Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ho Ho, Ho, Get Out of the Bike Lane! Thanks

Some random news from the Washington region, Canada and Europe.
Here's the latest local news:
Phoenix Bikes, a non-profit youth program, wants to build a bike training headquarter next to the bike trail in Arlington.  Neighbors have responded by claiming the group's building will attract drunks and parking problems - meaning cars.  I can see these complaints if Phoenix Bikes were a bar with $2.00 taps, but seriously.

The DC Bike Advisory Council is asking for more dedicated bike lanes, but without enforcement against drivers, the lanes will have to be protected.

Meanwhile in Alexandria, @kevinposey tweets that the transportation committee has endorsed bike lanes after public hearings in which bike opponents irrationally and vociferously expressed the view that they were being targeted for genocide by cyclists.

In New York, things are getting ugly.
Michael Goodwin, who writes for the New York Post, not the New York Times, calls Mayor Bloomberg's big ideas "bike lane bad."  And then, perhaps sensing that the population is turning away from the little ideas, the Post quotes others who think bike share is the best thing ever.  As this insanity has unfolded, @brooklynspoke has tweeted it all.

In the U.K. the cycling deaths continue to mount even as a second "mass die-in" is planned in Vauxhall on Thursday.  If you are there and you read this, show up, wear the fake blood, and otherwise make your point.
Meanwhile a study out of Bath - the town not the tub - finds that reflective bike gear does not seem to change motorists behavior when it comes to cyclists, and motorists are possessed with a desire to overtake bikes.  No really?  Shocker.  Take the smallest most ineffective person in the world.  Seat them behind the wheel of a Range Rover the size of a Sherman tank and you've got a homicidal maniac.
At the same time, a London cyclist has invented a foldable helmet you can buy from a vending machine and keep in your briefcase.  Here, here.

In Greece, they are having "mass die-ins" to protest the lack of cycling infrastructure, and holding rides against racism.  Yes, that Greece, where the economy has struggled and cutbacks have been ruthless.  Long live the Greek bike advocacy corps.

In Toronto, Canada, @Terichu protests the fact that removed snow has been dumped in the bike lane.  I agree that it is bad, but see below for something worse.

While we are all experiencing irritation, in the Netherlands they have installed an elevated bike lane that is breathtaking.  I am jealous to the point of being almost bitter.  But I digress.

There were sad passings this week, like that of Peter O'Toole, who said of exercising, "I get exercise going to the funerals of friends who exercised."  And then there were the epic, biblical sort of tragedies, like the 96 people who died in car accidents every minute in Europe and U.S. over the past week.  I don't remember these statistics being discussed in my driver's education class, but no one was listening, not even me. Aren't bikes a reasonable alternative to this public health crisis?

This week I witnessed a woman on a 10-speed riding along in the bike lanes.  A taxi made a u-turn over the bike lanes and hit her.  Had there been some sort of barriers up to protect the bike lane, his u-turn would have been harder or impossible.  As I stood there, a Brinks armored truck and a small white sedan also made u-turns over the bike lanes in the same place, oblivious to the police cars and gasping onlookers.

In the past six months I have seen many things that do not belong in the bike lane:  a myopic driver apparently thinking it was a left-turn lane, at least three dozen u-turning vehicles, an upturned hubcap, and at least four smoldering piles of horse poop.

To fix this, perhaps we start by administering an IQ and anger management test to drivers.  Or maybe those red light cameras that are used to mete out tickets to motorists who run traffic lights could be trained on the bike lanes for a month.  But the real solution is one that manages human behavior.  If you have watched any reality show or 15 minutes of Congress on CSPAN, you know human behavior can be pretty bad.  Assume the worst.  Put up barriers to protect cyclists.  I'm not a holder of a PhD in urban planning.  Nevertheless I believe that in a culture that watches TV game shows where the contestants try to walk across a rubber bridge while someone hits them with a water canon, we must assume the worst.

If I see you in the bike lane, and you are not a taxi, hubcap or pile of horse poop, let's be smug.
Elisa P.
And for the usual laugh, bike geek does it again.

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