People are understandably praising the city’s recently announced bike-sharing program, to be implemented next April. The benefits seem obvious and salutary: Fort Worthers will get more exercise, there will (possibly) be less fuel emissions from the city center, we’ll all look a whole lot more “bikey” and cosmopolitan, etc etc.
But let me point out the cloud behind this silver lining. Are city drivers ready to contend with an influx of newbies who have little or no experience with urban cycling? Yes, that bright green road paint in potentially dangerous traffic spots is supposed to protect cyclists from cars. But who’s going to protect cars from inexperienced cyclists? The latter might include grandparents who think it will be “special” to give their grandchildren bike rides to the museum district; out-of-shape middle-agers (like me) who feel a sudden urge to do something healthy but have no sense of their own limitations; and tipsy So7 habitues who want to feel the evening air on their booze-flushed faces.
Here’s an unscientific observation: Experienced urban cyclists often seem to be aware of their own mortality and take fewer dumb chances. Inexperienced riders seem to believe they are protected from injury by some kind of magical “right of way” law. This time next year, there may be a lot more of those riders.