Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bikesharing and safety

This is interesting, in part because the article and even some of the comments are starting to catch on to what often gets lost in the debate over helmets and bike safety generally - that's it's all about HOW you ride!

Stats are starting to show that bike-sharing is safer than riding your personal bike. Maybe because many people's riding styles on their personal bikes are faster, hunched over (meaning primed for forward ejection in almost any incident), and likely competing with traffic. Plus bikeshare tends to be used in urban environments for short, casual trips, as opposed to long commutes or sport/recreation warrior-ing.

Heavy, slow, upright bikeshare bikes inherently enforce more of a citizen-cycling mode, making it quite rare to be injured while biking. Yes, even on the mean streets of North America, London, etc. Let's hope the lesson can be applied to personal bikes.

And before certain people start shrieking, no, I don't mean 'hey everyone, stop wearing a helmet'. Do what makes sense for you. Helmet or not, it just seems to be proving out that citizen cycling (for lack of a better term to encompass many aspects) is safer. Let's stop pretending that all biking is the same.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lane-blockers or trail-blazers?

Had a somewhat conflicted moment when driving to my daughter's school today.

Two rather charming-looking young women (attractive, wearing normal/chic clothes) were ambling down the road toward me on their humble citizen-cycles (upright, chainguard, basket, you get the picture). They were not going very fast, very leisurely.

They weren't riding single file, they were riding next to each other so they could chat as they went along, basically blocked the single lane of traffic. It was a residential street (5th Street southbound, north of Grant Circle) in a fairly quiet neighborhood (Petworth) but there is some through-traffic along there.

I had a double-reaction. First thought, as their comrade in the Chainguard Revolution - 'hey, cool, that's my kind of cyclists'.

Followed quickly by 'you know girls, you're going to piss someone off blocking the road like that, and make a bad name for cyclists'. Right on cue, as I got closer, a stressed-out looking woman in her SUV gave them a wide berth with a distinctly irritated look on her face.

I felt a little ashamed chastising the bikers like that, albeit internally. I guess when driving it's hard not to think like a driver.

What do you think, were they inconsiderate or perfectly within their rights? Somewhere in between? Were they creating a positive model of biking, and was the driver just another negative example of North American car-centrism? Or, given the narrow road with no bike lane, should the bikers have made room for cars? Was this a case of citizen cyclists paradoxically claiming the vehicular cycling mantra of 'claim your lane'? How would drivers' reactions (including my own) to them differed in certain bike-friendly European cities? Was I being the ass I strive to oppose, or just being realistic?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Case for Bicycle Infrastructure

This is great, saw it over on Copenhagenize today. Basically a mighty (yet accessible) barrage of international research bits backing up the virtues of bike lanes and cycletracks. Hope it trickles down to all the dark, musty places where the idea somehow still lurks that somehow bike lanes - especially protected lanes - are somehow a bad idea or not worth the investment.

Someone in DC might want to pass this along to new DDOT Director Terry Bellamy.

Much of the rest of the world including quite a bunch of (presumably) smart people seem to have come to the conclusion cycle lanes and cycle tracks are very much worth every penny.