Some Cyclists Should Take Up a New Hobby, or Get Educated, or Wake the F* Up
Unfortunately this is not a happy post. Jonathan Turley, one of the greatest legal minds in North America, reports about a San Francisco cyclist senselessly killing a pedestrian here. The short version is the cyclist was not only riding 10 mph over the speed limit (35mph) but running yellow and red lights at that speed as well. Eventually pedestrians got in his way and 71-year-old Sutchi Hui was killed. After the collision, Chris Bucchere, the cyclist, remembered “..seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine…” so he simply rode off to lament his broken helmet on the Mission Cycling Blog. He’s charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. My Bay Area story has a less tragic ending but the danger sign is just as severe.
My family recently vacationed in sleepy Mill Valley, California, not far from the Bay Area. It’s near the magnificent Muir Woods (think giant redwoods) and has a magic kingdom element to it. There’s a charming downtown area with many boutiques and coffee shops and such, surrounded by nice homes on slim and winding streets. We stayed in a guest house located on a one lane asphalt street. Each day I noticed scores of folks walking, jogging, cycling, and the occasional car passing by our bungalow. The perfect weather kept people milling about on the residential streets all day long, and I have never seen so many mountain bikes (29ers) in one place in my life. Mill Valley is a cyclists dream town.
My children made friends with a local cat whose company they sought out each day. One morning my daughter asked if she could walk further down the street on her own to look for her friend the black cat. I’d seen very few cars and those I did see always drove very slowly so why not? I asked her to stay within eyesight, which was about 2 blocks. A few moments later I witnessed three women on cycles come flying right by my daughter, they weren’t terribly close but they came from around a corner, a blind side and judging by their speed this could have had tragic consequences. Idiots.
Seconds later as they passed me by I noticed their sport bikes gave off no report or signal of any kind. Had they hit my daughter she would have never heard them coming. Theirs were perfectly tuned racing machines that made absolutely no noise whatsoever. I noticed none had a bell either. I overheard them talking about the near miss with my daughter, “…they come out of nowhere, and then they’re right in front of you!” As if my daughter was playing in the middle of a velodrome, their personal velodrome that is. They were going too quickly for me to try to confront them or attempt any kind of communication. Needless to say I was astonished by their ignorance and sense of entitlement. Idiots.
There are no sidewalks and the roads are mostly one lane in the the residential areas of Mill Valley where we were staying, therefore everyone is required to share. Riding your bikes at racing speeds on roads like this is daring an ugly fate, and for these cyclists to think a paved surface is theirs alone is absurd.
The moral to the story is cycling does not make people smarter or more aware. Stupid people get behind the wheel of a car and stupids also are know to sit on the saddle of a bicycle. And just because there are no cars in view does not mean you don’t have to pay attention to your surroundings. There is irony in a cyclist endangering my daughter and not a car. How weird is that?
And for the record, I like sport cycling and I love Mill Valley, I just don’t like idiots who endanger others regardless of how many wheels they use for travel or recreation.