The Chainlink

Sex columnist Dan Savage, fresh back from a cycling trip to Munich, decides that European cycling speeds are far too slow to be accepted by speedy American cyclists:

"To most European cyclists the pace being set by the woman in pink was just fine; this wasn't a race, we were all gonna get where we need to go, why not take it slow and enjoy the view. But to most American cyclists—to cyclists used to bombing along on city streets or being one of the small handful of cyclists using one of our small handful of dedicated bike paths—the pace set by the woman in pink would've felt deadly. The woman in the pink dress would've been an obstacle to blow past... and so would the little old lady setting the pace two blocks in front of her and so would the drunk old pensioner setting the pace two blocks in front of the little old lady.  I sometimes wonder if most cyclists realize the bike future we all hope to build—dedicated bike lanes and a lot more people commuting by bike—looks an awful lot like the car driver's present: crawling along in traffic."

Savage's article here

On the "Streetfilms" Facebook group, Clarence Eckerson Jr. and others offer some pushback to Savage:

"Mikael Colville-Andersen: We're not planning cities for "cyclists". We're planning for citizens who could be cycling."

https://www.facebook.com/groups/22019704884/permalink/1015372432546...

Would you be willing to ride slower to accommodate everyday people on bikes?

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It's plausible some of this difference in temperament is not a division between "cyclists" and "regular people" so much as the aggressive cycling is something of a learned behavior that results from the lack of european-style dedicated cycling infrastructure. I can't noodle in a leisurely manner because I'm navigating around giant metal beasts. 

The more cyclists there are, the safer it is, and the less need for aggressive cycling there is. 

+1

But see, there it still is. "The more cyclists there are, the safer it is..." We need more cyclists on the street before the regular people will feel safe. And that's just always going to be the case. There are never going to be any regular people, just more and more new cyclists pursuing the unattainable goal of making it safe for former. 

We're setting ourselves up for perpetual failure by continuing to move the goalposts farther and farther away like this.

If "we are going to hate it" then it's probably not the future. It might be something like that in the congested areas of the big cities but we will never be completely like the Europeans. We are uniquely U.S. American. We will find what works for us. It may end up looking more like China with a fair percentage of e-bikes. We are commuting long distances and so higher speeds on cycling are here to stay in many regions of the country and especially in suburban areas.

I would never be against PBLs and I use "bike paths" (when they are not clogged with snow mounds); I would however, like to see some "infrastructure" that supports the suburban cyclist like:

  1. marked cycling lanes on main thoroughfares
  2. official cycling routes that have real functionality
  3. bike parking/lock-up at mini-malls and town centers
  4. statewide education for drivers and cyclists
  5. cycling safety questions on drivers license exams

That's great news!  Do you remember what the questions were, by any chance?

Now, if we could just get the other 49 states do the same thing (or at least those with Big 10 schools).

* Motorcycles and bicycles are entitled to the same right of way privileges as other vehicles,and special attention should be given when they approach an intersection, at railroad crossings and on bridge?. a._x_TRUE b.___false

* When are you permitted to open car doors on the side on which traffic is moving?
a__ it is legal at all times. b.__it is legal only in rural areas. c._x_IT IS LEGAL ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT INTERFERING WITH THE MOVEMENT OF OTHER TRAFFIC.

Thanks for sharing this.

Awesome! The future is beginning!

Yes, please.

I think the comments about the length of   the trip and  the speed of the trip are  on point. If a commute is  just a few miles there  is  no  need to work up a sweat and more ability find your personal version of Bike  Fancy. As  the trip lengthens the reality of time  is an issue and it is going to be more of a workout.  My commute that varies between 13-15 miles depending on the route takes me to every place on the continuum. Close to the hub in the loop I revel in the easy pace of the Dearborn PBL wanting to to take the time to check  out the variety of  bikes around me. As I get farther north I am riding at a modest station to  station pace stopping every half mile at a red light. As I get  closer to home I am  more  urgent  to get to  my destination and find my inner athlete. (though I  am   still proceeding at  a moderate  pace  according to one of the posts) and increasing my heart rate.  I think some  fail to ride to the conditions and location.  The  lakefront, especially in season, is not  the place for the lycra dash. If  I am in a hurry to get through rather than to  the loop I will avoid Dearborn. 

A few years ago I was buying  a new bike and went to a shop wanting to strongly consider a dutch style bike. The shop  person steered me to a  hybrid saying that the dutch bike was for "riding  five miles to the farmers market"and that my commute would  be unhappy on such a bike.  At first I was annoyed thinking there was a bait and switch.  Overnight I realized he was right and I bought  the hybrid. I have  fenders and feel  at  home in the city.  I  have 28 mm tires and short of a century feel comfortable zipping suburban lanes.  

I wonder if Dan's theory that hints at a  cultural issue with Americans  is the issue or whether  there  is some  reality  of geography involved...or a little of both.

I too avoid Dearborn when I'm in a hurry, even when it's not congested, because it's actually safer for me to ride fast outside of a so-called protected lane.  I understand now that they essentially serve as park-like paths inevitably filled with pedestrians and Divvy riders going 3 MPH, but was that really their intended purpose?

 

Going forward, it absolutely is reasonable to argue against this sort of infrastructure. 

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