Life on Two Wheels: Bicycle Lanes, Rider Safety, and "Biker Terrorists"

The rebirth of bicycle ridership has been a triumph for some, a curse for others. While bicycle infrastructure has been found to save cities money, not all urban dwellers appreciate what it means for the state of civic transit.

What's the Latest?

Bicycle riders and infrastructure designed for them has been a hot topic in recent years. For example, I live in Washington DC (often rated as one of the country's top cities for bicycling) and many recent street construction projects have included the installation of some really safe and lovely bike lanes. Al-Jazeera America reported this week on a new study by the NIH that shows bike infrastructure is worth every penny of civic investment. The rewards come in many different forms: decreased traffic congestion, lower health costs related to traffic injuries, and reduced pollution, to name just a few. Plus, a workforce that commutes on the power of its legs will be healthier than one made up of sedentary drivers.

What's the Big Idea?

Not everyone is thrilled about the bicycle boom. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy recently penned an article lambasting the "bullies" and "terrorists" who ride in DC. I won't pretend that Milloy's arguments warrant much thought or attention -- he's ridiculously hyperbolic and advocates at one point for drivers to clip misbehaving cyclists. His article is essentially another example of the "angry, out-of-touch, middle-aged man tossing bombs" trope. The Post, which also publishes George Will, are masters of it.

Simply put: thousands of bicyclists have been killed in recent years by unruly drivers; no driver has ever been killed by a bicycle. Milloy's article completely misses the point and Post readers (as well as the rest of the internet) rightly let him have it this week.

With that out of the way, I'll say that some elements of his article -- when viewed rationally -- do embody rightful indignation. Some bicycle riders are lousy (just as some drivers are lousy) and the massive shift toward accommodating them sometimes comes at the expense of those for whom cycling isn't feasible, like those with lengthy commutes or large families. Ideally, cyclists and drivers should be allotted separate lanes on city streets. When that's not the case, it's important that both do their part to be respectful of the other and share the road. This means not being reckless on two wheels. It also means not being a jerk on four.

But to actively oppose making city streets safer for bicyclists is to resist change that is both health-conscience and cost-effective. That's not just short-sighted, it's unreasonable.

Read more at Al-Jazeera & Washington Post

Photo credit: thebezz / Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Kosovo land swap could end conflict – or restart war

Best case: Redrawing borders leads to peace, prosperity and EU membership. But there's also a worst case.

Image: SRF
Strange Maps
  • The Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, but never really ended.
  • Kosovo and Serbia are still enemies, and they're getting worse.
  • A proposed land swap could create peace – or reignite the conflict.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.