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Can Bicycles Fix Our Public Transportation Problems?

Audio

Aired 5/15/09

Are bicycles a viable public transportation option for the future? Today is "Bike to Work Day," and the editors will discuss the current state of San Diego's bicycle infrastructure, and whether improvements should be made to our roadways to create more room for bicyclists.

Doug Myrland: Friday is officially "Bike to Work Day". Last year, over 5,000 people participated in the annual event. SANDAG, and the various public transportation agencies, are promoting the day and bicycle advocates use the occasion to celebrate their cause and raise awareness. Riding ones bicycle to work seems like a healthy, environmentally sound, economical thing to do. So, what's not to like? Well, for one thing, it can be dangerous. For another, automobile commuters may not be so anxious to slow down or re-route to avoid bikes. According to media reports, San Diego is a pretty good place for bicyclists, especially among larger cities. But do we have, or even want, the infrastructure to support a lot more people riding bicycles a lot more often?

Guests

Chris Reed, editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, and author of "America's Finest Blog" on signonsandiego.com.

David Rolland, editor of San Diego CityBeat.

JW August, managing editor of 10News.

Comments

Avatar for user 'wondernerd'

wondernerd | May 16, 2009 at 1:13 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

You call these people experts?! Why did you not get some people who actually knew something about bicycling!? The idiot... uh, editor from the Useless-Tribune actually refers to the boardwalk as a bike lane. The boardwalk is a tourist attraction. No bicyclist trying to get anywhere would seriously use the boardwalk to get anywhere.

One-quarter of motor vehicle trips are less than 2 miles which is less than 10 to 15 minutes on a bicycle. The editor from the Useless-Tribune should be ashamed of himself. He keeps saying that bicycling is simply silly. Removing 1/4 of the motor vehicle trips from the roads is silly?!

The other idiot, sorry, expert calls bicyclists "elitists!" We must move toward bicycling. We are running out of cheap oil. It will go back up to $5.00 within a few years. And when it does, there will be plenty more bicyclist on the road.

Also, no one talked about the health benefits. We are an obese, out-of-shape nation. Bicycling is an opportunity to get your exercise while you are commuting. Cars kill us with kindness.

I repeat, next time you talk about bicycling, please try to get some people who actually know what they are talking about.

KPBS is going down porcelain oasis...

P.S. I have over 51,000 miles on my bicycle, most of it commuting. It is no where near as dangerous as the idiots, uh, experts made it out to be.

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Avatar for user 'AviationMetalSmith'

AviationMetalSmith | May 17, 2009 at 11:40 a.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree with wondernerd's postscript. I've bicycled over 140,000 miles and I've never been knocked off my bike by a car. I've always looked over my shoulder , like once every ten seconds, and If there's a truck behind me, I pull over to let it go by. More recently I've been using a rear-view mirror.

But there are several categories of bicycling and I will now attempt to list them. Commuting is only one category, and there may be sub-categories, but let's see:

1) Racing - Bicycle racing is a very fast paced sport. I think they deserve some acknowledgement for riding at the speed limit, or faster.

2) Touring - Long distance riding often crossing entire states or continents. These arduous riders carry camping gear, and handguns.

3) Mountain / Trails - The mountain bike makes motorists happy. These bikes are ridden on wilderness trails that have no automobile traffic, so they don't have the issue of irate motorists being delayed.

4) BMX Stunts - The stunt riders measure there accomplishments vertically, in feet or meters, not horizontally in miles or kilometers. By far, the BMX riders are the most likely to go to a hospital in an ambulance.

5) Load Hauling - Sorry, when your car hits a Utility Bike, you need a new car. These bicycles have large racks made of welded-together metal pipes, and fiberglass dump bodies for hauling rocks and dirt. 3,800 pound car vs 3,800 pound bike, the tow truck driver wins.

6) Commuting - Riding to work is what the story is about. Bicycle commuters have the worst traffic conditions to deal with; they always ride in rush-hour traffic. A bicycle trail around a lake doesn't take anyone near where they have to work. I see many riding on the sidewalks. The best thing would be to ban street parking to make bicycle lanes.

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Avatar for user 'georoad'

georoad | May 18, 2009 at 2:52 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

Riding a bicycle is a lot of fun; offers much greater safety (lower chance of death than riding or driving in a private automobile); is cardioprotective; and is far more economical than any transit (if individual and social costs are considered).

Of course, the individual empowerment of relying on others less for your transportation is politically dangerous.

I loved the suggestion that side paths as the solution (inherently slower, and with a higher crash risk per mile and per hour than on road cycling)- with the idea that motorists should be able to consume massive resources unexamined.

Cycling is far more social, both in terms of congestion relief, energy use, and pure being able to converse with fellow road users than anything else.

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