The editors of The Economist take note of the hit-and-run death of another Seattle cyclist and condemn the United States in general—and pseudogreen Seattle in particular—for failing to take any real steps to make cycling safer. It's required reading for the asshole autophiles on the Seattle Times ed board and for all the obnoxious and entitled drivers who can't stop ranting about this cyclist they saw roll through a stop sign once anytime someone suggests we build some actual bike lanes or ticket drivers who endanger cyclists. I'm hoping the eds at the Economist will forgive me for reproducing the editorial here in full:
Dying while cycling is three to five times more likely in America than in Denmark, Germany or the Netherlands. To understand why, consider the death of Michael Wang. He was pedalling home from work in Seattle on a sunny weekday afternoon in late July when, witnesses say, a brown SUV made a left turn, crunched into Wang and sped away.
The road where the 44-year-old father of two was hit is the busiest cycling corridor in Seattle, and it has clearly marked bicycle lanes. But the lanes are protected from motor vehicles by a line of white paint—a largely metaphorical barrier that many drivers ignore and police do not vigorously enforce. A few feet from the cycling lane traffic moves at speeds of between 30 miles per hour, the speed limit for arterials in Seattle, and 40 miles per hour, the speed at which many cars actually travel. This kind of speed kills. A pedestrian hit by a car moving at 30mph has a 45% chance of dying; at 40mph, the chance of death is 85%, according to Britain’s Department of Transport.
Had Mr Wang been commuting on a busy bike route in Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Berlin, his unprotected exposure to instruments of death—namely, any vehicle moving at 20mph or more—would be nearly nil. These cities have knitted together networks for everyday travel by bike. To start with, motor vehicles allowed near cyclists are subject to “traffic calming.” They must slow down to about 19mph, a speed that, in case of collision, kills less than 5%. Police strictly enforce these speed limits with hefty fines. Repeat offenders lose their licences.
Calmer traffic is just the beginning. In much of northern Europe, cyclists commute on lanes that are protected from cars by concrete buffers, rows of trees or parked cars. At busy crossroads, bicycle-activated traffic lights let cyclists cross first. Traffic laws discriminate in favour of people on bikes. A few American cities have taken European-style steps to make streets safer for cycling, most notably Portland, Oregon, which has used most of the above ideas. The result: more bikes and fewer deaths. Nearly 6% of commuters bike to work in Portland, the highest proportion in America. But in five out of the past ten years there have been no cycling deaths there. In the nearby Seattle area, where cycling is popular but traffic calming is not, three cyclists have been killed in the past few weeks.
Dedicated bike lanes, traffic lights that allow cyclists to go first, traffic calmed to under 20 MPH near bike lanes, drivers that endanger cyclists being slapped with fines, drivers who routinely endanger cyclists losing their licenses—that's what a "war on cars" looks like, you fucking whiners.
There's a war going on around here alright—it's a war on cyclists and it's being waged by drivers. I wish someone actually had the guts to declare a war on cars.