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Bicycle tipping point approaches

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July 10, 2008

Your words on bicycles ("If only drivers would share the road, bicycling would be safer," Bella English, July 6) are a great contribution to what David Watson of MassBike believes is an approaching tipping point.

Judy, my wife, and I recently returned from a bike-and-barge tour of the Netherlands. There, bicycles are a dominant component in the country's transportation system. As we find gas prices in America staggering, perhaps we should look to Holland where petrol sells for the equivalent of 11 dollars a gallon.

If bicycle usage grows substantially our collective knowledge of the two-wheeled steed needs to be increased. When bicyclists are rare and little more than road mosquitoes, a certain amount of judicious scofflawing can be exercised. However with numbers come enhanced responsibility for bicyclists to observe the same road rules (MassBike's current mantra). This in no way discounts your totally legitimate critique of many motor vehicle drivers' own misguided concept that bicycles have less right to be on the road.

One thought I have grows out of my research. I have been studying police on bicycles for some time now. Currently I am possessed with the thought that more police on bicycles, properly trained and equipped, can affect the social perception of bicycle usage. This increased police bicycling may be starting to take hold. My studies and others seem to evidence that police services in dense residential and commercial areas are enhanced by partial substitution by bicycle patrols in the cruiser's stead.

Chris Menton, Ed.D., associate professor, Roger Williams University

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