The other day, I was hit by a biker while crossing the street. He came out from behind a bus, barrelling at full speed, even though he was approaching a red light. As he tried to stop, he flew over his handle bars, head-butting me in the side of his head with considerable force. I’m basically fine, though the side of my head is still sore.
As I often tend to do, I extrapolated from my own experience to the systemic issues at play: why is the solution to urban congestion to add even more individually-piloted vehicles, which are more unpredictable than cars and which put their riders in greater danger as well? Perhaps it would be better if there were more dedicated bike lanes, etc., but from my experience, bikers chafe at such restraint — indeed, many are arrogant, reckless, and entitled.
I understand that biking is a superior option for many people. I know that urban congestion makes buses, which are often the only transit alternative given the inadequate rail infrastructure of even the most transit-friendly cities, intolerably slow in many cases. I confess that the main reason I don’t bike in Chicago is because I’m scared of biking in traffic. Etc., etc., etc. — basically, I’m not telling you to stop riding your bike, so please don’t respond as if I am.
What I am saying is that the negative side-effects of urban biking under the current transport regime are a case study in how individualized solutions (“You don’t like the bus and don’t want to drive? Ride a bike!”) are not solutions. The real solution would be for the roads to be completely emptied of cars, at which point the only vehicles on the road would be buses (piloted by professionals and generally more predictable) and there’d be plenty of room for devoted bike-lanes.
And of course, given that our elites are unimaginative and unresponsive, probably the only viable political strategy is to build up a grass-roots biking movement that will create pressure for such changes… Sigh — go ride your damn bikes, then.