Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cars and bikes and what-have-you...

I sent this letter to Boise's city fathers today:

Dear Boise Police and City Council:

A couple weeks ago, I was riding my (human-powered) bicycle on a public street here in Boise. At an intersection, the light turned green and I proceeded, after looking for potential conflicts. (Being legal isn't the same as being safe!) Lo and behold - despite looking where I expected conflicting traffic, I almost collided with a guy on a gas-powered bicycle, who was riding down the sidewalk and who crossed the street against the light. The most surprising thing for me was that I didn't hear him - those droning 2-stroke engines make a lot of noise. I certainly heard him as he buzzed along on his merry way, down the sidewalk at 20mph or so.

So, why do I bring this up?

The days are getting longer and warmer. By a month from now, "normal" citizens will be riding their bicycles and bicycle-derivatives.

On top of that, gas prices may hit an all-time high this summer. People who normally drive cars will be looking for less-expensive alternatives.

If you look on the craigslist today, or any day, you will find ads for gas- and electric-powered bicycles, conversion kits, "pocket bike" motorcycles, stand-up-on-it gas-powered skateboards (!), and the list goes on.

I believe it would be in the public interest for you to publicize the seldom-publicized rules about what is and isn't legal on city streets, the greenbelt, bike paths, sidewalks, etc. Because in my opinion, some of those contraptions really don't belong anywhere.

Particularly those little gas-powered bicycles. They're too wimpy to reach many of the speed limits in the traffic lanes, but they're faster than most traffic in the bike lanes. Often they will be seen veering back and forth from bike lane to traffic lane depending on the situation. On top of the immediate safety issues they create, despite their diminutive size, they spew out much more noise, and more pollution than most EPA-compliant multi-passenger vehicles.

Electric-powered bicycles aren't nearly as obnoxious, but they tend to create similar safety issues, in this observer's opinion. Where do they belong?

Designated bike lanes should be reserved for non-motorized traffic - it's just common sense. If you want to permit them in the traffic lanes, despite the obvious hazards they create for both riders and other infrastructure users, I suppose you know better than me... but you should at least publicize where they belong. (NOT in bike lanes, the greenbelt, etc.)

Thanks for your attention in this matter.


Bob T said...

I wonder if this was the same guy I saw last summer going the wrong way in the bike lane on Emerald in the evening with no lights or helmet. If so I'm surprised that he's still alive!

Marcus said...

I see them "salmoning" all over the place. The 2 stroke folks come into our shop and want repair. We have a no fuel policy at our bike shop. plus as you said in your letter, un-regulated 2-stroke (burn a mixture of fuel and oil)engines take all of the perks of human powered transportation and make it into another rat race.

sorry about the soapbox, I am all for transportation solutions, but let us start with proper land use allotment and public transportation infrastructure.

RAC said...

My reaction to the mototized bikes is not so rational as yours. Rather it is emotional. I hate 'em. They simply annoy me! I bet you could profile the people who ride those and you would find they are not generally successful people and they do not make positive contributions to their community. Simply put, lazy and cheap. People who are looking to sidestep rules and effort.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND! Bike or motorscooter?