Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Penfield peddles bicycling survey

Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

I like the idea of a community conducting a survey on biking in their town. During some (according to your comfort zone (for some that includes winter)) portion of the year, it is possible to commute to work by bike. In these days of heightened awareness of energy (gas prices) consumptions, you cannot beat a bike for its positive effects on global warming. But, biking commuters constitute only a fraction of those on bike, for most are recreational bikers and most of them kids—at least where I live in the city of Rochester.

So, from my point of view most bikers use the sidewalk (despite a recent hike in the amount of summons handed out by the police for doing so) because it's far safer for them than riding on city streets where disdainful, cellar-phone-using car drivers don't give bikers much respect. I like the idea of widened shoulders for bikers because it is the only practical way to have vehicular traffic and bikers to ride on the same street.

Bikers should ride in the road and obey all traffic rules. That’s the law. However, they don't and they don't because competing with cars for road space is a major challenge for most. Yet, a growing menace is bikers on our sidewalks. This common use of bikes is a nuisance and a danger to pedestrians. Also, car drivers, who are not usually expecting fast-moving traffic on the sideways, have to pay special attention to sidewalk biker who ignore all traffic signals and don’t use lights at night.

I believe that wider shoulders with designated biking lanes is the only answer for biking safety in any of our towns and cities because no matter how hard the law clamps down on bikers who use the sidewalk or car drivers who don't give way to bikers, or bikers who don't obey any laws, most don't feel safe riding their bikes in traffic--with good reason. So, I applaud Penfield for taking this issue seriously and I hope that all communities carefully consider this matter. I would like to see all streets in and around all our towns and cities have wide shoulders for biking. If this were done correctly, that is, so bikers felt safe on our roadways, enough people may take to the roads to save some energy and pollution caused by vehicular traffic.