By PAUL FOER, Capital Gazette
A few of the many recent local headlines about bicyclists tell a sad story:
“Annapolis High assistant coach killed after bicycle, van collide in Davidsonville”
“Man hurt in bicycle accident”
“Severn School to honor teacher killed in bicycle accident ”
“Bicyclist struck by car in Arnold released from hospital”
“8-year-old bicyclist struck by car”
And then this rather confounding headline appeared:
“After recent fatalities, safety a concern for Anne Arundel bicyclists”
The story included a paragraph that read: “A recent string of high-profile bicycle fatalities has spotlighted the issue of safety. But despite a growing perception that county trails and roadways are not safe for bicyclists, public officials say the opposite is the truth — and they are working on ways to make these thoroughfares even safer.”
The headline somehow made it seem as if safety only recently became a concern for cyclists. Progress has been very, very slow in coming. I speak as a longtime activist for improving bicycling safety, access, planning and construction who has worked on various committees, and spoken out on the topic for years, decades in fact.
The bottom line is simply that the private automobile is king and woe unto we who brave the roads as we pedal along. I am sick and tired of empty promises, equivocation and foot dragging, so when The Capital reported that “public officials say…they are working on ways to make these thoroughfares even safer,” I had to write this column.
Our lack of progress is unacceptable. Bicyclists deserve more respect and better treatment. As but one example among many of this disrespect, the post office in Edgewater has over 50 parking spaces and not a single bike rack. To incorporate the needs of bicyclists requires planning, design, construction and funding along with proper education and stringent enforcement of laws. Anything less is just spinning our wheels.