[*BCM*] scourge of the roads?
andytoomajian at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 29 12:40:41 EDT 2006
wow, that letter to the editor was a little foamy at the mouth for me. i just sent a reply to the globe, posted below. id encourage others to do the same..
First off, thanks for printing Marika Plater's
wonderful letter "Bicyclists belong on the road, too". Anyone
who has traveled by bike in our fair city can attest that she speaks the
truth: Far too many Boston
drivers think they own the road, and are willing to put your life in danger to
assert their territorial rights. Which brings me to David McCaffrey's
response to her letter, "Bicyclists: scourge of the roads". Mr.
McCaffrey has clearly seen the streets of Boston
from one perspective - behind his steering wheel. As a cyclist, his
attitude that bike are the problem, not cars, is all too familiar. Lets
see, which is more dangerous on a Boston roadway, a human powered (and
non-polluting) vehicle that takes up about 4 square feet of space, has a
maximum speed of around 25 mph, and can stop and turn on a dime, or a metal behemoth
weighing in at several thousand pounds, traveling at up to 80 mph (or more!),
requiring more than 30 feet to come to a full stop, and all too often piloted
by someone juggling a cell phone and a latte? Think about it for a while
and get back to me.
Mr. Mc Caffrey complains about seeing bikers who fail to
observe the laws of the road. I won't disagree with him, I see bikers
doing the same things from time to time. However, what I see more often,
that he seems to somehow have missed, is cars running red lights, swerving
between lanes, cutting each other and everyone else off, and nearly mowing down
pedestrians and cyclists. There are bad apples in both barrels, but I'm
willing to give bikers a little more leeway, because their brazen carelessness
rarely causes fatalities.
As far as his suggestion that cyclists should be
required to pay excise tax and other fees to maintain the roads they use, many
cyclists do - for their cars! As for the Boston cyclists that don't also
own a car, the damage caused to our public roadways by a 30 lb. bicycle is so
minimal, that I would suggest we start think of theses as cases of one less car
on the road, and perhaps even offer a premium to these brave individuals (say,
in the form of a tax credit) in order to keep people cycling and thus
preserving our roads.
Ms. Plater's letter embodied a common
plea of cyclists: we are asking drivers to respect us, and to observe the
laws that protect us, because we don't want to die. It's really that
dangerous out there, and it's really that simple. Mr. McCaffrey may be
right that some bikers break laws too, but Ms. Plater's letter not a plea for
law and order, it was a plea for safety and human dignity. Both cyclists
and drivers have some work to do if we are going to be able to share the roads,
but it is important to remember that cyclists have a lot more at stake.
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