Bike lanes

When I was in college and grad school, I rode my bike all over campus. It was fairly easy to do so in those places: there were some bike lanes, there wasn’t a lot of car traffic on campus, and there wasn’t much anti-bicyclist sentiment.

When I lived in Eugene, Oregon, I rode my bike all over town. It was supremely easy to do there. Eugene is criss-crossed with bike lanes, which bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians respect. Eugene is also home to the Center for Appropriate Transport, an awesome organization that promotes human-powered transportation. I bought my human-powered bicycle lights (which I love) there.

Since I moved to the bike-unfriendly Mid-Atlantic, I haven’t done much riding. I’ve enjoyed taking Sylvia to school via bike, but that ride doesn’t involve navigating any busy roads. The thought of riding on local highways without bike lanes and with drivers who are at best ignorant about bicycling and at worst hostile to it is one that fills me with dread.

When we were in the Netherlands in April, I saw people riding bikes all over the place. We borrowed bikes from relatives a few times and did some riding ourselves (with Sylvia riding like all Dutch passengers do: sitting on the luggage rack in back and holding on to the biker—and with no one wearing helmets). I loved it. Only the realization that I’d never be able to use them stopped me from buying some cool grocery-sized saddles bags for my bike. (I did, however, get a new bell for my bike. Sylvia got one for hers, too. She was very adamant that we get matching bells.)

Our Dutch relatives were surprised to learn how difficult safe bicycling can be in most U.S. cities. Perhaps I should send them this video. Then they’d understand.


5 Responses to “Bike lanes”

  1. Deborahon 11 Jun 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I totally agree with you. I saw that video the other day and thought it was awesome. It truly is unsafe to ride in the designated bike lanes. I really want to get a bike but am so afraid to ride in the streets here in NYC.

  2. Jeanon 13 Jun 2011 at 12:47 am

    We’ve got a “Give me 3 [feet]” campaign here in L.A., with the mayor wanting to make the rule into law. Biking’s been getting better here, but I still don’t venture out because I’m worried about the drivers out there, esp in SUVs, not looking out.

  3. Kenon 20 Jun 2011 at 10:48 am

    The bike lanes out here are really nice. In addition to the bike lanes we have bike paths that run along the canals (and unfortunately under the power lines :-P) that are really nice. I try to do a long ride Saturday morning on this trail near my house. The only down side is the electrical shocks I get at certain points where the power lines are very close and it seems to conduct through my bike! The law here stipulates that you must give bicyclists “3 feet”, but I don’t know of anyone who’s received a ticket for driving in the bike lane.

  4. Marshaon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve heard of a number of cities that have a “three feet” policy. The problem is that most car drivers are either ignorant of that policy or outright antagonistic toward bicyclists. :( But I’m optimistic about the future of urban bicycling: if it can happen in NYC (where it’s growing by leaps and bounds, by most accounts), it can happen anywhere!

  5. Chrison 12 Oct 2011 at 3:10 am

    Try biking across the country. Missouri was far and away the worst state.