Monday, 15 February 2016

Vehicular Cycling

Some people advocate for vehicular cycling, John Allen makes videos on that, and writes a blog in the favour of vehicular cycling. John Forester and John Franklin (at least one of my uncles makes up for all the bad Johns in the world) also come to mind, the former in North America and Franklin in Britain.

What vehicular cycling has done is terrible, and it's set us back for a very long time, probably since the 1970s, in terms of asking for good cycle routes away from large numbers or high speed of motor traffic. Believe it or not, a lot of people were asking for cycling in the 1970s, just like in the Netherlands with their Stop de Kindermoord campaign. We even had a legitimate shot at having protected intersections everywhere.

If you need to ride on the roadways, then the concept isn't' terrible, problem is, who is willing to do it? And what good will it do to prevent mistakes and reduce the literal and metaphorical impact of any mistakes that do happen? I've used the technique a couple times when there isn't anywhere else to ride, but on anything other than minor residential streets with not too much traffic, it's never been pleasant. But the advocates of vehicular cycling go a step further and saying we shouldn't build cycle paths

What do vehicular cycling advocates usually ask for on the roads if they don't ask for separate paths? Generally wide curbside lanes designed so that you would have about 1-1.5 metres on the right hand side of the road and about 3 metres closer to the middle of the road. First off, if you're going to have a 4.5 metre wide curbside lane, why would you not want a 3 metre wide travel lane and 1.5 metre wide bike lane? It at least lets the police fine drivers for staying too close. But don't get me wrong, a bike lane like that would be quite bad. Vehicular cyclists also ask for paved shoulders around the same width, between 1.2-1.5 metres, sometimes 2 metres with a rumble strip on the edge line. If I had to cycle along a rural road, than a shoulder like that would be an improvement, but is still nowhere even remotely close to enough.

Often vehicular cyclists suggest sharrows where the cyclists are intended to be. The only potential practical use of this that the Dutch might use an equivalent of would be on fietsstraaten marking where the cycleway goes, but even then that job is usually taken up by a surface of red asphalt leading the way.

Vehicular cycling and the right to use each road in the province is essential now where there isn't any alternative, but I want to make it clear. I ride like a car on the roads I cycle on not because I want to, but because the city and province fails to consider me as a person who has the same need of protection from motor traffic as anyone else. I take the sidepath when I have the ability to use it because a car is equally as capable of causing collisions whether I'm wearing high viz or not, whether I'm riding in the middle of the lane or not. And many roads I avoid just because they do meet my threshold for when I won't ride a bike anymore. I have the ability to chose how I get around. I have the time and access to money to use the bus, I could be driving around if I wanted to, I have the license to ride a moped now and I will be 16 pretty soon and I have only parking to practice for the road test, and if I really needed I could get a car and the gas to keep it running. I am not going to get a car because I don't want one, and besides, why would I call attention to people who keep an excessive number of cars if I were to have 3 cars that I could drive? Not everyone has that choice, or the ability to handle the stress it causes, meaning that not everyone has the ability to avoid cycling on dangerous roads and not everyone has the ability to get out of their cars and just ride or take the bus.

Go ask your grandmother if she's still alive, go interview your kids if you have any, if not, then go interview the nearest one whether they would like to ride a bike on a nice bicycle path or right in the middle of a 60 km/h (with speeders) 20 thousand vehicle per day roadway? It's not fair to those who can't ride any other way than without motor traffic constantly at their tails to fail to create such conditions on the routes that they need to use to get from home to work, school, shops, professional services, healthcare, religious assemblies, etc,

When will people see the light, shed their biases and remember what they once considered was normal cycling just 30-40 years ago?

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