Wednesday, May 18

No One Has a Right to Drive

My life is too much work, not enough commute. How many people can say that with feeling?
The rain is coming back. Is this Denver or Portland? No matter, I will pedal on. I will skim across the surface of the oily runoff on my way to and fro.
Its hard to keep my mind from dwelling on the cyclist who was struck and killed in north Denver early Monday morning. David Mark Pickett, a 50 year old bicycle commuter who was preparing for this year's Ride the Rockies, was struck early in the morning on May 16. He was traveling to his job at AT&T and was found near the intersection fo 46th and Josephine in the shadow of I-70. The neighborhood where Pickett was killed is not the best. We don’t know the character of the person who struck him with their car. We don't know if it was a gangbanger showing off, a distracted and tired shift worker headed home, a soccer mom in too big a hurry to stop and see what she had hit, or an RTD bus driver. It could have been any of them. We just don’t know right now.
Regardless, the person who killed Pickett and fled the scene committed a crime. It doesn't matter if they succumbed to their new car smell, or if they had a seizure and lost control, they were responsible for the death of a human being who was doing nothing to harm another soul.
Closer to my old Kentucky home, a cyclist was killed in Woodford County on the same day. No charges had been filed against the driver because obviously the cyclist was at fault for not wearing the approved wardrobe. I have issues with this because I was taught as a young driver that if I were to hit something with the car it would always be my fault. If the motorist was traveling too fast in the dark to stop for an obstacle in the road, especially an obstacle traveling in the same direction, then the motorist was traveling TOO FAST.
Driving a car isn't an activity to take lightly, or an activity in which all people have an inherent right to participate. Monica Chavez had no right being behind the wheel of a car. In getting behind the wheel she exhibited reckless and selfish behavior. People who are caught driving after having consumed alcohol should have their license taken away. Its that simple. People who are habitually and chronically in accidents or who violate traffic laws with abandon should lose their licenses. They make the roads more unsafe. Driving a single occupancy vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, is NOT a right. Too many people continue to be allowed to drive after proving they do not the have judgment or ability to do so safely.
And the anti-cycling contingent will scream and pound their self-righteous chests demanding that cyclists be licensed. Licensing doesn’t seem to help much to deter motorists from breaking the law: rolling through stop signs, running red lights, speeding, passing too closely to cyclists, hitting and killing cyclists, etc. etc. Mandatory insurance and seatbelt laws don't prevent accidents any more than helmets do.
There is no reason a reckless or angry driver can give that would justify endangering a pedestrian, cyclist or other motorist on the roads. It doesn’t matter if the cyclist is breaking a law, hard to see, cursing and flipping off cars or any other conceivable reason. It doesn't matter if the motorists hates cyclists, doesn’t think they should be on the roads, doesn't agree with the laws, believes cyclists should pay fees and greater taxes or any other belief. Motorists do not have the authority to exact roadside justice on cyclists. Motorists do not have the right to harass cyclists , pedestrians or other motorists. Its bad manners and in many states its against the law.
As I've said previously, when I got out on my bike I'm not playing around. I use my bike as my primary mode of transportation and I expect to receive respect from other road users. I know that's expecting a lot, but I feel I am entitled to as much respect as anyone else that uses the road, not less because I'm on a bike.

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