Bike advocates say Baltimore city is experiencing a “bike-lash.”
The hit-and-run killing of bicyclist Aaron Laciny ("Cyclist fatally struck by two cars in Towson hit-and-run," June 21) was an inexcusable tragedy, and the driver of the car responsible should be arrested and punished. More and better bike lanes, public awareness and police enforcement of the laws protecting bicyclists are mandatory.
However, unfortunately, according to the reports, Mr. Laciny had not taken all of the steps necessary to help ensure his own safety. Evidently, although he was wearing a helmet, his bicycle did not have reflectors or lights. As a bicyclist, I often see fellow cyclists without reflectors or lights (and a few without helmets!); they are much less visible on the road. All bikes need at least one light in the back (many of us have a separate light on the rear of our helmets). We also need a light in front because we often share two-lane roads with cars and must be seen by on-coming vehicles. The blinking mode helps attract drivers' attention and makes the light batteries last longer. Neither lights nor batteries are expensive (and can be rechargeable). Finally, we need to wear a bright vest or jersey with reflecting stripes on it; the mesh ones weigh almost nothing and do not make you warm. Helmets are, of course, absolutely essential.
No remedy will be perfect, and even the best-prepared bicyclist may be hit. Lights and reflectors will not protect us against irresponsible, criminally negligent drivers, such as Heather Cook, who struck and killed Thomas Palermo in broad daylight in 2014. But, as bicyclists will always be much more vulnerable to serious injury than car drivers, we have to be proactive. Riding without lights on, even during the day, is a mistake. We need to do all that we can to try to tilt the odds in our favor. Becoming more visible is one thing we can do.