Portland is lauded as a cycling utopia by many: bloggers, respected publications, and cyclists' word-of-mouth. But, unfortunately; utopia in it's truest form never really exists, and this cycling haven in the Great Northwest is not without it's own issues.
Andwebike.com; an awareness website and organization sponsored by the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition (www.washcobtc.org), Portland's Bicycle Transportation Alliance (www.bta4bikes.org) and Bike Gallery (www.bikegallery.com) among others; was created to memorialize Oregonian Tim O'Donnell who was struck by a car and killed while riding with friends. From the website:
"This tragedy brought increased attention to the safety of cyclists using Washington County roads. Tim's wife, Mary, established a memorial fund to address this problem. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), working with the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition (WashCo BTC), is spearheading an effort to increase awareness of these serious safety issues.
The campaign will include life-sized cutouts of people with their bikes that will remind motorists that bicyclists are their relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors, "and we bike". The cutouts will be placed around in front of businesses and community gathering spots around the county. The message is, "Be careful; the cyclist could be someone you know." Printed material will include a list of ways motorists can more safely interact with bicyclists. Presentations will be made to community groups throughout the month, and various other activities will also help promote the campaign."
This campaign is exactly the kind of thinking that I wish I had thought of while living and riding in and around Nashville. Nashville, while lacking the bike-friendly infrastructure of Portland, is a popular place for cycling - and like Portland, is soured by frequent - and sometimes violent and fatal - interactions between cyclists and cars. I think these random acts of road-rage sometimes occur without the thought that the object of the rage might be someone they know.
But the point goes beyond that. That person on the bike that the motorist is frustrated with (in spite of their inherent, law-given right to the road) is someones son, daughter, mother, father, friend or neighbor. The crime against humanity occurs regardless of the rider's relation(or lack-thereof) to the motorist.
What a great, thought-provoking campaign. Spread the word.
Thanks for reading