Sunday, November 17, 2013

No Longer Acceptable

Not too long ago, this article in the New York Times caught my attention. With the title "Is It OK to Kill Cyclists?," it was meant to grab attention. Upon further reading, the article brought up some good points that I thought were important to share, especially in the Upstate where communities are in the midst of planning and building bike systems that will be with us for (at least) the next 20 years.

The article focuses on the idea that we're at a sort of crossroads in many places across the United States. Our culture has grown accustom to the cars having the right-of-way. Bicycle riders, especially the "brave, wacky" few starting in the counter-culture of the 1970's, were few and far between on the roads. A few may recall neighbors from a time past where bicycle riding was one of the ways to get around, as the Greenville News highlighted in an article last year, but that was not the norm.

People have gotten comfortable driving their cars, moving from place to place, sometimes growing complacent in their commutes. With the rise of bicycling - bike lanes, bike paths, cycling clubs, bike share programs, bike to school or work events - there are more people taking to two wheels and remembering the joys perhaps not experienced since childhood. As more people do that in more places, there is cause for concern. Study after study has shown that there is safety in numbers when it comes to bicycle riding - the more people that ride the safer it is. However, until that critical mass is reached in streets and communities across the country, and until society reaches a certain comfortability with cyclists, the number of accidents - deadly accidents - will rise. And, as the NYT article points out, society seems to be too comfortable with that.

By building suitable, safe bikeways that are meant for ALL riders, of ALL ages and abilities, and by starting to implement educational programs in our elementary and secondary schools, over time, perhaps in the not-to-distance future, we can create a society where bicycling deaths are no longer acceptable.

Monday November 18 UpdateA bill to enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety is up for bidding in Congress. Do your part, take a stand and act today to make the bill a reality.

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