I don’t often take to sourcing a Facebook rant for withoutapath.com, but today is a different day. Different in that I’m on my last full-day in Ireland and have to make my way around Dublin for the day. In other words, I have nothing prepared.Then it occurred to me that the past few weeks have been full of reviews, travel features and photo essays. That’s great, but it gives me an excuse to change things up a bit. The change being that I feel the need to comment on something that angers me to no end. That is, the rise in cyclist fatalities and our general disinterest in doing a damn thing about it that would appear to even remotely entrench on the so-called rights of drivers to save 10 seconds.
Last week, a cyclist was killed riding with a group over roads I’ve ridden countless times. It hit home for me more than any other collision I’ve read about. This really could have been me.
Below is an admitted rant of about 500 words on both this tragic crash and the overall dominance of car culture that continues to kill innocent people everyday. Since the crash back home, I’ve read of at least three more cyclist fatalities from the Midwest to Washington D.C. and Panama. This without me even actively searching for them.
Besides my not having anything else prepared, I find it relevant to share my little Facebook rant here because cycling is how I often travel. It’s how many of us travel. It’s how we enjoy traveling when we visit a new destination. I argue that it’s often the most intimate form of travel.
With that drawn out introduction, I offer these words on cycling and the need to mend global car culture gone deadly.
If you saw this story and for even a moment thought, “I wonder if he was wearing…” “I wonder if the driver couldn’t…” “That’s why cyclists shouldn’t…” or any number of victim blaming I constantly see attached to these stories that excuses deadly driving, just stop yourself mid-thought and slam your head against the wall. That would be more productive.
This happened because we’ve allowed cars to become an inalienable right, designing our entire transportation around that alleged right and with almost no consideration for cyclists and pedestrians despite that we’re inherently at a disadvantage. I’m sick of seeing these stories and the inevitable mindset that justifies it because someone once saw a cyclist somewhere run a stop sign. Think of your own driving habits. Unless you’re driving the Pope, I guarantee you’re not coming to a full and complete stop at stop signs or obeying the rules of the road to the letter of the law — and *you’re* the most dangerous vehicle out there by far!
I’ve ridden these roads quite frequently where Matthew was killed. Like many other cyclists empathizing, I’ve been yelled at, given close calls and even got hit myself by a car all because I dare entrench on this BS carte blanche we’ve given automobile owners.
I’d really appreciate if we could live in a world where we’re all able to safely transport ourselves however we wish. If cycling’s not your bag, fine. You think you *need* your car, fine. But cars are killing over 30,000 Americans every year. That gets into the millions when you consider the lifetime of the car and stretch the statistics internationally. If the face of what’s causing these senseless deaths looked more like Osama bin Laden than something we’re taught to think is cooler than Uncle Sam riding on a bald eagle, no question we would all look at this differently. Alas, the car culture remains, more people die and it’s just an unavoidable “accident.”
Except something can be done. You can drive slower. You can pull over if the sun is in your eyes. You can obey the speed limit. You can stop at a yellow light instead of speeding up. Get the next light. It’ll be there. Drive like your family is on the road. Because with the increasing popularity of cycling and — it truly feels bizarre to say this — walking, chances are you’re going to be driving by younger family and friends more often.
Above all remember that cyclists and pedestrians are not the dangerous ones — you are. Act like it and stop grasping for excuses.
Rant over. Feel free to scroll onto the next thing.