September 30th, 2008 | Published in general
Confirming what many of us have felt this summer, the Strib is reporting that bicycle injuries are markedly up from previous years. It’s one of the more balance articles on cycling issues this year, with the minimal token note that “Everybody needs to pay more attention, both the bicycle and the driver”. Don’t bother reading the story comments, they just bum everybody out.
The related story is about Virginia Heuer Bower, a 51-year-old cyclist who was killed in just the last few days on Summit Ave., a well-traveled route widely considered to be a safe place to ride a bike. The number of cyclists did increase by a good margin this year, but i don’t believe it explains the full increase in bike/car injuries. Driver attitudes have hardened too, and i’ve had more drivers yell at me or friends this year than average, and witnessed more than average poor driving behavior that is more malevolent than simple inattention.
The great promise of having more bikes in the streets is that as more cyclists use the streets, the more drivers will expect to see cyclists. This seems to be happening, but it also seems true that it’s bringing to a head the frustration of some drivers who are being much more overt in their misguided belief that bikes just don’t belong on the road. I still think more bikes on the street is a good thing, and that attitudes will come around. At the same time, if/when the number of commuting cyclists hits a point of critical mass (NOT the ride) on a regular basis such that it impacts the flow of auto traffic, public opinion will finally swing toward supporting some infrastructure that either provides protected and efficient cycling space or better planning that calms auto traffic down to the posted speed limits.
In other news, gas shortages are threatening college football, and there was some sort of kerfuffle with the stock market that i blissfully missed because i was on a splendid little bike tour. Leaves are changing, and the woolly caterpillars are on the move. It’s a good time to pause and smell the beginning of fall.