Thursday, July 10, 2008

They don't really like us

Bella English wrote a column in the Globe noting that it isn't very safe for bicyclists out there on the streets. A nice collection of biking horror stories, it also includes this mini-rant:

I just have one question: Why are you so angry? We're out there obeying the rules, getting exercise, and saving gasoline. We've ridden in charity rides that benefit cancer, mental retardation, poor children, multiple sclerosis, and myriad other causes. We stay on the far right side of the lane. We never blow through traffic lights or stop signs. We're cautious because we know that you're out there in mega-ton vehicles, any one of which could flatten us in an instant.

If you just read it in the pulp-based, reflective technology version of the Globe, you might get the mistaken impression that the appearance of such a column is a good sign, even if what it reports is not so good.

I, however, read it online, on the Green Blog. Which has comments. And, 402 people have seen fit to comment on Ms. English's piece. Well over half of the comments I read expressed anger at bicyclists. Real, visceral, anti-bike sentiment.

It shouldn't be a surprise. As I wrote a little while ago, I don't think that the situation is going to change until there are a lot more people who both bike and drive. But, still, it's frustrating.

Let's hope that this letter-to-the-editor writer has it right, that we're reaching a tipping point. The letter writer, a doctor who has studied police on bikes, thinks that more police on bikes might help shift public perception of bicyclists.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I too read the article when it was posted on the blog. The comments were really interesting.

I commute from Boston to Cambridge via car, bike, and T, and I really like the bike ride the best. I've been biking in cities since I was about 12, and an emphasis on following the rules of the road, with a bit of "just understand that they could kill you and not even know it" has kept me alive.

There are too many bicyclists out there that don't care a bit about "the rules of the road". It just makes the whole situation adversarial.

Ride Safe,
Josh