Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reflect on This

American exceptionalism and auto-centric culture go hand-in-hand. These foolhardy beliefs make me want to get back to investigating handlebar-mounted weaponry. Maybe a bayonet?

A local teenager was recently struck and killed while riding his bicycle. For possibly the first time ever, the newspaper had the decency to not delve into the blame game, leaving any mention of helmets, reflectors, or distracted driving out of the article. They even used this as another reason to support better treatment of pedestrians and cyclists. Fucking unheard of! And the first comment on that editorial?

I totally agree however even though stated, more emphasis must be put on bikers. I leave the house in the dark every morning. On my way I pass people on bikes with no rear (maybe no front) lights, dark clothing and maybe a reflective stripe on their shoes. This is on country roads that aren't that wide and curve around. Often you see them very late and although not difficult to avoid a moment of distraction and it would be tragic. They may have the right to use the road, but they also must use it safely.

I see dark cars with tinted windows often driving with no lights on. Sometimes the annoyingly loud music is the only indication that a car is nearby. Those with hearing impairments would be at total loss. Typically, because such motor vehicle operators can not be bothered to either fix or turn on their lights, they also can not be bothered to stop at intersections or pay attention to others on the road.

All of this is to say, what the hell is your point? Most suburban and rural cyclists make themselves visible from outerspace with neon racing gear, reflectors, and lights. Urban cyclists are a more diverse lot, but even people who are more difficult to see are not invisible. If one is driving his vehicle with headlights on, he should be able to observe people, animals, and other objects that might also be on the street. I drove rural Connecticut for years and never hit anything while I was driving the speed limit. I mention this because I killed an opossum and the guilt with haunt me for as long as I can remember it locking eyes with me that split second before I crushed its head with my tires. I was going well over the speed limit on a winding country road. If I had been driving more slowly, I would have had the ability to miss the creature. Every time other animals -- squirrels, dogs, cats, raccoons, deer, chipmunks, and one emu -- darted in front of me, I was able to avoid contact. I could be wrong, but not one of those bastards was equipped with reflector vests or lights.


Schleppi Longstocking said...

An update to this story:

It looks like the motorist who struck and killed the teen bicyclist was drinking before the crash.

Anonymous said...

The driver, who happens to be a Windsor Locks cop, was drinking a lot before the crash (tailgating at the UCONN game in E Hartford, and then a bar near WL), and it looks like the WL cops were covering for him. It just so happens that his Dad was the lead officer on the scene, and there was no drink tests done...

Bike4me said...

As a pedestrian, cyclists, and driver, the cause of all accidents are people not obeying traffic laws - speed, lights, signs... If the laws were obeyed, the streets would be safer for all. I bike from W. Hartford to E. Hartford 2x a week and unfortunatly drive the other 3. When I drive, I can't believe how fast people drive. I will be going the speed limit (which is too fast in my mind) and will get past by folks going 15 mph faster than me. We need to have tougher penalties for driving violations and need to have the ticket $ go to the local government, not the state,