Saturday, May 09 2015 @ 02:12 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
[B' Spokes: While I don't agree with everything in the linked article by Eben Weiss a.k.a. Bike Snob he does make some points to think about. Roads were our first campaign for multi-use paths, they would be good for everyone and we can all share the space, would be one way to paraphrase the Good Roads Movement but then bicyclist became the trespassers on the very roads they helped get built. Ever notice that on our current multi-use paths that if there are rules posted they are only for cyclists and no other users, pedestrians are free to be unpredictable and lawless as are the dog walkers because there is nothing saying you can't walk with your leash crossing the whole path. And most of all, the rights of iPod-zombies must be protected above all else because everyone knows it is cyclists that are scofflaws and no other group. :/
I'm not saying cyclists should not be careful around pedestrians but I am saying everyone needs to watch out for each other but when you single out just one type of user as the trouble maker it all goes down hill fast. And that has been our problem with the so called "Safety Experts" to this day, the total lack of explaining shared space and the movement that is expected from everyone.
But back to the article, there is no doubt the unspoken and hard question to answer is "Why wouldn't cyclist do everything they could to improve their safety? And why shouldn't we make it a law?" First let's flip this to be a car centric example; "Why wont drivers drive with their headlight on during the day if it improves their safety? And why isn't it a legal requirement?" - That's a good question as more lives could be saved doing that then anything we could do with cyclists.
Which brings me to what I feel is a major problem with our society, cars are perceived as safe even though they are the number two cause of premature death just behind smoking. Cars have become the ultimate embodiment of sociopathic behavior as too many things about them could be summarized "As long as I am safe everyone else be damned." Things like going fast has become a priority as if saving a minute is worth killing people over. Statistics were manipulated to promote speed, freeways were deemed safer not because of their grade separated crossings but because of their speed and the same with roads that have a large speed differential it's was the cars going the speed limit (not faster) that were to blame for the increased in accidents, so increase the speed limit is a common recommendation.
Then eliminating delays became a priority to improve speed even though issues like right-on-red with its known dangers to pedestrians was never really studied to see if there was an overall improvement in traffic flow. It used to be traffic was pulsed so turning out of a shopping center on a major road was a simple mater of just waiting for the main platoon of traffic to pass from the traffic light upstream. Nowadays we have to wait for a small gap in the constant traffic diarrhea of people utilizing the right-on-red. So making things "faster" for one person makes things slower for more than one person downstream (more me first and everyone else be dammed.).... and we call this an "improvement" even though general impatience on the road seems to have been multiplied even though impatience has been "accommodated" (in one situation but not others) . Tell me you have never encountered someone turning into traffic that was not taking a risk in the hopes you would stop abruptly while they took advantage of the only gap in traffic they could see. I will assert that right-on-red is indirectly causing more traffic accidents downstream then what we would have if there was no right-on-red (the overall benefit even to just cars is dubious at best.) And then there is the assumption that some how this benefit of turning right on red is cumulative, like we spend our time driving in clockwise circles. Sure there can be a one time ~30 second improvement per trip but that's the best it can be and no better and for that we put pedestrian lives at risk not to mention other things that I have asserted that are not a benefit to society as a whole.
Things like this has lead to the unspoken corollary "Faster modes of travel need to travel faster and slower modes of travel should be made even slower." Like a 350 horse power car is going to have to really struggle to make up a two second delay and other kinds of "people" don't mind five or more minutes of delay. Too many things are ratcheting us in the wrong direction, which is my point here and I think it is also the point in the following article.]