The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine ran an article last weekend (written by a bicyclist, no less) that seriously missed the mark, offering a mixed bag of advice for bicyclists and assigning too little responsibility for road safety to motorists. See the article here.
I was quoted, accurately, in the article, but the quote did not reflect the main point of my comments to the reporter, so here is the Letter to the Editor I sent to the Globe today:
Doug Most’s response to a recent cycling tragedy in Boston (“What cyclists neglect, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, May 9, 2010) is well-intentioned but off-target. As an initial matter, Mr. Most’s advice for bicyclists has one serious fault: Bicyclists should not leave the roadway and ride on the sidewalk to avoid buses and other large vehicles – sidewalk bicycling is illegal in many places, creates conflicts with pedestrians, and endangers cyclists reentering the roadway where they are not expected. Instead, bicyclists should wait for the bus to move on, or pass it safely on the left after making sure the driver can see them in his or her left-side mirror. Of greater importance is Mr. Most’s disproportionate assignment of responsibility for safety. While he is correct that bicyclists, like any road users, bear a large measure of responsibility for their own safety, he too readily dismisses changing the behavior of motorists as impossible. The greatest responsibility for protecting other road users must lie with the people piloting the most dangerous vehicles – multi-ton steel machines – in space shared with bicyclists and pedestrians who are vulnerable even when acting entirely legally and sensibly. We are in the midst of a culture change as more and more people choose to get around by bicycle, and that change must extend to motorists, through driver education, public outreach by our transportation agencies, enforcement to curb aggressive behavior, and a recognition that we are all people trying to get somewhere safely.