David R. Ragland, P.D., is the director of the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center and teaches traffic safety planning and injury courses in the UC Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Public Health. The San Francisco Chronicle posted his essay on improving cyclist safety in their Opinion section.
If we are going to encourage cycling and walking (and taking transit) for the “greater good,” we must be sure we know the effect of our policies. We need to make sure that our efforts to encourage people to do the right thing don’t place them in harm’s way.
Ragland also, surprisingly, advocates for centerline rumble strips. In the past, cycling advocacy groups typically lobby against such strips, because they discourage drivers from crossing the centerline when passing cyclists.
The Chron also published an opinion piece by S.F. Bike Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum:
In the wake of the tragic deaths of two cyclists in Cupertino, I am startled by a looming prejudice against those who choose to ride bikes, particularly in the media.
Though it is clear that these cyclists were not at fault when they were killed by a deputy sheriff veering across the road, what has surfaced is an inexcusable “blame the victim” sentiment.
We have seen articles about which streets are “most dangerous” for bicyclists, stories about how often cyclists are deemed at fault by police in collisions, and reports of bad cyclist behavior.
The Cupertino tragedy has been portrayed as a “bicycle safety” story, instead of what it really is, a story about the risks of dangerous driving. If that deputy had veered across the road into an oncoming VW Beetle or Mazda Miata instead of a line of cyclists, the occupants of that car would likely be seriously injured or dead, as would the driver himself.