Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I went on a countryside ride because bikes don't belong in cities

It's yet another bullshit article written by an Internet troll, I presume. I would think that thanks to the shift in mindset of modern urban planners over the course of the last decade, most people would be familiar by now with an idea that packing more cars onto narrow downtown city streets is not a valid transportation solution in XXI century. And that bicycle can be, and should be, one of the important parts of this solution, as proven by some famous examples from Europe.

But no. Apparently, this concept is still completely foreign to some people, like Jeff Jacoby. He's clearly entitled to his own opinion and he may even be perfectly happy being so ignorant, but just in case Mr. Jacoby is simply lost, let's try to help him get a bit more educated.
First of all, Mr. Jacoby noticed that the victim of the recent crash was
the 13th cyclist killed in collisions with motor vehicles on city streets since 2010. That number is sure to rise if Boston keeps encouraging people to ride bicycles where bicycles don’t belong.
Hmm, no. The city of Boston clearly doesn't encourage riding bicycles on roads where they don't belong, such as our I-93 Interstate. However, they do encourage it on other city streets by adding bicycle lanes wherever possible (with arguably mixed results).
Apparently, it seems that Mr. Jacoby would prefer a different policy - ban bicycles from the inner city altogether. Especially from those wide, main roads such as Massachusetts Ave:
They are meant for the cars, trucks, and buses that transport the vast majority of people moving through the nation’s cities. Those vehicles weigh thousands of pounds, operate at 300-plus horsepower, and are indispensable to the economic and social well-being of virtually every American community.
Uhm... I would argue that cars that carry mostly only 1 person are really "indispensable to our economy" in downtowns of large cities. Here is why:
Same number of people. Different road space required.

Sorry Mr. Jacoby, but my social well-being goes south when I have to live in a place buzzing from daily heavy car traffic. Most Americans feel the same. Otherwise, why would those houses built so close to major highways be cheaper, on average?

Let's skip some more of Jacoby's bitching about how wrong it is to give more space to bicycles on Boston city streets and jump forward to what really bothers him:
All of which might be marginally more tolerable if bikers operated under the same restrictions that drivers do. But cyclists pay no taxes, don’t have to be insured, undergo no safety inspections, and needn’t register their vehicles. They don’t have to carry an operator’s license, and aren’t required to pass a written or a road test in order to pedal in the streets.
See? Cyclists pay no taxes. Holy shit, I didn't know that was even an option! I bike to work nearly every day so I should certainly qualify for a tax exemption. I must check with my tax adviser in January.

But joking aside, it's true that cyclists are not required to do some of these things. For a good reason. Bicyclists pay taxes as much as any other legally working citizen. That's how we pay for roads. They don't pay excise tax because it would have to be negligible. Same with registration - no benefit and huge cost of such system. That's why no country in the world does it - drawbacks and costs far outweigh benefits.

While I would like to see a smart road safety education program in schools, let's not get too excited with an idea that cyclists don't know the rules of the road, while drivers are properly trained. The entire driver's license test in US is simply a joke as I witnessed myself years ago. I bet no average American would pass German or Polish driver's license test because most American drivers don't know shit about controlling a car, just some basic rules of the road. They can be completely clueless sometimes, as evidenced at any 4-way stop. So if we want to improve safety on our roads, let's not focus on bicyclists but on our drivers, who are lousy at best.

So now, when Mr. Jacoby has spilled his bile we know that those damn cyclists on Mass Ave. are the root of all evil. Without them, there would be no traffic, no crashes, no victims, no delays. Our economy would prosper and cows would give more milk. It's all as easy as banning them from access to Boston's streets.

I listened to Jacoby's preaching and being a good student decided to take my bike this afternoon to the countryside - far from car's paradise.
Well, not too far. But Carlisle still counts. Too bad days are clearly becoming shorter. Riding after 7:30PM means lights are already necessary.

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