It Is Not OK To Kill

Sunset, Lens Flare and Freighters

Sunset, Lens Flare and Freighters

Almost home, a car honked at us as we were crossing Clayton Road today. It was a big, black, high-end, late-model, foreign sedan. Its driver was obviously in a hurry and had become incensed over the few seconds that we had stolen from his life. Never mind that we had waited patiently for a break in traffic and had committed to our crossing before he even turned off of Big Bend, almost a quarter-mile away. Never mind that the posted speed limit is 35 MPH. He was certainly doing faster than that when he passed us. I don’t need a radar gun to tell that much of a speed differential. We had made it into the center turn lane, when he sped past us, with his horn blaring loud and long. I was so mad that I shouted out an F-bomb, but only Anne heard it. With windows rolled up, I doubt that he even looked back in his rearview mirror. After that we made it home without any further mishap.

I shouldn’t let someone else’s behavior spoil what was a short, but otherwise idyllic bike ride. As I said, it was a short ride, only to the Science Center and back, but earlier today we had managed to get in a few miles hike, up to downtown Clayton, for breakfast at Stratton’s. On the outbound leg of our ride, a couple of guys in a car had asked us for directions to the Saint Louis Artists Guild, located in Oak Knoll Park. We peppered them with directions, which must have worked, because I saw them there later. I just wish that I had known about this art opening last night, when it was happening. There are always free drinks at a Saint Louis art opening and to have one within walking distance, so much the better. It’s not like we were doing anything else last night.

Anyway, back to that f-ing honker. Normally, I would not have paid him this much mind, but this week I had read a New York Times op-ed piece entitled, “Is It OK to Kill Cyclists?” For those unfortunates, you other nonsubscribers, the ones that have hit their pay-wall limit, I’ll summarize it. Daniel Duane of San Fran fame decided to become a cyclist. On his first time out, we witnessed another rider being hit by an SUV and then to add insult to injury, he crashed himself when his bike wheel became ensnared in a streetcar track. Ever since, he has been huddled in is basement, too afraid to ride anything more than his trainer.

In his op-ed, he neatly summarized the problem, if a motorist kills a bicyclist and doesn’t flee and isn’t drunk; then he walks. The police will almost never prosecute the driver and in those few instances where they do, juries almost never convict. Mr. Duane’s only advice is to be nice. Bikers don’t be scofflaws, stop at every stop sign. Oh, and drivers please try to pay more attention and be more considerate, please, please, please. I mean otherwise, it might really cost you, like a thousand dollars worth of body work.

I’m thinking that what we really need is something a little stronger than Duane’s can’t we all just get along attitude. I’m thinking that we need to be more militant. Long ago, I read a story about another cyclist. At that time he was a teenager. He had to travel down a two lane road with fast traffic to get to the quarry where he would target practice. He soon noticed that he got way more respect from the motorists when he had a .22 strapped to his back, then when he didn’t. I don’t hold with almost anything that the NRA stands for, but if it started to advocate open carry for cyclists then I’d have to think about it.

Today was a warm, but dreary day in Saint Louis. So, to bright things up a bit, especially after this long rant, I’ve chosen the above photo, from a brighter day. Anyway, thank you for this opportunity to vent.

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