Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Impact Man and the Senator

Colin Beavan, aka "No Impact Man" in New York City (hello again New York!) had a close call with a car (driven by a rather self-important sounding State Senator) in downtown NYC a couple of days ago that turned into a rather ugly incident. Details here. I really like NIM's writing and sentiment, but I wonder about his cycling skills. NIM allowed himself to get caught in a driver's blind spot in a situation where he had no safe outlet. This is a highly dangerous place to be. It's arguable that he did the right thing (safety wise) by striking the car (as long as he didn't sustain a hand injury), but far better to never get caught in this situation in the first place.

This leads to a handy rule for safe vehicular cycling: If you're riding on a trafficked street and there is not ample shoulder (or adjacent turn lane) space as an escape area, you have to "get out there" in the lane to force an accommodation by the driver. This is one of the rather non-intuitive aspects of safety in bike commuting, I admit, but there it is.

Just added No Impact Man to my blogr0ll. It's worth visiting.


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Donny said...

I agree with you (and practice that advice regularly) but I think it's a little silly to expect people to know it. As you said, it's non-intuitive, so I don't hold people accountable for not doing it (unless it is the law, which it isn't here). The point of his argument still stands (he was in the right, whether or not he's an expert cyclist) and I'm glad to hear he will get to meet with the senator.

Robert Anderson said...

Donny, your comment is interesting. I don't know if it's "silly" as you say or not. It is absolutely true that the educational infrastructure for teaching bicycling skills in this country is insufficient.

Yes, he was in the right. The old saw is that it's possible to be "dead right". I want to promote bicycle safety, not bicycle moral superiority. Must be my pragmatic bent :)

Thanks for writing and reading the blog.