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Wednesday, June 28 2017 @ 07:15 AM UTC

The myth of the beleaguered Boston driver

Biking ElsewhereBy Dante Ramos, Boston Globe

IF YOU’RE DRIVING in a crowded city, it’s your job not to hit anybody. Not cyclists, not pedestrians, not even pedestrians wearing headphones.
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The problem isn’t that Walsh thinks pedestrians and cyclists should pay attention to their surroundings. (Shouldn’t everybody?) It’s that, in his comments, the mayor seemed to accept the myth of the beleaguered Boston driver who’s at the mercy of unpredictable bikers and walkers.

When a car hits a bike in the Netherlands and some other countries, laws generally presume that the person driving the two- or three-ton metal box is responsible. Here in Boston, we’ve all internalized the idea that driving is how human beings naturally get around, and that everything else in city life — our transportation plans, our development rules, our circadian rhythms — must bend to accommodate it.
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In practice, though, the city’s bicycle lanes are regularly blocked by delivery trucks, passenger vehicles, and even police cars. All too often, city government still sends this message: Real people use cars; all that other stuff — the bike lanes, the climate planning, the official paeans to transit-oriented development — is OK only if doesn’t bother drivers.
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It’s easy to blame crazy cyclists or headphoned jaywalkers for getting hit by cars, but the victims are often children and elderly people. Calls for personal responsibility also mask the underlying issue: Many streets and intersections in Boston aren’t properly designed for the mix of people using them.
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The other possibility is that, when throngs of transit commuters pour out of South Station every morning and jaywalk across the street, they’re sending a message of their own: We’re focusing too closely on the needs of motor vehicles, and not enough on all the people around them.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/05/20/the-myth-beleaguered-boston-driver/LEpqqu6VVeVUDnh2gybNzJ/story.html

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