I will not do this often, but I really felt the urge to respond to this comment posted on the JSOnline blog I linked to the other day. (Though I do realize the author of that comment may never read my response seeing as that author clearly does not care for cyclists or the law, or other users of the road for that matter, and that is what my blog is about.)
NobodyYouKnow - Apr 17, 2011 5:18 PM
“quit riding your bikes on busy roads!!
yeah, i said it.
we know you have a right to be out there. but people talk on the phone while they drive. they yell at their kids in the back seat. they still text. and they never clean their windshield- so when the sun shines... they see nothing. people should not be doing these things... but they do. and it's not going to stop.
so if you think it's worth risking your life to stake your claim on the highways... go ahead. you could be the next crimson stain on the road.
and even if the driver goes to jail... you'll still be dead.”
(Bloggers’ note- I did not edit this comment in any way- yeah, it is that ridiculous.)
First, I would like to thank the commentator above for his/her empathy with all those, not just cyclists, who have been or will be injured or killed on Wisconsin’s roadways.
Second, what is a busy road? Is it ok, commentator, to ride on non-busy roads? You cool with that? That was just a snide comment from me, but I would like to point out your delineation between a cyclist’s ability to ride on a non-busy road versus a busy road ignores the law which allows cyclists (vehicle operators) to ride on any road, whether it is busy or not.
Third, it is important to note what the commentator is really saying in his/her comment is that the commentator, and others similar to him/her, drive distracted or in an unsafe and unreasonable manner, and you know what- they are not going to stop anytime soon.
In fact, they are going to keep driving like that and if they injure or kill someone while driving on the roads in that manner, it is really the injured or killed party’s fault that he or she is now injured or dead. Really!? REALLY!? (This blogger may have just let some expletives come out of his mouth.)
The author of this comment has singled out cyclists, because that was the topic of the blog on JSOnline. But really, that person is telling every operator of any type of vehicle on a roadway that, hey, me and others like to drive while texting, watching a montage of car chases on my portable DVD player in the seat next to me and munching on cheese balls, so watch out because I am going to be all over the road and I do not have time to watch out for other users of the road, so I am putting you on notice that I am out there and it is YOU who should be watching out for me because I have no responsibility to watch out for you. (This blogger is not going to get into the notion of “duty” at this time because I will probably need that for another topic at a later date.)
So, there you have it society. Be careful on the roads because “NobodyYouKnow” and others like him or her are out there, and heck, they are not going to even try to stop texting while driving (which is illegal) or doing other activities which are unsafe and unreasonable while driving because they don’t care about other users of the road- whether that user is a cyclist, motorcyclist, moped user or fellow car operator.
(As a side note, lots of people like to point out that they see cyclists go through red lights and not stop at stop signs or signal a turn. And yes, I have seen that happen as well. However, that kind of logic totally ignores the fact that plenty of other vehicle operators (car, moped, motorcycle) do the same exact thing. Any vehicle operator (remember, vehicle operator includes cyclists) who ignores the rules of the road and violates the law is in the wrong. I just wanted to point out that that kind of thinking is totally erroneous.)
By the way, I am not out riding my bike to “stake my claim on the highways.” I am actually out riding because it is a form of exercise and it is fun, and sometimes it is purely for transporting myself from point A to point B and back again. I think most people riding their bikes out on the roadways are doing the same thing. I doubt people are riding out on the road on a regular basis just to “stake their claim”. (Exception- the Critical Mass rides.)
I would like to end with the last point “NobodyYouKnow” makes. “And even if the driver goes to jail… you’ll still be dead.” As gruesome as that is to think about, it is a reality. It is also that type of thinking that leads people, like “NobodyYouKnow”, to continue to disregard the rights of operators on the roadway and drive in an unsafe and unreasonable manner- putting not only other vehicle operators’ lives at risk, as well as those of passengers and pedestrians, but also the life of the driver who is operating the vehicle in an unsafe and unreasonable manner.
This is precisely why Wisconsin needs tougher penalties against those who violate the law, and better legal protection for ALL users of Wisconsin’s roadways who are injured or killed because of a violation of the law.