A year ago, before actually considering or using the bike facilities, I thought they were adequate in Atlanta. My eyes have opened since then through courses I have taken and I do not feel comfortable with them. The thought of riding next to a car that can hit me is dare deviling in my eyes. Today we did an almost 9-mile loop in Atlanta with the class and now I can specifically state what makes me feel uncomfortable about the bike facilities in Atlanta. On 5th Street in Tech Square I almost got hit by someone opening their door into the bike lane. Atlanta has many bike lines along the road way and at first it was great but the way they are built is not bike friendly. I am talking about the sewer grates and pot holes in the bike lane, it seems as if they just place the bike lane in the gutter. It truly did scare me because sometimes it is a split-second decision whether to go into the vehicular lane to circle around the obstruction or just go through it. The bike facilities such as the beltline is great because it is peaceful. No doors to dodge or potholes to avoid; just be on the lookout for people if it is crowded.
After watching the videos, I was dumbfounded just how biking is perceived in the US. Mark was right about the traffic that cyclists must ride through at times in the US. It is viewed as a leisure activity here and not as a reliable mode of transportation for most of the population. Turning the tables on how cycling is perceived in the Netherlands is a complete 180. As a nation, the people protested for safer transportation infrastructure. In the late 1970’s bike infrastructure was being built and from this the nation witnessed a huge drop in fatalities involving cars. It is absolutely amazes me how they fought for something that impacts everyone in the nation. Everyone could see the benefits and accepted it into the culture and built it up from there. It is their way of life that the citizens fought for. It is funny to think that when two people are courting each other in the Netherlands their first date will consists of a bike ride where as in the US it is in a car.
In the Netherlands the bikers have priority on small cross streets, the pavement does not change as not to confuse the cyclist. It is known that the cars yield to the bikes on these minor intersections. In the US the bike lane is not separated from the street and green paint is placed on the ground for the cyclists and the vehicles that a conflict zone is approaching. The green marking is often ignored by vehicles but a lot of times they have no idea what it means and don’t watch out for cyclists. At major intersections in Utrecht they were transformed into roundabouts giving the cyclists priority. Another video showed and intersection with islands protecting the cyclist, sometimes they are large and sometimes it is small. This little or big island makes a turn into the cycle path for cars at 90 degrees so they have time to see and yield to pedestrians. In the US cyclists are not given any protection. A bike is treated as a vehicle, which is very dangerous there is no protection at intersections.