Image by Kent Buckley
I used to ride down Mass Ave between Harvard Square and Porter Square to get to work, but eventually I couldn’t take the stress anymore. The hellish winter had essentially transformed the pavement into rubble, and all the sharrows had worn off, so it wasn’t the most pleasant of rides.
Eventually, I started riding a different route which was by all means smoother, but that had me skirting Harvard’s campus and dodging pedestrians. What drove me off of Mass Ave, though, wasn’t the potholes or traffic; rather, it was the aggressive drivers who shouted and swerved at me.
I imagine that Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, whose recent op-ed says that cyclists should steer away from urban roads, is one of the innumerable motorists who has flipped me off. I want to write off his conservative clickbait as just that, but sadly, people who agree with him are galvanized by his column—even where he gets his facts wrong.
In noting the millions of people who drive to and from work, Jacoby cites US Census data. At the same time, he fails to mention that the same report actually lists Boston as being among the top two cities with the largest declines in the rate of automobile commuting. In other words, Jacoby’s trolling comes as cycling in Boston has seen a sharp increase.
The columnist also laments how cyclists cause congestion when they take the lane as a safety measure, but fails to deride the actual cause of traffic: cars. He further asks if readers have ever seen a police officer ticket a cyclist for running a red light. On this point, I would ask Jacoby to do some elementary research, statistical or anecdotal, since anyone who commutes on Comm Ave during morning rush hour has likely seen several bikers ticketed around the BU Bridge.
Roads weren’t always made for cars, and just because these metal behemoths have taken over doesn’t mean that they will dominate forever. Boston and its environs are full of people looking for ways to take the car out of the urban equation, and on this point I am confident that cyclists are on the right side of history. I’m going to keep biking until I die, or until some idiot like Jacoby kills me.