Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bikes vs. Cars: The Grand Debate

Alas, were there such a debate. Ok, I had my title fun, back to reality. A reporter wrote me:

"....said you might be interested in helping us out with a discussion about biking in Boston."

Basically, I'm looking for people who are regular cyclists and who can easily discuss the problems that cyclists encounter on the road--for example: crazy motorists, double parked cars and delivery trucks, dooring, oblivious pedestrians who wander into the street without looking for traffic, construction on the BU Bridge, etc.

But I would also need someone who can address the reckless behaviors that some cyclists display, such as riding without helmets, blowing through red lights, failing to use hand signals, wearing headphones, etc.

Ultimately, we would want the two of participants to reach an agreement of ways in which cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians can all utilize Boston’s streets in a safe and productive manner without angering one another.

Would you be interested?

Of course I agreed. My comments:

I am a regular cyclist and advocate biking as an ideal commuter option for Bostonians. Yes, cyclists breeze thru red lights, but we aren't killing 50,000 people a year via vehicle accidents. We aren't polluting the environment. We are the solution, and drivers need to be grateful to us.

Still, I also understand the aggravation experienced by motorists who feel stressed out enough on the road without the extra burden of worrying they're going to accidentally hit a scofflaw bicyclist. I thus urge bicyclists to take drivers' perspectives on the situation. Bicyclists take it for granted that motorists will stop for them, give them the right-of-way, watch out for bicyclists' weaving in between lanes. I urge "be nice to these drivers" - smiles, eye contact, hand-wave of appreciation when they stop for us or wave us on, etc.

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