When Will Laws and Attitudes Catch Up With Cycling's Growth?

Cyclist deaths are rising across the U.S., but in most cities and states, drivers are rarely punished. As more people embrace cycling and more cities encourage it; it's time our laws, infrastructure, and attitudes are reformed to make cycling safer.
November 11, 2013, 6am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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According to Daniel Duane, a contributing editor for Men’s Journal, "we’re at a scary cultural crossroads on the whole car/bike thing."

"The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists," he notes. "But the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level."

Furthermore, those who kill cyclists often face few consequences. "When two cars crash, everybody agrees that one of the two drivers may well be to blame; cops consider it their job to gather evidence toward that determination. But when a car hits a bike, it’s like there’s a collective cultural impulse to say, 'Oh, well, accidents happen.'"

Though he advocates for better bike infrastructure and hardened penalties for at-fault drivers, Duane argues that "the most important changes, with the potential to save the most lives, are the ones we can make in our attitudes."

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Published on Sunday, November 10, 2013 in The New York Times
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