[MissoulaGov] Vol 16, Issue 2; More on Bike Lanes, Cyclists, etc...

JOHN WOLVERTON yodelingdog at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 4 10:53:16 MDT 2007

To PS, I think you won't have to ride your bike very far toward your meeting
with JC before you'll get to experience some definitions of "anti-cyclist".

Actually, I truly believe there are very few motorists who are
"anti-cyclist". I've found most motorists to be courteous. Rather, I think
the feeling of intimidation that cyclists sense is due to motorists'
frustration because there is no clear and consistent expression, through
infrastructure, as to where cyclists are supposed to "be". Hence the
comments I have heard about the difficulty of anticipating a cyclist's "next
move". I'll admit that it IS quite difficult to consistently signal turns
while bicycling, due to road surfaces, hand brakes, balancing at a near stop
and torquing upon acceleration. However, I believe that the most egregious
bicyclist behaviors, (wrong side of the road, sidewalk to street
transitions, etc.) are latent habits formed during our first adolescent
forays into freedom on our bikes. A case for early education!---Can we get
to 'em before we have to endure more scabby-zombie-tweaker roadsigns?!
"..it only took once without those training wheels and I was hooked, next
day I was "centerlining" Higgins bridge..." oh the horror. But I digress...

Thinking about the possible number of cyclists in Msla is interesting....I
submit for consideration that there are probably more than 620 (one percent
of pop.) "hard-core" bicycle commuters in Missoula. I'm certain there are
many-many more bicycle devotees who each year are pushing their comfort
envelopes further into periods of inclement weather and into the "traffic"

Some observations about the us/them, cyclist vs anti-cyclist exchange and
ensuing comments. On one hand there is a request to refrain from promoting
the "us vs. them" mentality, then in the other hand a contradiction of this
request with a claim that if bicycles were accommodated on busy streets it
will bring motor traffic to a standstill. That sounds quite polarizing to
Lower speeds and narrower motor vehicle lanes can be an effective tool to
calm traffic and thus create more even flows, combined with modernized
intersections we'd have less congestion. Lower speeds have the obvious
benefits of increased reaction time and less serious accidents between all
users. Plus for our considerations here, narrower vehicle lanes could allow
the addition of bike lanes without costly road widening or land use issues.
Then, as people feel safe enough to bicycle commute more often, air
pollution will be reduced.
It's a dubious claim that arterials were designed to efficiently move
traffic. Most began as residential or rural streets. The vehicle congestion
we routinely experience is on the arterials, especially at the signalized
intersections. They have been retrofitted to shunt traffic; but they are no
models of efficiency. The arterials and collectors are exactly what we need
to be talking about. Specifically, with an eye toward making them more
efficient through enhanced multi-modal transportation options.
As an aside, the concept and application of moving vehicular traffic
efficiently in and out of cities is responsible for the demise of many
communities. This conversation is as much about ways to keep people from
wanting to flee. In this case by making our community walkable and

Narrowing residential streets curb-to-curb would be quite costly, plus the
fire dept would balk. I don't even know of any local residential streets
that have lane striping. So it could be interesting to try some different
low-budget configurations. Perhaps along the many residential streets that
have no continuous sidewalks, we could paint sidewalks on the street just
inside the parking/door-swing zone, then next would be the bike lanes and at
center a wide, say one and one-half width, vehicle lane. I see lots of
folks; parents pushing strollers or escorting kids on training wheels;
disabled, etc. in my 'hood who would appreciate that type of delineation.
But really, isn't there something inherent in our understanding of our
society that tells us this: All kids (and their parents) deserve the
experience of that first bicycle/training wheel experience on a real
sidewalk on their own block.

In closing, I suggest to keep an eye out for those elusive cell-phone-using
bicyclists and you'll notice that they are usually riding chunky low-slung
stable "cruiser" bikes with coaster(foot) brakes and quite a bit of
gyroscopic stability due to their fat-heavy wheels. They are the exception
amongst commuters, especially compared to the number of motorists using cell

Thanks for reading, for all your great comments, and to Bob for this blog...
John Wolverton


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 09:16:09 -0600
From: "Paul Sopko"
To: "John Couch"


I'll hop on my bike and be glad to meet you somewhere and we can come to an
agreement on a definition of "anti-cyclist". Remember, 99% of Missoulians
are not hard-core-ride-my-bike- 12 months/year-everywhere activists as you
are. They deserve a bike commuter system that they feel safe riding on. Same
with the kids we are trying to teach to use alternate modes of

Your suggestions for reducing road widths and vehicle speeds sound great for
residential streets. I'm don't think its a reasonable idea for arterials
such as Reserve, Brooks...etc. Bringing motor traffic to a standstill to
accommodate bicycle safety on arterials designed to efficiently move traffic
only increases congestion, air pollution and tempers. I don't think most
Missoula residents are ready for that. Paul S.

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Couch" <jcouch at onewest.net>
To: "Paul Sopko" <psopko at highstream.net>


>Your "parallel but separate" comment from last week and the "equal

>grounds"(apartheid?) comment today could be construed by some, perhaps a

>serious bike commuter, as "anti-cyclist" but as Bob said "I'll work on

>that". I completely agree with you and Bob the "us vs them mentality" is

>not productive however if you are a bike commuter you know it's there

>and you have to deal with it some how, daily. So, I also agree with you

>that "high speed motor vehicle traffic" is a serious problem. I would

>suggest that lowering the speed limits within the city and reducing road

>and lane widths would greatly decrease the potential for serious and

>fatal crashes between motor vehicles and bikes as well as vehicles and

>pedestrians. I'm assuming here that the majority of bicycle and

>pedestrian commuters are within the city. Oh.....and the ever rising

>price of a gallon of gas and the increasing awareness of the

>environmental consequences of burning fossil fuel the helps too.



>And Alex, I appreciate the fact that City Club is taking up the

>discussion but 11:30am on a workday just doesn't work for some. That's

>why I really commend Bob Jaffe for starting this missoulagov list. We

>need a combination of all these communication venues to facilitate more

>open discussion, thanks, jc


>Paul Sopko wrote:

> Bob,

> Since I made comments last week questioning the city's practice of

> mixing bicycle and motor vehicle traffic do you consider me

> "anti-cyclist"? I hope not since I share your desire to see both

> bicyclists and motor vehicles being able to easily navigate Missoula

> on equal grounds. I never advocating pushing bicycles onto sidewalks

> but to start thinking about how the current practice is unsafe since

> collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles are similar to

> collisions between pedestrians and cars......the cyclist or pedestrian

> usually ends up dead. I see the bike discussion as a debate about

> safety, not a bicyclist vs. anti-cyclist contest.

> I wish you would refrain from promoting the "us vs. them" mentality

> with these type of comments. It discourages constructive debate (which

> I thought you were trying to encourage with your weekly postings) and

> promotes the uncivil-confrontational exchanges that Missoula is known


> Paul Sopko

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