The time has come for a fresh point of departure in a heightened dialogue on bicycle safety. To my mind, the emphasis should shift from creating bike lanes or wearing helmets to bicycle users’ habits and attitudes.
I reside in Cambridge, work at a university, live near campus, and bike every day. Most important, I am at an age where I don’t want to have my fate determined by the irresponsible actions of others.
Day and night, I witness countless incidents of careless, self-absorbed behavior by bicyclists. Two factors stand out: speed and lack of lights.
On a recent night, a female student whizzed by me on a narrow path with no lights to alert me to her approach. I intoned, “Where are your lights?” Her smug response: “It doesn’t matter.”
Well, it does matter. The next time might find her in the path of a turning vehicle, or find me in the way of a speeding bike.
I have two possible solutions. The first is to form core coalitions of safe bikers, who would address other bikers one to one or at the group level.
The second is more complex, but deserves thorough examination: to reverse bike lanes so that both bikers and motorists can see what’s in front of them. This is as basic as the oft-heard advice to walk against traffic on a dark road.