Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

24 April 2015

Ride The Lane: You Are Traffic

Three and a half decades ago, John Forester's Effective Cycling was published.  To this day, no one (of whom I'm aware, anyway) has done a better job of elucidating what needs to be done in order for the bicycle to be seen as a viable option for commuting and other purposes.

Essentially, he said that in order for the bicycle to be seen as a vehicle, and not merely a toy, we have to ride as if our bicycles are indeed vehicles.  In explaining what that meant, he showed the folly of bike lanes and other planners' attempts to "accomodate"  us.

In the ensuing years, not much has changed, save for the number of cyclists.  If anything, the situation has gotten worse:  more and more bike lanes are being built and lots of neophyte cyclists believe they are safer in them, and that said lanes are a sign of their city's "bike friendliness" or simply its "cool factor".  

Here is an example of how, not only bike lanes, but prevalent notions of how cyclists ride in traffic, put us in more danger than taking a lane and thus making ourselves more visible to motorists:

By Keri Caffrey


  1. Franklin was also very good though, being English, he consistently mixed up left and right.

  2. Steve--You're right. How did I forget about him?

    How did the Brits manage to control so much of the world when they mixed up left and right? ;-)

  3. We Brits know that left is right. We have know this since the days that it was wise to be prepared to literally fight for your right of way with your right hand if needs be...

    Greatest problem with roads and cyclists is probably that fewer motorists spent time on the roads as cyclists when young so have not the slightest inkling of cyclists needs. Most roads are little improved since my far away youth but traffic numbers are greatly increased and impatience to pass without delay put us at risk.

    I was Cycling in Denmark and Germany last year and there was a greater understanding of our needs from motorists than there is in Britain

  4. Coline--Is "left is right" a political philosophy?

    Joking aside, I think you're right about the differences between drivers of different countries. I came to the same conclusion after cycling in the countries you mention and other European nations--and living in France. Back in those days, nearly all French motorists had been cyclists in their youth, and sometimes even later.