Last week, Vancouver-area radio host Jill Bennett went viral after tweeting a photo of a Dodge Durango straddling a bright yellow concrete barrier that the driver had hit. “Hey @CityofVancouver this is second incident I’ve seen caused by these useless ‘slow street’ barricades installed last month. They don’t slow down traffic; they cause crashes and traffic chaos,” Bennett wrote.
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Understandably, thousands of people proceeded to pile on, pointing out how ridiculous her complaint was. Had the driver simply been paying attention to the road and driving at a reasonable speed, they would have easily noticed the brightly colored traffic calming installation, driven through without a problem and nothing bad would have happened to them. Blaming anyone other than the driver for this crash is absolutely insane.
And this is far from a one-off situation where one idiot had a bad take. This attitude is incredibly common. Just head over to NextDoor or the local subreddit in any small city that has recently added some form of protected bike lanes, and you’ll see the exact same sentiment. When the city closest to where I currently live (spoiler: not every Jalopnik staffer lives in New York) added flexible posts with some reflector tape on them to (sort of) protect a bike lane in its downtown, they were almost immediately hit, and the complaints started to flood in from people who were upset they were ever installed in the first place.
How dare the city put drivers at risk by doing one tiny thing to make riding safer for cyclists! These barriers just jump out and attack cars at random! I was just minding my own business, and now I have a flat tire! Thanks for nothing, idiot city planners.
I’m sorry to break it to anyone who has trouble keeping their car out of a bike lane (or off a concrete barrier), but it’s not the bike lane’s fault you’re a shitty driver. If you hit something stationary, that’s your fault. Pay attention to the fucking road while you’re driving. It’s not too much to ask when other people’s lives are literally at stake.
After all, killing someone who’s not in a car is still killing someone. And if you think they were asking for it because they were walking or riding a bike, you’re just a bad person. You’re the one driving the 5,000-lb vehicle. You’re the one responsible for making sure you don’t hit anything or anyone. Trying to blame others for your shitty driving is just ridiculous.
In the case of cyclists and pedestrians, sure, it’s possible to construct a hypothetical scenario where they might get hit while doing something that makes it entirely their fault. But not bike lane barriers and traffic calming measures. They’re just sitting there. Not moving. Completely stationary. Asking drivers to avoid hitting them is like asking drivers to avoid hitting buildings. It’s nothing more than a basic requirement for being allowed to drive on public roads.
If that’s too much to ask, then maybe it’s time for the state to take your driver’s license away. Oh, you live in a suburban hellscape and can’t get around without a car? Too bad. Stay home and have your groceries delivered until you can prove to society that you can be trusted behind the wheel again. Or take the bus. Sorry if you think you’re too good for public transportation. You’re clearly not good enough at driving to have a license, so suck it up, buttercup. That barrier you hit could have been someone’s child.