Town Square

Risk everywhere when bikes, autos share the road

Original post made by Renee Batti, associate editor of The Almanac, on Jan 31, 2007

The following letter by Bruce Campbell was published in the Almanac's Jan. 31 print edition:

This story contains 371 words.

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Posted by Can't we all just get along?
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 2, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Sharing the road with bicycles may be aggravating or frightening to some drivers, but in this debate, no one seems to be paying attention to the benefits that we, as a society, derive when people choose to ride bicycles.

The obvious benefits to us all are that bicycles produce no exhaust fumes. They also don't cause wear and tear on our roads. (Roads that are supported by our tax dollars regardless of whether we drive or not. Roads that are, by legal definition, bicycle facilities.)

Another boon is the health benefits of riding.

When people exercise they reduce their risk of health problems that strain our health care system and add to its high cost. It's not a panacea, but think of the reduction in obesity and its related disorders if people who could bike to work, did so.

The sailboats vs. tankers argument worries me, because it smacks of a "bicyclists are asking for it" mentality.

I wonder if the comments would have the same tenor if someone was horribly injured in a Mini vs. Hummer accident. "A tiny, light-weight car shouldn't be on the road with heavier vehicles. The driver should have known better."

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Posted by citizen A
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 3, 2007 at 1:31 pm

While I do agree that health benefits of bike riding are clear, it is irrelevant to the discussion that bikes should be on the same roads as cars. There are plenty of ways to be healthy and exercise that have nothing to do with roads or cars.

Most roads are build for the transport of cars and other vehicles that can maintain a certain set of characteristics of safety, speed, and handling characteristics. Vehicles (including bicycles) that use them should fit into that profile to be legally allowed on those roads.

The health question is a ridiculous and irrelevant point. Should bicycles be used on freeways and highways? Just because they promote "health" and don't create exhaust? Of course not.

If bicyclists want to use roads, that's totally ok. As long as they are fit into the driving profile of that road.

The suggestion of more bike paths is a great one. And bicyclists should also carry some level of insurance in case they injure someone else like a pedestrian.