Sunday, April 07, 2019


Instapundit linked to this from Top Gear.

They are beloved because they don't burn petrol, and provide exercise in addition to their transportation function.  But around here they are seldom actual transportation.  I am of federalist and libertarian bent, so I approve of Seattle and Boston and Miami making their own decisions about bicycles, not caring a fig for what I say. Colleges, which create their own urban densities and have  lots of young exercising people with short-distance transportation needs, should be able to arm-wrestle with their local governments about regulations as well.

Yet the arguments in favor of making the public thruways bicycle-friendly are an excellent example of logical ideas that look great at first, but evaporate one step later.  Cyclists' taxes go to the construction and upkeep of roads, why shouldn't they benefit as well?  Yes, fine, but the same could be said about airport runways and train tracks.  The reasons we would not insist cyclists could use those would be the same for cars. Plus, we did not upgrade those roads to current standards for bicyclists. That the smoothness and directness are also useful for them is a by-product.

Saving oil?  Fairly negligible.  Decreasing congestion?  A good point, yet at what cost to safety?  But isn't the safety issue mostly the fault of huge heavy cars and trucks, risk borne by the vulnerable two-wheeled driver? Another almost-good point.  I would say you can't have that both ways.  If your argument is that you are bearing the primary risk, then fine, it's your risk, and I don't want to hear any more about it.  But if you think accommodations should be made beyond an obvious minimum for cyclists, then accommodations. You are now affecting others and their choices.

The width of roads was built for "autos plus a bit." Bicycles have lived in the bit.  They want more "bit," which I can understand, because it is safer for them.  I consider that a small cost on many roads. Glad to let them get the extra bit. Yet as soon as one gets to intersections and turns - which I think is unavoidable - the car-bicycle interaction gets quickly more complicated.  I have yet to fully get how bicycle lanes make things better at those points.

I seldom encounter commuter cyclists.  What I see are recreational cyclists, who think they should be able to tee off on - no, I'm sorry, those are golfers; jet ski across - no I'm sorry that's recreation on the water; cast their lines across - no, that's fishermen;  set up a deer stand on - no, that's hunting; put up bleachers, shelves, picnic benches - no, those are other recreational choices - on the roads because...well, because.  Because they are exercising on outmoded-design vehicles and aren't burning coal, I suppose, so we should therefore defer to them.

My experience is that I have to thread the needle with my car - which the road was designed for - to avoid hitting them or infringing into the lane of another large vehicle. The complaints that they are rude and don't follow the rules of the road may be so, but that is not my experience.  My experience is people on speedy but fragile unprotected bits of metal, singly or in groups, taking up dangerous amounts of my lane.


Eric said...

Argh. Cyclists. They are the *worst*. Having been a regular cyclist in the past, and being well aware that Physics Is Not Your Friend as a cyclist, it appalls me no end to see the sheer gall of the cyclists here in the Pacific Northwet. I've seen cyclists run red lights in front of traffic on multiple occasions. I've also seen cyclists pass cars on the right *while the cars were signaling a right turn*. I've also been nearly ridden over when some cyclist decided to ignore the waving flag, marked crosswalk, and *stopped traffic* as I was crossing the street.

Christopher B said...

The main problem bicycle riders pose to drivers is, as Eric describes, they constantly switch between seeing themselves as vehicles and pedestrians, and do so without warning. Motorcyclists do something similar.

Grim said...

Bicycles are, indeed, the worst. A motorcycle can keep up with vehicular traffic. A pedestrian can keep pace with his fellows. A bicycle is a hazard on both the street and the sidewalk.

stevo said...

I used to love bicycling at high speeds through traffic, when I was young and immortal. One thing I didn't have back then was the conviction that I was morally superior by virtue of my smaller carbon footprint.