The Dutch take cycling seriously.
For the Dutch cycling is not mainly a sport or leisure activity. For the Dutch, cycling is transportation first and fun second. To be considered a serious cyclist here, one only needs regular street clothes and a bicycle. No special equipment needed.
The Dutch want infrastructure. When the Dutch set out to build cycling infrastructure, it is with the idea of meeting the cyclists needs. Bicycle Dutch – Infrastructure, It is not the intention of the Dutch to get cyclists “Out of the way”, as it is here in America. No, the Dutch give their cyclists preferential treatment and it shows in the quality of movement on their streets. Even where there are no cycle paths. Cyclists move through traffic the same way they do here in the states. Dutch Cycling Observations.
The Americans take cycling seriously.
As a sport, cycling is a big deal here in America. In America cycling is fun and leisure first, transportation second. To be considered a “Serious Cyclist”, you are expected to wear Lycra shorts, neon shirts, head-gear, specially made shoes, and have a specialized bicycle.
The Americans want infrastructure. When the Americans set out to build cycling infrastructure, it is with the idea of meeting the motorists demands. Ticket for not riding in Bike Lane. Bicycle lanes are not built, they are painted. Bike Lane Fail – as seen in this video. Where the cyclist is forced to squeeze between curb traffic and traveling traffic. Here in the States, Bicycling for transportation is some rogue phenomenon. Hardly taken seriously. So when Bike Lanes are built or rather painted, they do not take in the needs of the cyclist and cyclists get shoved down the transportation food chain. Cyclists in America are treated as second class citizens and the culture here reflects that. Attempt at humor – Fail.
It’s the Culture!
When Americans start accepting that Motor-Vehicles are not always the most convenient form of transportation and that quite often they are the problem, not the solution. Will they then start building infrastructure that caters to the needs of cyclists?
I hope so.
Until then, Stop ticketing us for being on the road, Stop turning a blind eye to harassment from motorists, Start educating local law enforcement and require them to ride in traffic and not on the sidewalk. Stop ticketing cyclists for not riding in unsafe bike lanes. Normalize cycling. Be the example and lead the way.
Safe interactions with motorists on busy streets can be done!
Until demand for cycling outweighs the ability of the existing infrastructure to meet its needs. There is no need for bike lanes on streets with two or more lanes in one direction.
Educate cyclists to operate as vehicles. In every state bicycles are legally defined as vehicles.
Ride like one!
Educate motorists to respect cyclist space, in exactly the same manner that motorcyclist demanded driver education to make motorists more aware of them.