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Heights Bike Lanes


Gooch

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Thats me on my bike. That's a car behind me, driving in the Heights Blvd. bike lane, about 6-inches off my back wheel. What you cannot see is that he's honking and even went so far as to accelerate towards me in threatening manner. Why was he in the bike lane? Because he couldn't wait for 2 cars that were queued up at the red-light and was using it as a passing lane. I got the guy's plates, picture, and mug shot. So will HPD by the morning.

I ride a lot. And I see cars using the Heights bike lane for passing on the right almost daily. I'm not talking about turning right, parking, etc. But, full on making a 2nd lane where none exists. Its becoming more and more common. What can we do about this, other than the obvious filing a police report. And I've written Mayor White, Cheif Hurtt, and Jack Abercia. No city council member at the moment, so I copied the at large members. Any others ideas?

Edited by Gooch
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News media.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, and that's a great picture. email that shot plus the text of your message here to the chron, the press, and local tv. You can't see the person or the plates, so they're not really identifiable.

Edited by crunchtastic
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I've seen this happen all over town. Although I personally dont ride my bike on the streets (mostly at the park) I hate it when I see clowns driving all over the bike lanes. I think in some neighborhoods any reasonable prevention might start with making the area dry.

Have you file a police report?

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Thats me on my bike. That's a car behind me, driving in the Heights Blvd. bike lane, about 6-inches off my back wheel. What you cannot see is that he's honking and even went so far as to accelerate towards me in threatening manner. Why was he in the bike lane? Because he couldn't wait for 2 cars that were queued up at the red-light and was using it as a passing lane.

..in a freakin Subaru, no less?! What's this world coming to?

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..in a freakin Subaru, no less?! What's this world coming to?

I love biking in the Heights, and most of inner loop for that matter on Saturday or Sunday mornings. As a Subaru owner, I vote to replace this person's Subaru with an nice H3.

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Just to present the other side...

Thats one big ass bike lane... on a street that has a history of being two lanes in each direction much greater than its current configuration... and relatively speaking, not too far in the past.

That said.. its also been around long enough that the driver should accept it.. he was wrong for riding your ass and honking.

I bike.. I bike Heights.. I like it.

But as a driver, i also remember what Heights used to be like.. and it was better.

However, its not so much the bike lane that it is the problem... its the on-street parking. There would be room for two lanes and a bike lane if street parking wasnt in the mix.

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UPDATE: I received a call from HPD this morning. The officer I spoke with was very professional, helpful, and interested to hear of the issues. As I told him, I'm more concerened because this is happening so often, more than I'm concerned with just one driver. Sometimes we tend assume that HPD won't responsive to our concerns. That is not the case at all. That's commendable given their workload and the sheer size of their patrol areas.

Usually I just ignore honkers when I'm in a regular lane

I usually just ignore them, too. But this guy tacked himself on my wheel like he was drafting me. That brought me out of passive mode.

Thats one big ass bike lane... on a street that has a history of being two lanes in each direction much greater than its current configuration... and relatively speaking, not too far in the past

Agree. It's poorly marked too. No one seems to know what to do when making a right turn too. All understandable. All drivers/riders make mistakes. That's not such a big deal. It's the folks using like a passing lane that's going to get someone hurt. Driver's should know passing on the right isn't correct in the first place. Crossing a solid line to do it is pretty obvious.

However, its not so much the bike lane that it is the problem... its the on-street parking. There would be room for two lanes and a bike lane if street parking wasnt in the mix.

There'd be a lot more traffic and at higher speeds with 4-lanes. Yale-like, where it's not hard to find folks doing 60+mph? Bad ju-ju with the pedestrian traffic up and down the neutral ground.

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I've seen this happen all over town. Although I personally dont ride my bike on the streets (mostly at the park) I hate it when I see clowns driving all over the bike lanes. I think in some neighborhoods any reasonable prevention might start with making the area dry.

Have you file a police report?

First, that area is dry....second making any area dry only hurts business...restaurants do not come to the heights as it is because they cannot serve alcohol....there are ways around this obviously, but still making areas dry is just a bad idea for any area.

Also, I can see being upset about a car in the bike lane, but as a driver, it is more than annoying when the bikers are in the normal traffic lanes causing huge backups...especially when the biker is breaking the law and riding against traffic in the oncoming lanes (see this all the time in the washington area) There may not be many places that road bikers have to bike, but through the city disrupting everyday traffic should not be one of them. I always think how incredibly selfish a biker is being when he backs up traffic so that he can get some exercise. Not saying bikers should not ride...there just ought to be better places. Car lanes are bad places for bikers...its just an accident waiting to happen.

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I remember talking about parking in bike lanes a bit on the Heights bike trail thread. For what it's worth, the one map that I thought then was especially confusing appears to be gone from the city's site. I think the bikeway FAQ may have been reworded, too - I don't remember it looking like it does now, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. It (now?) says:

What are bike lanes?

Bike lanes are designated on-street bicycle paths. They are striped, marked with a bicycle symbol on the pavement, and signed with a black and white Bikes Only sign. Vehicles are not allowed to continuously drive on this path.

Can I drive on a bike lane?

No. Bike lanes are designated bicycle only lanes. You can drive across a bike lane when making turns or exits. Always check for bicycle traffic before crossing these lanes.

Can I park my car on the bike lane?

Maybe. Bike lanes are designated bicycle paths. Parking on bike lanes means that bicyclists must merge onto the traffic lane to pass the parked vehicle. In some areas parking is permitted as posted. Look for parking restriction signs.

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I always think how incredibly selfish a biker is being when he backs up traffic so that he can get some exercise. Not saying bikers should not ride...there just ought to be better places. Car lanes are bad places for bikers...its just an accident waiting to happen.

Believe me, I'd be happy to stay in the bike lane/on the bike path if any existed in the places I want to ride. But they don't, so I have to get in the traffic lanes sometimes. And I'm not just riding for the exercise, I'm going to work and back.

I am as courteous as possible - if I'm "taking the lane" it's usually on multi-lane roads with options for passing me easily. I wait my turn at lights and stop signs. I clear the right-turn lanes so drivers can turn right on red. I just ask for basic courtesy in return, and happily, most drivers are more than polite. I'm sorry if I slow down traffic sometimes, but I can't always avoid that.

I AM a vehicle, and I do have as much right to bike on the street as you have to drive on it, so we'll just have to share the road, OK?

(I realize that the group road bike rides on Washington can be annoying, but have you ever actually seen the bike lanes there? You'd blow a tire in 2 seconds if you actually tried to ride through all that debris)

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Also, I can see being upset about a car in the bike lane, but as a driver, it is more than annoying when the bikers are in the normal traffic lanes causing huge backups...especially when the biker is breaking the law and riding against traffic in the oncoming lanes (see this all the time in the washington area) There may not be many places that road bikers have to bike, but through the city disrupting everyday traffic should not be one of them. I always think how incredibly selfish a biker is being when he backs up traffic so that he can get some exercise. Not saying bikers should not ride...there just ought to be better places. Car lanes are bad places for bikers...its just an accident waiting to happen.

I never think about how selfish the cyclist is when I see that. I wonder why that is?

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There'd be a lot more traffic and at higher speeds with 4-lanes. Yale-like, where it's not hard to find folks doing 60+mph? Bad ju-ju with the pedestrian traffic up and down the neutral ground.

Yes.. thats the part that was nice... for drivers.

Just saying.. the ROW is huge once you include the center green strip... back before they designed the current configuration, I'm sure they could have come up with a solution that involved two lanes and dedicated bike lanes.

Most of the city's other bike lanes share roads with higher speed traffic and multiple lanes. Its not the end of the world, if the row is sufficient to accommodate a safe bike lane.

I agree with you that the markings are confusing though. Getting into the right hand lane to turn should be allowed i think.. but not at the expense of bikers in front of you. I almost treat it like the left turn lanes that share row with the LRT...

If no cyclists are present... its my lane to turn from. IF cyclists are present, the number of cars and cyclists would dictate which lane to wait in.... but waiting and yielding to the cyclists present is the rule... and shouldnt be a problem for most drivers.

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Also, I can see being upset about a car in the bike lane, but as a driver, it is more than annoying when the bikers are in the normal traffic lanes causing huge backups...especially when the biker is breaking the law and riding against traffic in the oncoming lanes (see this all the time in the washington area) There may not be many places that road bikers have to bike, but through the city disrupting everyday traffic should not be one of them. I always think how incredibly selfish a biker is being when he backs up traffic so that he can get some exercise. Not saying bikers should not ride...there just ought to be better places. Car lanes are bad places for bikers...its just an accident waiting to happen.

Not everyone owns a car, and using a bike to get to work is sometimes needed. I try to stay as far right as is reasonably possible (I'm not going to ride my bike through debris).

Nobody should be riding against traffic. I agree with you on that.

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Not everyone owns a car, and using a bike to get to work is sometimes needed. I try to stay as far right as is reasonably possible (I'm not going to ride my bike through debris).

Nobody should be riding against traffic. I agree with you on that.

Im not anti biker at all - in fact I love to bike myself through the area - but I do try to stay off the very busy streets...not just for my safety (though that is the primary concern) but b/c it backs up traffic. I dont like when I cant get around people biking, so when I bike I try to avoid doing it to them...just being curteous. I undestand most bikers are quite curteous...Washington is where it is the worst, simply because there are lots of bikers there only two lanes, fast traffic and, they ride in the right hand lane and its not only dangerous but it causes back ups.

Biking in any area where the speed limit is below 30 is probably fine...when a biker gets into the 35-45+mph areas, or they have to bike through traffic, they should look for a better route...I understand that a biker has as much right to the road as a car but a car moves much faster and does not impede multiple people like a bike does.

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Im not anti biker at all - in fact I love to bike myself through the area - but I do try to stay off the very busy streets...not just for my safety (though that is the primary concern) but b/c it backs up traffic. I dont like when I cant get around people biking, so when I bike I try to avoid doing it to them...just being curteous. I undestand most bikers are quite curteous...Washington is where it is the worst, simply because there are lots of bikers there only two lanes, fast traffic and, they ride in the right hand lane and its not only dangerous but it causes back ups.

Okay, but understand that Washington is designated as an official city bikeway. Portions have a bike lane and other parts have bike signage to warn motorists to watch for bikers, so that's why cyclists want to ride there.

I'd link you to the map but I can't seem to find it on the city website anymore.

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Biking in any area where the speed limit is below 30 is probably fine...when a biker gets into the 35-45+mph areas, or they have to bike through traffic, they should look for a better route...I understand that a biker has as much right to the road as a car but a car moves much faster and does not impede multiple people like a bike does.

Correct me if I am wrong but isnt the speed limit on Washington 30MPH?

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Just out of curiosity, are there sidewalks you can ride on in this area instead of using the bike lane? I know we should be able to use bike lanes without being hassled, but the reality is that there are a lot of jerks out there who believe the roads are just for them and everyone else should get out of their way.

Living and biking in west Houston (mostly) outside the beltway I find it much safer to use sidewalks on main streets even though we've got bike lanes on several cross streets here. I'd much rather ride the sidewalk and deal with the occasional missing or broken section than tempt fate in traffic.

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Just out of curiosity, are there sidewalks you can ride on in this area instead of using the bike lane? I know we should be able to use bike lanes without being hassled, but the reality is that there are a lot of jerks out there who believe the roads are just for them and everyone else should get out of their way.

Riding on sidewalks is illegal. That's not to say that I don't do it intermittently when the road conditions (speed of motorists, amount of shoulder, busted up roads, etc) are terrible but I use it sparingly because I don't want to be ticketed.

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Okay, but understand that Washington is designated as an official city bikeway. Portions have a bike lane and other parts have bike signage to warn motorists to watch for bikers, so that's why cyclists want to ride there. I'd link you to the map but I can't seem to find it on the city website anymore.

This map is still on the city's site - the one that "defined" what different types of bikeways are is the one that seems to be gone.

The FAQ re riding bikes on the sidewalk says: "It is acceptable to ride on the sidewalk under certain conditions, except in a business zone. A business zone is the territory that includes the contiguous 600 ft. along the roadway where there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes that occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way."

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This map is still on the city's site - the one that "defined" what different types of bikeways are is the one that seems to be gone.

Cool, thanks. I've got a foldout map of that hanging on my wall that I got from the library (and they also have them at City Hall), but its nice to have the PDF.

The FAQ re riding bikes on the sidewalk says: "It is acceptable to ride on the sidewalk under certain conditions, except in a business zone. A business zone is the territory that includes the contiguous 600 ft. along the roadway where there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes that occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way."

LOL. Apparently almost everywhere I ride is a "business zone."

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not really easily however center is always a good alternative since it is less busy and parallel to washington.

THIS makes sense. We always ride down Center, it's just easier. I'm not out there to be on parade and be seen, I'm trying to get somewhere safely, and in most cases that means not riding on major streets.

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Riding on sidewalks is illegal. That's not to say that I don't do it intermittently when the road conditions (speed of motorists, amount of shoulder, busted up roads, etc) are terrible but I use it sparingly because I don't want to be ticketed.

Riding on sidewalks is not always illegal. This is from the city of Houston's website:

"Can I ride my bike on the sidewalk? It is acceptable to ride on the sidewalk under certain conditions, except in a business zone. A business zone is the territory that includes the contiguous 600 ft. along the roadway where there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes that occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way."

That includes downtown and some commercial thoroughfares, but leaves a lot of sidewalks where biking is allowed. I ride (and see others riding) on sidewalks all the time up and down Westheimer, Richmond, Dairy Ashford, Memorial, Wilcrest, Kirkwood and other streets and have been passed many, many times by police cruisers without incident. They may ticket you in downtown, but further out I suspect the police have bigger fish to fry than bikes on sidewalks. I think if you do it resposibly (no wheelies down sidewalks crowded with pedestrians, please!) you won't have any problems.

Has anyone out there ever been ticketed or warned by police not to ride on sidewalks? If so, where?

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Riding on sidewalks is not always illegal. This is from the city of Houston's website:

"Can I ride my bike on the sidewalk? It is acceptable to ride on the sidewalk under certain conditions, except in a business zone. A business zone is the territory that includes the contiguous 600 ft. along the roadway where there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes that occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way."

That includes downtown and some commercial thoroughfares, but leaves a lot of sidewalks where biking is allowed. I ride (and see others riding) on sidewalks all the time up and down Westheimer, Richmond, Dairy Ashford, Memorial, Wilcrest, Kirkwood and other streets and have been passed many, many times by police cruisers without incident. They may ticket you in downtown, but further out I suspect the police have bigger fish to fry than bikes on sidewalks. I think if you do it resposibly (no wheelies down sidewalks crowded with pedestrians, please!) you won't have any problems.

Has anyone out there ever been ticketed or warned by police not to ride on sidewalks? If so, where?

My friend was ticketed for riding on the sidewalk. I live inside the loop, and the vast majority of street miles have businesses on both sides of the road, so its very rare to find a place where its legal. There are a few.

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parking in the bike lane has definitely changed since the 90's when this city was actively ticketing vehicles for parking in one. i remember when they added the bike lane to dallas, they were ticketing customers at the aquarium.

Edited by musicman
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First, that area is dry....second making any area dry only hurts business...restaurants do not come to the heights as it is because they cannot serve alcohol....there are ways around this obviously, but still making areas dry is just a bad idea for any area.

Also, I can see being upset about a car in the bike lane, but as a driver, it is more than annoying when the bikers are in the normal traffic lanes causing huge backups...especially when the biker is breaking the law and riding against traffic in the oncoming lanes (see this all the time in the washington area) There may not be many places that road bikers have to bike, but through the city disrupting everyday traffic should not be one of them. I always think how incredibly selfish a biker is being when he backs up traffic so that he can get some exercise. Not saying bikers should not ride...there just ought to be better places. Car lanes are bad places for bikers...its just an accident waiting to happen.

Cyclists pay for road construction too.

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Cyclists pay for road construction too.

They do pay for the road, but their contribution is extremely minimal, compared to the cars....the gasoline tax is enormous compared to what a cyclist pays. Its actually probably insignificant in the grand scheme.

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They do pay for the road, but their contribution is extremely minimal, compared to the cars....the gasoline tax is enormous compared to what a cyclist pays. Its actually probably insignificant in the grand scheme.

Very well, but also insignificant is their weight burden on the road. They're contribute very little to potholes and etc.

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They do pay for the road, but their contribution is extremely minimal, compared to the cars....the gasoline tax is enormous compared to what a cyclist pays. Its actually probably insignificant in the grand scheme.

Cyclists generally do not ride on the roads that your gasoline taxes (AND THEIRS!) build and maintain, such as interstate highways US highways and the like. However, my property taxes, both city and county, as well as my METRO sales tax, DOES build and maintain those city roads that you somehow believe are only yours to use. So as far as the local roads go, my contribution is ENORMOUS, too. And, as mentioned before, a 21 pound bicycle puts virtually no wear and tear on the roadway compared to a large 6,000 pound vehicle. Given your minimal contribution in comparison to your destruction of the road, I would think the least you could do in gratitude is not delicate flower about those cyclists who contribute so much to the roads you destroy.

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Cyclists generally do not ride on the roads that your gasoline taxes (AND THEIRS!) build and maintain, such as interstate highways US highways and the like. However, my property taxes, both city and county, as well as my METRO sales tax, DOES build and maintain those city roads that you somehow believe are only yours to use. So as far as the local roads go, my contribution is ENORMOUS, too. And, as mentioned before, a 21 pound bicycle puts virtually no wear and tear on the roadway compared to a large 6,000 pound vehicle. Given your minimal contribution in comparison to your destruction of the road, I would think the least you could do in gratitude is not delicate flower about those cyclists who contribute so much to the roads you destroy.

not sure where you gleamed that I think the roads are only mine to use....I clearly stated Im not against cyclist - I simply said I think they should have some areas to ride that are better adapted to them...some of the areas I see the cyclist using, their presence can be both dangerous and disruptive...more people are using cars, so though there are certianly places that cyclist should be allowed to ride, there are others they should not be allowed to ride. And I will have you know my truck weighs 9,100 lbs, not 6,000.

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LOL you are fitting into that aggressive driver stereotype.

I can see being upset about a bike in the car lane, but as a cyclist, it is closer to threatening bodily harm when the cars cannot yield the right of way to bikes in the normal traffic lanes as they should. This is especially dangerous when the driver chooses to ignore oncoming bikers when pulling out into a traffic lane, or accelerates past a cyclist and cuts them off in order to turn right (see this all the time all over the city). There may not be many designated places (bike lanes) that road bikers have to bike, but they have the right of way when on the road. Sometimes I think how incredibly selfish a driver is being when my eyes meet his and he turns his head to pretend he didn

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Cyclists generally do not ride on the roads that your gasoline taxes (AND THEIRS!) build and maintain, such as interstate highways US highways and the like. However, my property taxes, both city and county, as well as my METRO sales tax, DOES build and maintain those city roads that you somehow believe are only yours to use. So as far as the local roads go, my contribution is ENORMOUS, too. And, as mentioned before, a 21 pound bicycle puts virtually no wear and tear on the roadway compared to a large 6,000 pound vehicle. Given your minimal contribution in comparison to your destruction of the road, I would think the least you could do in gratitude is not delicate flower about those cyclists who contribute so much to the roads you destroy.

A bicycle riding down Memorial drive to me is kind of like the opposite of mass transport. They take up way more space on the road per person due to the wide berth you have to give them. Plus they slow down all the other traffic around them. I'm always getting stuck behind 4 guys riding in the right lane just West of Memorial park. I'm usually in no hurry so it doesn't bother me but they sure do use a lot more of the road per mile traveled than the rest of us. I understand what a previous poster meant when he called them "selfish".

I know it's legal for them to ride there and I give them all the respect they deserve on the road but my mother taught me that it's kind of stupid to ride a bike in the street when I was about 4, legal or not.

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not sure where you gleamed that I think the roads are only mine to use....I clearly stated Im not against cyclist - I simply said I think they should have some areas to ride that are better adapted to them...some of the areas I see the cyclist using, their presence can be both dangerous and disruptive...more people are using cars, so though there are certianly places that cyclist should be allowed to ride, there are others they should not be allowed to ride. And I will have you know my truck weighs 9,100 lbs, not 6,000.

Other than the statements you made in posts numbers 12, 19, 36, and 39, I have no idea where I came upon the realization that you believe the roads are only yours to use.

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...more people are using cars, so though there are certianly places that cyclist should be allowed to ride, there are others they should not be allowed to ride.

Yes. Like controlled-access highways. Which prohibit bikes.

Houston is certainly not the most bike-friendly town, but gas prices are going up, and more and more people are living in the loop. Bicycling is only going to increase, so I'm of the opinion that drivers should take a deep breath and relax a bit. The extra 2 minutes you're behind a bike won't make that much of a difference.

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A bicycle riding down Memorial drive to me is kind of like the opposite of mass transport. They take up way more space on the road per person due to the wide berth you have to give them. Plus they slow down all the other traffic around them. I'm always getting stuck behind 4 guys riding in the right lane just West of Memorial park. I'm usually in no hurry so it doesn't bother me but they sure do use a lot more of the road per mile traveled than the rest of us. I understand what a previous poster meant when he called them "selfish".

I know it's legal for them to ride there and I give them all the respect they deserve on the road but my mother taught me that it's kind of stupid to ride a bike in the street when I was about 4, legal or not.

Are you talking about east of 610 and west of the park? If so that is practically the only place in the city where it is actually marked that they can ride on the sidewalk, so they should definitely take advantage of that.

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Yes. Like controlled-access highways. Which prohibit bikes.

Houston is certainly not the most bike-friendly town, but gas prices are going up, and more and more people are living in the loop. Bicycling is only going to increase, so I'm of the opinion that drivers should take a deep breath and relax a bit. The extra 2 minutes you're behind a bike won't make that much of a difference.

So if you got one bicyclist on a street and he's slowing down 50 vehicles for two minutes each which one is selfish? Is that a good use of resources? Making 50 cars spend two more minutes each on the road using fuel and polluting the air so a few people can save a little gas?

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So if you got one bicyclist on a street and he's slowing down 50 vehicles for two minutes each which one is selfish? Is that a good use of resources? Making 50 cars spend two more minutes each on the road using fuel and polluting the air so a few people can save a little gas?

Generally speaking, a cyclist will attempt to ride to the right of the lane if it is safe to do so, and people can pass him. Occasionally on some streets it makes more sense to take the lane, especially places where there is zero shoulder. This is a good reason why cities should invest in good roads with plenty of shoulders and/or bike lanes. Its extremely rare that a car is held up for more than 30 seconds or so when he can safely pass on the left, and let me assure you that nearly every car makes their discontent known when they are inconvenienced for even a nanosecond by blowing their horn.

But the fact of the matter is that these streets belong to everyone and as long as a person is obeying the law you should just settle down and be patient.

Edited by kylejack
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So if you got one bicyclist on a street and he's slowing down 50 vehicles for two minutes each which one is selfish? Is that a good use of resources? Making 50 cars spend two more minutes each on the road using fuel and polluting the air so a few people can save a little gas?

That's hyperbole.

But if your scenario was correct, wouldn't the first in the line of 50 cars share some fault? After all, there is nothing keeping that first car from passing the bike as long as it is safe, thus releasing those behind to do the same.

Without that, I think both the cyclist and the first car should pull over, dismount/disembark from their vehicles, and flagellate each other over the sinful wastes of energy and other peoples' time they had a part in. ;)

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To lighten the mood a bit... Does anyone have an old beat up kid hauler you put on a bike? I'm looking for one and haven't had any luck on Craigslist. I would REALLY appreciate if someone wants to get rid of one to let me know.

Thanks!

D

P.S. I have to agree that in coming years it will become more of an issue with bikers in the inner loop... So, regardless whether people agree or disagree it is OBVIOUS that it's an issue and needs to be better defined/enforced/or resolved.

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