My Statement for the Cambridge Bicycle Safety Rally on 10/17/18

Thank you all for coming out today to remind us that our work to make our streets safer for people on bikes is nowhere near done from any standpoint — engineering, education or enforcement. I am reminded of this every day as I ride around the city. Your posts on Twitter, Facebook and SeeClickFix remind me daily of where and how we are falling short.

I’m sorry I can’t be here with you tonight. I had already committed to attending the community discussion tonight on implicit bias with Dr Mazharin Banaji of Harvard’s Pyschology Department, whose research on racial bias exhibited by children of tender age was featured in the Boston Globe.

Dr Banaji’s book is called “Blindspot,” which is a term we cyclists sadly are all too familiar with. Doubtless, many of the 160 crashes being highlighted in today’s rally were the result of professed blindspots — the fault of motorists who insist they simply didn’t see the cyclist in their door zone or didn’t notice the biker riding alongside their car as they right-hooked her. Too often, especially with larger vehicles, blindspots are fatal to cyclists and are not prosecuted, as with the tragic deaths of Joe Lavins and Anita Kurmann.

As people advocating for the rights of those road users who have chosen not to operate in the dominant mode — motor vehicles — we understand how bias works — it starts with calling cycling an “alternative” form of transportation and then justifying street designs and enforcement policies that make us more “vulnerable” than we already are on 2 (or 3) wheels. It is perpetuated through a drivers’ ed curriculum that still doesn’t do enough to educate new drivers about sharing the road. And it’s ingrained through a societal mindset that preferences investing in highways over public transit. Bias pervades our culture, and changing attitudes will take patience and persistence — and more public discussions.

To that end, I’ve scheduled a Transportation Committee hearing to discuss bike facilities and progress on the network on Tuesday, November 27, from 4-6pm here at City Hall.

Thank you for being here to show your support for making Cambridge safer for biking. And, thank you for biking with your own safety and that of others at the top of your mind, and for modeling how to move through our city more sustainably. Together, at this rally and as you pedal on our streets, you are helping create the critical mass we need to be noticed and respected and to eliminate blindspots. Safe travels home tonight.

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Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA