Cycling Safety: The Good and the Bad

I have been thinking about cycling safety interventions and some of them have appealed to me more than others.

Until now, I have not had the time to sit down to ponder why this is. Now I have.

Public safety interventions regarding cycling should make cycling more comfortable, more convenient, and more appealing. If they do not do so, then they are not intended to help cyclists at all.

Let’s look at interventions that make cycling more appealing

1. Separated direct routes. These interventions will connect neighborhoods and make cycling more fun on high speed streets. I don’t need to know that a street will suck to bike on. It probably all ready does. I still need to have them since San Diego traffic engineers decided to abandon the grid in favor of a strict separation of useful and easy arterials.

I can all ready ride safely and comfortably on side streets, so not only do they not need any improvements, but I usually they don’t go where I want.

2. Minimum sentencing for motoring infractions. We need to get the bad apple motorists off the road.

3. Proportional fines. Fines are regressive by nature unless they are proportional to assets.

4. Mandatory alternate transportation. Judges often allow dangerous motorists to keep motoring because “there’s no other way for them to get around.” If we built alternative places to live then we wouldn’t have this problem.

5. Economic incentives for cycling. Instead of “free” parking at grocery stores those who cycle will get a small discount on all purchases.

Stuff that does not help cyclists.

1. Side street improvements such as bicycle boulevards. Like I said above, the improvements are often superfluous and the notion of taking a round about way to get anywhere is an insult and will increase travel time and thus discourage cycling.

2. Mandatory safety gear. This is just more junk to worry about and thus will discourage cycling. Also, it’s doubtful whether a motorist who is dedicated to personal irresponsibility will see me in a yellow vest if she’s not looking at the roads.

3. Cycling “safety” classes. Cycling is safe all ready. Motoring not so much. More classes for cyclists won’t protect from irresponsible motorists. Also, some of the safety techniques are actually less safe than how I ride all ready. This is all ready documented elsewhere.

4. PR/Awareness Campaigns. In general these are both insulting, useless, while a minor bit of the advice is actually wrong or harmful. If PR campaigns were effective we’d use these to reduce congestion: “Please don’t drive so much.”

5. Bad infrastructure. A few years ago, I would not have put this because there were too many VC DBs would take this out of context and call _all_ infrastructure bad. By bad, I mean bike lanes that in the gutter or near driveways where cars pull into them without looking. I also mean round about cycling infrastructure that avoids arterials. I could go on. There’s a very, very bad example of infrastructure on Central Street near my house that has too many problems to list here.

6. Police crackdowns on cycling. You’d think this was obvious but it’s not. I consider these campaigns to be spiteful and malicious because it criminalize and discourages an activity that is safe, helps the local economy, is fun, and is healthy. Thus, those in power who stand by and let this happen, have betrayed the public and have show incompetence that should result in immediate termination of their position.

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