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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bike-Sharing Stokes Conflict

. . This story in USA Today outlines the battle between car drivers and bicyclists is becoming more pronounced as bike-sharing programs spread across the country. The programs, in which people rent bicycles for short periods of time from self-service kiosks, have grown across the country creating an influx of new bikers — including many tourists and first-time riders unaccustomed to local traffic patterns — can lead to safety problems that are hard to blame on just bicyclists, pedestrians or motorists.
. . Some bicyclist groups feel that drivers are struggling to adapt to a "cultural shift" in the way people get around their hometowns but some bicyclists note that there are still people that use their cars to intimidate and harass cyclists and are upset with the change in who's using the roads.
. . Cyclists will state, "There's a difference between a cyclist and someone who's just riding a bike. We’re responsible. We’ve got proper equipment and know what we're doing. Then you got people who just get on a bike to go to the supermarket and just cross the street wherever."
. . Unfortunately, many drivers see all bicyclists as the same. “They don't follow the rules of the road predictably enough. They need to look out for cars because they're most vulnerable. In any type of conflict between a car and a bike, the car always wins."
. . In several cities with bike share programs bicycle-related accidents have doubled in the last couple of years with a commensurate increase in bicyclists. However, a report by the Worldwatch Institute found that cities eventually reach a critical mass of bikers that improves safety numbers for all commuters. For example in Portland cycling quadrupled from 1991 to 2006 and saw its bike-related crashes fall by 69%.
. . In a Street War safety is certainly a hard-won goal that takes a sustained effort as everyone tries to get somewhere fast while sharing very limited space.

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