Since announcing two weeks ago that our reporting team is working on a series about bicycle safety and infrastructure around Greater Boston, I have gotten a number of comments, from close friends and readers alike, along the lines of this:
Why the hell do you care about bikes so much? You don’t even ride one. You’re either on the train, on foot, or driving. And fuck those cyclists too! They are always blowing through lights and pedaling aggressively.
If you’ve ever spoken up for the rights and lives of cyclists in the company of devoted drivers, then you’ve probably heard a spiel just like this. And as somebody who many motorists perceive should be on their side because I occasionally push my Corolla downtown and in Cambridge, the reaction to my advocacy is often like when ignoramus bigots question why white people would back the Black Lives Matter movement.
Needless to say, the cycle haters have it wrong. Between this week’s thorough, months-in-the-making feature by Kylie Obermeier and the additional components of the Vicious Cycle series produced in collaboration with our partners at the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, there should be more than enough statistics and citations of relevant studies to quell those who are looking for concrete reasons that we need to improve streets and sidewalks. From a human perspective, however, it just seems that those of us who don’t commute on pedals—whether it’s because we can’t due to physical or logistical limitations, or because we’re just too lazy or scared—should at least acknowledge that our brothers and sisters who do ride bikes are on to something quite sustainable in an age of despicable excess. And we should want to help them keep on pedaling in any way we can, even if it means losing a couple of parking spots.
A lot of what we write about at DigBoston and BINJ is related to power, from who wields it to how their muscle manifests through media. Ten times out of 10, the individual or enterprise with the most power, be it might, money, influence, or all of the above, tends to win, all purported rules be damned. And by that measure, what is more obnoxious and unfairly powerful than a car or a truck in an intersection that pedestrians and bike riders must brave as well? Do a lot of cyclists run lights? Sure, and a lot have been ticketed for it, too. But none of that changes anything, any more than a token crime by an undocumented immigrant validates the garbage spewing out of President Trump’s mouth.
On that note, whether you’re on foot or behind some handlebars or a steering wheel, I propose we all just think about what the Donald would do, and then do the opposite.
And don’t even get me started on these wealthy assholes clogging up commercial air space with their personal jets.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.