Making DC safe for bikes

A cyclist was struck and killed today by a garbage truck. The street where she was killed is on my commute; it could have been me.

JP Freire, the American Spectator's managing editor, writes:

There are four of us in the office that regularly bike. It's the easiest mode of transporation in this town, but the refrain in my explanation to others has always been that D.C. drivers are truly reckless. While it's not clear, based on this story, whose fault it is, I'm reminded of a number of situations in which I learned important lessons about life, death, and balancing the two on a two-wheeled, man-propelled vehicle. Chief among these is that no one seems to be aware of the need to yield to bikes. And cyclists don't realize how the drivers are unaware of this, thus taking their safety for granted.

I don't think more bike lanes solve the problem, because they're usually not well-marked, and cars don't look for bikes in their rearviews. I'd suggest more signs around town reminding drivers to check their mirrors for cyclists.

The problem isn't that the bike lanes aren't easily marked; it's that drivers ignore them. If you want to make the streets safer, put in more bike lanes, and ticket drivers who drive in them. Yes, that means you, Mr "My passenger couldn't POSSIBLY cross the street so why don't I park in the bike lane for ten minutes while she gets out on the side she wants to be on?" I have an irrational, but strong, belief that these are the same people who write angry letters to the Washington Post complaining that bicyclists don't obey traffic rules.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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