Can bikes and cars share the road?
(Page 2 of 2)
Part of the blame falls on bad drivers (it's much harder to get licenses in Germany and the Netherlands). Most urban cyclists are keenly aware of such automotive assaults as the Right Hook (a car passes you and then makes a right turn directly in front of you), the Left Cross (they make a left turn right in front of you, or right into you), and the Door Prize (a car opens its door right in your path).Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Then again, cyclists haven't exactly earned themselves reputations as scrupulous law-abiders. In May, the New York Times reported that a study of cyclists in Midtown Manhattan observed more than two-thirds of cyclists running red lights.
Earlier this month, the Boston Globe's David Filipov stood on a street corner in Boston – a city not known for its courtesy on the road – and observed cyclists blowing through red lights, riding against traffic, ignoring crosswalks, and riding on the sidewalk. His story, headlined "Boston's unruly riders," elicited almost 400 comments from drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike, many of them extremely angry at their fellow commuters.
In his Grist article, Sightline's Alan Durning suggests that the widespread lawlessness among cyclists might be a result of the perception that cycling is dangerous. "The existing population of cyclists may be disproportionately made up of risk-takers," he writes. "If everyone thinks biking is unsafe, the people who do it will be the ones who don't mind danger."
It could also be the laws themselves that put cyclists in danger. Indeed, bike lanes often put cyclists right in the paths of car doors, and waiting for a red light to turn green can get you right-hooked by cars. Many cycling advocates are pushing for states to adopt the Idaho stop law, which allows cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yield signs.
But it could also be the design of the roads themselves. A few years ago, the Livable Streets Initiative produced a video making the case for physically separated bike lanes. Perhaps an amicable split would be the best solution of all.