Following my post on bike riding and designed exclusion (aka what I learnt about prejudice after an SUV swerved to hit me), I was alerted to a few other interesting posts on the subject of biking and car culture. Here they are:
Written by Daniel Duane in the New York Times, this touches on the same thing I’ve noticed: regardless of laws, the dominant culture favours drivers over cyclists. Most interestingly:
“Laws do forbid reckless driving, gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter. The problem, according to Ray Thomas, a Portland, Ore., attorney who specializes in bike law, is that ‘jurors identify with drivers.’ Convictions carry life-destroying penalties, up to six years in prison, Mr. Thomas pointed out, and jurors ‘just think, well, I could make the same mistake. So they don’t convict.’ That’s why police officers and prosecutors don’t bother making arrests. Most cops spend their lives in cars, too, so that’s where their sympathies lie.”
Of course, it’s not just the laws. It’s the design of the road, which Duane also points out. Well worth the read.
Unfortunately there’s no audio to go with this presentation, but you still get a pretty good idea of the point being made. Cities have been remade and designed to accomodate car culture, resulting in low-desnisty, flat, square spaces that are sprawled out over great distances, all but eliminating the choice to go car-free.
There’s many other great thoughts on these subjects. I’ve previously recommend “The Modern Moloch” from 99% Invisible, and the other night I saw Jillian Merrick give this presentation on how her life has changed since going car-free.