Monday, July 18

Traffic Isn't The Trouble

Recently (as in the last 5 years) many of the cities and counties I drive through on my commute have invested a significant sum to install some really nice asphalt bike paths along streets that have no shoulder and/or have a high volume of fast moving traffic, in some instances particularly large truck traffic.  The commuter & recreational biker community fought hard to get these paths installed for their safety and yet EVERY morning for the last 2 weeks (probably longer but that is only how long I've been keeping track) I have encountered at least 2 (usually more) bikers in their speed suits biking with traffic on a road with no shoulder and an empty bike path just 3 feet away.

Is there something I'm not understanding?  Are bike paths no longer acceptable?  Is there some kind of bike versus car movement?  And, if the paths aren't going to be used why did we spend so much to install them and continue to spend to maintain them? 

This morning was particularly bad.  I encounter this same biker every morning, wearing the same bike racing outfit, with review mirrors on his helmet, and what I assume is his work clothes strapped to the back of his bike.  Just a few feet away from an empty, paved, completely redone less than a year ago bike path.  As each car, truck, and suv, passed the biker he swerved ever so slightly into us. When traffic was stopped at the stoplights, he zoomed past all of us on the shoulder and blew the light.

Angry he can't go as fast as the rest of us? Trying to punish us gas guzzlers for our carbon footprint? Death wish?

I just don't understand.


Guinifer said...

I think it has something to do with recreational bikers vs. "serious" bikers. I couldn't agree with you more, but the law is on the road bikers side; they have a right to the road and they want to exercise it(hah!).

Shelly said...

I've seen this too. I'm on neither side of the fence of this issue, but I have some theories. Sometimes those bike paths can be overcrowded by pedestrians and/or slower bikers, which is frustrating for someone in training for a race or who is just faster. Also, if you're trying to go fast, it can be unsafe. Another thing that I think goes through their minds is that if the cars are assuming the bikes are on the paths then they're not watching for the bikes at the points where the paths cross the streets, again being less than safe.

As a slower biker who is trying to train to be faster, I like the paths unless they are very crowded, at which point I'll take to the street, but then I still worry about getting run over. I train with some of the crazy street-riders (and even runners who take over streets as a pack sometimes when there is a perfectly good sidewalk) and I still don't get it entirely.

The world is so full of varying brands of crazy, it's impossible to figure them all out!

Chris said...

Well, some bike paths have speed limits that are too low for serious cyclists, so...

Although today I think buckling roads were a greater hazard than cyclists!

Luna said...

Also, it sometimes isn't clear what is a bike path and what is a sidewalk. Some cities/municipalities prohibit riding on sidewalks. I think some cyclists just get used to the idea that sidewalks are prohibited and just stay on the road rather than trying to figure out when it's ok to be on the sidewalk/path and when it's not.

Shelly said...

You have hit upon a pet peeve of mine...

One morning, while driving down France Avenue in Edina, where there is no bike path, by the way, I passed the same bike rider six times.

Six. Six times.

How could this be? Well, I'd pass him, and others would pass him, and when the lights turned red, the cars would stop and he would blow past us. When the cars started again, we passed him. Over and over.

It's not so much that the guy was driving his bike on France Avenue, it's the fact that a very large percentage of the people who would do such a thing do not believe that those stop lights are for them. They are wrong, and what they are doing is illegal.

Remember that bike safety commercial that was on the air locally, not that long ago? Where they talked about how they always wear their helmet and they always stop at red lights and stop signs? That commercial never failed to get a laugh at my house.

I've had people on bicycles RUN A STOP SIGN, almost get hit by me in my car in the process, and curse ME for not being more careful. You know what, dude? Sorry, but if you don't obey the law, you are making an already iffy situation into a damned dangerous one. I'd feel bad if I hit you, but not bad enough to take the blame for something that would have clearly been your own damn fault.

I get that there are not enough places for a serious biker to get out and GO. I get that. But I have ZERO sympathy for anyone on a road who does not obey the rules of that road. Good for you and your bad-ass self, biking 8 miles to work, or whatever. But every time I see you breeze past me at a red light, I still thing you're a douche.

Anonymous said...

I think the tight pants restrict blood flow to the brain.

Mr. M.