Happy Vehicular Cyclists Day!

I’d like to proclaim today Vehicular Cyclists Day in the Twin Cities. A special day for all of those who believe that people riding bicycles and people driving cars can and should safely share the road. That there is no need for segregated bicycle paths or protected bike lanes. That our children are perfectly safe riding to school on our streets, they just need to learn how to do it.

Summit Ave - This is a bike lane. I know you can't see it, but trust me, it's there, under the snow and parked cars.

Summit Ave – This is a bike lane. I know you can’t see it, but trust me, it’s there, under the snow and parked cars.

It snowed Monday night in to yesterday (Tuesday) morning and pretty much stopped by about 10a yesterday.

SE 4th Street, Mpls.

SE 4th Street, Mpls.

Plow drivers have had time to clear most streets, paths, and sidewalks. It’s mostly sunny and not too cold out.  A great day to get on the streets and enjoy riding amongst the cars and trucks.

Grand Ave, St Paul - About 2 minutes before I got splushed.

Grand Ave, St Paul – About 2 minutes before I got splushed.

My problem is that I’ve been unable to find any vehicular cyclists today. In my 47 miles of travel, mostly around Cathedral Hill and neighborhoods west of there, I didn’t see a single one.

Koehler Road in Vadnais Heights - Become a vehicular cyclist and you too can ride along here.

Koehler Road in Vadnais Heights – Become a vehicular cyclist and you too can ride along here.

Not that I blame them. Riding on these streets as a vehicle would be, at best, un-civilized. Just walking about 25 feet along Grand Ave from my car to the closest place I could get on the sidewalk I got splushed (sprayed by salt and snow slush for those south of here) by one car and almost by a second. Fortunately the others slowed and moved over enough to prevent my becoming a target.

Yesterday and today were, thankfully, not like the first snow of the season. That day I saw four crashes. Fortunately, none appeared to have caused serious injury. Three were mostly within the roadway and one left two cars in a ditch. One did end with both of the formerly moving cars in the bike lane on Summit Avenue, one embedded in a parked car. I bet that was quite a surprise for someone.

Hodgson MUP in Shoreview - Breakfast is about 2 pleasant miles ahead.

Hodgson MUP in Shoreview – Breakfast is about 2 pleasant miles ahead.

Had any of these involved someone on a bicycle I’d guess that we’d have some fatalities and injuries.

McMenemy MUP in Vadnais Heights - Even MUPs need to be plowed. Hopefully nobody depends on this one.

McMenemy MUP in Vadnais Heights – Even MUPs need to be plowed. Hopefully nobody depends on this one.

Besides those crashes I saw dozens and perhaps hundreds of cars skidding out of control. Many cars and trucks on the road that week seemed to be operating on the edge, ready to loose it at any moment.

McMenemy Rd in Vadnais Heights - Earlier this year I saw this guy so I know they'll clear that MUP eventually.

McMenemy Rd in Vadnais Heights – Earlier this year I saw this guy so I know they’ll clear that MUP eventually.

I did see four people out on bicycles today though, one pushing it through the snow on to the sidewalk by Mississippi Market and another riding on the sidewalk along Grand Ave. Earlier I’d seen two people riding along the Hodgson MUP in Shoreview.

My hats off and my heart goes out to those who are riding a bicycle on the roads with traffic this week, particularly to those who have no other choice. Thankfully, my bicycling world will be limited to segregated paths until spring.

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8 Responses to Happy Vehicular Cyclists Day!

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke January 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Actually, I biked 5+ miles last night. In a way, winter turns you into a vehicular cyclist by default. You have little choice but to ride in the lane, because anything else is a sure death trap. I wish in St Paul we had more off-street options, but in this kind of weather, I am totally a vehicular cyclist. (Well, a helmetless, non-orange vest wearing, non-judgemental, non-wealthy, non LCI-certified, non-middle-aged one…)

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke January 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      Actually, to be honest, I ride on the sidewalk a lot in the winter too. I got hit by a car going up the half-iced bike lane on the high bridge last winter, and am gonna take the sidewalk from now on during this icy season.

      This time of year, it seems like “bike lanes” are basically just a place to store snow.

  2. jeffk January 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    I’m out every day and my experience has been the exact opposite in terms of how clear of snow I found bike lanes vs. protected paths. I don’t even necessarily mean that as a critique of protected lanes but I think it’s fair to add that data point.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell January 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Jeff, can you give some examples of bike lanes that have been fairly clear. All that I’ve seen have been quite slushy and uninviting. Sadly, I know of too many examples of protected lanes and MUPs that aren’t kept clear.

      • jeffk January 16, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

        They’re not too bad along fourth and university, and Central, for example. But really that’s kinda along the left edge of the lane where both plows and car tires have cleared the snow. I will certainly admit that the left edge of a bike lane basically puts you in traffic, which is not for everybody. On the other hand, it still seems intuitive to me that it’s easier to train the regular snow plowers to get all the way over than it is to send out a whole separate crew in bobcats for the separated paths. It certainly can be done; it is done at the U. And perhaps it’s all worth it. But it seems like a substantial project.

  3. BB January 16, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    I normally take the mup however in winter I take the roads. (when better)

    Then when I go back to the mup I slow down and enjoy the silence. (its a real MUP)

    I am in Sandy Utah.

  4. B. Carfree January 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    There seems to be some confusion of terms here. Vehicular cyclists oppose bike lanes as ardently as they oppose mups. To point out that the door-zone bike lanes, a place no cyclist, vehicular or not, should ever ride, aren’t cleared of snow is nonsensical. A vehicular cyclist would be riding in that rather dry right tire track.

    Perhaps the intention of this post is to lump the grand middle-ground, those who may be called competent and confident, into the VC category for the purpose of marginalization.

  5. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell January 30, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Happy Segregated Cyclists Day! Segregated paths in Shoreview were impassible this morning. At least on my Opafiets. Had to drive. 🙁

    A fat bike might have worked.

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