Is It Okay to Kill Cyclists?
There’s an opinion piece appearing on nytimes.com that approaches the growing problem of cycling/car accidents that end with no citation or persecution for the drivers.
As they say in the article, we are definitely at a crossroads with bike sharing and cycling way up in urban areas. What should be done about all these cyclists and the vehicles they are in accidents with?
In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly.
I’ve been in three bike accidents:
- One of them was the driver’s fault (he opened a door into traffic which made me hit the door and then my bike’s back wheel swung and dented a taxi next to it),
- one ambiguous (a guy in front of me stopped short, I swerved to avoid and crashed on my own),
- and one completely the driver’s fault (a taxi t-boned me while he was running a red light).
So clearly this is a topic very close to me. You’d be amazed how many pedestrians, drivers, and even some police are unsure of a cyclist’s “rules of the road” (or completely wrong about them). In the first accident I mention above it was extremely cold out, so the officer at the scene let me wait in his car. I listened as he called it in and explained the situation on the radio and asked who was supposed to be at fault, because he had no idea.
For those of you drivers out there who make the understandable point about the death wish of cyclists, don’t worry. Those bikers who break every traffic rule in a daily ride are not given a free pass. I couldn’t agree more with the ending:
So here’s my proposal: Every time you get on a bike, from this moment forward, obey the letter of the law in every traffic exchange everywhere to help drivers (and police officers) view cyclists as predictable users of the road who deserve respect. And every time you get behind the wheel, remember that even the slightest inattention can maim or kill a human being enjoying a legitimate form of transportation. That alone will make the streets a little safer, although for now I’m sticking to the basement and maybe the occasional country road.
Kind of reminds me of Sarah Beacan’s “League of Courteous Cyclists”.
Feel free to argue about it in the comments. I’ll gladly start up a conversation with anyone willing to discuss.
Illustration above went with the article in NYTimes, originally by Kurt McRobert.