To Swerve and Protect?
Two wheel self-propelled people in the San Francisco area are shaken this week, and I only wish the motorists were similarly moved by the story of the on-duty sheriff who plowed into the path of a trio of competitive cyclists, killing Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson.
But my ride into San Rafael this morning proved that not the case.
A nine o’clock appointment always means mixing it up with the motorists.
Today’s roll of the dice delivered a rageful man in a very sporty car.
I wasn’t late, so I took what motorists usually call ‘the bike path’ (a route that roughly parallels Center Bl. in San Anselmo).
Impatient motorists choose it during commute hours because they believe, despite the many blind turns and the density of residences, they might gain a spot or two on the long line of cars crawling along Center (whose lovely straight line bespeaks a one-time rail line, sob).
Which is why I USUALLY glide down Center, smirking as I brush cars with my leg-hair.
It’s a NARROW roadway but soooo efficient. And bikes aren’t forbidden on it anymore than speedsters are forbidden from doing the ‘rat-run”.
After laying on the horn a couple seconds, Mr. Backstreet Racer waited til there was an oncoming Mercedes and caromed around me, nearly clipping them.
This sort of thing happens a lot, and a woman who passed me said, “I’m used to that” almost consolingly.
I guess I am, too, but I wonder about riders without a few year’s worth of ‘case hardening’.
Do they dare even try?
About five years ago I realized that when I waited too long to get out the door (thus inaugurating a game of “Rushin’ Roulette”) I had far more incidents.
“There are more bozos driving when I’m late” I jotted down in my journal.
“Maybe it’s you“, an angel of innocence purred into my bad ear.
“Damn you! You’re probably right”.
And I moved all the clock-hands ten minutes fast. And began parading–NOT rushing–to my errands. Showing a queenly dignity instead of the usual devilish scorcher’s delight at all the stops. No more worrying about those pricey tickets (got two in ’03, set me back 150 each time, now they’re surely 200 bucks)!
But Kristy and Matt weren’t exactly rushing. They were going hella fast though, down a steep twisty road.
The sheriff missed the turn and went straight into them (I’ve had daymares about such a scenario), severing K’s foot, scattering bike parts, bodies and blood everywhere.
And then jumping out of the car saying, “My life is over. My career is ruined”.
Poor choice of priorities, pity-wise.
I believe that he will go free. I KNOW he will not be tested for alcohol (he has had a DUI a few years ago when he was 20 yrs old).
And motorists will continue not to look for cyclists when they are driving.
“I never saw him/her” is the perfectly acceptable reason for killing riders.
There may someday be an incentive to pay attention, but it will involve stricter laws biased in favor of non-motorists/bystanders/cyclists.
Laws that take away licenses permanently, after the first ‘tap’ of a cyclist, pedestrian, regardless of age.
Note to Brit and other readers…in the USA, adults on a bike are seen to be ‘asking for it’. If a motorist harms a child, sometimes there is a (slight) consequence, along the lines of a judge saying “her life is ruined already, knowing she caused a kid to become paralyzed”. This is called the Already Paid Up punishment plan.
There’s an assumption that not only will you reform when you slide into the driver’s seat, but that you will throb with agony in perpetuity.
That is for the family of the child, or the no-longer-living adult cyclist….