Over 40,000 people are killed on US roads each year; people should be outraged, but they are not.
If these were yearly war casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan, people would be marching on our capital demanding an end to the war.
However, the average person is indifferent; these are just statistics, reported maybe once a year, and then forgotten.
There are over 4,000 pedestrians killed each year; again where is the outrage? These are just ordinary folks, going about their daily lives. Suddenly, they are mowed down while crossing the street, and they are gone. Outside their family and close circle of friends, no one really cares.
By comparison to these large numbers of casualties, there are around 700 cyclists killed each year on US roads, and cyclists as a group are outraged.
Cycling deaths being less common get reported more often, whereas every driver or pedestrian fatality does not. Riding a bicycle creates a common bond between strangers even. We recall our own experiences and near misses, and we realize, “This could be me.”
This was my feeling when I read this morning about Stan Miller, a 48 year old cyclist, run down and killed by a drunk driver. Sadly it takes a driver being drunk to be charged in such a case; where there is no alcohol involved often the driver walks free and no one held accountable.
After the article there are many comments in the form of tributes from people who knew Stan. Others express anger at the police and the system for allowing such crimes to go unpunished.
Then of course there is the inevitable “Cyclists shouldn’t be on the road,” comment from a member of Joe Public. Maybe the 4,000 plus pedestrians killed per year should stay on the sidewalk; they only get killed when they attempt to cross the street. Of course, comments like this only enrage us more.
I hope people who knew Stan Miller will channel their anger and frustration in a positive way. Write to the County Prosecutor and make sure this repeat drunk driver is held accountable. When this person comes to trial, show up in large numbers and sit quietly and respectfully in court.
This made a huge difference in the case of a Los Angeles doctor who went to trial for an act of road rage against cyclists. The large numbers of cyclists who showed up for that trial made an impact on the outcome.
Often when a cyclist is killed other cyclists use that incident to get laws changed. Just this week in New York State, a new safe passing law was enacted, dedicated to cycling advocate Merrill Cassell who was killed last November.
What better way to bring closure to the family and loved ones of a cycling victim, to either see someone held accountable for their death, of if that can’t happen then let it be the cause of positive change making it safer for others to ride their bikes.
Reading about Stan’s death saddens me, but it will not stop me from riding my bike. I cannot allow fear that some drunk or inattentive driver may run me down from behind, stop me from experiencing the joy and wellbeing that cycling gives me.
Somewhere today a motorist will die in his SUV, and a pedestrian will also die. Outside of those people’s family and friends, no one will give a shit.
I am both proud and grateful to belong to a small section of our society who care enough about each other that we are affected by the still relatively rare event that one of us is killed