reflections of an urban cyclista, part 2

Dear Mayor Menino,

I’m seeing a lot of headlines roll by lately about cyclists getting killed, and it’s making me really upset.

I applaud your efforts to make Boston a friendlier city for cyclists and pedestrians. But…there’s so much more to be done, especially now that we’ve reached this critical juncture: As more of us ride around, and even more of us think about riding, what’s next?

Women cyclists are what’s next. Make it safer for women and children to ride, and the quality of life will improve city-wide.

I’d like to live in a city where I wouldn’t feel afraid the moment before I get on my bike. Where my young son and I wouldn’t be afraid that we might be killed or badly hurt because we chose to run an errand in our neighborhood by bike.

me, riding home from work (Julie Miller)

Almost every day, we choose to ride or walk instead of drive. My son usually insists that we go by bike, actually, and I don’t want to discourage him.

In spite of my fear, I still choose to ride. Because I don’t want this fear to control my life. Because my son and I love to ride—it’s fun! Because we choose to be healthy. Because riding a bike is so convenient. And because by riding our bikes, we’re choosing to do something, even though it’s a small something, to help save our beautiful planet.

My son and I also walk, and take the T. I drive a car, too, but prefer not to if I don’t have to. Why should I, if I live in a city? Please, Mr. Mayor: Make it easier for me to bike than drive!

If a 28-year old woman, a Barnard/BC grad student about to embark on a promising career, was shot and killed on Huntington Avenue, it would be front page news.

But if she gets killed while riding her bike? Meh!

How many of us have to die cycling before we do something to change the status quo?

The ghost bike phenomenon was swirling around quite a bit in the news this past week. How many more memorials will go up this year?

enough is enough! (AP,

Seriously, Mr. Mayor: Don’t you think it’s time we did even more to make it safer to get around town without a car? That we did something, right now, to make our children healthier and happier? Something that would be visionary, and yet so simple? Something that would be a truly lasting legacy of your administration?

How long must we wait before we get separated bike lanes on Boylston? There’s plenty of room. How about a car-free zone on Newbury, where most of the traffic is just cruising around, looking for parking anyway? Let’s be innovative. We live in a beautiful, intelligent, creative city!

Mayor Menino, if you really want more women and families to ride bikes, like you say you do on your BostonBikes Facebook page, then set up a robust bike infrastructure throughout the city, so women and children aren’t scared to death to ride. Because that’s why we ride on sidewalks. That’s why we do Idaho stops (click on the link — we should make this the law!)—which is when we stop, then go once it’s safe.

Because we need room to ride. We need our own designated space to feel safe enough to ride, even with our children. We need separate traffic signals to navigate busy intersections, separated lanes, and separate road rules, because bikes are not the same as cars. If cyclists stop, then go ahead at a light, we do it because it’s safer for us to have a head start.

Once the infrastructure’s there, you’ll find more compliance with the rules, and drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists will all be safer. Go to Amsterdam, to Copenhagen, or any other inspiring world-class city, and you’ll see firsthand what I mean. People deserve a distinct and safe space on the street when they get around on bikes (or on foot), just as much as when they’re in cars.

Remember you once said: “The car is no longer king“?

Make women cyclists the queens, and see how truly great a city Boston could be.


Jennifer Bruni