Aussies, what do you expect? The fact that the automobile has saturated Australia almost as much as America now shows the utter lack of need for bicycles as a major method of transportation, hence the lack of need for a "bike lane".

Incidentally, in China where I live, the bicycle is the major mode of transportation, about 98% of the Chinese population (1.1 billion people) uses a bike, so in every city except the hilly ones there is a bike lane for the cyclists. Unfortunately, it is usually narrower than the main road. Pedestrians walk on the bike lane at their own risk, for the cyclists (believe me, I rode a bike in China) are perfectly willing to run over any person foolish enough to venture onto the bike path. Little kid? We don't care, get out of the way. Joggers? You better run really fast, because we're going to run you off our bike path. Fun stuff. On the bike lane, we have the right of way, no matter what happens.

And forget those wussy "race bikes" that Americans are so fond of, you know, the ones that weigh 5 pounds and have no inertia whatsoever. Chinese bikes are 70 pound behemoths made from old water pipes and a chain. They're so heavy you can knock people right over with them. If you get enough speed, you could probably kill someone. A grumpy farmer on one of these suckers is much more intimidating than say, a spandex clad Yank with a bike lighter than a feather and a pith helmet.

Even cars dare not venture onto the bike lane. If one does, we would slow our bikes down to a crawl, so the car behind us would honk its horn in a futile attempt to tell us to get out of the way, and then we would stop entirely and have a leisurely chit chat. The driver would get so pissed off he would try to reverse to get off the bike lane, but.... no, there are more cyclists coming up behind him, and he is stuck. Woe to the automobile user who tries to use the bike lane to beat rush hour traffic.

Or maybe you should just take a bus. Harmony joy bus rides are much more amusing than feuding with idiotic pedestrians and mindless drivers, don't you think?

I think another important variation is the pedestrian on the corners of the Urban Bike Path. Never mind the blind idiot in the Volvo trying to make a right turn who decides that the bike lane, now that he thinks of it, would make a delicious right turn lane. Sure, they're motor scum, but they're bigger than me and the best I can do is take out my U-lock and disfigure a bumper or two. Real progress, I feel, can be made in the 'pedestrians on the corner' area.

Here is the situation. You are on your happy, well-loved bicycle, looking to cross at an intersection with lights. Up comes one pedestrian. The pedestrian invariably stands directly in front of your front wheel. Enter second pedestrian. Said pedestrian stands directly in the path of your escape route. Und so weiter, und so weiter.

Solution: new-fangled attachments on the front of a bicycle. They shall be called perhaps 'eternal footman deterrent' or maybe just 'flamethrower'. Guaranteed to clear the space in front of a bicycle quickly and effectively. Pilot light acts as a front light for night cycling.

Rant ends here. Thank you.

The problem is that bikes are not welcomed on roads by most drivers, at least in the United States. If drivers viewed bicycles as vehicles, there would not be a need to construct bike lanes and bike paths. It has been shown to be safer to ride in the motor vehicle lane rather than in the bike lane or shoulder for two main reasons: (a) debris is more common on the side of the road and (b) drivers are more likely to see you if you are in front of them. Before you ask what happens on a two-lane road with no opportunities for passing, it is my understanding that bikes are required to move to the side to let cars pass when practicable (safe). Many states also have a law that a slow vehicle must pull over if possible to let vehicles behind pass if a certain number (five?) are backed up behind it. This is mainly aimed at farm equipment but would also apply to bikes.

Of course the sidewalk is right out because of pedestrians (it is usually illegal to ride on the sidewalk for this reason).

If instead of striping bike lanes, the department of transportation would construct a wider right lane than normal, about the same width as a regular lane plus a bike lane, this would allow bikes to ride in the normal lane and move over to let slow traffic pass if neccesary. On a multilane road, bikes would usually not even have to move over.

Source: some recent discussions on the usenet bicycle newsgroups (crossposted to misc.transport.road)

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