A Rant

From Washcycle:

A cyclist was training for a triathlon when the driver of a truck turned left in front of him. The cyclist was unable to stop or avoid a collision and hit the back side of the truck. After he hit the truck the cyclist fell to the ground. The cyclist suffered multiple fractured ribs, a concussion and body bruising. He missed two weeks of work. He was nonetheless able to eventually resume his training and ride in the triathlon.


The Montgomery County jury found for the defendant.

As you know, this kind of story makes me mad. Angry at stupid drivers for not obeying the law. But also angry at some bikers who break the law and give these juries the excuse they want to go easy on stupid drivers. Three times during my ride last Sunday I was nearly hit by drivers who failed to stop while turning right on red, didn't bother to even look around the car on their left and so didn't see me riding legally through a green-lit intersection. In two of the cases, if there had been on-coming traffic, I'd be in pretty bad shape right now. I know how stupid drivers can be. But all we hear from the media is how arrogant and stupid cyclists are. The fact is, folks, there are arrogant and stupid cyclists out there, and there are stupid resentful car-driving jury-members out there.

The thing about cases placed before a jury is that these things are not about right and wrong. They are not even about legal and illegal. A jury case is about perception. If the community at large thinks that you are in a (self-chosen) class of people that flouts the law, endangers your very own skin, and inconveniences everyone else for your own amusement, then it will be very difficult to win a jury case like this, no matter how clear it is that the driver was at fault.

And this is how bad cyclists hurt all other cyclists, good and bad. They contribute to the perception of potential jury members. It is horrible and sad that the world is this way. I'm not saying that the jury wasn't wrong. I would like to believe that if a driver injures me because he did something illegal, I'd be able to see justice. But the world is not all rainbows and unicorns. Bad cyclists who will never meet this particular biker contributed to this jury's decision.

6 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

Bowie Mike said...

I guess the perception that bike riders typically break the rules escaped me - with one exception. When I was working in downtown Boston, the bike couriers were notoriously trouble. I came close to being hit by them on multiple ocassions while crossing in a crosswalk when I had the green light, and I saw multiple instances where they came close to causing accidents. They were paid by the delivery, so they had an incentive to go as fast as they could. Other than the couriers, most of the bikers I've seen are generally law abiding.

On the other hand, I've seen plenty of bad drivers.

I don't find Greater D.C. to be the most bike friendly place. According to a ranking by Matador Trips, places like Boulder, Colorado are much friendlier.

Bowie Mike said...

I hope I'm not violating any blog etiquette rules by commenting again, but I came across this cool picture during a blog browsing filled episode of insomnia. I suppose it has some relevance to your rant given that they are targeting a handful of problem cyclists.

AbbotOfUnreason said...

Ha ha! Boulder.

Your first comment is a nice reminder that it's easy to get blinders on when I'm looking at a bunch of blogs from a single subculture. The bike blogs are full of this stuff -- drivers making angry comments on blogs, Chris Core making writing anti-biking essays, grumpy drivers on Dr. Gridlock -- so I think it's everywhere.

That's an awesome picture. Of course, my first response was: is that going to eventually make people ignore holes? Last month, a former Kansas University athletic director died after biking into a pothole.

Bowie Mike said...

See this?

AbbotOfUnreason said...

You're just trying to make me angry. Did you see this comment: " My point is that some of these cyclist are reckless , and if a cyclist cause a 5 car pile up and people die than what? " When has a cyclist ever caused a 5 car pile up? The speed limit on the road in downtown Baltimore can't be more than 25. How in the heck would any 5 drivers be driving fast enough to have a five car pile-up? And if they were crazily speeding like that could they have the audacity to blame it on a bicyclist who is probably riding along at 15 miles per hour? Gosh, it makes my blood pressure rise. A bunch of drivers are whining about safety when they really are just upset that some bicyclist added a couple of minutes to their god-awful important lives.

Bowie Mike said...

I recall a similar accident occuring near 17th and R Northwest a couple of years ago (large truck turning right - into path of bicyclist).

It has gotten to the point where I rarely read comments on news articles anymore. I'm all for thoughtful discussion, but some of the crap that is out there are things that no civilized people would ever say to each other face to face. I don't know if that is a commentary on the comments or humanity itself. Reminds me of the quote you posted from Snow Falling on Cedars:

The strange thing was, he wanted to like everyone. He just couldn't find a way to do it...He loved humanity dearly and with all his heart, but he disliked most human beings.