- Created: Friday, 04 July 2014 14:26
- Published: Friday, 04 July 2014 14:26
- Hits: 5445
(This multi-part article examines the complex issue of safety in bicycling on city streets. This is the first in the series.)
A persistent reason, or rather excuse, that people give for not cycling, or not cycling more—as in regularly commuting on a bicycle—is concern for personal safety. This is based on the perception that cycling on roads with motorized vehicles is inherently dangerous even though, every day, hundreds of cycling commuters ride safely. The fact is that anyone who gets on the road in any type of vehicle exposes himself or herself to a dangerous situation. This risk is mitigated by the fact that a motorized vehicle user must acquire a license that certifies that the driver has the proper skills and knowledge to operate a vehicle on the road without endangering others. That is, we balance the risks with the benefits of personal mobility. Bicycling is no exception. No license is necessary to ride a bicycle, but riding one on the road with motorized vehicles requires that the bicycle rider must have the proper skills and knowledge to do so in as safe a manner as possible.
|Mon Fernan asks, "Why is it that people who ride regularly, particularly those who commute on their bikes, aren’t the ones bitching about safety? Of course they complain (constantly) about bad driving, pedestrians who suddenly step into their path, public transport vehicles that suddenly stop or change lanes."|
In large part, therefore, infrastructure, in our case on-road bike lanes, segregated bike paths, bike-specific signal lights, etc., are not by themselves necessary for ensuring the safety of cyclists. On the contrary, badly designed infrastructure can pose dangers that otherwise would not exist for cyclists on regular roads. We will examine these situations in more detail in this series.
"I will ride if there is a bike lane.” When people find out that I‘m a bicyclist, I often hear them saying something like this: “Bicycling is really good...
Why is it that people who ride regularly, particularly those who commute on their bikes, aren’t the ones bitching about safety? Of course they complain (constantly) about bad driving, pedestrians who suddenly step into their path, public transport vehicles that suddenly stop or change lanes in order to pick up or drop off passengers, deep and open manholes, unlit road signs that seem to suddenly appear in the middle of the road, and other such hazards. However, these hazards exist not just for cyclists, they pose a threat to all road users who must be able to deal with them in a way that minimizes the risk of an accident. Doing so means the operator must be able to control his or her vehicle in a safe, effective, and predictable manner at all times.
Read more articles by Mon Fernan and know more about his thoughts on cycling in the country in his blog "Padyakero".