Among the many problems brought on by America’s current economic woes, the rift between cyclists and motorists has been catapulted to the headlines. Gas prices are up, unemployment is up, prices of consumer goods are up, and consequently people are cutting spending however they can. And this includes riding a bike to work.
Who knew there was so much built up rage on the road? A few weeks ago a group of Capitol Hill cyclists attacked a driver after he allegedly drove into them on purpose. Accounts of the event differ, but from everything I’ve heard and read both parties share some of the blame. Much debate has ensued since, most of it attempting to understand the source of the problem and the correct place for blame. Is it the n00b cyclists who just started riding to work three months ago and don’t know cyclists’ rules of the road? Or is it thoughtless drivers who don’t pay attention to where they’re driving, or, as I’ve read more than once, is their resent toward “arrogant” cyclists, with their fit physiques and fancy riding gear?
Who knows. But the problem isn’t just in Seattle. The New York Times ran a story Sunday about the growing battle on the asphalt, as increasing numbers of gas money saving cyclists hit the road. There are recent examples from Kentucky, Utah, Oregon, New York, and more. Hard evidence is difficult to come by, but by most accounts the number of cyclists is has jumped recently:
This summer, the number of new cyclists has increased strongly across the country. In June, nearly 11,000 first-time riders participated in Denver’s Bike to Work Day. Dahon, makers of folding bikes popular with commuters, reports a 30-percent sales increase from a year ago, with many models having been sold out since the spring. Transportation Alternatives, a bicycling advocacy group, estimates that 131,000 people cycle daily in New York, up 77 percent since 2000.
Even SDOT is jumping in the mix by adding signs (inset image above) to cut down on cyclists getting “doored” inadvertently.