Monday, January 09, 2006
The tragic deaths of the cycling group at the weekend brought into
sharp focus for me the conflicting dilemmas of being caring parents,
letting one's kids roam free, engaging with environmental desires and
plain practical issues.
When I was my boys' age, 40 years ago, I went everywhere by bike, and
on my own. Today I would not let them near the road yet, and when
(if) we do as they get older, it will be with a parent at either end
and all the various protections imaginable, from helmets to
reflective gear, etc.
Not that this would have made a whit of difference in this case.
Likewise a few weeks ago, when I dropped them off at a remote pub for
a night hike with their Cub lodge. 20-odd kids and several leaders,
all with head lamps (literally) and bright yellow jackets, walking a
few miles mostly over farm land but also on the roads. I was not
awaiting their return at ease, having driven back and seen various
folk hurtling, legally, at 60mph down single lane A & B country roads
in the pitch black, vision good to the throw of of their headlights,
which of course do not travel round corners. And reflective jackets
don't generate light forwards as do oncoming cars.
It's a similar story in more urban settings. The stories I read of
cycling in the city do not make for happy reading.
And I'm afraid to say that, no matter what the system of power (even
if only distilled water exits the pipe), without a force field around
the bike, if a vehicle has mass and exceeds walking pace, in this day
and age I don't see how the two can safely coexist in the same zone.
Which means the car rules. Unless we can find a way of bring its
speed to a safe level remotely in the presence of such other traffic.
And that of course ignores the fact that pavements can be, and
sometimes are, mounted.
Our thirst for travel in vehicles has all but crushed our right to do
the same under our own steam.