April 26, 2012
Pop quiz! (Relax, it’s multiple choice.)
of the following have you seen:
○ Little green men
○ The Loch Ness Monster
○ A cyclist obey a stop
Okay, that fourth item is preposterous. You’re far likelier to
have encountered a reclusive
than a DayGlo-adorned Cadel Evans
wannabe who abides by traffic laws.
Acolytes of the Cult of Two Wheels never tire of lecturing
drivers that state statutes are clear: Roads are for both mechanized and human-propelled
transportation. Their critique can be legit. As the cycling infestation grows, motorists
are lashing out. Hollering, horn-honking, and fist-shaking are at times understandable,
but some confrontations have proven deadly. (Go beyond exasperation, and approach
indifference, and you’re asking for a stint in a prison cell.)
But cyclists are rarely willing to acknowledge the recklessness
of their kind. A sense of superiority, noted columnist Brian McGrory, “leads
them to … swerve into traffic with the entitled expectation that everyone else
will screech to a halt, [and] glide the wrong way down streets, across
sidewalks, through pedestrian malls, constantly yelling, ‘Watch it, dude!’”
It’s irresponsibility that often
has grisly consequences. According to the National Safety Council’s
computation of “lifetime odds of death for selected causes,” bicycles are
riskier than accidental gun discharges, electrocutions, bee/wasp/hornet stings,
dog attacks, earthquakes, lightning, and floods.
Cyclists don’t limit the carnage to themselves. A 2011 report by
the Stuart C. Gruskin Foundation, a
charity named for a man who was killed by a wrong-way bike messenger, found
that 1,000 pedestrians are velo victims each year in the Empire State. In November,
the New York
Post reported that a “beautiful Brooklyn stage actress
who was mowed down last summer in a near-fatal collision with a bicyclist is
suing the city for $3 million, claiming Prospect Park has become a hazard … due
to speeding cyclists.” (Reach for your wallets, Big Apple taxpayers.) A few
weeks later, Manhattan attorney Meghan Rohan filed
suit against cyclist Sabine Von Sengbusch, who struck her in Central
Park. Rohan was countersuing,
actually -- Von Sengbusch filed first.
Scofflaw cycling has gotten egregious enough that Boston, a city so moonbatty
that candy and soda are banned from municipal property, recently
announced a boost in its enforcement of traffic rules. “Bicyclists have a
right to share the road and they should command respect from other drivers,’’ said
police chief Thomas Pasquarello. “At the same time, they need to show respect
for the rights of pedestrians and vehicle drivers.’’
Even elected officials in what’s been called the “biking-est city in the
country” have taken action. In February, Boulder enacted several ordinances aimed at
enhancing safety. A speed limit of 8 miles per hour for cyclists traversing
crosswalks was set. Councilman Ken Wilson called the measure “a step in the
right direction,” adding that “bicyclists need to pay attention more.”
(Dangerous comments in the city with the highest percentage of two-wheeled
commuters in the U.S.)
All this kerfuffle stems from three widely ignored realities.
First, automobiles and trucks cannot “share the road” with bicycles. Second, sidewalks
are for pedestrians. And finally, cyclists aren’t going away.
It’s lunacy to allow small, spindly, pedal-powered vehicles alongside
fast-moving subcompacts, sedans, pickups, SUVs, vans, and tractor trailers. Injuries,
deaths, and civil and criminal actions are inevitable. Yet cyclists, including
those who understand the threat they pose to themselves and others, will never relent.
Their religion -- i.e., apocalyptic environmentalism -- requires rituals to
atone for man’s use of hydrocarbons. Marinating in smugness over their
miniscule “carbon footprints,” the hostility they engender from motorists validates
their piety. If Mother Gaia demands an occasional human sacrifice, so be it. This is bigger than all of us!
Cars own the roads. Pedestrians occupy the sidewalks. Cyclists
need their own thoroughfare.
The solution is simple: Dedicated lanes.
(Where necessary, elevated tracks? Well-lighted tunnels?) Cyclists must be made
to pay for a separate infrastructure. They’ll be safer, as will walkers. Drivers
local governments should experiment, and find the best tools to fairly and
efficiently raise the appropriate revenue. An annual bicycle-registration fee
is one possibility, as are electronic tolls. (Mandatory odometers, checked by
roving bureaucrats who tax by the mile, might go too far.) Velo weenies will
wail and pout and insist that their greeniness should absolve them of any
assessment attached to their treasured method of transit. Let ‘em grumble.
They’re already a pretty miserable lot.
Cycling silliness is, alack, enduring. Time to minimize its
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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