Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

More Worrying About the Wrong Things

The Star-Tribune writes about suburban bicycle efforts. MNDOT officials are quoted advocating for both wide shoulders and some segregated facilities, noting the difficulties of weaving them into well-established urban and suburban areas.

Meanwhile, the interviewed cyclist uses quiet streets, but she and the article lament dedicated bikelanes and trails for ‘less experienced’ riders. Meanwhile, this paragraph stands out:

“It just scares me to death seeing kids go down Interlachen [Boulevard] on their bikes; it’s so narrow,” she said, talking on her cell phone from her car. “Oh … I just passed one of my daughter’s friends. She’s going the wrong way on the road on her bike, talking on her cell phone. It’s not a real bright thing to do.”

Let’s examine what’s wrong with this paragraph, shall we? She’s driving while using her cell phone (automatic inattentive driving penalty), and the friend is riding the wrong way on a bicycle, also on a cell phone.

Arguably, kids have always done what they will, regardless of ‘dedicated’ bikeways. This isn’t an argument for bikeways. It’s an argument for teaching them what to do, and do properly, on a roadway. And being surrounded by adults on cell phones at every instant — including while driving — is not a good modeling behavior.

Luckily, the article isn’t all aggravating. Edina cyclists put a stop to a bicycle ‘trail’ that would have crossed 60 driveways (!) in 2 miles. Cities are bringing 4-lane roads to 3 lanes, and leaving wide shoulders, even if they aren’t striped as ‘bike lanes’ because some aren’t a full 5 feet wide (federal requirement), but only top out at 4 feet (perfectly adequate). They cite traffic calming, as well as cycling-friendliness, as motivators.

My core objection to this article is that the cyclist who is exhibiting poor modeling behavior, and her concerns, take the center stage and the first column inches. The rest of the article is far more balanced and educational, and speaks to Minnesota’s attempts to follow good traffic planning principles that view roadway use by cyclists as a goal.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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