End the Bikers’ Moral Crusade: Build Better Bike Lanes
I rode my bike to work this morning, which I often do when the weather’s nice. Other times I walk or take the subway, and sometimes the bus. It’s an immense privilege to have four really decent ways to commute to work, and changing it up occasionally helps keep the drawbacks of each mode from becoming too annoying.
Walking takes too long, the bus is always too crowded, and the subway is dimly lit and boring to wait for. Biking is really the best way, when the weather’s right. Except that there’s always another biker on the road who you just know is looking for an opportunity to educate his fellow commuters on the rules and etiquette of the road.
Drivers have road-rage; bikers have road-righteous-indignation.
This morning, when I was rounding the corner at 18th and Spruce, I heard the familiar shout from behind me, from one bike guy to a bike girl. He was mad because she cut off his turn or something. “Girl, what’s wrong with you!” he shouted after her, long after he’d made his turn. It happens all the time. Once, near 38th and Chestnut, I saw a biker riding alongside a car that had recently honked at him, repeatedly shouting, “You’re in a metal box!” Just yesterday, a Facebook user posted a photo of a guy who supposedly stood in front of a loaded bus for an hour because the bus got too close to him on the road.
It makes sense that bikers want to stick up for their right to be on the road. In the eyes of the law, they have no less access to the roadway than drivers do. Drivers do often act like they’re the only ones who are allowed to travel the streets, shouting at bikers and pedestrians from the safety of their metal boxes. Riding a bike in the city can be scary. And because of the way drivers behave, it can be dangerous.
That’s the best reason for the city to invest in infrastructure like protected bike lanes. Those kinds of improvements make the roads safer for everyone, and they encourage would-be bikers who are hesitant to take to the open road.
But there’s another reason to support better infrastructure. If bikers had protected access to the roadways, they’d have fewer occasions for public displays of self-righteous moral outrage. And that’s something we can all get behind, no matter how we get to work.
Follow @jaredbrey on Twitter.