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#1 2017-05-09 21:53:27

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 991
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GoFundMe campaign provides bikes for kids makes me uneasy

Here's an article about a campaign to provide bikes for kids in Chicago, positioned as a feel-good issue:

    https://medium.com/@gofundme/every-kid- … 21133d7a95

I'm just imagining, what if I were the advocate in that campaign, and one (or more) of the kids who got bikes got hit by a car and wound up seriously injured or dead?

For all the years I was a bike advocate (note the past tense), I knew that biking was risky, but I knew it only in my head, not in my heart.  But following my wife nearly getting killed on her bike, and Elizabeth English actually getting shredded, I can't bring myself to support getting people onto bikes, at least not in this country.  Of course, if the problem is that it's not safe to bike, then the "solution" of driving means becoming part of the problem.

A local high school asked me to do a bike safety presentation recently.  My first question was, "If you're very careful, is biking just as safe as going by car?"  It was a trick question, the way I worded it combined with being a cyclist would lead them to think that I'd say it's just as safe, but no, even if you're very careful, it's just not.  Can you mitigate your risk?  Sure, and that was the whole point of my preso.  But to make it as safe as car travel?  Not a chance.

On the other hand, one factor in risk is exposure.  Though I figure that cycling is 3x-8x more dangerous than car travel, I'm now driving way more than 8x as many miles as I ever biked, with ferrying the kids to/from school and elsewhere, including my son's job in Round Rock.

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#2 2017-05-21 21:10:55

damicoaustin
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 143
Website

Re: GoFundMe campaign provides bikes for kids makes me uneasy

Michael, you're thinking too much. Or not thinking too much in the right direction. Getting kids on bikes is a wonderful thing....IF, you also provide education with it on how to ride safely. And that's not some bullshit stuff I've seen kids taught before, e.g. only ride on sidewalks, always wear a helmet, etc.

When I got my kids on bikes commuting to school, I rode with them and taught them how to be a defensive driver, how to avoid a right hook, how to signal, how to be assertive and visible, how to take a lane, how to watch for danger spots like gaps between cars stuck in traffic, how to stand on their pedals and bounce up and down when they're approaching a car creeping out on a side street, how many directions and how many times they needed to look at different kinds of intersection crossings. And as an adult, I would teach them that if they ride at night they need to be lit up like a Griswald xmas tree. And most important, I taught them not to be afraid.

It will be hard enough for them to ride as much as possible in their future lives with work, kids, errands, weather, etc. So the goal should be the make them not afraid to ride as much as they can.

No amount of education and awareness will stop some tragedies, like drunken drivers hitting bicyclists in bike lanes at night, or medicated old people plowing into recreational cyclists on a shoulder. And no amount of common sense will stop someone texting and driving and plowing head on into a church van killing 13 people.

Just remember what I wrote to you long ago, when you were obsessive about trying to calculate the risk factors of cycling v. driving, or the energy consumption comparisons for both, primarily related to food use for cyclists. Remember that the overall benefits of bicycling are immeasurable, not just in transportation savings, less pollution, health benefits, the fact that you're likely to be a better citizen promoting sustainable practices if you're a transportation bicyclist and on and on. They're immeasurable because of the joy you experience, and the thrill of living as someone with an open-eyed and open-aired view of the world around you. Not someone flitting their foot between the gas pedal and brake in traffic or whizzing by the world at high speeds. I'm sorry that bad experiences have created a fear that has taken that benefit away from you.

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#3 2017-05-21 21:50:14

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 194

Re: GoFundMe campaign provides bikes for kids makes me uneasy

damicoaustin wrote:

Remember that the overall benefits of bicycling are immeasurable, not just in transportation savings, less pollution, health benefits, the fact that you're likely to be a better citizen promoting sustainable practices if you're a transportation bicyclist and on and on. They're immeasurable because of the joy you experience, and the thrill of living as someone with an open-eyed and open-aired view of the world around you. Not someone flitting their foot between the gas pedal and brake in traffic or whizzing by the world at high speeds. I'm sorry that bad experiences have created a fear that has taken that benefit away from you.

Nicely said, damico

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#4 2017-05-23 08:30:34

chavela
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 34

Re: GoFundMe campaign provides bikes for kids makes me uneasy

Good list of real-world methods and strategies on "how to ride safely".  But what is the purpose of "standing on their pedals and bouncing up and down when they're approaching a car creeping out on a side street"?  What does the bouncing communicate to the driver of the car--does it make the bike more visible?

Lit up like a Christmas tree, I agree, but not only for nighttime: I use my front white light during the day after reading about one-too-many cars turning into the path of an oncoming bike.

Also, a minor quibble:  you mentioned "medicated old people plowing into recreational cyclists on a shoulder"--anyone can be medicated, it is not a function of age.

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