Identity Crisis

Can you tell what these three cyclists have in common?

This gentleman was biking south on Central.

This young man was biking east on Van Buren.

This gentleman was biking west on McKinley.

There are actually three things that I noticed:

1. They are all men! I walked around for over an hour yesterday and I don't think I saw a single woman on a bicycle. I was quite surprised.

2. They are all riding on the sidewalk.

3. They are all riding on the incorrect side of the street (riding against traffic rather than riding with traffic).

The third observation is what I would like to focus on. I've been doing some reading and came upon an excellent article in the British Medical Journal (the link is to the side titled "Three Lessons for a Better Cycling Future"). One of the things they talk about is about segregation vs. non-segregation of cyclists (i.e. curbed bike lanes). They posit that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles".

Cyclists need to be predictable to be safe. We need to get our butts on the correct side of the street, off the sidewalk and obey traffic rules. There will always be instances where exceptions can/must be made (i.e. riding on the sidewalk when on a very busy and dangerous street - but still on the right side of the street) but if we are to move towards a culture where cycling is a true alternative to driving a car, we must follow the rules.


  1. I'm SO diggin' your blog! Great start to a topic that deserves some much needed attention... as I'm sure you've noticed from my bike riding faux paux :) Thanks for the good read! I'll be sure to keep up with how you're doing..

  2. I think the BMJ article is a bit dated now. The safest option is segregated paths, this has been proved in practice by the system in Holland. In Holland cyclists are safer than in any other country. The vehicular cycling nonsense is something put about by those who don't want to spend the money on a real cycling infrastructure. It is also favoured by car drivers who fear they would have to become second best at junctions where segregated paths meet the road.

    Read about how segregated paths provide the subjective safety we need to encourage more people to cycle.


  3. Nipper,

    Thank you for your comment!

    It is a difficult situation for us here in the U.S. and especially in Phoenix. We do not have many bike paths or lanes so must either ride in the street or ride on the sidewalk. I asked a local policeman about riding on the sidewalk (because I had heard that there is a fine for doing so) and he said that it was mostly overlooked as long as the cyclist was being respectful to pedestrians and there was a clear need to be on the sidewalk (i.e. a busy street).

    At the very least, bike lanes on our streets (even if not segregated) would be a vast improvement over what we currently have. Perhaps the long-term goal should be segregated paths. In the meantime, we will have to take baby steps in that direction. :)

    Thank you again for visiting my blog and leaving your thoughts and link!


  4. they're also all not wearing helmets!

    i moved away from phoenix for a year to chicago, where i rode my bike 10-15 miles a day - to/from work, to/from the grocery store, all over town. sometimes 40-50 miles a day in the spring and summer.

    chicago has a lot of dedicated bike lanes, but i still knew way too many people who got hit.

    barring segregated lanes, i think the safest way to stay safe is to stay off main roads when possible - explore the neighborhoods!

  5. Ben,

    Good catch! The are all indeed helmet-less. Helmet use is a controversial issue. On the side of my blog, I have some links to studies done worldwide on the efficacy of helmet use so that people can make their own informed decision.

    And I agree with using neighborhood streets for getting around. It's definitely the busy streets where it's a little nerve-wracking!

    Thank you for visiting my site!