Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Agenda

We don't have to put up with drivers distracted by these things.
Well, by now the dust should be settling on Campaign 2016. Once everyone settles down, (and hopefully they do), it will be time to get on with gettin' on. This country needs some changes, and I'll keep it on track here by focusing on two issues I'd like to see changed that relates to cycling.

Cell Phones & Distracted Driving:

You already know that cell phone distracted driving is a big risk to all who venture out onto the roads. Cyclists are particularly vulnerable, but everybody is at risk. Mrs. Guitar Ted got rear ended years ago by a distracted driver who was on her cell phone. Years ago. And we haven't done anything about this yet? Really?

Cyclists have given their lives to distracted drivers who, in many cases, get off with a simple fine and loss of license for a period of time. This is INSANE. But that isn't all folks. There is a very sick punchline to this. It makes me ill that this is reality now, but here goes.......

The technology exists already to set cell phones up with a "GPS lock". What that means is that the GPS tracking which is in every smart phone can literally lock down your phone if it detects movement over a certain velocity. We could have people unable to use their phones while driving now! While that would likely apply to passengers, and that is kind of a bummer, it is the price we would have to pay to keep accidents and crashes from happening that potentially could kill people. 

A small inconvenience, I say.

This is something our lawmakers need to get on board with now. It would save a lot of lives, benefit everybody on the road, and obviously, it would benefit cyclists and pedestrians.

Bike paths are great, but how about bike infrastructure that  is practical for all users.
Paths To Nowhere:

I was discussing the nature of recreational bike paths in our area with a coworker the other day. In this area, we have over 100 miles of bicycle paths, yet there is no good way to cycle the corridor between Waterloo and Cedar Falls safely without deep knowledge of the side streets. It is hard to get from the major learning centers to the residential areas, and from there to the retail areas without near death experiences daily. This is the case not only here, but throughout most of America.

Recreational bicycle paths are great, but we don't really need more of those. They essentially put cycling off into the territory of golf, fishing, or tennis. You go do that over there and don't get in the way, see? Well, what if you'd like to go do some shopping by bicycle? How about go from college to the downtown area? Or what about going to work by bicycle? Practical cycling is frowned upon, ignored, or seen as a threat, I guess, because if you try to use your bicycle in a way other than on a recreational trail, you are seen as something to be killed. Building more "bike paths" means "get those gol durned bicycles off our roads" to most citizens that don't bicycle.

What we need from our government is to make ways for cycling to be a lifestyle/transportation choice, not something one does on their off time to while away a sunny Sunday afternoon. We want to be able to get to the movie theater, to the college art gallery, or to our workplace on a path that is not a recreational trail, but a bicycle road, if you will. In fact, calling anything a "bike path" is not going to work. We need our own roads for cycling, like they have in Europe.

Okay, so that's my "agenda" for the governmental types to tackle for 2017 and beyond.


Doug Goodenough said...

you have my vote :-)

Kevin Collings said...

EXACTLY what I've been saying about our paths here in Wichita. You can tell they had recreation in mind when they laid them out, not transportation. So many wind pointlessly, swing a half mile out of the way to meander along a tree line, etc. Over the course of a year commuting I've figured out how to string together paths, streets, and bike lanes to get where I need to go, but even the "functional" paths throw a bunch of useless twists and turns in that only serve to make for some bad blind corners.

Tom Scott said...

Here, here!

And a "Change Lanes to Pass" law.

STF_ill said...

Indeed, I agree with both conceptually, and I imagine with some creative thinking the GPS lock can be made a bit more tolerable to the naysayers!

Maybe a simple RFID or range finding style sensor that detects if the phone is near the steering wheel? Then passengers could get away with using theirs. The tech is out there!