Friday, September 2, 2016

Increasing the presence of bikes on the streets

Recently, in a Facebook discussion about getting people to ride for transportation in general and about replacing free public parking spaces with Citi Bike racks specifically, someone wrote to me, saying:

The problem is that many cyclists do not obey any rules at all. Like going with traffic, not against it. Or staying on the road, sidewalks are for pedestrians.

That's not the problem, but it is a problem. I try to be a role model, and I ride in traffic in the way I think everyone should. I don't startle anyone, and I don't impede anyone. I try to predict how everyone else is going to behave, and I try to ride predictably so anyone concerned knows what I'm doing and what I'm about to do. Even with the bad cyclists -- and there are too many of them --, it seems to me that as more people get onto bikes each year, it is not becoming more unsafe for pedestrians or motorists or subway riders. A lot of the new riders are the type of people with less nerve than the previous waves. They are starting to ride because they previously would not have felt safe in traffic. A lot of these new riders stop at red lights. I stand and wait next to them on 8th Ave.

I should tell you that I have been a bike advocate for a long time. I have ridden in many places, and I currently ride 2,000 miles a year. I know what works and what doesn't, and I know what will work. I have taught people how to ride in traffic so that they and people nearby are safe and comfortable. It's a practical way to get places, and it's a reasonable decision to make to ride a bike in NYC and many other places. I don't know about Fairlawn, as I haven't been there in a while. I did some bike and education in Maplewood when I lived there.

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