BRAVO, Joan Vennochi, for your column “Don’t mix bikes and politics” (op-ed, Dec. 26). I am a Back Bay resident who drives in and also does considerable walking around Boston and adjoining communities. I am also a bicyclist, but do not ride in metropolitan Boston.
When driving, I have seen cyclists blissfully speed through traffic lights and stop signs and weave their way through and across lanes of heavy traffic, seemingly oblivious to the cars, and displaying an arrogant attitude of “my safety is the drivers’ responsibility, not mine.” I cannot count the number of times when a cyclist has crept up alongside the right side of my car at an intersection, entirely in my “blind spot,” and then cut across the front of my car as I began to accelerate across the intersection.
As a pedestrian, I similarly cannot count the number of instances when, as I stepped into the crosswalk on the walk signal, a cyclist has cut cross my path again totally unseen and unannounced, and often come close to hitting me. Far too much attention has been directed at the benefits of cycling and the responsibilities of drivers, and far too little to the responsibilities of cyclists — and indeed, the urgent need for them to demonstrate an understanding of traffic rules and an exercise of common sense.
If Boston and surrounding towns are serious about encouraging safe bicycling, there must be a set of standards, a code of behavior for cyclists, and although no one desires an expansion of governmental bureaucracy or regulation, some kind of permitting system for those who opt to bicycle about Greater Boston. Perhaps one way to begin to address this need efficiently and effectively is to require students to pass appropriate courses on bicycling safety in middle school and carry evidence of this on their person when cycling, akin to a driver’s license.