Tag Archive | "cycle lanes"

The Streets Of San Francisco

With the news that our government is considering making some of our streets 15mph, no-overtaking zones where the car will play second fiddle to the bicycle it would not be unreasonable for British drivers to cry, ‘Why is it always us?’

Well, if it makes you feel any better, it isn’t. The motorists of San Francisco, in the USA, are also under the sanctimonious cosh of the car-hating fraternity. Unlike British motorists however who protest meekly and then shrug, our American friends are not going down without a fight.

In this Californian city drivers have become, in their view, totally marginalised by their authorities in favour of the bicycle and there is now a burgeoning backlash from motorists. In fact, there is now in fact a growing political movement being mobilised to fight for drivers’ rights. Why, they even have a manifesto.

Basically they are sick of having roads narrowed to allow for cycle lanes and the loss of parking spaces to make cycle routes and pavements wider. They have also complained vociferously that while drivers are being penalised for breaking the rules of the road, bike riders are getting away with it without penalty. One rule for them and one for us, would seem to be the motto.

This organised protest has produced a list of demands under the less than catchy title of ‘Restoring Transportation Balance in San Francisco’. These demands have been presented to the City Attorney and have caused a community-splitting stir in the city that bought us the greatest car chase ever in the movie Bullit.

One embittered driver even went on to say, “The sleeping giant has awakened. Making the roads more congested for cars… by taking out parking spaces and removing lanes increases greenhouse gas emissions and pollution… If biking is such a great alternative, why are so many of them so surly?”

It is not the place of Motor Blogger to take sides. Our view is that it should be ‘fair play for all’. Nevertheless it has become a very contentious issue in the USA – more so even than here. With our typical British reserve we may not go to these lengths but it may well be time for drivers to speak up before the car is totally marginalised.

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Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

Show of hands. Do you prefer cycling or driving? Thought so – you wouldn’t be on this page, otherwise. Nevertheless, you can do both. It’s allowed. Cycling is, after all, great exercise and you are out of the tin box and into the fresh air. The trouble is that cycling as a pastime or a mode of transport has been high-jacked in recent years by a sort of two wheeled single interest group who will have no truck with any ideas but their own.

The problem with these monomaniacs is they can’t see the wood for the trees. The ideas that they promote take no account whatever of the problems caused by following their strict doctrine. Let me explain. These hardcore obsessive’s believe that cars are the work of the devil and that they alone are responsible for the eco-ills of the world even though that is not true. Many different issues combine to do that. Certainly they use cars – which is something of an hypocrisy – but they think that motorised vehicles should be controlled to an infinite degree. This is fine up to a point if the rider concerned is a city dweller. Moving about our major urban areas on a bike makes a lot of sense but it’s only a percentage of the population who can do that. Most of us, for one reason or another, need a car.

One of the most argued points – and one that will come to fruition – is the twenty mile-per-hour speed limits in built up areas. If these bike riders care about the environment as much as they say then do they not realise that a car going at 20mph creates more pollution that one going at thirty.

This is because, almost certainly, the car will have to be propelled in a lower gear, causing the engine to work harder and thus create more emissions. Simple and obvious. The majority of cars will be fine in fourth gear at 30mph using low revs; at twenty it’s a different story.

Holland is held up as an enlightened country when it comes to cycling and this is indeed true. The difference is that, from the outset of modern motorised transport they understood that, as a cycling nation anyway, they would have to build their cyclist infrastructure alongside that of cars. That’s the key.

In the UK, we have idiotic councils who, in a ‘we must be seen to be green’ sort of way, put in ridiculous little bits of cycle lanes almost as an afterthought. You’ve seen the pictures in the press. The safety of bike riders will only be fully sorted when true, dedicated cycle lanes criss-cross the entire country, regardless of whether it is urban or countryside.

Motorists get a bad press. Certainly there are many idiots out there – it’s why we have laws – but most drivers are perfectly responsible and know full well that they must drive with safety in mind, especially in busy urban areas. If the argument against cars were more even-handed then maybe we would all get on our bikes.

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