U.S. 1’s February 17 issue on “complete streets” (which, as the cover headline suggested, might better be called “incomplete streets”) generated several thoughtful responses from central New Jersey bicyclists. As Dan Rappoport pointed out in a letter in this space last week, the cycling point of view is often overlooked by the cars that rule the road.
Robert Hebditch’s sidebar to that story, “Cyclists Face Daily Gauntlet,” received several online comments. One reader had a novel suggestion for eliminating the careless drivers who threaten the two-wheelers trying to share the road. “You know what’s sure to change this situation in coming years, and probably for the better? Driverless cars. There are still a number of interesting problems being worked out, but the essential technology is already there, as I understand it. And driverless cars don’t make mistakes in the way humans do.”
Another reader, a motorist, admitted that he had to become conditioned to the presence of bicycles on city streets. “When bikes first proliferated in Philadelphia,” he wrote, “it was difficult for me to remember I was turning right from an inside lane of two lanes across the bike path. I almost turned right into a bicyclist.”
A motorist who is clearly sympathetic to cyclists on the road added that “people need to set their rear view mirrors correctly and use them. If you can see your own car in the mirror, it is not set correctly.”
Another E-mail came in last week from Steve Friedlander, a cycling enthusiast: “I appreciate the articles on biking in your February 17 issue, but you’re not really being fair to Dutch Neck Road (the scene of the fatal accident in 2010 when a car rammed a tricycle being driven by a disabled man). “I’ve biked on it many times, and it’s one of my favorite roads in the area — smooth, flat, and little traffic — passing through a nice residential neighborhood lined with shady trees. What’s not to like?”
U.S. 1’s Diccon Hyatt, the author of the complete streets story, responded: “I thought the accident that killed Edward Boye was a good illustration of the problems that result from cyclists, especially the disabled, using roads that are first and foremost for cars. I didn’t get into this in the article, but news reports at the time said that there was snow piled in the shoulder, which only left Boye about a foot of shoulder to ride in (even though he would have been within his rights to use the road as well). Some others, reacting to this tragedy, noted that some people tend to drive fast down Dutch Neck Road because it is so straight and flat.
“I haven’t biked on this road firsthand, but I’ll take your word for it that it’s usually a pretty nice street to ride a bike on. The point of the article wasn’t so much that Dutch Neck Road is especially terrible, but that complete streets advocates want to make roads safer for all users.”