Saturday, May 30, 2009

Guest Blog: Keri Caffrey

Keri left a comment on Mr. Issakov's blog, and I wish to highlight her thoughts as a stand-alone blog entry. Thanks Keri! You can find more of this thoughtful content at her own blog here.

I agree completely with teaching motorcycling visibility techniques to bicyclists.

High-speed cyclists, especially, need to understand sight line visibility. And any time hills are involved, even the pokiest of us can become high-speed bicyclists.

In the interest of intellectual honesty, we must recognize that motorcycling produces about 16X the casualties per million hours as bicycling, and about 8X that of car driving. When you consider what a large percentage of bicyclists operate on the margins and in the ways most likely to expose them to risk, the statistics really prove how safe bicycling is.

Most people can get away with extremely high-risk behavior, like riding next to parked cars, riding against traffic and passing large vehicles on the right, for years without getting killed. What I've observed is that while people get away without injury, they experience frequent frustration, conflict, harassment (because they're unpredictable) and near-misses.

I've watched utterly incompetent, high-risk behavior daily for 6 years in the bike lane outside my office. I personally experienced numerous conflicts and near misses on that road before I understood how to outsmart the bike lane, and I was hit once.

Even since, I've had doors thrown open (as I was passing at a safe distance). That no one has been killed on that road yet, is a total mystery. It will happen some day. That is inevitable.

What is significant about this, is that people don't put 2+2 together and recognize why their cycling experience is a constant struggle. They don't get the mechanics of it. That, coupled with enculturation into submissive inferiority, causes the cry for bike lanes... more bike lanes... solutions to the problems with those bike lanes... barrier separated bike lanes...

It's a spiral of dependency, special-interest whining and us-vs.-them bickering that follows a culture built on bike lanes.

When the public policy choice is to coddle and capitulate rather than empower and educate, we will all pay endlessly in a spiral of unintended consequences!

It's easy for the koolaid-drinkers to claim coddling is the only way to increase mode share. But, to my knowledge, no city in America has ever really tried empowerment, education and access-oriented infrastructure.

2 comments:

  1. That Keri woman is turning me into a truly vehicular cyclist, one good point at a time. I'm getting into more arguments with people about what the right approach is than I ever have, and I'm loving it.

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  2. "It's easy for the koolaid-drinkers to claim coddling is the only way to increase mode share. But, to my knowledge, no city in America has ever really tried empowerment, education and access-oriented infrastructure."

    One out of three just won't cut it. ;-)

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