Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not too hilly; not too trafficky: thoughts derived from all the late brouhaha on bicycling

Originally uploaded by trudeau
Here are my perspectives on bringing biking into Shreveport's mainstream thinking, if not into full practice:

1. Imagine, each day, that you do not live in Shreveport. We can live a utopianist life even if the general state of the town where we reside is ill-educated and narrow-minded.

I typically think of myself as a resident of Austin, Tx. Bike riders have huge props in Austin. They are the man.

A corollary of this might be, "Don't let the bastards get you down."

2. Your bike is like a convertible; like a two-seat sports car. Only better in regards maintenance and real freedom. I get a small but sustainable chemical high from setting out upon my bike.

3. The bike brotherhood is deep and wide. Riding connects us to the lives of the impoverished and handicapped. It also connects us to the road bikers, a group from the affluent world. Pedaling also evokes our childhoods.

4. You gain a fresh take on your environment. Topography becomes apparent. Street design is, like, bam. Not that you needed a higher consciousness in regards litter, but there it is. You become a sharper analyst of local consciousness.

5. It's OK to think lustful thoughts in regards motor scooters. You're on a bike and thinking, "I'm risking my neck on this street full of trucks and cars. What's the difference if I risk my safety on a cute and fuel-efficient motorized two-wheeler?"

The possibility of driving a Vespa is intoxicating for many. The scooter movement is growing like crazy.

6. Don't deny the importance of style. An inefficient, balloon-tired, single speed cruiser bike might be the thing that makes you want to ride. For some people, a visit to a bike shop with expensive, high-tech wheels is head-spinning. For others, day-glo paint and super-glued plastic lizards makes the heart throb.

What about a replica of the tall and elegant Dutch bike?

7. Accessorize. Last week I bought a handlebar bell. Ka-ching! There are numerous choices in the tiny realm of bike bells. I also bought a tube of inner tube gunk which might make flats less likely.

I am resisting the urge to get to a back tire rack. I carry everything I need in my back pack.

Last year I bought a pair of biker's gloves - the abbreviated type designed for long rides and hand protection in case of a sprawling dismount. Hate to say it, but I rarely wear them.

8. Learn how to ride smartly. Ride with the flow of traffic and in the right tire lane. Give hand signals. Don't run stop signs and red lights. If you have to ride on a sidewalk for a bit, be aware that pedestrians have total right-of-way.

Anarchist bikers - freedom! - confuse motorists and don't do the community any good.

8. Family biking is also a high. Imagine biking in a group along the Fant Parkway and exploring a bit of downtown on two-wheelers.

All things considered, I consider Shreveport a bicyclist's treat. Not too hilly, not too trafficky.

Still, I think we need to push for bike lanes. They are a symbol of an enlightened town. They offer hesitant riders the comparative safety they need to venture out. Of course, multi-use paths are needed, too.

And I'd like to offer this rally point to go with "Share the road." It is, "Bike lanes for Shreveport!"

Musician and bicycle commuter Aaron Butler (former Dirtfoot, Peekers, Brian Martin, etc) sent us these germane links. He said, “How to Not Get Hit by Cars,” should be required reading for anyone thinking about commuting by bicycle.”


Alexandyr Kent said...

Hey, Robert. Good thoughts. Appreciate reading them.

But did you mean to say "ride facing traffic" or ride with traffic?

trudeau said...

Alex; you're right. "With the traffic" is what I meant.

Enjoyed your summation, today, of the Times biking series.

And thanks for reading!

Crazy In Shreveport said...

I think I'm a day-glo-super-glued-plastic-lizards(bought at a garage sale or found in the gutter)-double-decker bike type.

Alexandyr Kent said...

Cool. Just FYI, we'll be keeping the All Pedal, No Gas alive for ongoing discussion. I really appreciate your contributions to the series, and I hope the blog continues to be a place to chat about bicycle commuting.

chris said...

i've been riding a scooter since 2005, getting 90mpg every day. recently i started biking to school and i love it even more.

Meaux said...

Ok you guys, you have to read some Forrester if you want to propose bike lanes.

Aaron Butler said...

I really don't think bike lanes are very important to commuting (at least not the kind most cities put in to appease cyclist).

Most times they aren't maintained well and debris from the road is thrown into by car tires. Not mention they will usually put you right in the "door zone."

The key is riders knowing the proper way to ride and drivers understanding that a cyclist in the lane is not illegal (maybe the news stations could run a story on cycling laws for the average driver).

Also police need to know the laws which they're meant to enforce. I once had a cop downtown tell me I had to get on the sidewalk... I really wanted to argue with him, but decided it wasn't worth the effort so I rode the sidewalk for a block then got back in the lane.