It’s been a harder challenge for me this year. I injured myself with a lumbar strain and have had to avoid strenuous exercise for most of the month. While I still ended up with a lot of rides, I was down in both distance and number compared to last year. And certainly none of the big rides I managed in January.
The top two riders at my workplace managed 41 bike trips between us. The rest of the riders 18. In some ways I’m not surprised. The cycling infrastructure on the North Shore is not well developed. And I’ve met several riders who simply won’t bike on some of the trunk roads here. One of them is a road I use, well, about twice a day. This pattern of most rides recorded by a small percentage fits most studies.
Since Geller’s research on cycle transport in Portland, it’s been common to class cyclists in 4 categories. Those that identify strongly as cyclists and are willing to use busy roads without cycle lanes, are a minority. They are often around 1-4% of the cyclist population. These are the ‘Strong and Fearless’. A larger group is the ‘Enthusiastic and Confident’. They also like to cycle but are perturbed by roads without cycle lanes. The largest group of potential cyclists are ‘Interested but Concerned”. These are people would be willing to use cycling as a transport option, but don’t because of safety concerns.
In short, in the absence of good cycling infrastructure, most rides are going to be done by a tiny group of people who ride even if there was no such infrastructure. In some ways however, I’ve found that cycling has become safer in peak travel times. Cars are simply stationary, or moving slowly, for most of the commute. They’re moving too slowly to pose a risk.
Roundabouts however remain one of my main risk spots. I don’t know if it is lack of attention (strongly likely for that guy talking on his cellphone, driving an SUV), or not judging speeds. I have a suspicion that some motorists don’t realise how fast road bikes do travel, and assume I’m moving at a slower speed than a car because, well, I’m on a bicycle. If I’m traveling at the same or higher speeds, then motorists do need the same gap to enter a roundabout they do as a car. I have been doing my bit to educate a few drivers of this. A loud, non-professorial public evaluation of their driving aptitude is all for the public good.
I am wondering if the desire to escape congestion will drive more people toward bicycles. I know at peak travel time I can reach work faster on my bicycle than by car. And there’s less parking issues. I’ve also realised somewhat surprisingly, that I can run to work in less time it takes to use the local buses. Part of that is because if I run, I can take shortcuts through parks and reserves. I’m not restricted to roads. And partly because buses take a circuitous route to campus, stopping regularly to pick up and drop off passengers.
If you think cycle commuters are a rare thing, their numbers actually abound compared to runner-commuters. It is slower than biking, but at least I don’t have to worry so much about the traffic.