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Bike seat conversations

Talking two-wheelers with cyclists and policy folks

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Or a cyclist's serious summer leisure rides

 

Published 6/2/2010

Who rides?

Cyclists are all over the place. We've got commuters. We've got families. We've got fixed-gear riders, we've got racers and mountain bikes and trail riders and BMX. There are so many divisions of bicyclists. It doesn't matter if you commute to work or you're riding 100 miles on a bicycle tour. You should have the same rights and responsibilities and respect out there on the roadways as anybody else. —John Lindemayer, deputy director, League of Michigan Bicyclists


What is "bike culture"?

Whatever you want it to be. From the young woman in straight-legged jeans with a "purse dog" in a basket to the Lance Armstrong-devotee dressed in neon Lycra. From people who have messenger bags and water bottles as daily accessories to those who ride in street clothes, or even in dress clothes. It's bike culture if you pull out your bike a couple times a year and ride around the block, and it's bike culture if you ride 200 miles a week. It's "gnarly single track," grueling ascents and roaring descents. It's a civilized ride to dinner at the restaurant a mile or two away and not worrying about finding parking. That's the nice thing about it: Bike culture is a solo fitness ride, a family outing to a Metropark, and a group ride. It is both suburban recreation and urban commutes. —Steve Roach, attorney at Miller Canfield and avid bike commuter


Why don't people ride to work more often?

We've developed sort of urban and suburban environments where people tend to be long distances from their jobs and there aren't good alternatives to driving. It feeds on itself, if you've got streets that tend to be relatively fast-moving — lots and lots of lanes of traffic — they're not pleasant for bicycling, so people don't do it, and the less that people do it, the more unpopular biking becomes. —Jeffrey Mapes, author of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities


Why is cycling exploding in Detroit?

Detroit is super easy to ride. We have a lot of infrastructure here. It's fun. It's better for the environment and it's healthy. We noticed when that huge spike came in gas prices, we sold so many racks. Everyone was going to the grocery story, trying to find out how they could carry their stuff to work. I think that big push sort of maintained what we're seeing now. Of course, the environment is a huge deal. And we have Wayne State University starting a push for residency at the campus. It used to be a commuter college and now there are a bunch of kids in dorms. I think that's another reason we see so many cyclists out. —Karen Gage, co-owner, Detroit Wheelhouse


What is the Complete Streets movement?

The Complete Streets movement is a growing grassroots effort to improve our road design and maintenance policies across the United States so that they consider safe use for other transportation modes beyond just cars. It can include bike lanes, better pedestrian crossings, like islands in the middle of wide streets that can't be crossed in one stoplight cycle, smoother curb cuts for stroller and wheelchair access and better access to public transportation. It's a movement that's aligned senior citizens groups, people seeking more "livable communities," the "Safe Routes to School" people and cyclists. —Todd Scott, Detroit GreenWays coordinator with the Michigan Trails & Greenway Alliance and author of m-bike.org blog.


Why do we need Complete Streets legislation?

I am frustrated that the Michigan Department of Transportation, along with local and metropolitan planning organizations, generally just take one user of a roadway or facility into account when designing and constructing. That's the automobile user, the car. It's not just that we want bike paths on every street, because that's not what the legislation does, but that it considers all users of a roadway — public transportation, wheelchair users, pedestrians and cyclists — and it starts to get local planners thinking in a different light, introducing Complete Streets design principles into municipalities' master plans rather than considering this five or 10 years down the road. It creates more livable communities. —Rep. Jon Switalski (D-Warren)


What's wrong with Complete Streets legislation?

We're very, very concerned that this could dramatically increase the cost of road projects. We're woefully short of having enough money to even maintain the roads we have today. Our roads are falling apart at a faster rate than we can fix them. If we had to abide by all the requirements in this proposal, we'd do a lot less roadwork. ... We're not at all opposed to the concept of pedestrians and bicycles — those are great. We support those. Unfortunately it's a matter of insufficient funding. It almost becomes an unfunded mandate. —Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Oakland County Road Commission

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