Popular Mechanics Understands, When Rebuilding America, Remember the Cyclists

From Popular Mechanics

“That light is for you, too!”

This familiar refrain, or some slight variation, greeted me every other time I pedaled through a red light in Iowa City, Iowa. In those drivers’ minds, I was breaking the rules. Red means stop, and red means stop for everybody, not just cars.

Angry drivers often argue that if cyclists want to ride on the road, then they should obey all the rules of the road. The fact is, not all vehicles are created equal. Those rules were designed for heavy, powerful metal machines full of fire and people—not their more vulnerable, human-powered counterparts. That’s why a few places have legalized my tactic of rolling through the red, also called the Idaho stop—because it actually makes cycling safer. That’s why we should start thinking differently about the road and how we police it, rather than allowing cyclist-vs-driver animosity rise unchecked.

This is especially true as cycling continues to grow in popularity in the U.S. Commuting by bike grew 60 percent, to almost 1 million, in the first decade of the 21st century. Cycling accidents have grown, too. In 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 818 people were killed while cycling and 45,000 were injured. That same year, more than 35,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and 2.4 million were injured.

Lowering this number demands smarter infrastructure and laws. Understanding our past can help create the right roads for tomorrow. With American streets and bridges reaching near crisis levels of decay, it’s time not only to rebuild our infrastructure but also to think about how our roads work

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