Getting a Fair Share of the Road

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we bring you a post from Greater Greater Washington in which a bus and a bicycle have a bad encounter, leading to a discussion about windshield perspective (that bus has a mighty big windshield) and sharing the road. Antonio López writes:

041340.jpgBus and bike (not the ones in the story) coexisting in DC. Photo from WABA.

I took the S bus down 16th Street yesterday. As the bus driver was coming upon the stop at 16th and W, he drove up next to a bicyclist who was also traveling southbound, to the right of the bus. The bus driver began honking aggressively and pulled more to the right, dangerously close to the cyclist. This put the cyclist in danger of becoming pinned
between the bus and the curb. Fortunately, the bus driver relented at the last moment and allowed the bicyclist to move ahead of him, but not before scaring the bicyclist and compromising her ability to ride safely. I saw her swerve dangerously close to the bus and heard her scream, "I’m on a bicycle!"

However, over the prior six blocks, the driver waited patiently behind at least four cars illegally parked in the far-right lane. Their drivers were sitting inside, their vehicles idling. But not once did he bother to honk at them, however civilly, or otherwise stake a claim to the occupied lane.

There’s a great thread growing out of this post in which various points of view on sharing the road come up, including a proposal from a guy named Lance whose solution is — not sharing it. Asking the odd rhetorical question "Is it even possible for a cyclist
to really adhere to all the rules of the road?" Lance says we should consider banning bikes from downtown streets during rush hours (sound familiar?). That draconian suggestion got this reply from another commenter:

No situation will ever be perfect, but Lance’s solution is to ban bikes. That’s fine, but I can tell you that the laws will still be broken. I see it as a great example of why comprehensive, independent cycling infrastructure has emerged as a necessary component of any responsible city planning. Separate, but equal. Separate, dedicated lanes; equal, in that those lanes are created by chipping away at car sewers (which calms down traffic, as many studies have shown). Ultimately, we as a city and region have to ask ourselves whether we want to embrace multimodalism, and if we really believe that adding exclusive vehicular capacity is really the answer. It may be, but judging from what 495 probably looks like right now, I’d say bike-free zones aren’t necessarily going to be the bee’s knees for the Hummer set.

Interesting stuff, and a great example of the kind of vital debate that is happening around the country on our member blogs.

More from around the network: Bike Commuting in Columbus has a post from a woman who would like to use her bike for errands, but feels that recreational cyclists have created an unsafe situation for everyone by flouting traffic rules. Transit Miami has an open letter to the city’s leadership, challenging them to implement the Miami 21 plan for smart development in that city. And Cincy Streetcar Blog, in defense of transit subsidies, points out just how heavily subsidized General Motors is at this point — as are the streets that GM cars drive on. 

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