Friday, June 6, 2008

cyclist in Chicago killed by driver

A while ago, someone brought this article to the attention of the mabra listserv:

Cyclist killed in Logan Square crash mourned by family members

Conversation ensued. I meant to reproduce my contribution here, but didn't. So I will now.

The topic is an old, tired one. It has inspired the otherwise rational towards fits of impassioned fury. With. Holy. Righteous. Indignation. Damn the law-breakers...

Here's my take; a (surprise!) contrarian, though I believe more sensible, view:

This makes sense:

>> the area where cyclists need to make improvements is really in the matter of pred
ictability, being consistent and uniform (group cohesiveness), in their divergence from the motorist's pattern of behavior, as opposed to pretending to be a motor vehicle.

This does not:

>> The single-most principle of riding safely in traffic is to ACT LIKE A CAR!


A bicycle is not a car. In fact, a bicycle resembles a car in no meaningful way. Therefore it makes no sense to constrain the "proper" behavior of a cyclist on the roadway to what a car can and cannot do. Because traffic laws were written largely without consideration of non-motorized traffic, I consider myself only vaguely subject to traffic law when riding a bicycle.


What is or should be "proper" bicycling behavior is perhaps an open question...but one that it seems to me has been reasonably negotiated culturally. In other words, while there is always some deviance--as there is with motorist behavior as well--I find most (experienced) cyclist behavior, riding alone or riding in groups, reasonably appropriate and predictable...including *gasp* the generally accepted practice of not coming to complete stops at stop signs or signals or *double gasp* riding along side or between rows of cars stopped in heavy traffic. And what's more, I do not think motorists, so long as cyclist behavior does not impede the general flow of traffic, find these behaviors (for the most part--there are clearly exceptions) especially disconcerting.

Peace, it seems to me, is accommodating differences, not imposing conformity.

Nathan Goates
Shippensburg, PA

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