It is something that I have thought and read a great deal on, why do we have "wrong way" cyclists.
I have read in a couple places some thoughts that make sense, many are from David Hembrow, many are from Streetsblog and many others are from the depths of cyber space.
In this country the age when you ride your bike dictates the rules you must follow. It starts out with the training wheels on the sidewalk, and then it progresses to regular low speed (although some kids go pretty fast!) cycling on the sidewalk. At a certain age it moves to cycling against traffic, especially in neighborhoods that have no sidewalks. The example is they are acting like pedestrians and feel that this is the safer method, so the cyclist can make sure the car has seen them. I understand why this is encouraged, especially with kids; bikes in the US do not have mirrors included with them. And many are bought at big box stores that do not sell these accessories, and parents who are not clear on the rules themselves, feel that this is safe (or safest) for their child. Finally you must ride in the same direction as cars once an adult, and must act like a car in all you do.
For many people that are starting to enjoy riding again, they last rode a bike when they were a kid, they might be from a generation where 16 meant a car and freedom; the bike was quickly forgotten. When somebody who has not ridden a bike in many years, picks one up today, they revert back (typically) to the last time the rode and the rules that were in effect then, as well as how safe they felt riding a certain way. This typically means riding either on the sidewalk or against traffic, or both.
This is the problem.
In the Netherlands, children do not have training wheels, they learn to balance on scooter type things with two wheels a seat and no pedals, once they learn how to balance which can be achieved in one day with enough dedication, they graduate to regular bikes, sized for them.
As David Hembrow has shown, children's bikes have racks, fenders, lights and breaks just like their parent's bikes. They also have the safe separated infrastructure to ride on and are taught in school to ride like a cyclist. They are not told how to ride like a car or ride like a pedestrian, they are a bicyclist and are neither of the above. So even if they turn 16 and forget the bike for a while with a new car, when they choose to go back, they ride the exact same way they learned as a child, which is safe, efficient, and easy.
It is because of the infrastructure though; we have either sidewalks or roadways here in the US. Cyclists get nothing (really in the vast majority of communities). We have to choose to ride like a car, or like a pedestrian. It feels safer to be a pedestrian on the sidewalk and so many people ride there. David has talked in depth about the ideas of subjective safety; his posts on the topic are worth a read.
However some studies have shown that even with limited on road bike lanes and what would be considered the least effective (and sometimes dangerous) cycling infrastructure in The Netherlands, that rates of wrong way cycling as well as sidewalk cycling are reduced by over 50%.
Bike salmon are a consequence of infrastructure that does not serve a cyclist and only serves pedestrians (not always bad thing) or cars. This is the case with sidewalk riding as well.
I am a firm believer that if you provide true separated infrastructure, away from fast moving traffic on roads over 25mph, roads faster than 40mph create more of a separation and provide under or overpasses at busy junctions, make zones that are 20mph or less have bicycle priority, provide for safe interactions at intersections via roundabouts or bike only lights, and make safe secure staple racks available at any destination and place of business, that the US can achieve the 30%+ bicycle mode share that many cities in Europe, and especially Denmark and The Netherlands have achieved by providing for their cyclists.
Bike salmon will be an endangered or extinct species, if we manage to achieve the goal of true equality on our streets.
We know what needs to happen; doing anything less is tantamount to lip service, and pandering, and in many cases can be more dangerous than nothing at all. It is never too late to start doing it right.
For further reading I encourage a look back through the wayback machine over at David's blog, its a treasure trove for anybody that wants to see how it could be done right.
Friday was a good day outside, it was about 70 or so and a light breeze. After working in the backyard with my dad to pull up some older high bush cranberry bushes that had outlived their welcome, I decided it was a good time to break out the car-wash equipment and wash and scrub the bike. It had not had a good wash since I started riding it back in early March due to the lack of supplies I had with me in Plattsburgh. I also did not want to buy new supplies to wash it, nor hassle with figuring out how to hook up the hose to the house.
Anyway, it went very well! I was able to scrub it all down and especially the tires and rims, which had built up brake-dust on them. I guess that’s one of the many benefits of disk brakes, no break dust...
It took a couple scrubbing passes and light rinsing with the hose to get everything but unlike most bikes, I didn't have to grease anything, because everything is enclosed and resistant to the elements (or my washing) so little to no grease was lost which meant it was pretty much dirt and brake dust running down the driveway.
One of the myriad of benefits to a traditional European style bike, the fact that everything is enclosed from rain and dirt, not only prolongs the life of gears, chains and cables, it minimizes the need for repairs, prevents grease from getting on pants or shoes, allows riding all year long, and finally allows the bike to be cleaned and scrubbed down without dumping grease into the drain, worrying about getting water in places that might cause harm, or destroying any cloth that is being used to clean the bike.
Some people I feel may think it silly to carefully clean a bicycle, its suppose to be dirty anyway right? But I feel that if you have a good bike, something that does a wonderful job getting you around and carrying everything you need, that that bike should be taken care of and that includes regular washing and inspections to make sure everything is working properly.
I took some pictures and they will be up as soon as I dump them from my camera.
Enjoy the weekend everybody and try to get out on a bike! Its loads of fun!
Today I started my first internship with MassBike right in downtown Boston. I will post links and other useful information as they come up. I will also talk about, where able, the various projects I am working on.
I will also be doing blog and press updates for the MassBike website.
for now, I hope you have had a great bike to work week, and enjoy the rest of bike month!.
Well it has been another bike to work week, today is bike to work day. It’s hard to tell if there was much of a change here in Plattsburgh. I am rarely on the roads when commuters would be going or coming home from work, so I can’t tell too much.
However in the short time I was on the roads yesterday, I saw maybe 12 cyclists out, and only 3 of which were on the sidewalk when observed, but only 2 were in normal clothes and not suited up.
Saw one gentleman riding north on 9, he must have been very tall, he had very long legs and the frame of his bike was huge! I seriously thought it might have been a double frame bike from a distance, but nope, it was just a really really big frame, he fit it though so more power to him!
Was at the Co-Op on Wednesday meeting a good friend named Jon to make some butter (Jon bakes bread). I arrive in my usual way, but I do have quite a bit of baggage, and I have loads of bells and whistles (well really only one bell) so I guess I can look kinda impressive...
Anyway a nice older woman outside on her classic 3 speed Raleigh, mistook me for an officer in training... I must say I take that as a compliment. While I have no intention to go into law enforcement at that level, if there are some out there that see me as possibly and officer in training, then good, maybe they will give me a bit more room on the road...
She was having a problem with her bike though, the breaks were not working well on the back and she had already gone over the front trying to stop a day or so earlier. It turns out she was riding it and trying to get it ready for her granddaughter to use at the university in the fall. I commented on how wonderful of a bike it was and that with a bit of love it could be made into an object of desire, and to be sure to get a good lock for it.
I opened up the handy tool case (e.g. the mess of tools in my bike bag) and gave a whirl at tightening the break pads. I quickly came to the understanding that the pads were very hardened and would not be useful in stopping in any form. They seemed like they original and probably should be replaced. I recommended that she head over to Mountain Riders and have then take a look at it, She did not know where they were so I pointed her around the corner, after all they are really close to the Co-Op.
I saw her again a little later, she was so very happy, they had filed down the breaks she had to get to non cracked rubber, and oiled up her shifters.
This is the third person I have directly helped in terms of breaks, gears, or seat fitting. I helped the bicycle of a forth, unknown person earlier in the semester. The chain was un-oiled and was rusting away, I had a few minutes so took the opportunity and oiled it right up.
Never underestimate what a bit of oil, or grease, can do for your bike. I use a corn based biodegradable oil, which works very nicely :)
For god's sake though, don’t oil your bike with WD-40!! It wont work and might make it worse!
Happy bike to work day, enjoy your commute :)
I will be back and active on here in short order, I might also be talking up my own on going projects through the internships I have, providing they agree to that.
All cyclists observed today were in the afternoon while I was on the road from 1:40 to 1:50 pm and from 6:20 to 7:00 pm.
total 16 (not including me) 6 road cyclists (only 2 were practicing vehicular ways when observed) 1 was a salmon cyclist(maybe even a salmon sidewalk cyclist!) shortly before becoming a road cyclist 1 couple on bikes, not being gutter bunnies at point of observation 2 different cyclists who were riding as gutter bunnies when observed 1 cyclist who was a gutter bunny as I talked/passed him, he then became a separated trail cyclist when reaching the city beach area.
5 sidewalk cyclists 4 salmon sidewalk cyclist. they are defined as sidewalk riding on the side of the road where the closest traffic is moving opposite to them. 1 normal sidewalk cyclist
5 bmx bikers all 5 were at the local bmx/skate board park at one of the elementary schools.
of note only 2 cyclists were female, one in the mentioned couple, and one sidewalk salmon cyclist. There are maybe a handful of female cyclists in the Plattsburgh area, and even fewer that actually ride on the road properly. This of course does not include university or school students.
There was a west wind today, that was a bit southish coming in and then kind of northish going home. still made good time, I was just blown about quite a bit.
I Received one internship so far. I will be working as an unpaid(yeah yeah) intern with the non profit advocacy group, MassBike out of Boston, Massachusetts. There will be a combination of commuting via Amtrak's Downeaster, possibly staying with friends in Somerville (their intern position was full until September, booo) , or staying with my wonderful girlfriend just outside of Worcester.
I have taken the data from the Parks and Recreation website on the city parks as well as the facilities at each park and put them together in a basic google map showing location and amenities. I am in the process of adding non official parks and relaxation areas that are not included. If you are from Plattsburgh and are reading this and would like to be involved in the editing process or in adding to the map please let me know so I can add you as a collaborator. The map is not public yet, but I plan for it to be soon.
To take a look at "LocalSustainability.com"'s map of public spaces please click Here. There are a few parks, but this map includes other public places in the North Country and not just in the city.
See if your city has done this already, or if it just has an address listing on some hidden corner of the city website. Larger cities can have so many parks that many people do not know about them.
Anybody can create a basic public spaces map and Google makes it real easy. Do you know where your public spaces are?
Well I do it every day, in a community pretty hostile to bikes in its current form, but it can be done safety and without harm with a little dedication and some common sense anywhere in America....
Anyway, I will be back and posting soon, its nearing finals and trying to finish everything up and get things in is killing my energy to write or post. I have a bunch of posts built up so hopefully I can start working them out...
In the mean time I give you this.
Does your place of work currently offer the 20$/month subsidy for commuting primarily by bike? If not it should!
It costs your company or organization nothing and in fact can reduce health costs as the workforce is happier, healthier, and more productive, after cycling to and from work than otherwise.
So for Bike-To-Work month, how about approaching your organization and asking about getting involved with the federal stipend!