Cycling’s New Look

This article on bike commuting in the East Orlando Sun gets a lot of things right!

Megan Shannon begins:

More people are leaving their cars in the garage and dusting off their 10-speeds to run errands or commute — mostly in response to rising fuel costs. But venturing onto East Orlando’s congested roadways with nothing but pedal power poses safety concerns, especially since many Americans are not familiar with cyclists’ rules of the road.

“I would expect there to be some problems because most Americans do not know how to ride a bike in traffic. They have either never been taught or taught wrong,” said Mighk Wilson, MetroPlan Orlando’s smart growth planner and Florida Bike Association board member. Wilson said no hard data has been collected to prove that more Orlando folks are using their bikes, but the increase is visible on the roadways.

I read the quote, thinking, “wow! a perfect quote about cycling in a newspaper article!” Then, of course, I saw it came from Mighk. 🙂 Kudos to Megan for interviewing the best person for such an article. There are lots more good ones in there too.

And I want to point this out because it’s something I talk about a lot:

Statistically, it is riskier to walk than bike.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, which tracks bicycle crashes for Orange County, one cyclist was killed in 2008, on Forsyth Road. “There are more pedestrians hit than cyclists,” said FHP spokesperson Kim Miller. “If there was only one fatality, that is typically a sign that we are not having a problem with cyclists.”

A legally-riding bicyclist (using the road) can get around much more easily and safely than a legally-walking pedestrian. The lack of consciousness and enforcement of the laws that protect pedestrians is really horrible here compared to other parts of the country. If we just concentrated on making things better for pedestrians, things would improve by default for bicyclists.

In places where pedestrians are respected and motorists are required to yield to them, the motorists are forced to expand their field of attention to a much broader area of the roadway. Where motorists can ignore pedestrians with impunity, their attentiveness atrophies to a very narrow tunnel directly in front of them.

Still, there are ongoing efforts to get more bike safety information out to the public as the number of transportation cyclists continues to increase. “There might be some drops in the price of fuel in the short term, but long term it is just going to go up and up and that means more people on bikes,” Wilson said.

The time is now for advocacy and education!