Bike Shaped Objects

Funky bikes and news
 
Green Line Update

green line updateIn a green line update; Worcester MA does indeed have bike lanes.

I’m back from visiting my family in Worcester with a green line update and I’m happy to report that the bike lane situation isn’t as bad as my last post and Google Maps indicated.

There are in fact many brand new bike lanes in Worcester. Their newness being the probable reason why they don’t show up online yet. I also saw several sharrow streets and many bikes can use full lane signs.

What I did not see however were bikes in these bike lanes. Again, that may be due to newness or perhaps that I was mostly out and about at night. Instead I saw bicyclists riding un-helmeted and unlit on sidewalks. None of the other pedestrians seemed to think this was odd so I assume it is the norm.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. So while Worcester may not yet be a bike-friendly city, at least it’s out of the stone age. (Or perhaps the motor age would be more appropriate.)

 

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What Does Bicycle Friendly Really Mean

Bicycle Friendly is not a term that evokes a universal image in everybody’s heads.

bicycle friendly welcome signFriendly is a vague enough term but in these days of e-bikes, hoverboards and Segways even the word bicycle is losing it’s agreed-upon iconography.

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.

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Who Owns the Roads

who owns the roadsThe question itself, who owns the roads, is one that shouldn’t need to be asked.

However, even though bikes were here first, and the fact that the roads were paved for bikes, we must be generous and admit that cars are not without their rights as well.

The problem is that the car manufacturers used their wealth and political clout to create laws which allowed cars to travel at dangerous speeds down city streets endangering cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Unfortunately the level of danger has caused many cyclists to adopt an adversarial attitude towards cars and the laws created to control them.

Now as the pendulum swings back in favor of humans and human-powered machines we have to realize that many carists don’t understand that they aren’t the chosen ones.

Take for instance the shared road or “sharrow.” These markings were intended to remind carists that cyclists have as much rights to the road as they do. However some studies have shown that carists interpret the markings to mean that bikes are allowed on the road but should get out of the way if a car comes.

That may seem as logical as a Trump/Palin political speech madlib, but in some states the carists are trying to push bike literally off the road. They created legislation stating on narrow roads if a car approaches from behind the cyclist must stop their bike, get off and walk their bike off the road. How do you argue with that kind of thinking?

In other places the carists, having already pushed cyclists on to the road’s shoulders, are making those shoulders unbikable by adding rumble strips. Rumble strips are designed to warn unconscious motorists that they are no longer in the travel lane.

But not all is doom and horn blasts. While the carists don’t want bike on “their” roads, one of their strategies is to build trails off in the wilderness for us to flock to.

 

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SeaTac Airport: Getting There By Bike – Washington BikesWashington Bikes

http://wabikes.org/2014/12/23/sea-tac-airport-getting-bike/

A detailed look at using a bike for what should be an every day thing, but in reality can be quite hazardous. The car-centric airport overlords are not often aware that bicycles exist, and that the people who own them may want to ride them to an airport. SFO has made progress, and it seems that they are not alone.

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Watch “GCN’S Commuter Challenge – What’s The Best Way To…” on YouTube

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