Responsible and educated goes both ways
As I said in a previous column, no driver wants to hit a cyclist and no cyclist wants to get hit.
It is stating the obvious that cyclists want more dedicated street space and surveys have shown pedestrians (especially in urban areas) concur that it’s a good way to get bikes off the sidewalks.
Those same surveys show that motorists agree.
Protected lanes, painted lanes and conventional bike lanes all work to make drivers more aware of cyclists and cyclists’ behavior more predictable.
There is less potential for conflict if each has his own space.
Generally speaking, drivers’ concerns about cycling predictability have not been sufficiently recognized.
But many drivers see losing some parking or even an entire lane as a trade-off they don’t like and ignore the benefits they will get from separating cars and bikes.
As a driver, I understand how nerve-wracking it can be to encounter a group of cyclists, whether on a suburban street or a country road. Does that guy in red know I’m behind him? Is that woman rolling up to the stop sign really going to stop?
Being a cyclist, I don’t find the behavior of most cyclists erratic but most non-riding drivers would rather just not have to share the road with them.
Each needs to think more like the other. Since most cyclists are drivers, too, this shouldn’t be too hard for them.
Here are a few definitions to clarify what we are talking about.
Protected lanes have physical separation (curbs, bollards, etc.) from cars but are part of the roadway (as opposed to a separate bike path). They are exclusively for bikes.
Multi-use paths (MUPs) are for riding, running, walking, skating, etc. They are not part of the roadway.
Buffered lanes have some vertical object defining them, at least once per block.
Painted lanes are conventional bike lanes and are part of the roadway but are painted (usually green) to help define them.
Bike boxes are green “boxes” indicating where cyclists should wait for the light to change, usually at the front of the lane, especially left-turn lanes.
On the highway, we try to separate fast- from slow-moving traffic, recognizing “the fast lane” and “the slow lane.”
Bicycles are the slow-moving traffic and giving them a designated place to ride will make everyone happier, less stressed and safer.
Responsible and educated riders signal properly, obey traffic signs and signals, and ride carefully.
That sounds like the definition of a responsible and educated driver, too.
Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.