Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cyclist Converses with Motorist, Part II

As promised, here's the second part of the interview with the slightly fictional "Motorist". The disclaimer from the previous entry applies here, too.

The roads are full of cars. Why don't you ride on the sidewalk?
I believe it's called a "sidewalk" for a reason. A sidewalk is meant for pedestrians to walk on, not for wheeled vehicles. In many communities, you will actually see signs posted that bicycles, Rollerblades, and skateboards are prohibited from sidewalk use. The space is often too uneven, narrow, or punctuated with obstacles to safely allow for riding.
I, myself, was on Nicollet Mall once, trying to get back onto the street, when a Minneapolis Police vehicle rolled up and informed me that I wasn't allowed on the sidewalk. I politely said I was attempting to figure out where I was and how to get back onto the street safely. They let me hop the curb onto the street in front of their vehicle and I was off like a shot before they could think of an excuse to detain me.

Okay, what about the bike paths? Couldn't you just stick to those?
The Twin Cities metro area has a wonderful network of bike paths and trails, and I love this area for that. However, wouldn't you get bored if you drove the same roads all the time, every day? How often do you end up at the end of your drive to work or the supermarket, and not remember the drive there? Dangerous for you and for the other drivers around you. To stave off boredom, vary training program needs, hit different landmarks and shops, and to view different scenery, cyclists mix up where they ride. Riders who love to ride the roads will often hit a favorite paved trail, too.

I never know how a cyclist is going to behave or where they're going when I pass them on the road. This makes me really nervous, what can I do?
Be alert. You don't know how the person in the car next to you on the highway is going to behave, or where they're going, do you? Yet you're comfortable driving there. One of the requirements of riding a bike on the road is riding in a safe, predictable manner and using hand turn signals. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen and there are careless cyclists out there, just like there are careless drivers. Again, stay alert and look around for that cyclist that may be in your blind spot(s).

Since they're riding bikes, cyclists don't pay the same taxes I do because I drive a car and buy gasoline. Since my taxes are paying for the roads, I should be able to use the road and cyclists shouldn't.
*snort* I'm curious, do you really believe that?
Nearly every cyclist that I know drives an automobile. We [cyclists] pay gas taxes, property taxes, renter's tax, sales tax, liquor taxes, should I continue? I assure you, we do pay the same taxes.
I will point out the vast conspiracy (shh!) for bikes to take over the world, as reported by the New York Times Spokes Blog on August 5, 2010. First the streets, then the world! As Matt Hill tweeted in response to the SpokesNYT (spokesnyt) August 5 entry, "Phase 1: Collect underpants." Are you laughing yet? I hope no one is taking this Dan Maes seriously, as his statements about the instituting of bike policies are absolutely ludicrous.

Cars and trucks were on the roads first, thus bikes don't belong on the road.
Ah, a history lesson, yummy! Actually, roads were originally paved to better accommodate the huge boom in bicycling in the 1890's (The Golden Age of Bicycles). That, and the bicycle and the horse and wheeled buggy were the two main forms of private transportation just before the invention of the automobile. To make these forms of transport easier, roads began to be graded and smoothed (Wikipedia, Bicycle History). So, bicycles have been around longer than automobiles and you have the bicycle to thank for the idea that roads should be smoothly paved and graded. ^_^

And that's it, for now. I hope you've found this two-part series educational, informative, and humorous. If you have a question that you'd like me address, leave me a comment or shoot me message through this blog.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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