DJ and I have been watching a lot of Liberty's Kids on DVD and have been walking around in a sort of patriotic haze for the last few days (sort of the way I get after going to the Hall of Presidents at Disney). Anyway, this got me thinking about the problems cyclists, especially in our medium-sized southern city which boasts a large state university, have on the road.
Above you will notice the number of bicycle fatalities in Florida. Now, Florida is not a bastion of bicycle friendliness, even though our particular city within Florida is designated as a "Bicycle Friendly Community."
Our city's newspaper continues to be a recurring battleground between cars and bikes. Mostly, the arguments that one reads in the "Letters to the Editor" page are rants from motorists about how unfair it is that they have to pay taxes for bike lanes, or why can't cyclists stay out of the street and ride on the sidewalk? The biggest excuse for shoddy driving is that cyclists don't always obey laws and are a danger to themselves. If cyclists aren't menacing cars, they're menacing pedestrians, is that it? My position has always been when I'm in a car I am in a big, heavy, hunk of metal that just about crushes anything it comes in contact with, including people. Because I am in the larger conveyance I prefer to be extra cautious and give the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists.
Okay, before I continue ranting my head off I just want to share an idea which is both annoying and ingenious to me. It is called Critical Mass, and its founding principle is "imagine a world without cars." In our town they have rides at the end of every month. People gather in one spot and at a designated time they all ride off together en masse and essentially block traffic. It sounds really annoying but the goal is to point out that cyclists have as much right to the road as motorists.
As I finish this post, another cyclist has been memorialized for being killed by a car and its driver.