The Future of Cycling

I commented on another blog the other day that one of the reasons we’re seeing cyclists with poor riding habits (not obeying traffic laws, doing stupid things on the road) is because the last time many people rode a bike was when they were 12, and they’re now approaching cycling with the enthusiasm (and corresponding lack of responsibility) of their inner 12-year-old. So how to fix this? Some people have proposed licensing bikes, and collecting fees, and mandatory cycling education. Some drivers are whining that bikes are using “their roads” for free. For one thing, the bikes are not doing the damage to the roads that causes the constant need for repair like millions of cars, nor fueling the demand for the ever-expanding bloated highway system. Bikes are banned from major freeways in my area, I can only assume that’s true in other areas as well.

Cycling is not that complicated. I would rather not see it turned into another bureaucratic mess. I seriously don’t want to have to wait in line at the local DMV for a bike license, in addition to car registration, and driver’s license (and let’s not even think about creating a whole new government agency to deal with bicycles). I don’t think anyone wants to see more backlog at their local DMV. Collecting fees would only discourage people from bothering with bicycles, not encourage it. It’s hard enough now to get people out of their cars, making them pay for it won’t help. And I don’t think you’re ever going to get enough people riding to collect enough money to make it worthwhile. We riders are tiny minority of the population, and likely to stay that way in most areas. More bikes on the road benefits everyone: the cyclist, the motorists who can’t find parking in congested areas and then have to pay through the nose to park, and we all want cleaner air, don’t we?

Maybe a public service campaign of 30-second television spots highlighting what is required of cyclists, and drivers who encounter cyclists, would do the trick. Television stations could do an annual “Bike Week” campaign (yes, we’d have to designate a Bike Week first). Morning news shows like “Today” could get the message out in a big way. Bike manufacturers could get in on it, combine public education with a commercial for their products. We DO have a right to the road, but we also have the responsibility of riding in accordance with the law.


About D. D. Syrdal

Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon,,, Smashwords. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.
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4 Responses to The Future of Cycling

  1. metaljaybird says:

    I guess the best way to fix these problems is to lead by example. When the safe and courteous bicyclists like us are on the road, we just continue to do what we are doing hoping that influences others. Lead by example is a great philosophy.

    Some people have proposed licensing bikes, and collecting fees, and mandatory cycling education

    Ugh, this would be terrible. Right you are, I don’t care for more government red tape, and would likely consider quitting if they started taxing me just so I could ride my bike.

  2. Digital Dame says:

    Yeah it’s just a bad idea all around. Anyone who pays taxes pays for road maintenance, it doesn’t striclty come from vehicle licensing fees. I’ll have to research more about what exactly those fees do pay for (if it’s even possible to get a straight answer).

  3. Nice blog!

    I just got back from a ride, and I realized that I almost shake my head at the way I see other cyclists riding as much as I do about the way I see motorists behaving.

    I have a friend that I ride with sometimes that hates to wait at lights, so he weaves all around the intersection and goes through lights. I HATE this, so I tell him things like “you need to be predictable… etc” but he’s just like, “I know what i’m doing. I’m not going to get hurt”. I try and explain that that is not the point!

    Cyclists don’t realize that if they were to ever be involved in a litigation with a motorist, and people in the jury had seen cyclists behave in this way, the cyclist’s case would be very difficult to plead! No matter who was clearly at fault. Poor cycling habits give the rest of us a bad name!

  4. Digital Dame says:

    Hi McB,

    Thanks, and thanks for coming by.

    You are so right, riding predictably is what it’s all about. If I see a red light ahead of me, I will try to cruise up to it as slowly as possible, to see if I can avoid stopping entirely before it turns green, like I will cruise up to a light slowly in my car (which saves gas- and wear & tear on brakes – and is a hypermiling recommendation). But I would never just blow through a light either on my bike or in my car. I’m afraid ticketing cyclists for this may be the only way to get people to pay attention, hit ’em in the old pocketbook. I still think public service spots on tv will be the only way to reach the public at large.

    And good for you for taking your friend to task over it! đŸ™‚ Hope you had a good ride today.

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