Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Schemes to Maintain

Leave it to The Atlantic to exaggerate the horror: Cyclists riding on sidewalks! Rather than being a problem, it attests to bad infrastructure and dereliction of duty by responsible DOT. Under certain conditions it’s perfectly legal. Ambiguity rules elsewhere, only prohibited in a few states. Federal policies already require equal infrastructure for biking, hiking and motoring. Highways cannot bar cyclists from crossing at reasonable intervals including bridges or riding parallel. Biking routes can’t stop any more than motoring thoroughfares. Boulevards must have shoulders into which drivers can pull over in an emergency, if only to take a cell call or text. Gore areas and shoulders are all cyclists need to coexist with motorists on busy roads, and you need nothing on side streets other than smooth, swept pavement. Formal bike lanes or paths are often unnecessary except where conditions force too much traffic into too little space, but painted stripes are cheap and easy.

Registered drivers complain that they pay for roads and so deserve to drive unencumbered. Nonsense. First, they don’t pay alone: Revenue gets collected from many sources including taxes on $6 billion in bicycle sales every year. Second, cyclists and walkers hardly ever slow motorists unless driving illegally in bike lanes, gutters, or on sidewalks. Third, other/unlicensed drivers threaten everyone, not unmotorized, vulnerable users. If frustrated they are in your way, blame your DOT for not accommodating them separately. Nobody is disrespected and inconvenienced more than cyclists. The Atlantic’s agenda doesn’t address worse hazards. Why don’t they report on bus, SUV or tractor trailer abuse? Commerce declines upon bad news. Schemers construe their own taboos.

Roads are empty most of the time. You can monitor this for yourself by sitting attentively and ticking off passing vehicles. Experts calculate the collective footprint of 214 million cars in America at 760 square miles, smaller than Rhode Island. Somewhat less than two hundred million registered motorists drive on average only 1.7 hours/day. Nation’s 4 million miles of roadways combined with parking spaces occupy an area estimated at 61,000 square miles, bigger than 30 of 50 states including Florida or Georgia, 3/4 the size of all farmed land, a wide swath that would wrap Earth’s equator 156 times. So, moving vehicles take up <1.1% of pavement, leaving 98.9% of roads empty 22.3 hours per day. Nation allots each driver 80 square miles of paved space. Nevertheless, idiots still collide >5 million times per year. Yet many drive their entire lives without the least mishap. Some of this can be explained by everyone wanting to commute through congested areas at the same time. But the more lonesome a road, the more ridiculous the chances drivers will take. Every long straightaway has a suicide curve at which scores have already died without any remediation or even signs. Perhaps they should make such situations safer by providing alternatives. Only <1% of budget goes to bicycling and >99% to motoring with a focus on flowing ever more cars through areas that exclude cycling. This is illegal and lacks any balance whatever. Cyclists consider such points every time they take to roads.

Facts made available on Internet is now so numerous you wonder if anyone can make sense of them. Depends greatly upon what question you want answered. If official sources can deceive and pervert with statistics, why can’t Labann entertain and expose follies with them? Situations that kill sustain certain industries, coffin makers, emergency rooms, funeral parlors, insurance companies. Commerce flows and death spirals on nation’s roadways, while cyclists spin and take it all in. Rants majority ignores echo hollowly.

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