As I ride to work more, I’ve noticed myself increasingly gravitating toward riding on the road. I’ve never understood why cyclists would ride on a busy street when there is a bike path right next to them, but it becomes more sensible to me with each bump or obstacle I encounter. There are a couple spots in my commute where the bike paths are smooth and uninterrupted by driveways, but the path closest to my house, in particular, offers a really uncomfortable ride. Driveways seem to have taken priority in the construction of the path so there are two seams to ride over at each one, and each seam is accompanied by a gap or grade change. I can hear my panniers clanging behind me and fear for the integrity of my rear wheel with every jangle. The curb cut going into one of the subdivisions is even worse; anyone attempting to traverse that in a wheelchair would likely end up on the road (I wonder if that’s enforceable under ADA). So I’ve been taking my chances on the much smoother road, feeling increasingly envious of cycling infrastructure that exists elsewhere.
As I’ve been reading about cycling infrastructure around the world, I’m finding it interesting how many different models of cycle infrastructure are out there. The Dutch are moving in the direction of segregation – no bike lane adjoining a road, but rather a path that is separated from motor traffic by some kind of physical barrier.
Photo from http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com
The Danish apparently have another model. I’m not clear on the differences, but they do look good doing it.
Photo from http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com
And then there’s Japan, which I’ve seen maligned for not even having a cycle infrastructure – but it seems to be working out for them. First, a mamachari – this is what I aspired to when we returned to the States (now I’m leaning more in the cargo bike direction):
Photo from http://www.electricbike.com
Cycle paths = sidewalks (nobody pays attention to the markings!)
Photo from http://www.yomiuri.com.jp
I’d like to think that someday there would be a defined American style when it comes to cycle infrastructure – maybe even in my lifetime?