Columnist Suggests We Ban Bikes from Boston

Today in 'controversial reactions to a cyclist's death' ...


Image Credit: Meredith Foley

Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan has delighted her website’s commenters and irked the city’s bicyclists with her not-so-original suggestion that bikes simply do not belong on the streets of Boston. Her reasoning seems to be that 36-year-old Kanako Miura died in a collision with a truck this week, and that Eagan herself gets anxious as a driver when she has to share the road.

“I’ve been driving forever. Bicyclists still make me nervous. My nightmare: that I may not swerve fast enough to avoid a bicyclist who comes into my lane,” she writes, concluding, “This is about ever more bicyclists trying to ‘share’ roads with cars when there’s no room to share.”

Boston Herald online commenters overwhelmingly agree with her that the bikes need to go, which is odd because … well, just try the “this-machine-resulted-in-someone’s-death-so-we-should-ban-it” line of argument with that crowd after a gun death. See how it goes. (Points for ideological consistency: Eagan does try this argument.)

As with all things bike-related, her column has inspired some impassioned reactions.

For whatever reason, public opinion on investment in bike infrastructure seems to divide along the familiar lines of a culture war, which puts conservative city tabloids in position to give voice to the oppressed masses who have had bicyclists forced upon them. Eagan is by no means the most overreaching tabloid writers on the subject. Heck, she’s not even today’s most most overreaching tabloid writer on the subject.

That reward would go to the New York Post, which suggests that a newly installed bikeshare rack in front of a Greenwich Village co-op probably, definitely, maybe resulted in a 92 year old man’s almost-death when an ambulance couldn’t get as close as possible to the building’s door. (An FDNY spokesman tells Gothamist, “The fire units on scene had absolutely no problem accessing this building,” though the Post seems to have missed that minor detail.) Actually, the general shit-fit the New York tabloids have been throwing in advance of New York City’s bikeshare debut is trolling taken to the level of fine art form.

The fact is that the power of the internet to amplify argument tends to give more prominence to voices of opposition than their numbers would suggest. Both New York and Boston residents mostly support making their cities bike-able. A New York Times poll found a broad majority of New Yorkers in support of bike lanes and bikeshare. Up here in Boston, it seems unlikely that an outright ban on bikes in Boston will take  place. Some drivers may find the roads too narrow to share, but given the bikes are here to stay, those drivers may need to make other arrangements.