I've always thought of myself as something of a hardened city cyclist. (Make that hardened mentally; physically I'm more than a bit soft, especially around the middle.) Bike lanes are nice and all - for, you know, novices - but I brave the cars, I ride in mixed traffic, I chew up the street and I spit it out, yadda yadda yadda.
I've had several chances to ride on the Dundurn Street South bike lanes in the past couple of weeks, and I've been surprised to discover just how much I enjoy it.
I've been trying to figure out just what it is that I find appealing, and I think I've got it:
Cycling in mixed traffic is a struggle of wills with motorists; you always have to project confidence and assertiveness (note: not aggression) so that drivers will accept your right to share the road. On a bike lane, I still have to be aware of my surroundings, but the dedicated space on the road means I don't feel like I'm continuously fighting against the street's momentum to uphold my claim to that space.
With a dedicated bike lane marking the street, I feel like a fully legitimate road user rather than an ad hoc user only allowed to be there on a technicality.
Lastly, I enjoy resistance as much as the next person but it does get exhausting. It's refreshing to ride a bike without the overhead of an implicit political statement; to be merely a person on an errand rather than a rebel bucking the system.
I've long supported bike lanes due to their empirically established role in promoting higher rates of cycling, but it was mainly an academic thing, since I rarely ever encounter bike lanes in the routes I normally take.
Having had the benefit of direct personal experience riding on Dundurn before and after the installation of bike lanes, I can now say that I support bike lanes viscerally as well.
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