How the U.S.’s Bicycle Infrastructure Fails the Rural Cyclist

Greetings long time readers. Thanks for bearing with me during my hiatus from posting as well as the moving around of things. If you’re still reading this, you’re a dedicated friend. 🙂

I’d like to take a moment and discuss Cherokee Schill’s fight in Kentucky. The basic gist, she’s been fighting a court battle over whether or not she has the right to ride in the middle of a lane on a busy highway running between two towns in Kentucky. I’m not familiar with the highway or traffic conditions at all, so I’m not going to express an opinion except for this, she should have never have been placed in a position to have to make that choice.

The U.S.’s bicycle infrastructure has failed Cherokee Schill and has failed every other cyclist who has been forced to make the choice of taking the lane on a busy highway and possibly incurring the wrath of local law enforcement (even if the law allows you to take the lane) or riding in a shoulder poorly designed for cyclists. Either option is also not seen as safe by the general public, nor is either option pleasant for cyclists who chose to brave these highways.

We can do better. Infrastructure for cyclists, where it exists in the U.S., is piss poor. This is doubly so for rural highways where motorized traffic speeds are much higher.

Take a look at this video:

This is great cycling infrastructure from the Dutch. They’ve got this figured out.

Compare that to conditions that Cherokee Schill encounters on her commute:

Yes, Cherokee had a shoulder. It’s difficult to tell, but there is a rumble strip on that shoulder that is no fun for cyclists to cross. It also difficult to see if and what kind of debris exists on the shoulder. That’s not a road that the large majority of people in the U.S. would ride their bicycle on, much less on a daily basis for their commute. Kudos to Cherokee for braving that road.

Bicycling will never become mainstream for transportation in the U.S. until we step up our game and design and provide infrastructure that is on par with that of the Dutch.

Click to share: Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

One thought on “How the U.S.’s Bicycle Infrastructure Fails the Rural Cyclist”

  1. Hello,
    My name is Cherokee Schill and this article is about me.
    Yes, infrastructure fail is correct.
    What needs to be made clearer is that it was perfectly legal for me to cycle on the travel lane. In fact it was also the safest for this type of infrastructure. Even if were were to assume that the shoulder was viable by being free of debris, rumble strips, potholes, and broken glass (which it was not); Or that it was continuous throughout (which it also was not). Assuming a perfect shoulder, straight, smooth, continuous, and free of debris. I would still need to cycle in the travel lane due to the many businesses and residences located on this stretch of road. The video clip you’ve shown is an example of how simple it is to pass a cyclist and not a representation of the road at large. Even this clip does show (if you look carefully) the pot holes which run along the fog line. The black spots are the shadows created by the potholes not tar or black paint.
    Infrastructure along here would need to be a fully separated dutch style bike path with bike specific lights to prevent conflicts at intersections and businesses. This will not happen in a redneck backwater town like Nicholasville. Which is why I made a video asking people to consider the cost and to share the road. The local cycling advocates, instead of heeding your words, wanted to paint. Yes, paint. A bike lane along this route. Much like they did for a similar route from Versailles to Lexington. 55 mph roads and painted bike lanes do not belong together. When you combine that with the state’s mandatory bike lane laws (shudder) you have such a recipie for disaster.
    I really wish someone had contacted me directly and spoken to me about the things which were important to me.
    The first thing which should have been done was a critical mass ride along this road. The second thing which should have been done is political pressure should have been firmly and continuously applied to the city and the police should have been forced to leave me alone. Then we should have submitted a design contest and a fundraiser to build some truly quality infrastructure.
    All in all. I was a completely new to cycling individual who had gone from 100% car dependent to 100% bicycle dependent in spite of a lack of infra. That alone should have been worth looking into.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *