Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

To finish off the Streetsblog Network week on an adrenaline-filled note, we’ve got a post about fear — the biker’s fear, to be precise — from Livable Streets for West Palm Beach. Raphael Clemente relates a couple of all-too-familiar anecdotes about drivers who use their vehicles to intimidate, then says:

3213601375_80ac4ebc62.jpgPhoto by cainmark via Flickr.

[P]eople
who are not in a car and utilizing public roads and rights of way are
often fearful of drivers and therefore intimidated by them. Some
drivers choose to use this intimidation factor in an effort to control
situations in their own favor at the expense of the more vulnerable
user. For me it is something I choose to deal with… But for those who
are less hardy or less hardcore than I am maybe one or two
fear-inducing incidents will be enough to make them give up on walking
or bicycling and go back to driving their cars everywhere.

I have thought about this for a long time and feel that the
only way to confront this is to completely reorganize the
transportation heirarchy as we know it. In urban areas, business
districts and neighborhoods, peds, bicyclists and transit are given
priority in that order. Private automobiles, delivery trucks, etc are
moved to the bottom of the ladder. This is across the board starting
with the planning and design phase through construction and included as
specific policies for law enforcement, funding, etc. Undoubtedly this
will be years in the making — if it ever happens.

Lofty goals to be sure. But with the idea of "complete streets" quickly gaining traction at the local and national level, what better time than now to think big?

Clemente
adds to his own thoughts a statistic-packed essay by Mighk Wilson of
the Florida Bicycle Association. It’s quite long but well worth a read
if you have any interest in the numbers on cycling safety (and being
able to pull them out in an argument). "Being afraid of real risks and
threats is healthy," says Wilson. "But the belief that bicycling is
dangerous is based
on intimidation, scary stories and vague statistics."

In non-fear-related news from around the network: Light Rail Blogger reports on rider unhappiness over rising transit fares in Phoenix; Austin Contrarian links to some stunning panoramic photos of sprawl; and Seattle Transit Blog details how falling retail and car sales have gutted that city’s transit budget.

  • james

    Generally I find that bicyclists drive terribly and have little or no regard for the rules of the road.
    I am of the opinion that this is what kills more bikers than anything else.
    Ever seen a cyclist stop at a stop sign? If they do it is with great resentment.
    Ever seen a turn signal? Very rarely.
    The other day I say a biker get really upset at a truck who came close to him as he zigzaged his way up a steep street USING both sides of the street. He started cussing out the trucker… The biker was wrong to be riding the way he was.
    I often see riders riding down sidewalks. across ped crossings. They can’t have it both ways but seem to think they can.
    Either you are a moving vehicle and obey the rules of the road or you are a pedestrian and walk across ped crossings.
    I would like to see a LOT more enforcement of the VC on bike riders who ignore the rules of the road.
    It seems to me that the guy behing the wheel is allways the bad guy and little people realize that bike riders ignore way more laws and basically completly beleive that the rules of the road only apply to cars and not to people riding cycles. Stupid.

    Yaesumofo

  • James, in most cities bicycling is LEGAL on the sidewalk. It may not be recommended but it is not illegal to ride down a sidewalk, especially in suburban areas when no one is using them.

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