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« Fork failure and recalls | Main | SF bike cops roll through stop signs too »

Dealing with the reality of injustice

In New York City during 2011, 21 cyclists were killed, but only 2 drivers were prosecuted. On average, nearly forty percent of drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists in New York City walk away without so much as a traffic ticket.

In a recent meeting, five District Attorneys were asked why so few drivers face criminal charges, and Joe McCormack, an Assistant DA in the Bronx, gave quite an interesting quote:

We as a society have chosen to drive these big cars. And we also as a society have chosen not to criminalize every single small mistake that has a dramatic consequence just because you are driving a car.

There are times where the factual situation that is presented to us doesn’t raise it to a crime. And it’s important to realize that the reason it doesn’t rise to a crime is that society has made the decision that it doesn’t want it to be a crime.

Really! When did society vote on that mandate?

It sounds to me that ADA Joe McCormack is blaming society in an attempt to shift the responsibility away from the NYPD for not doing its job; namely to serve and protect.

There are two main causes of bicycle/auto collisions and both are preventable. They are speeding, and inattention. (Distracted driving.) If a driver is traveling at the correct speed for the road conditions, and is paying attention, he/she should never run into a cyclist.

The laws are already in place and to get more drivers to comply is simple; education and law enforcement. McCormack’s statement does however reveal a disturbing reality:

That society has always bullied minorities and the failure of the police to protect that minority, has throughout history reflected society’s current attitude.

It is one of the flaws of a democracy; the majority holds the power of the vote. The power to elect politicians, who in turn appoint police chiefs; who then do the bidding of the majority, often at the expense of the rights of the minority.

Cyclists at this point in time can still be considered a minority. The daily near misses along with the abuse and harassment cyclists take from some members of the motoring public, with little or no protection from law enforcement causes some to rebel.

Some cyclists are lawless, rude and arrogant, and while I do not condone this behavior, I can certainly understand the frustrations they feel and the reasons they act this way.

All cyclists should try to remain cool, and realize fighting lawlessness and bad behavior by doing the same only does harm to the individual and to the cycling cause. To be constantly angry while riding detracts from something that should be a joy.

Cyclists may be a minority now, but they are a minority that is growing constantly, and will not be one forever. The cyclist has not only right on his side, but common sense.

Our highways and streets are becoming increasing congested, and the situation will only get worse. We still have high unemployment; as the economy improves and more people return to the work force, there will be more and more people commuting to and from their jobs.

High gas prices and obesity are other common sense reasons to ride a bicycle. I feel it is the common sense angle that is probably causing certain segments of our society to resist the change; they are in denial. People hate to change; especially when change takes a certain amount of effort.

They resist, they become angry; they turn their anger towards the people they see as forcing the change, namely cyclists. However, in reality the change is necessary because we are becoming over populated and we are running out of space. Cycling is not the cause of change; it is one of the solutions.

Try to understand the reasons for the anger and the injustice society is leveling against cyclists; it is born out of ignorance. It is not leveled against you personally, but what you represent. You can’t fight ignorance with like minded behavior. You can only do so by good example.



Reader Comments (10)

Democracy can be the dictatorship of the majority. For example, if brown-eyed people (the majority) decided the rest should be put to death, what's to stop that? The answer is we have justice systems put in place to prevent this misuse of the power of the majority. However, these "firewalls" are flawed and sometimes we return to mob rule. Currently motorists are the mob, and woe betide those who get in the way!

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug P

Cycling is fun but reading (and living) quotes like those made DA McC is not. The fun of cycling is reduced when democracy, fairness, and common sense are subordinated to cater to the auto-culture. As you state, "They resist, they become angry; they turn their anger towards the people they see as forcing the change, namely cyclists."

Cycling is definitely a solution to traffic, obesity, and incivility but denial rules as long as our elected leaders cater to the illogical whims of the majority.

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

" some animals are more equal than others" Welcome to the age of entitlement and rudeness ,courtesy of the auto- culture. Traffic is sometimes like the old fair ride , "Dodgem Cars", Crazy . Be a ambassador of cycling ,Smile !

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterofoab

This country was founded as a republic not a democracy for a very good reason. It is important to understand and differentiate between them.
Often government is the problem, but in this case it is the principles and values of this country that have been neglected and not supported through the media and political culture, which is a result of the way we vote. We have met the enemy and it is us.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

I think you will find that a Republic is a Nation with an elected President, as opposed to a Monarchy with a King or Queen like Great Britain; but both are Democracies. They both have a Government democratically elected by the people. If someone has a better explanation feel free to jump in.

April 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I know about the police not citing drivers all too well. On March 31 I was riding on a country road in Shelby County, Kentucky. I was struck from behind by a kid doing 70 mph while presumably texting. I should be dead. Instead I have fractures, abrasions and bruises. The kid was not cited. Cause of the crash in the police report? "Inattentive driving."

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Williams

There was a very interesting discussion of "bicycle safety" on KQED's Forum last week. It is easy to find on podcast in itunes. Then civility issue was front and center. The most extreme views were on the pro-car side, but all sides of the issue were really well represented. The impetus for the program was the deaths of 2 pedestrians caused by cyclists, but plenty of attention was paid, appropriately, to the far greater number of cyclists and pedestrians caused by cars.

My solution? Make the presumption under law that the larger road user (the car) has the larger responsibility.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ

Easy solution. Incorporate actual bike duty into every rookie officers or cadets training, the same as vehicle training. They will be more willing to press charges, once they've actually felt the rush of having a trucks mirror almost take there head off.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClausen

I am reminded by this post why I would NEVER move to certain places in the U.S.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkhalil spencer

In the Federalist Papers, you will see why ObamaCare is in front of the Supreme Court. In our Republic, States retain autonomy, power isn't centralized as set forth in the Constitution.
On laws and civility, if it were true that laws make a society civil, then China, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Syria Pakistan et al would not have civil unrest.
Laws do not protect people nor prevent accidents. Never will. People will do what they want to do; they know what is right and what is wrong. Stop creating more laws, we aren't becoming more civil but more rude as a result.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
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