Here's a topic that people on all sides of the political spectrum can probably agree on. The growing network of bicycle paths and lanes in America should prove to be a very wise investment in the years to come. For one thing, these paths and lanes are a boon to those who seek an alternate way to get to work while at the same time offering people looking to improve their overall health a very inexpensive way to get some exercise. And let's not forget that the off-road bike paths that have been built along old rail lines are a great place for families and friends to enjoy some leisure time together. At the same time, these off-road bike paths are a great way to preserve open spaces, particularly in our nation's urban areas. For all of these reasons and more It seems clear to me that bike paths are a "win-win" for just about everyone.
With the prospect of ever higher fuel and health care costs looming in our immediate future more and more individuals will likely be turning to bicycles as an inexpensive means of transportation, recreation and exercise. One argument those opposed to investing in bicycle lanes and paths in the United States proffer is that the lanes and paths will only be used during the day in good weather during the summer months. Thus, the argument goes, they are not worth the relatively large investment. But the extensive use of bicycles in Europe tends to back up the proposition that if the use of cars is discouraged ($4.00 or $5.00 per gallon gasoline would certainly discourage me) and if well maintained and safe bicycle paths are provided, bicycles will be used throughout most of the the year, in inclement weather and at night. While I doubt that bicycle usage in this country will ever match that of Europe it seems clear to me that bicycles can play a pivotal role in significantly reducing energy usage in this country.
So whether you are a rabid cycling enthusiast or just a casual weekend biker I would urge you to support legislation to create additional bike paths in your area. Getting involved with the low-level government processes that take place in almost every part of America will allow those in the bicycling community to affect the outcome of any future construction that is being proposed. It has been my experience that when you take the time to actually get involved you really can make a difference. In addition, I would urge you to support those non-profit organizations who support these goals. In my view, investing in bicycle paths and lanes is sound public policy.
TrailLink.com is a FREE service from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting local communities in converting unused railroad corridors into community trails. Check it out to find some great places to ride this coming weekend!
www.adventurecycling.org Adventure Cycling Association’s nonprofit mission is to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle for fitness, fun, and self-discovery. Founded in 1974 as Bikecentennial, Adventure Cycling is the premier bicycle travel organization in North America with 44,500 members nationwide. We research and produce cycling maps for our Adventure Cycling Route Network, one of the largest route networks in the world at 40,633 miles (and growing). We publish Adventure Cyclist magazine for our membership, lead bike tours, work on bicycle advocacy projects such as the U.S. Bicycle Route System, sell bike travel gear, and provide trip planning resources for bicycle travelers.
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Segregated cycle facilities are roads, tracks, paths or marked lanes designated for use by cyclists from which motorised traffic is generally excluded. The names and definitions of the various cycle facility types vary from country to country.
The term cycleway (UK) refers to a road (UK) or path (USA), for cyclists only, on its own separate right of way. The USA equivalents include bike trails or mountain-bike trails, which are unsurfaced trails, and bike paths, which are surfaced trails which meet more rigorous standards for width, grade and accessibility. Sometimes, pedestrians and cyclists are expected to share the same road or path. Such a shared facility is often called a shared-use path, multi-use path, or recreational path.
The term cycle track / cycle path (UK) or sidepath (USA) refers to a footway- or sidewalk-type structure, for cyclists only, alongside (not on) a carriageway (UK) or roadway (USA).
The category off-road facility includes all of the above: cycleways, bike trails, mountain-bike trails and bike paths.
The term cycle lane (UK) or bike lane (USA) refers to a lane, for cyclists only, marked on an existing portion of a carriageway (UK), roadway or shoulder (USA).
The category on-road facility includes cycle lanes and bike lanes.