My Tone-Downed Rant

09
May
2012

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.

Safety First image c/o No Cell Phone Use Driving Sign- MySafetySign.com

Enjoy Your Ride
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  • Malachi

    I have a bunch of colored shirts to ride in but anymore I’ll only wear red. I feel safer in it because even distracted drivers seem to find the color of stop signs preferially. Yellow signs can be ignored but red ones will get you in trouble so my anticadotal trials mave proven to me that motorists here can’t tell the difference between a human and a stop sign. The cell phone abuse has only gotten worse here with the gas drilling in the area. Companies like Chesapeake energy expect employees to use them 24/7. God save our broken little bodies.

  • TT

    I don’t feel you went overboard on your rant at all. This is a scary thing for cyclists and when people try pointing the finger at us as the cause of all the problems it is enough to make anyone angry. Just like you I hope these issues get solved one day in the future.

  • Keith Edmiston

    Oh man. I too have been very troubled by the direction this has been going. I attended the Pedal for Safer Streets (Please Be Kind to Cyclists) ride here in Austin last week and am finding myself more and more drawn to cycling advocacy…even though I really don’t consider myself the best at advocacy. I want to scream when I see newscasts such as the one you embedded here. And that first guy? What an idiot. He’s the type, in my mind, that also believes it’s “ok to hit women when they get outta line” just because that’s the way his daddy did it (can you see what I mean about not being good at advocacy/political way of thinking?).

    Anyway, I have for years had two bumper stickers on the back window of my S-10 pickup truck…one is in honor of my two Eagle Scout sons and the other is one of Al’s “Please Be Kind to Cyclists”. Since Verter’s passing I’ve added a third meant to remind folks not to text and drive (not that I’m suggesting that happened in Verter’s case).

    I’m perplexed at how best to help balance these issues. There are certainly many “rogue riders” out there. I chose not to associate myself with them. No helmet, not my buddy. Blow through stop signs, I just might say something. However, the MUCH bigger issue is the genuine lack of concern that most non-cyclists seem have for our plight. We really need to figure out how to make this message “receivable” by those folks…just like the way it is no longer cool to judge people by the color of their skin, or to kick a dog, or to pour gasoline out in the street once you’re done cleaning old car parts off in the grass. Times can change…we’ve seen that happen in our lifetimes already. We just need to find the right way to help them along.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for your great comments on this, Keith…and being from Austin you are also exposed to what’s been going on since Verter got hit. I’m glad you’re a supporter of Please Be Kind to Cyclists…they continue to do great things for all of us.

      I don’t know what the solution is, but I’ve decided to focus on promoting drivers (and cyclists) to be focused and pay full attention while out on the road. I think this is the basis of creating better conditions for everyone. More to come on this one soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brennanannie Ann Wilson Brennan

    I think this is very toned down. I can’t stand it when people use the “roads were built for cars” excuse. That part drives me crazy. But I do have some good news. I have noticed in Annapolis, where I live, that people are paying closer attention to cyclists these days. It is probably a combination of the fact that we have had an absurd number of cycling accidents in the past year AND the fact that we have so many cyclists hitting the road now. That’s the best part. I can’t believe how many of us are out there now. I bet I passed over 100 riders on Saturday on my ride in South County. It helps that we now have a triathlon club, three cycling race teams, and at least three cycling clubs in the area right now. It is awesome. Still, not every one is perfect. Someone threw a handful of pennies out there car window at me a few weeks back. Luckily their aim was as bad as their common sense and they missed me.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I’ve heard several stories of things being thrown at cyclists……can’t seem to figure that one out and hope this kind of thing stops soon. It’s good to hear that people are focusing more attention (in a good way) on cyclists over there. Let’s keep it going.

  • Charles

    First it is what you would expect from Fox news they want to make everybody angry and bikes on roads make everybody angry. They make me angry and I ride a bike. I am trying to find the wording for someone would swerve to miss a dead cat hit a cyclist and feel they did the right thing. The passenger would yell “O my God didn’t you see that!” and the driver would say “Yes Poor cat was already dead but at least I hit the cyclist.” What is the difference between the new Dyson vacuum and a bicycle? The dirt bag on the vacuum does not wear spandex.
    With all the hate towards bike on roads I do not think the accidents we have are road rage. It is like you said cars are unaware of bikes when they hit them. I like the flashing red light even during the day. It gets a drivers attention and makes them think safety. I think waving hi is the best thing and only thing you can do with cars. It makes everyone happy. Give a big smile to the lady in the car. Give Thumbs up to the old guy in a new car. Wave go ahead to the first car next to you at the light. My favorite is the “call me” sign (but it has never worked). Then they all think what a nice boy on that bicycle. He sure does piss me off being on the road but he smiled at me. Maybe the next one is nice too and I will call. I get cut off or crowed out all the time. That is not the same as being hit. They can hit me anytime they want. You can not demand courtesy you can only extend it.

    Local bike clubs here have been able to have a bike memorial set up where a cyclist has been killed. A bike painted white on a signpost. It helps make people feel for cyclists. Local clubs are always lobbying local government for road improvements and bike days. Ask for bike safety signs and you will get them.
    Be safe.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Charles….I appreciate your comments on this. Let’s keep on working together and move towards safe streets for everyone.

  • Charles

    First it is what you would expect from Fox news they want to make everybody angry and bikes on roads make everybody angry. They make me angry and I ride a bike. I am trying to find the wording for someone would swerve to miss a dead cat hit a cyclist and feel they did the right thing. The passenger would yell “O my God didn’t you see that!” and the driver would say “Yes Poor cat was already dead but at least I hit the cyclist.” What is the difference between the new Dyson vacuum and a bicycle? The dirt bag on the vacuum does not wear spandex.
    With all the hate towards bike on roads I do not think the accidents we have are road rage. It is like you said cars are unaware of bikes when they hit them. I like the flashing red light even during the day. It gets a drivers attention and makes them think safety. I think waving hi is the best thing and only thing you can do with cars. It makes everyone happy. Give a big smile to the lady in the car. Give Thumbs up to the old guy in a new car. Wave go ahead to the first car next to you at the light. My favorite is the “call me” sign (but it has never worked). Then they all think what a nice boy on that bicycle. He sure does piss me off being on the road but he smiled at me. Maybe the next one is nice too and I will call. I get cut off or crowed out all the time. That is not the same as being hit. They can hit me anytime they want. You can not demand courtesy you can only extend it.

    Local bike clubs here have been able to have a bike memorial set up where a cyclist has been killed. A bike painted white on a signpost. It helps make people feel for cyclists. Local clubs are always lobbying local government for road improvements and bike days. Ask for bike safety signs and you will get them.
    Be safe.

  • Jeremy

    I agree with your comments, Darryl. I don’t like seeing battles occure between the side of drivers and cyclists but it seems to come up quite often. There is enough road for all of us. i hope we’re able to figure this out soon.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Jeremy. Battling it out is not the answer. Having all drivers, cyclists, and anyone else on the roads paying full attention to what they are doing….is the answer in my opinion.

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