Monday, April 09, 2007


A friend of mine said that the other day she was biking home on her tandem (after dropping her daughter off at a class) and several people commented on her empty back seat. I have had this experience too, when I am around town with the tandem stoker's seat unoccupied. An editorial in a local newspaper said something recently like "We've noticed that there are lots of people riding around town without a person on the back of the tandem. What's up with that?" So, just out of curiousity, when was the last time somebody said to you "Hey, I noticed you drove here with three empty seats. Where are your passengers?" (which, now that I think about it, is a much more relevant question!)I think bicycles have reached the point in many people's minds of purely being recreational vehicles: something you take out when you need exercise, go ride, and put back away.

Bicycles are transportation too! Especially for those of us with kids who don't feel comfortable with them riding on busy streets behind or ahead of us. It would only take one distracted swerve in front of a fast-moving truck, or a failure to notice the car pulling out of the driveway for a catastrophe to occur. On the tandem, we're all riding on my line, and at least I have some control over that.

And on that note, I'm not sure how current this is, but this legislation just came to my attention from the League of American Bicyclists Bike Advocacy Center. It is seeking to amend the IRS tax code to extend the transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters. It might seem like a small thing, but it's really about time that bicycles are reintroduced into the public consciousness as the vehicles that they are. When I used to commute to work on my bike in the city of Redmond, Wa (suburb of Seattle and the self proclaimed "Bicycling Capitol of the Northwest" - hah!) I would rarely see another cyclist on the roads. No surprise as much of my commute was on streets with no bike lanes, sharing the road with drivers who were either unused to cyclists, or openly antagonistic (that .05 nanoseconds it takes to go around a bicycle can really put a dent in your commute, can't it). But I hear that Seattle is going to increase their bike lanes by 800%, from a paltry 25 miles to over 200. According to the article I read, the plan "anticipates a huge increase in recreational and commuting bicyclists" which can be nothing but good news for health, environment, and of course the looming spectre of climate change.

So for those of us riding on the original sport utility vehicles, hopefully the winds of change are blowing our way (at our backs of course).

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I totally agree with you - bicycles ARE vehicles and should be used and viewed as such. While we aren't yet at the point that we regularly use bicycles as transportation, we have been instructing our children on proper cycling, including using hand signals, not riding on sidewalks, and observing traffic laws. I hope, in the very near future, bicycles will get their proper recognition, and town planners will incorporate bicycle lanes on their road plans.