This BLOG | WebSite | About Us | TN|Rumble

Quick Join Bike Walk Tennesee via Paypal

Monday, December 5, 2011

Proposed Federal mandatory sidepath law

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) is reporting that S. 1813, the Senate draft transportation authorization bill, contains a mandatory sidepath law that would require cyclists to ride on sidepaths on federal land. The LAB article has much more information on why such is a terrible idea. But if you have non-cycling friends who are wondering why such proposals actually do not promote safety, here are a few reasons. First, the vast majority of car-bike crashes take place at intersections. Riding on a sidepath is dangerous for the same reasons sidewalk riding tends to be dangerous. Behavior at intersections is complicated by the presence of a sidepath. Car drivers do not typically look for same direction cyclists passing from the right, when making a right turn (right-hook conflict). Cyclists are also less visible to oncoming traffic, which may be planning to make a left (left-hook conflict). Second, many sidepaths are maintained well below the standards of main roads. Debris tends to accumulate, and cracks and potholes tend to accumulate to a larger degree before remedial action is undertaken. Finally, travel at higher speeds (say anything above 10 mph) is difficult to do safely when riding on even a well-maintained sidepath since there tends to be insufficient room to maneuver. None of these facts are obvious to a non-cyclist. The proposal seeks to get cyclists "out of the way" of car traffic, even traffic traveling at a modest 30 mph. In practice, passing cyclists is something that drivers routinely accomplish within a minute or two at most.


  1. One must wonder about the motivation for this propoasal. How many roads on fderal lands have sidepaths? How much botehr have cyclists on roads on federal lands been to anyone? How eager will the rangers be enforce such a law? Sounds like the River Road issue on a national scale.
    it does present the opportunity to contact our federal representatives, even visit a field office.

  2. This is the way it always is: people making decisions about walking and biking who hardly ever walk or bike anywhere. They only walk to their parked cars that are parked in driveways and/or parking lots --- a that is a two minute walk at best. Moreover, their ideas about bike riding and walking is to do it in a public park for recreation. This is why they want side paths. The decision makers have no clue about what it takes to meet all of their essential needs without the car. As long as we walkers and bike riders only promote bikes and walking as something only done in the public park, there will never be a change toward bike lanes and safer sidewalks with supporting facilitates along city streets.