Safe Streets Begin Between Your Ears

February 11, 2012

“The last time I should speed is when I’m in a hurry.” “While waiting to make a left turn, it’s not what I see, but what I don’t see that could kill me (look for blind spots, not semi-trailer trucks).” “If I’m on a bicycle, I’m invisible, but if a driver sees me, he may try to kill me (eye contact does not equal awareness).” “If I ride a bike at night without a light, I’m an idiot.” At one time or another, but more frequently towards the end of my career as a prosecutor in Boulder’s municipal court, I often suggested to drivers and bicyclists that the above thoughts just might save their lives some day.

The “number” of accidents and the “severity” of accidents are two very different things. Most of Boulder’s accidents are rear-enders caused when the driver behind looks left for his/her opportunity to merge, and the driver in front stops after not finding one: 5-10mph collisions make the stat books, but they rarely kill people. City-killers involve major intersection red light violations, high speeds in residential neighborhoods, failures to yield while turning left, and bicyclists not “seen” because (day or night) they pose no threat to an inattentive driver.

Don’t trust the seat of your pants. More patience behind the wheel would reduce all of Boulder’s vehicular accidents. Obnoxious, in-your-face signs only create a false sense of security for pedestrians and cyclists, while they contribute to visual pollution. WE are both the problem and the solution.

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