Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anne Lusk Quixote

Washington Post writer Neal Peirce cites two NS&S favorites — Anne Lusk and Aaron Naparstek — in a column about the benefits of cycle tracks — bike paths separated from motor vehicle lanes by something more than just a painted stripe. The point is at once revolutionary and painfully obvious: the more separation there is between cars and bikes, the safer it is for people on bikes. Peirce doesn't raise the point, but it is equally true of pedestrians and cyclists (which is why the Charles River paths don't really qualify as cycle tracks).

On my daily commute, I ride on:

  • One block of cycle track in Cambridge (Vasser Street)
  • Dedicated bike lanes in Brookline
  • Super-duper wide lanes in Boston
  • Wide striped shoulders in Newton
  • Right in traffic in all four

There is no question that the potential for bike/car conflict increases as you move down that list. There is also no question that bikes are an increased nuisance to motorists as you move down the list, which contributes to the hating on bikers.

Peirce sums it up well:

It is true -- the U.S. has a long way to go to get serious about bike usage, including dedicated cycle paths. Even leading cycling cities (Eugene and Corvallis, Ore., for example) lack contiguous grids of separated bikeways.

But who is to deny that our towns and cities (and environment) need bicycling opportunities, safe routes that serve both sexes and all ages? The debate should be about the how, not the whether.

Tip of the helmet to Andreae for the link.

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