Ooops… Looks like there were some inaccuracies in my original story. I’ve taken the content offline while I do more research.
California SB 582 has passed and is now awaiting signature from the Governor Jerry Brown. This bill allows regional planning authorities to require employers to offer commuter benefits – pre-tax deductions that can be use for public transportation or cycling costs incurred by bike commuting. That’s right, you may soon have the opportunity to pay for those tires shredded by road debris with pre-tax funds. Folks familiar with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) for health care will be familiar with this concept. These plans are, in essence, an FSA for commuters. Jerry Brown has 12 days to either sign or veto. You can get the details of the bill, including the full text, here.
Bike lanes are both a blessing and a curse, and anybody that has done much commuting in urban environments has likely experienced both sides of that. On the blessing side, studies have demonstrated that bike lanes do, in fact, encourage more folks to ride. However, it may also create a false sense of security, and can even create greater danger in some situations. Here in US cities, most bike lanes are right in the “door zone” along parallel parked cars, causing cyclists to need to dart into traffic unexpectedly should a car door get opened in front of them. Couple that risk with the pretense of “Mandatory Use Laws” and the dark side of bike lanes shows itself.
It is human nature – when you are aware and think of a particular topic, you tend to find things related to that topic in the world around you. Even so, my eyes kinda bugged out of my head when I ran across an article about a New Jersey lawmaker Cleopatra Tucker wanted mandatory license plates for bicycles.
Bicycle lanes are something of a double-edged sword in certain circumstances. Study after study has shown that the presence of bicycle lanes has a positive effect on overall cycling. However, some will argue that traditional bike lane placement – especially on city streets – comes with its own problems. Usually, bike lanes are placed in the exact spot where drivers would get out of their cars when parallel parking next to the curb – the “door zone.” Bike lanes can also put cyclists in conflict with motorists that are making right hand turns at stop lights.
I’ve received some interesting responses – both directly and indirectly – about my recent post titled ‘Anti-bike Propaganda.’ In that article, I picked random comments made by folks on various websites, forums and news posts. All of the quoted comments – by design – had a decidedly anti-cycling flavor.
I’ve now taken some time to ponder some of the responses, and I think I’ll start selectively addressing some of the statements I collected. The first statement I’d like to examine deals with the issue of bicycle registration, or licensing
Share the road. Make insurance mandatory along with license plates on bicycles, they can cause accidents just as cars, and be used in crimes just like cars so the laws should be made “center of the road” so it is equal for both parties using the road. Simple.
Parked out front of the coffee shop this afternoon I noticed not one but three Sacramento Police Department bicycles. All were different makes and models, but all were mountain bikes. The three officers had stopped for a cup of coffee. Apparently (but not surprisingly) officers on bicycles are much healthier than their car-bound brethren. There was not a doughnut in a single one of their hands – even a stereotypical one.
All of them were similiarly equipped – with lights and a siren on the handlebars.
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Ah bicycle helmets. The topic that I just can’t leave alone. While I try to remain non-judgmental to the choices of others, and personally can take it or leave it, I still remain decidedly against helmet laws.
I spent a few minutes yesterday complaining about controversy in the cycling world, and here I am reporting on yet more. However, this time we won’t be talking about Mr. Armstrong or anything associated with him. This time we will talk about possibly the only thing in the cycling universe that is guaranteed to generate as much noise: a Critical Mass ride.
What makes this particular run in between police and Critical Mass participants interesting is the location: Long Beach. It is interesting because Long Beach has very loudly declared its intent to become the most bicycle friendly city in the country.