Bicycling must be promoted in public and private campaigns as a normal, expected and respected activity, like driving or walking. Bicycling for transportation and recreation should also be promoted as an environmentally friendly, healthy, and economically productive activity for people of all ages, races, genders, and abilities, irrespective of trip purpose or bicycle type, to foster community among cyclists. Governments should enact ordinances that require end-of-trip facilities, such as racks and lockers for bicycle parking, and even clothes lockers and showers, as part of all new and improved developments. Public and private agencies are also encouraged to provide incentives and end-of-trip facilities to encourage bicycle commuting.
Posts in the Encouragement Category
This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the challenges for encouraging bicycling in America. Part 1: Origin & Influence of Our Stories The stories we tell are a product of the experiences we have. Our experiences are the product of our choices and behavior. There’s a saying popular among pilots: “Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.” In bicycling, the journey to good judgment is complicated by inhibiting beliefs and social norms. Test Your Recognition of Potential Conflict The image below is similar to one we use in the CyclingSavvy course. It’s a participation exercise to engage students in spotting conflicts they have just learned about in a previous section on crash causes and prevention. Test yourself in Tab 1. Tab 2 shows the potential conflicts faced by the cyclist in red (practicing edge behavior). Tab 3 shows the potential conflicts faced by the cyclist in green (practicing driver behavior). Spot the Potential Conflicts Edge Bicyclist Driver Bicyclist click images to enlarge Count the conflicts faced by each of the two cyclists on the left side of the picture, then click the tabs above or below for highlighted conflicts and explanations. There are numerous mid-block conflicts: Door zone: every parked car is a potential dooring conflict. Parking pull-out: every parked car has the potential to pull out when there is a gap in traffic. The edge-riding bicyclist may be in the drivers’ blind spots. There is a wrong-way bicyclist weaving in and out of parking spaces. He will be a head-on conflict for an edge-riding bicyclist. Beyond the intersection is a pinch point where the lane is too narrow for a bicyclist and a truck or bus to fit. Buses entering or leaving the bus stop are a problem for the bicyclist. He is likely to be in the blind spot of the bus drivers. The driveway offers several crossing conflicts: The driver of the green truck could suddenly decide to turn right into the driveway. The driver of the yellow car may pull out and go in any direction—if he is working a gap, to turn left or get to the left-turn lane, he will be focused on the cars and unlikely to look at the edge of the road. The driver of the turquoise SUV is looking for a gap to make a left turn. The green truck screens the edge bicyclist from view. The main intersection offers several crossing conflicts: The pedestrian may try to cross before the light changes. He will step into the edge of the lane before proceeding. The tractor trailer might turn right. It will look as if it is going straight because the driver needs to steer wide. He will need to navigate the turn slowly to avoid off-tracking over the sidewalk, allowing plenty of time for the edge-riding bicyclist to enter his blind spot. The driver of the red truck wants to turn right on red. He may jump the light, or be looking for a gap. The driver of the yellow car is planning to turn left. If the red cyclist is fast and that driver runs the stale yellow, they would be on a collision course and invisible to one another. The frequency of potential conflicts on the edge requires...read more
Twice a month since 2006 I’ve taught a course for the local safety council on “alternative” transportation to adults with suspended driver’s licenses. The students routinely recognize the benefits of bicycling when prompted: improved health, reduced environmental impact, reduced transportation costs, increased sociability, and of course, simple fun. To varying degrees they also believe cycling to be slow, dangerous, uncomfortable, physically demanding, and impractical if one needs to carry things. So encouraging people to bicycle is more a matter of removing barriers (practical or psychological) than convincing them of the benefits. The psychological barriers to bicycling are often more common than the practical ones, so helping people to see the possibilities is a key strategy. People are influenced and encouraged in different ways and through different channels, including the social realm, finances, urban planning and engineering, and the practical aspects of the bicycle and its accessories. Social In November of 2012 BicycleRetailer.com writer Ray Keener dug up some data from a 1990 Bicycling Magazine survey. While shops and manufacturers might have wondered at the time if an easier-to-use shifter system might have been the answer to getting more people on bikes, only 12% of “infrequent” cyclists said so. The top motivator the “infrequents” reported was “If I had someone to ride with (46%).” That was followed by: If I had a more comfortable seat (37%) If I had a safer place to ride (33%) If I were in better condition (29%) If I had a more scenic place to ride (28%). A good riding partner, or better yet, an entire group of friendly, supportive riding partners can do more to show a new cyclist the possibilities and joys of cycling than anything else. Too often cycling groups have themselves placed limitations on cycling. “We go fast.” “You need a road bike.” “We only ride trails.” “Helmets required.” “Our rides are 30 to 60 miles long.” I believe the most effective thing experienced cyclists could do to encourage others to ride is simply to ride with them in a place and manner that the newcomer would find comfortable. That may initially mean on a trail or quiet local streets. Don’t set any preconditions. Each ride is an opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise. But take care to open up the floodgates of information. Find just a few things to make improvements on each time — get that saddle at the right height; teach proper mounting, starting, stopping and dismounting; get her generally in the right cadence range but don’t fuss about it; etc. — and spend the rest of your ride simply enjoying the trip. Your task is not to make your friend into an expert rider in a day. It’s to show him that cycling can be enjoyable and that there are lots of things he still needs to learn to make it better. If you agree to give the ride a purpose — to go to a restaurant, a park, another friends place — anyplace they’d routinely go by car — that’s even better. I’d really like to see each cycling club start a serious new-rider program. Each weekend there should be rides designed for absolute beginners. This doesn’t mean going 15 mph instead of 20. It means taking the one-on-one approach I outlined above and adapting...read more