News flash: Bike lanes are for bikes
Every time there is a discussion about bike lanes or making room for cyclists, there are a thousand Dorothy Rabinowitz clones rising up to protest "when cyclists follow the rules and stop at stop signs, then we might consider giving them space." However when cyclists finally do get a bit of space, their bit of paint on the pavement, it's another story. In New York, Eben Weiss, AKA the Bike Snob NYC is fed up. Everybody complains about the "killer cyclists" and then just take over the bike lane. He shows a few dozen photos of how you can barely find the bike lane under all the cars and pedestrians, and notes:
None of this is to begrudge pedestrians their lebenstraum. We are animals after all, and as such we should be permitted to roam, like free range chickens. I merely point this out because: 1) It's fun to take pictures of strangers; and 2) It totally undermines the false premise that cyclists are a problem in New York City. If anything, we're treated like guests in our own home, and unwanted ones at that.
We have much the same problem in Toronto, although it is less often pedestrians. Andrew Clark writes in the Globe and Mail:
The first tip off is the name: “bike lane.” It’s not a “car lane” or a “truck lane” or a “stroller lane” or a “jogging lane.” It’s not a “Purolator lane” or a “trucker-needs a-coffee-lane.” It’s not a “waiting-for-your-spouse-lane” or a “small-right-hand-passing-lane.” It’s a bike lane.
It’s a lane that cyclists use to move about. It separates automobile and bicycle traffic, so that each can flow. The theory is that if we have all these lovely inviting bike lanes then more people will cycle and this will alleviate congestion. It’s all about the flow. It’s all about the commuter feng shui.
He sets up five rules to determine if you belong in a bike lane:
1) Look down your arms toward your hands. Are both, or at least one, holding a bicycle handlebar? If so, then you belong in the bike lane.
2) Wind in your hair, but you’re not driving a convertible.
3) A passerby says “nice bike.”
4) An increased heart rate that is not caused by the stress of driving in the city.
5) You are wearing a helmet or refusing to wear a helmet as a statement against car oppression.
More in the Globe and Mail: Steer clear of the bike lane, it's an endless cycle of frustration