Where the burden lies

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There are two endless sources of frustration for those of us who have followed the news for cyclist’s being struck and injured by automobiles.

One is the seemingly worthless comments about whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet. No matter the manner of injury, the article always seems to address this point. I don’t know what purpose is can server other than to place blame upon the cyclist for not acting reasonably under the circumstances. In other words, he wasn’t wearing a helmet so he deserved his injuries.

Never mind the part about the car hitting him. He didn’t have a helmet. And that’s why he’s hurt.

Of course, he would have been injured if he had been wearing a helmet as any of us who have hit the deck well know. The ground hurts.

The second point of endless frustration is the issue of whether the cyclist was obeying the traffic laws. Now, I don’t to dismiss this as inconsequential. The blame properly lies with a party whom disobeys a traffic signal and thus causes an accident on the roadway, be it a person on a bicycle or a person operating a motor vehicle or a pedestrian. There are rules, these rules are meant to prevent injury, and they are important.

On the other hand, this blanket condemnation of cyclists as scofflaws who somehow deserve to be injured is indefensible.

To wit:

Until cyclists obey the rules, they’ll keep on getting killed

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robert-son’s arrogance has given cyclists the misconception that they are entitled to ignore the traffic laws to which the rest of us are bound. Motorists are not responsible for the stupidity of cyclists.

How many times have drivers who are stopped at a red light seen cyclists ride through because there are no oncoming cars? Why are they not ticketed for ignoring a red light?

Until cyclists are made to under-stand they are responsible for their own safety and the rules of the road are applicable to all, they will continue to be injured or killed. http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/.

We, as cyclists, do understand that we are responsible for our own safety. That is why we demand to be treated with respect. We are legally entitled to use the roadways (with limited exceptions, or course). We should not be threatened with death and dismemberment for choosing to ride a bicycle.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

32 Replies to “Where the burden lies”

  1. Im from NH , I noticed this during my 20 mile ride last week , our police seem to get bored and because there is no crime , they have to invent things .I feel as long as we are in the bike lane who cares if we ride next to each other. Hopefully this link works


  2. Oceancycle, the comments on that article you shared are disgusting…practically all of them are anti-cyclist.

  3. Well it has been determined in our backyard that a cyclists life is worth exactly $420….helmet or not.

    Face it. We are the modern day Lepers. You can kill us and be deemed to important to prosecute ( in Colorado ) or just pay $420 if you live in Arizona. Either way the precedent has been set, cyclists are in the way. But now mowing them down and killing them is a minor inconvenience– one need not be concerned with jail.

  4. Well, the sign gets one thing right. Roads are for riding and not chatting. Looks like it’s time to hang up the cell phone and drive.

  5. I live in a community with three colleges. Plenty of young bikers. Our advocacy group has established share lanes, bike lanes, and designated routes. And yet, there are bicyclists on the sidewalks, heading any possible direction. With the bike lane right next to them. Stop sign running at high speed, reckless behaviour. Granted, I’m over fifty, and sure the age has mellowed me, but the level of disrespect shown to pedestrians, and car drivers is embarrassing. Helmet or not, it’s embarrassing.

  6. I’ve long harboured a secret and somewhat morbid wish that were I ever to have the misfortune of being witness to a cyclist being hit that I should be the one that the reporter asks:
    “Was he wearing a helmet?”
    So I can drive my forehead into his beak and ask if thinks a helmet would have been of value. ..or maybe I wouldn’t. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose my shit in some fashion. Maybe slap a physics lesson into the stupid fuck or something.
    I so fucking hate that red herring tidbit of media filth.

  7. I always get a kick out of those that bitch about cyclists who are on sidewalks etc. when it has been proven the lanes are not exactly safe. Usually these are folks that have never been hit by a car.

    You would not bring a knife to a gun fight, whether a dude is wearing a helmet in an unfair fight makes no sense. I was wearing one and it saved my life.

    Until you have been hit by a car you cannot appreciate how important this is and how it should never have to be a topic of conversation.

    I agree with Kark. After my accident in Austin, while on a road ride I saw a motorist redneck swerve at my two buddies ahead of me and then pull over to threaten us with our lives. Wrong place with wrong guy. I guess he thought we were weak b.c we wore lycra. I snapped. I pulled him from his truck and we all 3 beat him down worse than Rodney King. It made the papers. and the only thing that kept us out of jail was witnesses who saw him swerve at us and start something he should not have.

    What is it gonna take, i cyclist to snap and go postal? and by saying that I do not mean US POSTAL…..

  8. Dear Holden Flabcock –
    I have had the shit plasterd out of me by a vehicle. 3 broken ribs, sheared the right bake housing off with my right hand, and broke the seatpost with my inner left thigh. I am not immune to the slings and arrows of the oil establishment. What I am trying to say is that instead of whining about everything that goes wrong, and covering up the obvious scoff law behaviour of our own, maybe we should take part in a reasonable and logical discussion about bike ethics, and responsibilities. Sure, everyone has the genetic throwback redneck truckdriving prick in their family tree, wether it branches or not. That does not give us the right to see every bike accident as though some oil burner was responsible. I’ve seen, and done, some serious dick moves in my life on a bike. An eye for an eye makes everyone blind. I am getting so burned out on the “bikes are everything” angle I cant take it anymore. Bikes, and bikers are wonderful. When you let anything take over your life that you lose the ability to see the middle path, or react with reason and not emotion, then you become as bad as the redneck F250 beer swiilling asshole you are trying to avoid.

  9. PS- It was fuckin A my fault for being young and charging a light. Dressed in bright neon, front flashers and rear light. Hit the midsection as everything turned green for him. Poor guy felt like shit, I was so mad I threatened him, which he did not deserve, and then I limped a bent Xcheck home. I learned to calm the fuck down, watch the environment, and don’t take chances. Now, lets start a discussion about alchohol. Drivers of oil, and drivers of steel.

  10. Nicely written Jonny ! It’s been 3 weeks now since I was hit on my daily commute home, same route I’ve taken for about 30 years (no shit). First question EVEYONE asks, “were you wearing a helmet”. I would have needed 2, one for my finger and another for my knee. Second question “had I been driniking or taken drugs” ! The answer to that was “Of course not! If I’d been drinking I’d have landed on my feet and said TA DA “. AND here in MN we have No Fault insurance. So my company has to pay more for my medical that the car”s insurance company who only has to pay for my bike. Oh and did I mention they are being asses about that too ?

  11. I’ve said this before: any comment that lumps all cyclists together with red-light-running dicks is based in ignorance. These people don’t ride and they’re talking out their ass. Like water off a duck, people.

  12. But we all pay for the idiots who run lights in front of other drivers. I could give a shit if no-one is around, but at least follow right-of-way rules and red lights in front of drivers. That, and the lug nut rule is a universal truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. Bikes almost always lose, therefor we have to be more careful than the coffin-drivers. It doesn’t do anything about the assholes out there, but the worst thing you can do is let your guard down.

  13. In my previous rant I put a link up about a sign I saw the other night about how you cant ride double in the bike lane.

    The town voted in a local law making it illegal to do that even when the state law says its not illegal to ride double in the bike lane – breakdown lane .

    Are cyclists perfect – no

    Nobody is perfect.

    I own a bike shop in NH, the police come by the shop at least 3 to 5 times a week going over 80 plus mph in a 30 mph zone, going to a accident , donut shop or where ever.

    They now can pull me over for talking to someone or riding double in the bike lane on my bike , but what makes it right to go that fast. I could have someone test riding a bicycle in our parking lot and have a cruiser fly by less then 9 feet away , what makes that right?

    I got hit 2 seasons ago while riding along the coast . A small car came up behind me and believe it or not the passenger mirror hooked my handlebar causing me to fall off my bike and my bike got dragged a good 30 feet before falling off the car.I didnt have a helmet on but my foot got run over by the rear tire of the car ! The police got called and nothing ever happened ,I didnt get the plate #(its kinda hard to get a plate # when you have a rear tire heading for your head ) The police officer made a comment that I should of been wearing a helmet and that I should of been more careful! Even though I was well off to the side of road when I got hit .

    I just think its a little of everybodys fault , the people who are bitching about cyclists should practice what they preach , and maybe cyclists should allways be aware of whats around them .

  14. @el jefe— I absolutely agree, brother. I believe that tri-dorks and fixie riders who flash through stops piss me off more than they do drivers— because I’m the one who stops but gets to feel the hate anyway. I bang elbows with angry, distracted SUV drivers on the regular, I’ll be doing this afternoon. I run a mirror, even though it doesn’t “look cool” and I watch every one of those fuckers every goddamned second. I run a three-person safety committee: me, myself and I.

  15. I work at NAU here in Flagstaff. I ride to work, ride at lunch, ride to meetings. I see so many students everyday blow stop signs on bikes, on skateboards, in their cars. If I am riding and see someone on a bike (notice I didnt say a cyclist) I try to follow them and politely (seriously) educate them on why and how they are giving a bad wrap to everyone who rides a bike. When I was a student here I did the same things they are doing but I am trying to better the community and change the image. It would be great to prove all those ignorant people wrong when they make absolute statements about “cyclists”.

  16. I’ve been hit twice, once intentionally, the driver took off after I threatened him. He was driving with no license and no insurance. I got $200 out of it. After I replaced the damaged components, I netted $100.

    2nd time I was hit by the girlfriend of a fireman in front of the station. No sympathy from them or the flunky cop who responded.

    I tried to hire a lawyer the second time as I was injured but no one would take it. No offense, Big Jonny but most lawyers are parasites and are only interested in a fat paycheck.

    I love road riding but the more I ride the less I like people. I’m beginning to think the only solution is to ride 100% off road or become a hermit.

    Maybe a Hermit Cyclist. Sounds like a good name for a blog.

  17. This is a stupid debate. You either have the right to exist or you don’t. Helmets, stop signs, and bikes don’t have anything to do with it.

  18. Jonny, We’ve talked about this. There are reasonable laws (Idaho) and the rest. Traffic signs are used to calm traffic, not establish a right of way. If we were all on bikes it would be a safer, healthier place.

    I still would have kicked that guys ass yesterday on Lafayette if he had the guts to stop, that is if he didn’t understand why we were outside the bike lane at that point, and persisted in his belligerence. Stand your ground, and all that nonsense.

    By the way, congrats on adding an ‘Esquire’ behind your name. You better get some riding in real soon, while you still can.

  19. If we were all on bikes it would take me eight hours to get to work. Ain’t defending it or saying it’s how things should be. I’ve ridden 10 miles, one way, of my daily commute. But the logistics were not something that the average person could handle. Still, it was great while it lasted.

    Sorry, what were we talking about?

  20. I’ve no idea, Joe. And I can’t commute by bike either. On Wednesday, my commute included driving my two daughters to school and day care, respectively, and myself downtown. Then, of course, the same roads in reverse later in the day. Today mileage, driveway back to driveway, was 64.3 miles. Total time (including sitting in traffic and the school parking lot) was 1:56.

    I cannot do it on a bicycle.

  21. My friends and I blow through every stop sign and red light on our rides on PCH, but we NEVER do so when there are cars about. The pisser are the clowns who do what we do when there are cars and it is not even the riders right of way. That is what makes driver’s angry!

  22. I feel for you big jonny. Two hours on the car every day would suck the life out of me. For years I’ve traded personal space for proximity to the rest of my life so that I haven’t needed to own a car. Everything is a compromise, but for me, the personal cost (not financial) of sitting in traffic weighs heavily, and I have been lucky enough to be able to choose not to do it.

  23. I am a driving instructor. When we see someone on a bike do something stupid, I ask my student what they remember from their bicycle safety course. “I never took a bicycle safety course” is the usual response. “Neither did he”, I say. Then we look for the idiot driver in the white pick-up truck. The point I am always trying to make is that the kind of vehicle does not determine what kind of nutcase is operating it. People on bikes deserve respect on the roadway, people in cars have the responsibility to look out for those people on bikes. Oh, and while I never do it when drivers are around, and I have explained this to some who want to be nit-pickers about bikes and the law, if the car driver can with impunity drive 5 to 10 mph over the posted limit, I can slow down and look, look, look and go through a stop sign without putting my foot down.

  24. I’m reluctant to disagree with our Illustrious Leader, but Jonny, no one forced you to live where you live, work where you work or put your children in the particular schools they attend. (Or even have children.) These were your choices. You committed that two hours per day to the program.

    People who sign up for gasoline-dependent commuter nightmares, then complain about traffic and gas prices are operating with a really, really big blind spot. Sometimes circumstances (such as divorce or job changes) apply pressure, but people are responsible for their own day-to-day routines.

    It’s Saturday, take the lil nippers riding!

  25. Mikey, of course no one “forced” anyone to do anything. People have family that they want to be close to, whether next door or in the next town over. Good jobs (especially in this sabotaged economy) aren’t there for the taking in many places across the fruited plain. Decent schools (or the school where a struggling child at least has friends and a decent support system-I could write a book) are a HUGE factor if you’re any kind of parent at all.

    We make the best choices we can. We do our best for those that we love. If that means giving up killer trails out your back door and living with less than bike-friendly infrastructure, we do it. It’s called being an adult. And sometinmes it sucks. But we do it for them.

  26. If you want to see how far apart drivers and cyclists are, read the comments to the article Oceancycle posted in post #1. It’ll take you awhile and it will likely make your blood boil. After you get good and worked up about it, resist the urge to flame on those assholes. Reflect on the issue a bit on think about how you might break that cycle. Respect.

    Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

  27. Total lack of or insufficient room for bicycles or bicycle infrastructure is the cause for injuries. In too many places, the bicycle rider is shoved into a thin ribbon of debris and potholes on the side of the road, while every car or truck whizzing by presents a constant danger. MOST OF THE TIMES I HAVE DISOBEYED THE TRAFFIC LAWS, IT WAS TO SAVE MY SKIN AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF DANGER.

    Need I mention that whenever someone is killed in a car, it’s a terrible tragedy and should not have happened. The asshole that wrote that article says makes the most ridiculously callous “If/Then” statement, he should himself be forced to ride the bike from Portland to Vancouver, as I have done, through miles and miles of danger and bullshit industrial hellishness. A helmet doesn’t mean jack shit. Bicyclists are wrong only because they’re not doing the pack-mentality thing, and getting in the car-sheep stream.
    Similar if/then statements to this one:

    “If the wolf keeps coming around my chickens, then he will get shot.”
    “If he/she didn’t deserve it, he/she wouldn’t be behind bars.”
    “If you’re poor, it’s your own fault.”
    “If he is a nerd, not a jock, he deserves to get beaten up.”

    On and on… people are idiots, and that’s not going to change.