"Intended Users" and Oberstar's Bike Bill

After editing an article this morning about bikes, I have to admit it made me feel like dusting mine off. Plenty of my top errand spots are within easy biking distance, making it a potentially great way to save gas and get some exercise. But there's one big thing stopping me from venturing off my city's bicycle paths. Or rather, many big things: cars, trucks...buses. The idea of huffing it up a hill with a line of traffic angrily passing me is just a tad too intimidating.

That's why many bikers are pushing for their own transportation dollars -- money to fund projects that make roads safer for bikers and pedestrians. And while the majority of the transportation budget usually goes toward highways, Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is hoping to secure more money for bikers, according to the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog.

Oberstar recently introduced a bill supporting bikes and suggesting bikers and pedestrians be designated the "intended users" of roads. Of course cars would still be in the mix, but sidewalks and bike lanes would no longer be afterthoughts.

The "intended users" designation would likely spur the construction of more dedicated lanes -- strips of road bordered by a median that offer more protection than a painted line. I actually saw something similar on an ill-advised bike trip in Ireland (the scenic route might have sent me down a highway, but at least I had my own lane.)

There's still no word on when Congress will tackle the bill.

More: 5 Walkable Cities What's a walk score? How Bicycles Work How Road Rage Works