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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
|Because Neighborhoods Count|
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. . . only [safe streets] will make cycling a viable day-to-day transportation option . . .
Multi-use paths - recreation or transportation
In defining other trail users as "pesky skaters" and "kamikaze children," your article on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Towpath illustrated the limitations of using bike paths to provide effective bicycle transit corridors. Bike paths, including the ultra-popular Minuteman Path northwest of Boston, are really nothing more than Linear Parks, home to myriads of users from recreational cyclists to dog walkers to "pesky skaters" and "kamikaze children." While serious bicycle commuters do use these paths, their numbers are relatively minor.
Unfortunately, most bike paths generally don't go anywhere particularly useful to the cyclist who wishes to run errands, visit friends or get to work. Those sorts of daily rides are, by and large, relegated to the poorly maintained sides of regular surface roads, with or without bike lane striping.
For the cyclist who wants to use his or her bike as a basic part of everyday transportation, the massive focus on bike trails is misplaced. What would make most cyclists' lives safer would be a more effective maintenance program on the parts of surface roads that cyclists use and a more effective police effort to ensure that motorists obey the rules of the road.
In a perfect world, we could have both bike paths and safe streets. But if we have to choose, only the latter option will make cycling a viable day-to-day transportation option for most people. Bike paths, by comparison, are a luxury provided primarily for the recreational cyclist, skater or walker.
The Ride Magazine