Friday, October 30, 2009

I love images like this one, the vitriolic cyclist harassing the poor defenseless motorist. Oh, it certainly exists, on occasion, but it's a moment so far out of context as to be purely absurd. The illustration comes from a Sydney article by Miranda Devine, Roads are for Cars, not Lycra Louts. And though she rambles at times, she eventually makes an excellent point:
The ideologues who have fostered the road-sharing lie must think a few dead cyclists and pedestrians are a small price to pay for getting cars off the road, because that is their ultimate aim: to make driving so unpleasant, slow, expensive and fraught with hazards that motorists give up.
It's true. We've created cities with this very ambiguous, very dangerous space. To survive, most everyone must inhabit this space at deadly speed. And to help them, we'll offer pamphlets and an afternoon info course during their adolescence, with zero follow-up. Additionally, each user will have every incentive to break all the rules further escalating the danger of this public space.

There is inherent conflict between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists (and segwayfarers, etc.). We've designed cities, the whole country in fact, around the automobile and then, in misguided and underbudgeted acts of appeasement, we paint on bike lanes and cross walks. Why don't we just paint a safe place for the lambs to walk through the lion's den in order to get their food? Perhaps we can reserve an appropriate time for the local machinist's union to use a space at Curves to hold their meetings.

Our roads are an offensively poor design and yet we bandaid them and walk away from the build more identical infrastructure. People are dying from the confusion and inherent conflict. We have to build safer cities. This doesn't mean everyone with safety flags--it means actually considering the impact of our infrastructure choices. Building transportation for people not machines. Oh yes, sometimes those people will use machines, but they wouldn't have to, they'd have the choice.