Ian Ngoover 1 year ago
The only thing that will get me to bike to work again is the presence of a grid of bike-only streets near my home and workplace.
I biked to work for years and a had a few close calls with cars as well as a couple of wipeouts on wet or icy ground. Random chance is the only reason those spills disn't end with me being run over by a passing car.
During that time a colleague died in a bike/car crash, a friend suffered a disabling head injury, and several friends and acquaintances went to the emergency room with the lacerations, concussions, and broken bones and teeth that are 'just part of life' when you're a daily bike commuter.
Oddly, I don't recall any of my car commuter friends dying or sustaining serious injury in a commuting accident. I forget how to do an ANOVA, but I'd bet my life savings the safety differences between bike and car users were significant to an extreme degree.
"Bicycle lanes" and "bicycle boulevards" are ridiculous. They lull riders into a false sense of safety.
In the past few years I've seen a marked increase in dumb decisions by younger riders. [thus begins my sad descent into the 'grumpy old person' phase of life...] The most tragically hip among them come to the city from hermetically sealed suburban bubbles of safety and joy riding brakeless, fixed gear bikes, sans helmet, earbuds inserted, dressed in matte black, and without bright blinker lights or even reflectors. The prospects of wiping out at the bottom of a wet or icy incline or being clipped by a passing truck that is itself trying to avoid an accident with a larger truck, or being run over from behind by a car to whom they are functionally invisible at night doesn't seem within their conscious sphere of personal possibility. Perhaps strict enforcement of safety laws is needed. Just as a car without taillights or brakes is ticketed, so should a bike be.
If I could do so so effectively and without the sense that I'm being self-righeous or judgmental, just convivially concerned, I'd love it if I could help them understand the long term consequences on a community level of sharing the road with half-ton-plus motorized vehicles. Unfortunately, I'm too emotionally attached to memories of the carnage to do so.
We need cities with car-free bike paths. This could be done by creating a grid of bike/pedestrian-only streets every several blocks or so. These streets could cross the motor traffic streets via long rolling arch bridges. The increase in property values on the car-free streets (who wouldn't want to raise their kids on one?) with its attendant increase in tax revenues could fund the projects.
Why can't we do this? Why not at least somewhere??