Friday, August 31, 2007

Bad news and good news

The bad news:

Last month I had a conversation with a well-meaning citizen, who was fretting about the safety of cyclists she observed on U.S. Highway 80 east of Savannah — otherwise known as "Tybee Road." She wondered if there was a solution for keeping these cyclists off the narrow, high speed route to the beach. She asked, "What if the city or county built some kind of facility? Then they could all go there to ride so they wouldn't have to be out on the streets."

Sadly her perception of bicyclists and their needs is probably shared by a significant portion of the local population. As I've so often complained over the last two years, bicycles are often perceived as toys or as exercise equipment, but not as vehicles. I tried to explain that her proposed cycling park would be absolutely useless to me and others who use bicycles for transportation. She didn't seem to get it.

And now the good news:
  • The number of regular bicycle commuters working in my building has remained high throughout the summer. The bike rack usually starts emptying out as the temperature climbs. Not this year. They just keep on pedaling.
  • A community activist, who has worked tirelessly to fight "road improvement projects" that destroy neighborhoods and induce additional automobile traffic, has recently taken up transportational cycling.
  • Finally, there's the Xtracycle situation. I first mentioned the product here on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2005 and early last month I finally ordered a Free Radical of my own. While I was waiting for it to arrive, I started prepping myself for the role of Savannah's only Xtracycle owner. Then I saw a man riding one down Habersham Street and a couple weeks later, a woman riding a Free Radical-equipped Trek mountain bike downtown. So, I'm happy to report that I'm one of at least three weirdos riding around Savannah on "Sports Utility Bicycles." I hope there will be more of us soon.
I'm planning to write my early impressions of the product and post some photos (I'm currently between digital cameras) soon. Please stay tuned.


Jamie said...

I've been looking at one of these Xtracycles myself for a while. One thing that has kept me from taking the plunge (aside from the fact that we have a baby on the way, a major bike-fund diverter) is concern over the price of having one shipped to Ohio. How much of a chunk did the shipping take for you (seeing you're in Savannah)?

Jett said...

Recently on the SBL forum I participated in a discussion regarding what is considered transportation facilities. The thread topic was "Secretary of Transportation comments on PBS" and discussed Secretary Peters' implication that funding for bike paths needs to be cut back so transportation infrastructure can be funded fully.

I was surprised how many cyclists were against segregated cycling facilities.

In Atlanta, there is the 18-mile Stone Mountain Trail. For a significant portion of that distance, it is little more than a wide sidewalk alongside the 2-lane highway. For most experienced cyclists, yes, the trail is not used, but this doesn't mean it isn't used at all. For inexperienced cyclists who do use the trail, and for motorists observing the range of cyclists and where they ride, it is a learning experience.

When I started riding with my daughters, I take them on this route because they can choose whether to use the street or the trail. It is an opportunity for me to work with them on skills and to point out why experienced cyclists prefer the street to a path punctuated by driveways.

The point that off-road facilities gives the false impression that on-road is dangerous is well-taken, but the way I see it, the goal is to get as many people on the bike as possible. Widening the road to accommodate a bike lane would get more people riding bikes out to Tybee.

On a different topic, reading Doug's Blog got me interested in the XtraCycle. I still haven't taken the plunge, but I'm considering it.

Anonymous said...

Jamie: The Xtracycle Free-Radical kit comes in a fairly compact box. When I ship them from my shop to points all over the country, the shipping charge seldom exceeds $20. Of course, if you are buying a complete Xtracycle-equipped bike, it'll probably have to be shipped in two boxes. That could cost $100 or more.

On the other hand, your local bike shop can order one for you from QBP.


Buttar Dot Com said...

Poor woman. Her concern for cyclist's safety is commendable, but her lack of perspective is sad!
More people need to get out of their cars and onto a bike!
If you ever take a trip down to FL, check out some of the races put on by

Emily A.