Yesterday when I picked up the little one from daycare, he insisted we go get ice-cream. I decided it was a reasonable request, and moreover there might not be that many good ice-cream days left this year. I called the girl who I knew to be hanging out at home, asking her to meet us at the store.
We got there ahead of her, so we parked our bikes and sat down outside the store to chat about his day. It was only after a while I really noticed where exactly he had parked his bike. It was parked, you see, right next to a sign advertising the days tabloids. And the big story for that particular tabloid, for that particular day, was yet another accident involving a right-turning lorry and a bike. A really bad one. A 10 year old girl had been crushed.
Now, I think of Copenhagen as generally safe for biking. There’s good infrastructure, plenty of bike paths, and there’s so many bikes that drives know to expect bikes and drive accordingly. I’m usually comfortable having my kids bike. And bike alone, going to school, sports, what have you. They’ve been biking since they could keep a bike upright, and we bike everywhere. They know how to conduct themselves in traffic.
But you worry. It’s part of being a parent. Seeing my son’s tiny bike parked there, right in front of that sign with it’s terrible story and haunting picture, that made me stop. A lot of nasty thoughts and awful pictures flashed by. The kind of things you can’t even imagine dealing with.
I’m not afraid to have my kids bike. Bad accidents are rare in this city. But lorries, they’re a menace. For years and years every fatal bike accident has involved a right-turning lorry. We know, from Netherlands and elsewhere, that there’s simple technology. that can dramatically improve the ability of drivers to see bikes, but nothing is happening. And maybe that’s what really scares me – that we know there’s simple steps we can take to save lives, and yet we do not.