F is for Bicycle

I am a utilitarian cyclist. When I ride my bicycle I wear street clothes. I do this to promote cycling as what it is, transport. I use my bicycle (when it is warm enough) to go grocery shopping, to make quick errands, to meet with clients and to go get coffee.

Bicycling isn’t a hobby, unless you also view driving your car as a hobby.

IMG_8026
Teka-Lark Lo on her bicycle,
Policy on bicycles in regards to Complete Streets can’t be based on the purview of what an aerobically fit middle class guy who cycles on the weekend thinks is sufficient.

According to Dill & McNeil (2012) women feel more comfortable riding in “Bike-only lanes and boulevards.”

Though great strides in policy in regards to bicycles have taken place between 2000-2010 and more than 40% of the staff at bicycle advocacy organizations are women, relative rates of women cycling has declined and not kept pace with men participation in cycling.

Complete Street policies are not set up for woman. Many bicycle/complete streets advocates are women, but often it seems that they are not feminists. They seem to be window dressings to give the appearance of a concern for women issues regarding Complete Street policy at conferences.

U211P5029DT20151211170000Your average woman does not feel comfortable riding on a major boulevard, because of some paint on the ground that says “bike lane.”

I want the roads around Essex to be more accessible for all genders, ability levels and ages. I have been riding my bicycle in an urban setting for over 10 years. When I ride on the roads of Essex I don’t feel as if I am always about to be hit by a person driving a car.

I am not scared when I ride my bicycle around Bloomfield, Newark or Montclair, but rather I am annoyed.

I am annoyed that cycling policy in Essex seems to only take men with no caretaking responsibility of children as the authority on where we can cycle and how roads should be designed to cycle, walk and drive on.f3fc66d2f7d518d236319c62bd3facb4

I am annoyed that there aren’t cycle tracks (protected bike lanes) on roads where motorists are driving up to 60 mph, I am annoyed there isn’t the most basic bike lanes in the parks in Essex, I am annoyed that the roads encourage speeding, yes the signs say one thing, the laws claim to say the same thing, but an open road with lights set to catch says “Drive as fast as you can get away with.”

The police are the least effective tool against speeders.

As teachers cannot fix bad education policies, the police are not the final answer to poorly designed roads.

I have little interest in racing my bicycle on a Tour de France style track or riding up the side of a mountain, but I do want my friends of all genders and ages to feel comfortable riding with me along Bloomfield Avenue to Java Love in Montclair from my home in Halcyon Park.

I want to see more women riding their bicycles in New Jersey for everyday tasks. I want to see more children riding their bicycles to school. I want transportation policy that takes into consideration women’s concerns and understands that women having options to not drive is part of Complete Streets policy.

by Teka-Lark Lo