Although a cycling enthusiast, I share the same concerns over cycling at night and wisely investing taxpayer dollars presented in a recent opinion (letter, Dec. 8).
Just like driving at night, cycling at night is only dangerous when the individual does not ensure their ride or drive home is safe for themselves and those around them. Driving at night and cycling at night share the same potential dangers: low visibility, weather conditions, road conditions, etc. Driving at night and cycling at night also share the same safety practices: proper use of infrastructure, using season appropriate tires, using safety equipment and, of course, using proper vehicle lighting.
The second point the author brings up is that using taxpayer dollars to fund the "free" lights is absurd and unfair. Increasing the number of cyclists through programs like these will reduce traffic congestion and increase parking availability downtown, reducing the need for road maintenance and additional parking. Collisions themselves can heavily tax a community’s health services. The Center for Disease Control notes a 2005 study showing crash related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $5 billion. And unlike "fender-benders," car/bicycle collisions have high potential for fatal injury. A 2013 study notes that the average risk of death for a cyclist is 10 percent when struck at 25 mph, and 50 percent at 40 mph.
The author and I share the same concerns over cycling at night and wisely investing taxpayer dollars. However, I greatly applaud Missoula in Motion's efforts, which will result in a healthier community and a safer transportation system for cars, bicycles and all methods of traveling through our beautiful community.