- Published: Sunday, 13 July 2014 08:24
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Bike Lanes and a False Sense of Security
Bike lanes, particularly those that are segregated from the road, give a false sense of security to their users. People who ride only on bike lanes pay little attention to proper riding technique and depend on the bike lane to convey them to their destination in safety. Bike lanes do not compel cyclists to obey rules—they can ride any way they want to because they are segregated from other users. They do not help cyclists to develop the confidence to ride on the road among motorized vehicles, to develop the instincts and skills that will enable them to defend themselves against bad driving and other real road hazards. Bike lanes may attract more people to ride their bicycles leisurely, but they will not necessarily make them good cyclists and confident bicycle commuters, which is the prime goal of sustainable transport advocacy.
The sixth annual clean air forum of the Partnership for Clean Air, Inc., a network of clean air advocates, of which the Firefly Brigade is a member, showed that pollution is becoming ...
This false sense of security is not helped by badly designed bike lanes. Bike lanes on sidewalks are one of the worst ideas of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The Marcos Highwaysidewalk bike lane presents various hazards to cyclists who use them (whether they do so willingly or are forced to do so by traffic aides and cops). They vary from deep drop offs to large obstructions to uneven or cracked pavement, forcing them to take evasive action, even to get off the bike lane. Bike lanes on sidewalks also force cyclists to stop and even to walk their bikes when they get to intersections, an unnecessary impediment to cyclists’ progress. These impediments would not be tolerated in the case of motorized vehicles.
Cyclist Education, not Bike Lanes
Many commuting cyclists already ride on the road even without bike lanes; experience has been their teacher. The Firefly Brigade has always prioritized cyclist education to get more people into utilitarian cycling; education and proper training shorten and smooth out the learning curve on how to ride safely. Unfortunately, infrastructure is the big money ticket that attracts the government‘s transportation and traffic bureaucracy.
In many forums sponsored by these agencies, the agenda always includes bike lanes, never education. We also like bicycle infrastructure—secure bike parking facilities, showers and changing rooms for commuter cyclists, access ramps on stairways, etc. All these contribute to encouraging bike commuting. But only training and education will ingrain the confidence and the willingness that will enable cyclists to handle the myriad road conditions and the bad driving that they must deal with in their commute.
Read more articles by Mon Fernan and know more about his thoughts on cycling in the country in his blog "Padyakero".
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