Friday, June 10, 2005

Vehicular Venting

We all think we're invincible, us cyclists. We weave in and out of traffic and squeeze between trucks thinking they see us in their rear view mirrors. I should know better. I narrowly avoid death at least three times a day on my commute. But yesterday, another biker was killed, here in Park Slope.

I know that riding without a helmet is the stupidest thing I do; I really know that. But this woman was thrown under the wheel of a truck. The driver didn't even know he had killed her, and continued to drive on. Much like Brandie Bailey who was killed a month ago by a truck driver that claimed not to see her, either.

I was talking with someone at Drinking Liberally last night about my frustration with cars. First, that the auto industry bought out all of the railroads to put up their highways, causing people to need cars. Second, here in New York, how many people driving really need to be driving? I understand that some people do. For example, I wouldn't want to carry a stroller on a NYC subway or want an 80-year-old woman have to deal with all of those stairs. But most people who drive here don't need to; they want to. And though our public transportation system is flawed, it's a really great system. You can get almost anywhere in the city at any time of the day or night by subway or bus. But don't get me wrong, those hot nights waiting for the subway and those cold nights waiting for the bus have made me wish I had a car at times, and sometimes I want one just to get out of the city for a while, but in this city it's so ridiculously unnecessary. Even with the gas prices sky rocketing, people continue to drive. So what's the answer? A bike advocacy campaign?

Well, we have Transportation Alternatives, a great organization whose mission is to "encourage bicycling, walking and public transit as alternatives to automobile use, and reduce automobile use and its attendant environmental and social harms." Time's Up does similar work, though they're more "radical," encouraging activities like Critical Mass.

But generally, the people who pay any attention to groups like TransAlt and Time's Up are already biking, walking and using public transportation. Most of those who drive who will always drive. So what about a "no dooring" bicycle advocacy campaign? My biggest fear is being hit by an opening car door as I'm zooming by. I'm pretty good at using one eye to check inside the car for a person, but I'm no SuperWoman.

I don't have an answer, just need to vent my vehicular frustration. But I know my biker/blogger ladies out there will want to ride in Brooklyn Critical Mass with me tonight.


PiggyReese said...

it's really so scary, I heard about it yesterday and I almost was not able to ride my bike to work this morning. Every day I think this could be it, is today the day me or one of my biking friends gets struck. I wish we could make it safer and I try to one person at a time. I let people know when they mess up and don't look, or almost open doors, but I am afraid that I scare people. I just yell out of fear really. I think slowley people are going to get it. Unfoutunatly it will take time.

Tree Trunk Ho Slappa said...

I thought about this story all weekend. I am scared to ride my bike now. Its a good thing someone stole my tire.