Shoot A Cyclist For SafetyBy
Yesterday outside of Asheville, NC a motorist became so enraged at a cyclist for legally riding on a public road – that he shot him in the head… with the victim’s 3-year old son in the bike seat behind him. According to the police, the bullet came within an inch of killing the cyclist.
To repeat: A gunman narrowly missed killing a father in front of his child … because he was frustrated at him for not being safe enough.
Thank goodness no one was injured, but this incident brings an important point to the fore. When our transportation infrastructure is geared only to automobiles, then anyone choosing to share the road is (1) at risk from drivers; and (2) often perceived as an interloper that has no business on the street.
The unhinged gunman had a valid premise, which I imagine is shared by the victim – It’s dangerous for cyclists on our roads.Â Yesterday’s shooting was a dramatic event, but every day cyclists are injured on our roads by careless drivers and by our lack of adequate infrastructure.Â On my bike I’ve been cut off, had doors opened into my path, had objects thrown at me, and have several times narrowly missed serious accidents in motion.Â In my car, I’ve been diligent about treating bicycles like any other vehicle on the road – giving a wide berth, signaling, and respecting their journey as much as I want them to respect mine.
Among the reasons that cycling is dangerous are a lack of bike lanes, an uneasy relationship between motorists and cyclists, and the inherent hazards of a lot of people trying to get from one place to another quickly. Add the occasional armed hothead, and a dicey situation becomes downright hostile.
Our current road system was built for automobiles. While many roads are wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorists equally, there is an inherent inequity that leaves cyclists at the mercy of their four wheeled traveling companions. Without comprehensive alternative transportation infrastructure in place, cyclists and pedestrians alike must contend with a transportation network unfit for their needs.
Imagine if the cyclist in this story had been rolling along a designated bicycle lane rather than hugging the shoulder and taking his chances. Imagine several years down the road once motorists became accustomed to bike lanes and knew exactly how to behave.
Asheville can work towards a network of roads, bike lanes, greenways, riverways, and sidewalks that will allow all of our citizens to move safely from one place to another no matter which mode of transportation they choose.Â A culture of mutual respect will grow up out of this infrastructure that will improve our community’s quality of life while offering healthy choices.
Read more about my stance on multimodal transportation here. Or you can watch a speech I gave at The Wedge on the subject back in May.