Boston Bicycle Mania

Filed in Featured, Headline, Local News, Sports by on August 24, 2009 2 Comments
Bicycle Parking Here!

Bicycle Parking Here!

Lately, there’s been a flurry of articles written by the Boston Globe about bicycling. Some were positive, related to a new city-run bike rental program, others were downright loony, encouraging drivers to silently ride up behind bicyclists and honk to scare them.

No seriously. The Boston Globe printed an article where the author, Monique Doyle Spencer, stated:

I have a fantasy. I drive a hybrid, which means you can’t hear me coming. Normally I am very careful to be sure that people see me coming since they can’t hear my car. My fantasy is that I will ride silent, ride deep, right behind a cyclist. Then I’ll beep my horn, real loud.

Ridiculous Road Rage

Aside from this activity being illegal and dangerous, it’s also downright crazy and illogical. First off, car drivers should realize that more bicyclists means less cars on the road and that’s a good thing for everyone. Less cars means less traffic means less pollution. It’s a win-win-win for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Monique makes the case that this type of ridiculous road rage is acceptable because cyclists routinely break the laws. Obviously she’s never driven on a Massachusetts highway since nearly every car on the interstate speeds. Heck, if you obey the law and drive under 55 MPH you get honked at. Even pedestrians routinely break the law, especially here in Boston where the pedestrian is king of the road.

Raise your hand if you’re a Bostonian and you’ve never ever jaywalked. How many people can honestly raise their hand up? Because I highly doubt that the majority of Bostonians can make that claim, as jaywalking is so prolific here that it’s almost a part of our local culture now. Just remember, cyclists, pedestrians, car drivers don’t break the laws, people do.

Fix the Infrastructure

Dave from makes an excellent point that the infrastructure encourages law breaking:

Can we start by accepting a proposition that our roads are for people, not vehicles? That some people will choose to run, walk, bike or drive on these roads and we should make the roads safe for ALL those modes of transportation?

Putting in more bike lanes would be a good start, along with dedicated bike paths. But I think we need to go a step further and recognize that cars and bicycles are two completely different types of vehicles and should be treated as such. For instance, did you know that by law bicycles are required to queue up behind cars when stopped at a red light? How ridiculous is that? So ridiculous that in my 22 years of living in Boston I’ve yet to see a cyclist obey that law. In fact, if every bicyclist did so, it would create havoc and increase road rage.

We can rant and rave all we want about how cyclists are breaking the law by running red lights, but how about we look at the situation instead. Unlike a car, a bicycle is unlikely to kill anyone, directly, by running a red light, aside from the cyclist. Also unlike the driver in a car, the operator of a bicycle must expand a good amount of his/her energy getting started again from a dead stop.

Perhaps we should be progressive and shape laws that recognize these facts and allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs. Other areas have done so, with little impact on safety or traffic. Until then, don’t categorize cyclists as law breakers without noting that car drivers and pedestrians are just as likely to break the rules of the road.

Thanks to B Tal for the bicycle photo.

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  1. Get On Your Bike – Bicycle Buying Guide | I want to ride my bicycle | August 24, 2009
  1. Can you really say that a bike rider breaks the laws? Really, a bike rider??? I did not know their were bike laws when I was a child riding my bike every day. Now that I am an adult I am surprised when people speak of a bike rider having to follow certain laws. Is their a bike riding training course that teaches bike laws. Do you need a license to operate a bike??? A bike is like a person, they have the right of way. Their is no need to get upset and have road rage. Monique Doyle Spencer just needs to accept it and move on.
    .-= Kenneth Elliott | Balance Bike´s last blog ..Run Bike – Your Child Can Learn To Fly =-.

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