May 5 2008
Car:Driver::Barrel:Fish. Not being mistaken for this guy is reason enough to minimize your time behind the wheel:
Short Schrift: My Secret Shame
Ah, the old “cyclists are ruffians” argument. What color was that pot again?
If it were possible to cheat the rules on the road in a car the way it is on a bike, drivers would be at least as egregious in their actions as cyclists . Come to think of it, they already are; when was the last time you saw a car make a complete stop at a vacant intersection? Obey the speed limit to the letter? Stop before a right on red? Blow through a crosswalk? Park illegally? Fail to signal? Or commit a less obvious offense, like driving without a license or registration, or with an expired inspection sticker?
But look: I’ve never taken the moral high ground for my cycling based on the rule of law. I take it because no matter how you slice it, a driver is more destructive and puts far more burden on society than a cyclist. And the author of this piece knows itâ€”the longest paragraph in his poorly-reasoned rant covers the problems. Yet all he can come up with is that a bike rider’s carbon footprint is “2/10ths of a nose hair” smaller? How much more thoroughly could this guy discredit himself?
Honestly, it bugs me, too, when people complain about about “close calls” they had while cycling. A car swerving into the bike lane three feet away from you is not a close call. Cyclists can’t consider bike lanes magical alleys of safety any more than drivers can treat them like a second set of shoulder lines. When a car slides by my with a foot and a half to spare, it doesn’t make me angry; it makes me thankful that at least *one* driver out there has a decent idea where his right bumper is.
The author of this piece concludesâ€”rightlyâ€”that cyclists are as willing to break the law as anyone else. What he doesn’t realize is that when a cyclist breaks the law, it’s one neck and 20 pounds of metal on the line. Recklessly (and not-so-recklessly) driven cars destroy property, wear down roads, block thoroughfares, harm the economy, waste resources, pollute the environment, deafen the ears, and cripple, maim, and kill thousands of innocent people a year. Anyone with an ounce of objectivity can see where the real menace on the road lies.
This guy needs to get real about his issue with cyclists. Which do you think he’d rather hear coming up behind him: a friendly “on your left” or the bloodcurdling wail of a fast-approaching horn?