Bike Queen Pleads For Peds' Rights
Cycling queen Mia Birk - here she talks about the magic of cycling, but now she's turning her sights on cyclist-pedestrian civility.
About a dozen pedestrians get killed in the U.S. each day. The majority of these are males, and a majority of the incidents occur in urban areas. Link that with the fact that many a cycllist thinks every ride is a race and a workout, and it's not understand to see why pedestrians might be looking at urban cyclists as just another danger in their quest to cross streets without mishap.
Which is why Mia Birk, the reigning queen of bikeability in Portland (and with her recent book and speaking engagements, around the country) is putting out a plea for improved ped-cyclist relationships. Mia's message? Cyclists need to stop for pedestrians. It's not a new message (this great YouTube footage show both cyclists and pedestrians being jerks in 1908 Barcelona) but it does make sense that in this era of increasing urban cycling, civility between the transport modes and the people who use them is a needed commodity.
Birk has begun to focus her efforts on a spot in Portland where 4,000 cyclists ride by each day - many of them without making even a cursory toe touchdown as they wheel through one of the city's few roundabouts. (Many of the cars approaching the roundabout also fail to stop, but that's another story.)
In an e-mail to a neighborhood school asking for help with her campaign, Burke expressed it like this:
With this email, I am asking those of you who ride your bikes to please
actively yield to pedestrians.
Birk says that many cyclists are "insensitive - even jerks - to pedestrians." She is working with two local Portland groups, the Bicycle Tranportation Alliance and the Wilamette Pedestrian Coalition, to start an active campaign to get cyclists to see and yield to pedestrians.
The problem, as Birk puts it, is one of "geometric design and need for education."
Unfortunately, one of the biggest perks for urban cyclists is the fact that while cars sit and putter in traffic, bicyclists are usually able to keep moving in high density situations. Having to stop for pedestrians takes away some of that free-wheeling feeling.
However, as Lloyd once eloquently put it, why don't we at least aim for zero cyclist AND pedestrian deaths?
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