City What He Said
posted by August 7 at 14:27 PMon
Dan Bertolet at Hugeasscity, making some excellent points as usual:
Bicycles have but the tiniest impact on most urbanites’ lives. But judging by the way some people spew the bile (google “slog” and “bikes”), you’d think bikes were holding the entire city hostage.
The impact that bikes have on traffic flow is negligible. The damage that bicycles do to people and property is negligible. The objective reality is that pretty much the worst bicycles do is that they annoy people.[…]
I mean really people, are bicycles riding on sidewalks really that big of a source of anxiety in your lives? Does my riding up to the front of a line of cars stopped at a red light have any significant consequence, other than annoyance?
Meanwhile cars kill something like 40,000 people per year in the U.S. And maim who knows how many times more. And destroy a few bazillion dollars of property. […]
I am baffled by those who express the same level of contempt for cyclists that break the rules of the road as they do for drivers that break the rules of the road. In the latter instance, someone might end up crushed on the pavement, while in the former, perhaps someone might get, well, really annoyed. It’s awfully curious how these folks (including many cyclists) suddenly become sticklers for the letter of the law when it comes to bikes. But you can be sure that all but the purest saints among them have either jaywalked, or smoked pot, or committed some other trivial victimless crime.
Which brings us to the “we’ll only earn their respect if we set a good example” argument. Yes, there is some truth in that, but here again I find it remarkable how so many cyclists seem to believe it’s so important for all cyclists to strictly adhere to this saintly standard. Did cyclists in Europe have to prove they were all perfectly behaved at all times before their governments invested in serious cycling infrastructure? No, I think not. That’s because the Europeans are smart enough to focus on what matters: the support of cycling for the overall health of their cities — not trivialities such as a bike rolling through a stop sign.
And what also repels me from the “respect” argument is that it is based on — and therefore helps to propagate — the twisted attitude that drivers are doing cyclists a huge favor by merely putting up with their presence on the roads. In other words, you cyclists best be kissing our asses, and maybe we’ll be good enough not to mow you down. First of all, as I already pointed out, bikes have a miniscule impact on cars and people in the city. But more importantly, the truth is that every person who opts to travel by bike instead of by car is doing a favor for everyone in the city, including drivers. Cue up the indignant cries that I am claiming cyclists are superior moral beings. Whatever. The fact that travel by bike is good for the planet is objective, verifiable, quantifiable truth.