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Why We Don't Ride Bicycles To Work

Because we don't want to be roadkill.

By Hobbes  |  September 30, 2010

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.