Take action for safer streets: ride

“It’s wonderful to live in the city and ride but isn’t always possible for all.”

Okay, so what can we do about this? In many other cities, I see plenty of old folks on old cruisers, mothers and fathers with children, and regular middle-aged folks riding bicycles. Why not here?

To a certain extent, I’d say that Critical Mass has already accomplished one broadening of the bicycling demographic in Chicago: cycling here isn’t just for college students and Lycra clad racers. On the streets of Wicker Park, I regularly pass bars or parties with bicycles crowded outside — in the past, I’d usually know what or who was going on or at least recognize some of the bikes, but no longer, as our “scene” has grown far too vast. Ongoing education efforts like Bike Winter and “Cycling Sisters, and CBF’s new diversity initiatives, can further help.

Maybe people don’t ride because traffic is dangerous. “Studies have shown [“full text] that pedestrian and bicycle accident rates decrease where there are more bicyclists — because drivers, the #1 hazard to peds and bikes, start looking out for peds and bikes, and indeed are more likely to walk or bike themselves. So, what can you do to help make our streets safer *today*? Get out there and ride! In the long term, let’s think about political changes that will reclaim our streets from speeding, menacing traffic. Our streets belong to the people who live here, not to the people who drive through — but effecting that change will take a lot of work and a lot of talking. Well, we seem to have plenty of people who can talk, but what about people who will work?

Let’s think constructively about how we can improve our city and our bicycling experiences, instead of pointing loudly at the shortcomings.

[also adapted from post to CCM today]

2 thoughts on “Take action for safer streets: ride

  1. I agree. Engendering improvement in the quality of the ‘cycle-life’ requires a degree of work and sacrifice. Even in the balmiest and most progressive of cities, it still falls in with the realm of activism.

    I was thinking today, as I struggled through no-visibility rush-hour traffic, that a lot of the urban biking experience involves (perhaps unwittingly) educating drivers about your existence and rights. Defensive riding makes a statement. And it’s a bitch. But it’s worth the struggle.

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