Whether you’re racing (because you want to), riding because it’s healthy (and makes you feel good), saves money, or because it’s the right thing to do for the environment (sticking it to The Man also counts), you are winning. There is really no bad reason I can think of for riding a bike. I ride (and race) for all these reasons. Why do you ride? Or, barring physical limitations, why don’t you ride? One reason I know of that keeps people from commuting is a dangerous route to work. If you ride or work along a busy street or highway with no shoulder, self preservation is an overriding factor. Often there is an alternative route, but not always.
Unfortunately there is a lot of infrastructure designed with only motor traffic in mind. It’s my dream that anyone involved with transportation planning decisions be required to ride a bike for a few days to understand how street design works (or doesn’t) for people riding bikes. Imagine if motorists had to stop and press a button to cross a street, while the traffic light is green, and wait for the next cycle because the resting crossing light is red. Traffic lights like these seem designed to discourage rather than encourage safe bicycle and pedestrian use of trails.
Riding on sidewalks may seem like a logical choice to some, but it’s where most cyclists get hit by motorists. At “conflict points” like intersections and driveways motorists are looking into the street for an opening in motor traffic, not toward sidewalk traffic. Yet drivers will still yell at cyclists to get on the sidewalk, and cyclists don’t feel safe. These motorists should have to commute by bike for a few days. Cyclists have to fight for the right to use the streets we pay for. City council members and planners often don’t consider that cyclists need to occupy space in the street to be safe. The redesign of 13th street is under discussion now. It is one of the less bicycle friendly streets around, and there needs to be more understanding about what makes good road design for everyone. Next Monday, August 20, the City of Lincoln will be hosting a Public Open House for the Lincoln Bike Plan from 4:00 to 6:00 at Turbine Flats Gallery, 2124 Y Street. The draft bicycle network will be unveiled for public comment and review. Materials will also be posted at www.lincolnbikeplan.com for comment.
We want to make the streets safer for cyclists. Trails are great, but don’t go everywhere we need too go. We need bike lanes and better crossing signals, more education of drivers, planners and decision makers. Seeing and hearing from more people on bikes will help make this happen.