Is it me or are more people biking to work and beyond?
I can respect those who want to save a few dollars on gas. Last weekend I had to do a double-take when I saw unleaded gas had reached $3.99 per gallon.
With prices like that, I can see why more people are biking.
It just seems like everywhere I go I am seeing more and more people on bikes. The odd thing – or at least it seems odd to me – is riders are not using the sidewalk when there is no bike lane. The whole “Minnesota Nice” thing does not always apply to drivers, in my opinion. If I were a cyclist, I would remain on the sidewalk if there was no bike lane. That’s just me.
As a child growing up in Ohio, the big thing was being able to ride your bike in the street. Many children on my street would sneak and do this, knowing their parents would not approve. I was one of them. You just felt more free in the street. At least that’s what we thought then.
Back then, the argument from my mother was, “There’s a perfectly good sidewalk. Use it.” So, we did. Now that I am a driver, I sometimes ask the same question, “Wouldn’t it be safer to use the sidewalk?”
Yes, people do walk on the sidewalk. But when a cyclist gets closer to the pedestrian, the cyclist should then move onto the street to safely pass by.
I know summer brings more people outdoors. The heat is inviting and many want to soak up the sun after months of hibernation. With the arrival of fall temperatures recently, one would think there would be fewer cyclists on the road, right? Wrong. They are out there every morning trekking to work, school and appointments, and there’s nothing we can do but be more mindful of their existence.
In St. Joseph, it’s common to see a cyclist or family biking to the local farmers’ market or into downtown for some shopping. The Wobegon Trail also attracts many residents and visitors from surrounding communities.
I personally don’t mind sharing the road with cyclists. I just worry about their safety.
Sometimes it catches me off guard when I see them so close to traffic or actually in traffic when the sidewalk is free.
Despite not knowing half of the cyclists I see passing me on the road, I just fear they could fall and a car might not be able to stop fast enough. I know that could happen while riding on the sidewalk too, but at least there’s some additional distance between the sidewalk and the street that could possibly offer some protection.
The League of American Bicyclists announced earlier this year that Minnesota ranks as the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation just behind Washington which ranks number one and has for the last five years. That is a jump from the number-four post Minnesota achieved in 2010 and 2011. Prior to that, our state ranked fifth in 2008 and 2009.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation 2011 Omnibus Survey, about half of Minnesotans rode a bicycle last year.
Well, numbers don’t lie. Being the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation says something. Maybe that’s why I continue to see more and more people on their bikes alongside me. They obviously feel comfortable out there. Even though cyclists might make me cautious while driving, I will continue to be extra careful when passing them on the road. Who knows? If I do my part, Minnesota might be number one next year for bicycle-friendliness.