An eye for an eye

Unprocessed trauma is a weapon.

I had been listening to “Why is this happening?” a podcast by Chris Hayes. In this episode, he featured Mariame Kaba, a transformative justice advocate and prison abolitionist. One of the striking moments of the podcast was when Mariame opened up about her own sexual abuse trauma. In it, she explains that people’s traumas are valid and they are important for us to consider, however, society cannot be governed by how to address things mainly by people’s traumas and their fears. She goes on to explain that she is a survivor of rape and that she was what she terms a reactionary survivor. Mariame explains that she did not have an analysis of what had happened to her. That she was an incredibly hurt and harmed individual, who wanted nothing but violence against the person who had harmed her. That ultimately what she wanted was revenge.
She points out that had she been put on a panel of sexual assault survivors, without processing the trauma she had experienced, she would have advocated for the death penalty for all rapists. She points out that that is no way to govern a society.

The answer cannot be to go around and use capital punishment against everyone who has harmed us.

I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast which has been linked to in the opening paragraph.

I bring this up because there is a movement within bicycle advocacy to weaponize the trauma experienced by bicyclists and use their trauma to make broad and sweeping laws to “protect” bicyclists. These people are living in trauma. I know because I used to be one of them. I commuted by bicycle daily, 32 miles round trip, and experienced wave after wave of cruelty and harm from people operating cars around me.
The trauma I experienced was real and I’m still processing through it. But I’ve come far enough in my personal growth to recognize that what we are fighting against is not individuals behind steering wheels. No. What we, as bicyclists are up against is a society that has built a system of White Supremacy into the very roads we operate on.

Justice, for us, is not stricter laws, it is not segregation, and it is not education as a stand-alone response to the trauma that we experience on public roads. What we need, as a community, is transformative justice. We need a society that prioritizes people over speed, communities over roads, and our humanity over infrastructure. We need to be treated as equal members of society, deserving of the same respect automatically granted to people operating motor vehicles.

And often, when we advocate for stricter laws, there is a rebound effect in which the police then use those laws, which were intended to protect us, to harm us.

We need to hold our elected officials accountable and we each need to process through our trauma, so that we can run for office and make the changes that we know to be just and fair to a society focused on equality.

People should not have to drive to get a gallon of milk. Kids should not grow up with glorified cartoons of automobiles as their introduction to our roads. Teenagers and young adults should not be wooed by slick films glorifying dangerous speeds and irresponsible driving. Does that mean that we banish these things or outlaw them? No!
It means that we educate parents to raise socially responsible children, school programs, high school volunteer programs and public PSA’s about the realities of speed and what happens to the human body, even when it is surrounded by a seat belt and steel, in a high-speed crash. We build walkable communities and we educate our police to be good examples, at least until we can abolish them altogether. Because a society that is ruled by the police is a society that is ruled by fear and fear is trauma.

We need programs for people who have transgressed basic laws to experience life on a bicycle. There should be training programs by certified bicycling instructors that allow motorists to travel their roads on a bike or a trike. We can implement stricter licensing requirements and require drivers to pass a bicycle operating equivalency test.

We can build up community and support for those who are harmed. City financed trauma counseling and recovery from harm programs, which center the needs of the victims. Allowing them to heal and return to society as whole people.

Our country was founded on the myth of white supremacy and it is this myth which frames our way of thinking. We need a fresh outlook and a new way of understanding the world around us. One of the ways to achieve these results will be to center victims of auto violence and find out what justice really looks like to them after they’ve had healing space to process through their trauma.

What is transformative justice? Read more about it here: Transformative Justice, Explained.

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Speed: There is never an excuse for speeding

By now you should know that calling a crash an accident is a way of moving liability away from the person driving the vehicle.

Reading an article in CNN Money, I see a correlation between litigation and blaming the inanimate object. (Yes, you can draw an analogy about guns here too.)

There isn’t any such thing as an accident when it comes to auto collisions. Wet roads are no more to blame for your lead foot than an app is to blame for this horrific collision.

DSC00542[1]
Your steel cage is no match for the speed of the idiot behind the wheel.

“The plaintiff, Wentworth Maynard, was merging onto a four lane highway outside of Atlanta, Georgia when his car was struck “so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment,” his lawyers contend.”

 

Choices:

Everything you do is about choices. We make choices everyday. We choose to oversleep an alarm because we chose to stay up late. We choose to linger in the shower and we choose to speed under the false assumption that we can “make up time.”

When cycling advocates are educating you about light signals and how traffic is engineered to operate at a set speed, you chose to ignore us.

We make many minute and seemingly inconsequential choices everyday.

Which weighs more? A ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?

They both weigh the same. A ton. But the volume of feathers to create a ton is vast compared to the volume of bricks to equal the same tonnage.

Each feather is a seemingly inconsequential choice that you made throughout your day, week, year, and life. But when that ton of feathers hits you, it’s going to feel like a load of bricks.

Manufacturers and corporations make choices too.

I’m not saying that corporations don’t have a part to play in the choices we make. They most certainly do.

Snapchat chose to put out an app with the ability to capture your speed while using the app.

Auto advertisements show people driving in ways that are patently unsafe and they choose to pay a lot of money to have these ad’s placed during prime viewing times.

Here’s a scenario: You can read it in full detail here.

You’re driving down the road in your car on a wild and stormy night. The weather is like a hurricane, with heavy rains, high winds, and lightning flashing constantly. While driving, you come across a partially-covered bus stop, and you can see three people waiting for a bus:

  1. An old woman who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about (your “soulmate”).

Knowing that you only have room for one passenger in your car (it’s a really small car), which one would you choose to offer a ride to? And why?

You can believe that you are limited by your choices or you can think outside the box.

We need to emphasize critical thinking skills when educating drivers and cyclists.

We also need to emphasize that speeding, distracted (any distraction) driving, and driving drowsy or drunk are choice’s and there isn’t ever an excuse for the choices we make. We are to blame when we make bad choices.

I mention the above scenario about the bus stop because I was confronted by an Atheist (I’m one too). He said that I was on some high horse and that there were definitely excuses for speeding. He then brought up a real situation in which he believed that his mother was dying and he sped to the hospital. He was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

He then went on to justify his speeding by admitting that he was so distracted by his distress over the idea of his mother dying without him that he failed to notice the speed limit sign.

I tried to reason with him logically about public spaces and how his actions have direct consequences for others on public roads. He refused to acknowledge anything I was saying and launched into a personal attack instead. I saved the conversation and will present it in another blog at a future date. But for now, know that two of the deadliest weapons in history, the automobile and the gun, have even critical thinkers blathering emotionalism when it comes to their cherished beliefs. It truly defies logic.

There isn’t ever an excuse to justify speeding. Much like there isn’t an excuse to justify shooting someone who is unarmed. Corporations and manufacturers have a responsibility to the public at large. Snapchat has no excuse for putting out an app that encourages users to speed. Users have no excuse for choosing to use the app or for speeding.

When your choices affect others, you are duty bound to consider the consequences of your actions!

Public roads are shared space. You are required to share public roads with large vehicles, small vehicles, slower vehicles, and people on foot.

 

 

 

Mortality Monday: Killing people with your car

The default speed limit on all of Kentucky’s state maintained highways is 55 mph. You can find this in KRS 189.390 (3)

(3) The speed limit for motor vehicles on state highways shall be as follows, unless conditions exist that require lower speed for compliance with subsection (2) of this section, or the secretary of the Transportation Cabinet establishes a different speed limit in accordance with subsection (4) of this section:
(a) Sixty-five (65) miles per hour on interstate highways and parkways;
(b) Fifty-five (55) miles per hour on all other state highways; and
(c) Thirty-five (35) miles per hour in a business or residential district.

While this is the state’s (lazy) way of handling complicated people, I’d like to re-visit an old idea.

Driving at speeds appropriate for road conditions.

As explained in Motorist Awareness Wednesday.

Driving at or near the speed limit is not a right. You will not find anywhere in the Constitution of the United States nor in the Bill of Rights, any mention that speed or unfettered speed is your right.

Passing a slower moving vehicle is also not a right. As explained in Extremist Thinking is Hurting Cycling.

Priority NOT Right of Way.

Like Crash or Collision Vs. Accident, words have meaning. Educating motorists about right of way needs to include the understanding of Priority.

Note that the law does not allow anyone the right-of-way. It only states who must yield. When a driver is legally required to yield the right-of-way but fails to do so, other drivers are required to stop or yield as necessary for safety. So, if another driver does not yield to you when he or she should, forget it. Let the other driver go first. You will help prevent accidents and make driving more pleasant. Via: DriversEd.com

You may have heard “You might be right but you might also be ‘dead’ right.” This is where we get that phrase which has been bastardized into an argument for PRO edge riding Vs. LANE CONTROL. The creeping idea, much like a bad ‘B’ horror film, is that from out of nowhere a motorist is going to run you over from behind. This has happened to people, which only reinforces their pre-conceived notion. But it has happened to people who ARE EDGE RIDING! *

Lane control works to help good drivers from making bad choices. There is no infrastructure on this earth which will prevent bad drivers from making bad choices. Nor will that infrastructure protect cyclists from bad drivers who make bad choices, as explained in Homicidal Maniac.

Which is why we need to take driving seriously.

It isn’t enough to educate law enforcement or have them “Get tough on motor vehicle crime,” those are old ’80s ideas and we don’t need another “War.”

We need education.

I personally believe that 90% of motorists are 100% uneducated on the value of operating at lower speeds and obeying traffic signals. I also believe that our lax enforcement of existing laws and current infrastructure are due to poor education and biased education.

There is so much room for improvement on education alone.

Education is a thankless, unsexy, and daunting task. But it can be done.

For anyone who says “we’ve had education for the past 50-100 years and it hasn’t done anything,” is presenting a straw man argument. Did you take a class at school to learn how to operate a bicycle and obey traffic laws on your bicycle? I didn’t think so. Did you have any questions on your driver’s test about how to operate around bicycles? I didn’t think so.

That’s just the surface of education. There is so much more education to be had, but we won’t have it as long as the “bicycle specific infra. only cult” has their way. These are the people who shout you down when you mention education. They are also the people who sit on your panel at John J. College of Criminal Justice during the Left Forum and smirk when you mention education. (Cough cough TransAlt.)

Education is important. So important that other countries have made higher education a “right for all” by making it free.

Infrastructure is important but you can ride your bicycle in the worst infrastructure possible and still do so safely, when you’re educated. Like I did.

DRIVERS ARE RESPONSIBLE

When I read or listen to people’s arguments about how bad drivers are so bad and so frequent that we have to have special infra because there are just TOO MANY distractions for modern day drivers. I see a person who doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own actions. They are making excuses and wanting to blame everything and everyone else for their own poor choices.

Nobody is forcing you to drive distracted.

Nobody is forcing you to drive at speeds unsafe for road conditions.

You alone are to blame.

It used to be that an auto crash was so impactful that people “felt” that “the horror” of the crash was punishment enough. The knowledge that you took someone’s life was knowledge that you’d have to live with for the rest of your life.

How soul crushing.

Now, thanks in part to religion, we can pray all that away. Our prayers will forever lift up those killed and ease the burden of anyone who did the killing. A little religious dusting up and a healthy dose of conservative “it’s my God given right,” values and they are off and zooming towards their next collision. With the help of the auto insurance lobby, all auto wrecks are paid for by insurance. And if you’re well to do, especially if, you’ll hear people talking about the “Better Car” they’re going to buy instead of how torn up they are that they took a life. That doesn’t mean that I think we shouldn’t have insurance. I think that we have used insurance as an excuse to do bad things in our autos. TOWANDA!!

Who would not want to drive without fear of having an accident and not lose a lot of money ? With it, you can cover all traffic complications. This type of car insurance is especially necessary if you drive the car for someone else or a company car. Even driving a car on a loan would be much safer if you fully insured cheap full coverage auto insurance. Via: ReadingRobot

But ingrained in our psyche is that old idealism about “surviving an auto crash is punishment enough.” I’m sure you’ve heard “Let the punishment fit the crime,” in auto traffic injuries and fatalities it’s rare to see the punishment fit the crime. We have a winking idealism to “minor traffic” infractions.

Whether a defendant – the person convicted of a crime – broke a state or federal law, when it comes determining his punishment or sentence, an overriding concern is that it be proportional to his crime. In other words, the punishment should “fit the crime.” The idea is easy to understand. We don’t want to send people to prison for minor traffic offenses. Putting that idea into action, however, isn’t always so simple. Via: LawyersDotCom

In Conclusion:

I believe we need to revisit driver responsibility and figure out effective ways of getting the message across to people.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW YOU DRIVE.

Thank goodness traffic wasn’t too badly impacted. (Sarcasm)

I’m (not) sorry, reporting with emphasis about traffic being congested due to a crime scene isn’t good reporting.

http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Deadly-crash-involving-bicyclist-in-Bourbon-County-376000511.html

My heartfelt condolences to all my cycling friends in Lexington Kentucky and to the family of Dr. David Cassidy.

  Continue reading

Lane control…Did I stutter?

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

But that is actually a misquote.

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” The quote is most likely due to George Santayana, and in its original form it read, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Via Google Search.

It is kind of like that childhood game of telephone. Words are repeated, misconstrued, rehashed, and then repeated further down as though it were the original statement.

As cycling “season” approaches let me start this all over again.

Lane control saves lives. Reduces the frequency of negligent motorist behavior and is the highest form of defensive cycling.

I will present to you a video in which lane control is not used. It is a highway much like the one described in Extremist thinking is hurting cycling.

The driver is at fault whether or not the cyclist was operating defensively or passively.

Cyclists may use the shoulder. Though I don’t recommend it.

We learn from our past so as not to make the same mistakes. It’s how I went from riding the shoulder to controlling my lane. I learned from near misses, logical thinking, and a careful review of state law.

In the video the motorist is seen drifting onto the shoulder. This is the first drift seen and the motorist maintains control of the vehicle as they correct for their mistake. The actions imply that the motorist is leaning over to the passenger side and reaching for something.

An earlier accident — which officials said wasn’t fog-related — involved a semi-trailer that was headed east on Interstate 70 along the turnpike. That accident caused motorists to slow down for several hours Wednesday morning as crews worked to clear the scene.

In that crash, which occurred at 3:20 a.m. at milepost 193.1 on eastbound I-70, near the Shawnee-Douglas county line, a 2005 Freightliner semi-trailer crashed after the driver lost control of his rig while reaching for a pack of cigarettes, turnpike official said.

The semi drifted to the right shoulder, then tipped over onto its right side and slid down the right driving-lane shoulder into the ditch. Via http://cjonline.com/

When a motorist is reaching over for an object it is their natural tendency to maintain a fixed and steady gaze on the road directly ahead of them. The fixed state of their gaze and the physical motion of leaning over will cause the driver to pull the steering wheel in the direction of their lean and they will drift out of their lane. All the while they will maintain eye contact with the road directly ahead of them. When a motorist is fixated in gaze their peripheral vision is compromised and this is exacerbated by speeds over 20mph.

speed-visual-focus-diagram-426x500.jpg
The critical ten

The driver in the video is not maintaining their lane. They are operating a vehicle without regard for other road users. This behavior is normalized socially and the proof of that is in how many motorists are allowed to slide the system. Either by not being cited or having their citations reduced or dismissed.

How lane control reduces and eliminates this behavior. 

Lane control works on these basic principles.

  1. The driver is maintaining a fixed and steady gaze on the road ahead of him.
  2. You are in that narrow cone of vision as the driver maintains that fixed stare.
  3. The driver is forced to acknowledge your presence and react accordingly

Does it work?

Damn straight it works.

There was a time when I was cycling down U.S. 27 and before I knew it a motorist had driven off the road, onto the shoulder, and passed me on the right. At first I interpreted this as bullying harassment. So I caught up with them at the corner gas station and confronted the driver. The driver informed me that he was distracted by his child in the back seat. Mom was sitting in the passenger seat. I realized that this father put not only my life but the life of his family in danger, it was this realization which made me lose my temper and I yelled at him to focus on his driving. I was worried that he would end up killing his family exactly like the driver who actually did end up killing his entire family. this also occurred on U.S. 27. (Completely unrelated to me but still profoundly affecting). Some idiot lady came out of the gas station and hollered at me to stop hollering at people. Because you know how annoying it is when vulnerable road users holler at motorists who almost end their life through careless driving. Poor motorists. Worse! Tea Party Libertarian Motorists. Arrogant and Victimized all in one.

Now, motorists will pitch a fit about you being “In The Road,” and some will eagerly pass legislation requiring you to operate as far right “Out Of Their Way” as possible. Some states even going so far as to legally require you to operate on shoulders. So check your state laws first. Fortunately those states are few and far inbetween. See also Bike League for some help on this subject.

Now here is where the game of telephone mentioned earlier comes in. Not every state has uniform statutes on “Cyclists Far To Right” laws. If a state’s “Bicycle Specific” law contradicts the state statutes you have a valid legal argument. Gather your peeps and start a movement to have those discriminatory laws abolished.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Back to telephone. You will hear rumors about “safety” and riding the shoulder or as far right as possible. It will seem to make sense. I mean isn’t it logical that something hurtling towards you at high speeds is an increased danger to you? Well yea, if it’s blind and has no brakes. Can you add and subtract?

Sidetracked again. A motorist hurling themselves at you at 55 mph (if they are so dense as to hit you directly from behind) while you are operating your bicycle at say 25 mph will have a striking speed of 30 mph. Which is why the guy in the video was surprised at how few injuries he sustained. I would estimate the driver of the vehicle to be operating at between 35 and 45 mph and the cyclist to be operating at 24 mph. Which means that the striking speed was actually around 11 to 21 mph. Totally survivable and why we don’t ride against the flow of traffic.

Back to telephone, fer reelz this time.

So we hear all these rumors about what is safe and how operating on the shoulder is safe. We are told that the law requires us to operate out of the way of motorists. Basically we hear a lot of stuff. But is any of it actually true?

After a lot of careful study which I won’t go into here; I can tell you that your bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and you have every right to control your lane and operate with traffic as an equal. That means in the lane. Fully in the lane. Not on the wee bitty edge.

If the cyclist in the video was fully educated on his rights to lane control and had been doing so, here is what I hypothesize would have occurred.

  • Motorist one (who was clearly paying attention) would have been required to reduce speed.
  • The motorists behind motorist one would have followed, so as to avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of them. (We all know rear enders are the fault of the person doing the rear ending and not the person being rear ended. How we flip that for cyclists I fail to understand.)
  • This chain reaction would have forced the negligent motorist to abandon their passenger side “dig” and focus entirely on the road.
  • Everyone would be irritated with the cyclist. Honking horns. Calling them an idiot. Tweeting snarky comments.
  • The cyclist would have felt harassed, marginalized, bullied.
  • Motorists would change lanes to pass or cyclist would have moved over and graciously allowed motorists to proceed before reclaiming their lane control position after being passed.
  • Middle fingers would be waved.
  • The cyclist would have coffee with their friends and commiserate about what a rude lot motorists are after hanging up their bicycle for the day.
  • The motorist would blame their bad day on the cyclist and tell their wife or boss that they were delayed not by their own lack of time management but by that one lone cyclist who slowed them down for 20 seconds.
  • Everyone would be alive and well. No injuries. No police reports. No delays lasting for hours. Paperwork to fill out. Insurance companies to call. Court dates to attend; leading to missed time from work.

Operating on a road is a fifty fifty deal. If everyone does their part, nobody gets hurt.

Motorists are terribly unreliable.

So we lane control to stack the odds in our favor.

Because ultimately the driver was the one who created the situation which lead to the collision. The driver is at fault. The Driver Is At Fault. THE DRIVER IS AT FAULT.

THE DRIVER IS AT FAULT!

And now here is the video.

Happy watching.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/158039745″>Clipped from behind</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user49751273″>Anon Rider</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It looks like they deleted the video.

So here is a different one.

Which I should warn you is very upsetting to watch.
You will read in the description about how the motorist admitted to seeing the cyclist in this instance but judged (wrongly) that they could overtake.
Again. 
Lane control prevents good motorists from making bad choices.
Bad motorists always make bad choices.
Don’t be a bad motorist.

 

A driver of a White Ford SUV killed a boy. Everyone in comments section victim blames. Except me.

Read the story here.

Screenshot-2016-03-01-12.36.53-660x330.png
Wonderful and well loved boys life cut short by careless driver.


Nicole B
.
How very sad. My prayers go to his family in this hard time. Honestly though this should never have happened. There is no reason why a 16yr old boy should be out at 230am riding his bike.. Where are the parents?!


Lisa S
.
This is a very sad tragic story and I may get hate comments for this, but he had NO BUSINESS at 16 YEARS OLD LEAVING his girlfriends house at 2:30AM!?!? Wonder if he snuck out of his house… My prayers to the victim and his family… I can’t imagine their heartache….


Katre R
.
WHY WHY WHY was a 16 yr old KID allowed to be at 02:30 !!!!!! Lack of parenting that’s why. His parents and the girlfriends parents should be charged with chiid neglect !!!!! Stop being your kids best friend and be a parent. You’re neglect cost him his life!!!


Kevin C
.
My condolences to his family and friends. I just want to say, that street is very dangerous at night. The surrounding neighborhoods have no street lights. I strongly believe the city of Victorville needs to do something about that. I have had a close call or 2 jogging on Luna Rd early mornings. I’m just happy the driver was responsible for his actions and did their part. I respect them as a person. Accidents happen lives are loss, no one is to blame. Its sad such a young kid lost his life, this should be a cause for the citizens to ban together and pressure the city of Victorville in taking more precautions to prevent fatalities like this. I’m sorry to say, but the city of Victorville really doesn’t do much.

My response to the BULLSHIT!

Cherokee Schill
Every single person who empathized with the driver, blamed the parents, blamed the victim, or in any way did not place direct blame on the driver needs a swift lesson on driver responsibility.

You do not hit things or people with your auto! Not ever!
It isn’t ok. It isn’t an “accident.”
It is careless driving. You have headlights for a reason. You use them to see what is in front of you. If you can not see what is in front of you then you SLOW down. If you failed to do any of these things and hit someone or something YOU are at FAULT!
If you kill someone while failing to do any of these basic driving components or use your basic safety measures i.e. dashboard to see how fast you’re going, brakes to slow down, headlights to illuminate what is in front of you. Then you are GUILTY of Felony vehicular manslaughter.
Driving is a responsibility and a privledge.
Riding a bicycle is a RIGHT. That’s why they don’t require licensing or insurance. Because it’s a right to ride your bicycle at any time of the night or day!
P.s. Streets are not dangerous. People who use streets irresponsibly are dangerous.

That is why we can’t have nice things.

It isn’t the lack of infrastructure. It is the lack of education.
Remember the excitement over Japans lack of bicycle specific infra?
Please don’t bring bike lanes to Japan.

We lack real education on bicycle rights. We are inundated with auto commercials which depict unsafe driving and declare “Feel the Freedom!”

We have a very bad culture in the auto world and a very bad culture in the cycling world.

When the first thing out of a cyclists mouth, after I’ve told them I was arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road, is “in the car lane?” with a slowly growing look of horror. Then you know there is more going on in America then some paint and bollards will ever be able to fix.

It isn’t the lack of infrastructure. It is the lack of people who are willing to put their bike wheels where it matters. In the lane. In groups, in the lane. Not all trying to squeeze into a bike lane. But in the entire, publicly funded with your tax dollars, travel lane which is intended for all vehicles. Motorized or not!

The day after I was killed

The day after I was killed.

I placed a linen napkin next to each plate and carefully filled the glasses with juice. I brought in the newspaper and spread butter over the toast.

I watched, my heart aching, as our youngest child clung to my wife, crying inconsolably any time she was set down. Her sobbing hiccups and wavering voice asking “where’s daddy?”

I felt my heart swell with love as my son sat on the front porch. Tightly gripping my old baseball glove, leaving crescent moons in the leather.

The day after I was killed.

I walked down a familiar sidewalk and kicked a few pebbles. Watching as they bounced over the gutter and onto pavement stained red with my blood.

I wandered over to our local pub and sat with my friends as they held a vigil. Their eyes wandering from their full glasses to the television, where my face was prominently displayed. The newscaster looked grave as he reported my death.

I watched silently as my best friend hung up his bicycle and vowed never to ride again.

One week before I was killed.

A woman walked out of the local police station. Tears of frustration in her eyes. Her attempts to report a dangerous driver unheeded by police. The officer stared dispassionately as she described the driver and their actions which killed me. Firmly the officer turned her away, saying “since you weren’t hit, there is nothing we can do. No laws were broken.”

One week before I was killed.

A stranger tried to save my life.

 

Victim blaming is rape culture and why we need to stop!

A cyclist was killed in Ohio.

Officials reported that Prater was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“Preliminary information suggests that he was doing everything correct,” Drifmeyer said. Via Cincinnati.com

Humor me as I give this a creative rewrite.

A woman was killed in Ohio.

Officials reported that Prater was wearing a turtleneck at the time of the attack.

“Preliminary information suggest that she was doing everything correct,” Drifmeyer said.

When a person is killed by the intentional acts of another person, why do people feel they need to defend the actions of the victim; if the said victim is a person riding a bicycle?

Typically, when the media reports whether or not a person was or was not wearing some safety device i.e. high vis. clothing and/or helmet, it is because there is some type of legislation specifying its use or someone is trying to push legislation pushing its use.

When I lived in California, every news article and t.v. spot always mentioned whether or not the person was wearing a seat belt. They most frequently reported on those collisions in which someone was injured or killed and NOT wearing a seat belt.

There is ample scientific proof that wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle collision provides the user protection.

The same can not be said for the bicycle helmet.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it.

There is ample scientific proof that wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle collision provides the user protectionPhysics; Georgia State University

The same can not be said for the bicycle helmet. I couldn’t find a corresponding link to a science based article so here’s a Google search instead.

The cyclist was wearing a helmet.

He was wearing a helmet and he still died.

He may not have suffered any head injury due to wearing the helmet. Or he may have suffered severe head injury in spite of the helmet. The evidence isn’t presented in the media.

Stop legislating mandatory bicycle helmet use and stop making a point by reporting the use or nonuse of a bicycle helmet by the victim.

A bicycle helmet is no more protection to a cyclist against a 2 ton motorized weapon than a turtleneck is to a woman being attacked.

They are both the victims of an intentional act by an outside force.

The police suspect drugs were involved.

The use or nonuse of drugs, alcohol, cellphone, discipline of screaming kids in back seat, and the ever faithful “sun was in my eyes,” excuses are just that; excuses.

A person who uses alcohol or drugs and then gets behind the wheel is committing an intentional act.

A person using a cellphone while driving is committing an intentional act.

A person disciplining screaming kids in the back seat while operating a 2 ton motorized weapon is committing an intentional act.

A person who can not see the road ahead of them, yet continues to operate their 2 tons of motorized weaponry is committing an intentional act.

When you choose to do something behind the wheel, you are making a decision which places the lives of those around you and the lives of those in the vehicle, including your own, at risk. You are committing an intentional act.

I know people who treat their bicycle as the legally defined vehicle it is and still get treated with scathing disrespect by people who operate their legally defined MOTOR vehicle as though it were a toy.

Your motor vehicle is not a toy. No matter what the auto commercials may show  you.

The road is not where you express your “spirit for adventure!”

The police suspect drugs were involved.

A sober person rapes another person.

A drugged up person rapes another person.

A sober person kills another person.

A drugged up person kills another person.

The use or nonuse of drugs isn’t a defence and it isn’t an admission of culpability.

THE ACT OF KILLING IS WHERE IT’S AT!

As a society we make too many excuses for wrong behavior based on the thought that “It could have been me.” It could have been me except “I don’t do drugs,” so my conscience is clear and I’ll keep driving distracted because that’s not nearly as serious as doing drugs.

Except that it is.
See; Top Ten Dangerous Driving Habits, I bet you’ve done at least five of them if not all of them.

By “suspecting drugs,” we are giving a clean slate for others to kill.

The whole “it couldn’t possibly happen to me” syndrome. Except that it does.

A cyclist was riding on the edge of the road and a woman driving an SUV killed him. He was wearing a helmet and she thought she was giving him enough passing clearance. Her side view mirror struck the helmeted cyclists head at 55 mph and killed him. She was not drunk or on drugs. The sun was not in her eyes. Via. Biking in L.A.

She saw the cyclist and still killed him. She killed him because she did one thing wrong.

She did NOT treat him as the operator of a vehicle and instead of changing lanes to pass, like she would any other vehicle (including a motorcycle), she instead chose to pass him with minimal clearance.

This was an intentional act on her part.

This article also states that the driver was 77 years old.

Aging drivers are less able to judge distance. They also have poor motor coordination and it is the intentional act of the auto industry to promote their product in such a way that they have intentionally killed public transport.

By now you may have noticed a theme.

Driving is an intentional act. There are no excuses for killing someone when you are behind the wheel.

If you don’t need to drive, then don’t do it.

If you do need to drive, then do it with the thought “Today, would be the day I kill someone if I don’t put away these distractions and focus solely on driving.”

There are a lot of distracted drivers out there.

Distracted driving is ultimately the excuse given by the driver.

She claimed that she was distracted by unruly kids in the back seat. It was after the fact that they found evidence of drug paraphernalia in her purse. We won’t know for sure if she was high at the time, until lab work comes back. And if it is found that she was not under the influence at the time, THAT SHOULD NOT BE AN EXCUSE FOR GOING EASY ON HER. SHE KILLED SOMEONE!

Defending his honor!

We shouldn’t feel the need to defend the victims honor. We can honor the victim but elevating them to godlike status isn’t doing anyone any favors.

It is enough that they are a human being who lost their life.

The counter effect to defending the honor of those killed by people driving auto’s is this; Anyone who is less than perfect, and you know that none of us are perfect, implies that they are somehow to blame in their own death.

Neither does it matter that the cyclist killed is in fact a father, husband, and all around swell guy. He could be a bachelor who’s a real prick and his death would be every bit as important.

But if you paint them as being somehow unsavory then the attitude of people will be less likely to support the victim.

That is where the problem is.

Facts are the only thing that should matter. The content of their character doesn’t matter; when someone intentionally operates an auto in such a way that they kill someone, who they are as a person doesn’t matter.

The driver could have been Mother Teresa; sorry bad example. The driver could have been Doris Day and she should still be charged with a felony manslaughter. Her only saving grace would be if she could prove that she did everything possible to avoid the collision. In which case she too would be riding a bicycle, walking, or taking public transit.

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It is possible to take the kids along in a bicycle version of an SUV. 

This death should never have happened. Because she should never have gotten behind the wheel if she was in fact found to be under the influence at the time of the collision. She should never have taken her eyes off the road, not even for unruly kids.

How to drive with unruly kids.

  1. Don’t have kids.
  2. Don’t drive with kids if you do have them.
  3.  If you do have kids and you do intentionally choose to drive with them educate them on how serious driving is and why they have to behave.
  4.  If you have educated them and they still choose to behave like typical kids, then you keep your temper, you keep your eyes on the road, you scan the edge of the road for a safe place to pull over, you pull over, and then you discipline the kids.

Only after the interior of the car is completely calm do you then resume operations.

You don’t belong!

Why elevating the victim to sainthood hurts other road users.

“She sounds like someone we can support, unlike those other yahoo’s.” Andy Clarke

I’m sitting in court and my cycling advocate friend is sitting next to me. He is looking at his phone and he shows me an email he just received from Andy Clarke (Former President of League of American Bicyclists). He shows me the email. This is his attempt to show me that this backwater town isn’t going to ride rough shod over a cyclist. We have the support of Andy Clarke “big man honcho” with LAB.

My immediate thought was “those other yahoo’s?” and I asked my friend about what he meant by that. My friend brushed my concern aside by saying “You know wrong way cyclists, people who lost their license for driving drunk.” Those other people. Yahoo’s. He went on to say “but they aren’t like you Cherokee, you are cycling correctly and for the right reasons.”

Classifying people as “other” creates a distance between us and them. It creates an US vs. THEM. They are “those” people but we are “these” people. “Those” people do it wrong but “these” people do it right.

You have to cycle correctly and for the right reasons?

Because, if you don’t then you could be held liable in your own death?

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Not according to already established case law. 

That’s right! If you are driving a motor vehicle and you injure someone else then you should be presumed at fault.

But this would discourage driving so auto companies have paid to influence our perspective.

Watch the news. Count the car commercials. Notice any collisions reported where the injured person is not in an auto.

I did.

Here’s what I found.

Roughly 80% of the placed ads were for auto’s. 100% of the ads implied that driving is exhilarating, for freedom lovers, and that public roads are personal playgrounds.

Of the injuries reported the vulnerable road user was painted as somehow at fault.

Except that legally they are not.

Except that since “Deputy v kimmell” there has been a push for laws to make it legal to find fault with vulnerable road users.

Imagine if we did the same thing for rapists? Or people who kill other people with guns?

Imagine a world where it is normal to assume the woman was somehow at fault in her own rape based on her clothes or lack thereof. We don’t really have to imagine because we do live in a world where such judgments exist.

But imagine if they passed legislation placing the woman at fault if she wasn’t wearing a turtleneck at the time of her attack.

Or imagine; they passed legislation placing fault of a mass shooting on the children killed because they were in school instead of adjacent to the school.

Such thoughts should be highly offensive to you.

but this is exactly what we are doing when we blame people for being assaulted by someone with a motor vehicle.

Why I take the lane.

I take the lane because it reduces risk. I’m a survivalist. I’ve put aside all the urban myths and studied the facts.

I found that wearing a helmet to protect you from car collisions is a myth. Or to reduce the severity of injury in a car collision, also a myth. (I would however wear a helmet to protect me from head injury if I were say; Mountain Biking or Group Riding.)

I found that cycling on the shoulder isn’t safer than taking the lane.

I stopped wearing a helmet because the social response from people driving cars was “Omigosh! She’s so vulnerable without a helmet!” and they give me more space by default.

I stopped cycling on the shoulder because I found that when I’m in the lane people notice me. When I’m in the lane and people don’t notice me, this has happened, they have space to the right to ditch out on.

Anyone who would blame me for being in the lane is victim blaming. Review the graphic on Deputy v Kimmell. Anyone blaming the cyclist for being killed while on the shoulder is victim blaming.

THAT SHIT HAS TO STOP AND IT HAS TO STOP NOW! 

If you would like to donate to the family’s GoFundMe account you can do so here.