Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gas prices - soaring! "Bicyclers" - soaring!

HERE is an interesting article: "Number of Bicyclers Soars Along with US Gas Prices."

It says road bike sales are up 29% from a year ago. It says "bicycle commuting in America has more than doubled since 2000." Wow!

I'm a little bothered by this, from the article:

[Andy] Clark, president of the national advocacy group League of American Bicyclists, says it’s often hard to recapture that sense of fun [that you fondly recollect from childhood bike riding] when you’re biking to work in the street. Sharing wide roads designed for faster, larger gas-powered vehicles is not just intimidating, it's also dangerous.

This, from the president of a bicycle advocacy group? I'd expect it from the SUV Owners Group, maybe.

If you're clueless and making critical mistakes, then yes - sharing the road can be dangerous. But virtually all of the danger can be mitigated, by riding legally, visibly, predictably, and defensively.

The "road going bicycling community" has always had a conflict.

On the one side are "vehicular cyclists," disciples of John Forester, who boldly declare that cyclists should share the road with motor vehicles (obeying traffic laws, of course).

On the other side are the L.A.B. and numerous other organizations who emphasize the need for dedicated bikeways, lanes and other facilities. They are the advocates for more casual cyclists, and although I definitely line up with the vehicular cyclists, I acknowledge that dedicated facilities are invaluable for occasional cyclists, children, etc. - those who aren't comfortable sharing a lane. (Of course, the hope is that those casual cyclists will evolve into vehicular cyclists. Because the reality is... there will never be bike lanes going to every destination.)

Speaking of dedicated bike facilities... Mia Burke talked about bike boulevards when she was in town a week ago. I've never experienced them in person, but the concept is interesting and attractive. An existing roadway is converted into a "bicycle priority" roadway. Cars are allowed, but the street has features (blockages, speed bumps, etc.) which discourage motorists from using it as a "through street." I'd like to see a couple of local experiments; maybe Boise is ready. Check out this info, and video.

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