High Gas Prices Increasing Bike Accidents. Or Not.
Common sense is not so common, Voltaire opined. [FYI, Like Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere, François-Marie Arouet's decision to trade his given name for something a tad more memorable is entirely understandable. That said, God knows what he would have made of the song "Half Breed."] But common sense is also lousy journalism, which TTAC abhors (amost as much as "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves"). So when I spied "Rookie and rusty cyclists hit streets… and hospitals" in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, I looked for some statistical verification for Thomas Stinson's theory that high gas prices have lead to stupid cyclists have lead to more injuries. Silly me. "Hard data aren't available." Aren't they? Never mind, there is some killer anecdotes (so to speak). "Horrified by his first $70 trip to the gas station, Schatz drove to a bike shop last month, plunked down $2,500 on a new touring bicycle and began two-wheel commuting from his Grant Park home to his office in West Midtown… The pluses included conservation and fitness as well as frugality — until the morning he went airborne above traffic on West Marietta Street. Hit by a car, he broke both elbows. Afterward he asked himself, 'This is what I get for trying to save the environment?'" I'm an avid cyclist, but I gotta say it: yes.
As an addendum to my earlier post, I love it when cyclists obey the rules of the road, even when that means I have a bike in front of me in the left hand turn lane. The problem for me is it seems bicyclists are even more unpredictable with greater consequences than car drivers. I don't want to hit or get hit by a bicyclist causing great bodily damage to him, and that makes idiots on bikes even more annoying to me than idiots in a car (at least when I'm in a car). In a car accident there's some property damage, in a bike accident there's bodily damage or even death.
I'm genuinely amazed at the amount of emotion and hostility this discussion invokes. Disclaimer - I am both cyclist and car nut, and get equally engrossed in both motoring and pedaling. Therefore, I operate on both sides of the dime. First, there are not enough bike paths in this country. I happen to be in a city which has the most, but it's still thin (Minneapolis). I'm thankful, but there's always room for improvement. Any chance to get out of the way and flow of traffic, while still maintaining efficiency and safety (not having to ride sidewalks, constant stop-go, etc) is welcome. Do you really think cyclists ENJOY getting buzzed by inattentive (or spiteful) drivers? Secondly, there are a lot of bad apples out there (Critical Mass, I'm looking at you) that are a**holes just for the sake of being a**holes. They make life hell for the rest of us cyclists, just as well as motorists abhor them too. They need to get it together that they're not helping ANYTHING. We're together on this one. But keep in mind, there's an equal number of road-raging lunatics who are creating just as much chaos in 2-ton wheeled masses. The same common sense that evades newbie cyclists is prevalent in the driving community. The best we can do is lead by example, not hurling hateful words. Teach our cyclists AND our motorists to play nice together. But I will say that any of you sitting on your pompous high horses pontificating that cyclists have no right on the roads, start doing a little navel-gazing to realize your own anger, hatred, and hypocrisy. PS - I'm in complete agreement with Beater.
jgholt, "But I will say that any of you sitting on your pompous high horses pontificating that cyclists have no right on the roads, start doing a little navel-gazing to realize your own anger, hatred, and hypocrisy." First, I think that would be a straw man? And second, why hypocrisy? Even if someone decided bikes should stay off the roads, how would that make them a hypocrite? Lastly, does it have to be hate and anger driving their decision, or could it just be apathy? Personally, I think it's all about apathy. People always like to put anything THEY prefer not to do in the "useless activity" file, and will even act to destroy it. Of course, they then think how you do about people who don't support their interests. PCH, I think that there are just different kinds of cyclists. There seems to be many schools of thought on what is appropriate behavior for folks on bikes. Personally, I will gladly wait at a 4 way stop for someone who is pedaling so they don't have to reaccelerate. Of course, I live in Houston where 99% of the roads are uphill (by which I mean slightly up hill or flat with high heat and humidity).