Monthly Archives: October 2014

The War on Cars

So many car drivers think this whole bike lanes/bike infrastructure push is a war on cars. Every pro-bike article online these days gets overrun with comments from angry drivers espousing this or other anti-bike vitriol like roads were built for cars, bikes belong on the sidewalks, or that bikes are for kids.

I will come right out and say it. It is a war on cars. Everytime you try and belittle bicycles, or even walkers and joggers you firmly establish yourself as someone who fails both at respecting others, and respecting yourself. How so you might ask, so let is discuss this in context.

First, you are right roads are built for cars. That is the very core of the problem, and basically covers the whole “Why is this even a discussion”. Roads should not be built for only cars. It was never the intent to create a traffic system that centered around cars, it was a terrible accident of short sighted admininstrations that failed to grasp the fundemental problems that car first/car only infrastructure creates. The results of car first infrastructure are clearly evident to anyone with a grain of sense. Obesity, Road Rage, Congestion, insufficient parking, insufficient roadas, dependancy upon fossil fuels being just a few of them. We keep throwing resources at ‘fixing the traffic problems’ by trying to accomodate more cars, or get cars off the roads (8 lane highways, billion dollar flying bridge intersections, 4 – 6 lane arterial roads, HOV lanes, etc). All those solutions prove is that if you provide infrastructure, people will use it. The more you provide the more they use it, escalating the problems, not fixing them.

How about those bikes on the sidewalks? Well, common sense dictates, that just like a car on a bike path, a fast moving, heavy vehicle does not interact well with a smaller, lighter slower moving vehicle, in this case pedestrians. Second, it is very well documented that the number 1 place for serious accidents is at contention points like turns. So a bike on a sidewalk entering an intersection, even with a walk signal in a cross walk is most likely to be hit by a turning car than anywhere else. Using your own experience as a reference, how many times have you attempted to cross a road as walker, at a signal, with a walk signal and still almost been hit by a car that didn’t “see” you? Now instead of travelling at 2-3 miles an hour, make that 15. Splat. No, sidewalks aren’t the answer either.

Oh you say bikes are for kids do you. Excellent. Your kids too? Great, glad to hear that. Where are they going to ride? Neighborhood streets, alright, how about to school and back. To get there, they need to be safe. They probably need to use at least one ‘road’. Nope, no can do, roads are for cars, sidewalks are for pedestrians, and we’ve discusseed why they are not for bikes already. Sorry mate, your kids are screwed because roads are built for cars, and bike lanes and bike paths are not meant to be used for transportation, just recreation. Yeah, guess you didn’t think that all the way through did you. Let’s just move on then.

So let’s just get back to the core principal. It is a war on cars. Yes, yes it is, and dear driver, it is to your benefit to not only grasp that, but to get behind it with everything you have. Sure, we get it, you do not want to give up your luxury transportation cage. We understand that your self worth is built on the status symbol that is your vehicle. That is completely fine. You hate sitting in traffic, wasting your time. You get upset when you have to slow down to a speed below the speed limit. This is all fine, and face it, every cyclist on those roads knows your pain, we’ve been there. We even go through it on a bike when we get stuck at a red light behind a sulfur spewing deisel truck smog monster. Give us bike lanes, bike paths that actually go someplace useful (like connecting suburban residential areas to commercial centers instead of paths to nowhere in the flood plains that are otherwise unusble). Let us have our portion of the road, and for every one of us not in a car, you get an easier commute, and remember you can put a minimum of 6 of us in the physical space that you your one car takes up. And guess what, in the process, you benefit. Your gas prices go down as demand goes down. Your parking gets easier. Your lungs can breath easier with less emissions. Oh and you’re concerns about the costs? Most cyclists also own cars. We are paying the same taxes you are, but unlike you, we aren’t causing the wear and tear on the roads and the environment that you are.
So yes, it is a war on cars, and yes, every single driver that isn’t 100% behind it is just an angry self-important idiot. I’m willing to say that, knowing full well that most drivers are going to hate me for it. The problem is, I no longer care. I understand the other truth. Most drivers don’t need another reason to hate me for I am a cyclists.