A be-nice, don’t-hog-the-road guide for cyclists
Pro tip: Here is how not to ride your bike in a city unless you want people to think you are a total dick.
To that end, Transportation Alternatives has a new Street Code for Cyclists handbook. It’s specific to New York City’s rules of the road, but a lot of what’s in here is basic common sense for bicycling commuters.
The No. 1 message: Biking may in fact rule, but pedestrians are the real road royalty.
We know — and studies show — that more bicyclists make cycling safer and safer cycling will encourage more people to get out and ride. This is a virtuous cycle that we can work together to continue. In this effort the public’s perception of cyclists matters as much as, if not more than, any new bike lane or scores of new riders. …
Here’s a simple proposition: always yield to pedestrians. …
Cyclists often know, in painful detail, the fear and havoc that automobiles can bring to NYC streets. Let’s not pose a similar threat to pedestrians in the walking capital of the world. Instead, let’s seize this opportunity to usher in a new era of safer, saner travel.
Some of this is common sense. Encouraging not just lawful but courteous behavior toward everyone who shares the road is a great ideal, and studies have indeed shown that making cycling safer is what encourages people to choose two wheels over four.
More than 50,000 cyclists are injured on the road each year — almost as high as the number of pedestrians injured, though more pedestrian accidents prove fatal. Rarely are any of those injuries caused by bike-on-ped accidents (though it does sometimes happen, and can be fatal). But both drivers and walkers complain about out-of-control, law-flouting bike-riders from sea to shining sea. It’s a common argument against adding cycling lanes to roads: Won’t those just attract more bike-riding hoodlums who already think they can take the lane??
It’s important that the public perceive cycling as nothing like that Premium Rush movie if we want to make more people comfortable on the roads and break down barriers between four-wheel, two-wheel, and no-wheel groups.
But why does the onus for safety so often fall on cyclists? They’re not the ones routinely maiming and killing people with speeding, two-ton hunks of metal. Maybe a friendly Driving Rules handbook is in order — “rules” as in “guidelines,” not “is awesome.”