This is gonna hurt

October 9, 2019 § 10 Comments

A reader sent a link to this editorial in the NY Times. Basically, cars are bad and drivers use them to kill people. The only way we can fix that is by regulations, smaller car sizes, slower speeds, and etc.

The big problem with this is that it identifies an obvious problem, drivers killing bicycle pedalers, and then it leaps to a bunch of solutions that are never going to happen. As a side note, the editorial blames all this on cars rather than on people. This is because if you blame motorists for killing people with their cars, it suddenly applies to most everyone, including the writers at the NY Times.

It’s a lot more convenient to blame the cars than the people who drive them.

So how do you get people to stop using their cars to kill people?

My Answer: You have to get people to stop using cars.

And that is really hard, but it’s not hard for the reasons that you think, i.e. the car lobby, the transportation lobby, Mr. Oil and Ms. Gas, governmental inertia, discrimination against cyclists, and all the fun punching bags.

The reason it is really hard is that in order to get people to stop using cars, YOU have to stop using a car. It’s that simple. Until there is a critical mass of people who ditch their cars and start using the public streets, it’s all just talk, email chatter, and angry exchanges on the Internet.

Do you have a car? Do you use it? You are the problem.

Do you want there to be fewer cars? Do you want motorists to quit hitting bicycles? You have to ditch the $400,000 orange Lamborghini and start riding and walking. Trust me, it’s going to involve a big lifestyle change, not limited to acquiring smaller clothing sizes.

The fact is that once the streets get clotted with people, the cars slow down and diminish in number. Santa Monica is Exhibit A. They ruined it for cars when they striped it and dumped scooters on every corner. Now when you drive in SaMo you are the paranoid one because there is a ped/bike/scooter every ten feet. You slow the fuck down and, if you’re in SaMo all that much, you get there using something other than a car or you accept the third-class citizenship that you, a motorist, so richly deserve.

One single person on a bike has an outsized impact on the car community simply because most motorists, when confronted with a bike, take defensive action. They slow down.

But in order to make them do that, especially in areas where bike traffic is light, or in places like Texas and Florida where bikes as transport aren’t even acknowledged, you have to suck it up and get out in the streets. The right to use the street is like any other. The minute you stop using it, it’s gone.

It doesn’t do any good to draw a distinction between “good” drivers of the NY Times and “bad” drivers of the state of Texas. The only thing that does any “good” is to step off the crazy train of the passenger car transportation network and plug into networks that don’t use cars, whether it’s your SUV or your Tesla.

Ouch, huh?


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