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I ride thousands of miles a year in the street in DC and I think your concerns are overblown. Have you ever tried it? Once you get the hang, it's actually quite easy to get around by bike in DC. I find I get honked at less on my bike than I do in my car.

This blog way over-emphasises the role of facilities. Think of this: DC has roughly 1,000 miles of paved roads and 30 miles of trails and bike lanes. Those roads will take you far more places than the trails ever will. Get off the sidewalk and on the road.

I do bike in the streets of DC, maybe not "thousands of miles" a year but somewhere close to 500...and it is easy once you get the hang of it, but I think that newbies are intimidated by it. I know when my less-experienced friends ride with me, they're often surprised by what I'll consider a bikeable road.

Not all of DC's roads are bikeable. In addition to freeways there are freeway-like roads such as New York Avenue NE and North Capital - both of which I've biked, but I wouldn't recommend them.

When you point out the miles of road compared to the miles of bike facilities you make my point. You can walk on railroad tracks, but it's dangerous. When you bike on a road, you're often biking someplace that was designed for cars going 25-40 mph not for bikes going 12-25.

Still, I agree that cyclists should get off sidewalks and I only use sidewalks going up particularly steep hills (mostly in Maryland) or when I'm on the block I'm stopping at.

Hmmmm, I think the article is not about riding on sidewalks, it's about the defensive moves one must make riding on the road, which includes hopping sidewalks. That's how I read it anyhow.

I'd say I ride thousands of miles a year in the DC area, and I would agree that roads in DC are not difficult once you get the hang of it. Having said that, I don't think a day goes by when I don't see some car or SUV or truck doing some stupid thing in the vicinity of me on my bike that could result in something really dangerous for me if I wasn't careful.

One thing in the article I read which I could really relate to was the line: "Drivers, when a cyclist is eyeballing you it's not an insult or a challenge, we're simply watching you to see what you're going to do." Two nights ago, I had an experience where this was really true. I was turning left from a busy street onto my street in the Petworth area. I gave the signal that I was moving to the middle of the lane to turn, and the car behind slowed down to let me in. Something wasn't right with that person, though, so I kept looking back. It's a good thing I did, because our of nowhere, just as I was about to make my left turn, she sped up unexpectedly and whizzed past my on my left side. Had I not been "eyeballing" her, there is no doubt -- I would have been a goner!

One other thing -- you talked about Bikeways, and it reminds me of some of the newish trails in Pittsburgh. One in particular -- known as the "Jail Trail" because it finishes at a downtown location where, oddly enough, a jail sits on a well-appointed riverfront site -- has designated separate lanes for cyclists and runners/walkers. Seems like a sensible way of designing a municipal trail to me. Now if they can just get more Pittsburghers to use the darned thing!

There's just so much wrong with the statement: "I just don't think I should have to take my life in my hands just to get around and until the government makes it safer, I will do whatever I need to avoid being added to an already too long list of cyclists killed in traffic. "

As a cyclist, you have a choice that almost no other mode of transport gets: you can ride in traffic, but you can also ride apart from traffic. The thing is, these two ways of riding have very different rules and issues. If you choose to ride in traffic, you're on the roadway, and you better follow the rules of the road. If you choose to ride outside of traffic, you can ride on a bike path, a shoulder, a sidewalk, a bike lane, and even the edge of the roadway, and you have to be very careful when interacting with traffic because they're not expecting you.

Now, here's the thing: nobody disputes the right of cyclists to ride outside of traffic, except in special circumstances like city sidewalks. However, riding in traffic is something that a lot of people have a problem with. A lot of motorists don't realize that it's legal, or that there are two modes for cyclists, so their brains perceive an in-traffic cyclist as an out-of-traffic cyclist in the wrong place -- hence the honking and yelling. Many cyclists have an exaggerated fear of in-traffic cycling, even though in many situations it is safer than out-of-traffic cycling. Using out-of-traffic techniques in traffic is particularly dangerous. As a result, for the past 30 years or so Cycling Advocacy (capital C, capital A) has focused on promoting in-traffic cycling among cyclists, and promoting awareness of in-traffic cycling among motorists.

I wouldn't say that one is better than the other -- each has its place. What's important is to be aware of the differences and the risks. Riding out-of-traffic has its place, but you have to be aware that at driveways, crosswalks and intersections drivers will not yield to you, even though they may be legally required to do so.

The other important point: pick one or the other. If you're riding in traffic, ride in the traffic. If you're out of traffic, stay out. Riding along the margins just confuses others and gives the worst of both worlds.

So if Albert Howell wants to ride exclusively out of traffic, that's his right. However expecting the government to build an entire parallel transportation network to accomodate his choice, when a perfectly good network already exists, is just balmy. If we want to get more people out on bikes, we should be working to make the 1,000 miles of existing roadway more accomdating, rather than trying to get a few more miles of paths and lanes. And by promoting the idea that the only way to ride a bike is out of traffic he does a disservice to those cyclists who opt to ride differently from him.

I have nothing against cyclists sharing our roads, but it seems that too often they think the rules of the road apply only to motor vehicles. I see cyclists constantly running stop signs and red lights, for instance, putting us all in danger.

It's nice to be reminded that there are bicycle lanes-I wish the cyclists would stay in them!

Simply put, cyclists do not belong on the road with cars. And no amount of environmentalist scare mongering and its attendant junk science changes that.

So there, an early Christmas present, something to fuel your cyclist victim stance!


You know I would have no problem with cyclists who stay on sidewalks rather than the road with the cars. Just as I have no problem pedestrians who don't jaywalk. Or cars that don't park in moving traffic.

Well Francesca, your belief about where bikes belong is in direct contrast to both the law and transportation planning in the region (and really nationwide), so I'm afraid you have a lifetime of disappointment ahead of you. Simply put, according to the law and public opinion, bikes do belong on the roads.

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