Segregate Those Bike Lanes

Segregate Those Bike Lanes
Cape Breton Post: May 5, 2010
Morgan Duchesney

My extensive experience as a year-round cycling commuter has afforded me a daily opportunity to observe that sheltered soul I choose to call the habitual motorist. While I’ve watched them mostly for self-preservation, I have also concluded that their prioritization of convenience over social and environmental responsibility continues to allow myopic politicians to perpetuate an automobile-centric infrastructure system that trivializes cycling and marginalizes mass transportation. It appears that the vast majority of habitual motorists are both hesitant about transportation alternatives and entrenched in the convenience of their individualistic “lifestyles.”
I often hear habitual motorists identify as “taxpayers” rather than citizens. This revealing identification seems to indicate a reflexive tendency to regard citizenship as an individualistic transaction rather than a mutual social covenant. We cyclists are taxpayers too, and we now expect our desires to be accommodated as generously as the whims of motorists have traditionally been.
I meet my transportation needs through a practical combination of bicycle, bus and automobile cooperative membership and I accept a certain amount of inconvenience as the price of this arrangement. The patience required to negotiate delays is good for my soul.
I can certainly understand the addictive appeal of motor vehicle convenience, especially when freezing rain turns my bicycle commute into an endurance test. However, I persist while pondering both the health benefits and my modest contribution to public attitudinal shift. The increasing numbers of commuter cyclists is facilitating the gradual normalization of what is currently considered an “eccentric”, high-risk behaviour. Many people are adopting the habit of bicycle commuting but many more are justifiably fearful. Only the security of segregated bike lanes will normalize cycling as a serious and popular form of transportation. We can learn from European cycling pioneers, who, in typical human fashion; changed their habits through necessity rather than forethought. If that’s what it takes for us to embrace reality, so be it.