Make Safe Cycling a National Priority

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For many Americans, the idea of riding their bike as a form of transportation can be a scary thought. Even though it’s healthy for the rider and the environment, we live in cities plagued with car congestion, lack of bike lanes, and few cyclist protection measures.

On December 28, 2014, cyclist Tom Palermo was hit and killed in Baltimore. The driver, Bishop Heather Cook, second in command of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, fled from the scene but came back 20 minutes later. Palermo was a 41-year-old husband and father of two, and an avid cyclist. The driver had been charged with a DUI in 2010, with both alcohol and marijuana found in her car. It’s most disturbing that an esteemed member of the community who was in obvious need for substance abuse treatment — for both marijuana and alcohol — was only given probation. Politicians, church leaders, school principals, etc. should not be let off the hook when it comes to appropriate penalties, if we are ever going to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Bishop Cook is now on leave, and there’s evidence that those who voted for her elevation to bishop did not know of the DUI.

Will Bono Play Guitar Again?

A few days ago, we heard the news that internationally famous musician Bono, of U2, may never play the guitar again. On November 17, U2 was forced to cancel their performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, informing fans that the lead singer, Bono, had a “cycling spill.” While the band may have identified the incident as just a “spill,” Bono was rushed to the hospital for x-rays and CAT scans followed by 5 hours of surgery. Doctors identified his injuries as corresponding with a “high energy bike accident.”

How did the accident happen? Avoiding collision with another cyclist in Central Park, New York City. Bikers need to practice safety rules, too.

Although New York, Chicago, Washington and other large cities are striving to be bicycle friendly, there are still risks to bicyclists that choose to share the roads with motor vehicles. Even with bicycle lanes, new preventive driving laws and continuing education on safety for bicyclists, there is always danger for bicyclists from motorists that are inattentive and distracted while behind the wheel.  Even though we’ve made progress with cutting down drunk driving, we have a new problem with stoned drivers who lack quick instincts lack and the perception of depth to see cyclists and pedestrians.

Similar to pedestrians, bicyclists have no protection from serious injury when hit by a vehicle and are often the ones who sustain the most injury when cars and bikes collide. Bicycles are much smaller than cars, so drivers are not looking for a bicycle when they are making turns; they’re looking for other vehicles.

New York City was voted the number one city for cyclists by Bicycling Magazine, and Central Park is a cyclist destination. The city and park have bike lanes throughout, but while NYC has great bike lanes, cars, and construction often block them and there is very little enforcement of those responsible for infringing on the bike lanes. Just check out Casey Neistat’s video below:

Bicyclist Magazine voted Dallas, Memphis, and Miami the worst cities for cyclists in the US, stalling bike lane building projects and topping cities and states with the greatest annual cyclist fatalities.

The League of American Cyclists releases reports, “Every Cyclist Counts,” to document the 700 bike fatalities that happen each year.  It goes into detail of what kind of accident, when the data was available.  The information, they hope, will aid communities in designing better cyclist friendly roadways.

Some cities have been stalling their bike projects after investing big money in renovating roads, building curbs, and revamping sidewalks—without integrating bike lanes. To start over and build bike lanes would seem to negate the time and money already invested. To help protect cyclists, some cities have enacted laws stating that motor vehicles passing cyclists must provide a minimum of three feet.

Portland, Oregon, is consistently ranked one of the top US cities or bike safety.

Portland, Oregon, is consistently ranked one of the top US cities or bike safety.  See


In communities with large populations of poor households, many people depend on bikes as their main source of transportation. Many of these individuals are also the ones working the night shifts, travelling at night, in the dark, and frequently without bike lanes, making them more susceptible to collisions and fatalities involving automobiles.

With no protection between the bicycle and vehicle that hits them, the injuries are bound to be severe for the bicyclists when an accident occurs. The only we can solve this problem is to make a major investment in bike trails — without any cars allowed. It makes social and economic sense, too, because it would reduce the use of petroleum and production of green house gases. Less expensive and a green option, bicycling also offers excellent exercise and health benefits.

To help make our own hometowns safer for cyclists it’s important for citizens to let their Department of Transportation know that they want safer roadways. It keeps citizens and the environment healthier and happier. You can join the movement by signing the petition with the League of American Cyclists and ask to make zero cyclist and pedestrian fatalities the only number equaling success.

When you’re feeling down, remember these eight r’s
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