The Firefly

Giving Lipservice To The Idea Of ‘Sharing The Road’

One of the things that we cyclists are going to have to learn to do better is ‘share the road‘. And I am not speaking just of our on-again off-again love-hate relationships with four-wheel vehicles. No I am talking about the prospect of having to share the ‘bike lane‘ with everyone else.

What on earth does one do when suddenly you have longboards, wheel chairs, kids on trikes, seniors on recumbent trikes, velomobiles and e-assist bikes all crowding the lane? Can you imagine the feeling that a cyclist on his way to work will have when suddenly confronted by a vehicle that is wide enough that it literally prevents him from ‘filtering‘ to the front when traffic is stalled?

What do you do when you are riding along and are suddenly surrounded by much slower moving vehicles which have as much right to the lane as you do? Better yet what will be your response when the lady on your right decides to pass you at 25 mph on a bicycle with electric assist?

We had all better consider our response, because that day will be here shortly. Imagine being in a bike lane alongside an ELF. It is as wide as a pedicab, and can carry as much as your average pedicab can (in terms of weight) but it can move along at much higher speeds.

Will the bicycle community begin to nitpick itself to death? Will there be cries that nothing with a motor is a bicycle? Will it be the case that people will actually attempt to use Tasers on one another (once suggested on the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez Club’ Bicycle Forum)?

With our society in as unforgiving mode as it often seems to be, it is difficult to decide what will happen. But it is certain that nothing good can occur unless we stop and think about this before we actually need to.

There will eventually be pedestrians on small motorized wheels that allow them to stand and move at speeds approaching 20 mph! And they too will be using the ‘bike lane‘. Eventually bicyclists will either have to embrace the newcomers or try to continue to justify the outrageous millions of dollars spent on bike lanes that benefit only a very few people.

Perhaps the Republicans will be our saviors? They may in fact bring us to the realization that there is strength in numbers (and not just those on city bikes). We need wheelchair riders and everyone else who cares to join us in the ‘bike lane‘. But be prepared to call it the ‘People’s Lane‘, because that is a far better way of thinking about this than to limit our thinking just to bicycles.