Cycling is a passion; or rather, it can become one. Passion is one of those words that is not easy to explain, although Wikipedia has an explanation as good as any I’ve seen.
It has to be experienced to really know what it is. Cycling has become a passion when someone rides a bike for no other reason than to experience the joy of riding a bike. If you have a passion for something in life, you are truly living. Without passion, a person is simply existing.
People who say, “Cyclists shouldn not be on the road because it is dangerous,” just don’t get it. It is like telling a surfer it is dangerous to go into the ocean because of shark attacks, the surfer who is passionate about surfing is not going to stop.
It is not that cyclists and surfers are crazy, foolhardy, with little regard for their life. In fact, the opposite is true; if one has a passion for life, the last thing that person wants is to end it. On the other hand, if one cannot engage in their passion, they are no longer living anyway. Life becomes a pointless existence.
Passion can include anger, especially if someone suggests I should not pursue my passion, which happens to be riding my bike on the road. It is a road bike after all, and just as a surfer must surf in the ocean, a road bike must be ridden on the road.
On a website named Bike Iowa, is a strange piece by a no doubt, very educated man. He is John Pucher, PhD, professor of urban planning and transportation in The Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
His advice starts: “Exercising outdoors is great fun and good for your health, but it can also be downright dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of walkers, runners and cyclists are injured on our roads each year, and thousands are killed.”
A strange way to encourage people to ride bikes in Iowa. (I’m assuming that is the purpose of a website named “Bike Iowa.”) Later he gives this advice to cyclists: “Whenever possible, ride on a trail, paved shoulder, bike lane or bike route, or on a traffic-calmed street, where there are fewer cars and speeds are low.”
Professor Pucher seems to favor segregation of bicycles and automobiles judging by articles he has published; however, is segregation the answer? You cannot segregate the whole country, or a whole city for that matter, automobiles and bicycles have to come together at some point. How can people learn to coexist by segregating them?
Spending millions of dollars on special bike paths, only reinforces the view that cyclists don’t belong on the road. The moment you build a bike path, it is then taken over by joggers, moms with baby strollers, dog walkers, and the rest. I am not suggesting these people don’t have rights also, but where do you stop the segregation?
Professor Pucher also states, “Walking and cycling can be made safe; they are roughly five times safer in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.” The difference is due to safer facilities and more considerate driving and not safer behavior by pedestrians and cyclists though of course, we can all start there.”
The reason cycling is safer in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is because there are more cyclists. Granted you have to make the roads safer to encourag people to ride, to get more cyclists on the road.
The problem today in the USA automobile drivers are not thinking about cyclists, and are surprised every time they come upon one. When you have nearly as many bicycles on the road as cars, a motorist cannot help but be aware of cyclists.
More bikes, less cars; everyone slows down and they still get to their destination quicker because of less congestion. Another factor in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is that almost everyone driving a car, at some time other rides a bike; hence the more considerate driving.
Professor Pucher would appear to be a friend of cycling, but is he passionate about cycling? On the other hand, is he just passionate about urban planning?
I found the article via this post