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Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

To finish off the Streetsblog Network week on an adrenaline-filled note, we've got a post about fear -- the biker's fear, to be precise -- from Livable Streets for West Palm Beach. Raphael Clemente relates a couple of all-too-familiar anecdotes about drivers who use their vehicles to intimidate, then says:

3213601375_80ac4ebc62.jpgPhoto by cainmark via Flickr.
[P]eople who are not in a car and utilizing public roads and rights of way are often fearful of drivers and therefore intimidated by them. Some drivers choose to use this intimidation factor in an effort to control situations in their own favor at the expense of the more vulnerable user. For me it is something I choose to deal with... But for those who are less hardy or less hardcore than I am maybe one or two fear-inducing incidents will be enough to make them give up on walking or bicycling and go back to driving their cars everywhere.

I have thought about this for a long time and feel that the only way to confront this is to completely reorganize the transportation heirarchy as we know it. In urban areas, business districts and neighborhoods, peds, bicyclists and transit are given priority in that order. Private automobiles, delivery trucks, etc are moved to the bottom of the ladder. This is across the board starting with the planning and design phase through construction and included as specific policies for law enforcement, funding, etc. Undoubtedly this will be years in the making -- if it ever happens.

Lofty goals to be sure. But with the idea of "complete streets" quickly gaining traction at the local and national level, what better time than now to think big?

Clemente adds to his own thoughts a statistic-packed essay by Mighk Wilson of the Florida Bicycle Association. It's quite long but well worth a read if you have any interest in the numbers on cycling safety (and being able to pull them out in an argument). "Being afraid of real risks and threats is healthy," says Wilson. "But the belief that bicycling is dangerous is based on intimidation, scary stories and vague statistics."

In non-fear-related news from around the network: Light Rail Blogger reports on rider unhappiness over rising transit fares in Phoenix; Austin Contrarian links to some stunning panoramic photos of sprawl; and Seattle Transit Blog details how falling retail and car sales have gutted that city's transit budget.