Archive for March, 2012

Why am I angry?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Last night I was rolling my regular commuting bike down to Peabody Square to get the flat fixed at Ashmont Cycles when I ran into the owner Jack Peletier on the street headed home. He didn’t look to great. He reported that he was hit from behind by a car on Monday morning while riding from Forest Hills through Franklin Park. A car swerved into the bike lane and took him out. He reported that he had a cracked rib, cheek and bruises and he said he was still in pain.

Here’s a guy who wears more lights than a Christmas tree, usually rides within the boundaries and in this case was IN THE BIKE LANE! I can only imagine the reaction of the driver, “He shouldn’t be on the road.” Alas Jack was a victim of what represents only 3% of all bicycle accidents, someone hitting you from behind.

Perhaps as a result of that news, riding in today it felt like every car was out to get me. I had to yell and bell at just about every intersection as cars swerved to go around folks, made unsignaled turns, ran red lights that were red for quite some time and even came right at me on the wrong side of the street. That and thinking about poor Jack made me angry.

Further, I recalled that I was riding at the other end of the Park about a half hour after Jack got whacked and I was watching all the cars drift into the bike lane I was thinking it would only be a matter of time before someone got hit by one of these drivers. Who knew it had just happened!

Jack will be okay, so why am I so pissed off? It’s probably because as good as the City’s efforts have been to promote cycling and improve access a lot more needs to be done wrt educating ALL of us, drivers, riders, pedestrians EVERYONE of the rights, responsibilities, perils and promise of riding a bicycle in the city of Boston. If they find money to expand Hubway, here’s hoping they get so much they can run some public service announcements promoting co-existance between bikes, cars and pedestrians.

Perhaps the Mayor’s Office could prevail on the folks at the Globe to take a more supportive roll promoting safety? They could arrange a sit down between local riders and the wags at the Globe to add some perspective? While the Globe has been okay at reporting at times they revert to auto-centricism (recall Brian McCrory’s rant last year for instance) which isn’t helpful.

How about finding a bigger forum for Bikeyface? All the blogs and interchange back and forth between riders and drivers isn’t worth a whit compared to Bikeyface’s insight wit and intelligence at showing how a bike rider thinks and lives on the streets of greater Boston. In fact, it’s probably a universal urban story. Here’s a case where a picture is worth a lot MORE than 1000 words (or the 500-700 or so I usually limit myself to here).

It’s a small wonder there’s a ‘war’ going on between cars and bikes. It’s one bikes have no chance of winning outside of our own personal feelings of smugness for saving energy while getting in shape. I know I was most happy today when I went by the 30 or so cars backed up on Washington Street short of Columbia Road. I suspect drivers hate bikes because of times like that. When they’re stuck in line waiting one or two light cycles, how dare that bike zip past and go right up to the light and disapear without being seen again.

So, if anyone in the bike advocacy world happens to read this we’re ALL ready to help spread the word that bikes are here to stay and they’re an integral part of a modern city’s transportation network. Now that we have 50 miles of bike network it’s about time everyone knew about it and what that means. Education is job #1!

Thanks for reading. I feel a little better now.