Sunday, October 07, 2007

Help me understand this

I'm not a cyclist, so I must be missing something, but can someone help me to understand why the *serious* cyclists won't use the multi-million dollar bike path at Sandy Hook? It's plenty long and wide and has wonderful views of the bay and the holly forest and the ocean dunes. They even routed it through some of our favorite birding spots at the Hook - yet those darn people won't use it and instead insist on putting themselves out in the middle of traffic like they own the road! Do they have some sort of a death wish? Is playing in busy shore traffic part of the allure of cycling?

Please help me understand.

23 comments:

KGMom said...

Wow--that is something. I assume the folks you are talking about are not the ones shown using the bike path.
Maybe it's because we are not as accustomed to bike paths. They are all over the place in Europe (as you know), but the U.S. has been slow to really encourage biking.

LauraHinNJ said...

KGMom: It's mostly used by families and people walking or rollerblading. Maybe that's the problem!

John said...

Maybe routing the trail through good birding areas is part of the problem. There is a lot of foot traffic on parts of the bike path.

Mary said...

Laura,

I don't understand it, either. Cyclists risk their lives on roads without shoulders around here and cause near accidents. There are bike trails.

Delaware wasn't the most progressive state, but they had biker lanes on most roads. I was impressed with that.

Now, I pass serious cyclists and count to ten before I lay on the horn.

Anonymous said...

Pike paths in busy areas can be as or more dangerous to a cyclist going at a good pace. cars can be more predictable then people riding/walking/rollerblading leisurely... add a family or kids in the mix and well. It may just be more of a worry about running someone over on the bike path then it is being run over on the roads

Susan Gets Native said...

Oh, girlfriend. A topic that I can get into.
I HATE bicyclists. HATE them. We have a bike trail here that is like 70 miles long (it used to be a railroad) but there are all these BIKES everywhere on the roads!
And all these signs around here say "Share the Road". Please. Why should motorists have to risk their lives and avoid the damn bikes? If I were to hit someone and kill them, I would have to deal with that for the rest of my life. And the family of the person would hate me. And everyone would be miserable. All for a bike ride?
When I pass a bicyclist, I so want to bump them with my car and send them flying into the bushes.

bunnygirl said...

Serious cyclists need to go fast in order to properly train for events. This can't be done on a bike path full of rollerbladers and little kids.

There's a park here where they close off a loop every day for cyclists to train on, yet there are always moms who bring their little kids out there, which is dangerous to them and to the cyclists. But as taxpayers, they're entitled to use the park, just like anyone else.

In most places, cyclists are entitled to use the roads, just like people in cars. They're supposed to follow the same traffic laws as cars, so if they're not doing so, report them.

But serious cyclists do own cars (often several) and pay road taxes like everyone else. Until and unless the laws change as to who can use the road, they have every right to be there, as long as they're obeying the traffic laws.

And yeah, I'm a cyclist. And yeah, I'm bitter at having my life endangered when I'm engaging in a healthy sport, obeying all the laws, and some asswipe thinks it's okay to shout at me, throw things, swerve at me and otherwise endanger me.

If someone doesn't like the laws, they should lobby to have them changed. I find it a PITA to avoid cyclists on the streets, too, but I respect their right to be there.

As a caveat, though, I think it's pretty stupid to ride a bike on a city street. Most cyclists in training for a charity ride (like an MS ride, a Breast Cancer ride, or for Livestrong) go out to the country roads and start and finish early, before there's much traffic.

Such a shame that with all that we give back to the community, so many people get pissy about meeting us even part way.

Sorry to rant on your blog, Laura, but this touches a nerve.

rcwbiologist said...

Bunnygirl pretty much hit every point I was going to make. I'm a road cyclist and can't train on a bike path unless it doesn't have recreational riders on it, and people walking with their children etc... I haven't ever been on a bike path without recreational riders anywhere I've lived in 3 different states. I used to ride a portion of the bike path in Los Angeles that followed the beach and was not too busy on weekdays. I came around a corner once and someone was letting their 2 year old play ON the bike path. I swerved to miss and ended up with tendinitis in my shoulder from hitting the ground. I missed their kid, but was amazed that they actually started laughing at me after I fell. They didn't even show the least bit of concern that I may be hurt, and didn't seem too concerned either that their child was almost hit. And in every place I live the law says that bikes can be on the road and it is actually encouraged. I've heard many stories like bunnygirls of motorists yelling and throwing things at cyclists. Sorry, but there's really no excuse for that.

LauraHinNJ said...

John: I can imagine how a group of us standing around with our bins might create a problem.

I was so frustrated yesterday because it was my day to open SHBO and all the roads were closed off because of a charity bike ride. The bike path was empty, but I had to drive in circles to get to the center.

Mary: What bugs me is when they ride two astride and force me into oncoming traffic to avoid them!

There aren't many bike lanes like you describe - a few around state parks, but not many.

Anonymous: I hadn't thought of cars as being a more predictable danger than kids, but you're right.

Susan: Oh! I wouldn't go that far, but I have yelled at a few to "get on the damn bike path!"

Yersterday on the long road out to Sandy Hook, whole packs of people on bikes were occupying the right lane, which made it hazardous to turn and fouled up traffic. Then of course there's the big burly guys on motorcycles who don't seem to follow any rules of the road and were weaving in and out of the chaos. All the while the bike path was empty.

Bunnygirl: Rant away, please! It's why I asked. I suspected the issue at Sandy Hook was that the path is considered multi-use, but even some *day-bikers* refuse to use it. I watched a middle age lady yesterday going against the traffic on a narrow two lane stretch of road - eventually it dawned on her that she was going to get run over because there just wasn't any room for her.

I hadn't considered their need for speed, either - totally makes sense what you and anonymous said that cars are more predictable a hazard.

RCWBiologist: That person playing with their kid on the path was just dumb (and unthinking, too).

I feel like it's so easy for drivers to be inconsiderate to one another on the road - never mind pedestrians or people on bikes. I can't count the number of times I've almost been run down in a crosswalk with my dog - it's almost as if you're invisible unless you're in a car.

Part of my issue is not really knowing what rights cyclists have on the road. I often see them occupying the left turn lane on a busy road and wonder what the heck they're doing there? Shouldn't they be on the shoulder?

dguzman said...

Oh man, I always want to "door" 'em--as in open the car door and bump 'em with that. (you know I love to "verb"--making nouns into verbs) I realize that a lot of younger people still think they're immortal, but cutting through traffic, riding in the middle of the road, etc.--it just makes it harder for us mere mortals to survive!

Anonymous said...

as a biker on the road i try and be predicctable and deliberate. Ignoring the fact that we're supposed to obey the rules of the road let me pose this question to you:

Would you be more surprised by a cyclist coming from the shoulder across the road to make a left turn, or one out in traffic waiting in the same center/left turn lane?

Jennifer said...

hahah... i know what you mean. personally, i'm afraid of bicycles and would prefer to walk... so i can't help you a bit!

MojoMan said...

Jeeze! I'm depressed. So much hostility toward cyclists.

My son spent the summer biking 3700 miles across the US and working on Habitat for Humanity houses to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. The only place they had problems with motorists was in Ohio, so I guess I know where Susan is coming from.

In a land with rampant obesity, crowded highways, polluted air and wars over oil, I would have thought readers of a blog like this would be open to the beauty and wisdom of bicycles. Did we all forget the thrill and freedom of two wheels we enjoyed in our youth? Do we think the fossil fuel will last forever and we can drive our behemoths ever more miles every year without consequences? Why do we drive EVERYWHERE and wonder why our asses get fatter and fatter?

'Serious' cyclists who want to go 25 mph should be on the open road, obeying all traffic laws. 'Serious' cyclists also like to go 8 mph on a bike path to chat and enjoy the world without getting doored or run off the road by ugly Americans in SUVs.

Cyclists should be courteous, law-abiding and sensible but motorists must understand that the roads belong to all of us and that bike riding makes the world a better place.

Mary said...

Laura, Delaware is into cyclists. It was great! On the main roads - Rt. 1, 13, and even the smaller ones, there were bike lanes. We never worried about those in bright colors zooming away.

North Carolina hasn't caught on yet...cycliss are in real danger here.

Jean said...

Good post, Laura. You got them going tonight:)

LauraHinNJ said...

Anonymous: I only know what I do - which is to avoid that type of situation. I'd use the crosswalks which isn't practical for anyone riding great distances on city streets, I know.

I think you must have an awful lot of trust in drivers to put yourself out in front of them like that.

Jennifer: Afraid of bicycles, really? I miss mine, but it's been collecting dust in the shed for the past few years.

Mojoman: Sorry to depress you! I wonder what it is about Ohio - I'd imagine there to be plenty of country roads for everyone to enjoy.

You wonder why adults drive everywhere - what about kids that are picked up by the school bus in their driveways - rather than walking to the end of the block at least and being picked up at the corner in a group. That's a rant for another day, I guess.

We're incredibly lazy, yes. I walk into town for errands as much as possible - and maybe I should consider a bicycle to go the 15 miles to work - I would probably get there quicker without the traffic (on *country roads* even.

I can't speak for the hostility of others here, but mine comes from the fact that nice parts of Sandy Hook were torn up and paved over to make a bike path that very few people use. I didn't really understand why it wasn't used by the people I thought it was made for - now I do.

Susan Gets Native said...

I respect anyone out there getting exercise and trying to train for a big event. And the law says they can be there.
But I also pay taxes and I have children I love and I don't want to die and take everyone with me by having to make a split second decision about where I need to swerve if necessary.
Our bike trail here gets congested only as you are going through the intersections in town. There are a zillion miles of wide open country, so the training bicyclists can go as fast as they want! And on the trail, as I have either pulled a wagon with the girls, or stopped walking to check out a bird, the RESPONSIBLE riders call out "On your left" so I know they are coming. And then there are the assholes who feel that they are either entitled to be assholes or think they are indestructible and just plow through without warning and don't even look back at all of us diving for the grass.
Stir the pot, Laura! Whoot!

LauraHinNJ said...

Susan: The scary part is that I do that without even meaning to.

I brought it up here because I know a few people (bunnygirl and mojoman, at least) are into cycling and would set me straight.

They've done that. Back to my (safe) decoys.

You're on your own now!

MojoMan said...

I'm not sure if you were kidding or not, Laura, but a 15-mile commute to work is very do-able and could possibly change your life. If you generally go to and from one work location, can find good roads and don't have to carry too much stuff, biking could be fantastic, particularly in summer when there is ample daylight. If you did it two or three times a week, you might find yourself in the best shape of your life, see some fantastic birds and save some mileage on your car to boot!

Something to think about.

nina said...

Cyclists on the road--a hot topic for me, too!
Not the single rider that is in training, but the packs that ooze through the area!
A typical quiet evening or Sunday morning is disrupted by a gang of 10-20 riders. Always, the first in line is shouting to the last--conversations about investments, vacations....not hazards of the road.
I'm sure they're drawn to my lane because of its beauty--but they ruin it for those who live there whenever they ride through.
We always comment that we're tempted to stage a kickball game in the street outside their homes on Sunday morning, clogging traffic and spoiling the tranquility--and see how THEY like it!
You're welcome to ride through--but be aware you're visiting someone's neighborhood!

Ontario Wanderer said...

I guess I am an ex-serious cyclist. I used to use my bike everyday to commute about 8 km to work in the city. Sorry, there were no bike lanes or bike paths that went from my door to the workplace so I used the road as best I could. There were some cars that liked to see how close they could come without hitting me or so it seemed. Yes, when turning left bicycles, like cars, are supposed to be in the turning lane. That being said, for safety sake I often pulled off the road and walked my bike on the sidewalk and used the stoplights to make left turns but not all intersections have stoplights. Now I live in the country and don't feel safe at all on the country roads as many car drivers seem to have no respect for cars, bikes, dogs, cows, raccoons, or any other living thing. For my part I think it is the car drivers that cause the most problems, not the bike riders. That is not to say that bike riders do not cause problems as there are as many of them that have no idea about rules of the road as there are car drivers that ignore them.

Ontario Wanderer said...

I guess I am an ex-serious cyclist. I used to use my bike everyday to commute about 8 km to work in the city. Sorry, there were no bike lanes or bike paths that went from my door to the workplace so I used the road as best I could. There were some cars that liked to see how close they could come without hitting me or so it seemed. Yes, when turning left bicycles, like cars, are supposed to be in the turning lane. That being said, for safety sake I often pulled off the road and walked my bike on the sidewalk and used the stoplights to make left turns but not all intersections have stoplights. Now I live in the country and don't feel safe at all on the country roads as many car drivers seem to have no respect for cars, bikes, dogs, cows, raccoons, or any other living thing. For my part I think it is the car drivers that cause the most problems, not the bike riders. That is not to say that bike riders do not cause problems as there are as many of them that have no idea about rules of the road as there are car drivers that ignore them.

RuthieJ said...

An interesting post, Laura. Bicyclists on our country 2-lane roadways are a hot button for me also, but now I'm in a carpool and I get to let the driver worry about it while I just sit back in my seat and keep on knitting!

It was interesting to read all the comments....I was curious to see whether other people felt the same as me and I wasn't disappointed!