Friday, September 28, 2012

Not all cyclists are jerks

Jim Saksa has a article in Slate that makes an argument that cyclists are becoming more courteous and violating traffic rules less frequently. The article goes on to explain why people often lump cyclists into a single category as inconsiderate jerks with a death wish. From the article:
I'm an asshole cyclist. I'm that jerk weaving in and out of traffic, going the wrong way down a one-way street, and making a left on red. I'm truly a menace on the road.

But it’s not because I’m on a bike—I'm an asshole on the road no matter what. I’m also a stereotypical Jersey driver, someone who treats speed limits as speed minimums and curses those who disagree. And I'm just as bad as a pedestrian, another jaywalking smartphone zombie oblivious to the world beyond my glowing screen. If I’m moving, I’m an accident waiting to happen.

Biking is my primary means of transportation, so when someone defames cyclists, I feel particularly bad. The fact is, unlike me, most bicyclists are courteous, safe, law-abiding citizens who are quite willing and able to share the road. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia studied rider habits on some of Philly’s busier streets, using some rough metrics to measure the assholishness of bikers: counting the number of times they rode on sidewalks or went the wrong way on one-way streets. The citywide averages in 2010 were 13 percent for sidewalks and 1 percent for one-way streets at 12 locations where cyclists were observed, decreasing from 24 percent and 3 percent in 2006. There is no reason to believe that Philly has particularly respectful bicyclists—we’re not a city known for respectfulness, and our disdain for traffic laws is nationally renowned. Perhaps the simplest answer is also the right one: Cyclists are getting less aggressive.

1 comment:

  1. In A2, I became an extremely cautious road biker after getting a ticket while biking for not stopping at a red light before turning right. Here in DC, though, bicyclists run red lines all the time, go down the street the wrong way, etc. Between that and the generally bad driving here, I'm surprised there aren't more injuries.