“Make drivers stop hitting them”
Again and again, the default position is that people on bikes, or foot, or mobility scooters should take steps to avoid cars and other vehicles. It’s all about being safe, being seen, wear a helmet, high-viz (which works so well), maybe we need safer bikes with roll cages?
It’s a load of raiméis. The driver of a vehicle gets a free ride – don’t worry, everyone else will look out for you! They’ll make *sure* you will see them! How the hell does that work? Letting drivers, who are licenced and meant to be responsible for the vehicle they are controlling, defer responsibility onto others is ridiculous. Imaging someone running around with a knife, and the response was to advise everyone to wear a stab vest and to be careful around the knife-holder? That’s the current state of road safety.
Here’s why the auto industry, the insurance industry and the officials they lobby want helmet laws. First, forcing people to wear helmets shifts responsibilities onto cyclists and absolves governments from having to build better cycling infrastructure and drivers from having to obey traffic laws. “Want to be safer? We’re not gonna build any bike lanes. They take up too much free parking. Put this foam dunce cap on your head, you’ll be fine!” Done, and done.
Second, helmet laws discourage people from using bicycles for everyday transportation by making it inconvenient, and by making it seem more dangerous than it really is. In Australia, there’s plenty of evidence that helmet laws have done far more to curb cycling growth than to keep riders safer. Take a look at the bike share in Melbourne: Hardly anybody’s using it, because you’ve got to buy a helmet first. Meanwhile, in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, where lots and lots of people ride bikes, a helmeted bicyclist is about as rare as a helmeted driver here in America. And yet they seem to be managing pretty well — maybe because they’ve got bike infrastructure, and because they still subscribe to the notion that the person operating the giant machine on public roads needs to be responsible for not killing people with it.
But say you’re willing to strap a foam bumper onto your head every single time you ride your bicycle, even if you’re just going to pick up some overpriced local kale. That’s just the beginning! Because now Volvo — those endearingly safety-minded Swedes — wants cyclists to take “safety” a step further and spray themselves with something called “Lifepaint” so they glow in the dark.
This is just another way for drivers to outsource any and all responsibility for what they do with their cars to other road users. The giveaway? Volvo’s promotional video is full of testimonials, including this one from a driver:
“Putting something on that will make you scream out to drivers like me is a fantastic thing.”
What? How oblivious are you? Nobody should have to “scream out” to you to get your attention while you’re driving a car. You should already be giving it, and undividedly so.