Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


October 1, 2002
4:28 PM   Subscribe

"The 9-28-01 Critical Mass bike ride in Austin generated some controversy when a jeep driver intentionally ran over a cyclist and crashed into another car."
posted by monkeymike (125 comments total)

 
The link is pretty unbiased and provides video of the incident. Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta bike home from work.
posted by monkeymike at 4:31 PM on October 1, 2002


There's nothing I despise more, as a driver, than sharing the road with cyclists.

Environmental concerns be damned, they're a menace in my city.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:33 PM on October 1, 2002


Uhm, I fail to see the 'controversy' here. Dude ran over a bicyclist and smashed into a car.

Is there really any room for debate or an opposing view?

Excuse me, I believe in a motorist's right to run over cyclists!
posted by xmutex at 4:35 PM on October 1, 2002


Why are Jeep owners so often assholes?
posted by EmoChild at 4:37 PM on October 1, 2002


Dark Messiah - so you should run them over? As irritated as I am by the Critical Mass crowd, I'll agree with and quote one of the off-camera cyclists: "You're going to be held responsible for your fucking actions now, dumbass!"
posted by GriffX at 4:37 PM on October 1, 2002


Did anyone actually watch that video?

Jesus..

The driver put a number of lives in Jeopardy. It is a good thing that no one was killed.
He should be thrown in jail for a short period of time.
posted by EmoChild at 4:41 PM on October 1, 2002


just give him a little huffy bmx number and make him ride it to work. no helmet.
posted by luriete at 4:44 PM on October 1, 2002


I was once a cyclist. I like cyclists. But I have always felt Critical Mass is a stupid idea, since no protest is going to a) make people drive more safely around cyclists, or b) convince drivers to become cyclists.

Critical Mass is a silly idea, and cyclists should continue to enjoy their almost free mode of transport, rather than blocking up city streets to make a rather moot point.
posted by wackybrit at 4:44 PM on October 1, 2002


"He should be thrown in jail for a short period of time."

That's the spirit! Throw the...uh...magazine at him.

I'm just wondering why we're rehashing a year-old story. Or is the date on the linked page wrong?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:45 PM on October 1, 2002


Environmental concerns be damned, they're a menace in my city.

Cyclists are the menace? How? I love to be in a city where cycling to work was practical. Most American cities are hostile to pedestrians and cyclists alike. More than hostile even without guys like this Jeep driver.
posted by shagoth at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2002


I'm a 56k modem user so these videos each take some time to come down, but from what I've seen so far.. this is great entertainment! They should pay that Jeep guy to go on Jackass and run people over for comedy value.
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 PM on October 1, 2002


I used to be a cyclist too, in a very-laid-back way, and yet I never got Critical Mass either - what sort of sympathy can you possibly expect to get from pissing off the very people whose recognition and respect you are demanding? The jeep driver in this video did an impulsive, stupid, and very dangerous thing, and he should be held accountable - but there was some provocation, no? Who would want to sit quietly waiting for the (small) mob of strangers sticking their heads in your car and screaming at you to quietly go away? (Please note that I did say the Jeep driver's actions were wrong).
posted by kokogiak at 4:53 PM on October 1, 2002


Pedestrians are morons, and cyclists can't keep up with the flow of traffic -- when they're not being morons. Nothing like jaywalkers and spontaneosly-langing-changing cyclists to make my drive overly stressful.

I'm not saying I'd kill cyclists, I'm saying they should stay away from cars. You drive a bike on the road, with cars, don't bitch if you get squashed. To me, it's akin to going to war and wondering why those bad men are shooting at you....

I'm talking about Ottawa, Ontario, BTW.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:56 PM on October 1, 2002


There's nothing I despise more, as a driver, than sharing the road with cyclists. Environmental concerns be damned, they're a menace in my city.-Dark Messiah

Gotta tolerate cyclists, dude. Gotta tolerate everyone. The road is no place to be pissed off at people.

(I do get a little irked at tailgaiters, though.)

Critical Mass? Probably not the best way to get the message out.
posted by jaronson at 5:00 PM on October 1, 2002


It's unfortunate how traffic incidents bring out the worst in people. I skidded into a biker once after a rain (all my fault) and both me and the biker were shaken. As luck would have it, no-one was hurt, but if there had been injuries or damage to car or bike, who knows what would have happened. It's hard to be on your best behavior in these situations.
posted by Triplanetary at 5:00 PM on October 1, 2002


i do critical mass on a semi-regular basis in san francisco.

i like it quite a bit, it's a lot of fun, really, to be bicycling with thousands of other people.

for some reason, a street full of cyclists is much more beautiful and interesting than a street full of cars -- as evidenced by the number of tourists who look on gape-mouthed, snap photos, wave and cheer.

it's just rather unfortunate that CM cannot both stop at stoplights and function properly (stopping at lights reduces the amount of cyclists crowded together, making them vulnerable to pissed-off drivers -- also, it's hard to convince a mob to stop). the running of the red lights is out of hand. i realize some people's conception of critical mass is to put the same inconviences on car drivers that cyclists face regularly, but it causes terrible rifts between the cycling and driving (or, car commuting) community, and all sorts of accidents (i saw at least 2 last friday -- sure, they were the direct cause of impatient drivers, but these drivers *got* impatient because of CM).

yeah: so i'm an idealist; i wish everyone could live 3 blocks from their work (like i do) and driving would become merely a leisure activity (driving down the coast, etc.) rather than a necessity.

anyhow, i'm not really going anywhere with this. i guess i should mention that i actually wondered aloud to a friend during last friday's sf mass the odds against of some driver just snapping and gunning towards a group of cyclists.

sadly, i guess they're not all that high.

either way, i'd still recommend CM if there's one in your community; it's large enough that it's a family affair in SF, though depending on your city, you may have more ruffians, rowdy folks -- CM's "anarchist" footings, unfortunately, seem to often attract the asshole activists who are more interested in shouting than what they're shouting about.


I'm not saying I'd kill cyclists, I'm saying they should stay away from cars. You drive a bike on the road, with cars, don't bitch if you get squashed. To me, it's akin to going to war and wondering why those bad men are shooting at you....


and then again, when i see attitudes like these, i don't mind that drivers are inconvienced once a month. all we're asking is : share the road. CM isn't the best way of posing the question, but apparently some car drivers are particularly thick-skulled.

posted by fishfucker at 5:01 PM on October 1, 2002


Detect Sarcasm now enabled - Please proceed with discussion.

I'm not saying I'd kill cyclists, I'm saying they should stay away from cars. You drive a bike on the road, with cars, don't bitch if you get squashed. To me, it's akin to going to war and wondering why those bad men are shooting at you....

I'm talking about Ottawa, Ontario, BTW


That's me you're talking about Dark Messiah. Are you the jerk in the van who cut me off on Baseline this morning? You think your commute is stressful in your 2 tonne steel box with a seatbelt and airbags? The most you have to fear from hitting a cyclist is damage to your insurance rates and your emotional well being. Having been struck twice by jackass drivers I can tell you that even a minor impact has very serious implications for a cyclist.

When you make a rolling stop are you thinking about the fact that your making an implicit threat to any pedestrian nearby? A 5kmh impact with a moving bike can throw a cyclist about 15 ft or pop a walking pedestrians knees. Most people don't even think about it until it happens to them. Now i see a car making a rolling stop and I feel like some nutcase has a baseball bat cocked and ready to smash my brains in.

Until they build bikeways you have to share the road with me. Which is nowhere near as bad as me having to share the road with you.
posted by srboisvert at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2002


Weird. I'm not Canadian and I've never been to Ottawa so I couldn't really say how things are up there. However, I would be unlikely to live somewhere that didn't support bike riders. I live in Seattle now. A lot of the routes I do now I can keep up with or beat cars speed-wise, which is fun but not something I'd consider a requirement for safe biking.

Lots of cyclists are morons, school just started here yesterday. Ouch. Of course, Sturgeon's law applies. I believe I fall into the non-moron category. My number one rule of riding is that mass wins. I ride conservatively.

Interestingly enough I'm exceptionally (literally) observant of traffic rules. I often have to wave cars on to tell them to drive their right-of-way. Hey, that's Seattle I guess. Some of these folks are probably adapting to the bike-riding morons, but I think most of them are just trying to be nice. It might be cold or uncomfortable and they figure to give the biker the right-of-way out of politeness. Of course, I think we'd all better off if everybudy just knew the rules of the road, and followed them. And for better or worse the rules say that bikes are allowed most everywhere.
posted by Wood at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2002


I ride my bike everyday, do about 18 miles round trip. I came into this worrying about cars, and to this day give cars more respect that they deserve. I am plenty courtous, and have had few bad experiences. The few that I have had were people going way out of their way to do so, and I figure they are frustrated drivers who got stuck because of some Critical Mass, and are taking revenge. The worst one was some giant SUV where the passanger blew an airhorn in my ear while I was riding along. I know I was not, and never had obstructed him, so it was sensless. It is hard to share the road, and I never feel safe until I reach the bikepath along the lakefront. I do not know why I am posting, but I enjoy reading about other people riding to work, and thought I would share my commute. I hope I do not end up crushed under a car. Most frustrating are people who go way out of their way to cut me off. I cannot figure that one out, I am not slow, and they gain nothing, less that 5 seconds, when they force me to hit my brakes. I have made a few minor mistakes in traffic since I started riding, but not as many as I have while driving over the years. The whole subject makes me sad for some reason.
posted by thirteen at 5:14 PM on October 1, 2002


It is important to note that roads were not invented for the car, or even for motorized use, and that the drivers of motorized vehicles do not have any magical power over the road.

Since all road users should be treated with the same respect, it is pig-ignorant to believe that car drivers should have some sort of priority.
posted by wackybrit at 5:16 PM on October 1, 2002


Having been struck twice by jackass drivers I can tell you that even a minor impact has very serious implications for a cyclist.

Then STAY OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!

I don't get pissed at cyclists, I get nervous. I don't want to kill anyone, and having some flimsy bike scooting around my car -- darting in and out of my blind spots -- doesn't help.

Oh, and for the record, I don't make rolling stops. I don't have my G license yet, so I'm trying very hard to stay away from "complacent driver" habbits.

And spare me the emotional impact of riding a bike, or walking. I could level the same argument, concerning public transpo buses, the elderly, and the ever-cliched "important asshole on cellphone who thinks he /she can drive".
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:24 PM on October 1, 2002


Having some moron cut you off on the Queen's Way, when you're taking a blind corner, I'm sure would outweigh any cycling horrors you've encountered.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:25 PM on October 1, 2002


Lots of cyclists are morons

Living in LA, I'd like to report that the vast majority of drivers are too. Compared to the fuckwits that; tailgate at 80mph, change lanes without indicating, turn without indicating, turn from the wrong lane, go straight ahead from the left turn lane, pull out into moving traffic causing everyone behind them to screech to a halt, double park on a busy road, go 20 in a 40 zone, go 50 in a 20 zone, tailgate at 80 in the rain (I could go on), cyclists are a minor irritation at best.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:26 PM on October 1, 2002


It is important to note that roads were not invented for the car, or even for motorized use, and that the drivers of motorized vehicles do not have any magical power over the road.

Majority rules. I don't think anyone is arguing for car-priority, rather some seperation of bikes and cars. It's like fire and ice. You can't mix them together and hope it'll work out. Either one gets melted, or the other burns out.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:27 PM on October 1, 2002


I mean, what is it with Angelenos and indicators? Is it this bad across the whole of the US?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:29 PM on October 1, 2002


inpHiltr8r: Yes, it is. If I hadn't bought a new car last year, I'd be seriously wondering whether they even came with turn signals (excuse me, indicators :) ) any more.

And the vast majority of people have no concept of lane discipline, either. That's my biggest annoyance.
posted by jammer at 5:34 PM on October 1, 2002


Since everyone's venting, I thought I'd chime in: the turn signal is used to notify others of your intention to turn, not the execution of a turn. Don't feint in and out and, when you've confused and scared the driver behind you in the next lane, switch on the turn signal as you're moving over.

Oh yeah, and for drivers in Hawaii, if the traffic lights aren't working, it means four-way-stop not go-real-fast. Of all the states I've been to, Hawaii is the worst when it comes to that.

Ok, back on topic. Um. Go bikers.
posted by Tacodog at 5:45 PM on October 1, 2002


Majority rules. I don't think anyone is arguing for car-priority, rather some separation of bikes and cars. It's like fire and ice. You can't mix them together and hope it'll work out. Either one gets melted, or the other burns out.

I love this mentality, despite the fact that if people obey traffic laws people don't get killed when people mess up, usually cars, and kill others on bikes, on motorcycles, walking, or smaller cars, there is this great attitude of "you were smaller and deserved whatever damage you got"

how about you just try not to hit the things that have the same rights to the road/crosswalks/lanes as you do? 4000 pounds of steel isn't a convenience with the "you deserve it" mentality, its a weapon.

"I am sorry your dead, I didn't see you," doesn't cut it
posted by vincentmeanie at 5:49 PM on October 1, 2002


Why are Jeep owners so often assholes?

Why are people who make such statements so often morons?
posted by justgary at 5:55 PM on October 1, 2002


Why are people who make such statements so often morons?

Why are so many posts lately about some crazy crime or another?
posted by adampsyche at 5:58 PM on October 1, 2002


I'm not going to debate whether or not cyclists should be on the road or not. But that was a terrible choice of days to do this in Austin. Both the Austin City Limits Festival (which was awesome, btw) and the Pecan St. Festival on 6th St were going on all weekend. Traffic was nuts and you had 10s of thousands of people in from out of town.
posted by jbelshaw at 6:02 PM on October 1, 2002


oh, wait. didn't notice that this occured in 2001. sorry.
posted by jbelshaw at 6:03 PM on October 1, 2002


important to note that roads were not invented for the car, or even for motorized use

Originally, no. However the current paved road & highway infrastructure in North America was created for motorized use. The cement, asphalt/whatever that makes cycling a nice/fast/enjoyable experience (most of the time), was not poured for the benefit of cyclists or pedestrians...

I have no issues sharing the road with cyclists, as long as we both follow the rules. I've seen many more poor drivers than bad cyclists, however I live in a city with a reasonable bike infrastructure.
posted by jkaczor at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2002


"you were smaller and deserved whatever damage you got"

It's pretty close to the truth. Hence why I shy away from SUVs. (You are aware that there are varying sizes of cars.)

My Heavy Metal Shaggin' Wagon could crush any car on the road, as far as accidents go. Does that mean I look for accidents? No.

I don't try to run over cyclists or pedestrians either. But, you know what, I'm damn sure going to complain about them. Just as cyclists can complain about me and me cari-driving ilk.

I don't expect to change anyone's mind. If you bike to work, or wherever else, so be it. I'm just voicing my belief that cyclists are braving A LOT of danger by choosing their mode of transportation. I don't specifically hate bikers. Like any driver, I hate sharing the road with anyone else.

That said, I deal with that internally -- not externally. I'm not going to run someone down because I'm having a bad day. Hell, at least I'm not freezing to death on a bicycle. :)
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:06 PM on October 1, 2002


So....... Summing up....... The roads are filled with idiots and assholes. Got it. You may now continue with the pointless and unconvincing vent-fest.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:27 PM on October 1, 2002


AND ANOTHER THING...

Damn, y6y6y6 took all the fun out. Buzzkill!
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:29 PM on October 1, 2002


You may now continue with the pointless and unconvincing vent-fest.

Better here, than on the road...;)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:31 PM on October 1, 2002


Dark Messiah: I don't think anyone is arguing for car-priority, rather some seperation of bikes and cars...

DM, I've participated in one CM, and the material that the group was passing out said exactly what you're saying. They feel that biking is socially, environmentally and economically responsible, and they demand that space be given to them to do it safely, via bike lanes, routes, etc. Too many bikers in your lane pissing you off? Advocate legislation to give them space to ride.
posted by kevin-o at 6:31 PM on October 1, 2002


Dark Messiah - not to add to the debate, but what did you mean when you said 'Pedestrians are morons'? Did you mean that I'm a moron because I enjoy being able to get from my house to my office across town via public transportation and get a tax break for it at a minimal cost and having to walk a total of two blocks in between, am I a moron because I can't afford a car plus ~$1000 in parking fees a year?
posted by GriffX at 6:33 PM on October 1, 2002


I'm not saying I'd kill cyclists, I'm saying they should stay away from cars. You drive a bike on the road, with cars, don't bitch if you get squashed. To me, it's akin to going to war and wondering why those bad men are shooting at you....

Dark Messiah, if your car/truck/SUV is crushed like an insect by a semi truck driven by a drunken moron, then will you have no complaints? It's your fault for going out there in the inferior vehicle. Another semi would have been more visible and probably survived the impact.

That's like saying that if someone shoots you, it's your fault for not hiring a team of armed guards.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:35 PM on October 1, 2002


Dark Messiah, if your car/truck/SUV is crushed like an insect by a semi truck driven by a drunken moron, then will you have no complaints

When did I mention drunks? Oh, right, I didn't. So take your analogy back to the drawing board?

And since when did I say killing other people was OK? Oops, didn't say that either.

0-2, my good chum.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:38 PM on October 1, 2002


Strangely, I have no problem with cyclists on the road. I'm not afraid of hitting them: I know how wide my car is and where the cars around me are, and I almost always see them so far in advance that I'm able to plan to get around them hassle-free. And those times where I unexpectedly come up behind a cyclist, I've never been stuck behind them for an unreasonable length of time.

The cyclists I encounter are on residential streets, highways, normal city streets, and in rush-hour traffic, and gridlock.

The only cyclists that piss me off are the ones who break the law by riding on the wrong side of the road, blowing stop signs, or sailing across pedestrian crosswalks.

I strongly suspect that one's attitude towards cyclists is inversely proportional to one's driving skill and habits.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:40 PM on October 1, 2002


just follow the traffic laws, and we have no problems.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:42 PM on October 1, 2002


but what did you mean when you said 'Pedestrians are morons'?

- Blindly walking / running into traffic.
- Not paying attention to cars in parking lots
- Asshole teenagers just moseying along across the road, as oncoming traffic approaches. (I'm 19, for the record -- this isn't the stereotypical "you damn kids" rant)

I have plenty more case-by-case scenarios.

I walk to work, often, as I don't feel the need to drive every day. (Work is 12 minutes walking distance. 6, if I drive.) I make sure to stay out of the way of cars, and I use the damn crosswalks. I don't play chicken with cars, and I don't use my "golden cow" pedestrian status as a shield. The right-of-way will not stop a car from crushing me. I know this, as it has happened*.

* - I didn't do anything too stupid. The traffic light did not change to red, while the crosswalk lit-up the "Walk" sign. i didn't look, and got a car in the knee and landed in the middle of an intersection. I ran home faster than I'd ever ran in my life. Then ... the adrenaline wore off -- still hurts every winter.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:43 PM on October 1, 2002


There's nothing I despise more, as a driver, than sharing the road with cyclists.
amen. pavement stains of the future.
posted by quonsar at 6:46 PM on October 1, 2002


amen. pavement stains of the future.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I found that funny.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:53 PM on October 1, 2002


I don't use my "golden cow" pedestrian status as a shield

Phew, moving to Raleigh sure knocked that idea out of my head! I was so used to the California idea of "the pedestrian always has the right away" that I very nearly got mowed over. People here think rolling metal has the right of way every time-- grocery store parking lots, walkways, you name it.

And while I am venting about NC drivers, can I point out that it is in the best interest of everyone's safety to pull over when you hear sirens approaching. It never ceases to amaze me that drivers here are oblivious to sirens. Yesterday while driving towards the scene of a horrendous accident, I saw a fire truck, and then an ambulance, and then a rescue truck each have to stop and wait at a red light because cross traffic would not yield to them.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:02 PM on October 1, 2002


I've been cycling in the city for years, in Ottawa, Vancouver and now London Ontario. I've found that I get what I give: when I'm going crazy on the road, I get lots of yells and horns, but when I obey the rules of the road and worry about the differences in weight and my fragile bones, everything is cool.

I do think that each municipality owes it not only to motorists and cyclists, but to the environment to put bicycle lanes along major routes. It's safer and ultimately, a smart thing to do--less cars on the road means it's easier to breath.

As to CM, I appreciate their intentions, but they gain no respect because of the manner in which they do things. If I ran into a bunch of them, be that in a car or on my bike, I'd be ticked too.

Dark Messiah, you may have a lot of feeling about this subject, but you're coming across as a dork. Sorry, but that's how I see it.
posted by ashbury at 7:07 PM on October 1, 2002


Critical Mass is a silly idea, and cyclists should continue to enjoy their almost free mode of transport, rather than blocking up city streets to make a rather moot point.

according to critical mass their ride was "a protest against a lack of bicycle lanes."
posted by Babylonian at 7:08 PM on October 1, 2002


What criminal charges were filed against Henderson? The link does not provide this information.
posted by quam at 7:19 PM on October 1, 2002


Found on this page: ....the police were unwilling to take any action against Henderson, until the cyclists showed the police the videotape, at which point they finally arrested him for reckless driving. Justin Davis, the rider who was thrown off his bike when Henderson plowed into him and whose bike was crushed, was also arrested for "obstructing a highway". Davis also claims that the police didn't even list him as a victim on the accident report.
posted by quam at 7:22 PM on October 1, 2002


the media reports section says he was only charged with reckless driving

seems kind of weak considering what happened to Randy Moss

Moss didn't peel out, didn't hit another car, wasn't driving fast and didn't cause destruction of property
posted by Babylonian at 7:24 PM on October 1, 2002


OK, I admit ignorance here, having read only half the posts and having not watched the video, and not having even heard of Critical Mass. But, having said that, I'm pretty disturbed at the anti-cyclist posts here.

Two of my brothers have been hit by cars while on bicycles. They were not at fault. They could be dead, but they were wearing helmets, so they are OK.

I employ my defensive driving techniques while cycling (thirty years driving without an accident!) and have not yet been struck.

But I am the one to be credited with not having been a victim. I can't tell you how many times I have averted collisions through awareness, while the (often) cell-phone-using drivers have, for example, turned into my path without using a turn signal.

I know Metafilter protocol frowns on this, but I've gotta use the f-word here:

Fuck y'all drivers who are pissed offed at cyclists. You are not in danger of being killed; we are.

I think you roadsters are reacting to the self-reighteous rants of the radical cyclists. But leave your politics aside when you hit the road, man. I've got a family. And if some cyclist cut you off once or twice...get over it. You automobile drivers have done much worse to me, many times.

(Spoken as one who commutes by bike 5% of the time, by truck 95% of the time, BTW)
posted by kozad at 7:34 PM on October 1, 2002


At first, I was going to say "I don't understand why some people have such vitrol for bicyclists. How are bike riders that much different than any other vehicle operators on the road?"

But then I realized that these same people are probably the ones that scream, shout, give the finger to other motorists, and generally drive in a hazardous (or at least, inconsiderate) fashon.

There are just a lot of unpleasant people in the world.
posted by moonbiter at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2002


I strongly suspect that one's attitude towards cyclists is inversely proportional to one's driving skill and habits.

Even worse, such individuals probably think that they have good driving skills.
posted by moonbiter at 7:40 PM on October 1, 2002


All I'm saying is that someone saw this video on File Pile and decided to post a link on Metafilter.
posted by Hall at 7:40 PM on October 1, 2002


One of my classmates in an Anthro class last year was actually doing an assignment on these guys when this incident happened. The video he took was probably the same video that's on the webpage linked to in the post. (The original was confiscated by the police; he showed a copy to the class.)

Having seen the actual video (I'm pretty sure in its entirety) the bicyclists were acting rather snotty and annoying before the accident, (taking up all lanes of traffic mostly, and of course, yelling and shoving their heads into the driver's face), and while the driver was in no way justified in plowing down a bicyclist, I could see how someone could get so mad as to lose control at this seemingly roving gang of punks. (It's not like they were waving banners or chanting for bicycle lanes, they were just being a road nuisance.)

Watching the vehicle just hit someone and crash into oncoming traffic was surreal. The anger that fueled the idiotic act must have been enormous. And yet, the riders were acting just as stupid and obnoxious. I want to leave it at karma, but the driver, being behind the wheel of a much more dangerous vehicle, should have been punished more severely.

Disclaimer: My memory's not what it should be, and I apologize in advance if I got any of the details wrong.
posted by lychee at 7:47 PM on October 1, 2002


I've commuted for about five years by cycle in Ottawa.

The biggest problem a cyclist faces in traffic are the scared drivers. Fear makes them unpredictable, out of control. Chaos is not a good thing on a bicycle.

Stressed-out moms juggling phones and coffee, assholes in red sports cars are bad too, but they are predictable. The safest drivers on the roads are the commercial truckers. I'm never safer than when an 18-wheeler is passing me at 100 kph.

Things are not much different when I drive, by the way. Traffic is the same whether I am on the hoods, or behind the wheel of my red sports car.

It is true, there are many bad cyclists out there. There are many cyclists out there period. Recent stats show that 5% to 10% of Ottawa commutes by cycle in good weather. There tens of thousands of bikes on the road every sunny day. Many of us do not respect the rules of the road as well as we should. Bikes, in traffic, are vehicles, not toys.

If you cycle on the road, you should read John Forrester's Effective Cycling, the manual for "vehicular cycling". CAN-BIKE courses are really good too.
posted by bonehead at 7:49 PM on October 1, 2002


Lots of Ottawa folk here!

I would suggest a Mefi meetup but we would probably all end up beneath the wheels of the Dark Messiah!
posted by srboisvert at 8:10 PM on October 1, 2002


I got caught in a Critical Mass once, and while I am a man of peace in my personal dealings, I must tell you that the thought of running over those fuckers ran through my head more than once.

Cluephone: delaying people's trip home for (in my case literally) hours is not a good way to gain respect!

Further, as a motorist (by necessity, not by choice), I do my best to respect cyclists sharing the road. But when they do things like run red lights, get in my blind spots, take a full care lane width while moving very slowly when there is a bike lane, or the like, it pisses me off.

Not because I mind sharing the road, but because I am scared shitless of the prosepect of killing or hurting someone (even if their own stupidity contributes).

My favorite was a bike who took a left turn on red while my car was going through the intersection the other way on green. I almost had a fucking heart attack.

The worst thing is that the blatant disregard many cyclists have for the rules of the road makes me panic whenever there is a cyclist near me on the road, even if it's someone perfectly law-abiding.

Cyclists! Please! I really really do not want to kill anyone, I am desperately trying to avoid it! Please obey the rules of the road and make it that much easier for me to avoid causing danger to you or others.
posted by maciej at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2002


Originally, no. However the current paved road & highway infrastructure in North America was created for motorized use. The cement, asphalt/whatever that makes cycling a nice/fast/enjoyable experience (most of the time), was not poured for the benefit of cyclists or pedestrians...

A lot of the "current paved road & highway infrastructure" were roads and tracks used way before the car was invented.

Cars needed extra space and a better road surface, and in time the original dirt tracks got overrun by cars - original dirt tracks that were "created for" pedestrians, horses, carts, and - dare I say it - cyclists.

I find your argument dubious at best.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:13 PM on October 1, 2002


Given the descriptions of how the cyclists were behaving, this wasn't a car vs bicycle issue, this was an asshole vs asshole issue. Which is often funny, and at least, distracts them from bothering the rest of us for a while.

Anyway, whether you're cycling, walking, or driving, you should be taking care of yourself and others. No special rules for cars, bikes or pedestrians need apply. Whatever it is, anticipate its movements, allow it to anticipate yours, and do your level best to avoid hitting it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:15 PM on October 1, 2002


I'm starting two groups demanding allocation of public space for go-kart lanes and pogo stick lanes respectively. We'll make our point and fight for our liberation by gathering in groups of dozens and pogoing mere inches from the bumpers of dbig dumb drivers. The go kart division will be sure to remain in the blind spots of the drivers so that Johnny Earth Murderer will be too paralyzed with fear to even breathe near the accelerator.

These are not childish and obnoxious actions on our part! You will all learn to love piloting your micropowered and unpowered childrens toys to work and school when we take over!

A car is just a go kart with several thousand pounds of resource wasting safety equipment, and its removal makes the go kart suitable for long distance interstate travel. Cars and planes may get you there faster, but think about the true cost. The 148 extra hours you spend taking a go kart instead of a car from Chicago to Manhattan is 296 extra hours Sweet Momma Earth will be able to breathe.

And pogo sticks are just a more ecologically responsible bicycle. Bike tires are savage killers of small insects, their frames require more metal raped from Gaia to manufacture, and any ribbons attached to the handlebars contribute to the butterfly effect with tragic consequences.

Move over you "technologists", you unthinking tools of the corporate state. We're coming for your streets and we will introduce you to real progress through almost passive resistance.

The greatest tool for social change was discovered by the first little boy who put his hand an inch from his friends face and chanted those four words of ultimate power: I'M NOT TOUCHING YOU! I mean, you can say it's annoying, but since the people we're doing it to don't see things the way we do, then how the fuck can their feelings be real? They don't have souls or awareness. That kid deserves some natural, non exploitative oral sex.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:18 PM on October 1, 2002


as a biker (motorcycle) i have a bit of empathy for the bicyclists. But as a old biker once told me. It doesn't matter if you are right or not, dead is dead. I approach traffic as if everone were out to get me, and at times it seems like its true. Stay out of blind spots, hold your ground, obey traffic laws in your area.

Who was in the right doesn't matter a whole lot when you are the one in the hospital or the morgue.
posted by jbelshaw at 8:26 PM on October 1, 2002


bunnytricks, what's your point? Do you have one that's relevant?
posted by ashbury at 8:51 PM on October 1, 2002


There's so little contempt for the Critical Mass cyclists in this discussion I had to chime in. These protesters were so obnoxious and frightening that the one bystander who should be most sympathetic -- the woman whose car was hit by Henderson, endangering herself and her four-year-old child -- wrote a letter to the media ripping them a new one [bottom of the page].

Without making any excuses for Henderson, mobs of people who block traffic and surround automobiles shouldn't be surprised when things get out of hand. It's like the anti-globalization protester in Italy who got shot in the head when he cornered a police jeep with a dozen of his pals, throwing and poking objects into a car filled with armed officers -- Darwin Awards were made for people who throw themselves with aplomb into chaotic, unstable situations.

You may now resume your discussion of whether concrete-paved roads were made for your clean pure Schwinn Sting-Ray with the banana seat or my malevolently evil Earth-despoiling SUV.
posted by rcade at 9:08 PM on October 1, 2002


I think Dark Messiah summed up the problem quite nicely:

Like any driver, I hate sharing the road with anyone else.

See, now, that's what makes you a bad driver, just as the same attitude makes bad cyclists. We share. Deal.
posted by transient at 9:21 PM on October 1, 2002


After reading this whole thread, I can only come to one conclusion (which I think we can all agree with):

On the whole, people are unevolved idiots.
posted by muppetboy at 9:27 PM on October 1, 2002


ashbury: My point was quite clear. American cities have no right to cater to outlandish special interests, especially those who use violence and intimidation to push their agenda. In this case, I'd say they've simply found an excuse to violently intimidate.

If someone, on a bike or foot or razor scooter, dared to stick their head in my car to verbally threaten me it would be time to apply a little hairspray to my coif. Perhaps time to touch up the spraypaint on my steering wheel. If enough of it accidentally got in their eyes to leave them a drooling and screaming puddle by the curb perhaps in the future they'd learn to respect the power of a motorized vehicle.
posted by bunnytricks at 9:36 PM on October 1, 2002


Thanks for backing me up on that one, bunnytricks!
posted by muppetboy at 9:45 PM on October 1, 2002


The "obstruct traffic to get ourselves noticed" idea is pretty goofy, but hey, its Austin, there are LOTS of goofy ideas and people here.

The Jeep driver was DEFINITELY in the wrong. I'm surprised I didnt hear about this last year when it happenend - but then, again, there were other larger issues going on around that time.

I dont mind cyclists that stay in bike lines (when there are bike lanes), but sheesh, a lot of the bicyclists in this town should just GIVE UP the "I wanna be Lance Armstrong!" shtick.
posted by mrbill at 9:50 PM on October 1, 2002


muppetboy: Responding to a threat with indifference is an evolutionary disadvantage. If the mongoose merely allowed the cobra to swallow him bodily, I wouldn't bet on the mongooses existence in a few generations.

Perhaps 'amoral idiots' or 'like, totally unzen idiots' was the term you were looking for.
posted by bunnytricks at 10:01 PM on October 1, 2002


Some food for thought...

I have been bike commuting since July this year and don't plan on looking back. There are some ups and downs, but I was hoping to clue people in as far as...

*Why would I do this?*

I've heard this question from most of my friends!

And it is a good question!

The start of it all was when I did the math on how much a car *actually* costs. I was astonished! My personal figure came to a bit over $5000/yr, including everything (purchase price, tax, maintainence, gas, oil, insurance, etc).

While I bet I could have got that down some by owning a used car, doing my own repairs, etc... the cost would still be at least $3000.... which is enough to buy 10 new bicycles every year!

$5000 is a lot of post-tax, post-expenses money. I make a fairly good living, but this expense would wipe out MORE THAN A MONTH of my hard work every year (not to mention the cumulative loss of compound interest!). I expect the figure is much worse for many people, if they have the heart to even sit down and figure it correctly.

Now, I like working for the man and all (NOT!), but this calculation was enough to turn me away from the car entirely. They're just too expensive to own! If you don't believe me, try computing your "car freedom day" along the lines of "tax freedom day" (the date when all your taxes are paid and the remainder is yours to keep). Mine car freedom day would be somewhere in mid-February. Frankly, I don't want to spend several weeks at work forking over my entire paycheck to car companies and insurance companies and the like. So I got a bike-commutable job and things have been great! Besides the savings, I'm getting in better shape and I don't have to work out as much or pay for a gym membership either....
posted by muppetboy at 10:22 PM on October 1, 2002


Sorry, bunnytricks... I wasn't referring to Darwinian evolution.
posted by muppetboy at 10:23 PM on October 1, 2002


Fuck y'all drivers who are pissed offed at cyclists. You are not in danger of being killed; we are.



I am not much happier with the prospect of killing someone else than with the prospect of being killed. I think this goes for most motorists.



Also, swerving to avoid a cyclist who runs a red light or suddenly peels out of a blind spot can certainly be a danger to the motorist, as well as anyone else nearby.



I think we are all better off if everyone obeys the rules of the road, or stays off the road if he or she cannot for whatever reason. This goes for both cyclists and drivers.



I think you roadsters are reacting to the self-reighteous rants of the radical cyclists. But leave your politics aside when you hit the road, man. I've got a family. And if some cyclist cut you off once or twice...get over it. You automobile drivers have done much worse to me, many times.



Getting cut off is one thing, but someone running a red light when you're about to go through the interesection in a perpendicular direction is unacceptable, enraging, and distressingly common (at least here in San Francisco). It doesn't matter if you are risking your own life more than other people's - behavior like that makes the road an unsafe place for everyone.


posted by maciej at 10:33 PM on October 1, 2002


"Responding to a threat with indifference is an evolutionary disadvantage"

Although this is correct in some sense, it is also insufficiently thought out and very likely to be wrong in the case of mankind over the long run. Responding to threats with anger and by terrorizing your attacker unnecessarily is ultimately going to be shown to be unevolved in a larger (and ultimately in a Darwinian) sense.

Human kind now faces its greatest threat in all evolutionary time... itself. It is my expectation (although certainly not my hope) that the widespread failure among those in power to understand the implications of this will eventually lead to an evolutionary correction on this planet.

Think about it this way: nuclear, biological, genetic, nanotechnological and other yet-undreamed-of weapons of mass destruction will all be (when measured in evolutionary time) *immediately* under the control of the very same kind of minds that have produced this thread.

What we have here on Earth is a closet full of monkeys and loaded shotguns. I think it's safe to say what the outcome is going to be.
posted by muppetboy at 10:37 PM on October 1, 2002


bunnytricks: "..If enough of it accidentally got in their eyes to leave them a drooling and screaming puddle by the curb perhaps in the future they'd learn to respect the power of a motorized vehicle."

How does spraying them in the eyes with chemical solvents represent the 'power of a motorized vehicle'?

The thing that disturbs me about this thread is the amount of barely contained violence expressed by drivers who find that their prosthetic adequacy substitute (in the form of sheet metal and imported fuel) somehow still leaves them feeling inadequate and wanting to hurt someone.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:52 PM on October 1, 2002


Also, swerving to avoid a cyclist who runs a red light or suddenly peels out of a blind spot can certainly be a danger to the motorist, as well as anyone else nearby.

Not so much the former but I get more of the latter from motorists, than cyclists. Traffic here will stop a hundred yards from a stray pedestrian, or a cyclist who's hugging the car line, but when it comes to other large steel beasts, they're suicidal.

I really don't get LA, I got a car, because I had to, you can't do LA without a car... but I felt much safer doing the back roads on the bike, than I do driving down Lincoln, or the 405.

(mind you, from my limited experience, people who drive in SF are nutters, you could take any one of the fifty zillion varieties of public transport there, in the time it takes to find a parking spot)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:53 PM on October 1, 2002


muppetboy: With all of the potential catastrophes that future society will face, the only safe bet for our long term survival is to get off planet. We aren't going to be able to pedal our way to space.

As it stands, the earth is large enough to support myriad ideologies. There are millions of square kilometers of land just waiting to be colonized by groups with a shared philosophy and the will to implement them. Instead of selecting a day or month to terrorize their cities into submitting to transit change, the Criticial Mass folks could just as easily set aside that days pay towards collectively buying land and building their cyclist mecca. It's a safe bet that they share common ideological points beyond the desire to ride bikes to work. They could build their own society from the ground up, with their own rules and customs. There could even be no cars allowed at all within the city limits. As long as they pay their taxes and refuse to become a smuggling point for drugs, I'm sure that the government would leave them alone.

Instead, you see them gathering together to attempt to coerce others to coddle their demands by gathering in mobs and shutting down the roads of their respective cities. This is the threat to human survival - the refusal to live and let live. Austin has established that they like their cars and that they want their roads left the way they are. If Critical Mass weren't just hooligans parading about as activists, they'd respect that and move on. Champion your ideals through example, not through the behavior of playground bullies.

Social Conservatives want to force traditional morality on the entire world, Islamists want to force the world into peace through submission to Allah, Communists want to force the world into an authoritarian social structure, and Critical Mass wants to force the world into abandoning petrochemicals. No one needs force the whole world to do anything, period. There's enough land for our dreams, and when we run out of that we can expand the tapestry to the sea, and when that is tapped, space.
posted by bunnytricks at 11:18 PM on October 1, 2002


All I know about last Friday's Critical Mass in San Francisco is that it seemed they chose a route to specifically inconvenience those most likely to be sympathetic.

I don't bike to work because an East Bay to San Francisco bike commute isn't that fun or easy. But I do take the bus (when work would pay for my parking and driving would only be a 25 minute commute).

BUt the route they chose completed blocked the Transbay terminal for at least 20 minutes. That is how long it took me to cross Front (on foot). No Muni buses were leaving the terminal for what, I am told, was at least half an hour.

And then, when there was finally a gap in the bikes large enough for me to run across the street, I got nothing but abuse from the nearby cyclists.

I would still like to see (and support) more bike lanes (but not on the bridge), but as individuals they can go fuck themselves.
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:25 PM on October 1, 2002


Oh, grow up, bunnytricks. I can't believe that you (A) managed to equate obnoxious bicyclists with pedophiles; (B) are apparently deeply amused by the "power of a motorized vehicle," and your own power, in relation to its ability to hurt people; and (C) see no reason at all to avoid damaging the planet because, hell, we can just get a new one. Go take a science class.
posted by hippugeek at 12:34 AM on October 2, 2002


meanwhile... people are dying in...

(ah... forget it... why are jeep owners/activists so... repetitious and tiring?)
posted by cadastral at 12:36 AM on October 2, 2002


If I ever start biking, I am going to carry a weapon. Heh.
posted by bargle at 12:54 AM on October 2, 2002


Touche, cadastral.
posted by hippugeek at 1:12 AM on October 2, 2002


How do you quash dissent in two easy steps? 1. Pave the world. 2. Hand out citations for jaywalking whenever people gather.

People come to Critical Mass for a number of reasons. It's not about slowing traffic. Really, it only takes a few crazy assholes to give the rest of us a bad name. It's not about confronting the police or even about bad mouthing SUV drivers. It's about rights.

It's about exercising your rights. In Oregon, the law says that bicyclists have (almost) the same rights and responsibilities on the road as other vehicles. That seems fair. If you want to form a hundred SUV caravan and drive at the speed limit around town, then no law can stop you. But you will piss impatient people off by creating traffic. Creating traffic is your right. It says so in the First Amendment.

Another reason for Critical Mass, and really, a reason for protest in general, is just to say, "I exist. You cannot ignore me." I go to peace demonstrations, not because I think I can change Bush's mind, but because I want him to know I exist. I hate your war, and I exist. I hate your petrol culture, and I exist. You have no choice but to deal with me.

Why should bicyclists want people to know that they exist? Well, I've been lucky, but I understand that a good number of bicyclists are injured every day by people opening car doors and cutting into bike lanes because they weren't aware that a certain bicyclist exists.

You can't ignore a Critical Mass. For this reason, I suspect that Critical Mass rides are safer than being a lone rider.

We have built a society where people believe the sky will fall if they don't get to where they're going "on time." This is a tragedy. Life is a journey. It's an adventure and if you don't enjoy your time spent in your car, then maybe you should consider finding another way to get around. Personally, I love to bike. I love to ride busses. The sky will not fall if you add an extra few minutes to your commute once a month. "I was held up by Critical Mass" should be a perfectly legitimate excuse for any late appointment. Sure, there are sometimes emergencies, but from what I saw, Critical Massers are going to try their damndest to get out of the way of an ambulance, since that's what they did for public busses.

Oddly enough, I believe that if people got rid of their cars, they would actually have more free time, since they would be healthier and society would tend to reform itself away from sprawling megalopolises. Part of the cycle of anxiety and depression is disassociation from your environment. I know this from both expert advice and experience. It seems axiomatic to me that automobile culture helps drive this disassociation. That's the way I feel when I'm driving and that's the feeling I perceive in other people when they drive. You don't connect with a neighborhood that you blow through on your morning commute. You don't get to know the people you drive to work with on the road everyday. That's why traffic jams irritate you so much: You hate to drive. Sitting still is part of driving, and yet, those minutes really have been stolen from you, haven't they? No joy. No socialization. No education. No self improvement. You just sit there and do nothing. Lost minutes. I pity you.

So why don't I go out there and form biketopia? WTF? Are you ignorant? If I could, I would. Obviously, forming a new viable state is a little more complicated than that. For one thing, there is a limited amount of good land, and it's all taken.

Forgive me, but I'm going to have to take a page out of the gay rights handbook here: Cycling is not always a lifestyle choice, it is often also a necessity. You can't get from point A to point B anymore without crossing a road, and usually a lot of roads, so you either have to be a driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian. Not everybody can be a driver. (Hint: There are people under 16 years old, there are poor people, etc...) I would not be surprised to learn that the non-driving portion of the American population is the majority. Call me a radical, but I believe we deserve not only the same rights as cars, but protection from them as well. Purposefully ram a ton of steel into a group of people? How is that not attempted murder?

And, even though I shouldn't have to defend myself, I probably should point out that I am hella cautious on the road. More cautious and courteous than most people I know and I go (sometimes miles) out of my way to use bike lanes or off street trails. Pedestrians slow me down all the time, and yet I give them due warning and an unnecessary "thank you" as I pass.

So why do Critical Mass? Because it's a hell of a lot of fun. More importantly, since I've begun to witness the police response to peaceful protest, it has become crystal clear to me that the State has no interest in personal freedom, public opinion or public safety. The only moral response to such abuse is dissent and mobile dissent such as Critical Mass has proven to be highly effective against all types of police "crowd control" tactics.
posted by Skwirl at 1:37 AM on October 2, 2002


hippugeek:

a) I did no such thing. The oral sex bit was presented as a humorous way of saying "Good job!", and it didn't end with "from me."

(although I'd rather let my child go out for malts with Gary Glitter than a CM cyclist.)

b) If some obnoxious hooligan with a knife puts their face through my car window, I would treat the person no differently from any armed thug that decided to enter my house to harm me. I don't dig on the tyranny of any mob.

c) Don't plan for the future with the technology of yesterday in mind. The hard science problems of sea and space colonization and terraforming aren't insurmountable. The soft science problem of keeping many billions of humans with wildly different ideologies cramped together on a blue marble without slaughtering each other is. If you got your science from some source other than Mother Jones, you'd know this.

BTW, you can't be a hippie and a punk. Choose one or the other. They're mutually exclusive ideologies, punk being a rather right wing reaction to the excesses and broken dreams of 60s idealism. It's like calling yourself a Marxist monarchist.
posted by bunnytricks at 1:52 AM on October 2, 2002


Critical Mass is also great because you get to ride on the parts of the road where the concrete is smooth instead of the busted up shoulder. For an hour or so, you don't have to watch out for cars that don't signal, cars that stop abruptly without warning, car doors swinging out at you. You don't have to jump into the middle of the road because somebody double-parked. NYC makes it tough on bikers - on both the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge you actually have to get off your bike and climb up or down stairs. And why is it that some avenues have bike lanes and some don't? Why don't the police enforce the bike lanes to stop people from parking on them?
posted by panopticon at 2:07 AM on October 2, 2002


Skwirl: You don't need to form a state to have a viable intentional community. All you need is enough land to build a town. Once you have that you can pass whatever ordinances you wish to create the kind of community you desire.

My mom knows someone who owns a town and 700 acres of farmland surrounding it. That's far more than enough land to grow a town on. Now, according to the real estate center at Texas A&M, the cost of an acre of non-irrigated farmland in Texas runs from $200-300 an acre. If 250 people in Austin decided to pool their money to build Biketopia, the land cost at 300 an acre for 700 acres comes to a mere $840 per person. As none of you have had to pay car payments for years, this would barely make a dent in your savings. Chances are you would all favor frugal efficiency over extravagance and waste, so the cost per person for constructing houses and infrastructure would be minimal. The total buy in cost to join the community could be as low as 25,000, the price of a modestly nice car.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:34 AM on October 2, 2002


All I know is that I've never seen a car try to drive past me on the right hand side between my car and the curb before I make a right turn at the corner from the right lane.

If all the cyclists promise to stop doing that, we'll have no problems.
posted by Grum at 4:58 AM on October 2, 2002


Grum: You should always use your mirrors before you signal & then, if all is good, you manoeuver.

But, in general, cyclists being assholes is equal to drivers or pedestrians being assholes. Less 'me, me, me outta my way' from any road user is going to be good for everyone in the long run.
posted by i_cola at 5:26 AM on October 2, 2002


bunnytricks, you're being deliberately obtuse just to tick people off, aren't you? We call that being a troll.

If you disagree with biking, kindly say so, but don't bring in this bizarre utopian bike world, or sea and space colonization. We both know that biking isn't about getting in people's way, it's about commuting to work, getting some exercise and enjoying your surroundings. It also just so happens that it's also good for our environment. So, while I understand and even appreciate your stance on people violating your personal space by putting their head in your car and yelling at you (though reducing them to a quivering slobbering wreck is going to far, IMO), you might want to either chill out on your bullshit statements or provide something that we actually talk about without going off into your imagination.

ashbury: My point was quite clear. American cities have no right to cater to outlandish special interests...

not clear, not outlandish, and barely special interest. Altho not on the same level, you probably don't believe in wheelchair ramps, either.

posted by ashbury at 5:52 AM on October 2, 2002


Note: the argument that roads were made for bikes is, well, laughable. Horse-drawn carts (hell, HAND-drawn carts) existed well before bicycles. And they're more akin to cars than bikes. Roads weren't made for individual horses - those were trails.

Bikers tend to believe they have the rights of automobiles, with none of the responsibilities that come with it, such as signaling, being responsible for motorists (and other bikers) behind you, and riding in a non-hazardous way.

Critical Mass sounds like, to me, just a way for people to annonymously throw a finger at people who drive, because they most likely represent what the 'clean air' activist hates most.

As such, being delayed 20 mminutes or an hour or more, on my way home from work, when I have a family waiting for me that I don't see for 10 hours a day, and treasure the nightime with - well, you're not going to get any support from me. Ride responsibly. I drive responsibly. It's not my fault if other people don't - and it's not my fault if you don't pay attention to the rules of the road and get hit.

Now, there are bike lanes in many places. And I think there should be more attention paid to giving enough room on shoulders for bikes in other places. But don't ride in the middle of the road, at 5 miles an hour in a 30 zone so I have to go into the other lane to pass you, endangering my life *and* the lives of the the people in cars travelling in the opposite direction.
posted by rich at 6:39 AM on October 2, 2002


"muppetboy: With all of the potential catastrophes that future society will face, the only safe bet for our long term survival is to get off planet."

Fat chance, with idiots like you blowing all our resources on oil and war!

I used to think getting off the planet would be a good thing. But frankly, I'm hoping now that we don't make it. Last thing I'd want is to send someone like you to do what you're doing here to the rest of the universe.
posted by muppetboy at 6:47 AM on October 2, 2002


I should have added that the conflicts arising over conspicuous consumption and the resulting resource wars are exactly the thing most likely to wipe us out. In part, I blame the war on terrorism on the automobile. If it wasn't for the automobile, we wouldn't need all this oil. If it wasn't for our massive oil needs, we wouldn't need huge bloodshed all over the world and a military presence in the Middle East. If it wasn't for our military presence in Saudi Arabia (try thinking about Saudi air force bases in Texas or Montana and how well that might go over to get an idea of what we should expect), the Saudi extremists wouldn't be so pissed off. So without the automobile, the trade centers wouldn't have been leveled. Yes, there's a very direct connection between the automobile and September 11. Although indirectly, I think the car may kill us all in the end.
posted by muppetboy at 6:56 AM on October 2, 2002


the only safe bet for our long term survival is to get off planet.

There is no reason to believe that migrating off-planet will help human survival. People will still be people, no matter where they go, and a great many of those people are unpleasant. This thread, among many others, bears this out.

As for the subject at hand: the driver of the jeep was wrong, because he acted in a reckless manner that endangered the lives of others.

The Critical Mass riders were acting like a bunch of jerks, shouting and carrying on like irate baboons, but this doesn't justify endangering their lives (at least not in the United States). It's the old "she was asking to be raped because of the way she dressed" thing, albiet in a slightly different form.
posted by moonbiter at 7:16 AM on October 2, 2002


I've witnessed several CM rides here in Chicago.

One time I was stuck in my car, in the left turn lane, when the 'pack leader' of the CM riders stopped the intersection to direct traffic.

All of the riders were super-friendly and relaxed, handing out flyers and cheering themselves on. I'm very sure that the cross-traffic I was blocking on account of having been stranded in the left turn lane had more to do with the fact that the drivers behind me were unwilling and unable to let me back up, than because CM came along at the wrong time. Unbelievable.

My boyfriend at the time sat in the passenger seat, fuming and swearing under his breath at the cyclists. I just sorta grinned and enjoyed the spectacle. It was over within a couple minutes, and I was soon on my way.

A big reason why it takes so long for the cyclists to get through during a Critical Mass ride? Because motorists are often just simply stubborn to the point of shooting themselves in the foot. It's like trying to use the CTA trains here. People try to shove their way onto cars before all the passengers who need to exit can do so. If embarking passengers would wait just a few seconds, they could get on that much more quickly and easily, with less chance of injury, annoyance, and doors closing on limbs and laptop bags. Critical Mass, then, could be a smooth flow of traffic and really should be, but it only takes a couple of angry/impatient drivers to hold up the works, creating more tension than there ever needed to be. If that's not an indicator of change, I don't know what is. It's been mentioned in this thread already, but the same goes for emergency vehicles - people need to learn to move the hell over when an ambulance or fire truck or squad car with sirens needs to get by.

As a participant in various forms of transport, I do have to say that with bike lanes clearly marked, public transportation users using their brains, and drivers always following the rules of road, getting around Chicago comes close to being a pleasurable experience.

And as for those who think that CM rides don't influence or change anyone's opinion on cycling instead of driving, think again: it's made me think a lot more about what responsibilities I have as a human being to those around me, and it's also taught me that if you can learn how to give a little bit, you find that you almost never ever need to take.
posted by wells at 7:26 AM on October 2, 2002


If you want to form a hundred SUV caravan and drive at the speed limit around town, then no law can stop you.

Yeah, but most of us are in the timeline where critical mass herds routinely blow through red lights, which is illegal here. It's nice that you're posting from a different one, but still.

But you will piss impatient people off by creating traffic.

And in some jurisdictions, impeding forward progress or obstructing traffic is itself illegal. I suppose we could have people wave blue flags at you if that would help.

try thinking about Saudi air force bases in Texas or Montana and how well that might go over to get an idea of what we should expect

Well, there's a Luftwaffe base in Alamogordo NM, sort of, and the only response I noticed was a big sign saying WILKOMMEN LUFTWAFFE or something to that effect.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:28 AM on October 2, 2002


Try imagining a military base meant to "ensure stability" (i.e., the interests of the occupying party) instead of a flight training center. And then imagine it was established by someone we really don't like... for example, a substantial North Korean, Iraqi or Chinese military base. And of course, the people on this base would be above the reach of all US laws. And the US leadership would have huge financial incentive to let them stay (in spite of any radical or "fundamentalist" opposition from the crazy religious zealots in the US). And then, of course, they'd be planning invasions of Mexico, Canada and states in Central and South America... And they'd also be establishing large bases in all these places and flying planes over our capital and parking battleships in our harbors. And I'm sure there's plenty more!

It's actually quite hard to imagine a similar situation here. But it's easy to see that anything even *remotely* similar would be EXTREMELY unpalatable and TOTALLY unacceptable to many people. My guess is that Texans would become terrorists just as quickly to defend their interests. And there would be a network of people giving money to support their attacks on the foreign invaders.

Frankly, this talk of THEM and US is nonsense. We're all just a bunch of idiot monkeys playing with fire. Don't believe me? Just ask one of these Fundamentalist Christians what they'd do if Iraq established a military base in Houston or Kansas! I can tell you from experience what their response would be!!!
posted by muppetboy at 7:51 AM on October 2, 2002


Muppetboy: I can tell you from experience what their response would be!!!

Huh? You can? Are you saying some Christian fundamentalists handed you your ass when you tried to establish a military base in Houston or Kansas?

You've traveled a long road from the thread that started on the story of an irate driver's petulant and potentially murderous response to the provocation of some arrogant assholes.

Maybe some decaf is in order?
posted by John Smallberries at 8:18 AM on October 2, 2002


for some reason, a street full of cyclists is much more beautiful and interesting than a street full of cars -- as evidenced by the number of tourists who look on gape-mouthed, snap photos, wave and cheer.

No, a street full of cyclists is a freakish display that nobody will ever believe without photographic documentation. "Honey, you won't believe it! The street was full of cyclists!" It sounds so ludicrous, you must have proof.

the cost [of a used car] would still be at least $3000.... which is enough to buy 10 new bicycles every year!

And you can ride all ten of them at the same time and thereby achieve highway speeds!
posted by kindall at 8:19 AM on October 2, 2002


Fuck y'all drivers who are pissed offed at cyclists. You are not in danger of being killed; we are

Ok. People's viewpoints are formed by their personal experiences. I am ALL for bike lanes, and finding alternative methods for getting around (I ride the bus and subway to work every day but Friday). I am for less single-driver cars on the road; for mass transit; for carpooling and for bike lanes, etc.

But I am so freakin' sick and tired of bike messengers who ride on the sidewalk or ride into intersections half way in order to cut down a one-way street. I am sick of them yelling at ME when they hit ME on a sidewalk or a crosswalk*.

So I have to agree somewhat with rcade's analogy. To me this is like the WTO/IMF protestors. I agree with their issues, but not with their methods. I don't think the protestors won many converts with their methods and I don't think Critical Mass wins over any converts with their methods.

We so all have to share the road, but get the freakin' bikes off the sidewalks!

* I reached my critical mass point recently with one messenger who hit me in the crosswalk and then turned around to berate me (calling me "money" because apparently I am rich because I am white). I got his goat by calling his manhood into question: "I guess your too much of a pussy to ride on the road with the big boys. Gotta hang out on the kiddie pool sidewalk. huh?" He was less brave when I didn't back down to his bullying (and racist) tactics. He eventually apologised and the people around me applauded. I was stupid to antagonise this person, but I had reached my limit. I won't do it again :)
posted by terrapin at 8:33 AM on October 2, 2002


Then STAY OFF THE FUCKING ROAD

The law gives cyclists the right to be on that road just as much as you in your life-sized hotwheels fantasy. It's called living with others, and shock of shocks, it isn't always exactly to your liking: get over it, you'll feel a lot better.
posted by holycola at 8:35 AM on October 2, 2002


One thing that's important to note here is that road users have legal rights. What they are may change depending on the laws of your locality, but if you live in North America, they're probably somewhat like the laws here in Massachusetts where I live. Here, bicycles are legally considered vehicles, and apart from not being able to ride on interstate highways, their rights are pretty much identical to that of a motorist -- from the smallest Cooper Mini to the largest tanker truck. You can yell at, threaten, or hit other vehicles in the mistaken notion that the fact that you are in the majority makes you right, but, be prepared to be handcuffed, fingerprinted, and have mug shots taken. If you don't like the law, the appropriate course is to call your local legislators. Taking the law into your own hands is not an option if you wish to avoid criminal charges.


I'd like to comment a little further on the idea of "majority rules." While it's true that many of us live in a democracy, many of the laws that are most sacred to us, like The Bill of Rights, do not protect the rights of the majority, because in general they do not need protection. One of the things that makes western democracies admirable is the extent to which they protect the rights of the minority of one -- the liberty of individuals. This liberty is protected by the right to equal justice under the law, freedom of speech, the freedom from search and seizure -- no matter what the majority may think of them and their choices in transportation, sexual orientation, religion, or hairstyle. The bad things that can happen when majorities are allowed to trample minorities or the less powerful in a society don't need any introduction. Internment camps, burqas, you name it. It's called fascism, and it's not just for dictators -- it's for everybody. You have to decide for yourself whether you feel that you can take away the rights of others because you're bigger or there are more of you than them.


posted by lisatmh at 9:05 AM on October 2, 2002


One additional point: when I say that the rights for bicyclists are the same, I mean completely the same -- this means that bicyclists may travel in any part of the lane, or on any roadway lane that a car can. There aren't minimum speed limits on local residential roads, by and large, and so if I'm on a four-lane street and need to take a left, I get in the left lane to do so. While this is the most common thing I do that causes motorist honks (presumably because they think I should always ride at the extreme right of the roadway), it is completely legal for me to do so where I live, and according to accident statistics is a lot safer than trying to take the same left by crossing two lanes of traffic from the shoulder.

That said, one of the things that really bothers me is that I ride my bike exactly the same way I would drive a car -- I stop for red lights, I don't drive the wrong way down the street, I don't take a left from the right lane. But I'm largely alone. Many adult cyclists really think that traffic laws aren't for them. When you tell them that they do apply to them, they usually justify themselves (mistakenly) that disobeying the laws is safer for them. And laws that aren't enforced simply aren't followed. My idea of a cyclist's safety education program goes along the lines of "get a traffic ticket, realize that you can't run reds."
posted by lisatmh at 9:14 AM on October 2, 2002


"Huh? You can? Are you saying some Christian fundamentalists handed you your ass when you tried to establish a military base in Houston or Kansas?"

So, let me get this straight. You're arguing that the general group of people I'm referring to would quietly accept a foreign occupation of the kind I described without resort to force? Very interesting world you live in.

"You've traveled a long road from the thread that started on the story of an irate driver's petulant and potentially murderous response to the provocation of some arrogant assholes."

Frankly I think it's a very short road and a whole lot of people are going to get killed because people like yourself are unwilling to look at the facts regarding their automobiles. I'm not going to suggest that everyone has the luxury of being able to give up their car, because I know that's not possible. But we should be thinking about and actively pursuing alternatives. And we should all be upholding bicyclists as the true patriots we are, not bashing us in badly written and inflammatory newspaper articles and MEFI threads.

When it gets down to brass tacks, it's going to be exactly the kind of idiot that wrote that American Statesman article who's going to be responsible for the downfall of the American Experiment. More war and greater dependence on foreign oil cannot fail to be our undoing.
posted by muppetboy at 9:14 AM on October 2, 2002


Besides, changing the topic to a related topic is a way of sidestepping the idiotic "did too" / "did not" kind of discussion taking place here.
posted by muppetboy at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2002


Holy cow. What have I started? Drivers get so defensive when you challenge their dominance.
posted by monkeymike at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2002


It would be nice if the cagers would differentiate between "bicyclists" and "assholes."

There are bicyclists -- like me -- who follow the rules of the road: stopping at stop signs, using the turning lane, keeping off the sidewalks, etc.

If you're at all a competent driver, I should pose no challenge to you. You will be able to pass me when it is safe and legal to pass. You will get your turn at the stoplight, just like everyone else. You'll make it home without killing anyone and without being killed.

Then there are the assholes. They're on the wrong side of the road, blow the stop signs, pass on the right, etcetera.

If you're at all a competent driver, they won't pose much challenge, either. But, frankly, if you do smack one of them, they deserve it. I don't think you should have to take extreme measures -- like stopping for several seconds at the four-way, just in case the approaching cyclist blows the stop. If they're breaking the law, they're culpable for the consequences.

If you're an incompetent driver or an asshole, then both the assholes and the competent cyclists will piss you off.

And that, my friend, indicates a problem with *YOU*, not me. Pull your head out of your ass, take some driving lessons, pop a valium, and learn to deal with the ordinary stresses of driving.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on October 2, 2002



And then, when there was finally a gap in the bikes large enough for me to run across the street, I got nothing but abuse from the nearby cyclists.


well; i apologize for the rest of the people at that mass. I didn't personally see any beration of pedestrians going on, though occasionally some people got a little gung ho about crossing streets and weren't giving the right of way to peds -- if what you heard was "PEDESTRIAN!!! PEDESTRIAN!", that wasn't people yelling at you because you were a pedestrian, but rather, yelling at other people (on bikes) to stop so you could get across the street safely. sorry if that was confusing.

also: thanks skwirl for the fantastic comment. i feel largely the same way; i try to enjoy all the time i spend travelling, be it car, bus, subway, bike, or foot. (i can't stand airplanes, though -- they sketch me out.)
posted by fishfucker at 9:56 AM on October 2, 2002


It's people like the anti-bike goofs here that make CM fun. As for me, I commute every day, take long rides at night and race on the weekends. Courteous drivers - love them; obnoxious assholes - hate them. I have no trouble maintaining 30mph on the majority of roads. Oddly, this pisses people off as much as anything else (though kids dig it). One trick, carry some small ball bearings - they make noise and do damage. Oh, and I'm your worst nightmare if you stop and try to pick a fight. The best option is to learn to live with us. Better yet, appreciate our skills and make a friend, we're all out there trying to make a living and you may end up needing the help of that person you share your commute with everyday. I must add that most drivers are wonderful, even the camoro full of teenagers .. all you have to do is smile.
posted by rotifer at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2002


The problem is that most cyclists (and I say this as a cyclist who commutes to work and mountain bikes pretty seriously on the weekends) fall into the "asshole" category that fishfucker describes. If just 10% of the Critical Mass participants actually obeyed the rules of the road the other 90% of the time they were riding, we'd go a long way toward improving the lot of the lowly cyclist.

Yes, many drivers and pedestrians are idiots; if we're not riding in a law-abiding manner, we don't have a self-righteous leg to stand on. I'm going to go out on a limb here and post some really unorthodox urban-cycling suggestions. Try and stay with me if you can (I may add a "carry ball bearings" codicil credited to rotifer as well, I kind of like that idea).

1. Take a day or two off from work, spend some time online, or gather an expedition for the long journey to the DMV or your local police station, and find out what the local laws are regarding bicycles. Educate others when you have a chance.
2. The levers below each handgrip actuate the brakes. These halt forward motion of the cycle. Use them at stop signs and red lights. Yes, even when nobody's coming.
3. The "ped" in pedestrian means "feet". When you are on a bike you are no longer a pedestrian. That little white walking guy that lights up on the pole is not directed at you.
4. Rule 4 flows from Rule 3: Get off the goddamn sidewalk.
5. On a one-way street, consult the black and white arrow sign. Adjust your direction of travel accordingly. Accept the fact that you may actually have to go all the way around a block to get to where you're going.
6. Wear a helmet. I don't care if you split your head open, but motorists tend to be even more hostile to people they perceive don't care about themselves.
7. Yield to cars making right turns in front of you. Yes, half of them don't signal. That's why, as you approach an intersection, you assume any car next to you is making a right. Ride accordingly.
8. Pay attention all the time. Assume doors are opening, assume people are walking out from between parked cars, assume drivers and pedestrians on the cross street you're approaching can't see you. Sounds obvious, but even I have trouble with this one. If I die on a bike, I'm pretty confident it will be from riding into an open car door as I stare at the shapely nether regions of a young lady on the sidewalk. Don't be like me.

Sorry for the rant, a few weeks ago I got stuck while on my bike trying to get through an intersection perpendicular to a Critical Mass display of stupidity. Part of me really can't blame that tool in the jeep.
posted by jalexei at 10:28 AM on October 2, 2002


And people ask me why I hate leaving the house. Bah! When will people realize we have a 100% mortality rate and just chill? Slow down, stop thinking about yourself, and give some courtesy to those around you, be they cyclist or motorist.
/rant
posted by littlegirlblue at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2002


No, a street full of cyclists is a freakish display that nobody will ever believe without photographic documentation.

Only in the US.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2002


muppetboy: Funny how quickly you changed your tune from "everyone on this thread is an idiot" to "everyone on this thread who disagrees with my views is an idiot."

Sorry. No idea you were a protest groupie when I replied to you. I thought you had, you know, opinions of your own and original, potentially enlightening thoughts. Instead you're just parroting the green party line while wishing for mutual annihilation of all groups of humanity. Do you mean that? Or do you mean all groups except for any hippies who happened to be out being one with nature at the time of armageddon?

moonbiter: Migrating off planet takes all of our eggs out of a single basket, making anything that would happen on earth a mere regional catastrophe. Hel-lo increased long term survivability!

ashbury: Massive bongloads and message boards don't mix, troll. A city built for bikers isn't an outlandish idea if the primary concern of the cyclist was to enjoy their freedom to cycle. I presented an affordable, obtainable alternative to massing in bikes and being total dicks. One that would be sure to get the cyclists what they want, if what they really wanted was bicycle lanes and not hooliganism. If that's not fertile grounds for conversation, nothing is.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:55 PM on October 2, 2002


Oh, no, bunnytricks. I still hold the first view. I'm an idiot half the time too.
posted by muppetboy at 1:10 PM on October 2, 2002


half^H^H^H^Hmost of
posted by muppetboy at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2002


Hmmm, regarding grub's comment about bikes on the right-hand shoulder passing cars making right turns, does anyone know who has the right-of-way? Once again, I don't fuck with cars regardless of who is in the "right", but I've had cars pass me and then cut me off. At that point I sort of assumed that the shoulder was considered a "virtual" lane and that technically you just have to stop and let the bike go by. (I guess I could look this up, but then I wouldn't be reading metafilter would I?)

And by "technically" I mean: if you can't follow traffic laws then don't fucking bitch about bicycles, just get over yourself.

By the way, I don't want to make this too personal (you probably know if you deserve a fuck you), but the link is about CM. In our discussion here, there are several asshole drivers. Losers who can't obey the law, don't respect other people, and don't understand democracy (Hmm, majority rules applies on a block-by-block basis in an ad hoc manner? Thanks!). There just aren't any comparable cyclists here. (e.g. "Yeah I don't stop at red lights especially if I've got a good head of steam.")
posted by Wood at 2:09 PM on October 2, 2002


Segregation is not a solution to the world's transportation problems. I like to walk. I like to ride the bus. Way back when I had a bike, I liked that too. Our transportation choices are not incompatible. I want to live in a city, not a commune, and even if I had a bike, I would still want to live in a city. Bantustans are not the answer; negotiated coexistence is.

Sure, public demonstrations often make traffic a little denser. That's one of the minor inconveniences of living in a free and democratic society. Mass protest, however, has always been and will continue to be a useful way to get a point across and not be ignored. I hope that Austin has not established its opposition to passionate political protest yet.

Also: "Outlandish special interests"? Bike commuters include doctors, lawyers, bankers, professionals. And who didn't have a bicycle growing up? Who begrudges a kid or a teenage cyclist a safer ride on the public thoroughfares? It's not outlandish to ask for some accommodation for cyclists, especially since bike lanes and paths are a heck of a lot cheaper (and better-looking) than freeways and parking lots.

That said, judging from the comments in this thread, the cause would be a lot better served in many cities if the CM participants cut down a little on the fun of being badasses on the road and paid a little more attention to traffic rules and being considerate to the innocent (mass transit, pedestrians, non-asshole drivers, other cyclists, etc.). Yes, CM shows everyone that another world is possible. But what good does that do if the audience thinks it's a world full of jerks?

Oh yeah, and I gotta give props to Skwirl and wells.
posted by skoosh at 5:40 PM on October 2, 2002


i think we need more Critical Masses, I suggest one every Friday afternoon or so and let's bring the car traffic to a standstill for a few hours....
posted by bureaustyle at 1:33 AM on October 3, 2002


I don't think we even need to make the important but debatably difficult leap between terrorism and automobiles. In 1998, there were 41,171 highway fatalities. That's almost three times (!) the number of KIAs in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam war. If the government really wanted to get the largest life-saving bang for their buck, they'd drop this silly war on terrorism and spend those billions of dollars on creating a transportation infrastructure that doesn't kill tens of thousands of people each year. (And injure millions, oh and cost hundreds of billions in damages, oh and is the number one killer of on duty police officers...)
posted by Skwirl at 1:59 AM on October 3, 2002


These Bike Threads do run and run, don't they? Ah, well, we all need the occasional vent.

As a pedestrian and a passenger, I find cyclists a lot scarier than motorists, largely because motorists stay on the road and can be counted on to behave predictably if not actually stop at red lights, and you can generally tell what direction they are going to come from. In the last couple of weeks I've seen a cyclist complaining bitterly about his buckled front wheel after a car had the audacity to crash into him after he sailed right through a red light into its path; a couple of days ago there was a kid (admittedly an obvious asshole) shouting at people on the pavement (sidewalk) to get out of his way because he didn't have any brakes; lifts in cars made scarier by bikes appearing from all directions into the path of the vehicle in which I'm travelling.

Where I am there are a lot of one-way roads, and wherever these occur, cyclists of any kind assume that they can use the pavement (sidewalk) as a sort of contra-flow, and ride on it at the same speed they would on the road. The judgement seems to be that they can "get through there", the space between two objects, but ignore the fact that one or both of those objects might be people who really don't want to be just-about-missed by moving vehicles. So what if I've not been hit yet, I almost have been on numerous occasions, I've seen people be hit and I resent the people who are putting me into that danger claiming some moral high ground (usually, when confronted, blaming their behaviour on the motorists), just as I resent the idea that I have to be careful crossing at a pedestrian crossing when there's a green man letting me cross, because a cyclist might appear out from behind that bus, having decided that they aren't stopping at red lights today (and that has happened to me). These dangers aren't caused by people following the rules badly, but by people who assume that the rules are optional, depending on mood, astrological factors and weather conditions.

Perhaps if they were licensed, or had to carry number plates or were actually stopped. Come to think of it, imagine how much money could be raised if they just started to institute and enforce on-the-spot fines for such infractions.

Oh, and this account comes from the UK, where we are apparantly a little less obsessive about rule-following than in the US (according to what I've been told).
posted by Grangousier at 3:55 AM on October 3, 2002


Skwirl, exactly what transport mechanism do you imagine doesn't endanger people? Bikes kill people, trains kill people, airplanes kill people. Shit, walking kills people.

The truth is that cars save lives compared to what they replaced, namely the horse. Horse manure used to be a huge disease vector in cities. No more.
posted by NortonDC at 5:32 AM on October 3, 2002


The truth is that cars save lives compared to what they replaced, namely the horse. Horse manure used to be a huge disease vector in cities. No more.

Yep. Now we only have to deal with the pollution of the single car driver choking us to death and poisoning our planet. And that is soooooo much better than a few piles of poop.

Don't even get me started on those pesky teenagers joyriding their parent's mares on weekends. Boy the trouble they cause.

And those one-horse open sleighs!?! Damn! I can't see past them and they take up the whole bloody dirt road!

And if they have had a few drinks on their way to grandmother's house? Look out! That's a recipe for disaster.

Yep. We are soo much better now that we all have cars!
posted by terrapin at 8:05 AM on October 3, 2002


Remind me to relate the stories about liquored-up Amish teens and their buggies from my relatives in PA.
posted by NortonDC at 8:30 AM on October 3, 2002


NortonDC: Although your example is technically correct, it is utterly irrelevant. In fact, I'll do you one better and point out that in the beginning, passenger train travel incurred tens of thousands of deaths per year as well.

But we're not living in the 1800s anymore. Trains rarely crash into each other because we have sophisticated, instantaneous communications systems (in fact, it was the telegraph that made train travel so much safer in the first place). For most rides, a bicycle is going to be heck of a lot more efficient than a horse and buggy and a bicyclist produces no more poo than normal after a ride.

It has often been said that a man on a bicycle is the most efficient machine ever invented.

To compare the carnage of today's car culture with alternate transportation is patently ridiculous. Re-check the numbers I linked in my last posting. All other forms of transportation combined barely add up to a fraction of the fatalities associated with highways. Right: There are more drivers than, for instance, commuter flights, but the common knowledge that flying is (much, much) more safe than driving is so well-known that I shouldn't even have to mention it.

The extreme numbers of drivers on the road is exactly the problem. Busses (and trains) certainly don't get into 60 times more deadly accidents than cars, but they are usually capable of replacing 60 drivers per trip. More importantly, with a well-funded bus based infrastructure, you can choose the safest, most well trained drivers to drive your busses. Oh, and bus drivers can communicate with each other. Try getting a group of anti-social drivers to give up their imagined commuter privacy by installing an intercar audio communications network. (i.e. broadcast a message to everyone at the current intersection or to a specific car by looking at it and speaking.)

Bikes, by their light-weight, maneuverable nature, are obviously much less dangerous than cars, especially to bystanders. Heck, we even have the technology to carpool by bike.

For the times when you absolutely need a car to yourself, carsharing services allow you to pick and choose between taking out a car, pick-up, minivan or SUV for special-needs trips. Kinda puts those new convertible SUVs to shame. You know, the ones you can now convert from SUV to pickup because well, they've always basically been the same car but this time they put a shoddier, removable plastic cover over the truck bed instead of a merely shoddy metal one.

Don't tell me that a society without single-user cars is infeasible. Take a trip to Manhattan someday. Automobile traffic there has made individual car owning truly impractical. Very few people in Manhattan drive, or even own, a car.
posted by Skwirl at 7:01 PM on October 3, 2002


« Older They Could Be Packing....  |  Montel and Leeza want YOU to s... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments