Friday, August 18, 2006

Bikes vs. Cars

With the news of the death of a young woman on a bicycle near the U of M, we're going to get an earful of advice about bicycle safety, most of which we've already heard before. The main point is always that bike riders should wear a helmet. True enough. Nonetheless, it seems absurd to me that our first reaction is to blame the person on the bike for not being a "safe" enough driver. If a motor vehicle hits a bike, the vehicle always wins, period. Blaming bikers for getting entangled among cars is like blaming cows for mad cow disease -- it's not their fault.

Moreover, the idea - who knows where this comes from and why it is still circulated - that riding on sidewalks makes bikers more invisible to cars is absurd. It's safer on the sidewalk, if only because there are no cars there. Truth be told, alert drivers see bikes and pedestrians on sidewalks all the time. And to those who think that sidewalk biking is dangerous for pedestrians, I have one thing to say: show me the evidence. Show me the headline: "Bicyclist mows down pedestrians, one dead."

3 comments:

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

'And to those who think that sidewalk biking is dangerous for pedestrians, I have one thing to say: show me the evidence. Show me the headline: "Bicyclist mows down pedestrians, one dead."'

Actually I almost got into a fight on this point while biking to work. I live in Arlington, right across the river from Georgetown. I bike through an area where commuters converge to both leave and enter my burb. Everyone is on their cell phone or barely awake. I don't begrudge them, but fact is they don't notice me. One day as I politely asked a gentleman ahead of me to scoot over so I can slip by him he yells from behind "get on the fucking road where you belong". After stopping to call him a douchebag and remarking on how his absolutely absurd handlebar mustache I was able to reflect on the nature of his qualms. Now he was right, technically I am supposed to be on the road. However, I have had several occasions where a car getting ready to enter an intersection and turn right in haste has not noticed me until the last second and slammed on the brakes and nearly plowed me over. 3000 pounds of steel is certain to disable or kill me. My 10 pound steel bike or whatever and 200 plus pounds of girth might pack a wallop but it really won't do all that much harm to the poor pedestrian I rock.

Mandingo said...

My line: "Get a car you hippy!"

Ilya said...

It's about time both cars and pedestrians start SHARING the sidewalks and roads with bikes. That's all I'm saying.