Our good friend Chris Core is back commenting on cyclists who have the audacity to ride in same roads that car commuters do.
Mr. Core is an old hand at this, as he's been marching this well-trod path since at least 2002. Basically he doesn't think cyclists belong on roads where drivers are. He got the many reasonable responses to that letter (it's sad to think that the RCPT was in bad shape as long ago as 2002) which he ignored, because in 2008 he had a commentary on WTOP that basically reiterated his position that cyclists should get onto the perfectly good bike path. He received a lot of push back against that, came out with a follow-on commentary and had me and then-WABA executive director Eric Gilliland on his TV show.
Then in 2010, he used a bike-bike crash on the Capital Crescent Trail to argue that cyclists belong neither on trails (where they might crash into pedestrians) or roads (where they place themselves in danger) and thus should limit themselves to dedicated bike paths and tracks of which there were none at the time. I suppose by now, we could consider protected bike lanes as dedicated bike paths, but that doesn't help people get around much.
Now, he's at it again [Some real talk about bikes in the road]. In a recent commentary he still wrongly states that cyclists and drivers can't share the road and I still think he's more concerned with getting cyclists out of his way than he is with safety, but he somehow gets a lot right.
A new study says our area has the worst gridlock of any in the country. In Arlington a group called BikeArlington is coming up with what they call a "comfort map," meaning a map to show which of Arlington's streets are the safest for pedalers.
These two stories are related and here's how: Obviously, if we could get more motorists on two wheels it would help to reduce our traffic, but because our roads are so crowded, the truth is bikes and cars just can not safely use the same roads.* I see the sign "Share the Road" all around where I live and on some little used streets this is possible, but on major commuting streets there just isn't enough road to share.
And because bikes and cars move at different speeds and cars outweigh bikes by a lot, it's never going to be truly safe for bikers on major roads. If we want more people to bike to work, what we need is an extensive network of bike paths as some European cities have. Paths just for bikes. No runners. No cars. I think that would be a wise long-term investment.
Ignoring the "worst gridlock" claim that GGW debunked, again, and that he didn't bother to figure out who BikeArlington is (a part of the Arlington government) he's basically advocating for more protected bike lanes - and specifically on "major commuting streets". It's great to see that he's willing to support road diets and the removal of curbside parking in order to facilitate the kind of safe-street designs that will encourage more people to bike to work while leading to safer roads. Welcome aboard Mr. Core!
Perhaps Mr. Core has finally seen that the desire of cyclists for safe infrastructure and the desire of drivers for less congestion are truly aligned.
* Note: Cyclists and motorists can safely use the same roads.