Friday, December 11, 2009

This what I'm dealing with here - Bicycling in the BCS

Ok. Take a look at this article from our local news station

For those of you who aren't familiar with our area, Texas Ave is the main thoroughfare through town.

Now. Take a look at the comments to the article. THIS is what I'm dealing with! I'm going to need another massage...


Ruthie said...

Ack!!! I only made it through a few before gritting my teeth and closing the page!

Have fun on your trip!

SLK said...

Wow. The last comment I read had to be written by a real brainiac. NOT. Lord, help us! It's the one that said that bike riders don't contribute to road maintenance. Ack!

I won't be riding my bike on TX Ave, and I have to agree with the folks that commented to install a bike lane or bike path if they're serious about being more bike-friendly.

Beany said...

WTF?!? You are an adult, you can be the judge of your own safety!

Maybe someone should send these people this video because driving is so goddamn safe:

Heather @ SGF said...

Ruthie - Bad isn't it? At least there were a few sane comments in there somewhere...

SLK - Yeah, an motorcycles don't use a much gas so they're not paying their share either, until these people realize we're not causing the road damage their SUVs and Hummers are causing.

The thing is Texas Ave was JUST redone and we were pretty upset that not a single bike lane was put in. Until there is, we need some serious awareness for drivers and bikers. Maybe I should try to talk the local news station into doing an interview with local bike advocates about this....

Beany - Wow! That hurt just watching it :)

Tammy said...

I think even the police hate patrolling Texas is a real problem. I wouldn't say that riding a bicycle is the problem, the road is, though. To be honest, every vehicle that takes on Texas Ave has to be ready for anything. I have to slam on my brakes constantly because little cars think that they can dart in front of big trucks(I have to drive a large truck to deliver my products). I mean, the larger the vehicle, the more weight and the greater the distance needed to stop...truly, people don't get it.
If people actually followed the rules, the laws, then maybe everyone could be relatively safe.
To my mind, the greater problem is that society moves too fast. We have to do things faster just to keep up(sometimes, just to make a living). If we were living 200 years ago, the pace would be much different, the world would be quieter. The food would be local, people would be more genuine and things would be different. We, as a society, gave that up for faster, more, and bigger. Now, almost every member of a family has to work to support the family(more than chores--usually more than a 40 hour work week). We've given up time, nature, trees, empty fields...
If I knew how to fix it, I would. I would say we are trapped in a sort of slavery...freedom in name only.

Gil said...

Legal or not, I wouldn't ride my bike down Texas Ave, or many other busy streets here in town. I think bikers have a brain and can think for themselves if they want to take the risk.

Yea! for Katie Marie Lyles who seems to be the only council member that has critical thinking ability.

For a town with a large biking population, there's not very many practical biking paths. Sure, there some great paved bike trails going through the parks if your going on a leisurly bike ride, but you can't really get to anywhere on them if your using your bike for transportation - like going to work, to the grocery store, farmer's market, etc.

There are tons more people wanting to ride bikes these days: it's healthier, cheaper, conserves fuel, and is better on the environment. Times are tough... for some, it may be their ONLY way around. If the COCS was really serious about promoting bike transportation and making it safer, they would create some type of bike path that parallels Texas so you could actualy get to someplace practical in a safe manner. It wouldn't even have to be right off on Texas Ave, it could parallel off a block or two.

I think I've already spent my 2 cents. Be safe.

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - I think that's what I like about walking and biking: that it's a slower pace than the rest of life. I find that when I drive, I'm agitated, angry. But when I bike or walk, no matter what the temperature, I arrive refreshed and feeling good.

Gil - I think most bikers don't really want to bike on Texas Ave much. I do from time to time on sections because it's the most convenient way to get from one road to the next without going miles out of my way. It sure would have been nice if they'd have put in a bike path after all that construction, but you're right. A parallel path that wasn't actually on the road would be much better.

I bike on other major roads - 29th Street, Booneville, etc. It's not always pleasurable and I get yelled at a lot, but I think public education would help some of this from both the bikers and the drivers perspective. It's not that I'm trying to exert my rights at the cost of drivers. I just want to be able to get from Point A to Point B safely. I don't think drivers think about that. It's like we're just out there to annoy them.

Something else I think is key is that when a driver happens to KNOW someone who bikes, they're less likely to yell or get angry because there's a personal connection. We need more of that. That's why I think education is so important.

Anyway, you're right. CS has made some paths thankfully, but they are all recreational. Nothing has been done for people who actually commute, run errands, etc on a daily basis. But maybe if more of us get out there, people will have to respond to the need.

Chris said...

(I commented on that story)

I'm not sure if any of you were at the CS hike & bike master plan re-write meetings, but at one of them, the question came up about riding on Texas. The city folk there said it was indeed illegal. An attendee stood up and said he knew a rider that was ticketed, and who protested and won a dismissal because the restriction was not allowed in the first place. If there is truth to that, I wonder how much it played a part in the final decision.

Tammy, I might add in response to your idea about society being to fast: We are too spread out. We have been convinced that suburbia and suburban neighborhood design is more comfortable and safer (and, really, cheaper). And if the alternative is bad urbanism, it's true. The problem is that too few cities are willing to work toward good urbanism, the kind that gets people closer to where they work, shop, and play.

Our problem in CS is design. We built (or, more accurately, allowed to be built) a city that DEPENDS on Texas Ave. There will be no solution until there are fewer & shorter car trips. How we achieve that is the real question.

Texas Ave is seriously unsafe for cars, bikes, and pedestrians. I'm doing a small part in making it safer by cycling to work and getting my car out of the mix.

As for safety, I'm WAY more interested in teaching cyclists to properly use a vehicle lane, esp. on roads like Texas (and even going as "medium" sized as Southwest Pkwy). Cyclists who "own the lane" (as is proper), are really not in much danger unless they have no lights at night. I get a lump in my throat every time I see someone trying to hug the side of a lane on a busy road, communicating to the cars that they should try to squeeze by. This is a bigger issue. Cycles are vehicles, and are allowed on almost any road (notable exception is Interstate freeways). Their safety thereon should not be delegated to legislation, but to communities like this one where we can spread ideas. Please (whoever is reading this) have a conversation with any cyclist you know about where to ride in a non-bike-lane situation. Raise awareness that "sharing the road" most often means "owning the lane".

Heather @ SGF said...

Chris- Great points! I'm glad to hear you commented on the article and delighted to hear from another BCS biker!

You may remember, there used to be no-bike signs along Texas Ave. The city had to take them down because it's a state funded road and they can't pass an ordinance like that. What the council did the other night was really nothing more than having the ordinance removed from the books. But the back-lash of comments it created was unbelievable.

We need more education on both sides - for bikers and for drivers. But we could also use a whole lot more compassion from drivers.

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