Bicycle Friendly is not a term that evokes a universal image in everybody’s heads.
My personal image of bicycle friendliness is a back road small town with an old couple in rocking chairs sitting beside the road offering free lemonade to passing cyclists. Apparently I was raised in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Motorists on the other hand tend to view bicycle friendliness as car hating. This for or against me attitude is so much a part of America’s mentality that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.
The official bicycle friendly designation involves some concrete things like bike lanes, paths, parking and such, but also includes vagaries like advocacy and politics. These are necessary but often add to the confusion.
So here is what I consider friendly:
- Bike Lanes – To keep the cars away from me.
- Bike Paths – To keep the cars even further away from me.
- Bike Racks – To keep my bike safe while I’m working/shopping/drinking.
- Covered Bike Racks – To keep my bike safe and dry while I’m…
- Workstations – To help with emergency repairs and air.
- Cars, trucks and buses that don’t try to run me down.
- Buses and trains that I can take my bike on.
- Police who know the laws of cycling.
- A cycling advocacy group that works for all cyclists. (Not just the ones that look good on posters.)
I live in a designated friendly city and we have only about half of what’s listed above. We have lots of lanes with more on the way, but separated paths are difficult in a congested city. Racks are everywhere but covered racks are few.
I should qualify my police comment. The San Francisco police run the breadth of friendly/unfriendly. Most seem fine with bikes, other than the red light runners, but there also the cycle haters who shout made-up-laws at cyclists on Market Street and refuse to investigate cyclist deaths.
So it doesn’t appear that I’ve helped clear up the question at all. Maybe we all need to define and find our own friendliness.