Stop Being an Intransigent Oaf – Bike Lanes are Good for Car Drivers Too

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

I may be a myopic twit but this guy from the Washington Post is a freaking dinosaur:

“What cyclists need is a separate network of biking roads, not bike lanes. Give them trails through wooded areas, away from cars and trucks. Once they enter high-traffic areas in the city, it’s off the bicycle and onto alternative transportation. Like two feet.”

I want to get this down because I literally just got back from driving down 11th Street. Which was an absolute joy. And why was it a joy? Because the bike lane made it a pleasure. I took New Hampshire Ave and got stuck behind a cyclist – fine, sharrows, we share the road – whatever. It sucked. I was stuck driving like 6 miles an hour. Then I got to 11th Street and the cyclist went to the bike lane and I was in my lane and it was beautiful. We were both on our way.

These people who reflexively scream against bike lanes – I just don’t get it. It is so clear and so obvious that the bike lanes not only benefit the cyclist but they benefit the car driver equally if not more so! I experience it every single morning. I’m in a car and I say thank freaking God for the bike lanes.

I’m not sure if these people are being intentionally obtuse or are just so keen to pit “one side” against an “other side” but they are flat out wrong.

So I look forward to reading his next screed on the danger of ballpoint pens – don’t you realize the inkwell is the key to the purest form of penmanship!?!?

Well as far as the fight against bike lanes are concerned, I guess the silver lining is that the dinosaurs eventually died out.

43 Comment

  • Men drive cars. Women stay at home. Children ride bicycles. And never the twain shall something or other.

  • DC1

    I’m not a cyclist, but LOVE the bike lanes, I just wish all the cyclist out there used them and followed the damn rules.
    Here’s an idea for MPD… enforce and fine the cyclists! Just imagine the revenue!

    • gotryit

      I don’t condone anyone breaking traffic laws, but MPD doesn’t normally enforce traffic violations from cars either (other than automated cameras).

      • For real. I don’t think most people realize that MPD doesn’t actually have a traffic enforcement division at all.

        In my opinion it leads to all kinds of bad behaviors–like the guy who nearly ran me and 4 others down in a crosswalk at NH Ave and Quincy last night, blaring his horn at us for daring to try to cross the street.

        My less popular opinion is that I don’t think most people actually want a funded traffic enforcement division because rolling through stop signs, running red lights and going 15+ mph over the speed limit on narrow neighborhood streets is the predominant hobby of residents of the DMV region.

      • randomduck

        First: in DC, there is no legal requirement that cyclists ride in bike lanes if they are provided. In parts of Maryland this is the case, but not in the District.

        Secondly: bike lanes are great *if* they are well designed. Putting a 3-4 foot wide lane immediately adjacent to driver’s side doors is not smart. Many drivers will open up their doors without checking the bike lane, and cyclists get hurt (and car doors get broken). The protected bike lanes on L and M Streets are perhaps the best examples of well-designed lanes, with the two-way tracks on 1st and 15th Streets running second (though the close proximity of two-way cycling traffic creates some bad head-on situations with faster riders, who can and should ride with regular traffic).

        Thirdly: bike lanes only work on inclement weather days (e.g. this week’s snow and ice event) if they are kept clear of ice, snow, and debris. Thankfully, DDOT is more on the ball with this than they were in years past, but cyclists are entitled to use ANY LANE on the road, and ride in the center of said lane if it is the only safe passage.

    • While their at it they can fine the drivers who park in bike lanes and turn right without looking! Peace and harmony for all!

    • Agreed on following the rules. The same can be said for drivers. However, there is no rule that requires bikers to use the bike lanes.

  • gotryit

    You know those people who make ridiculous comments on here to get a rise out of people? The author of that article is the same way except he posts in the Washington Post. It’s what he does for a living… no point in trying to use logic against him.

  • Ignore this article. Courtland Milloy is the official Washington Post troll. I’m shocked they actually publish his stuff – it only serves to incite anger and drive divisions between segments of the population. Shame on you, Washington Post.

    • We need Milloy. Every major city needs a cranky “Get off my lawn!” guy with a dad moustache. Otherwise, no one would be able to elucidate the concerns of upper middle class people who don’t actually live in the city, but pretend that they have some form of imagined stake.

    • yea I saw the headline and that it was written by him, so I didn’t open it.

    • Yes, I’ve said it before–if you don’t like Milloy, don’t read him. I don’t. Discussing him on a blog just increases the click rate to his article, thus increasing his value to the Post and ensuring more nonsense in the future.

    • It’s clickbait. Whether you agree or disagree, if you open the article, you’re feeding the troll.

  • “Well as far as the fight against bike lanes are concerned, I guess the silver lining is that the dinosaurs eventually died out.” –> yup!

  • That stupid article was all about incitement, as if there isn’t enough hate already between cars and cyclists. I was temped to write a letter stating that banning cars from heavily trafficked downtown – is really the way to prevent accidents and crowding! (excepting disabled drivers and carshare/cabs)

    • ah


      “Once they enter high-traffic areas in the city, it’s out of the car and onto alternative transportation. Like two feet”

  • Exactly! Where would people double park if it weren’t for bike lanes? They might actually block vehicular traffic!

  • The Post’s Op-Ed section has become a goddamned embarrassment. It’s by far the worst part of a mediocre paper. It really makes me sad to see what has happened to a once-great newspaper.

    • The fact that the Post has continued to employ Mr. Milloy and publish his inflammatory rants was enough for me to finally cancel my years-long daily subscription. The Post has lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned, and I now find my news elsewhere.

  • Bike lines => increased safety for bikers => more people inclined to commute by bike => fewer cars on the road => less congestion for me 🙂

  • My only gripe with bike lanes concerns the stretch of Pennsylvania Ave (from the capitol to the ellipse). I worked in a building on this stretch of road for 2 years and the fact that these lanes are dedicated prevents any legal U-turns by a taxi driver. During the day this makes sense, but at 10PM on a Wednesday night it seems crazy. It puts the taxi drivers in a tough spot – either they have to make a convoluted side trip off of Penn Ave (which causes them a lot of grief from many passengers who don’t realize what is going on) or they make an illegal U turn and risk getting ticketed.

    I think it would make sense if the lanes were dedicated for a reasonable time each day – say from sun up to sun down, but at night they are virtually unused and the hassle doesn’t seem to outweigh the benefits. Especially when the Mall is just a few blocks over and presumably bikers could go there.

    • gotryit

      “… prevents any **illegal** U-turns by a taxi drivers…” fixed that for you
      It still wouldn’t be legal for them to pull a U-turn across double yellow lines. You can fix the rest yourself.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Properly designed bike lanes benefit both cyclists and motorists. However, several sections of DC’s network of bike lanes are substandard (in the literal sense that they do not conform to established design guidelines). There are a few long sections in the upper northwest as well as a couple of short segments downtown where the bike lanes are more than a foot narrower than the minimum width allowed under the guidelines, thus telling drivers that the cyclists are supposed to be in the bike lane but without providing the bike enough space to avoid protruding into the car lane. I generally support bike lanes, but some of DDOT’s implementation thereof has been borderline negligent.

  • Frankly, this is pathetic. This is obvious troll-baiting, nothing else. Milloy is so out-of-touch with changing reality that the only thing he can do to maintain some sort of readership is to spew out pablum of questionable logic. No country for old men, mon frere. May I suggest you exit gracefully?

  • What if cars were on the trails. That sounds fun. Then when they get near their destination they park and ride razors to the destination. Maybe sideways. Either way they will look really cool. Maybe just keep it as it is and let people complain. They will regardless.

  • I’m both a cyclist AND driver, and I absolutely agree with you- Courtland Milloy is a nit wit with outdated thinking. Some of the comments say they wished cyclists would follow the rules. I bet they don’t know the rules that cyclists follow but I bet they would be surprised to learn them. For example, cyclists CAN ride on the sidewalks in DC outside of a specific downtown area. Also, I witness cars breaking rules too. And I’m sorry but a 2 ton rule breaker is worse than a 110 lb rule breaker not encased in steel and glass. you can fix steel and glass- you can’t fix a human.

    • The way most people drive (especially in D.C.), it seems like they value the steel a glass (and their “right” to go as fast as they like) a lot more than they value people. One more reason why American cities largely suck.

  • i blame the capitalism of team sports for turing us into absolutist extremist morons.

  • clevelanddave

    1) Bike lanes take up almost a full lane of traffic 2) Many are not well designed 3) in an area with three or more jurisdictions the bike lanes seem very weird and hard to understand for those who are not used to them.

    While road rules around the country aren’t completely uniform, bike lanes- from the signs to the green paint, to the dotted lines, to the yellow pylons are really different. How many cars have I seen trying to make left turns off of L onto Connecticut or Vermont? You really think they way the constrict traffic helps traffic flow by reducing the number of lanes? Don’t many of the bike lanes, as designed, just result in more bikers getting doored and drivers and delivery vehicles blocking the lanes?

    I write this as both a driver and a biker- and to the biker who drives in the middle of the lane, if the bike lane or the right side of the road is clear is just a doosh.

  • Certainly it would be beneficial for everyone to actually follow traffic laws but it would be even better if DC actually enforced traffic laws to include cracking down on delivery trucks and cars from illegally stopping/parking in lanes during rush hour. L Street and M Street used to be four lanes during rush hour but now is often down to two with the bike lane taking up one and illegal parkers taking up another.

  • This guy is usually offensive. I don’t understand why they continue to publish him – just to have an offensive, provocative jerk doing op eds, I think. Ignoring him is best. Doesn’t say good things about the post that they continue to publish him.

  • Stop driving your polluting, gas guzzling vehicle through the city making it unsafe for bikers and walkers. If you dont like cities that make it easier to bike, then move to a place that doesn’t support mass transit and alternate commutes as well as DC.

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