Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Liberty or Death

I hardly ever go out to ride on the road without thinking of death. I don’t want to sound morbid or overly dramatic, but motorists will, without warning, raise the stakes drastically through either ignorance or malice.

Cyclists are to blame for the vast majority of cycling accidents. Riding erratically or against traffic, disregarding traffic signals, endangers cyclists more than any other thing. Cyclists who act like vehicles and ride responsibly get along quite well in the traffic stream.

Negligent and aggressive drivers present at least as much threat to each other as to cyclists. Cyclists are just squishier. The disparity in armor plating means that cyclists don’t have fender benders. But given the choice I would much rather be off to the side, passed and disregarded by aggressive motorists, than stuck in a string of traffic with them, having to go at their ill-advised speed.

All that aside, certain motorists just feel the need to lash out. It could be as annoying but harmless as a blast on the horn or as deadly as a calculated swerve or thrown missile. A young Navy aviator I know, who was based in Pensacola, Florida for a while, reported having a framing hammer thrown at his head while he was out on his road bike.

War takes place everywhere, not just in known war zones. Blood battles over principle are as close by as the city street. Cycling is incredibly beneficial. It is not fair that people using the roadways like race tracks cut off so many people from an activity that could vastly improve their lives.

While the rest of the country catches up with the idea, those of us who can are maintaining cyclists' toehold on the roads by using them. It is not enough just to wish the world were a certain way. You have to live toward it.

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