Jazz, while I utterly agree about clueless cyclists, there are MANY motorists here who don't understand my utterly standard hand signals. Also, many here start turning right when there is a green arrow indicating cars, bicycles etc can move straight ahead but not turn, cutting everyone else off.
In the Netherlands and Denmark, schoolchildren have classes in cycling as part of their physical education regimen. This also means that drivers (almost all of whom are also cyclists) have taken these classes as well. I was happy to see some initiatives by community groups for cycling classes for adults.
Our métro system was planned with provision for growth, but we don't have any money (or so they say).
I agree that riding a bicycle in NYC is not nuts and try to convey this to as many people as I can. I think a lot of people's perception of NYC is derived from seeing movies,with massive traffic,honking horns,general madness. While traffic can get pretty crazy during rush hour,mid and downtown in particular,the streets are lined out so perfectly for cyclists to zip around. Most of my riding while there is confined to a general area,the Village,both East and West are a breeze to ride through (one does have to know where one's going of course) and to get over to the West side and vice versa,one gets to ride through lovely Central Park.There are parts of the city that I don't know real well,and although, lined out in a grid,I would probably avoid,just based on my general ignorance of them. I was hoping to hear from Patrick London in here and his take on the new London system. I hope Toronto does get it together,it's such a lovely city,a bike system seems ideal.
I am surprised that New York is so bicycle friendly! We seem to have a long way to go here in Toronto. Just today my friend was cycling in a downtown cemetary and emailed me with this. '...Hey, I almost hit a deer today while riding my bike. In Mt. Pleasant cemetery a young buck with velvet on his horns hopped out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes. He was as surprised as me!...'
So,after going out for a ride this morning to run some errands and reshoot some pics of our beautiful new bike path,who do I encounter but the cyclist's enemy #2 (after the opening car door). This UPS driver,pulls up his truck to make a delivery,right after this major intersection,and right turn,just as I am approaching on my bike!!! As you can see,I have to veer to my left to avoid him,and there's a changing of the light with a steady stream of traffic right behind me!! They don't give a damn!
Glad to see you've resurrected your photos, casi, and this thread as well.
I would add that Missoula had a green cycles lending program where you could pick up a bike for free wherever you saw it parked and return it whenever and wherever you wanted. The bikes were rebuilt by volunteers and painted green. The program was phased out when all the bikes ended up in the bushes or the rivers with the "borrowed" shopping carts. Need to fine-tune the program.
Since most people own bikes here, though, it works well that many businesses, including Walmart, have bike lockers where you can safely store your ride out of the weather and away from thieves and scavengers who will take off your seat or wheels or lights...
None of the totally free bike systems anywhere in the world has ever worked, so I guess we are not living in a perfect world yet. What is always interesting in the articles about the failed system is how long they lasted until the last bike disappeared or was destroyed.
It has often been pointed out that subway systems such as Paris would cost hardly anything or maybe even save money if they became free -- no tickets, no turnstiles, no ticket checkers, no big computer control system, etc., not to mention more use and therefore fewer cars on the road.
But apparently every single survey everywhere has indicated that people do not respect anything that they don't have to pay for -- and the cost of vandalism is huge.
Noticing Casi's picture in 114, I see the NO bike lanes are on the outside of the parked car zone. This is what they have in the few places in Toulouse that has painted lanes along streets. Absolutely useless, and ours are half the width of the NO ones. And they also tend to stop approaching an intersection, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Which I why I only cycle along the canal, on the separated bike path and don't use my bike as much as I should.
I also read above about vandalism and stealing. It happens everywhere. A friend of mine, who rides her bike absolutely everywhere, went to the Fête de la Musique in downtown Toulouse. During the 15 minutes she popped in to a church to hear some music, her new bike was stolen, despite the 2 locks attaching it to a bench. She went to the police to report the theft, and a few days later went to the main police station to see whether her bike had been found. They took her into a huge room filled with bikes that had been stolen, found and not reclaimed. Of course, I assume this is because nobody figures the police will find them, so don't bother asking.
But what struck her the most was that there were even some Velib bikes from the Toulouse programme there. Surely they should have been returned to the city?
I almost got ticketed this morning around 7:30. I confess that I take great pleasure in having the streets all to myself on a Sunday morning -- practically no cars at all. And of course this leads to bending the rules sometimes.
To cut directly to the action, I ran a red light along the canal (no cars anywhere in any direction), but I glanced over to the other side of the canal where there was a police car stopped at the light, and they were looking straight at me. I hustled down the canal while they were still stopped (all downhill, thank god), and then turned right into a small one way street going the opposite direction -- I knew they couldn't see me anymore from where they were, and I figured if I just disappeared before they got any ideas, it was the best thing for all of us. Going the wrong way on a one way street is authorized on a lot of such streets now, but not on this one. Anyway, there were no cars and therefore no problem.
But when I popped out on the main street at the other end, the police car was just coming out of the parallel street one block away. Not only had they seen me run the red light, but they also saw me coming the wrong way out of the street. I just pedaled along like Mr. Innocent, but I could hear the police car coming up behind me and slowing down as it pulled even with me. Jeez, I thought, the blue lights are going on in one second, and I'm done for! But instead, the car finally pulled ahead and went on other business.
I suppose I can consider that to be a friendly warning.
As for the Toulouse mix-up, isn't bureaucracy wonderful? Yes, logically the police would have returned stolen city cycles to the city, but...
k2, I also narrowly missed getting ticketed for cycling on the pavement/sidewalk of a viaduc ... there were no pedestrians, of course. Flics were setting up a revenue trap. Much easier than ticketing the lycra louts who actually do weave between pedestrians...
There is no other safe way to cross in that railway viaduc.
Funny story K2,that would never happen here unless the NOPD just happened to be bored. But,as Lagatta says,it would be too easy for them to not go after one of the lycra louts. I have had to change my early morning bike route,at least temporarily, because there are bands,or packs of the bastards training for some race or whatever,at my usual time. Any later and it's too hot.
Here's a picture I took today of the excellent bicycle lane along Boulevard des Batignolles in Paris. This follows metro line 2 in Paris, and I have cycled most of it. Even though there are areas not completely separated from traffic everywhere (that is impossible in a city anyway), they have done quite a good job for most of the route.
This is a lovely photo with all the golden leaves at the base of the trees - just like the Jacaranda petals at the moment ! I have never even had the meerest thought of riding a Velib until now - I really want to give it a try in a safe bike lane. I watched the Velib movie introduction but am not clear on some points. I hope I can ask you the following Kerouac: When I get the Velib ticket and disengage the bike by passing it over the monitor, do I have to get a new ticket if I decide to take another bike, say later in the day? The guy in the movie said something about having half hour rides all day long? Did I hear right? When I put the bike back do I have to pass the ticket over the monitor again to stop the time or is this automatic? Thanks.
The ticket you get is valid for 24 hours. If you get a ticket (1€) at 13:17, it will work until 13:16 the next day. As long as you never keep a bike longer than 30 minutes, you can take 50 bikes during the day if you want. A lot of my rides are less than 5 minutes, just to get me to a more convenient metro station, for example.
When you put a bike back at its hitching post, the light will go from green to amber, and then it will beep and go back to green in about 5 seconds. That means you are all clear. If it doesn't happen or if the light turns red (horrors!), there is a contact button to push on the rental post (or you can phone them if you have a cell phone). If the incident is "after hours" make sure you note the number of the station (on the rental post), the number of the hitching post and the number of the bicycle, and then call them when they are open. In the early days, there were times when the station told me that I owed them 350€ and that the bike from 2 or 3 days ago had never been returned. With the precise information, the problem was always cancelled within 3 minutes. I don't think that I have had such a glitch in at least 2 years, though.
Note: when you return a bike and want another one (or the same one) right away (because maybe you have been riding for 28 minutes), the system will make you wait for 4 or 5 minutes. You will get an angry red light if you try to take a bike too early. Exception: if you return a bike in less than one minute (like because for some reason you forgot to check if the tires were flat or not), you can take another bike immediately.
Miami Beach, FLA,which has always been a very bike friendly city,in the last six months or so,converted to a bike rental system. I didn't use it because I had access to a bike that I borrow from my friend but,I was very impressed by the numbers of persons I saw utilizing it. I spoke with some residents there and many of them do take advantage of it. Residents there can pay a very reasonable flat rate monthly membership fee. Here are some pics of the set up at one of the main stations on Ocean Drive, in South Beach, the main drag.
Some friends here in St. Louis are starting a branch of nonprofit Cycling Savvy courses, based in FL. cyclingsavvy.com/. The basic idea is that "bicycle drivers are equal road users, with the right and ability to control their space." They offer classroom and parking lot sessions, and then a 3 hr group tour of the city for real life application.
My youngest has been more nervous about city riding since she got "doored" a couple of years ago, knocked off her bike and severely scolded by the police officer and by the guy who opened his car door in her path without checking behind. We'll both be taking the class, which teaches alternatives to hugging the side of the road and riding in the door zone, and discourages erratic riding in general.
I see more and more people on bicycles these days, both bike-shorted 2% body fat types and those who want to ride on the sidewalks and on the wrong side of the road.
We aren't technically in the city, but the residents of my valley outside Missoula, Montana, are in the process of getting a 3.3 mile long paved bike-pedestrian trail. (There aren't even sidewalks now, so it's really needed, for safety and health reasons, and as a non-motorized commuter route.)
We have a Facebook page - Grant Creek Trail Project, and from there you can link to the City of Missoula website, which has maps of the trail route, among other things. Engineering this summer and construction next summer on the first 2 miles of trail (which serves about 3/4 of the homes in the valley). The next stretch will not be able to be finished until 2016, because of the expense.
Miami Beach, FLA,which has always been a very bike friendly city,in the last six months or so,converted to a bike rental system. I didn't use it because I had access to a bike that I borrow from my friend but,I was very impressed by the numbers of persons I saw utilizing it. I spoke with some residents there and many of them do take advantage of it. Residents there can pay a very reasonable flat rate monthly membership fee.
The best publicity that any of the bike schemes have is their visibility -- the more stations and the more bikes that you see, the more reassuring it is. I know that I was pretty terrified on my first bike ride in Paris, but I got over it pretty fast, even though I did have two minor collisions with pedestrians before realizing how unpredictable they are and how they don't pay attention to anything. But even the pedestrians have become better, since they now know that Paris is crawling with bikes.
I would tend to say that it takes about a year for the residents and users to adapt to the system.
I really like the baskets on the Miami Beach bikes. They look like they could actually carry some groceries or whatever. There is just an ill-designed metal basket frame on the front of the Montréal Bixis - I know they don't want anything another person could ride on, but those baskets don't look like they could hold a human of any size.
Lola, cycling courses for people of all ages are great, but shame on that police officer. The doorer should have been sanctioned. If doorer were in Netherlands or Denmark, he or she would be facing a very hefty fine.
I suppose that police officer also scolds rape victims who wear short skirts.
People who haven't really learnt how to ride as children or teenagers could well use cycling lessons though. There are some here; there should be more.
Pity about the Berlin paths - I'd heard good about them. Amsterdamers yell at any clueless tourist who walks in the paths, and would no doubt complain to the police about parked cars.
The more cyclists there are, the easier it is not to hug the side of the road.
I was very impressed by how well things work for cyclists in Berlin. It's true that the first day we were there, we walked on the part of the sidewalk reserved for bikes because we didn't think about it (and being from France!), but we were scolded by a guy on a bike and then paid attention. We also saw a group of schoolchildren on a bike circuit in a park in Kreuzberg, learning the rules. Great initiative.
I would definitely cycle in Berlin -- here in Toulouse I'm afraid to. Even the bike path along the Canal du Midi usually has joggers, people with dogs, kids on roller skates, so there are times when it's not very good for cycling.