Discrimination based on the type of vehicle you ride should be illegal, yet we see it all around us. If a car wants to travel from Boston to New York, there’s quite a few dedicated paths for them to choose from. But if a bicycle wants to do the same, they cannot follow the path of the motorized vehicle. We’re excluded from these paths with no equal alternative provided.
Interstate Highways are Discriminatory
That’s right, federally funded interstate highways break the law. They discriminate against bicyclists without providing equal access to a interstate bicycle highways. Now some of you may claim bicyclists don’t need such paths but it’s simply not true.
If you build it, they will pedal it.
If bicycle highways existed, bicyclists would use them. This highway system exists partially today, in disconnected swaths of path that rarely mimics the effectiveness of a motorized vehicle interstate freeway. U.S. Bicycle Route 1 is a bike trail that connects Maine to Florida, but in reality the trail is disconnected and often utilizes existing mixed-use streets and trails. It is by no means equivalent to I-93 or I-95, which will take a motorized vehicle up and down the eastern seaboard without ever having to get off the path.
Now I understand that we’re too developed now to build a continuous, segregated bike path from Maine to Florida, but at the least we can make a continuous path using bike trails and bike lanes. There is no reason why we can have roads and highways and freeways everywhere but no single path for cyclists to travel long distances.
Finish U.S. Bicycle Route 1
The goal of suing the federal government is forcing them to finish and maintain U.S. Bicycle Route 1. Currently, only parts of the route in Virginia and North Carolina are officially deemed acceptable. That, is not acceptable. Connecting the route fully from Florida to Maine would not only increase the number of long-distance bicyclists but would also improve bicycling for cyclists living near the route. Crossing through urban areas, the route may split onto a mixed-use street with ample bike lanes.
While the positive impact of bike lanes is debatable, they can serve as a marked path to continue through the urban area and onwards to the next destination. Ideally, I’d love to see a road or two in urban areas be designated as bicycle use only, but accomplishing such a feat in our current car-frenzied environment is unlikely. Removing cars and car lanes from core urban areas helps everyone, including car drivers, and improves the quality of life for everyone, especially residents of those dense urban zones, but the car lobby is simply too powerful and too ingrained at this moment to even suggest this utopian ideal as a feasible option. For now, bike lanes are the best, most feasible option we’ve got.
Are you in?
Whether you pedal or drive or walk, this plan would have an impact on you. So what do you think? Is a dedicated bicycle highway system feasible? Would it benefit bicyclists and possibly other citizens via reduced traffic in urban cores? Is suing the federal government for discrimination the best path forward? Should we include states, since they own and operate these roads, or is the federal government the correct target since a east coast bike highway would require state coordination and federal funding?
Would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on the topic.