Many times over the years, I've heard people use the term 'recreational cyclist', in particular when speaking of pathways, i.e. 'pathways are primarily for recreation'. Even in the debate about Shaganappi Trail, the question was asked (in some form), 'are we building for commuter cyclists or recreational cyclists?', implying that there is a different standard for servicing recreation vs. commuter cycling.
This has always had me wondering. When people use the term 'recreational cyclist', especially people making decisions (i.e. Parks Department staff, transportation planners, elected officials), what exactly are they describing? More importantly, what level of design/function for cycling facilities are they thinking is necessary to meet the needs of the type of cyclist they just mentioned?
I've always had the impression that, when the term 'recreational cyclist' is used in conversation, the person using it is thinking of someone who's just out for a leisure (and slow) ride, not caring if they have to slow down because there's a group walking four-abreast on a pathway, not worried about stopping while a dog walker leashes their dog that's just been running back and forth across the pathway or not caring if they have to dismount to walk across a roadway.
Should this characterization/differentiation be used? There are a lot of people who cycle for recreation and there is a whole spectrum of meaning to 'recreational cycling'. Some people move at leisure pace with no real destination in mind, while many others want to be able to move a bit faster and may even be going 'somewhere'. With that in mind, regardless of whether someone is cycling for recreation, for a slow ride or fast, or for the specific purpose of getting somewhere, i.e. communting/transportation, they are 'travelling' and have the same mobility needs in terms of being able to travel safely and efficiently.
What does the term 'recreational cyclist' mean to you? Should the building for 'recreational cyclists' be a reason to build sub-standard 'cycling facilities'? Have you ever heard of roadways being built for 'transportation drivers' vs. 'recreational drivers'? How about sidewalks, have you ever heard the term 'recreational pedestrian' used instead of 'transportation pedestrian'?