Harrisburg Bike Summit Follow-up and Commentary

I wanted to editorialize a little bit after a compelling comment by Bone.  He made the point of noticing that most if not all of the speakers at the rally referred to cycling as a sport, and many of the riders were decked out in lycra kit, appearing as sport riders.

I’ll begin by saying that having well placed cycling advocates is a good thing.  Having a rally of riders from around the state along with well placed cycling advocates is an even better thing.  But…was the goal of the summit to promote cycling as a sport, or as a mode of transport?

Rail trails are great.  I enjoy them and support them.  I ride them, and it’s usually the first option when we are considering a family outing.  However, cycling advocacy should be focused on bikes and bikers on the streets.  If I had a choice of spending tax dollars/contributions on trails or road improvements, I’d want the road.

For me, and the riding I do; I’d like to see money spent on widening roads to include berms.  The road to my house was fairly dangerous to ride on until last year when it was re-paved, widened slightly, and now sports a 2-3 foot berm on one side.  It’s not much, but it supplies a safety cushion and kind of sends the message to cars that there is room for both of us.  I feel much safer on that stretch now.

I suppose I could argue that I have as much right to the center of the road as the cars, but I’m not willing to risk losing that arguement just yet.  There are roads where I take the center simply because that is either the only option, or given an upcoming turn or whatever, it is the safest option.  But give me a decent berm, and I feel comfortable riding my bikes on that road.

Now, back to trails while I’m thinking about it… if those trails actually complement transportation by getting bikers from point A to point B safely where they would otherwise have to use a road, then I support it, but then it becomes a “bike route” as opposed to a recreational trail, if that makes sense.

So getting back to the rally:  good start, right intentions, great to see the support.  Starting now and working up to next year – refine the message that biking is transportation, and downplay the sport aspect.

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