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Bad Apples

May 14, 2014

It’s time to “separate the issue of bike lanes from the issue of cycling conduct ,” says Albert Koehl in the Toronto Star:

…since the building or expansion of roads isn’t premised on an assessment of motorists’ conduct there’s no logical reason to apply a higher standard to cyclists. Last year 40 pedestrians, including seniors and children, were killed in Toronto in collisions with motor vehicles, but there was no cry to cancel new road projects. Ontario’s Chief Coroner has called all pedestrian deaths preventable. The undue attention to cycling conduct diverts attention from the far greater danger posed by motorists and the best available solutions.

Finally, it isn’t fair to punish all cyclists — by depriving them of safe cycling routes — for the conduct of a minority of bad actors. Motorists as a group are not penalized for the actions of drivers who drink, text or speed. Nor is one pedestrian punished because another crosses against a red while chatting on a cellphone. Those who imply that it’s OK for cyclists to be injured or killed because others behave badly have a rather macabre — and backward — sense of justice.

Koehl also takes aim at pedestrians who seek to deny safe space for cycling because of the bad apples. They’re not just punishing cyclists, they’re punishing themselves:

Those pedestrians who oppose bike lanes because of the conduct of some cyclists are similarly misguided. That opposition, where successful, only yields greater danger for all. New York City, for instance, documented a drop in injuries for all road users after the installation of certain bike lanes.

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4 Comments
  1. Brandon permalink
    May 14, 2014 3:01 pm

    People also cycle better where theres better infrastructure.

    The #1 reason I jump red lights (besides impatience) is to get a head start on the next block of double parked cars before any cars come up behind me.

    Most cyclists on the street today are essentially daredevils, so it shouldnt surprise anyone that they behave as such. If cycling were normal, people would behave better, AND the people who always complain about cyclists would have nobody to blame if they werent an outgroup anymore.

    • May 14, 2014 3:05 pm

      Thanks, Brandon. I’ve long intended to do a post on “running” red lights, highlighting the reason you mentioned. If I see a car parked in the bike lane, you can be pretty sure I want to get around it before I’m squeezed by the drivers coming up behind me. It’s a great point, and one that’s often overlooked in the red-light debate.

  2. May 14, 2014 4:01 pm

    I’ve written on that exact issue before too. Such a ridiculous argument to tie better infrastructure to behavior and one that is never made about motorists: http://bikepolisci.blogspot.com/2013/08/bad-infrastructure-bad-behavior.html

  3. Jonathan R permalink
    May 23, 2014 12:08 pm

    Cyclists are told that we must wear ugly glowing clothing because motorists don’t expect us on the roads, yet these same motorists are supposed to be assiduously keeping track of how often cyclists flout the law. How is this possible?

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