September 23rd, 2010


(no subject)

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.
—Mark Twain

This month maru_mari decided to stop riding in the street. My mother thinks riding anywhere off the sidewalk is dangerous, even more so since my father was recently clipped by a hit-and-run driver while riding along the shoulder of a local road, knocked out and left with wrist and hip injuries.

Statistically, without accounting for the health benefits of exercise, cycling is about twice as risky per mile, but only half as risky per hour compared to driving. If you drive as often as drivers normally drive and you bike as often as cyclists normally bike, you're much more likely to die in the car. The reason for the fear is not a rational assessment of risk: it's partially because you're small compared to a car, but it's not insignificant that a large fraction of the people in control of cars range from careless to psychopathic.

Just before she gave up on road biking, maru_mari and I were riding on Cameron Ave, a two-lane residential street with a double yellow line. We were about to turn left onto a side street, were making clear left-turn hand signals, and were riding at the far left of the lane. Three cars in a row saw this and responded by crossing fully into the opposing lane to speed past us on the left and line up at the red light half a block ahead.

Drivers did this kind of thing to her a lot, but they rarely do it to me when I'm riding alone. This is not mere inattention or lack of awareness of traffic: she's small and female and looks harmless and rides slowly, so they see her as weak and bully her, while I ride fast enough to catch up to them at the light and look big and mean enough to put a U-lock through their windshield.

Bullies are cowards and the only thing to do about it is confront them. That's why I will be riding in Critical Mass tomorrow, and that's why I will be both corking and carrying a camera. (To decent and careful drivers: happy Friday, and we'll be out of your way in a minute.)

Join us. Tomorrow, 5:30 PM, Copley Square.