Bike Cult keeps rolling, against all sense

I will say this for the Bike Cult — enough is never enough for them and they never give up. In numbers, they are insignificant, yet they get their way because there is no organized opposition to push back.

Bike lane with flexible poles. (Photo: Stu Bykofsky)

Just 2.6% of Philadelphians commute by bike to work according to the most recent  American Community Survey. Nationally, it is down slightly from the year before. That amounts to the tail of the dog, but this tail too often wags the dog. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it. Across the country there is this fever of remaking streets for a tiny speck who will use bike lanes when weather permits. It is Copenhagen Crazy.

In 2010, the city announced a wet dream of having 6% of commuters to get to and from work by bicycle by the end of a decade. For almost as long I’ve been saying it would not happen — and it hasn’t, despite some 200 miles of bike lanes. And the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia keeps clamoring for more. Its belief that if you build it, they will come, is a proven fallacy.

The most recent controversy involves putting up flexible posts at intersections of bike lanes on Pine and Spruce east of 8th street. The Society Hill Civic Association, which actually did not oppose bike lanes, did fight the flexible posts as harming the historical appearance of its neighborhood, as well as interfering with buses, delivery vehicles  and residents trying to drop someone or groceries off at the curb.

Predictably, the Coalition howled like a wolf and tried to generate guilt over a bicyclist killed by a truck at 11th and Spruce to demand more protected bike lanes. It is a scare tactic. It lost that fight but it now has the city backtracking.  

The Coalition wants more bike lanes for bikes only and for them to be “protected” by flexible poles for the length of every block, damn the inconvenience to anyone else. Pointless, too, as almost no crashes occur mid-block.

What the Coalition did not say is the death of the young woman was an outlier, an accident, a tragedy in which the truck driver was not charged with a crime.

Rather than being dangerous and requiring special protection, Center City is actually the  city neighborhood where one is least likely to be killed by a vehicle.

Randy LoBasso was a tireless crusader for bike lanes while a journalist at the Philadelphia Weekly before the Coalition hired him as spokesman and paid him for doing what he had been doing for free. I oppose most bike lanes as being unnecessary, a waste of space and a contributor to traffic congestion. 

I put a few questions about the current controversy in an email to him, which went unanswered. I realize I am an irritant — the only journalist in town who doesn’t worship at the altar of the Coalition and who asks uncomfortable questions. 

Such as shouldn’t residents have a say in whether bike lanes are installed? I have suggested a citywide referendum on this issue, which the Coalition opposes. Why? It knows it would lose. We don’t want too much of that democracy thing. (Thanks to former City Councilman Bill Greenlee, the city can’t install bike lanes without the OK of the Council rep.) 

We are not supposed to question the wisdom of the bikeheads, who are not as smart as they think they are.

When the city installed bike lanes on Pine and Spruce it neglected to provide left-hand turn lanes at Broad, leading to predictable jams. 

Geniuses at work. So they added the turn lanes.

In 2019, just 10 years after installing them on the right hand side of the street — oops — let’s move them to the left. Huh? Why? Dubious claims of safety.

I will dismantle the safety claim in my next column.

Meanwhile, just reflect on why the media is so in love with bike lanes, why they are so insistent on shoving bike lanes — which cause traffic congestion and slow traffic — down the throats of the overwhelming majority of people who have no use for them. And never will.

27 thoughts on “Bike Cult keeps rolling, against all sense”

    So you have a problem with bikers and bike lanes, do you. Here’s a suggestion. Go out to Roxborough and “Manyunk”.
    Go there, first in a car and travel some of the streets. Then, go there on a bike. You thing there’s a problem in old city. As the say’n’ goes,”you aint seen nothing yet”!

      1. Stu,
        No, no bike lanes up in the hills. The streets are narrow and somewhat dangerous for the bikers. Years ago, the bikes earned the right away in Roxborough and Manyunk. Consequently, you in the car better have patience if you’re behind a bike. The rider tends to take the entire lane – partly for safety, partly because he can.
        The point I guess is that you should know what streets to avoid when driving in Roxborough or Manayunk. ( purposely spelled correctly, not phonetically )

          1. wide streets in yunk and the borough ?!? other than Henry Ave – speed limit – NONE !, where are the wide streets ? most of the time, you have to pull over and let the on-coming car get by.

  2. This guy wants to be considered a journalist, but can’t even get his ramblings posted anywhere but his personal blog. Maybe it is the fact he provides no sources and constantly offers his own personal opinion. No one gives a $&@# what you think. We care about facts, not the ramblings of the of a 90 year old climate change denier (you have to a be one tp ignore the impact of less cars on the road).

    You know who bike commutes at a way higher frequency: non-white people with lower incomes. White supremacy made it so they can’t afford cars, and it shouldn’t also make things with less safe for him. Safety in transportation shouldn’t be a white privilege, and Council recognizes that when these constituents contact.

    You should do your supposed job (again, are you published anywhere but your own blog) and look some of this stuff up before you type.

    1. Hey, genius. Do you know what a link is? I have provided them to substantiate my opinions.
      I know as a pedalphile you are intellectually limited, but make a minimal effort.

  3. Hi Stu,
    Every cyclist represents one less car driver. That means, one more parking spot, one less single-passenger pollution device jamming your commute to work, etc. You don’t seem to really want to engage in polite logical discourse but it does comfort me to know this: The BikeCult is way more than 2.5% of Philly, despite survey results. That percentage certainly increases when the data set is people under 40 years old. A majority of my peers ride bikes and don’t own cars. The future is bright for all of us. Your little article is being passed around the bike-centric Facebook community of mostly retired folks, but a majority of people are pedaling to work, without ever knowing you exist. Vitality is important to a long life and if hating cyclist is what keeps you ticking, you will live to see the day Pine and Spruce are car free once again, the way they were designed to be used. In the meantime, thank you for continuing to stoke the flame and ignite the passion of cycling advocates. People like you and pieces like this remind us, The BikeCult, that we still have a lot of work to do and it prepares us for the enemies we will face.

    1. Why not use a name? Like a good cultist, you ignore stat — 2.6% — you don’t like. My observation is bike riders do NOT abandon cars, they abandon mass transit. Because the Cultists are majority male and white and young and can’t afford cars.
      So get back to work, the fries are burning.

    1. You will never ‘give up’ what? Your right to wear those silly looking Olympic-style shorts? To fail to signal your moves, putting yourselves and auto drivers at risk? Clogging the driving lanes? Bicyclists are the vegans of the exercise world: pains in the ass about their ‘rights’ with no concern about the rights of others.

      1. “Clogging the driving lanes. ” , What do you think cyclists are doing in those lanes? They are driving their pedacycles in those “driving lanes”, or as they properly called travel lanes. Cyclists are simply using the travvel lane same as motorists if you are getting stuck behind cyclists then leave 15 minutes earlier. By leaving 15 minutes earlier you will have time to deal with delay and besides you might find yourself ahead of the cyclist that you always end up behind and since road use priority is based on first come first served getting there first will give you priority and the cyclists will be yielding to you rather than you yielding to them. Though if you want to be lazy and sleep in don’t complain when the cyclist get on the road before you and you have to yield to the cyclists.

        As far as this article goes it is crap the word “protected bikelane ” is incorrect a bikelane is part of the road when you install flexposts it becomes a cycletrack, separated from the road by use of barriers when these cycletracks extend up to intersection they put two lines of traffic at odds with each other creating either left or right hooks based on which side of the one way street the cycletrack is placed.

        1. Your comment is largely incoherent. My objection is to protected bike lanes, not to bicycle use of streets. The fact remains that creating 200 miles of bike lanes for 2.6% of the public is moronic.

          1. Stu, the first paragraph was directed at Vincent P Benedict whose comment ai replied to. The sceond paragraph was directed at you for referring to the monstrosities as so called quote “protected bikelanes” when they are neither bikelanes under a manual of uniform traffic controls handbook definition. Nor are they axtually protected where it matters most at interscetions. It is no secret I do not favor so called qoute “protected bikelanes”. However, in the right setting and when dobe properly I am okay with properly and safely designed bikelanes when they are not done in a way which amplifies the danger to cyclists as I feel the so called quote “protected bikelanes” do.

    Yo Pallie !
    Let’s go for a bike ride. Two old guys that would do better with training wheels. Then again, you’ld need snow tires with chains. Do you think any of these youngsters ever saw such tires ?
    Anyhow, this blog started with clarity, then went down one of the many hills in Roxsborough. The city is just humoring the bike folk, rather than trying to find a real solution. Why are bike lanes on heavily used streets? There are many other streets but, a biker would have to zig-zag their way across the city, but then, it’s called exercise.
    Do you remember writing the columns on Flag Man? You told me that you never read the comments that were on line with the column. Now, pallie, I can clearly see why.

    1. The comments I did not read were online and anonymous. This is different, but you can get a taste. It is clear USA must teach civics and critical thinking.
      I learned to ride a 26-inch Schwinn two-wheeler when I was 5. I learned how to ride, and then did ride, in the street. No bike lanes then, don’t see why they are needed now. Enjoy the snow where you are. None in Center City.

      1. Stu,
        You are amusing. Kenny wants to make Philly a legal drug fest. The rest of the country is looking for quick money thru selling marijuana. The younger people have their collective brains fried from their choice of drugs. Forget about education. The politicians want us to be a third rate country, and if it wasn’t for our President, we would be getting a lot closer to achieving that goal.
        By the way. You are tall now, and you were probably tall for your age back then. My dad wanted me to be a jockey. I had the size but I gained too much weight.
        My first bike came from going out on trash night ( ragging ), finding bike parts and cannibalizing till you had a bike. The front wheel was smaller than the rear wheel. Depending on where you looked at the bike, you chose the color . But I did have a fairly new baseball card “clothes-pined” to the front wheel !

  5. Stu, I generally agree with you about infrastructure. What do you think about shared lane markings (sharrows) and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs that remind everyone that bicyclists are not only allowed to use the full lane, but that it’s a best practice?

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