The other day, I was riding along 21st Avenue in East Elmhurst. A driver made a careless turn in front of me. I yelled a few things not allowed in PG-rated movies and flashed the one-fingered peace sign.
The driver--a woman a few years younger than me--rolled down her window. "You shouldn't be riding here," she yelled. "You should be on the bike lane."
"There's none here," I shouted.
"Well, there's one on 20th Avenue."
"But it won't take me to where I'm going."
"You still should use it."
"Would you drive along a street that doesn't take you where you want to go?"
She then started to lecture me about how riding on a bike lane is safer than riding on a street. Mustering all of the patience I could gather within myself, I explained that bike lanes can be more dangerous than the streets for cyclists. "Some drivers seem to think the bike lanes are for passing or double-parking."
Her eyes widened. "I don't do those things!"
"I wasn't accusing you. I said some drivers do them. " I was about to tell her that I have been "doored" twice, and on both occasions I was riding in a bike lane. But she had to go somewhere, so that debate didn't come to pass.
Afterward, it occured to me that her misconceptions about bicycle safety are considered "common knowledge" and guide the decisions of too many urban planners. That is the reason why so many bike lanes are poorly-conceived and -constructed, and people like the driver I confronted simply cannot understand why we don' t use them.