Bike Safety Through Education


An interesting email came across my “desk” tonight. It is from a fellow Elmhurst Bicycle Club member who also serves on the Active Transportation Alliance Board. It reads as follows:

From: Robert Hoel
Subject: [EBC:11106] Bike Safety Through Education
Date: November 12, 2012 5:59:56 PM CST
To: EBC Listserv
Cc: Ray Dal Lago

Attached is a great article about being safe on the road.

And does everyone know that the Club’s newest League Cycling Instructor is our very own Ray (The Crash) Dal Lago? Even education can’t completely eliminate bike/vehicle conflict.

Bob Hoel
Advocacy Chair
Elmhurst Bicycle Club


Active Transportation Alliance

So after reading this email I had two burning questions to ask of the writer:

  1. Does this mean that Vehicular Cycling is pointless?
  2. Do Catholic Priest who are Pro-Life ever turn out to be pedophiles?

That second question goes to the issue of whether even the staunchest defender of a philosophy can ever violate its teachings? Sure they can, and we will never know precisely whether that happened here. (Note: Ray was recently in a car vs. bicycle altercation that left him in injured fashion and his bike’s front wheel a shambles.)

But assuming that Ray did all the right things and that the driver was at fault, it goes to the heart of the notion that cycling is dangerous. When you are out on the road, “keep your head on a swivel”. This is tough to admit but it may help someone who is blithely riding along in a pretty green protected bike lane or trying to come home with a newly minted LCI card in their wallet from assuming that nothing could happen to me, “I’m golden”.

What we want from our Board Members and Executive Directors is stark raving honestyabout the situation at hand. Every time a rider does something stupid like run a red light or blow a stop sign we need to remind them of the priest who was killed running a red light. In fact cycling advocates should be much like people who speak from the pulpits all across the country.

Their job is to tell the truth to the best of their knowledge and in the same breath warn their congregants that they too are subject to failings. That the world is to some degree a very dangerous place and nothing is really safe. We Americans demand more of our drug manufacturers than we do of our cycling advocates. And the irony there is that the drug makers at least perform tests (whether flawed or not) to at least give them a reading on whether their prescription is likely to do harm.

Cycling Advocates are comfortable it would seem in lulling the public into a state of semi-consciousness with regards to the safety of road cycling simply because to do otherwise could detract from the upwardly spiraling numbers they need to justify their requests for additional bicycle infrastructure. Just who do they think is being fooled with all this smoke up our proverbial dresses?

If you want to keep the charade going then here is a free tip. Stop lamenting the death of each cyclist in the city on your ChainLink Forum. Drop the “Think of this as a missed connection” thread that has been around for several years. It’s reading is enough to make even veteran cyclists think twice about urban cycling. In short get real.

Stop worrying about the numbers and the federal funding and ask for real segregated bicycle infrastructure, you know the kind that they have in Bicycle Heaven. Why should the wealthiest nation on earth settle for anything less? Would we really offer our troops WWII rifles when their counterparts elsewhere have modern ones? I don’t think so.

So please, please come clean with the folks who are about to foot the bill for pretty green lanes all over the suburbs and city and let them know that nothing, absolutely nothing can prevent some accidents. Cycling like driving is dangerous. In fact taking the drugs prescribed by your physician can cause death. Just ask the CDC about the recent problems with tainted injection sera out of Massachusetts.

We are not dunces! We can take the bad news. And besides we can presumably read the open threads on the ChainLink Forum and judge for ourselves how much wailing and gnashing of teeth is going on their weekly. And then we can all decide for ourselves.