Bicycles are non-motorized modes of transportation and too many studies to count prove that the people who use them as such are going to outlive and outperform those who do not.
Yes there is an apparent conflict between road users, but reducing that sort of conflict has long been within the purview of public policy makers. The long-term solution to transportation modal conflicts is bicycle pedestrian master planning at the state and community level to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian faculties are connected in ways that allow those who care about their health to use their bicycle for transportation purposes. This must include bicyclist’s use of roadways.
Given that bicyclists and pedestrians have a by-right use of public roads, you can make an argument that they have a better claim to use of the facilities than drivers of licensed vehicles. In any case, using your car to teach cyclists a lesson is called assault and should be punished as such.
Or we can limit our options and stay in our cars and avoid biking and walking all together, or maybe treat bikes as toys to take out when the weather is nice. If we do, we need to understand that the tradeoff is obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, all shown to be reduced by riding bicycles and walking as a routine activity.
The future is as bright for these low carbon forms of personal transport as it is uncertain for our continued reliance on single occupant private automobiles. Isn’t it time to start planning for that future and framing public discourse along those lines? So what if some drivers don’t get it. Mothers Against Drunk Driving faced that same sort of ignorance a few years ago. You can use enforcement to increase understanding, just as they did.
Bud Laumer, AICP
Little Rock, AR