The Case for a Better Bike Infrastructure (and Better Driver Training)
Every Sunday Robert Wein and his friends go for a long ride out of Ottawa. This Sunday they didn't come back; a minivan veered into the bike lane in Kanata, Ontario and took out five of them. Robert, a triathlete father of two, had his helmet split open, suffered severe brain injuries and is clinging to life. The hit and run driver turned himself in two hours later; he is a 45 year old man with no previous record.
I used to think that bikes had full rights to share the road; then I thought we needed more bike lanes. But even those evidently don't work. Now I think we need a separate but equal infrastructure to stop this carnage.
Others appear to agree, for other reasons as well.
in happier times, via Globe and Mail
Neal Peirce at the Citiwire lists a couple of reasons beyond safety , like
"More fitness. America's obesity epidemic curbed. Less gasoline burned, fewer carbon emissions. Safer streets. Improved access to public transit.
Those are just some of the reasons why biking and walking proponents say it's time for the federal government to focus less on new and expanded highways, and far more on safe pathways and "complete streets" for our towns and cities.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) think it is all a big joke. (We wrote about his Quote of the Day: Republican House Leader on Bikes and Beautification)
But Peirce points out:
We've had a near-century of overwhelming federal funding preference for the automobile. Rails to Trails calculates that a nationwide promotion of biking and walking for short trips could cut miles driven by 70 billion miles to 200 billion miles from what Americans drive yearly. And we'd reduce our oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by at east 3 percent, and with luck as much as 8 percent.
Then also consider the dramatic health gains possible from more active, less sedentary lifestyles. It turns out that major walking and biking efforts aren't some joke, or just an interesting idea. They're imperative.
Clearly if we have a transport system where drivers can't even manage to stay out of bike lanes, then we have to come up with something better.
And as Nate Berg at Planetizen notes,
Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is a part of transportation, whether some elected officials like it or not.
Citiwire via Planetizen