Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Is A Serious Cyclist?

I had a friend use the term “serious cyclist” in relation the the author of an cycling based op-ed piece in the Herald Leader this morning. Telling me that he has ridden hundreds, if not thousands, of miles with her over the years, I would guess that many of these rides were for pleasure and mainly on rural back roads. Her premise is that the City has done much for expanding the number and quality of bike lanes in Lexington and the cyclists have responded well.

Primary in her thoughts seems to be this paragraph.
“There are many reasons to promote increasing bike use. We all have experienced the inconvenience of having a road widened, only to find that once opened there seems to be more traffic and longer delays than ever. One bike means one less car. Ten people commuting to work or going shopping by bike translates to 10 fewer cars in front of you at the traffic light and 10 more parking spaces. Having more bike lanes makes it easier to reach bus stops, resulting in more bus riders, further reducing congestion.”
Each of these reasons is straight from the motorist wish list of wider and more convenient roads or the hope of less demand, as long as that reduction of attributed to someone else removing themselves. Apparently, the addition of more cycling facilities will driving so much easier for the the “serious” motorist.

I, of course, did not see any mention of additional bike parking, whether it be covered or not, at the many new entertainment and dining facilities which we have opened and planned. It does not speak to the lack of enforcement of the numerous traffic violations committed by cyclists in this and many other cities. Limited by space, it could not detail cycling instruction in the proper use of sharrows and bike lanes by parents or others.

I bring this up because I was a serious cyclist in some decades past. I was not he type that bought the special shoes or the Lycra shorts and shirts to zip through the countryside. I commuted to work every day, rain or shine, at a job with this City. First from a little over a mile and a half each way and extending to over three before dropping back to right about 1. My rule of thumb was, +15 degrees F and cleared streets meant a good ride into work and back. Several thousand miles a year and little of it on back roads and countryside.

I, maybe, did not consider myself a “serious” cyclist but a non-driver. An unlicensed adult who chose not to join the ranks of the baby-boom brigade of sprawl settlers charging out into the suburbs. I was a Pre-Millenial who chose to live as close to downtown as possible and in the walkable / bikeable streetcar suburbs of old.

To friends and co-workers, I was the oddball who didn't drive and may need a ride once in a while. Cycling was, to me, not only a form of commuting but a way to get a sense of the community somewhat different from my colleagues. I did bring a fresh view to some of the neighborhood discussions.

For over 20 years, as one who's responsibility is was to maintain Lexington's maps, I not only added new streets and parcels but cycled about 95% of them in doing so. Some folk could call that being serious about it.

Now I wonder, what constitutes a “serious” motorist?

No comments: