Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

7.24.2012

Who's Interrupting Whom?

This post over on Bike Shop Girl raised my ire a bit. It closed with the following:

"Next time you are out on the road, think about what is going on around you. Wave to that person that stopped for you or went AROUND you. You are interrupting their flow and their day. Just because you are able to be on the road, share the lane or take the lane, doesn’t mean you aren’t creating chaos out there. When we are riding 10 deep of 2 or 3 a breast, who is sitting patiently behind you in their car? Where did we go so wrong that we feel entitled to interrupting someones day because “we ride a bike”?
If your kids were in the middle of the street playing catch or kicking a soccer ball and a car comes down the road do you expect your kids to get out of the way or the car to stop?
I commented:


Sorry, have to disagree with the fundamental idea that I am interrupting traffic when I'm on the road on a bike. I am traffic. Most of the miles I ride are to and from work. By riding those miles instead of driving them, I am providing for my family by keeping our car costs low (we are a one-car household). I'm just another guy, trying to get to and from work safely, day in and day out. My need to get to work every day (or to the store or wherever) is no more or less important than anybody else's. I deserve the same respect as the operator of any other slow-moving vehicle.

The speed limits on our roads are maximums, not birthrights. There are lots of things that limit the "free flow" of traffic at maximum legal speeds at all times. Traffic, intersections, road conditions, weather, and yes, cyclists on the roads all keep us from driving as fast as we possibly could everywhere.

And what about when I do ride for sport? When I go out on the road for something beyond necessity? Am I the only one out there whose presence on the road is "unnecessary?" How many lumbering Winnebagos on the road are there for absolute necessity? How many tractor trailers carrying crappy cruelty-raised commodity beef across our highways are "necessary?" How many 50 miles-each-way single-occupant-vehicle commutes between a job in an urban center and a home out in the rural sprawl are "necessary?"  Those things are obnoxious, those things are disruptive.

Now, I agree. Use the road on a bike, within your rights. (I don't go on a lot of group rides with people I don't know anymore because I can't be part of the 2,3,4, abreast, stoplight-blowing bad behavior). Don't be a jerk, and be grateful when drivers are considerate toward you. I do that on the bike, and in the car. I try to do that in life in general.

I'd love to see good bike infrastructure, but I'm pessimistic about it showing up in my or even my young son's lifetime. I work in town planning, and I'm acutely aware of how expensive infrastructure is and how long and difficult the process to build it can be, even when you have the money. And the truth is, the infrastructure is there. It's our existing road system. On my commute, there needs to be a wider shoulder here, a left turn lane there, maybe. The barriers I face are not the widths of the roads or the lack of bike lanes. It's the scary intersections that were never designed for bikes to navigate, and violent (note, not obnoxious, but violent) drivers who have become desensitized to the humanity on the bicycle next to them.

Instead, communities around me are often focused on big, expensive MUP's that don't connect with each other and are crossed by driveways and side streets every few feet and have no provision for integrating back into the road system when they end. All the MUP's end up doing is upsetting the motorists around me even more, because now it's "why aren't you on the bike path?"