Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bicycle-Friendly Infrastructure, Education, and Stupid People

Stumbled across this excellent quote from the WashCycle:

"Sharrows imply that cyclists are not allowed on other roads"

Do they? I used to hear this same argument about bike lanes. And drivers also think that a bike path means we should not be in the road. I suppose cycletracks could imply the same thing, no?

That people are stupid is not an argument against them.

Not to overcharge this, but people used to argue that dressing a certain way implies that a woman is "asking for it" but we know that she is not.

This same argument has also been used to undermine Share The Road signs, which we know have issues concerning standard lane width and true sharing (in the sense that bikes and cars cannot co-exist within a 11-12' lane considering the 3' passing law). But clear majorities would agree that, overall, there is a net positive in STR for on-road awareness.

It has also been argued that some drivers interpret STR as not applying to them - just to the bicyclist.

Excellent quote continued:

We can't make decisions on what the ignorant are going to imply from those decisions. We have to make the decisions that are best and then try to educate people.

Words of wisdom!

Here is the latest Delaware Driver Manual (pdf), available both on-line and in print. Check out the sections on bicycling, which offer tips for both drivers and cyclists to promote understanding and help all of us to safely share the roads. And because it is used in the schools, it is promoting a more enlightened generation of motorists and cyclists. Most info related to bicycles can be found starting on page 93 under “Other Highway Users”. The manual was updated as a result of Delaware’s recent Vulnerable Road Users Law, which offers enhanced legal protections for bicyclists, as well as other non-motorized users of the public right of way.

Will this alone increase respect for bicyclists as legitimate road users? Not likely. But it is a major step in the right direction. We also need to reform the driver license renewal process to include re-education, increase many fold the liabilities for striking a non-motorized road user, and enforce distracted driving penalties commensurate with DUI. Only then would I feel safer sharing the road with Delaware drivers, some of whom spend more time looking at their i-pad, i-phone, i-whatever, than through the windshield.

That said, a huge tip of the helmet to Amy Wilburn and the Delaware Bicycle Council, and to Anthony Aglio, the State Bicycle Coordinator, for pushing through the above reforms in what amounted to a wonderfully cooperative effort with DMV. Delaware cannot, and should not be ranked highly as a Bicycle Friendly State without taking a holistic approach to bicycle safety, as found in other state's advocacy organizations. This includes education, enforcement, and the encouragement of roads - not just Trails and Pathways - as a means of multi-modal transportation. We salute those of you out there working tirelessly to make this happen.

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