A look at vehicular cycling, People for Bikes, and a lot of links

If you listen to the most vocal cyclists, you would assume that vehicular cycling was a long-settled issue, and that everyone agrees that bicyclists belong in the traffic lane, operating their bike like any other vehicle.

But as Boston Biker astutely points out, it doesn’t take much observation to realize that the overwhelming majority of cyclists prefer riding in bike lanes. The European countries with the highest percentage of cycling also have the greatest amount of cycling infrastructure, while here in the U.S. — where a lack of infrastructure has virtually demanded a vehicular approach to cycling — the percentage of bike commuters languishes around 1%.

Adding infrastructure also encourages riding, as shown by the dramatic growth in New York cycling after the city tripled the miles of bike lanes on their streets. Whether or not riders are actually safer in a bike lane, they feel safer, and better infrastructure is frequently cited as the #1 factor that would encourage new riders to take up the sport.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. Given the choice, I prefer riding bike lanes and bike paths, but have no problem riding vehicularly when the situation calls for it.

But whether or not you agree with the writer, it’s a well thought out piece. And definitely worth reading.

………

I’ve been watching People for Bikes with interest lately, ever since the plan was announced at this year’s National Bike Summit back in March.

Formed by Bikes Belong, the bike industry’s leading trade group — and one of the best sources for cycling stats — with the support of several of the nation’s leading bike advocacy groups, People for Bikes has a goal of signing up one million cyclists to create a nationwide voice for cyclists.

By uniting a million voices for bicycling, we will help build a national movement with clout and influence. Our unified message—that bicycling is important and should be promoted—will resonate with leaders, the media and public.

It’s a worthwhile goal, with a pledge I think we can all agree on. And one that I’ve already signed up for.

The Pledge

I am for bikes. I’m for long rides and short rides. I’m for commuting to work, weekend rides, racing, riding to school, or just a quick spin around the block. I believe that no matter how I ride, biking makes me happy and is great for my health, my community and the environment we all share. That is why I am pledging my name in support of a better future for bicycling — one that is safe and fun for everyone. By uniting my voice with a million others, I believe that we can make our world a better place to ride.

But if you need a little further inducement, you have just one more week to sign up and have a chance to win a free Trek Allant that will be given away at the end of this month.

………

In a little bit of non-cycling news, one of the nation’s leading examples of eco living is closing.

Started by Julia Russel in the 1970s, Eco-Home demonstrates how anyone can live with minimal impact on the environment by retrofitting a 1911 California bungalow to conserve energy and water, and grow food locally, along with other ways to live in a more sustainable manner — including riding your bike for more trips.

Three more tours are still scheduled before it closes; read more on the Eco-Village Blog.

………

And in one more non-biking item that found its way to my inbox, Sony is sponsoring the nationwide Rock’n’ Roll Marathon Series, starting in San Diego on June 6 and reaching L.A. on October 24. Events include a two-day Health and Fitness Expo and a finish line concert for runners, family and friends.

So where’s the bike tour to go along with it?

………

In pro doping cycling news, Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso continue their comeback in the Giro D’Italia, as a strong performance in Tuesday’s time trial puts them within striking distance of the leader; today’s relatively easy stage doesn’t change anything.

A silver medal-winning Spanish track cyclist is the latest to test positive for a banned substance. Meanwhile, there may be more shoes to drop in the wake of Floyd Landis’ charges. And a federal investigation could answer once and for all whether Lance Armstrong is clean; international cycling’s governing body claims there’s no conflict of interest despite a $100,000 donation from Armstrong.

………

Cynergy offers a free lecture on how to use science to get race ready at 6:30p today; hopefully they won’t recommend the Landis technique. Damien Newton looks back at bike week and asks where’s our bike plan, while Stephen Box looks at what follows bike week and notes the success of the LAPD Bike Task Force. Sara Bond speaks about Bikeside Speaks! A call to build a bike corridor from Norwalk to the beach. CHP cracks down on BWI — Biking While Intoxicated. Is San Diego on its way to becoming SoCal’s newest bike Mecca? Tucson Velo explores Los Angeles with the locals. Shock in Arizona as police actually enforce the state’s three foot passing law. Five dollars could help fund a new documentary on ghost bikes. New York spends $15.7 million to complete the last half mile of a riverfront bike superhighway — roughly twice the cost per mile to build the proposed extension of the Marvin Braude Bike Path. WashCycle refutes the so-called facts about bike helmets; WalkBikeJersey objects to the media’s attitude of “wear a bike helmet or die.” Federal standards recommend rumble strips on rural roads, without regard for cyclist safety. The woman rider who made the podium of last year’s Leadville 100 while racing under another woman’s name and number pleads guilty — to trespassing? Cyclelicious points the way to a DC law firm that’s started its own in-house bike share program. DC’s bike sharing plan will see a 900% increase in size, while L.A.’s is still in the talking stage, like everything else. Sometimes the biggest danger cyclists face comes from other cyclists. A guilty verdict for the Portland-area man who intentionally backed his SUV over a cyclist. Cyclists aren’t the only ones who ignore stop signs. Police crack down on Copenhagen cyclists — for one week only. Eight riders are injured as an SUV drives into the peloton during an Irish race. A pocket sized guide to the 100 greatest climbs in Britain.

Finally, I’m packing my bags for South Carolina, as developers plan the nation’s first bike-only community.

8 comments

  1. Be careful about the claim that more cycling infrastructure = more cyclists. The number of cyclists doubled in San Francisco between 2006 and 2009 during an injunction in which San Francisco Superior Court forbade the city from doing _anything_ to improve cycling facilities — they couldn’t even install bus bike racks on new buses.

    I think I’ve run across some Chicago studies that show a little more compellingly that more cycling facilities leads to more daily cycling, but in my mind the link is tenuous. See Rick Vosper’s “Bike Industry Lies” series: Advocacy increases ridership, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 (*phew*)

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks Richard, you make a good point. I was aware of the injunction, but didn’t make the connection with the rise in ridership. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do.

      • Lexica says:

        The San Francisco situation doesn’t refute the claim that more bike infrastructure = more bicyclists.

        In symbolic logic terms, let A = “we build more bike infrastructure” and let B = “there will be more bicyclists”.

        So the claim “if we build more bike infrastructure there will be more bicyclists” is represented as “If A, then B”.

        Many people think the converse of “if A, then B” is “if B, then A”. This is incorrect.

        The converse of “if A, then B” is “if NOT B, then NOT A”. Translated out of symbols, the converse of “if we build more bike infrastructure there will be more bicyclists” is “if there are not more bicyclists, then we didn’t build more infrastructure.”

        If the only information given is “if A then B”, it’s not logically possible to complete the statement “if B then ___”.

  2. danceralamode says:

    I also like bike lanes, but of course don’t mind riding in traffic either. But I’m not fond of bike lanes in the door zone. I’d rather be in traffic than the door zone.

  3. Herbie Huff says:

    Obviously, there are many things that influence people’s decision to bike, but bike infrastructure is one of the main ones.

    The LA Bike Count showed that in Los Angeles, at least, ridership is highest on bike paths, next-highest on bike lanes, and lowest on bike routes and streets with no infrastructure. In addition, the number of bicyclists is much higher around transit stations and near universities.

    Check out the report here. http://www.labikecount.org/live/

  4. […] fearless, and fast cyclists navigating traffic like drivers has at least partially — and probably substantially — contributed to the very few cyclists we see today on the streets of Los Angeles. One need […]

  5. ^ FWIW, the above post is triggering all my spam-detector alarms.

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