The Roads Might Be Safer Than We Think
I’m a huge supporter of all the great cycling advocacy organizations out there pushing for safer roads and improved cycling infrastructure, but I’m going a little controversial on you today and saying that the roads just might be safer than we think.
I’ve been living and cycling here in Grenada for over a month now and I’ve been heavily reminded just how scary a road can actually be. I can’t complain about it because it was my choice to move here, but I wanted to talk about the incredibly poor riding conditions and the insanity a cyclist is faced with if they want to ride.
One thing is for sure, the roads of North America now seem like ultimate luxury lined with the softness of pillows.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and have decided that the roads of most locations in the world are not the heart of the problem….it’s the amount of traffic consuming those roads. Mix in an increasing lack of focus and attention by drivers (and some cyclists) and you’ve now got an unsafe situation.
I feel as if the roads are not necessarily to blame and that putting up things like bike lanes, bicycle traffic lights, and share the road signs are more of a band-aid than a solution. All these things definitely aide in making the roads safer for cyclists, but with enough traffic out there…even the best infrastructure becomes unsafe.
Unless we can construct pathways that are only for cyclists and nowhere near the path of vehicle traffic…..there is always going to be unsafe conditions.
I’m currently riding on uneven crappy pavement with lots of huge holes, super narrow roads, people (and animals) constantly darting out into traffic, broken glass, and so many other things that us cyclists consider the enemy. Even a guy like me who has claimed to be a tiny lap dog who rides like he’s a Rottweiler, has moments of pure freight out there. But I’ll tell you why it works (well, sort of works).
Less traffic, slower speeds, and focus. There aren’t a lot of roads here in Grenada, and vehicles per mile of road is definitely less than what you’ll find in places like North America, Australia, and the UK. The vehicles on the road are also moving a whole lot slower than in places with smoother and straighter roads…okay, the busses here think they are racing an F1 but for the most part people drive slower. And then there is focus. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I’m on my bike or driving our vehicle I am way more focused on what’s going on than I’ve ever been anywhere else. Extreme focus is a must for me over here.
The Grenadian drivers are not the best that I’ve seen in the world, and there are more than just a few reckless drivers around here. They also don’t seem to care much for the cyclists. Those of us who ride in Grenada, take our lives in our hands in order to train on the roads. Sounds like the situation in most places, huh? Well, I didn’t seem to notice it as much when I was riding on nice roads with big wide bike lanes.
But like I said, it’s a numbers game. With enough traffic on these roads, I know the situation would be increasingly worse.
So there you go….my bicycle advocacy advice. If we can somehow get fewer vehicles on the road and a better focus from the people behind the wheel and handlebars, our roads of the world will be a safer place for everyone.
What do you think? Maybe a couple of rides with me over here in Grenada will get you thinking the same way.