Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Paved Battlefield: Introduction

Special Series: I'm going to tackle a subject for at least a few posts that is complex, raises passions, and might be seen as a bit odd for this blog. But it isn't, really, if you stop and think about it. I'm talking about cars, bicycles, people, and how we all interact as users when we are riding on/in these vehicles.

To be honest, this subject was one I thought I might write a rant on and move along to something else the next day. However; it quickly became apparent that a conversation I had about car drivers versus road cyclists was going to become a much more multi-faceted subject than I had thought at the outset.

High Stakes: Recent newsworthy stories about cyclists being injured by car drivers, or even killed by car drivers, are becoming all too common. I wrote recently about a high profile case in which a driver struck and seriously injured a cyclist, then left him for dead on the side of the road. (The driver escaped felony charges which prompted much outrage and this Facebook site which exists to allow stories of this sort to be collected and discussed.) One has to wonder why there should even be a debate at all on such behavior, which shouldn't go unpunished, or even happen in the first place.

Obviously the stakes are high in this debate, and passions are hotter than a tin roof in the Texas sun when it comes to these stories. I do not claim to have the answers or the salve to sooth the damages done, but I wanted to explore this subject and offer up my take on it. I've started a dialogue with a few folks already on this topic and their thoughts will be influencing these posts as well.

The Problem Is You: Generally, in cases where lots of fingers are getting pointed outwards, there needs to be a realization that there are four other fingers pointing back at you, and those fingers belong to you. Yes, everyone has a lot to learn in this area, and we all could do well to look in the mirror and clean up our own acts first. As drivers, and as cyclists, we need to be reminding ourselves that we all have a right to live, to not be afraid as we are using the roads and streets, and that we all need to abide by rules and laws that exist on the books today. It is my belief that if we do our parts in being responsible as cyclists, we will garner more respect and have a stronger influence. That alone in itself won't solve the issues, but until cyclists get their own house in order, it will be hard to convince "the other side" that they need to change their ways.

What We Need To Do: Tomorrow, I will talk more about the issues and actions that cyclists need to understand and change in order to show other road users that we can play fairly and responsibly out on the pavement.


Matt Maxwell said...

Agreed, I can't control what the motorists are doing, but I can obey traffic laws, wear reflective clothes, use lights, and ride predictably. Hopefully if I do those things I get some respect and safety on the road. Seems to be working. I don't get honked at as much as I used to.

RANTWICK said...

Getting cyclists to ride better is super important, I agree. It is pretty hard to argue with motorists about stuff when so many cyclists do stupid irresponsible stuff. Getting the education done, however, is a mighty big hurdle.

As you say, I've started with myself...