Skip to main content

Biking on a Trail

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means for a city to be "bicycle friendly". Obviously, it means that a city is a good place to ride a bike. But that just leads to another question: what makes a city a good place to ride a bike?

Bicycle facilities are a good start. I'm fortunate to live in a place that has a lot of them. Bike lanes, multi-use trails, etc. I use most of this infrastructure every day, but I disproportionately use the on-street stuff more than I use the trails. In my four months living in Arlington, I just haven't had a great experience with the trails.

(from dailyjoe on Flickr)

Multi-use trails aren't just for bicyclists. They're also for walkers, joggers, runners, roller-bladers, dog-walkers, or just about anyone that's not on a motorized vehicle. They're great for recreation and for exercise. They're a little less great for getting places or training for the Olympics. I use my bike for transportation, so it's important that the trails go places that I need to go. Often, they don't - or they take me out of my way. For getting around, I find the on-street bike lanes a lot more convenient.

Riding on a trail is a completely different dynamic than riding on a street. When you're on the street, you're sharing the road with cars. It's the motorists who can cause a lot of damage if they aren't careful. On the trail, that dynamic reverses. Bikes are the dominant vehicle. Cyclists have the responsibility to watch out for slower moving traffic. To me, it's nerve-wracking. In a lot of ways, I feel similar biking on a trail as I do when I'm driving on a busy street.

I understand the allure of multi-use trails. There's something comforting about knowing that there aren't any cars to get in your way. And trails are superior to poorly designed streets, and streets designed only for high-speed traffic. Unfortunately, a lot of cities and suburbs have far too many of these streets, which make trails look disproportionately attractive to those who like riding bikes. I'm lucky to be in a city with great urban bicycling facilities, so I know that there can be a good middle ground.

Comments

Sam said…
I totally agree that all purpose trails are great but they do not always get you to where you need to go. I much prefer not biking amongst the cars but it seems to be a necessity to get to where I need to go.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':



Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…