Recent Bike Activity

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

One would think that not much in this world could be more benign than my hobbies of bike commuting and gardening.  Particularly regarding bike commuting, I obviously keep one car off the road and that car's associated pollution and congestion.

But, taking a depressing read through our local weekly newspaper makes me realize that biking is far from benign, at least when it comes to discussing addition of bike lanes.

"Every day, I observe bicyclists violating both rules for vehicles and pedestrians as they seem to want the rights of both simultaneously and the responsibilities of neither."

"If Thousand Oaks insists on continuing to add bicycle lanes, then they must also enforce traditional rules of the road for bicyclists and ticket them for: riding on sidewalks, riding in pedestrian walkways, riding against the light, failing to stop, riding the wrong direction in bike lanes, etc., etc.

All actions I see bicyclists do on a daily basis throughout Thousand Oaks.

No one wants an accident, and I have had enough heartstopping near misses that I drive in terror of bicyclists in this town."
"Daily basis"? "Drive in terror"?  Really? 
"Look at the other bike lanes that already exist within the city, where many times these bike riders are four to five abreast riding on the auto section of the road (outside the path) and causing cars to swerve to miss them.

Also, many are not stopping at stop signs or red lights. Many think they do not have to abide by the traffic laws.

I have had several near collisions with some of these riders because they were not paying any attention to the other traffic around them."

Although I'm glad Rick isn't terrified of cyclists like Connie, I am wondering how he is having so many near collisions in a town where only .9% of commute trips are being made by cyclists (I discuss the dearth of bike commuters in a previous blog post.)
"It’s my guess that this push for a bike lane on Lynn Road is being spurred on by elitists in the cycling community who are putting their own selfish interests ahead of public safety and/or have politicians and commissioners in their pockets."

Whew...that's me, the selfish elitist with politicians in my pocket.

All of this is being generated by the City's recent initiatives to take state and federal money to build additional bike lanes.  Something that is not only objectionable to readers, but is actually objectionable to the newspaper itself:

"But some critics see the indiscriminate creation of bike lanes as increasing the likelihood of an accident by encouraging cyclists to ride next to traffic on fast-moving streets rather than off-road or in more residential areas.

There are studies that support this opinion as well.

We think the key here is for the city to create bike lanes in moderation—where they’re really needed—not on every stretch of road that becomes available or every time funding is offered.

Similar to solar panels, bike lanes look great on paper and are popular among politicians looking to add “environmentally conscious” to their resume, but in practice they aren’t always the best option. For solar, the problem is often cost; for bike lanes, it’s the stress they cause drivers."
If anything is indiscriminate, it's this newspapers' inclusion of unnamed studies and a solar panel comparison in an article about transportation planning.
I did respond to the editorial, incidentally:

(One final note, the paper actually shortened and, I believe, dumbed down my response...I hate how the first paragraph, in particular, reads.)


  1. I assign zero credibility to anyone who uses these arguments:
    -cyclists break all the traffic rules and therefore don't deserve respect or road space
    -cyclists endanger the lives of motorists (or pedestrians) when they share space
    -cyclists don't pay for infrastructure, so they don't deserve to use roads/paths/trails
    -cyclists just get in the way of traffic, so it's their own fault when they get hit

    These arguments get a surprising amount of replay, given that cyclists are a near invisible segment - by percentage of trips and by their relative size on the road. Why don't strollers, segways, and joggers on the sidewalk get as many nuisance complaints as bikes on the sidewalk? Why don't buses, construction workers, and bad drivers get as much disrespect for obstructing traffic when they cause much more obstruction than bikes? Why do cyclists lose legitimacy because some disobey traffic rules, yet motorists disobey many rules, causing deaths, and it's just business as usual?

  2. Well said and I could not agree more. When I drive I fear the driver with the cell phone far more than the biker.