I do my best to avoid calling cars "death machines" as I bike around town, but some days are tougher than others. When someone actually dies at the hands of a motorist, in the area where I've just moved to, it shakes me up.
I am calling this an act of terrorism defined as: unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
Militant motorists want to keep the streets purely for vehicles, with unrestricted flow, at high speed. There are groups of residents who exert political pressure on city council to maintain this agenda.
The man killed in Winnetka is said to have been the victim of a purposeful crime. A truck swerved in order to hit the man on his bicycle. Has the criminal been found? Yes. But what will be the consequences? What value will be placed on the human life that was ended?
Victims of terrorism tend to want to do something. Feelings such as shock, outrage, sadness, rage, depression, and anger are normal. At the placement of the ghost bike, we were directed to pray for the 2nd man who was in critical condition at a local hospital. This did give me something (peaceful) to do. Has the second man recovered? What were the extent of his injuries? Will the motorist be financially liable for the hospital bills of this man?
Of cyclists, I am of the populist vehicular variety. At a recent community meeting where a "road diet" was presented, a resident of my city suggested that if I were cycling in the street, he may just "tap" me with his truck to let me know that he's there. He asked me what I'd do. I told him that I would turn over GoPro footage of the incident to the police. He asked if I've ever done that before. I said, "not yet."
I feel like some motorists are engaging in intentional intimidation in an effort to reduce the number of people who will ride their bicycles on city streets in a vehicular manner.
While I agree with John Forester, that creating off-street bike paths reduces the visibility of cyclists and therefore does nothing to bridge the bikes vs. cars debate, if you want to see more miles of bike paths, consider signing this petition to support a feasibility study for the Verdugo Wash. If you prefer to sign in person, come visit me at CicLAvia ~ Glendale Meets Atwater. I'll be at the Walk Bike Glendale / LACBC / Bikecar101 booth at the Central Hub from 1-3pm.
I don't think the idea of Vision Zero is to actually reduce the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by automobiles to zero, but to invest in infrastructure improvements that would continue to make the streets safer for the most "vulnerable road users." I actually don't like that term, but it's true. When I don't have 2000 lbs of steel and airbags surrounding me, I am literally more vulnerable! Maybe I don't like the term because I have to believe I will survive out there in order to continue the vehicular cycling behavior I enjoy. I don't like to think about how vulnerable I am out there.
One thing I got out of the ghost bike placement is that we acknowledged that "that could have been me." Or any number of other people I know and love that engage in vehicular cycling.
My personal reaction to my fear (generated from the man killed while cycling on Winnetka) was to put on more blinky lights than usual and bike to the ceremony. My husband thought I was being crazy, but if you let your fear prevent you from vehicular cycling then the terrorists win.
Putting up a sign that says "bike route" on a road without any cycling infrastructure doesn't make it a bike route. Nice try, though. pic.twitter.com/0XCjcOHMra— Robin Mazumder (@RobinMazumder) June 5, 2017