My Tone-Downed Rant
I saw this video about cracking down on Austin cyclists last Tuesday and it’s been bubbling up inside of me ever since. It seems like when I’m out riding, it always seems to be on my mind, and while I ride along I think about all the comments I have to say about it…..and to those people interviewed in the video. It’s become quite a rant, and I can’t remember the last time something got me worked up so much. I told myself that if I was still feeling the same way a week later, then I would go ahead and post about it…so here it is. However, it’s much more toned down from what’s really going on in my head.
This kind of news has come up as a result of two Austin cyclists getting hit recently (one fatal and posted about – We Lost Another One of Our Own), and I’ll explain things more later on.
Anyway, I try to keep things quite light and positive on this site….so instead of hitting you all up with a hardcore rant post, I’ve decided to lighten it up a whole lot and just mention a few things.
To start things off, why not have a look at the video (sorry for the commercial that comes up first…I couldn’t find a copy of the video without it) that set me off and then continue on down to my mini-rant below:
Okay, first off I need to speak to that first dude who is interviewed and says that “roads are made for cars and not bicycles”. Oh my gosh, I wish I could have a couple of minutes with this guy. What he said has got to be the most self-centered and lazy thing I’ve ever heard. So to you, Mr. “I could afford to get on my bike and lose a few pounds”, I say that not everyone has the luxury of being able to drive a vehicle like you do and they must rely on healthier and more environmentally friendly ways to get around. If I see this guy on the streets of Austin….oh, man.
Now a couple of people talk about bonehead cyclists doing bonehead things. Yes, it happens. But there are also bonehead drivers doing bonehead things as well….and I would guess that bikes are outnumbered by at least a few thousand to one in most cities. So for every bonehead cyclist out there, guess how many bonehead drivers there are?
I think it’s fine to crack down on cyclists doing un-safe things…..but this isn’t the way to fix the real problems out there. What I know for sure is that Verter Ginestra, the cyclist killed on April 28th, was doing nothing wrong and was being about as safe as humanly possible. Crack down on bonehead cyclists all you want, but that would have no effect on preventing things like what happened to Verter.
Peter Keys is one of our Loving the Bike readers and I like what he has to say about all this, so I wanted to include a couple comments from him.
“No charges against the driver? I don’t like to compare or want to be link Europe but over there it is an absolute privilege to drive. Pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way all the time. It’s the drivers fault if there is an accident and will be charged. So driving is taken so much more seriously.”
I don’t watch the news, but I’ve been paying attention to what has been aired on this topic lately. They seem to be making it into a Vehicle vs Cyclist battle, and that’s not how this should be dealt with. We can all get along quite simply and easily and you only have to look as far as the Netherlands to see a success story.
I could go on and on, but at least to me the root of the problem is that today’s drivers have way too many distractions. Cell phones, texting, putting on make-up, billboards, eating, and so many other things prevent drivers from focusing on the road and what lies before them. Driving a vehicle at speeds of up to 65 mph is not something that should be taken lightly. It requires complete focus and attention….and if people continue being distracted like they are, then things like this will continue to happen. Enough said.
I’d like to wrap up my mini-rant by echoing what Peter had to say above, and extend it to the idea that driving your car while talking on the phone (or texting, or whatever else) is not a taken for granted right. Even if it’s not illegal where you come from…it should be, and I’m asking you to consider keeping your hands off the phone when driving your car. You can disagree with me all you want, but I am 100% sure that drivers who do this are more than just a little bit distracted and not focused on the road.
I’m going to copy and paste the paragraph I included in my “We Lost Another One of Our Own” article and I invite you to jump in with your comments of any kind.
To those who drive a vehicle: Please Get Bikes on the Brain. Please Be Aware of Your Surroundings when in your car. Please Don’t Text or use a Cellphone (if you’re so freaking important that you must be on your phone while in the car, then hire someone to chauffeur you around so you can sit in the passenger side and text and call all you want). Please don’t drive a car if you’re not feeling emotionally or physically stable. Please Coexist on the road. Please Share the Road. Please Be Kind to Cyclists. Please.