Biker education demand on the rise

Paul Dorn blogged some interesting comments about a story in the Christian Science Monitor on the sharply rising demand for rider education and the struggles communities are having providing it. He argues that government should provide the training in large part because their traffic planners caused the problem by emphasizing vehicle speed over any other considerations.

Dorn’s correct, government should play an important role, as should schools, businesses and advocacy organizations. Cyclist safety instruction should be included in driver ed programs and knowledge tested on driving permit and license applications. Maybe that will help us make the roads safer and more share-able.

Commuting is just plain fun

Even though my station commute is short, less than 1 1/2 mile, I just love it. It wasn’t so at first because of using the wrong bike, worries about theft, and realizing I had to ride on the sidewalk for safety. The road I take provides access to I-95 from both sides. With drivers being single-minded about getting on from narrow East Avenue – no breakdown lane or margin of any type – it’s the wisest course, but one that took getting accustomed. I always followed the concept that bicycles are vehicles and must obey road rules. Over time I learned I’m not the only one, just about every cyclist rides the East Ave sidewalk.

Starting the day with a short ride, enjoying the summer air, clearing the mind, and avoiding an unpleasant station drive puts me in a great frame of mind. The rituals of locking the bike, taking off the helmet and ankle strap and then reversing all that for the ride home bring daily pleasure.

Obeying Traffic Laws, Especially Stops and Lights

Through my commuting and shopping trips I’ve come to acknowledge the value of obeying stop signs, traffic signals and crosswalk indicators. Though I’m tempted to cross on the “red pedestrian” it’s really best not to because, on the busy street I commute on during evening rush, cars come out of nowhere and they’re not expecting cyclists. Patience is a virtue. I’m hoping that my behavior signals to motorists that cyclists are respectful and should be treated respectfully.

Bikes and cars, from NY Times article

Bikes and cars, from NY Times article

The NY Times had a great story on the tensions between cars and cyclists that sums up a lot of the issues. I was disappointed to read, however, that one Texan stopped commuting after a road rage incident left him broken, bloodied and bruised.

Encourage Local Business to Support Bikers

The Hour (Norwalk), my local paper, published my letter on business support for local bikes. If you don’t feel like clicking, here’s the text:

To the Editor

Cycle commuting is starting to take hold in Norwalk and elsewhere. E. Norwalk’s recently installed bike rack handles the parking needs of about 6 commuters each day. As we increase bicycle friendliness, we should augment commuting with using the bike for local trips. Bikes can’t substitute for all errand runs, but swapping out one or more car trips a week can be beneficial. In a bit of irony, I cycled over to the local auto parts store for some things, and on another day I went over to Walgreen’s for sundries. Timewise, it took about as long as a car trip, but it was far more pleasant. But our ability to shop by bike is limited due to a shortage of bike racks at retail and office sites.

Local businesses should support, attract and accommodate cyclists, and view them as customers whose visits can ring the register in these difficult economic times. After all, when people spend less on gas more money is available for other purchases. A handful of local stores in Norwalk, like Stew Leonard’s, understand the value of bike racks for meeting customer needs and their abilities to create preference among customers. As Norwalkers, tell businesses where you would like a rack installed. And Norwalk businesses, ask your customers if they would like the cycling option.