So. Just for fun I thought I would do a search for “how to ride on a path.” Of course “how to” are both words that Google pretty much ignores, so what I got was a whole lot of pages describing new paths being built — and this video of a guy doing a 20 mile ride on a sparsely-traveled path (who duly notes at the beginning that you aren’t supposed to drive on the path). I haven’t watched the whole thing but the rider’s thrill at being in nature as well as his complete shock and awe at the interaction with pedestrians provided an insight into the mind of the more normal person who doesn’t ride everywhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16qEesU6C40
This was the most interesting site I found — but I don’t think it has tips in it… it does say the following;
2.2 Segregated versus non-segregated facilities
Direct comparison of the relative safety of bicycle facilities proves to be a difficult task.
Separate bicycle paths may appear to be “safer” than bicycle lanes but may result in
more conflicts at intersection and driveway locations, especially if the path is physically
removed from the roadway in such a way that motorists may not be expecting cyclists at
the junction of the path with the driveway or intersection.
Similarly, bicycle lanes may result in more orderly and predictable behavior between
motorists and cyclists along a road segment, but may lead to conflicts at intersections if
cycle lane traffic must re-integrate with motorized vehicles as they jointly traverse the
intersection and its influence area. Much of the safety performance seems to depend on
the design of bicycle facilities and the context of the road environment on which they are
applied. The New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority makes note of this in their
Cycle Network and Route Planning Guide as a general consideration for providing either
roads or paths:
One choice is not inherently safer than another; both can be hazardous and both
require high-quality design to achieve safety.2
Research on this issue is far from conclusive. Findings can be contradictory and many
studies seem to exhibit shortcomings in data analysis, basic definitions, (i.e. what are
considered on-road and off-road facilities) statistical robustness, and often – a
preconceived bias that seemingly favors one type of facility over another. Further, much
of the research has been conducted outside of North America where the rules of the
road and the nature of transportation systems and policies are substantially different
than those experienced on this continent.
… and now, to change a few search terms to see if I can find something — add “safety” to the mix or something…
That gets me stuff about neighborhoods being no less safe where there are bike paths (despite the odd idea people get that bike paths will mean ne’er-do-wells will loiter and Do Bad Things), and Dave Moulton’s Oct 17 “Don’t be a Gutter Bunny” http://davesbikeblog.squarespace.com/blog/2011/10/17/dont-be-a-gutter-bunny.html (tho’ that wasn’t a direct hit) and links to debates over whether separated cycle tracks are safer than riding on the road.
This seems to be a topic where the Internet commentary is almost certainly significantly different from what you’d get from the general public. It makes sense — the person who is sort of almost thinking about riding a bike sometimes, and even the person who goes out riding with kids or on paths, is far less likely to have a biking blog or even be involved in the cycling community IRL or online.
I have often considered assorted gathering of my data — every word I type — as, rather than an invasion of my privacy, a chance for what I chose to express to be counted. AFter all, why in the world should the Internet be considered “private?”
Still, regarding bicycles… it’s obviously a challenge for somebody considering getting started — ready for that 9 mph trip around a path — to find real tips on riding there. Reckon I should be happy that most people aren’t like me and are brave enough to actually do new things without spending hours on the INternet researching :)
http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-a-Bike-Safely is pretty nifty, tho’ almost exhaustive… but does not give tips on how to ride on a path safely; just says ‘be careful, the roads are usually better.”
I did find a reference about greenways that stated blithely: “For Safety
Designated bicycle paths are excellent places to learn how to ride! Riding on designated bicycle paths is safer than riding on unsigned streets and roads.” It made me wonder when I had ever in my life, especially in New York of all places (which has regulations for just about everything), seen an unsigned road with a designated bicycle path within miles. http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_things_to_do/facilities/af_bike_paths.html