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Here's the problem in the States: The automobile lobbyists dominate all transportation legislation.

So what kind of laws does that get us? In most cities electric bikes are illegal. Sidewalks and bike lanes, more often then not, only cover partial lengths of road. It's actually illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but the bike lanes in the States are so unbelievably dangerous that no one in their right mind would choose the bike lane over the sidewalk. You can't ride a bike along an interstate highway --that's illegal too. Oh, some rich cities have nice new bike paths, but they go almost no where useful and it is illegal to ride on those at night.

And to top it all off there's a cultural stigma that if you ride a bike for more than exercise or a leisurely peddle around the block then you are a worthless bum.

I guess Boston is one of those rich cities. There are swarms of business people commuting through the city each morning and night. I was not aware of anyone calling them bums. All of the people that ride the bike paths at night were unaware that it was illegal. The dedicated 10mi long bikeways like the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway are especially useful. 5000 lumen bike lamps help too.

Also, why would you want to bike on the shoulder of an interstate? The whole definition of a limited access highway is that only highspeed cars, going the same direction are on it, for safety.

Laws vary significantly by state. I'm pretty sure it's legal to ride on bike paths at night. In Washington you're required to have a forward-facing light and a rear reflector. It's also legal to ride on the sidewalk, unless you're in Everett.

As for biking on the shoulder of an interstate, there are areas where the only paved road going between two points is an interstate highway.

And of course there are very common borderline cases where I want to get from point A to point B, and the path on the interstate is 50 miles, while the path avoiding the interstate is 150 miles. So a trip that I ordinarily need to allot one day for becomes a 2-3 day trip unless I'm willing to pedal at top speed or for more than 8 hours. I don't want to bicycle on the interstate, but most infrastructure assumes your bike is a purely recreational vehicle.

> no one in their right mind would choose the bike lane over the sidewalk

In my head, it's the other way. Why would I deal with pedestrians, a rougher surface, and surprised cars when I can ride a dedicated lane on the road? You just have to do it a bit to get over the initially scary feeling when cars approach from behind and you have to trust they won't hit you.

> You just have to do it a bit to get over the initially scar feeling

No, you just have to accept the much-increased danger of being in a serious accident.

Not sure why anyone should let "cultural stigma" have any influence on what they do. Who cares?

As for sidewalks being safer than streets, that is a myth. The reality is streets are much safer for bicycles. This is a well covered subject, Googling "safer bicycle street sidewalk" brings up a lot of info. The main reason is drivers are not expecting anything on a sidewalk to be moving at bicycle speeds, so cars turn in front of bikers much more often.

The legality of biking on the interstate is decided state by state. Some states allow it totally, some partially, and some not at all. http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/faqs/answer.cfm?id=9

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