Thursday 5 August 2010

In reply to RebeccaH

Bike lanes are taking a bit of a pasting in Sydney at the moment. It seems everyone is piling on.

To answer Rebecca's query, I'm not sure if this comment that I left at Tim Blair helps:

First off, there are many different “classes” of cyclists. We are not a homogoenous group. Whilst I am happy to ride on busy roads at speed and mix it up with cars, I wouldn’t be keen on my kids doing the same. Would you like your kids to ride to primary school on a dedicated bike path, or do you think they’d survive OK out on a busy road? Many non-cyclists forget that a lot of cyclists are kids - they’re too young to drive. If we don’t want our kids to grow up as tubby little couch spuds, they need to be able to ride their bikes around safely. Even if it’s just down to the footy oval to kick a ball around.

When it comes to adult cyclists, you’ve got different groups as well. You’ve got your speedy fitness fanatic types in lycra with shaved legs - you’ll never seen them on a bike path. It’s not very “pro” - and it’s too slow. Bike paths are beneath them.

Then you have the less speedy commuters like me - possibly in lycra, possibly not, and generally with hairy legs. I’ll use a bike path if it’s there, but am happy to go on road if need be. I’m big enough and hairy enough to take care of myself with the odd aggro driver. I dislike shared paths intensely - I get up to 50km/h on some sections, and it’s a pain having to mix it up with pedestrians, pram pushers and dog walkers who stray off their path and right into my path - when they are travelling at 5km/h. Imagine being on an autobahn at 220km/h and having Trabants doing 80km/h suddenly pull in front of you (this has happened to me). It’s not good to mix traffic which has such large speed differentials. When I’m going to work, I am like any other commuter - I want the trip to be over and done with as quickly as possible. I have the same mentality as a car driver. I want a route that is fast and safe. If I can’t go flat out in a bike lane because it’s not safe at top speed, then I get out of that lane. Show me a motorist commuter who voluntarily drives more slowly to work than they need to and I’ll show you the albino unicorn that I keep in the back shed.

Then you have the plodders - people either out for a weekend cruise, or just popping down to the shops or a cafe (many bike trips are only 1-2km in length - they are local jaunts around where you live). They tonk along slowly, and they might be in family groups. Bike lanes are ideally suited to this group. As this group tends to come out on weekends, that is the busiest time for bike lanes. I’ve been on the Epping Road bike path on a weekend and been amused that the bike path was chockers and the road didn’t have a single vehicle on it.

On a weekday morning, the hard-core fitness fanatics will be up at 5am and home by 7am - which is why you rarely see them. The commuters will all be doing their thing and the weekend warriors will be driving to work in their cars.

Rebecca, not sure if that helps. What are your annoying cyclists wearing?

I know boredom can be a factor if you are doing the same route each day. Here's something I have noticed from commuting - when I drive, I religiously stick to the one route (unless I am diverted by a crash etc). But on the bike, I often mix the route up and try different streets.

Because I'm riding slower than you can drive in a car, I am happy to take quiet back streets - going up a suburban street is generally not much slower than taking a main road, whereas in a car, it can be a lot slower (unless you are one of those idiot rat runners that flog it down back streets and run kids over). The lower bike speed gives you more options.

It could be that the bike trail, however lovely, is just too slow. The trouble with the hippies and greentards that commission these things is that they think trails should wind this way and that so that you "experience nature in full".

When I want to get from A to B, I want to go in as straight a line as possible. I don't want to meander through lush fields and silent forests - I just want to go. Call it the freeway effect if you like - I want a bike path that is no different conceptually to a 4 lane freeway (except that it is narrower). I've ridden on a lot of bike paths where I have been constantly frustrated at having to ride at 30-50% under my normal "fast cruise" pace. It's like driving a car in only first or second gear. You get annoyed with it after a while, and go looking for a route where you can put the hammer down.

Cyclists are busy people too - we have places to go and hamsters to kill.


Anonymous said...

Boab, I note with interest a comment I left in relation to Tim Blair's post about the string of traffic did not make the cut. I just wanted to point out that the cue of "traffic" in the picture was in fact parked cars and that the parking bays were formalised with occasional concrete inserts, garden bits and signs to prevent that section of the road being treated as a clearway during rush hour(s) Thus limiting the option of opening up for bus traffic I guess.

Comment made about the cyclist going against the traffic was therefore wrong as most of the traffic was going away from the camera.

Not conducive to a good argument I suppose


vw: tatum - what a blogger chucks when they don't like the comment?

bh said...

Hey BOAB, maybe of interest ...