Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1897. Cars are the new bikes.Read more.
“Wheelmen should be made to feel their responsibility and other people should be taught to recognize the cyclists’ rights.”
Oh how little things change. Over 100 years later, this is still the heart of the problem with bicyclist-driver relations: many bicyclists ride as if they were exempt from traffic laws, and the majority of drivers are either completely oblivious to bicyclists or openly hostile toward them.
I’ve been hit by a bicycle once as a pedestrian, and got a bruise, but nothing worse. I think the fact that bicyclists generally ride on the sidewalks at a reasonable pace in Finland was a mitigating factor. We do have occasional problems with “scorchers”, but generally anybody who wants to ride fast rides in the street because there are fewer obstacles.
I’ve also been involved in one collision with a car as a bicyclist, in the USA. I was riding on the right side of the road, when a car passed me and made a right turn directly in front of me. I couldn’t stop in time, but I couldn’t make the turn either. I ended up bouncing off the side of the car and falling down. The car just kept going. Thankfully, I got out of that one with just minor scrapes and bruises, too.
Ah, yes. The age old “scofflaw cyclist” canard. Nearly all the issues are caused by “bicyclists riding as if they were exempt from traffic laws”. This simply isn’t true. Cyclists obey the laws as at the same rate that motorists do. The difference is that a bicycle is 30 pounds with maybe a few hundred pounds of rider traveling at 10 to 20 miles per hour but a typical car is 2 tons of steel traveling at 30 to 50 miles per hour. A bike hitting a pedestrian or a horse cart gets people hurt. A car hitting a pedestrian, cyclist, or even another car, kills people. Over 40,000 people a year die in the US as a result of automobile “accidents” and the vast majority of those deaths are caused by the driver doing something stupid. Driving too quickly. Being drunk. Running stop signs. Talking on the cell phone. All things that could be easily prevented by them not behaving as if they were exempt from the traffic laws.
So, yes, “Wheelmen should be made to feel their responsibility and other people should be taught to recognize the cyclists’ rights.” but, if you really want to save lives, the vast bulk of the responsibility is on the drivers of automobiles.
Sure: cars have far more destructive power. I’d rather be hit by a bike than a car.
Y’know if we could all just “ride the toboggan” we wouldn’t have these problems.
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