Last week, we emailed and posted on our website a guest newsletter entitled Are Cyclists Vision Zero Zealots? written by Eric Berg, an NMA Board Member, an NMA Life Member, an avid sport bicyclist, and a staunch defender of motorists’ rights. Readers, including some of whom (like Eric) are bicyclists, responded with interesting perspectives which follow.
Eric Berg is certainly correct when he states that these issues are usually not black and white. I suspect that’s particularly true even within groups like the Washington Area Bicyclists’ Association, to which I belonged most of the years I lived in that city, and Mass Bike, to which I now belong.
I’m a leisure/commuter cyclist (and a long-ago veteran of a Seattle to Boston ride). I’m very much opposed to efforts to discourage driving, notably the 25 mph speed limits that have sprung up all over Boston and other metro areas. (I would note that Washington DC now has speed bumps in neighborhoods all over the city.) If these laws were enforced (so far as I can tell, they are not enforced in the Boston area, but I am uncertain about that) they would increase stop and go traffic, since reducing speeds means more cars will be on the road at any given time, and the increasing traffic density will cause traffic snarls.
As for Vision Zero, this idealistic campaign ignores the law of diminishing returns. A better way to reduce fatalities and maimings–both laudable goals–would be to ban use of electronics and infotainment in moving vehicles.
I don’t ride on streets nearly as much as I used to–I rode 3,600 miles annually during the 1980s and early ’90s─because I’m especially afraid of people texting. I am lucky to live very close to bicycle paths that take me close to places I want to go.
Try not to alienate urban commuting cyclists!
(But thanks, Eric Berg, for this valuable essay.)
David Holzman, a Massachusetts member
The weekend “greenie” bicyclists ride proudly down the street with a sneer on their face as they run the stop signs. Glad to hear that not all bicyclists are the “enemy” — that the professionals are realistic in their view of the traveling world. This is the first time I have ever heard of the “rail-to-trails” plan — sounds like a good idea where everyone wins.
a California member
Eric’s analysis is “right on the money” because the Vision Zero zealots usually push for programs that will take money from mostly safe drivers in fees and unjustified fines. Members whose blood pressure is under control can find some of their over-the-top advocacies on www.streetsblog.org.
James C. Walker, NMAF Executive Director and Michigan Member
Hey! I drive a modified Subaru WRX — don’t lump me in with Smart Car drivers! 😉
In all seriousness — I don’t know that we can categorize drivers based on the car(s) they drive. I’ve seen countless late model Corvettes being piloted by guys who appeared to be 60-80 years old, poking along in the right lane at the speed limit (or less). Same with many drivers of Vipers and Porsches, etc.
Conversely, many of the ‘high rollers’ drive cars like the Prius and Corolla S. In fact, drivers of pickup trucks and minivans often drive more aggressively than the owners of performance cars.
That said, I get your point and I’ll concede the “Smart Car” category. 😉
PS: If the NMA is not already doing so, perhaps we should follow Eric’s lead and promote “rails-to-trails” along with other dedicated bike trails. Auto and bike traffic should be separated as much as possible.
Sherman Johnson, a Maryland member
Militant cyclists who want the roads for themselves may have a good plan to ban cars from various roadways. When cars are banned, monies from motorists for road maintenance of roads which ban cars should also be banned. Let’s see how well the roads do with nobody to pay for them.
Cyclists must either share the roads with those who pay for them or do without the benefits of road maintenance.
The attitude that “you must pay, but you can’t use the roads” is stupid, selfish and just plain totalitarian. Yes, as a matter of fact, we motorists do own the roads, we pay for them!
Steve, a New York member
I’ve been an avid cyclist all my long life. When the “Pedal the Peaks” company was in business in Colorado I did every one of their 100-mile a day week-long rides. They usually had two in the summer months. The number of riders was small (300-400) by comparison with others like, “Ride the Rockies” which has 5,000 or more.
Aside from these group rides, I’ve logged several thousand miles on two lane highways in Colorado. No more. I’ve had a few close calls. Now I ride only on designated bike trails, of which Colorado has plenty. I’m 74 and would like very much to get even older, slowly.
One can ride a bike from Denver to Vail (100+ miles) almost exclusively on bike trails. One must go over Loveland pass on the road but can do most of the rest of it on the bike trail. Loveland pass is twisty enough to make drivers pay attention. I use a tail light that will get attention even at noon with full sun. From Vail you can continue on to Glenwood Springs mostly on a paved bike trail.
I can ride from Aurora, Colorado through downtown Denver and on to Ft. Collins with only a few miles off trail. It’s especially nice to get through Denver traffic without having to go through Denver traffic.
I’m really happy that Wyoming has begun to build an extensive system of bike trails. Colorado has lately become a politically radical and unfriendly place so most of the rest of my retirement will be spent in Wyoming.
Ken Willis, a Colorado member