Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dear John....

Yesterday, I wrote a blog about the Melissa Arrington article in the AZStar. For those of you who missed the giant AP News boat here's a quick rundown. She was drunk before 8 p.m. She swerved multiple times and then hit a cyclist, killing him dead. She later made a comment on the phone to the tune of "it's funny haha that I killed a cyclist" which happened to be recorded because she was in jail. She got 10.5 years. Oh, and it was her second DUI. All in all it was pretty disgusting...

Somehow my blog ended up on the top of the google search and I got 900 hits before I came to work. 32 of you kind folks (and I mean kind in every sense of the word) left comments. I stayed out of the commenteering since so many of you seemed to have it under control. One comment though caught be by surprise, and I felt it necessary to respond. It was sincere, honest and kind hearted; but what it said really pissed me off, and touched my heart at the same time. This is from "John", he says:

It is frustrating when you are driving and cyclist are also sharing the road. There should be paths for them to cycle on so they don't risk getting hit by cars. It is dangerous for a cyclist to ride his/her bike along with traffic. They cant' be seen around curves.

That being said, Melissa deserved her punishent because she did not care about killing a human being and bragged about it. I do not care about her, but I care about the person who drives a car and kills a cyclist by accident and feels remorse for the rest of his/her life.

Cyclists should not share the same roads as cars is my point.

First of all, thank you John, for being honest and forthright with your opinion. And thank you for being a motorist who seems to be honestly concerned with the well being of cyclists ( they won't risk getting hit), I really, really appreciate that. I'm sure I'll never get to know you through this internet veil, but thanks for voicing your opinion here. The opinions you have aren't confined to yourself, and it's important that motorists and cyclists have open dialog about sharing the road. So for you john, this Buds for you!

To comment on what you say...
I'm sure it's "frustrating" sharing the road with someone who travels a fraction of the normal pace of traffic. Fortunately it's just that for motorists, "frustrating and irritating", Not "Dangerous or treacherous", which is the reality for bicyclists not because of road conditions or steep gradients but solely because of cars. So thank your stars that "Frustrating" is the only word you get to use when describing your commute. My commute is Frustrating and Irritating because of motorists and their inability to move to a completely open lane to go around me, but also dangerous and treacherous for the same reason.

Now I'm a mixed transit guy, I have a car and some bikes. I choose to ride my bikes to work from my house because its less than 5 miles one way. I've made that choice for a few reasons.
1. It's easier on my pocket book. With the rising cost of oil it makes sense.
2. It's easier on the environment. With the rising world temperature it makes sense.
3. It's easier on state infrastructure. Did you see the bridge in Minnesota? Have you ridden a bike on crumbling streets? it makes sense. why? me and my bike weigh 200 lbs together. You and your car? 3000 lbs.
4. It's better for my health. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? I have. I look great and it's because I'm in great shape. you could be in great shape too.

I'm glad that you had the where with all to come out and say that cyclists should not share the roads with cars. You're absolutely right. Cyclists shouldn't share the roads with cars, we should get the rule of the road. Here's why: Cycling is more productive and better for the environment and infrastructure. It has lower impact on both and a lighter, smaller footprint. Additionally it's better for the bicyclist. Now, look around at the crumbling American infrastructure, and the expanding American waistline and tell me honestly... Would that be happening if Americans Rode bikes more than they drive cars? Probably not.

Now on my commute to work there is no bike path, nor even bike lanes. Thus I have to ride in the street, sharing lanes of traffic with cars, trucks and motorcycles since a bicycle is a vehicle, and not a form of pedestrian motion like walking or running. Just so you're absolutely crystal clear, riding on the sidewalk is illegal. Now I ABSOLUTELY agree with you that there should be bike lanes and paths leading to and from every single destination in the world. Unfortunately people like Mary Peters, the Secretary of Transportation, seems to think it's wasteful to build a bike infrastructure like that. Do you think it's wasteful too? I don't, and I think the 89 million Americans who ride a bike for one reason or another would agree with me. If you don't want to share the road with cyclists then I suggest you start writing letters to Mary Peters telling her that we need bike lanes and paths to and from everywhere that a citizen might need or want to go. That's what I've been doing, writing letters that say just that. And until those bike paths and lanes exist I'm going to ride on the street because that's my right as a tax paying citizen of the United States of America.

Cheers John,

Thank you for your contribution.

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