In the Beginning, Bicycles Were Equal

Bicycles are equal to cars and have the same rights to the road.  Is this as difficult for you to imagine as it is for me?  Coming from a background as a commercial truck driver and growing up primarily using the roads with motor vehicles, it has been a challenging learning experience for me to understand how bicycles should interact on the road.  Sometimes when traffic is thick, heavy and suffocating, it is hard to even see there is room for bicycles.  But sure enough as I keep pedaling–in recent years on my bicycle I passed the 200,000 plus miles that I drove as a commercial truck driver–and learning the principles governing the shared use of public road facilities, I’m realizing bicycles make perfect sense and there is room for bicycles to share the road safely providing we all drive in a way that is compatible and respectful.

The roadscapes don’t always look like there is a place for bicycles because for a long time roads were designed without taking bicycles into consideration.  That legacy of discrimination has been a big problem!  And there was no good reason for it at all, simple neglect, fear of diversity, overpowering homogeneity ruled, a big mistake.  This article provides good background on the history of marginalizing bicyclists:  http://iamtraffic.org/equality/the-marginalization-of-bicyclists/  But the United States is truly a progressive nation with a long and strong history of overcoming injustice and inequality.  Plus we are intelligent.  Planning and design guidelines have increasingly embraced the bicycle as an efficient means of moving beautifully synchronized with planning, environmental, and human needs.  Increasingly design standards are being evolved to integrate bikes and not ignore them, even induce demand for bicycles.  Here is a hub with some of the latest design resources transportation planners reference:  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_guidance/design_flexibility.cfm The Federal Department of Transportation crafted some excellent policy language that urges everyone to fully embrace bicycling and walking as basic building blocks of our core transportation system, and see active transportation as means of moving that should be fully respected and accommodated: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/overview/policy_accom.cfm

The momentum is rolling for bicycles.  The soft side of the transportation planning paradigm–by soft I mean adapting attitudes and perceptions to change human culture–is educating and training driving behaviors that are compatible with the increasing diversity on our roads.  This realm is the primary focus of Bike Yogi’s services.  All roads are good bicycle roads (except where bicycling is explicitly prohibited, such as urban interstates), with or without special infrastructure such as bike lanes, providing users share the road respectfully.  The first problem is educating everyone of the fundamental rights of bicycles to share the road as equals, and not as a class subservient to motor vehicles.  Sometimes bicycling safely means counterintuitive strategies, for instance, if a lane is too narrow for an average sized motor vehicle to pass a bicycle without leaving the lane (moving left), then a bicyclist is usually best off riding further into the lane, or “taking the lane“, to discourage a too-close pass and possibly being squeezed too far right off the road.  Bikeyogi.com is focused on building cross-cutting resources to illuminate the principles behind the shared road, expounding on practices and methods that help traffic run safely and smoothly, and creating innovative pathways forward for people, organizations, and communities that want to fully embrace and empower the bicycle as a means of moving with many benefits, all this with an emphasis on the joys of discovery one can make by venturing out into the world on a bicycle.

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