On the Right Path
In her late teens and her twenties, my mother would frequently ride her bicycle on various bicycle paths all around the Washington, DC area. In my hometown in northern Virginia, there are only a handful of bike paths that I know of. When paths are not available, bicyclists there would have to either ride on the shoulder of the roads or on the sidewalks in neighborhoods and commercial areas. In both of these cases, I have not heard of any problems, such as injuries to bicyclists, occurring. However, this does not mean that injuries and accidents involving motorists and bicyclists do not occur. Communities need to add bike lanes to protect the safety of bicyclists, as shown by the initiative of many communities across America.
Scott Ericksen of San Antonio Texas is quoted as saying, "motorists frequently dominate the road…" ("Increase…"). With more motorists on the roads than bicyclists, bicyclists need to be conscious of where they are in relation to cars. This is not always easy, with cars traveling faster than the bicyclists can. Also, motorists need to be aware of where bicyclists are on the road. Mike Sadava wrote in an article in the Edmonton Journal in Canada, "It's an uneasy coexistence at best" (Sadava).
The lack of bike lanes causes health risks, such as injuries and death, to bicyclists who are struck by cars. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, in 2007, there were 698 bicyclist fatalities and 43,000 bicyclists injured ("League…"). The problem is that bike paths are not always available on all roads. Bicyclists have to be more careful of cars, especially when bike lanes, or even sidewalks, are unavailable. This mainly affects the bicyclists, because they are the most at risk of being injured by drivers that may not see them until too late, or not at all. Mike Sadava said, "I've also seen a cyclist knocked down by an unobservant driver… and have had personal close encounters with drivers talking on cellphones instead of watching traffic" (Sadava). I think that if more areas for people to ride bikes are not provided, cyclists will continue to be injured by motorists.
Communities throughout the country have bicycle paths, or are adding them to provide for the safety of those who ride bikes. In an article by David DeWitt from Athens, Ohio, City Planner Paul Logue said, "With regard to neighborhood connectors, these would link pedestrians and bicyclists to primary destinations to combine low-volume local roads and pathways through parks and schools" (DeWitt, "PLAN"…). DeWitt's article showed how this town gathered information about popular biking areas in the town. These areas, such as local parks and neighborhoods surrounding schools, would then become safer for cyclists.
Providing paths for bicyclists to ride on will strongly help prevent injuries to those who use them. Members of the community need to push to have such paths available. Kirstie Dickson of Brunswick County, North Carolina, is quoted stated that the bike paths provided in her community were "a response to residents' input" (Kennedy).
DeWitt, David. "Bike path spur gets green light." The Athens News 16 Sep. 2010. ProQuest. Web. 9 Nov. 2010. .com.
-. "PLAN COMPLETED FOR BICYCLE-PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC IN CITY." The Athens News 14 Apr. 2010. ProQuest. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. .com.
"Increase in bike paths sought." Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1 November 2006. ProQuest. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. .com.
Kennedy, Sarah P. "Region embraces bike path options." Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 3 January 2006. ProQuest. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. .com.
"League of American Bicyclists * Facts and Figures." League of American Bicyclists, 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. .org/media/facts/.
O'Boyle, Bill. "Cyclist starts drive for city bike lanes: Mayor says city currently planning Rails to Trails program, which may include bike paths." McClatchy - Tribune Business News 28 April 2010. ProQuest. Web. 9 Nov. 2010. .com.
Sadava, Mike. "Respect is a two-way street that drivers, cyclists must share:: [Final Edition]. " Edmonton Journal 8 Oct. 2005. ProQuest. Web. 27 Oct. 2010. .com.