Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Like Oil and Water - Riding Safe

To begin, I hope that someday, the tensions between cyclists and non-cyclists will be eased.

In my version of what needs to happen, cycling has to be safe for all users, right down to the lowest common denominator.

For me, that is: if a family can occupy a car together, that same family should feel equally safe if they are on bicycles, pulling double trailers.

However, in reality, in as much as I have a double trailer, not one road has been designed with enough safety features to feel safe with my family in tow. The roads that I choose are safe only because they are not well traveled by vehicular traffic.

Please consider for a moment how poor road safety infrastructure is, by applying the idea of using a double trailer down, say Bank St, or any major road (heck, even a single trailer, or having a child on the road, period).

Certainly you think, "There's no way for this to work! Painted lines are not enough. Thunder strips are not enough! Even painted "barrier" lines are no where enough".

Whole cities have been designed for pedestrians and vehicles. That's all. Painted lines do not deter people from texting. Thunder strips do not help if a driver is drunk or a cyclist is caught in a multi-car accident, or if someone is just pissed off and decides to look away. (At the right time no less! People actually do this!).

IF cyclists are pedestrians on two wheels (and I have seen cyclists who ride slower than I can run), would you take a stroll on the side of the road and feel safe while pushing a baby jogger? What amount of space does it take to feel safe as a pedestrian? Forget laws and regulations for a moment. I'm talking about real environmental aspects to feeling safe with 2+ ton vehicles around you and your family.

Sure, as individuals, out training, the basics of road etiquette will keep you relatively safe. But real actual change to help everyone? The only way is to build cycling-specific infrastructure. No pedestrians. No cars. Bikes only.

This is a Dream.

So long as it is not safe for our kids to be with us in a trailer, all the solutions fall to hoping that some technology will save us. Proximity alerts, lane departure prevention (basically a bunch of radars on cars), auto motion sensors that turn off cell phones. Blah blah blah. They are great to patch up the infrastructure we've got.

But it will never be truly always safe.



  1. before I was a Bad Lawyer, a mere "yute" adults called me "Billy," I hated it as diminutive, as I've gotten older I came to see it as affection. So Visegripmikey is pretty good moniker.

  2. Funny how just the right thorn in your side particularly reinforces those - what - obligations one makes to yourself to do things the right way? I really was serious about learning to fix things correctly, so the put down made me want to seriously prove him wrong...and that he was good humoured about it in the end made the moniker ok by the end of the summer.