Carson Poe: Make roads safer for most vulnerable

Published: 09-12-2023 3:55 PM

It is important that people have the opportunity to express their feelings about developments in their communities. However, public policies should be based on facts, not feelings. The recent letter to the editor opining on how bicycle lanes make roads less safe and may detract from the imminent Northampton Main Street redesign is simply unsupported by the data and comes across as an ill-timed rant [“‘Bike-friendly’ not always ‘pedestrian-friendly,’” Gazette, Aug. 17].

Pedestrian injuries and fatalities as a result of cyclists are exceedingly rare. A perhaps inelegantly named recent report from the UK (“What kills most on the roads?”) goes into this topic in great depth. A quick visit to our own “Fatality Analysis Reporting System” will give readers a sense of the scale of how (faster and bigger) vehicles — not bicycles — are injuring and killing more pedestrians than ever.

Further, research has repeatedly demonstrated that the addition of bike lanes serves as a traffic-calming device itself, making roads safer for all users. (See, for example, FHWA’s 2021 “Developing Crash Modification Factors for Bicycle-Lane Additions While Reducing Lane and Shoulder Widths.”) I’d argue we should make roads as safe as possible for all users, starting with the most vulnerable, rather than spit-balling counterproductive assertions.

Carson Poe

Turners Falls

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