Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Ideas

There are a number of recent bicycling posts/news that I found interesting. But not just interesting in passing - this is a snapshot of the state of cycling in the US (and the world). For most of us, the bicycle is in transition - part transportation, part hobby, part trend, part sustainability strategy - and all riddle. So many questions to be solved! How do you integrate it into the existing transportation system? How do you help new bicyclists ride comfortably and safely? How do you talk to critics? What are the children going to think? What are the implications for society or the environment? Can bicycles become part of everyday life for the average American? Is cycling practical, cool, or both?

In Savannah, GA, bloggers wonder why officials don't take responsible motoring as seriously as responsible cycling. A new bicycle facility is tagged as an occasion to warn riders to obey traffic laws and practice safety tips. But the recent opening of a new "parkway" (actually the conversion of a street into a pseudo-freeway and making bicycle travel much more dangerous in the area) did not elicit the same discussion about unsafe driving practices.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog highlighted some of the debate over bicyclist behavior, particularly people who ride the wrong way in a bicycle lane or general purpose lane. While the dangers are well documented, the fact is that many people don't know the traffic laws for cycling and have misperceptions about safe and unsafe behavior. Is it time to develop universal cyclist education?

From Let's Go Ride a Bike (Chicago and Nashville), we got basic tips for riding to work in a suit. The post is notable not only for the good advice, but also for the amount of attention and range of questions it attracted from potential or new bicycle commuters.

Finally, from the global perspective, there was an article on the fixie movement in China. In this country where Dutch-style bicycles are a utilitarian but unglamorous form of transport, and thousands of new cars are added to the road each day, can bicycle culture ever take off?

And finally, in Atlanta, a promising sign...carrying your pizza home by bicycle! A lovely Bianchi, by the way.


  1. Good post. Thank you.

    I grew up in a small city in NH during the 60s and recall the local police department taking time to teach us kids the bicycle 'rules of the road' in Elementary School. Back then, a large percentage of kids biked to school by the 4th grade, so learning how to respond to traffic on a bicycle was fundamental safety training. It was only one school day dedicated to cycling safety, and it has stuck with me ever since.

    Now, I don't know if this sort of training is available to the children of metro-Atlanta, but it would be a good place to start instilling good road behavior. ABC has good training programs on city cycling as well. Even creating a downloadable PDF of the Rules would be a place to start. (I need to contact ABC to see what I can offer to help educate kids, (and adults), in this regard).

  2. scootia, I love the idea of bicycle training in school! There are a few schools that do this through the federally-funded Safe Routes to School program, but the program is very competitive and most schools miss out. Wouldn't it be great if the feds offered some sort of incentive to schools that provided walking and bicycling education, even just a short workshop? Or extra funding for schools where more than X percent of kids can pass a safe cycling test?

    Brilliant and needed. I am a big fan of ABC and highly recommend their classes. A kids class would be awesome. So would a manual. ABC does have a short "How To" on bike commuting and a PDF version, but I know they would love some help updating it and really making it stand out!

  3. Great! I'll contact Rebecca and volunteer my services as an illustrator/graphic designer. Hopefully, someone might be interested in copy writing the booklet. There may be a sponsor out there who would be willing to underwrite the printing costs.

    I really feel that to effect change you have to start educating early, before bad habits set in. The more enjoyable the learning experience, the better the lessons stick.