February 2012 Presidents Paceline

Since I have become President of Capital City Cyclists I have had the opportunity to be part of many conversations with regard to bicycles.  It has been a wonderful experience to reconnect with old friends and to get to know  many  more fellow bicycle enthusiast – all with different backgrounds and perspectives on what it means to be a “cyclists.”  It is from this perspective, as well as my own experiences on bicycles, that I write this months presidents paceline…


Bicycles are amazing inventions! They are legal vehicles on our roadways zooming along at 20+ mph; they are off-road vehicles that can take you over mountains; they are “pedestrians” taking a leisurely stroll on the sidewalk up to the corner store; and they are “toys” that my 2 1/2 year old son rides circles on in the kitchen. What other apparatus crosses such boundaries?!?! Perhaps it is an “odd” perspective unique to me, but this adaptability is one of the things that makes bicycles so amazing.


With this mindset lets look at bicycle commuting – it’s a common debate if cyclists should use the road or sidewalk… I would suggest both and that cycling on the road or the sidewalk is akin to learning to drive a car. We would not encourage someone to jump in a car and make a left turn across 6 lanes of traffic without completing the necessary requirements to get there (i.e. over 16, pass a driving test, and have some experience). Sidewalks are a good option for younger or less “experienced” cyclists as they use them as pedestrians at a relatively slow speed. Before jumping on the street a cyclists should learn rules of the road and master basic skills to gain a level of confidence in their riding ability.  This will then allow them to focus on the environment and become aware of their surroundings to a point they can ride safely on the road.  Once a cyclist is “comfortable” and has gained some “experience” we want to make sure there are efficient facilities for bicycles to get to work, the store, and back home again as a vehicle on the road.


One of my goals for Capital City Cyclists over the next few years is to support and encourage ALL forms of bicycling. The challenge is to figure out how to be appealing to the context and use for one particular cyclists while still appealing to the context and use for other cyclists…  As a start perhaps we should categorize the various “contexts” or “uses” for bicycles (e.g. vehicles on the road, pedestrians on the sidewalk, MTBs riding between trails, “toys” ridden by children).  From these various perspectives I bet we can find “best practices” for each that we can all agree on and then overlay them on a continuum based on level of “experience” and “comfort” that ends with bicycles as vehicles on the road…


Who is willing and can help us come up with this language and materials for the benefit of ALL bicycles – from our road warriors to our kitchen warriors 😉 As a shameless plug join the club and help us craft this solution!


Zach Finn
President Capital City Cyclists