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Posts Tagged ‘Code For Riding

My Code For Riding – Part 6 – Conclusion

with 8 comments

© Walraj Singh Gosal

Well, it’s been almost two years since I started this thread: My Code For Riding. My intent was to conclude the series by the end of 2009, but I couldn’t find the right way to close my thoughts on riding. Perhaps it’s because this is a topic that has no end for me. Cycling has become a continued journey of discovery in both myself and the world around me. My confidence and ability on the road has strengthened, along with my enthusiasm to ride more.

Lots of things have happened since Part 5. I started Bike Friendly Richardson – the first of many DFW Bike Friendly groups to follow in the footsteps of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff. I figured that if I want to increase the ridership in DFW, I should start with my own city.

I’ve also made lots of friends, locally and long distance, who share the same perspective on cycling as me – where we see cycling as a fun activity that doesn’t have to be categorized as a sport.

I’ve done the Richardson Wide Ride against cancer twice, 16 miles the first time, 40 miles the second.

I’ve gone from being a full-time car commuter, to replacing enough trips by bike this summer to save a tank of gas. My plan is to continue with more bike commutes in my future.

My conclusion for My Code For Riding, is that there is no conclusion – not yet. Happy riding.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

August 9, 2011 at 9:25 am

My Code For Riding – Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy

with 11 comments

The following is a perspective based on my limited experience with street riding and the little knowledge I’ve picked up from the velo web. I feel this is relevant because I may share this perspective with many other new or aspiring riders.

Where are all the bike riders?

As with most bicyclists, I would love to see more riders out enjoying their bikes. It’s fun, healthy and great for the environment. I’ve also discovered that it’s a great way to explore the world around us while building a strong, local community. Bikes give everybody the chance to say hello as we pass each other on the streets and trails. Yet, with our busy lives, many have forgotten about this great escape vehicle that’s probably sitting in most of our garages, collecting dust.

Some cities have gained some momentum at bringing bicycle riding back into mainstream lifestyles. Places like Portland, San Francisco, Boulder and New York City are built on limited real estate, usually constrained by some sort of geographical limitation (mountains, lakes or oceans). This allows these cities to be more dense, where resources and services are closer and easily accessible – ideal for building a bicycle infrastructure. Conversely, in cities like Dallas, there are fewer of those geographical limitations and it’s easy for development to spread the city wide and sparse. The distance between resources and services are more scattered, resulting in cities that become built around the car. Bicycle advocacy becomes a bit harder in these parts.

According to a popular bicycle magazine, my city Dallas has developed a reputation for being one of the worst cities for bicycling. I have to agree. However, it’s not because we don’t have the proper infrastructure for cyclists, it’s because there are so few of us on the road. Awareness is low, making folks apprehensive about riding, which brings fewer bikes on the road. It’s a vicious cycle. I think for a city to become bicycle friendly, there needs to be more bicyclists out there, but in order to do that, a city needs to be more bike friendly.

Give them a reason

People have different reason for riding a bike. Some do it for better health, others to save gas or the environment. Whatever the reason, most of us do it for fun. I believe that if we have more motivation to take our bikes instead of cars, more folks would consider it. Instead of building wider, more scattered cities, we should focus on creating destinations close to each other.  Let folks realize that jumping on a bike to go down the street is much nicer than burning a gallon of fuel to get across the city.

We should also strive to make our towns more bike friendly. It seems like I’m seeing fewer bike racks around my local businesses. I’m sure this is from the lack of use more than anything else. However, I think that if we see more bikes parked in front of our destinations, we get inspired to do the same.

Another great way to get folks to ride is to have more social bike gatherings. Invite friends, neighbors and family to ride with you. Start a bike community in your town and organize casual rides to get people hooked on riding. Groups like Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, 75208, FMD and Richardson Urban Bicycle Club have started this type of advocacy and they are getting some great momentum. I’m hoping to see more towns do the same. Keep in mind that as your group grows, you will need to take steps to promote safe, legal and responsible riding.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a start

What about our routes? Is it possible for bikes and cars to share the road? The truth is, there is an inherent fear that NEW cyclists have towards riding on busy roads. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons we don’t see many folks riding through town. There is a perception that riding a bike on streets is dangerous.

We need to change that perception. One solution is to do our best to inform and educate new riders and drivers about safely sharing city streets, but I fear those efforts get little traction with those already set in their point-of-view. Another solution, although flawed from a road sharing advocacy perspective, is to build more bike lanes. Flawed because these lanes have a tendency to imply to motorists that bikes don’t belong on the road.

To me, the best solution is a combination of both. First, to get more NEW riders to feel confident on the road, there needs to be more ‘implied’ safe routes, which would include lanes specifically marked for bicycling. I’m talking about full lanes – not painted gutters. No matter what your perspective is, the one thing bike lanes do is give new cyclist more confidence to start riding with traffic.

I also feel that we need to step up our efforts in informing motorists about the laws that pertain to cyclists – that we do belong on the roads. Not only do cities need more signage on the road, but cycling laws should be part of EVERY driving test. In addition, I think there should have more public service announcements on the TV and radio.

In the end, I feel that if more cyclists are on the road (bike lane or not), awareness will increase and hopefully sharing the road will be more accepted. If it’s more accepted, maybe we’ll see more cyclists.

Don’t forget about safety and education

An important part of bicycle advocacy is giving folks the tools to become better and safer cyclists. It’s one thing to convince more people to ride, but advocates should also provide the right information to those less experienced. Hopefully, with a little knowledge, we can keep our streets safe with fewer accidents.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

November 6, 2009 at 5:45 am

My Code For Riding – Part 4 – What Kind Of Rider Am I

with 9 comments

Just-A-Cyclist:

I’m not sure how to classify myself because I don’t fit in any of the typical, sport cycle categories. I also dislike the term ‘casual rider’ because I feel my riding has become more than just casual. For now, I just call myself a bicyclist – plain, simple and right to the point.

As you may have read in Part 2, I’m not new to cycling. However, cross-town street riding is a type of cycling that I typically avoided. Why? From my perspective (and I’m sure for most who are new to street riding) it appeared to be too dangerous. There are too many variables to consider when sharing the road with cars – including basic physics. Putting my slow, little bike up against huge, speeding SUVs seemed like a no win situation.

When I started, my plan was to keep to neighborhood streets and bike trails. This grew to neighboring roads, and eventually, across large parts of north Dallas. I learned that cycling around town has become one of the best ways for me to enjoy my bike. Through my explorations, I’ve discovered a new perspective of the world around me. I’ve witnessed sights, sounds and smells that I would normally miss driving my car. Yet, even though the range of my rides has increased and my confidence in my commute has strengthened, I’m far from being what one would consider a true road warrior.

There are veteran cyclists who swear that sharing the road is the safest way to cycle around town. I’ve read countless points that identify how vehicular cycling should be practiced by anybody who street cycles. I tend to believe that these riders, who have thousands of miles and years of experience, have got to be right. So why do I fear some busy roads? Well, it’s all about perspective and experience. There are things that lead me to have reservations about jumping in and swimming with the sharks. For the most part, it’s my view of drivers.

I Drive A Car As Well:

I’ve driven a car for most of my adult life. Being a driver, I’m aware of our failings as commuters. Speed and self-entitlement have caused drivers to become reckless and less aware of their surroundings. Drivers assume, time and time again, that roads were built for cars and that anything else is just an obstacle. This is why, as a bicyclist, I fear sharing some busy, high-speed roads.

On the flip side, since I’ve been cycling more, I’ve learned a new perspective for when I’m behind the wheel of my car. I now strive to be more responsible when I drive. If anything, that alone should be the reason more folks should ride a bike. It puts driving in a whole new light.

The Evolution:

I’d like to break down my perspective on the evolution into street cycling to clearly articulate for Part 5 what I think are the hurtles for bicycle advocacy.

Phase 1: Starting Out – This is one of the more important phases. We all have different reasons for getting on a bike. We all share similar fears and concerns about sharing the road, which make getting past this point the biggest step. I’ll go more into this in Part 5 – my perspective of bike advocacy and getting more folks started.

Phase 2: Breaking Some Habits – As we cycle more, we discover what we’re doing wrong. For instance, wearing headphones. It seems like a nice way to enjoy a ride until you realize you can’t hear the traffic around you. Among many other things, we learn that taking short cuts and riding against traffic (on sidewalks) isn’t the best way to get to our destinations. Most importantly, we learn to stop assuming that drivers are watching out for us.

Phase 3: Building Confidence – This only comes with time and experience. Stay safe, and take steps to become familiar with your routes and traffic around you.

Phase 4: Becoming Aware – Riding Defensively – This is the phase I’m in right now. I’ve decided to take more control of my riding situation and practice being more aware, at all times, of all my surroundings. I feel this stage is another one of the more important phases. Even with a vast wealth of cycling knowledge and experience, nothing beats good ol’ fashion common sense.

Phase 5 through 99: Achieve and Practice Cycling Knowledge – I’m practicing a few things that I’ve learned, but there are still so many more I’ll need to know to ride safely and confidently. Proper hand signals, proper lane position, proper maneuvers are just a few of the skills you need to utilize. I’ll post links to some great sites that have some of this information.

Phase 100: Road Warrior – After years of experience, hopefully, you’ll have the confidence you need.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

October 22, 2009 at 6:00 am

My Code For Riding – Part 3 – Where I Ride

with 20 comments

I live in the ‘burbs

I’m a firm believer that your environment plays a big roll in how you ride. I like to imagine living in a transportation utopia, where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians coexist in harmony and the wind is always at your back. The truth is most of the cities in north Texas have been built around the car. Yes, we have the weekend warriors that do the group road bike rides around town, but general, day-to-day cycling is pretty scarce. Because of this, bicycling has become less prevalent in my town, which contributes to the problem of limited bicycle rider awareness with most Texas drivers.

Although Richardson has some quiet neighborhood streets and the start of a nice little network of trails and bike lanes, there are routes that intersect with US 75, a major freeway that cuts right through the middle. In order to get from one side to the next, a cyclist must interact with several major roadways to cross it.

I like to think of myself as somewhat experienced at riding, but the thought of sharing some of these busy roads with speeding cars terrifies me. Until a solution is made, I’ll opt for the route that I am comfortable with (although some would consider not the safest) – even if that means taking the sidewalk. I can see a collective of vehicular cyclists cringing right now, but I won’t get too deep into this topic until Part 4.

I love riding around Richardson and I love the fact that they are making efforts to making the city more bike friendly. I just hope people start riding more, drivers become more aware and Richardson becomes that bicycle utopia.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

October 20, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General Cycling

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My Code For Riding – Part 2 – About Me

with 7 comments

ABOUT ME:

First, I’d like to describe the type of rider I am to explain my point-of-view. Every cyclist is different which contributes to the differences in the general opinion about cycling advocacy.

I’m in my early 40’s with a renewed interest in cycling. I grew up street riding on a hand-me-down, banana seat Huffy and eventually graduated to store brand wannabe BMX and ten-speed bikes. When I turned 16, like most kids in Texas, I lost interest. Driving a car made getting around easier and faster. Eventually, I got back into cycling when I picked up a cheap bike to get around my university campus. After that, I got the mountain biking bug and it became my favorite hobby.

As the years progressed, I traded my weekend rides for a career, a family, a mortgage and a larger waistline. The bike was hung in the garage and ignored for many years.

Fast forward to early last year (2008), when I decided to take my health and fitness more seriously. Part of my plan was to dust off the old mountain bike and hit the trails. Unfortunately, I sold my old truck and getting my bike out to Grapevine or LB Houston became a bit of a problem. The solution was to start riding around my neighborhood. Those rides started getting longer and eventually, I was taking rides all over town.

As you can see, I’m an experienced rider, but relatively new to commuting around town.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

October 17, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General Cycling

Tagged with

My Code For Riding – Part 1 – Introduction

with 7 comments

Since I really  hate long blog posts, I’m going to break this down into several post. Please see the links below to read more.

INTRODUCTION:

Seems like I’ve been reading a lot of animosity between bicycle groups throughout the DFW Metroplex. Different classifications of riders poke fun at how the other dresses and rides, the vehicular cyclists are doing their best to criticize the work of some urban, non-sport awareness efforts, bike lane advocates verses bike lane opponents. Why can’t we all just get along?

We’re cyclists – two wheels (sometimes more, sometimes less) and two pedals, trying to get from place to place and enjoy the ride. We should have the same goal in mind, to promote bicycle advocacy and building a strong bike community by getting more folks to ride. When we bicker back and forth about the solution for making DFW a better place to ride, we start to lose our momentum.

I’ve been wondering where I fit in all this world of cycling disagreement, and I decided to sit down and write out MY Code For Riding to explain the type of bicyclist I am. I want to share the rules and limitations that I put on myself before I decided to get out and ride around my town. Please note that this perspective changes as I become more comfortable on the road and gain experience. However, the basic code that I started with (flawed or not) gave me (and hopefully other riders like me) the encouragement to venture outside of my neighborhood.

I’m hoping that these posts about My Code For Riding will help me articulate the type of rider I am and why I have certain opinions about bicycle advocacy. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, but at least you can understand my perspective and possibly relate to some of my positions on the subject.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – About Me
Part 3 – Where I Ride
Part 4 –  What Kind Of Rider Am I
Part 5 – Bicycle Advocacy
Part 6 – Conclusion

Written by dickdavid

October 15, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General Cycling

Tagged with