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I always ride my bicycle on the sidewalks whenever possible. It is simply too dangerous to bicycle on the roads in this area.People who are against dedicated/separate bike lanes are Lance Armstrong wannabees or weekenders or do not bicycle on a regular basis.While Im not against bicycling as a sport- I think it takes attention away from everyday bikers [who like myself dont drive or own cars] and gives bikers a reputation as being aggressive or pushy.If you want to race go to a place just for that and don't create problems for everyday bikers. Berlin,Amsterdam,Koln, all have dedicated bikeways that allow for safe biking. We don't have that here. I think it sucks and shows a lack of understanding and vision on the part of our leaders and planners.Bicyclists should never be forced to compete with cars.Some people insist on biking on the road as they believe that bikers have a right to use the road- while in theory this may be true- I have had far too many close calls when I have been forced to use the road.There is simply NO RESPECT accorded to bikers in this country by car/truck drivers period.I have no problem with going a little bit slower on a sidewalk bikelane as long as I arrive at my destination safe.This is the bottom line.

I'm not sure sidewalks are any safer. There is evidence that it's more dangerous. I also think that reasonable people can disagree about what facilities are best for bicyclists and that people who bike daily are often, in my experience, the most vocal about being against bike lanes. Finally, who isn't a Lance Armstrong wannabe? He's rich, Texan, successful, good looking, and supposedly dating Estella Warren.

I just dont think his image encourages everday people to bicycle.You dont have to get all dolled - up in spandex pants and fancy equipment to get your groceries on your bicycle- You dont need a racing bike that destroys your lower back muscles to ride comfortably- racing bikes are about the worst possible design in the orthopedic sense- they are built for racing and not everyday use ...And why do you need to race by when you can take your time and enjoy the scenery? I have to this day- after bicycling on sidewalks in DC for 40 years- never had any kind of significant accident- knock on wood.However- almost every time I try to ride on the road I am either yelled at or threatened by motorists.This is a phenomenon you would see right off if you lived in the city and bicycle EVERY DAY and not just on the weekends.Also many people think or get the impression that you must look like a racer or have a bike or equipment like a racer to be able to bicycle normally- this discourages different kinds of people who are not all in the prime of physical beauty. Our country needs more everyday bicycling that is geared towards getting people out of cars.We dont necessarily need more racing bike enthusiasts showing off.

There is a lively discussion of the video here:

To address w's comments, I'm not a racer, but I ride in traffic every day. I can't remember the last time I was honked at or yelled at. I get honked at more often when I drive my car. I'm not a big fan of bike facilities because so many of them are less useful than the streets they are meant to replace.

That said, the best biking I ever had was in Arnhem, Holland, where they have a limited access bicycle freeway. It's just like an automobile freeway, with overpasses, exit ramps, medians, and limited grades. It was like the Capital Crescent, even bigger and longer. It was also lightly used. It was the ideal segregated facility!

Thanks for the link.

Arnhem would be ideal but the DC / Feds would never allow something like that here.I don't know where you bike in this area- but it sounds like a fairyland to me- I guess you never encounter SUV drivers on cellphones trying to push you out of the street or idiots in a hurry trying to speed to the next traffic light.You mustn't have been here very long to say such things. EVERY bicyclist Ive ever known here in DC has had hassles from the car drivers.

W, compared to you I'm a relative youngster, with only 35 years of cycling experience. In May it will be 13 years that I have commuted primarily by bike, and September 2003 was the last time I went to work by anything other than bike. (Hurricane Isabel knocked the power out and I couldn't get the bike out of the garage.) I only started tracking miles three years ago, but I have biked over 10,000 miles since then, primarily commuting. My route varies with my mood and has changed as my home and office have moved, but it typically includes busy streets like Constitution Ave, Mass Ave, RI Ave, Virginia Ave, Pennsylvania Ave, K-L-M Streets, 7th to 14th streets, and MacArthur Boulevard.

I didn't say I never get hassled. What I did say is that it happens rarely, and that I get honked at more when I'm driving. Maybe I'm a lousy driver. What I will also say is that it seems to be happening to me a lot less lately. This I ascribe to a change in my attitude, which is primarily due to hanging out on the Internet with other cyclists in places like bikeforums.net. I've gotten a lot more assertive, although I'm not particularly agressive. What this means is I believe that I belong on the road, and I believe that I'm entitled to a piece of the road, and I ride that way. Unless a road has very wide lanes -- and few in DC do, certainly none of the roads I ride regularly -- I ride smack in the middle of my lane. If I'm moving slower than traffic I'm in the right lane, otherwise it's whatever lane feels best to me. If I'm turning left, I wait for a break and I move into the left lane through my turn.

I've learned through direct experience that motorists give you as much space as you give yourself. If I'm getting crowded, it means I'm riding too close to the right-hand side of the road.

An excellent book, which really changed my perspective, is John Allen's "Bicycle Street Smarts," which is available for free online here: http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

It really works.

I've been reading Contrarian's comments here for long enough to know not to accuse him of not having been here very long.

I'm in full agreement with Contrarian. I treat myself with respect on the road, and in turn I nearly always get respect from drivers. I commute every day by bicycle and I can recall no more than a handful of times that I've been honked at or otherwise bothered.

And I'm assuredly no Lance Armstrong.

Washcycle, one point about these separated bike lanes. I'm told they have been tried before (before my time) in Manhattan. They were apparently a complete disaster... trucks dropped their loading ramps across them, people walked in them, and they were removed extremely quickly, as I understand it. I believe John Allen has a page about them on his fantastic website.

They'r even worse than regular bike lanes after all... cyclists can't even get out of them to go around obstructions!

Here's John Allen's site. Regardless of your position on regular bike lanes, read the section on the Herald Square separated lanes and then decide if you really want to see these in Washington or anywhere else. You already know where I stand.


I heartily recommend the John Allen site to anyone interested in advocacy issues. There's a lot of thoughtful discussion of facilities there, particularly the pitfalls of poor implementation.

if separate bike lanes work in Europe it can catch on here also.I will not take the chance of riding in the street with cars- they are simply not respectful of bikers and now days they love to talk on cellphones which makes them more dangerous.It seems weird to me that so many people in this forum are against this proposal which looks sane enough to me. i'm just not willing to put my ass on the line and fight w/ motorists for space on the roads.Forget it. I think you people are actively discouraging the very young, old and others who do not ride fast type bicycles that work well on the street. Bicycling should be for everyone and the street is just not the place for it in our society. You will never get a broad range of the population to ever feel safe about biking if they are forced to compete with cars and trucks- enough said.

I guess it really depends on the facility. That Herald Square thing looks like a mess. On the other hand the Custis Trail has great utility and seems pretty safe. It depends on where these would go and what form they would take. They aren't needed in downtown DC, IMO. But they would be useful along the BW Parkway.

I've been riding on the roads as a commuter since about 1991, from Bethesda into Georgetown, and out to Rockville, and also commuting from Bethesda to College Park. I agree with Contrarian that the key to success in riding on the road is being assertive and knowing your rights. As a cyclist, you should never sacrifice your own safety for the mere convenience of another road user [which is what many riders do when they ride too far to the right].

Another way to look at it is, you are not "fighting" other vehicles on the road, you are *cooperating* with them.

It's a passing comment, but the part W says about cyclists who race strikes me as so beside the point. Indeed, the business about getting "all dolled - up in spandex pants and fancy equipment" is just gratuitious, and reveals a bit of a bias even while denying that bias is there.

I race on my bike and I commute on my bike. I know the difference between the two. Honestly, there's good behavior and irresponsible behavior across these two categories. I don't see any particular reason to divide among different classes of cyclists and say that one class makes it difficult for the others (unless those classes are something a little more obvious, like irresponsible cyclists and responsible ones).

Why don't you people have your small children and elderly parents ride their bicycles on one of our local roads here in DC and see how long it takes before someone in a car/SUV on a cellphone trys to take them out. I think the lot of you are suburbanite bike racer show -offs. Go to Europe or China and you'll see what I mean- you hardly ever see bicyclists donning fancy and totally un-necessary racing costumes - they don't need to pretend they 're into serious biking since they bike EVERY DAY as a utility thing that has nothing to do with how expensive or high tech their bike is. You see grannies, small kids, rich people ,poor people , men and women in dress clothes, and most of them do not even wear helmets since the bike ways are usually separate from the cars and safe.In the USA we seem to have a surplus of weekenders, suburbanites and show off racer types and a lot of people who like to parade their technocratic know-how of how advanced their particular bike is- it becomes a big status game... a bicycle is just a tool to get from one place to another. And dedicated bike ways make it safer and easier I dont care what you folks say- you just don't get it at all.In DC they should get rid of the ban on bicycles on the downtown sidewalks - NOW.

Well, I think of the cyclist community as a big tent. You've got commuters/utility riders, messengers, racers and recreational/fitness riders. A bike is a transportation tool, but it's also a recreational and fitness tool. Many a time I've gone for a ride where the only place I stopped was my own home at the end. That's not transportation - that's recreation. It bothers me when people think of bikes as a toy, but there is a toy/fun element to them - they're both. If you don't think biking is fun, then you may be missing something.

I started out as a weekender/suburbanite (though not a show off) cyclist. Then I became an occasional commuter. Now I bike everywhere. So, those present day weekenders are our future commuters - they have to come from someplace - and our allies.

You're right, small kids should not bike downtown by themselves - they should drive (just kidding), and I think we can make the roads in the area safer and more inviting. I think where there is disagreement is how to do that. I honestly don't know the answer, but I don't think there is any silver bullet (well, maybe, look for that on Saturday). I like the downtown congestion zone like in London, but it won't solve every problem. The "experts" can't agree about the best methods to improve safety and utility, so I think it's reasonable that there would be disagreement here.

I find that riding on sidewalks is less safe than on the streets. I am always concerned about running into pedestrians. Cars at least tend to behave relatively predictably -- but you never know when a pedestrian will "drift" into your path as you approach from the rear (this is a problem on popular trails like the CCT as well).

the dedicated bikeways in Europe Ive seen are physically separated from the pedestrians.It wouldn't hurt to try it out in some places- after all- here in DC our "bikepaths" on the street start and stop abrubtly.We should try to connect them with some dedicated bikeways.Bicycling should not be for just an elite group of athletes or showoffs in tight clothes. The goal should be to make it safe for everyone to bike.Give up your car.

Geez, W, get off the trash talk about bike racers. I think everybody understands that you had a problem with one at some time; it really isn't necessary to trash anybody who wears a team kit in every post!

why is it necessary to have funny bike costumes?

Sometimes when I commute the whole way, it's a 12 mile ride and I like to have clothes that wick, shorts with padding and gloves that will protect/cushion my hands. I have to wear a helmet or else my fiancee yells at me. Clip in shoes are nice too. That means bike gear. For me it all serves a real purpose. When I bike from the metro though, I just wear work clothes.

No one said it was necessary. Why do you have such a problem with people who make choices different from yours?

I don't- it's just that you seldom see the phenomenon in countries where bicycling is an everyday thing and not an elitist trendy activity.You don't need these outfits to bike if you have fenders- which racing bikes dont have- or chain guards- which have been taken off of most American bikes.Its important if you are interested in speed and cutting down on weight to gain the edge. But it is simply an added expense otherwise.I was recently in Copenhagen- and I didn't see hardly any racing costumes there the entire trip. Just normal Janes and Joes doing their everyday business.To them it seems that cargo capacity is far more important than speed or show effect. I love the Christiana bikes- which are super practical- lotsa room for carrying stuff on them-. You don't need a car at all if you have one of those suckers.

In a race, wearing a team kit comes in handy as an ID - you can recognize your teammates and work together with them, for instance.

I usually wear the same thing when I commute because a) it's what I'm used to; b) I often take time on my lunch break to go out for some kind of training - often times, in an environment that is race-like; and c) the cycling gear is pretty comfortable, and I find it more comfortable then my work clothes.

I certainly get the point that there's some who wear, as you put it, "funny bike costumes," who have attitude. I agree. But guess what? I encounter attitude from all sorts of people on bikes, some of whom aren't wearing "funny bike costumes." That doesn't prevent me from giving a friendly "hi" to my fellow traveler.

who needs a racing uniform when you just need a comfy bike to go down the street for groceries?I guess it can be fun out on the open road- but you don't need to have this stuff in a city where everything is closeby.

I thought I was going to read 26 comments about separated bike lanes, not spandex.

Re: separated bike lanes. I like them. I think the big issue is what happens when the separated bike lane ends and the cyclist must enter general traffic again. That mixing point could be dangerous, depending on the geometry and signage, etc.

I agree with you, freewheel, about the mixing point problem. And I appreciate you're bringing it back on topic.

But, more than that, I'm concerned with the segregation of bicycles off the streets completely. (Beyond the massive infrastructure rebuilding that these kinds of bike lanes would involve.) Currently, the presence of bike lanes does not mean a bike is restricted to bike lanes - although a lot of motorists might think it does (which is, of course, one problem with bike lanes). I wonder whether completely separated bike lanes would push this notion further even more.

Chris, you make an excellent point. Cyclists certainly would not want to cede their right to the road in an idyllic urban setting as pictured. But in dreadful places such as Rockville Pike, Richmond Highway, and Tysons Corner, separated bike lanes could be beneficial.

I would love to see more posts about this, WashCycle. I continually run into people blocking bike lanes (e.g. a bakery on 11th Street & Lamont NW every morning & night). While I think a little enforcement would probably fix this somewhat in an area like 11th St.-C.Heights, I think this will be a huge problem downtown.

Downtown DC has pretty much been ceded to car traffic. Separated bike lanes on selected downtown streets seem like a practical way to increase bike traffic and descrease reliance on vehicles. I'm with "W" here at least on the concept that "regular" people should be able to safely navigate DT streets. The pro-bike-with-traffic crowd is a largely young male crowd. It seems we should be striving to make biking part of the culture, not preserving it as counter-culture or for only the current enthusiasts.

I'm a 41-year old male, and I ride with the traffic regularly. I suppose it's possible some may consider 41 years old to be young and my lifestyle to be counter-culture, but I certainly don't. Indeed, I'm pretty regular. I guess I could be the exception to the rule bawler has created that riding with auto traffic downtown is something done by young male counter-culture types, but my observations of my fellow commuters is entirely different from that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that "regular" people DO use the streets to commute on their bikes with the rest of the vehicular traffic. It is not for some counter-culture. Is it sometime scary? Sure it is. Have you ever driven a car downtown lately? That's sometimes scary too. So is being a pedestrian (which, by the way, would become even more scary if pedestrians had were forced to regularly dodge cyclists on the sidewalk as well).

More to the point, if you're going to wait for the city to create separate bike lanes downtown or to allow for cycling on sidewalks before you ride your bike downtown, you'll be waiting a long time - perhaps forever.

Now that this post is old enough - I wish to restate my point. Chris is right - it isn't just counter culture. I was trying to make the point that more people will bike when the lanes are separated.

This discussion might be dead by now. But as an European that lived a few years in Amsterdam I would like to add a few points. Riding on the sidewalks is very dangerous (there are many studies that show that). I am glad it worked for you w - if you want references ask here.

Even in the Netherlands and Denmark 80% of the roads don't have any bike lanes or bike paths - it is shared space. The key to encourage bike riding with benefits to everyone is to reduce the number of cars and their speed. Traffic and speeds are not a fatality. There are many ways to achieve this. Just look careful next time you visit these two countries.

The video that was mentioned is a well intentioned but bad piece of work. It even recommends manuals (London) that don't advise segregating in every circumstance - only when is impossible to reduce speeds or number of cars. London knows well that the best way to encourage biking is reducing the number of cars - recently they expanded the congestion price zone. The number of bike usage is soaring.

Hey great to see the healthy debate our film has started. I just would like to point out that the film does not advocate against all painted or other bike lanes, some of the ones we have in NYC do work well, but many in the most congested parts of the city are downright dangerous.

The film was done to try to move our leaders and city government - long very anti-bike and against trying anything innovative - to maybe place a few on some avenues and see how they fare. We realize it all depends on the city, the density of traffic, and how many riders there are. So some cities will not like separated lanes, some will embrace them...but which ones do depends on the what is determined to be best in those cities, and I am not going to pretend I know what is best in Washington, San Francisco or Boston. But NYC could desperately need some.

The film was meant to spark discussion and it has all over the world (I can't believe it took me this long to come across the debate on this great site too!) We have had 15,000 watches in just two months and it has been featured on over 100 blogs and websites.

One thing: if you would like to watch lots more bike, ped, transportation, and open space videos, you can check out www.streetfilms.org and great news at our sister site www.streetsblog.org

We only have about 30 of the 60 films we have done up.

Thanks for watching and commenting,

Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Director of Video Production
NYC Streets Renaissance/StreetFilms

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