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."