Posted by: brokenlinkjournalism | November 12, 2011

A Roadway to the Hinterlands

Proposed law would force cyclists off roads on federal land and onto paths.

Contrary to popular opinion, I would say that this is a good idea.  When I was working in a local bike shop we had customers who routinely came in asking us where it was safe to ride.  And since we all had a proclivity for riding on the open roads, we tended to just point out that riding in the streets is safe.  This response was usually met with a blank stare – if not a look of disdain.

Since I live in a city which has a nice 32-mile off-street bikeway the thought of riding safely anywhere other than this parkway seems foreign to a lot of people.  However, as someone who has ridden on ‘unsafe’ streets before I feel that a safer alternative to the League of American Bicyclists’ stance is to build alternate bikeways adjacent to federally owned roadways.

If you are a cyclist who feels safe riding on the road and have never had an encounter with an irate motorist than just ignore the rest of this paragraph.  If, however, you are like a lot of us cyclists who ride everyday in traffic and through urban environments, take a moment to think about this legislative proposal.  By asking the Federal government to guarantee that all roadways across federal land include a separate bikeway (nor more than 100 feet from the roadway), what is the downside?  By separating bicycles from cars, how is that a bad thing?  Yes it may make us appear to be second-class citizens who are not entitled to the same rights as our metal encrusted brethren.  And yes it may appear that cyclists need special treatment under this proposal.

My experience with quite a few inexperienced cyclists is that they do not know a few “rules of the road.”  These include – at least in California – the right to ride on the street, and operate as a motor vehicle would.  In fact, we ARE essentially traffic.  Therefore if the provision of this law is to eliminate traffic on federally owned roads, why not make a separate bikeway?

I believe that by stipulating that the bikeways must be created for any federally owned roadway equalizes the playing field.  Since cyclists currently have to deal with epitaphs hurled at us to “get off MY road!” or “go play somewhere else!” why not let us do just that?

I say create more bikeways next to federally owned roads.  I would use them at all times.  It would be safer since we wouldn’t have to worry about being run over by some knucklehead.  It would be healthier since the 100 foot buffer would get us out of the exhaust fumes of the internal combustion engines.  It would be much more cost-effective to build a second roadway….oh wait – would it?

Broken Chain

Maybe the solution is not to build a bikeway within the vicinity of a roadway in federally owned lands but to make sure that all persons who travel on a roadway are safe.  You know….enforce the rules that are currently on the books.  Granted this does not create jobs, lower the national tax burden or get politicians elected but if it gets at least one person out of a car and on to a bike – is that so bad?

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