Why We Don't Ride Bicycles To Work

Because we don't want to be roadkill.

A century and some ago when the modern bicycle was invented, its ease of operation and high speed (compared to a horse and buggy, anyway) brought about the Golden Age of Bicycles where everyone had or wanted to ride one.  Sepia-tinted photographs record grandly-dressed Gilded Age types participating in the bicycle craze.  It was bicycle riders demanding better surfaces that led to American streets being paved, it didn't matter to horse-drawn carriages and there weren't enough car owners to insist on spending money that way.

Then the Model T came along, and ever since then lovers of bicycles have fought a long retreat.  For all of our lives, a bike has been an enjoyable pastime but not a practical mode of transportation.

This isn't for want of trying, particularly by the modern nanny-state and environmental Leftists.  Bicycles create no emissions!  You can fit loads more of them on a road than of cars!  You can't travel as far on a bike, thus limiting nasty suburban sprawl!  And so on.

A daydream for environmentalists.
A nightmare for commuters.
A speed bump for drivers.

Thus we find the power of government, and your tax dollars, being used to support a mode of transportation that the overwhelming majority of Americans reject.

Bike trails made from ex-rail lines that might otherwise carry passengers at high speed!  Already-jammed streets narrowed to create bike lanes!  Free parking for bicycles!  Will subsidies never cease?

Yet there is one compelling and unimpeachable reason why the bicycle is not a serious mode of practical transportation.  As the Washington Post reports, the Green Party nominee for Maryland's U.S. Senate seat just illustrated it:

A 30-year-old Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate died late Monday night, less than two days after she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle in the Largo area, authorities said.  She had been critically injured on Route 202 about 5:30 a.m. Sunday...

Pettigrew was hit by a sport-utility vehicle traveling near the intersection of Campus Way. State police said the driver apparently thought she had hit a deer or another animal and realized what had happened only when she arrived home and found Pettigrew's bicycle trapped under her car[emphasis added]

Maybe, just maybe, America's drivers aren't simply obsessed with destroying Planet Earth when they choose to drive an SUV rather than pedal a Schwinn?  Maybe, just maybe, they'd rather not end up like so many of Obama's friends: squished under the wheels of something a hundred times more massive than they?

When it comes to highway combat, there's no substitute for a sheet of steel between you and somebody else's horsepower.  Ms. Pettigrew, alas, learned this lesson too late; but her unfortunate demise as she held true to her convictions is an example to her survivors.

Read other Scragged.com articles by Hobbes or other articles on Environment.
Reader Comments

Why wasn't she riding on a bike path? I'm still not convinced that the driver of the car didn't know she had hit the cyclist.

September 30, 2010 10:14 AM


Suppose you're hurrying home from work and you hear a thump. Are you going to stop or are you going to assume you hit a deer or a dog or something? You're going to keep going; who needs the hassle? At the very least, the cops'll delay you for 2 or 3 h ours getting home.

At least she called in when she found the bicycle.

September 30, 2010 6:26 PM

Obviously getting hit by a car when riding a bike the cyclist is at a much higher risk.. but how much of a higher risk is it versus getting viciously T-boned by a tank when driving a car. People die on the roads all the time in all manner of conveyance. I think the real reason people don't want to ride a bike is because they're lazy, and I can't blame them, I don't want to arrive at work sweaty and need to shower and I don't want to have worry about the weather. I think maybe, just maybe, this article is a little opinion piece with very little research done.

November 10, 2010 12:46 AM
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