Friday, November 16, 2007

Can't we all just get home alive?

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

November called and got it's weather back and today was a truly miserable, never-ending downpour kind of day and I really didn't want to go out in it.

But I did, because the We Are All Traffic press conference was held at 12:30 down at City Hall. I went because I'm concerned about the fact that several cyclists have been hurt or killed in the last few weeks and the police continue to bend over backwards to excuse drivers who are clearly at fault. I went because my girlfriend rode out in this crappy weather to work this morning, as she does three out of four mornings a week these days and I want her to come home safe each night. (Two close calls today for her, one in each direction). I went because we ride by Brett's ghost bike all the time.

As I pulled up to Interstate, a MAX train was waiting with open doors so I hopped aboard. Yay multimodalism. I checked out Brett's memorial as we went down the hill.

I got off downtown and even on two wheels, getting through traffic was tough. The buses are going up third street now while construction continues on the new MAX line. Twice I gave up and walked up the sidewalk just to keep moving. As I got back to a rideable street, I noticed an SUV at the light with her right turn signal on. How ironic would it be to get right hooked on the way to the traffic rally? I didn't feel like being a martyr today. I waved at the driver till I got her attention and signaled my intention to go straight. Disaster averted.

The crowd was pretty good for a Friday in the middle of the day. Most of the cycling heavy hitters were in attendance. Several speakers got up and gave some really nice talks, focused on trying to heal the bikes vs cars divide that the media insists on playing up relentlessly for the sake or ratings.

Personally, I would like to get back to enjoying my commutes instead of feeling like I'm venturing into a war zone each day.

Here's a snippet from Joe's (AKA Metal Cowboy) talk about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. We could all use a little more of it.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I admire you for braving the gloomy day to help represent all of us. I should have been there too; Matthew wanted to go but I was feeling draggy and refused to haul my butt downtown. Your cycling stories always inspire me to be a more dedicated rider. Good point about the media playing up the "bikes vs. cars" angle; my neighbor used that phrase the other day, and I realized afterward (of course I couldn't think what to say in the moment) that is a phrase we should maybe call people on. Next time someone says it, I plan to point out that an "x vs. y" mentality is inaccurate and unproductive in this situation. There are probably a lot of people who might use the phrase without really realizing what it implies; it's one of those cases where linguistic hygiene can create an opening for people to examine their attitudes and have a useful dialogue about them. You know, even as I was trying to articulate this, I had to admit that I have a bike vs. car mentality at least some of the time when I'm riding. It's hard for me to separate the need to ride defensively from the instinct to label all drivers (of whom I am one some of the time!) as dangerous assholes.