“Multi-Use” Paths Aren’t Really

I recently responded to a thread on a local forum about multi-use path etiquette, and thought this was a pretty good statement of why paths are bad for cyclists, so I thought i’d repurpose it for here.

That’s why I must object to the way some people behave on our bike paths. Of all the thousands of miles of streets and sidewalks in Madison, we bicyclists have only a few narrow paths which we can call our own. Yet every day, I pass dozens of non-bicyclists who take over these trails and treat them like their own personal playgrounds. They stroll two or three abreast, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking traffic from behind. They walk on the left side of the road, or suddenly lurch from the right lane to the left without a thought for what might be behind them. They walk dogs. They carry infants, push baby carriages, and let their young children roam unsupervised. It is at best a constant annoyance, and at worst a grave danger to everyone involved.

Bike paths may not be strictly for bikes, but they’re for people who want to move. If you’re jogging or inline skating, fine. If you’re just walking or goofing around, please use the sidewalk instead.

Your basic problem here is that you’ve fallen for the propaganda: those pushing the paths call them “multi-use paths” when they’re selling them to pedestrians or trying to get funding, and “bike paths” when they’re selling them to cyclists. Continue reading

With friends like these…

You know, I gotta wonder if the folks making “pro-bicycle” decisions in this city ever actually ride a bike.

Actually, maybe they do—maybe they’re the people I see cycling all the time. The ones who scare the hell out of me, and/or piss me off, with their combination of blatant disregard for their own safety, obliviousness to traffic laws and rules of the road, and poor bike-handling skills. In fairness, the average cyclist is probably no worse than the average motorist, once you factor in differences in vehicular capabilities. And I’ve never been able to observe a motor vehicle for more than a block, and not see them do something dangerous/illegal/stupid (and i’ve been behind the wheel for most of my employment history, so I’ve seen a lot of motor vehicles). But the sheer stupidity of some regular cycling behaviors just boggles the mind: passing a stopped bus between the bus and the curb? Heck, passing any vehicle on the right, if you’re anywhere near any sort of intersection, driveway, or open parking spot. There’s plenty of room on the left side, where people expect to get passed. And yet, just because somebody painted a stripe on the pavement, cyclists think it’s ok. Continue reading