I read a lot about bicycling.
Between keeping up with local bike news and searching the internet for insights into infrastructure, advocacy and safety, I probably scan a few hundred stories each day. And stop to actually read through maybe a quarter to half of those — the best of which I try to share with you on here.
It’s not often, though, that I find something that stops me in my tracks, and causes me to go back and read it again to catch every detail.
Usually when that happens, it’s because I think the writer got it wrong in some way, whether it’s a misguided attempt to say the right things, or yet another motorhead rant demanding that we get off their precious pavement. It’s not often that I find someone who seems to get it just right, and says it so eloquently that I wish I’d written it.
But that’s what I found last night, as Google carried me north of the border to the small city of Guelph, Ontario, where a writer tried to explain why drivers need to give cyclists one meter of space when passing — roughly equivalent to our three-foot passing distance.
And got it exactly, precisely right.
If you were driving and saw your child walking on the road, how close would you go? Four inches?
The cyclist on the road is someone’s child, a fragile human life.
I know. We are in a hurry. We have somewhere to be. The bike is so slow. Won’t the driver behind me get annoyed if I slow down?
He goes on to note that any time he writes about bicycling, he gets mail saying that cyclists would get more respect if they behaved better — in other words, the same sort of comments you’ll see on just about any online article about cycling, as motorists write in to complain about cyclists, neglecting to mention that most drivers speed, fail to signal and roll through stop signs.
Consider these dangerous cyclists. The way they ride risks their lives and scares the rest of us. Would the world be a better place if they drove a car instead? For now, let’s leave them riding a bike, where the greatest risk is to themselves.
When the roads are safer, careful people will ride bikes on the road. The secret about riding a bike is that, aside from the fear of early death, it is fun — and fast. For now, cyclists often retreat to the sidewalk. It is illegal, but they are scared and feel safer there.
And he concludes by gently humanizing the cyclist on the road ahead, reminding impatient drivers that it’s up to them whether another person will get home safely.
I know. We are commuting, traffic is slow already and we are late. We are all working hard to pay the bills, giving a better life to our children, for whom we would do anything to keep them safe.
Now look ahead. See that wobbly cyclist on the road in front of you. Picture him as your child at eight years old. Now decide. Squeeze through or give him space? Slowing down could delay you by 30 seconds. Picture the eight-year-old child. His life is in your hands.
It’s a quick read.
One that won’t take more than a couple minutes out of your day, and definitely worth clicking on the link.
And one that I wish I could tape to the steering wheel of every car in L.A. before their drivers hit the road today.
Alex Thompson shares a moving recount of witnessing the aftermath of a hit-and-run collision, noting that it affects even more drivers than cyclists — in fact, he notes that 38% of all L.A. collisions are hit-and-run. And yes, something needs to be done.
Bike Week Pasadena, or more precisely, Bike Weekend — rolls on May 20. A great look at biking on the (real) Eastside; for a change, the comments are as good as story. Metro offers an all-day symposium Wednesday for those who move on two feet instead of two wheels, along with the follow-up to February’s Metro Bicycle Roundtable. Flying Pigeon offers a midweek Cargo Bike Date Night Ride tonight. LADOT notes that locking your bike to a parking meter is illegal, but rarely enforced; on the other hand, it’s also not smart since a thief can slide your bike and lock over the top of the meter. Dancer a la Mode sings the praises of her LBS. San Francisco cycling goes green. Ten dollars could help make the U.S. Bicycle Route System a reality. Bicyclists have officially infiltrated the White House Press Room. A Columbus writer observes that biking improves his reflexes and awareness. A Massachusetts woman runs down Jesus Christ in a crosswalk, no, really. As an experiment, a cyclist comes to a full, foot down stop every time. A well-reasoned response to last weekend’s article saying cyclists need to earn respect. Headline of the day: Are business folks really swapping Ping for Pinarello?
Finally, maybe it’s time for a mandatory helmet law — for motorists. And the four worst drivers you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis; including the DYPMDB (Don’t You Pass Me Douche Bag) driver.