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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do ‘Ghost Bikes’ Show Failures Of Road Sharing?

During the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, Here & Now‘s Robin Young spotted a bicycle that was painted white and locked to a telephone pole.

It was a memorial to Cris-Cris Potts, who was 13 years old when she was hit while riding her bike and killed. There are now two new ghost bikes in Boston, where two bicyclists were killed within days of each other.

Numbers On Cyclist Deaths

The League of American Bicyclists estimates that at least 700 cyclists are killed in U.S. traffic accidents each year. And the New York Times reports on an increase in deaths of cyclists and pedestrians after a five-year decline in New York, that echoes a national increase in traffic fatalities altogether.

“The more bicyclists that motorists see, the more cognizant they are of us out on the road.”
– Carolyn Szczepanski, The League of American Bicyclists

Is it possible that the move to get more people on bikes in a world filled with cars just isn’t working?

Carolyn Szczepanski, of the bike safety and education lobbying group The League of American Bicyclists, tracks cyclist deaths across the country and sees a number of issues.

“As you see the number of bicyclists out on the street increase that could be a cause of the increased number of fatalities,” she told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “But also we’re very heartened by the fact that there’s safety in numbers. The more bicyclists that motorists see, the more cognizant they are of us out on the road.”

Szczepanski also advises communities across the country on how to make cycling safer.

Steps Communities Can Take

1.) Infrastructure: Szczepanski says protected bike lanes are becoming more commonplace and are helpful, she also praises pavement markings that indicate the right of cyclists to be on that road.

2.) Promotions: Events like “Bike to Work Day” can help get more people out on their bicycles

3.) Education: Szczepanski touts her group’s bicycle skills and safety program as a way to teach cyclists  where to ride on the road and how to maneuver on the streets in predictable ways that allow them to operate in the flow of traffic

4.) Public Awareness: Ryan Knuckle of the Ghost Bike Project in New York City says the city is putting signs and videos about cycling in taxi cabs. They’re even changing taxi cab designs to have sliding doors instead of swinging doors to prevent cyclists from being hit by doors swinging open, he says.


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  • J__o__h__n

    Is there a time limit for these to raise awareness?  I don’t want to look at these for years to come. 

    • Bikeolounger

       What about the people who will miss their friends or sons or daughters or brothers or sisters for *years* to come?

      • J__o__h__n

        They can continue to remember that person in private.  After some time has gone by, take the bikes down.  They are an eyesore but having them up for six months or so is fine but they shouldn’t be permanent.  The public has a say in permanent memorials.  Who elected the ghost cyclists?

  • http://twitter.com/SlowBarney Barney

    Feeling a bit *angry* right now, as I was knocked off my bicycle about 15 minutes ago, a significant number of drivers just don’t look, or simply don’t know where to look. They need better education. Lots of it.

  • Manybless

    I appreciate how the ghost bikes make people think and pay homage. I do believe that cyclists need more education… Sharing the road is made more difficult when some are following “traffic laws” and others are all over the place. However, all drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.a.stratton Eric A Stratton

    I’m a cyclist who commutes, races, participates in advocacy, and OBEYS the traffic laws when it is safe to do so. Many of these laws have not taken cyclists into account (though this is changing – shout out to Boston Cyclists Union and Mass Bike) and need to be addressed. Roads are also slowly changing to accommodate all road users (not just motorists). While all road users have a duty to behave responsibility when using the roads, motorists are essentially operating a 2 ton weapon. They are responsible for looking for cyclists, using their mirrors, and yielding when required to do so. Let’s face it, the chance of death from bikes hitting each other is very slim, while cars hitting bikes, pedestrians, and other cars can be DEADLY. Individuals who recklessly operate their cars should be held accountable. Driving is not a right. It is a privilege, and one that can and should be removed from individuals who are not operating safely.

  • RodHassler

    The reality is that almost all bicyclists are drivers as well. So it’s a fallacy that it’s us versus them. The drivers who have the hardest time with bicyclists are those who have never ridden a bicycle in traffic.

  • Mari

    It’s the cars that should be off the city streets.  Park long-distance, auto commuters at stations like Alewife and Braintree, and use city streets for bikes and bike-powered vehicles.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CVRHXV4I54LF4RLZA3RYH7SDYQ Yat

      How beautiful our cities could be, and how we could cut down on global warming if we could replace some of the huge concrete slab parking lots downtown with green space.  Perimeter parking with only bikes and pedestrians allowed inside.  Delivery trucks could be restricted to non-rush hour times so as not to be a threat, and pedal-cabs, segueways, or electric golf-cart type vehicles could be used by elderly or handicapped.  Think we might be a little healthier, too?

  • Paula

    My sympathy to all those who have lost friends in biking accidents.  However, where I live in Massachusetts most cyclists are total scofflaws.  They ignore red lights and stop signs (apparently because it’s too much trouble to stop and start again).  They don’t signal at turns.  They ride two abreast on narrow roads. Worst of all, they ride at speed on pedestrian paths, coming up behind a pedestrian silently with no warning.  I believe all cyclists should be required to take a test and be licensed, just as motorists must.  Their vehicles should be registered and bells should be required on all bikes.

    • Ajfortna

       Where I live throughout the United States most motorists are total
      scofflaws.  They ignore red lights and stop signs (apparently because
      it’s too much trouble to stop and start again).  They don’t signal at
      turns.  They speed on narrow and wide roads. Worst of all, they speed on city streets filled with people and bicyclists, coming up next to cyclists and  pedestrians quickly
      with no warning.  I believe all motorists should be instructed on how to recognize the dangerous situations they put people in and required to take a
      test every 4 years.  I believe all motorists should be required to take a test that actually tests their driving ability and safety knowledge, and given a license only if they show clear competence. Their driving skills should be
      refreshed on a regular basis … and bells should be required on all cars.

      No more coddling vain motorists or protecting their jealousy.

  • Apedersen1745

    No one wants cyclists killed but no one seems to put up memorials that much for pedestrians who are the least considered of the people on streets and sidewalks, even though I’ve heard of more deaths of pedestrians this year by hit and run driversf.  Bicyclists can be bloody arrogant too, and if they are really flying and hit a pedestrian, the result is not much better than being hit by a car.  Pedestrians get little respect.

    • Goodgulf

       Really?..being hit by a cyclist is not much better than being hit by an auto?  You seem to lack any understanding of physics.

  • Billwestbrook

    I’m a cyclist of 28 years. I raced in the US out of Boulder, in France for a big team, A.S. Corbeil-Essonnes. I have lived and cycled in Cairo, London, Paris, and many other big cities. Talking about bike safety has to be considered in individual terms. I ride with many people here in the States, many serious cyclists, and I am often appalled at their behavior around cars and intersections. Yes, motorists can be hostile, but in a fight between a car (or truck) and a cyclist, the cyclist will lose every time. There is a hubris among some cyclists that cause them to be downright dangerous on the bikes. Even I get flipped off when driving my car passed cyclists and I always wonder if these guys have any clue what they’re doing. And yes, I still ride 4-5 times per week.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001641451819 Wilfredo Andaluz

      My hobby is cycling, for me, when i ride the bike just concentrate on my direction in the side of the road even there’s a bike lane or not. When i go left manuevering in the other road it is more dangerous than to go in the right turn road. When i am hesitated to turn left, i just stop and walking in the pedestrian to go the other side of the left turn road. I am doing it, for more safety than to share with other cars going left.

  • mochajava13

    I drive.  I am in constant fear of hitting a biker.  (Or a biker hitting me, which has happened to me when a biker flew out of an alleyway without checking to see if a car was going by.)   A lot of bikers simply don’t pay attention to the rules of the road, running red lights, going the wrong way on a one way street, making illegal turns, and other such things.  I’m also afraid of hitting a biker that’s in my blind spots – even checking blind spots don’t always reveal a biker.  
    And a lot of bikers simply don’t wear helmets.  

    And as a pedestrian – bikers don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.  I’ve been hit by a biker when I was in the crosswalk (with cars stopped), and then been cussed out by the biker.

    I wish bikers would have to be licensed, just like cars.  And tickets given out to bikers that fail to follow the rules of the road or fail to wear a helmet.

    • Bikeolounger

       people do what they feel they can get away with doing, regardless of vehicle type. Witness the number of motorists traveling at hyper-legal speeds, the number of motorists who turn left after the light turns red, the number of motorists who fail to stop at stop signs…

      Licensure came about because motorists were so often so bad at playing by the rules while operating a clearly more danger-intensive machine. Cycling is quite safe when compared to many common activities (including driving), and presents far less danger to others in the surrounding environment than driving a car. As it happens, most cyclists *have* driver’s licenses, so your canard doesn’t work.

  • Dracoblaze15

    I am both a cyclist and a driver and the last time I was in Boston I was mortified by the amount of cyclists that didn’t use signals and cut through traffic!! Drivers need to be attentive but I feel cyclists are equally as guilty of being unsafe. Also hit from behind, isn’t it possible these cyclists cut the drivers off?

  • Cindykmaddox

    We have a 19 mile county road in Florida that has a bike path along its entire length, but for some reason, the elite bike riders ( the ones with the bike shorts, fancy bikes etc.) will not use them, and insist on riding on the two lane road! What is up with that!?

    • jsallen

      The path isn’t suitable or safe  for the riding at the speed which fit adult cyclists prefer. A fit adult cyclist traveling at 20 mph or more doesn’t want to have to be dodging pedestrians, dog walkers with dogs on leashes, little kids on bikes who swerve around, inline skaters with flailing arms and legs…I don’t know what specific path you are describing, but a path along a road often also is crossed by every street and driveway, where the bicyclist and motorist can’t see each other until the moment of impact.

      It’s sort of like asking competent adult golfers to play miniature golf, except that it’s dangerous too.

      If the road is narrow and bicyclists frequently delay motorists, then the answer is to widen the road.

  • Nathan Fulk

    I think I’ve been on both sides of this issue. In 8th grade, I was hit from behind when cycling on my street. I broke my femur and had to go through extensive PT. There was almost no shoulder on the road, and my family ran a successful campaign to have the road widened to accommodate cyclists. However, now as an adult living in the city of buffalo, I see cyclists daily breaking traffic laws. Worst of all, many cyclists aren’t taking the minimal safety precaution of wearing a helmet. They also often ride against traffic, and as the Midnight Bike Ride demonstrates, while intoxicated. I think there is a lack of education and enforcement on all sides that causes many of these traffic problems, but nothing can replace real enforcement of the laws we have in place, and the infrastructure to make compliance possible.

  • Scott B

    The American Motorcycle Association  started a campaign called “Justice For All” after a motorcyclist was killed by a Sen Bill Janklow. The Senator was only charged with a traffic infraction and not vehicular manslaughter or any  felony, and that is all too common,  The drivers of the cars get a $200 fine for failure to signal, or unsafe lane change.  The AMA’s campaign was to change that by making such actions resulting or serious injury in death a felony  in all states.  This campaign isn’t just for motorcyclists, but very much for bicyclists and pedestrians.

  • J__o__h__n

    Why is the memorial on Huntington Ave on the sidewalk and not the street?  No bikes on sidewalks!  The drivers don’t see it. 

  • odie

    i’d be interested to know what percentage of bicycle fatalities involved riders who were or were not wearing helmets.

    • Bikeolounger

       Helmet use is all but irrelevant when most of the blunt-force trauma that kills cyclists is to points other than on the head.

      • jsallen

         Not so, helmets can prevent about 50% of fatalities. A broken arm or leg usually heals. A fractured skull usually means brain damage and is often fatal.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.wright.520 Robert Wright

          The main cause of fatalities in cycling accidents, as far as I know, is blunt force trauma to the abdomen. I wear a helmet – but the whole helmet debate tends to be another way for motorists to blame the victims of accidents. It’s sometimes relevant but not often – and the main answer is for motorists to start paying attention more, give cyclists more space and drive at more reasonable speeds.


    Bikes are so different than cars, smaller more agile,  it is not reasonable to expect cyclists to think or act like a driver nor is it reasonible to expect drivers to have equal awareness for bikes that they have for cars.

    Although increased awareness, and adherence to and enforcement of laws, would help the best solution is not education or increased awareness as much as creating seporation between cars and bikes.

    • Mighk Wilson

      The first formal U.S. traffic laws, written by William Phelps Eno around 1908, were intended to manage the movements of the dominant vehicles of the day — horse-drawn conveyances and bicyclists.  Automobile were a small fraction of traffic in those days, and Eno thought cars would be nothing but a fad.

      Those basic rules — first come, first served; keep right; pass on the left; turn left from the right edge; turn left from the center — work well no matter which vehicle type one is driving.  Children can (and in some places, do) learn and master them in elementary school.

  • Bernie0213

    I live in Philadelphia and I’m an active bike rider. It drives me nuts when bikers ride in the street without a bike lane on streets where there’s no room! Why can’t they go on the sidewalk? They hold up traffic and in the city it’s very hard. I want to research what that lady did. She avoided a lot. It causes crashes among cars when bikers take up an entire CAR lane.

    • Bikeolounger

       Bicycles are vehicles in most locales. Cyclists are far safer acting as part of traffic than as two-wheeled pedestrians. The delay you report is generally smaller than delays due to other motorized traffic, but because a cyclist is visibly different, your mind focuses on the delay more.

    • Angelo Dolce

       I’ve ridden in Philadelphia (and Baltimore and Boston and ..) and I question your statement that the bicyclists hold up traffic and that it’s hard for motorists to have bicyclists riding in the road without bike lanes.

      With frequent intersections (turning motorists), traffic lights and stop signs, the motorists are very rarely going faster than bicyclists.  While it is true the bicyclists can’t ride at the speed limit, this is to avoid hitting the cars in front of them.  Somehow, I find motorists think the problem is the bicyclists, not the cars that won’t get out of their (bicyclist or motorist) way.

      Riding on the sidewalk slows the bicyclists from the speed of city traffic to walking speed, as they have to stop at every intersection, and avoid pedestrians.  If you think it is fine to limit bicyclists to walking speed (by using the sidewalk), are you also willing to skip the car and walk yourself?  This won’t make driving any faster or easier.

      While there may be a few roads where motorists can go faster than bicyclists, such as Roosevelt Blvd of I-76 outside of rush hour, these roads have passing lanes, so motorists can easily pass bicyclists when traffic is light.  (As noted, when it is heavy, the motorists are delaying the bicyclists by occupying the full lane and driving slowly to avoid hitting other cars.)

  • Bernie0213

    Why couldn’t that lady answer a single question? She avoided so much and blamed everyone else! Loser!

  • Akira

    I think people need to remembered and celebrated….I think what you are doing is great because whenever I pass by things like this it helps me remember to be aware. 

  • Levy Heidi

    Here in Portland, Oregon – a bike-friendly city without doubt – my 22-year old, helmet-wearing daughter suffered a severe concussion in a bike-on-bike accident in May when a cyclist ahead of her in the same “gaggle” of riders made an unsignaled right turn directly in front of her, sending her crashing to the pavement, breaking her helmet, and causing $400 damage to her bike.  My husband also rides his bike to work everyday, so I AM a bike rider supporter, but, really, many cyclists do not exhibit sensible or safe riding skills.  Another facet to this story: bike riders are not required to carry insurance, so all of our daughter’s medical and bike expenses were borne by us.

  • MR

    I have been both a cyclist  and a driver and live in a city north of Boston, without much fanfare for bikes, or bike lanes, and bicyclists (as opposed to the drivers) are more courteous, and generally law abiding than the city where I work and spend much of my time.,and where there are marked off parking spaces for cycles.

    In that Somerville/Cambridge  city  I see ,on a daily basis, cyclists almost daring people to hit them,as well as cyclists texting, while listening to music,and not looking at traffic lights as they do whatever they like.

    I like the idea of cycling, but do think vities have to realize that not all cars can be replaced by cyclists. As the boomers age, not everyone will be able to cycle, due to health concerns or infirmities. I see so very many cases of distracted biking, and yes, Ive been hit while on a bike.
    I spoke to someone in my studio building who makes bikes, and we discussed the lack of obeyance of traffic laws by bicyclists, and his comments, (with a smile) were to the effect, that it’s a point of pride to “do what you want” when you are on a bike.

    Yes, drivers are distracted as well, but IMHO, the bicyclists need to pay attention and obey the laws, AND use the bike lanes the city has so graciously provided.

    I keep wondering why, in the more humble city I live in the bicyclists are better behaved.
    One idea to possibly get bicyclists to pay attention post graphic pics of cyclists injuries (similar to the photos posted on cigarette packages in Europe) not just “look”

    • ChevSm

      I bike through Somerville / Cambridge everyday and I see on a daily basis DRIVERS “almost daring other drivers to hit them, as well as driving while texting, while listening to music, and not looking at traffic lights as they do whatever they like”. 

      The drivers are just as bad as the bikers but for some reason we give drivers a free pass.  It’s just laughed off as ‘aggressive Boston drivers’.  

      Also, by law bicyclists do not have to stay in the bike lane.  Sometimes it is actually safer not to ride in the bike lane for example when cars are parked in the bike lane or when a car is making a right run across the bike lane. 

  • John_Schubert

    The call for “separated infrastructure” is misguided, because it makes a promise it can’t keep.  Collisions happen at intersections, and these sadly inept attempts to “separate” bicyclists only hide bicyclists from motorists until the moment of impact.  Three bicyclists have been killed this way in Portland, and there have been fatalities in Seattle, Minneapolis, Davis, Blackstone Virginia, and other U.S. cities, not to mention Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
      The League of American Bicyclists’s counts of fatalities have no statistical validity, and should not be used as if they did.
      We all want better-designed cities, but the current fad designs have serious safety issues.
      Cyclists who want to be safe and enjoy low-stress cycling have a place to go:  cyclingsavvy.org.  The cycling savvy education program will change your life.  It’s targeted at older, non-athletic people, and it teaches you how to make traffic law work for you, so your cycling and your interaction with motor traffic are . . . safe and low-stress.
    – John Schubert, Limeport.org

  • Jasdhall

    I ride all around Manhattan and there is plenty of blame on all sides. I have to say the cycling community’s perceived smug self-righteousness does not help it’s cause among non-cyclists, ultimately it’s your safety you have to take responsibility for it and ASSUME the driver’s aren’t looking out for you. Also bike lanes are LANES, not tracks. You often have to share and are not, in fact,  in the Tour De France.   I’ve seen cyclist yell at and nearly hit pedestrians then seconds later careen through a red light as though the rules don’t apply to them. It’s infuriating. On the other hand it’s maddening as a cyclist going through Central Park in the morning with tons of joggers and pedestrians heedlessly taking using the bike lane, often running in the wrong direction and with earphones in so they are effectively deaf to any bells or warning calls. You can run ANYPLACE in the park, there is a pedestrian parallel to the bike lane, but people insist on running in the bike lane forcing cyclists to contend with cars.  A little bit of consideration for the rules, some self- awareness and a little less finger pointing on all sides would go a long way.    

  • Rick

    I ride a bicyle. I ride a motorcyle, and drive a car. I am very careful when riding my bicycle due to close calls in the past. I have also been very frustrated and almost crashed on multilple occasions when riding my motorcylce or driving my car and coming upon a group of cyclists riding side by side as many as four wide on a mountain road in the lagunas and cuyamacas. Drunk cycling is also an issue in the beach area where I live. I have seen cyclists on beach cruisers wander into oncoming traffic without a quick return to their side of the road once they realize where they are. I believe there is a real need for awareness for cyclist safety. I also feel that the cyclists who refuse to relinquish the auto portion of the roadway to traffic or believe that riding drunk is okay, are not doing the movement any favors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.wright.520 Robert Wright

      So you’d rather the drunk people drove cars? I’d have thought that, if drunk people are going to get themselves home on wheels, it’s better for everyone else if they do it in a machine where, while they’re endangering themselves, they’re unlikely to endanger others.

    • peterlake

       Sometimes the drunk cyclists are former motorists who lost their licneses because they were driving cars while drunk. If you see a man in his 40′s-60′s on an old bicycle you should consider he has a good chance of being an involuntary bicyclist.

  • Todd Anderson

    I’m a creative director in san diego and had the opportunity to develop messaging and psa’s for what I thought was a pretty unique campaign offered by Sandag, Caltrans and the city of San Diego – we found that bicyclist often had bad attitudes toward drivers based on past experiences or close accident calls- vice versa drivers often disliked large groups of cyclists (ESP. In San Diego where thousands of cyclists are on highly driven roads every day) We created an awareness campaign called “lose the Roaditude” to foster better attitudes from cyclists, drivers and even pedestrians- billboards, bus banners, ads and a website supported the campaign and it was well received by the cycling community- just one example of how public agencies can work together to increase awareness of all road users… Haven’t really seen anything else like it before or since

  • Jasonchallandes

    Obviously, steps should continually be taken to reduce injuries and deaths of cycling, but there will always be some, just like there will always be deaths and injuries from driving.  
    What are the rates of death from being in an automobile compared to riding a bike?  The most dangerous thing most people will ever do in their lifetime is ride in an automobile.

  • John Ratliff

    I am a bicyclist in Beaverton, Oregon who has been hit by cars three times; twice in the hospital, and once unconscious for ~30 minutes.  We cyclists, when on a bike, need to abide by the traffic laws, but we see every day drivers who are “unconscious” to bicyclists. I have adjusted my cycling to change my habits, and am now 10 years without a car/bike incident.  I have changed my bike (higher bars, riding a recumbant), and also incorporated a safety philosophy (I am a safety professional) which is used to protect against radiation:  time, distance and shielding.  

    Time:I ride at off-peak times, when traffic is lighter (not possible if commuting).  

    Distance:  I ride as far away from cars as possible, sometimes on sidewalks with trees between me and traffic.  I use back routes, which are away from high traffic areas.  I use bike paths whenever possible.

    Shielding:  I ride in high traffic areas away from the traffic.  As stated above, I put things between me and traffic, and take advantage of paths as much as possible.  

    Many drivers are terrible around bicyclists, and behave without caution around bikes.  They also don’t realize that bikes can be going quite fast (20-30 mph), and pass then forget about the bikes that they just past, thinking they are behind them when in reality the bike may be right beside them.  They rarely use the right mirror to check for bikes too.  So a strategy must be used to cope with these hazards.  A driver is rarely in a hazard from a cyclist; a cyclist is daily at risk from inattentive or hostile drivers.

  • Megan Bowes

    My whole community rode bikes growing up and we were always taught that we were to observe the same rules of the road as cars.  I think it’s confusing to both cars and cyclists to have separate bikeways.  Having roads wide enough to accommodate all traffic and education is critical.  I’ve noticed many drivers today, as well as cyclists, do not know the basic rules of the road.  Additionally, as cars get more luxurious, people tend to forget that you must actively participate in driving; which means always looking – forward as well back and side to side.

    • Hagen

       it’s confusing to both cars and cyclists to have separate bikeways”. Nope. In the Netherlands, traffic fatality rates are a lot lower than in the USA, and bicycle fatalities practically non-existent. And they’re the guys with separated traffic according to speed, weight and direction, AND they don’t wear helmets when cycling.

  • Mapleman

    I live next to a bike trail whiuch parallels a main road. It is surprising how many cyclists ignore the (paved,wide) bike trail and ride in the road. The more fancy clothes and gear they have on, the more likely they are to ride in the street and when it is pointed out to them that they are riding next to a bike trail, they usually either curse or give  the finger. That doesn’t entitle them to be hit by a car, but it does indicate that all bikers are not saintly environmentalists.

    • jsallen

       I don’t apologize for the rude behavior of the bicyclists you describe, but on the other hand, please see my reply to the comment by cindykmaddox, earlier in this thread, as to why the faster bicyclists often avoid trails alongside roads.

    • Bikeolounger

       That bike trail may not go where the cyclist wants to go. How does one make a left turn from a bike trail with what amounts to a wall between it and the roadway?

    • Chris in Anchorage

      with jallen (on both points), for the fast commuter or athlete, riding in the
      same space as slow recreational cyclists, runners, and dog walkers can be even
      more dangerous than riding on the road. I have been a commuting cyclist, and
      now mostly run, but it is disconcerting indeed to have a cyclist fly past your
      elbow when on multiuse trails. And yes, I am often appalled by lack of
      compliance to road rules by cyclists I see here in Anchorage, and by the
      rudeness of some drivers who seem to actively bully rule following cyclists.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CVRHXV4I54LF4RLZA3RYH7SDYQ Yat

      Many organizations use bike rides a fundraisers–Multiple Sclerosis Society, Leukemia Society, American Diabetes Association to name a few–and the rides they sponsor are long distance–25 to 100 miles or more.  Ironman triathlons have 112 mile biking components, and road cycling is an Olympic sport.  These are not things that you can train for on a recreational bike path where there are families and children present.  State laws allow bicycles to be on the roads–they are doing nothing illegal.

  • Steven Goodridge

    I’ve never had a collision with a car in over 30 years of avid bicycling. I take an assertive position in the normal travel lane, follow the rules for drivers, and use lights at night.  This works well. It is my observation that many problems people face with bicycling are the result of dysfunctional beliefs about bicycling, e.g. that bicyclists don’t belong on the roadways, don’t benefit from acting like other drivers, or that they are safer on separated facilties.  The current fad of shoe-horning bike lanes into urban areas is being done to market bicycling to novices who have those dysfunctional beliefs, but in many cases those separate facilities make cycling more hazardous, especially at intersections where most crashes happen.  A more effective approach would be to educate and enforce motorists to slow down and change lanes to pass cyclists (waiting until safe to do so) and to educate and enforce bicyclists to follow the ordinary rules of the road for drivers.

  • Farnk

    Here in Oxford, Mississippi we have a few. One a friend. 

  • Oitpoits

    I feel that it is essential to teach civilians the importance of bicycle road safety more clearly. I live in Orlando and ride a bicycle and at least one person a week scream at me while driving past me to get off of the road when what I am doing is perfectly legal. We are very few biplanes around town and the sidewalks are horrible to write on. I am very passionate about it because I feel as if I am almost being forced not into riding a bicycle simply because I’m scared for my life.

    • Bikeolounger

       Please talk to the folks at CyclingSavvy.org, right there in Orlando!

  • Downey_gary

    A group of bikers ran over my eight year old brother. none of them stopped. I see them run red lights constantly. I’m sorry some have died but they need to follow the laws of the road. Birmingham mI

  • Joe3715b

    I am not really a recreational biker as much as a bike commuter here in San Antonio. I use my bicycle and public transit to commute to work and back. One problem here in San Antonio is the lack of infrastructure ie. no bike lanes at all; not even sidewalks. There are plenty of intersections though that I see recreational bikers fail to obey stops and not signaling turns which I am strongly against.  Here in Texas bikers are not protected by “Safe Passing” laws and so I am very cautious when biking anywhere. I am very defensive while biking because careless drivers do not look for bikes or pedestrians while driving.

    • Bikeolounger

       Look up CyclingSavvy.com. They may have a class nearer you than Florida (I think they have a Dallas affiliate).

    • sam

      HI Joe, San Antonio actually has a safe passing ordinance.  We need  bicycle parking  more than bike lanes, you should ride in the middle or even the left tire track of a lane of a standard width lane .  Far to the right makes you hard to see and encourages squeezing by you in your lane.  There is a Streetwise Urban Cycling Clinic in San Antonio this Oct 5 & 6 you can take.

  • Andrew McGhie

    I have just returned from Munich where they have dedicated (but not always protected) bike lanes everywhere. I took my bike to ride through the city. People routinely ride to work and commute using bikes. A big difference that in Munich bikes have priority. Cars stop for bikes. The cars are also aware of bikes. This sittuation however is reciprocated by cyclists. Cyclists routinely will see cars at an intersection and often wave the car through if they are slow to get an intersection. This two way respect is something I don’t see in teh US and my home town of Kansas City

  • Koop4us

    Two year ago in Grand Rapids, MI a biker was killed crossing a very busy intersection. The biker was on a paved bike trail which happened to cross a major highway exit area.  Shortly after the biker was killed a ghost bike was placed at the intersection. This summer the ghost bike was removed when the entire bike trail was rerouted so the trail crosses at a much safer location. I felt it was a very fitting end for this particular ghost bike.  Hopefully no other ghost bikes will need to be place anew at this location.

  • Charles Chauff, New Orleans

    I don’t understand why cyclists consider themselves entitled to special attention. It’s a simple of matter of “right of weight.” So a cyclist is in the right…he keeps pedaling forward, and he’s “right.” Who wants to be right and in the graveyard? As a motorcyclist and a bicycler, I always assume cars are out to kill me, and I ride paranoid. I’m not always happy, but  I’m still alive.

    • Bikeolounger

       Size does not control right of way.

      Equal rights are not special rights.

      As a cyclist, I am PART of traffic, not an obstruction to traffic.

      • John Ratliff

        You are not a “part of traffic” unless you are traveling the same rate of speed as the traffic.  Because you are in traffic, there will be numerous bicycle-car interactions between you and the “traffic” as they try to get around you.  That can occur easily when there are bike lanes, or wide shoulders.  But if you are in the traffic pattern, like you are susposed to be by law, physics dictate that you will “impede” the flow of the traffic.  This reality is at the heart of all the discussions about traffic.  

  • Judy Marti

    I have lived and ridden my bike in several countries in Europe. Most countries have buffered bike lanes or combination walker/biking lanes. These are sidewalks which are a bit wider and have designated sides for bike riders and for walkers. This keeps bikers safe, with walkers and bikers having a safe place to walk/ride. They have these in big cities like Paris and Vienna, among many others. By simply widening sidewalks and drawing a biker on the outer half (by the road) and a walker painted on the inner half, close to buildings, each has plenty of room to move safely.

  • lulu

    I live in the country. The nearby towns have recently installed bike lanes, but riders seem to  prefer winding country roads. When I drive my car around a curve on a narrow two-lane road and come up behind a biker in my lane, it is impossible to stop quickly enough to avoid him.  I don’t want to run over anyone, but if there is a car coming in the other lane (which has happened to me) and I have to choose between a head-on collision, the ditch by the side of the road, or the biker, I figure it’s his life or mine. 

    • Bikeolounger

       If you cannot see far enough ahead to stop in case something is totally blocking your path (as opposed to moving along at ten or more miles an hour), you are driving too fast for conditions, regardless of the speed limit. That the speed limit is 35 doesn’t mean you can drive that fast all the time, especially going around blind curves or over blind hills.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CVRHXV4I54LF4RLZA3RYH7SDYQ Yat

      I suppose you would feel just as justified about coming around one of those curves and rear-ending a stalled car in the road.  First lesson of driving–do not overdrive your vision.  In the old days when most roads and highways were two-lane, we knew that.  Interstates with long stretches of straight road, limited places for vehicle access, and no head-on traffic have spoiled us as drivers, and we want to drive every road the same way we drive on interstates (and at the same speeds).

    • PackRatBill

      lulu, you are driving irresponsibly.  Slow down when you can’t see far enough ahead of you.  I could be a bicyclist, or a tractor, or a cow, or a child.

  • Polly

    In Europe, there are many bicyclist, narrow streets and I understand, less fatalities.  Yes, this is the land of cars but this is unsustainable.  Unsustainable for both our health and for resources.  As a bicyclist of many years, every time a driver yells at me (usually something like “get off the road” or “get a job”) , I think, if I was not on my bike, I would be another car in this line of traffic. I think they should be grateful to me.  And I was hit by a car over 2 years ago, am still recovering and am grateful to be alive.  There is nothing in the local papers about these “accidents”  It disturbs me that there is not enough discussion about the drivers, our national health – the discussion always goers to blaming the cyclist.

  • MarkVII88

    I know from being a cyclist commuter for 5 years that pedestrians and autos don’t always give you the respect you deserve on the road.  But, that’s a 2-way street (pardon the pun).  If cyclists want to have the respect they deserve, then they need to conduct themselves according to the rules of the road.  By this I mean riding on the street, with the flow of traffic in the proper lanes for making turns and actually stopping at red lights and stop signs.  Cyclists should not be hopping between the street and the sidewalk to avoid traffic signals and cyclists are responsible for signaling their turns.  This is a much for their own protection as it is for those who are sharing the road.  Being unpredictable in traffic is not conducive to safety.  If they are supposed to be following the rules of the road, like motorists, then the police should be enforcing traffic laws on cyclists.  Perhaps cyclists should be required to pay a municipal registration fee for their bikes just like cars must be registered.  This would make it easier to hold traffic offenders responsible (especially if it resulted in points on your drivers license), find stolen bikes, and it would raise much needed money for local governments.  After all, cars and bikes ride on the same roads and it’s taxes on fuel and other motoring-related fees that pay for road maintenance.  I think cyclists should also pay their fair share.

  • Stanley Sokolow

    I ride my bikes often in my town, Santa Cruz, California.   In my memory, I’ve heard about 5 fatal bike accidents:   2 were bike riders without lights riding at night on rural roads, 1 was a bike rider run over by a dump truck turning right at a busy intersection where the bike was in the truck’s blind spot on the right, 1 was hit-and-run by a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol after midnight, 1 was by a driver reaching for the controls on the car radio.    I also have seen bike riders, usually young men, ride without regard for rules of the road — blasting through red lights or stop signs at intersections, riding the wrong way on the road, making erratic turns without signaling, etc.   Some young bike riders here have “fixie” bikes which have no brakes, lights, reflectors, and only one gear.  These were intended for use on bike racing tracks, not on the street, yet the bike stores sell them.  While riding safely in the bike lane, I’ve had drivers rapidly pass me and suddenly make a right turn with little distance ahead of me for a safe avoidance of collision.  I’ve had drivers in parked cars open their car doors into the bike lane without looking back in the side mirror first, causing me to slam into their door.

    Our police post the sites of bike accidents, and an indication of the severity, on a Google map which is available from the local newspaper’s web site.    This helps me (and I presume other riders) choose the safer routes through town.

    I reported road hazards to the city’s public works department after I saw a young woman collide with a poorly marked road culvert on a designated bicycle route in my neighborhood.   The city has not yet done anything about the numerous such culverts.  I also reported large pavement cracks which can cause bike riders to lose control.  The city has only filled a few.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around among drivers, cities, and bicycle riders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynn-Jacob/1540990681 Lynn Jacob

    I have been a bicyclist for over 40 years, and have known many people, including myself, who have had accidents with vehicles. I do think that education, for both sides – vehicle drivers and bicyclists – must be made mandatory, however.  I am shocked by the bicyclists (as well as pedestrians) I see here in Santa Cruz, CA, who act as if they ‘have the right of way’ at all times… to the point of being extremely self-righteous about it.  On any given day, I find myself telling someone “You DON’T have the right-of-way right now…” This is often met with a four-letter word response, as if they have no responsibility whatsoever in their actions in traffic, since they did the Holy Thing, and rode their bike.  This is an automatic setup for the car driver, folks… even if they are being extremely careful, they are not expecting you to NOT stop, NOT use your PROPER hand signals, (a right turn is NOT signaled with the right arm extended straight out!) etc..  This even goes to club and competitive cyclists!  Either take the lane, or get off the lane… don’t weanie and waffle next to the white line, then get angry because a vehicle tries to pass you!  Be very decisive when doing this, and make it clear to the drivers what you are wanting. No one wants to harm you, and you must make it easy for them to know what to do.  I have had this happen many times when driving my car, and I am loving you at least as much as anyone else out there, believe me.  Don’t confuse the driver.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where it’s You against a metal vehicle. There is, literally, no contest.  Be smart and learn the rules… your body can be crushed almost as easily as your ego.
    I want biking to be more and more accessible to anyone who wants to ride, and I certainly don’t want anyone to get hurt.  ‘Share the road’ goes both ways, though.
     Bicycling is an amazingly sustainable and fun way to get around.  It is, however, extremely important to KNOW the laws and follow them. Yes, bicyclists, even US.

    • Fred Weaver

        A right arm extended for a right turn is acceptable in many places. Far less ambiguous that the left at a right angle pointing up, which is a hold over from the days cars did not have turn signals.

      • John Allen

        Massachusetts law:

        …the bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop
        or turn; provided, however, that signals need not be made continuously
        and shall not be made when the use of both hands is necessary for the
        safe operation of the bicycle…

        It makes more sense to make a right-turn signal that way, because it’s more graphic, as opposed to the dyslexic Boy Scout salute which is the only kind that a driver of an enclosed vehicle can make. The right-handed slow signal makes more sense too when the cyclist is communicating with a driver behind and to the right, for example when waiting near the center of the roadway to turn left.

    • jsallen

      I like most of that comment, but:  “a right turn is NOT signaled with the right arm extended straight out!”

      Huh? Then instead that relic of the pre-turn-blinker era, so the driver of an enclosed vehicle had to roll down the window and then raise the left hand in the sun, rain or snow, like some dyslexic Boy Scout salute? A bicyclist is going to be in the sun, rain or snow anyway, but still…

      The intent of the right-handed right-turn signal is much clearer, and it is legal wherever legislation has moved more than glacially.  But also, more importantly yet much “bicycle safety” literature give a rote description of signaling without a discussion of now to use it. A bicyclist’s turn signal is properly a *request*, and is made early, to ask to be let into line to continue past a double-parked car, or to merge into the correct lane position for a left turn, etc. The bicyclist must also turn the head to check, in the first place, whether a vehicle is far enough back for the driver to respond, and then again after signaling, whether the driver did respond.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CVRHXV4I54LF4RLZA3RYH7SDYQ Yat

    I think that you will find that all categories of vehicle accidents are on the ride.  The campaign against driving and texting says that an accident is caused by this every 5 minutes.   And cars go too fast.  Law abiding people who who would never break any other law, have no qualms about exceeding legal speed limits.   Cyclists are not blame-free in some accidents, but I don’t think there is much a cyclist could do to be at fault for a car just running them over from behind.

  • J__o__h__n

    A cyclist ran into my friend while we were walking on the sidewalk of the Mass Ave bridge.  It was at night and his bike had no light.  He was going against traffic.  And there is a bike lane he should have been using.  There is no excuse not to use that bike lane as there isn’t even the parked car opening doors reason as you can’t park on the bridge.  I see them riding on the sidewalk all the time.

    • jsallen

       There’s no excuse for the cyclist’s failure to use a light, however, the ramp up fromm the Paul Dudley White path in the Esplanade on the Boston side goes only to the sidewalk, with no connection to the bike lanes on the roadway.  I was one who lobbied for better connections, but that didn’t happen. See photo on this page:


  • FH resident

    I want to know more about the Skills and Safety Curriculum and League Cycling Instructor Certification!! My small town is supposedly “bike friendly” but just because there are bike lanes doesn’t make it bike friendly. I believe there needs to be a culture shift. Biking has not been accepted, nor promoted, by my town as an acceptable and desireable way to transport oneself. How does one help implement this culture shift?

  • Gilgamesh

    I am a cyclist both on rod and mountain bikes. I strongly support the notion of requiring cyclists to resister their bikes just as we all do have to register our cars! Pay for the privilege of sharing the roads and be forced to obey all traffic laws.

  • David in Phoenix

    I live in Phoenix and at 60 am a life long cyclist.  98% of drivers are great.  Almost too aware and sometimes overdo giving right of way — lots of riders here.   
    HOWEVER, I know several people who have been mowed down.  I’ve had cars intentionally try to “brush” me, harass me for being in the road, when I’m riding my bike legally and in very low traffic areas. Fortunately, never hit by a car — on a bike.  However,  I used to cross train as an in-line speed skater using the same bike lines. Doing that I’ve been hit twice by cars.  Once was accidentally by an unaware driver, the second and most severe time, was clearly intentional (he also narrowly missed a friend 50 ft behind me).  I know it’s not cycling, but really its  the same driver mindset (he probably meant to brush me or scare me and miscalculated).  The driver ran, and despite witnesses with an accurate car description, and having his mirror that was knocked off, the police refused to even look for him.  They said, “no one was killed”, even though I was seriously injured.It’s a big problem caused by a very small number of drivers.  Most of the dangerous drivers are unaware, but a significant number of the actual contacts and hits are from idiot drivers who think it’s fun to intimidate cyclists or other street exercisers.  I doubt they actually intend to run over someone, but they can’t gauge what they’re doing, the cyclists response, or the danger in “merely” (to them) knocking a cyclist off a bike. 

    The auto-centric mindset of police doesn’t help.

    • ChevSm

       “Auto-centric mindset” <- that really captures it.   

      I find it interesting that most of the comments here are up-in-arms
      that bikers do not follow the 'same rules of the road' yet you would never see the same outrage with regard to drivers even though drivers constantly break laws while driving.  This is especially
      interesting being that if you get hit by a car you will mostly likely
      not survive yet, if you get hit by a bike you mostly will.  I would argue
      that cars should be held at a much higher standard than bikes. 

      • Cempiremtn

        They ARE, registration, taxes, license, insurance…

  • Wickedbrowndog

    I am happy to hear more about the ghost bike project.  A dear family friend of 25 years was killed 2 years ago while cycling in a 6 foot wide bike lane.  He was riding last in a single file line of three cyclists.  This man was extremely safety conscious and very experienced. He had recently completed a 400 mile ride to celebrate his 70th birthday. The guy who hit him (from behind) was never publicly named, never charged, never did any time.  Rumor had it that he was connected to law enforcement and was protected as such.  The official report came out more than a year later and named our friend as the one at fault.  There are, of course, cyclists who dismiss the rules of the road , but for our friend, who was following those rules (operating his bicycle per the vehicle code), I find it inexcusable to put the blame on a dead man who was rear-ended.  My understanding of the vehicle code is that no matter the reason, if you are the one who hits the vehicle ahead, you are at fault for not leaving adequate space between your vehicle and the one in front.  If I had taken out a cyclist, I’m sure my name would have been all over the paper at the least. We completed an annual memorial ride last weekend. His ghost bike is still in place, and I can only hope his killer has to drive by it every day. Our friend left behind a wife, two sons and their wives, and 3 grandchildren. RIP Lynn.  We will never forget.

    • jsallen

      I extend my deepest sympathies. I hope that your friend’s survivors have contacted an attorney to file a lawsuit against the driver who struck him.Yes, police and prosecutors often are biased against bicyclists, and even when they are not, penalties are often a slap on the wrist. They also don’t bring any compensation. A good, stiff insurance claim in a crash which resulted in a fatality or serious injury hits the perpetrator where it matters, and brings financial compensation to victims.

  • Susan T.

    I visited Berlin, Germany 2 yrs ago and we biked around the city. There they have big sidewalks with bike lanes painted on them(don’t get caught walking on these painted bike lanes!) and when you’re not on the “sidewalk” the cars and buses on the street seem to be more aware of the cyclists. I will say that we all obeyed the rules of the road when we were biking around there.
    I think people in the US aren’t used to dealing with cyclists and the cyclists aren’t following the rules of the road as they should.  Some people ride on the sidewalk, then switch to the road, turn with no signaling, etc. Then there are the distracted drivers and people driving too fast .

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.magas Steve Magas

    Cyclist deaths increasing?  Who is doing the math here?  I study bike fatalities here in Ohio, and review national figures regularly and this statement is flat … out … wrong.  

    The number of cyclists killed in crashes has decreased from a high of 1003 in 1975 to 616 in 2010. There were 628 in 2009, 716 in 2008 [when $4/gal gas brought out LOTS of new riders], 699 in 2007 – so I’d say we are TRENDING down, not up - http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality.aspx?topicName=Bicycles&year=2010NHTSA says 618 in 2010 - http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811624.pdfI took the NHTSA/IIHS numbers and ran 10 year averages1970′s  - 932 cyclists killed each year on avg1980′s – 8891990′s – 7912000′s – 702.5Hardly a pattern showing “increasing” fatalities.In 2012 we are in a bike boom – similar to 2008 when bike sales took off, and people started leaving cars at home due to $4/gallon gas.  Maybe we’ll see a spike this year, like we did in 2008… time will tell.  In Ohio this year, so far, we have had 14 cyclists killed.  We average around 16.Most cities can’t get potholes fixed – while a “bike road” segregated from everyone else would be interesting, it’s an out of reach utopia for 99.9% of all cities.  Education needs to be moved UP the list – Educating motorists on how to “see” cyclists – and educating cyclists on strategies to be used in traffic to become a familiar and conspicuous part of the flow of traffic.The ghost bike question – “does it show the failure of road sharing” – is to be answered ABSOLUTELY NOT – any more than plane crashes show the failure of flying.  A better question would be why our society is not SCREAMING, indeed,  is perfectly accepting, about our 30,000+ CAR deaths each year – each of which was caused by someone’s stupid, careless, negligent operation of a 2-ton bowling ball…  Ghost bikes represent the “failure” of someone to drive properly – more important, though, they stand as a monument to cause us to remember a live human being who was killed doing something simple and fun – something “green” – something that should have brought great joy to them, not death – riding a bike… Steve MagasThe Bike Lawyer

  • JenM

    People tend to modify their behavior depending on how risky they perceive something to be. Ghost bikes are brilliant because they remind us (drivers and cyclists alike) that our actions have risk. I  wish more people would get the message to walk/bike/drive more carefully, attentively, and considerately– before someone gets killed.

  • Rlnunn1

    I’ve been listening to the commentary regarding the bikes in the fault applied to either the auto driver or the bicyclists. Yes, there can be fault applied legally in most accidents. My experience, however, in years of driving, is that in most cases you could find that both parties are either negligence or inattentive when an accident occurs. When I started driving, I was told: “100 percent attention 100 percent of the time”. Think about it; if there is anything less than 100 percent in either category an accident could occur.

  • Hhjheaton

    Seattle-based singer/song writer, JIM PAGE, has written a great song about “ghost bikes” . It’s on his latest CD entitled, GHOST BIKES. Check it out on ITUNES.

  • ThatTallGirlonaBike

    Let’s say this—Boston could do a LOT more to make the city more bike-friendly and bike-safe. A LOT.

    But to address the heartbreaking issue of biking fatalities: the reality of bike commuting is that it’s significantly more dangerous than car commuting due purely to lack of physical coverage in the case of an accident. You get on that bike and decide to ride down a busy city street?  You are choosing to do so, and thus taking a not-insignificant health risk. No two ways about it. 

    But a large percentage of road accidents can be avoided. It all comes down to attitudes and rule-following. Transgressions on either end result in trouble.

    That said, I find that there are fewer motorists who so blatantly disregard rules of the road than there are cyclists. And I think this has to do with the fact if you run a red light, or drive your car the wrong way down a one way street, you’re going to get slapped with a big fat ticket. But I digress. On any given day, I am passed (on the right, usually) by other cyclists breezing through stop lights, cutting off cars, or speeding along sidewalks. It could be that most city bicyclists seem to be relatively young and think they are impervious to harm, but I think the epidemic is far greater—most cyclists (regardless of age) don’t know even the proper hand signals for turning, let alone how to behave respectfully on the road. Don’t even get me started on the brigades of the helmetless…

    I love bicycling. Among my bicycling colleagues who are safe, respectful, and aware on the road, NONE (that’s zero, or o.oo%) have been in accidents. And it’s because they realize that the greater your initial risk (i.e., choosing to ride a bike rather than drive a car), the more proactive you have to be to ensure your own safety. 

    And fine—you might be making a really good choice for the environment, your health, and your fiscal responsibility by getting on the bike—but there’s no need to be self-righteous and think that the rules of the road don’t apply to you.

    • ChevSm

      I also commute by bike everyday in Boston.  I been riding year round for over 6 year and I have never been in an accident.  I ride extremely defensive and assume each car is either trying to run me over or cannot see me so it may run me over.
      While I agree that some biker do blatantly disregard rules of the road I disagree that the proportion of bikers that disregard the rules are any higher than cars.  I would argue that more than half of all cars I see during my commute are breaking some sort of law be it: texting while driving, speeding, rolling through stop signs, illegally parking, blocking intersections, going through red lights, not using their indicators while turning, etc.    

      • http://www.facebook.com/robert.wright.520 Robert Wright

        I cycle in New York, where most people would probably assent to the view that cyclists are uniquely prone to breaking road rules. This is, as ChevSm points out in relation to Boston, purely a result of selection bias. People notice cyclists going through lights and so on and are quite oblivious to motorists’ excessive speed, driving while distracted and failure to look properly before turning. These are all major problems, most of which are not, contrary to widespread perception, likely to lead to prosecution. Most of all, whichever group breaks the rules most, it’s clear which is killing most people – the motorists. In the year to June in New York, 291 people died in traffic accidents. As far as I can discover, not a single one of those died as a result of a collision with a bicycle – but cyclists received 5 per cent of New York’s traffic tickets. That’s an utterly dysfunctional relationship.

        I blogged about this subject yesterday, incidentally, at http://www.invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/10/do-as-you-like-motorists-and-dont-blame.html . I’d welcome comments on the post.


  • Vanessa

    I don’t know about other cities but I do know that the cyclists here in Las Vegas are mostly clueless about safety and traffic laws. p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Times; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

    Every day I see them riding on the wrong side of the road,
    and  making a right turn in your
    car often is an experience of a cyclist suddenly appearing right in front of
    you, going really fast  and not paying any attention to what’s going on around them as they are
    riding on the wrong side; you see them racing across the middle of a road
    disregarding the cars etc. They are crazy here and I often think, there’s
    another one that won’t be riding much longer. And believe me, there are also
    plenty of car drivers that are clueless about traffic laws as well so I’m not
    putting all the blame on cyclists. But I am saying that they could be doing a
    lot more to protect themselves…like being CAREFUL….so why don’t they?

  • Craig in Coolidge Corner

    I’ve lived in Coolidge Corner for seven years and see bicyclists every morning.  I heard the promo for this show yesterday decided to collect some statistics.  The first three bicyclists went through a red light on Beacon St at Winchester Ave.  The next 3 (different cyclists) failed to stop and took illegal right turns on red into pedestrians in the cross walk at Harvard St.  I saw another 2 cyclists that obeyed the law and stopped for the red lights.  It’s sad to say, but bicycles need to be registered like cars so that the public can file complaints. 

    • ChevSm

      After the show yesterday I also decided to take some “statistics”. 

      This is what I observed during my morning commute (by bike) through
      the intersection of Brookline, Waverly & Granite Streets in Cambridge (The
      intersection is immediately prior to crossing the BU bride from Cambridge into


      I arrived at the intersection just as the light turned from
      yellow to red.  I stopped at the light, behind
      the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn green.  When the light turned green I continued
      through the intersection.   

      The car following behind me accelerated and sped through the
      light after it had already turned red. 

      A pedestrian waited at the light for the walk signal then crossed
      the street, in the crosswalk, and was nearly run over by a different car also
      running a red light from the opposite direction. 

      A third car sat waiting to make a right turn with their car
      half in the crosswalk & bike lane.  This
      car then proceeded to turn right on red (not illegal) but did so without using
      their indicator.  Approximately 5 other
      cars sat at the light and followed the laws of the road.  I did not observe any other bikers or pedestrians. 


      At any intersection in Boston you will see bikers,
      pedestrian and cars all breaking laws.  We
      cannot have a meaningful discussion about the road safety by strictly signally
      out bikers while ignoring the other participants (cars, vespas, pedestrians,

    • Rog

      If bicyclists should be required to be licensed, then so should pedestrians, as they pose about the same danger to others.   

      • Cempiremtn


  • jsallen

    Robin, you stumbled around on this topic, giving contradictory and uncertain information. Your own good instinct, as I heard several times in the interviews, was to  question bicyclists’ riding up on the right side of right-turning motor vehicles, but many of the so-called “protected” bicycle facilities and bike lanes which your interviewees praised encourage bicyclists to do exactly that. The paradigm which leads to this folly: the bicyclist is presumed to be a defenseless victim who cannot look out for his or her own safety, and can only follow a painted or barrier-separated bikeway. The usual way this is stated is that bicycling must be made safe for 8 year old children. It follows from this assumption that nothing is to be lost by actually rendering the bicyclist defenseless, while placing difficult or impossible demands on motorists to look in additional and unexpected directions when preparing turns. That isn’t safe for 8 year old children, or for anyone else on a bicycle.

    A driver who is preparing a right turn needs to focus attention on the intersection ahead and can easily miss the bicyclist approaching from behind on the right. A driver who is turning left through a gap in stopped traffic does not have X-ray vision to see the bicyclist shooting out into that gap from a bike lane. There are, of course, exceptions, properly-designed facilities, but “Pied Piper” advocacy, turning a blind eye to issues of facilities design and of education, is all too common.

    I live in the Boston area and I’m going to send you this comment as a printed letter as well. I am inviting you to take a ride with me on my tandem bicycle and get your feet on the ground (well, actually on the pedals) about bicycling issues.

  • Jack GIlmore

    Happened to catch a bit of Here and Now interview with an “expert” who claims that we should encourage road cyclists to ride without a helmet because studies indicate the health benefits  outrun the statistical probability of crash, rash, and concuss and because so many potential cyclists object to helmets and thus don ‘t ride.    This is the absolute nonsense of an actuarial argument posing  as good policy and supporting the brainless position that the “ABATE” motorcyclists took for many years.  The persons who expouse this nonsense need to get enuf personal experience to arrive at the frightening realization that it’s quite possible to have a hard fall while riding on a “sit up and beg” city/hybrid bike at 5mph.  If you are the statistic who’s concussed, in coma, or dead, the risk assessment will be cold comfort indeed.  I encourage Here and Now to present a view of this issue from another “expert” with a countervailing argument  suggesting that the wearing of helmets should be recommended to if not statutorily imposed on bicyclists.

    Jack Gilmore
    Wilmington  DE

  • frankires

     I live just South of Charlotte city limits in Union County. We’re semi-rural with mixed farms and subdevelopments. The BIGGEST problem is we have dangerously narrow, winding roads with barely 6 inches remaining after the white stripe (no shoulder). after that 6 inches there are water drainage ditches. Its dangerous for cars (many deaths/fatalities in last 5 years) let alone mixing cars and bicycles. Its a volatile, deadly situation and while state laws require we yield to bicycles (allow them to share) but the reality is there is NO ROAD to share and the twists, bends and humps put you in situations where you see the bicyclist only when its too late.

  • Joe

    As an avid cyclist and motorist I am appalled by the direction this discussion has been moving into over the last number of years. It’s another one of those areas that have been turned into a political tool – often times driven by people who seem to know nothing about biking and its perils. It appears that this is another debate utilized by some crunchy people who think we should turn the US into some kind of larger-sized European Union. But our cities are not Amsterdam. They shouldn’t be. We have different traditions and infrastructure here. And I say that as someone who knows both sides of the pond pretty well and has been a cyclist for about three decades now.

    Bike lanes and everything that comes with them are a very bad idea. They are expensive, restrictive and ultimately very dangerous by giving a false sense of security.

    The only way to be safe on your bike is to be ever vigilant, passive and visible. And some roads are better suited for biking then others. That’s just a fact of life. To me using my bike as anything other than as sport equipment is ridiculous. I would never commute on my bike and I try to avoid areas that has bike lanes or the perceived necessity thereof.

  • Searsrmuc

    I cycle to work on a daily basis.  I follow laws and ride defensively.  The trend I am noticing is people texting while driving.  This scares the crap out of me.  Get off your phone while driving a deadly weapon.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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