Here in Cleveland, the city recently passed a law that said drivers have to give cyclists three feet when passing. It was a symbolically great gesture, but does little to actually stop drivers from inching closer to cyclists, especially considering many of the city’s citizens and commuters probably have no idea the law exists. They’re too busy reading that text that couldn’t wait 10 minutes rather than a newspaper.
Yesterday I rode about seven or so miles, and it was clear few know or give a damn about cyclists. Frustrated, my wheels began turning. You know, the metaphorical kind in my brain-box.
What if cyclists started campaigning for a law that was extremely bike-friendly? Something the along the lines of forcing drivers to slow down to just 2mph faster than a nearby cyclist they’re passing. Or better yet, mandatory barriers separating the bike lanes from traffic on all roads. Impossible, you say? Probably. The cost alone would raise eyebrows and Americans in general are quick to grab their pitchforks when there’s talk of cutting something they use in favor of something someone else uses. Since cyclists are outnumbered, it would seem extreme bike law is dead on arrival. But hear me out.
How easy would it be to argue against those who oppose extreme bike law? Answer: Easier than clipping a cyclist while texting your fucking friend behind the wheel.
We’re a nation of hyperboles. Nearly any position can be boil down to the other side disrespecting life. The pro-life crowd does it all the time. Fine. But what about when that fetus becomes a cyclist? Should we not do all that we can to protect the sanctity of life, especially when that grownup fetus is trying to share the road with vehicles going 45mph, armed with nothing more than a plastic helmet? Of course!
I don’t have the statistics in front of me (mostly because I’m figuring this out as I type), but it would be difficult to argue that extreme bike law wouldn’t save one life. Surely at least one life would be saved if we created barriers for all bike lanes and forced drivers to slow down to just above cyclist speed when passing. Therefore, going back to our nation of hyperboles, anyone who opposes extreme bike law doesn’t value life. Plain and simple. Anyone who opposes this legislation must think having four lanes of road and the ability to get from point A to B in 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes is more important than protecting innocent life.
In conjunction with this historic proposition, it would be easy to prove that laws against texting or talking on the phone while driving have proven largely ineffective. Hell, drinking and driving has been illegal for decades and it’s still happening. That means it is without a doubt time to start looking at the other side of the equation if we want to protect those on two feet or two wheels.
Worst case scenario for drivers? It takes them a little longer to get to their final destination and select lanes are closed to cyclists only. But it will all be worth it if we can save just one life. Right, America?