Felix Salmon’s unified theory of New York biking

Felix Salmon’s unified theory of New York biking could just as easily apply to biking in Ottawa or anywhere else. His key point is that while pedestrians and motorists know how to behave as pedestrians and motorists, cyclists behave — and in some ways are expected to behave — as pedestrians, with predictably bad results. Here’s an excerpt, but it’s worth reading in full.

Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it’s the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional. They’re still in the human-powered mindset of pedestrians, who feel pretty much completely unconstrained by rules.
The result is decidedly suboptimal for all concerned, but mostly for the bicyclists themselves. New York needs to make a collective quantum leap, from treating bicyclists like pedestrians to treating bicyclists like motorists. And unless and until it does, bike relations will continue to be marked by hostility and mistrust.

An interesting subspecies of cyclist that I wasn’t aware of is the bike salmon — a cyclist who travels in the bike lane against the flow of traffic. Yow. Via Kottke and Sullivan.

MEC expands its bike business

Mountain Equipment Co-op has been selling bike parts and equipment for as long as I’ve shopped there, but now they’re selling bicycles in some of their stores. (Videos here.) Other bike shops are not happy about it, and they’re not taking it well: “Some bike-parts suppliers have even refused to ship to MEC, while one Quebec distributor last month dropped a major Canadian parts manufacturer from its roster because the supplier is selling to MEC.” I had no idea the specialty bike industry was such a closed shop: cheap bikes at Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire are one thing, but MEC’s invading their turf.