Chaos or Utopia



Chaos or Utopia

A friend of mine recently sent a link to the following video of a time lapse video of a student rush hour in Cambridge, UK.

It sparked a rather interesting discussion between the two of us. Does this video show complete chaos (bikes all over everywhere, cars being cut off, and cyclist taking unnecessary risks) or does it show the advantages of a critical mass of bikes (cars drastically outnumbered, stopping for pedestrians and bicycles, and generally being made to wait)?

I can see both arguments. Providence is at a point where cyclists are still outside the norm. Some unknown number of us, head out to the streets on a daily basis riding a bike and have become accustomed to fending for ourselves and ensuring our own safety. Most of us ride under the assumption that we are completely invisible to motorists and for the most part get where we need to without injuries. Many of us are guilty of bending the rules when “necessary” or “convenient”. There is a certain element of chaos in the current situation, but the number of cyclists is small enough it often goes unnoticed.

So what would happen if Providence experienced a drastic increase in the number of cyclists on the roads? Would the situation degrade into a chaotic free for all, where the majority of the cyclists would ignore the rules of the road? Or, would cyclists start behaving more like motorists as we approached a critical mass? Can we ever reach a point where bicycles outnumber cars on an average stretch of road? If we reach that point, would you occasionally think back to when you were one of the few cyclists and yearn for some tranquility of the good old days?

It does make you stop and think…

1 Comment

  • detay61
    Mar 20, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I have to think that the commuters in Providence would continue to behave as they do. Right turns from the left lane, blocking intersections, pulling out into on-coming traffic.. to name a few, would likely not change much. I would like to see then send a text message while biking, though.

    On the other hand, fender benders are pretty much covered by insurance so there is little incentive for people to do all those little thing to avoid collision. What if that little collision meant road rash or a broken collar bone?

    Either way, I do look forward to the day when I see that many people riding the roads, even if it means a little more hassle for me. That's a price I'm willing to pay.