What could possibly be controversial about giving a 3 foot berth to bicyclists?

At the very least, the new law protects even the motorist emotionally – could you live with yourself if you accidentally hit a cyclist? Obviously, the victim would be in bad shape physically, but the psychological life-scars for everyone would be just overwhelming too. So when I hear push-back from motorists about any issues regarding safety on the roads, I just have to shake my head in disbelief. It makes no sense to have progressed to a point socially where a human being operating one ton of metal machinery would begrudge a fellow citizen and taxpayer the air space for the flimsiest of safety-cushions to delineate a bicyclists’ turf.

Seemingly forgotten in the road wars as space becomes increasingly precious in LA, is that cyclists pay road taxes just as motorists do. There’s nothing inherently sacred about motorist’s use of the roadways that I’m aware of at least. They’re just bigger and heavier and more lethal and more numerous. They basically have more muscle, but I don’t see where they have more right.

It behooves everyone from every conceivable angle to open up availability of roadways for bicycles. And that means alleviating in some small measure the fear that justifiably envelopes anyone attempting to cycle on roadways shared with motor vehicles.

Beyond safety the benefits are manifest:

Environmentally: reduced air emissions is obviously a benefit to every citizen whether you locomote behind a wheel or on top of them. Every single engine-trip saved is that much less fossil fuel spent – in fact if like me, you are almost exclusively moving from inside of encased metal, you owe an especial debt to those willing to take on the roadways en plain air. Since everyone benefits from reduced emissions these cyclists gift motorists an overall average reduction in emissions from their effort alone, shared across all of society. If you like your gasoline cheap, you should thank a cyclist for conserving this non-renewable resource to your personal benefit.

Economically: Everyone’s health will improve from breathing less vile air (see “environmentally” benefits above), but the individual health benefits of exerting energy to get from point A to point B accrues not only to the cyclist but to all of society. The price of obesity is staggering. Truly, just about the only sensible response to a cyclist pedaling away virtuously and beneficially is ironic jealousy that we motorists haven’t managed to acquire equivalent personal benefits. But there’s plenty absorbed collectively in terms of public spending mitigated.

Socially: Why not embrace those of us in a society not insulated and isolated by car or technology? Cyclists are not cocooned inside a protected casing, they are out interacting with their voice and their own muscle-power. They communicate their presence with a bell or bellowed voice: “Look out on the LEFT“. And the only medium of protection they can utilize is a “bubble of space”. Seriously, is that the problem? Is this all just a personal boundary issue? It seems to me some of the same people offended by the nimble wheel-power of youth are sometimes critical of the extent of online and off-streets computerized social networking. This is a different face of social interaction; it’s hard to criticize the isolation of social media and the immediacy of “natural” commuting in the same “what’s-wrong-with-youth-these-days” breath.

Hopefully this new law is a harbinger of improved multi-modal streets use. I was surprised by the hostility toward what I thought was a fairly benign observation of increased bicycle use on roadways that necessitated increased respect for increased safety needs.

Because the very bottom line is this. As a parent who sends two children to school every morning along a very, very busy multi-lane urban state highway (located in the COLA), I am terrified of the danger to which they are exposed. How it could possibly make sense not to be ultra-vigilant about the safety of people on bicycles is simply at the end of the day, beyond any comprehension. There is actually no justification in any direction for not fostering, nurturing and fortifying the safety of bicycling citizens. We are they and they are us; safety is an urban improvement imperative for everyone. Safe and widespread bicycling is a cultural advancement to be sustained.