was wearing off already) and that these lanes usually stop right before junctions. To improve safety for cyclists it is most important to get the junctions right, because that is where crashes happen most. Lanes on straight stretches of road do not help much in improving safety...........the lanes did still look a bit ‘temporary’. Probably because it was all still only paint with some plastic bollards. They didn’t feel so permanent and blended in as they do in the Netherlands. That makes that you have the feeling the lanes could just as easily be removed again........"-https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/20...h-perspective/

Now for another reason why I had to leave bicycling behind for now. My city has quickly painted many bike lanes all over the city (even county). Now they are quickly redoing them just as fast:

"............The decision was expected to help settle a battle over the color of a bike lane in downtown LA.............Bike lanes on Spring Street from Caesar Chavez Avenue to Ninth Street in downtown were painted green in 2011 as a way to clearly mark where bicyclists ride on the congested downtown street. But TV and movie industry representatives are fighting to change it, saying the neon green color relfects on buildings, props and actors’ faces and is tough to remove from scenes that depict urban settings like those found in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.............-https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/lo...210574801.html

“...........The compromise design preserves much of the safety benefit of the full green treatment at a fraction of the cost since color is only used at the most important locations. In some ways, the final* design on Spring takes the best of both existing pilot green lanes to create a hybrid approach..............also instructs the city's transportation department to work with FilmL.A., the organization that processes permits for on-location motion picture, TV and commercial production in the region, and federal regulators to come up with alternative shades that could be used for future bike lane developments in the city.........."
-https://lacbc.wordpress.com/2013/06/1...ain-green-ish/

How fast can one backlash against a young movement. And kill if off for the most part by little sneaky ways like parking in these same bike lanes, leaving trash cans inside them, and especially painting, then either threatening/actually removing them. Waste of taxpayers money Plus giving people the wrong idea that these lanes are completely safe. If you doubt me, ask the Dutch!
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Old 06-22-13, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post

My bikes are now disassembled, packed in boxes, and in permanent storage at a location far from my residence to prevent myself from getting too tempted to once again use them.
I consider this as totally asinine, your choice, but I still consider it asinine. I won't treat my bikes like some bad addiction, but as one means of travel as well as a form of exercise. All of my bikes and my car are a few mere strides from me as I write this.
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Old 06-22-13, 08:29 PM
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Good Video.

Too much information to comment on but I will say there are more bike lanes painted in the past 10 years than in the prior 30 years combined. I suspect the upcoming oil shortages in the next 25 years should change the situation even more.
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Old 06-22-13, 10:13 PM
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Several times, the narrator called American cyclists "racers", contrasted with the Dutch everyday cyclists who are "just getting from point A to point B."
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Old 06-22-13, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Several times, the narrator called American cyclists "racers", contrasted with the Dutch everyday cyclists who are "just getting from point A to point B."
I resemble that remark............when one has Dick and Jane Urbanwolfpack nipping at their rear fender, it tends to bring out the natural racer in a lot of cyclists.
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Old 06-22-13, 11:05 PM
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I felt it when the narrator said that cyclists seemed to be rushing while in traffic -- if you don't "ride with a purpose", as in with INTENSITY, you are about 5x more likely in my town to get verbal abuse. I was a junior in high school before I got AWAY from that, so I really don't care to passively endure it again. I tend to fire BACK. Doesn't solve anything, but dammit...!

It's all about the American "In A Hurry" syndrome; everything has to happen now-now-NOW, or someone's time gets "wasted", and "time is money"...... As far as I'm concerned, if you hurry through life, you just die sooner. (BUT, I still catch myself getting impatient, too, so......)
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Old 06-23-13, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post

It's all about the American "In A Hurry" syndrome; everything has to happen now-now-NOW........
Everybody is in a hurry to get to a destination where they don't want to go.
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Old 06-23-13, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
It's all about the American "In A Hurry" syndrome; everything has to happen now-now-NOW, or someone's time gets "wasted", and "time is money"...... As far as I'm concerned, if you hurry through life, you just die sooner. (BUT, I still catch myself getting impatient, too, so......)
Especially in a car... I don't know what it is when we get into a 3 ton hunk of gas guzzling metal that makes us so impatient and angry. Road raging because the guy in front of you doesn't hit the gas pedal as soon as the light turns green... or they stop for an extra 2 seconds at a stop sign.
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Old 06-23-13, 02:39 PM
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Further backlash directed toward cyclists here in Southern California described further by one of the local newspapers:

"............Is it going too far to call this the Summer of Cycling in Southern California? The evidence all around us would suggest it is not. Many cities in the region are in the middle of rolling out bicycle plans aimed at integrating cycling into both suburban and urban life. And many others have already started restriping the streets. Cycling enthusiasts have coalesced around the riding-en-masse movement called CicLAvia, the latest installment of which takes place today when six miles of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles will be closed to cars. Fancy bike shops peddling everything from one-speed beach cruisers to high-end custom-made racing machines abound. Los Angeles is preparing its own version of the city-sponsored bike-sharing rental program just unveiled in Manhattan in the wake of similar programs in European capitals..........But this explosion of two-wheelers on the streets -- and the infrastructure to support them -- has stirred long-simmering resentment between motorists and bike riders as traffic lanes are turned over to pedal-powered modes of transportation. From Redlands to Long Beach, from San Pedro to Eagle Rock, residents are objecting to the new powers of the bike lobby and what they see as rude riders who ignore the traditional rules of the road, blowing through stop signs and endangering pedestrians by tooling down sidewalks...........From the mountains to the ocean, the ramping up of bike lanes and bike events in Southern California this year has reached unprecedented levels. But such a big shift in commuting culture has caused no little amount of anger from motorists and pedestrians who see car lanes taken away to be restriped and handed over to bicyclists............critics say the bike lanes are a waste of public funds, putting the needs of a few above other priorities in the city..........Recent deaths -- Pomona had two bicycling deaths this spring and a cyclist hit by a car in downtown Pasadena died just last week -- have highlighted the debate about the safety issues of mixing cars and bikes.........."-https://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci...ling-editorial

I wonder who will eventually win (my bets are on the auto side, even though I still prefer bikes).

By the way, Ciclavia (our bi-annual major bike event) is today.
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Old 06-23-13, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingFool View Post
Especially in a car... I don't know what it is when we get into a 3 ton hunk of gas guzzling metal that makes us so impatient and angry. Road raging because the guy in front of you doesn't hit the gas pedal as soon as the light turns green... or they stop for an extra 2 seconds at a stop sign.
I think it has something to do with spending a lot of time in a cage.... have you every heard of the phenomenon called "Bike Trail Rage" ? I bet you haven't... cause it doesn't exist.
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Old 06-23-13, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
I wonder who will eventually win (my bets are on the auto side, even though I still prefer bikes).

By the way, Ciclavia (our bi-annual major bike event) is today.
Though I'm not a fan of bike lanes, they do tend to bring out more cyclists. If LA is like our locale, far more bike lanes and cycling infrastructure will be installed than taken out, and having to revert back to driving, doesn't mean that you now have to be so down on cycling.
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Old 06-23-13, 07:34 PM
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It is interesting that Spare_Wheel has posted some links to what is happening in Germany regarding segregated cycling infrastructure vs. bike lanes (yes, loaded term that reveals my bias). https://livablestreet.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/182/
(for a full thread of nasty arguments, see https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-of-bike-lanes)
From the link:
Now, the bicycling community in Munich is fighting for the right to use busy streets alongside motorists. The hottest issue among bicycle advocates in Munich appears to be the fight to eliminate rules obligating people on bikes to use narrow cycle tracks. The sign sporting the blue circle with bike symbol means riders must use the designated cycle track, which in the case of a narrow cycle track is increasingly viewed as more of a restriction rather than being granted permission.
So Munich, and other German cities, are seeing rapid growth in bicycle use from a reasonable level and are removing segregation in favor of bike lanes while Denmark and The Netherlands are not seeing any increases at all while remaining dedicated to segregation.
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Old 06-24-13, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
It is interesting that Spare_Wheel has posted some links to what is happening in Germany regarding segregated cycling infrastructure vs. bike lanes (yes, loaded term that reveals my bias). https://livablestreet.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/182/
(for a full thread of nasty arguments, see https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-of-bike-lanes)
From the link:


So Munich, and other German cities, are seeing rapid growth in bicycle use from a reasonable level and are removing segregation in favor of bike lanes while Denmark and The Netherlands are not seeing any increases at all while remaining dedicated to segregation.
Could it be that they are close to maximum saturation? It is easier to pickup "market share" when you are at the bottom single digit percentage points than when you are at the top double digit percentages.

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Old 06-24-13, 10:17 AM
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North American gov'ts also allow fuel to be sold much below what it should really cost. (people still whine about high gas costs though)
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Old 06-24-13, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
Though I'm not a fan of bike lanes, they do tend to bring out more cyclists. If LA is like our locale, far more bike lanes and cycling infrastructure will be installed than taken out, and having to revert back to driving, doesn't mean that you now have to be so down on cycling.
It's a mixed bag yes and no answer. While I have been seeing more bike lanes sprouting up most everywhere (and a real push in places where they are not), I tend to see the same old restricted population cohorts out there commuting, rather than recreational. They are Hipsters (generally young white males although some of the females might dabble once in the while who both are the trendy followers), the poor, mostly male new immigrants, and the increasing new poor-former Middle Class members who fall out of the car ownership cracks due to becoming too poor to support even one. I do see others commuting from time to time, but not in much larger increase in population or especially the critical key of staying power (willingness to adopt cycling as a primary or near primary means of transportation like a car is-and stick to it). It seems they eventually drop out of commuting bicycling to mostly weight control recreational usage-assuming they don't push the bikes to the farthest dark recesses or corners of the garage/shed/attic/basement and forget about it.

Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
It is interesting that Spare_Wheel has posted some links to what is happening in Germany regarding segregated cycling infrastructure vs. bike lanes (yes, loaded term that reveals my bias). https://livablestreet.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/182/
(for a full thread of nasty arguments, see https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-of-bike-lanes)
From the link:
So Munich, and other German cities, are seeing rapid growth in bicycle use from a reasonable level and are removing segregation in favor of bike lanes while Denmark and The Netherlands are not seeing any increases at all while remaining dedicated to segregation.
I have a question whether if The Netherlands and Denmark has hit a saturation point (the point in which everyone who could be cycling is already cycling). As far as who does what, I like to look at the established European cycling infrastructure as an interesting guide or ideal. North Americans have made their beds and mostly prefer to lie (or drive) in them. Wearing helmets signals to other possible candidates that it is a dangerous out there even with the cutesy bike images painted lanes. The point of this thread (and Bicycle Dutch's blog) is that our system is simply cobbled together to attract the covet and badly desired government monies and is in reality, temporary and quickly removable (painted rather than curbed).

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-25-13 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 06-24-13, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
I consider this as totally asinine, your choice, but I still consider it asinine. I won't treat my bikes like some bad addiction, but as one means of travel as well as a form of exercise. All of my bikes and my car are a few mere strides from me as I write this.
I needed the space that I once kept them when I rode them frequently. They leaned against my sewing cutting table and since I don't use them anymore, I could not justify blocking my sewing table further as I still can sew all I want. I did not want to sell them as I feel one day I will need all of them. Plus I believe I could not recoup the remodeling upgrades costs I have done on all of of my bikes. So this was my solution as it proved the best of all worlds-at least in my own situation.
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Old 06-24-13, 01:06 PM
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As for more temporariness, here is another example of government/large corporation sticking it's nose into something that does not need a "fix," just to be left alone:

"............the Bloomberg administration has refused to quantify, or even elaborate on, the rash of problems plaguing its system, which has had technical errors of a magnitude never experienced by bike-share programs in other major American cities. Many docking stations have proved temperamental, refusing to accept bikes or process credit card information. Others have at times shut down altogether. On some occasions, passers-by have been able to pull a bike from a station without paying, probably because the last user was unable to lock it back in place. Some riders have grown weary of testing individual bike docks in search of one that works, pedaling off to another station before the system eventually allowed them to end their trip. And when these riders have called to complain, they have been put on hold for 45 minutes or more.........."-https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/ny...re-effort.html

My "Wait It Out" philosophy seems to be the best path that I can take-even 3000 or so miles away.
  1. Keep my bikes-albeit distantly
  2. Watch what happens to the painted bike lanes (already losing it's paint around here) & Other Bike Ideas Going Sour
  3. Return when others move on to the next fad

When the flaky "in" crowd sheepish followers move on to the next-big-to-do hot fad; Hoola Hoops, Goldfish swallowing, or flagpole sitting, that will be A.O.K with me.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-24-13 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 06-24-13, 02:25 PM
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This PDF file gives you an illustrated working models on what constitutes permanency in serious bike commuting/utility use.

https://www.cts.pdx.edu/pdf/Birk%20cy...%20learned.pdf

Because if you only use temporary barriers like is done at our last Ciclavia, you always in danger of:

"...............A cyclist was hit by a car near the 4200 block of Wilshire Boulevard during Sunday's ride. Firefighters say a driver plowed through cones blocking off the street. The rider complained of some aches but declined medical care............"-https://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?se...les&id=9149279

More Information Here:

"...............It didn’t make sense. The streets were closed off. Where would a car come from? Funny you should ask. Apparently the driver of a late model Toyota didn’t feel like going around CicLAvia, so they shot through the intersection at Windsor Blvd, cut across Wilshire, mowed down a male cyclist, and kept going. Friends of the cyclist tried chasing the car down, but were unable to catch up to it. The cyclist’s bike was a bit messed up and he was shaken and complaining of back pain — he had hit the ground pretty hard, he said. But, he was very relieved that no one else got hurt. This CicLAvia was a very tiny-kid-heavy event and the incident could have been much, much worse. Unfortunately, he couldn’t give me any other information on the car other than the sense it was a late model Toyota whose passenger side he managed to scrape up pretty good........."-https://la.streetsblog.org/2013/06/24...ia/#more-84765

Apparently, even Ciclavia is not immune to the crazy self-centered drivers that are the mainstay in Los Angeles traffic. Anyone or anything that cannot get out of the way.........is mowed down.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-24-13 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 06-24-13, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
I needed the space that I once kept them when I rode them frequently. They leaned against my sewing cutting table and since I don't use them anymore, I could not justify blocking my sewing table further as I still can sew all I want. I did not want to sell them as I feel one day I will need all of them. Plus I believe I could not recoup the remodeling upgrades costs I have done on all of of my bikes. So this was my solution as it proved the best of all worlds-at least in my own situation.

You should have said this in the first place, in your first post you sounded as though you were doing bicycling rehab.
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Old 06-25-13, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
From the link:

Now, the bicycling community in Munich is fighting for the right to use busy streets alongside motorists. The hottest issue among bicycle advocates in Munich appears to be the fight to eliminate rules obligating people on bikes to use narrow cycle tracks.
That's quite interesting. John Forester always argued against bike lanes and other bike facilities in part for that very reason - concern that cyclists would be restricted to them and not free to use regular roads.
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Old 06-25-13, 08:45 PM
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Nice vid! Shared it out on FB. Trying to do my part in raising awareness to my more...conventional...acquaintances.

I think regular traffic lanes should have giant bike symbols on them, instead of trying those "Share the Road" signs along the side. Nobody around here seems to pay much attention to those signs, and most of the ones I have seen are overgrown by roadside trees.

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Old 06-25-13, 09:16 PM
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I always feel safest on my commute in the city between 20 and 25mph. Because the surface streets and boulevards I use have speed limits of 20-35mph, very few cars overtake me when I keep my speed up. So pretty much, if I do it right, I am riding on "empty" streets between waves of impatient motorists. Sometimes this requires running a red, other times it requires NOT GOING on a green - let the maniacs go first, then follow the last car across the light and draft him if possible or ride in the gap between the last car and the light that has now gone red again behind me.

I can't speak for European countries, or even every American city, but in mine 20+ mph is the magic number. I guess I am in a rush to survive. To some foreigner on a Dutch bike wearing wing tip shoes and a hounds-tooth sports coat I must look like I am in a hurry to get somewhere when I am actually in a hurry to get OUT OF THERE.
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Old 06-25-13, 11:34 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I always feel safest on my commute in the city between 20 and 25mph. Because the surface streets and boulevards I use have speed limits of 20-35mph, very few cars overtake me when I keep my speed up. So pretty much, if I do it right, I am riding on "empty" streets between waves of impatient motorists. Sometimes this requires running a red, other times it requires NOT GOING on a green - let the maniacs go first, then follow the last car across the light and draft him if possible or ride in the gap between the last car and the light that has now gone red again behind me.

I can't speak for European countries, or even every American city, but in mine 20+ mph is the magic number. I guess I am in a rush to survive. To some foreigner on a Dutch bike wearing wing tip shoes and a hounds-tooth sports coat I must look like I am in a hurry to get somewhere when I am actually in a hurry to get OUT OF THERE.
But not very many of us can ride like you. You are the zen master of traffic cycling!
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Old 06-26-13, 12:33 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
Nice vid! Shared it out on FB. Trying to do my part in raising awareness to my more...conventional...acquaintances.

I think regular traffic lanes should have giant bike symbols on them, instead of trying those "Share the Road" signs along the side. Nobody around here seems to pay much attention to those signs, and most of the ones I have seen are overgrown by roadside trees.

M.
Great! I am very happy this particular video has been posted on your Facebook page. The more people are aware and educated that there are other alternatives, the better.

As for the problem of the drivers paying little to no attention to signs with the arrival of smartphones, tablets, and the rest of the Internet gadgets along with the traditional distractions (pretty women/men out and about, eating/drinking, putting makeup on, reading, settling child fights/dogs moving about on the seats, etc.), the problem of paying attention to anything on the road will only get worse, not better. Ride/drive like you always expect the other guy to be in LaLa Land. Because most likely they are.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 06-26-13 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 06-26-13, 01:21 PM
  #25  
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My favorite line was "There's a lot of cycling here in spite of the infra, rather than because of it". I have never lived anywhere that there was any infrastructure at all, nor any driver understanding of how to interact with bikes on the road.

The College that I went to had a student exchange program with another college in Holland. I got to know some of the Dutch students, and they, every one of them, thought I was absolutely insane to ride a bicycle, both because of the hills, the distances, and the fact that it was around Branson MO, with all the old drivers going to see Yakov and Mickey Gilley. Bumper to bumper stop and go for miles with few backroads. The wealthiest of them bought cars, and the less wealthy bummed rides from others(me for example, as I owned a 1963 Galaxy that they all thought was pretty cool, and crazy big.)
Thing is, they all gained fifteen to twenty pounds on cheap fatty food here, and several were worried about getting back on a bike when they got home, as two years had left them pretty out of shape.
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