In the past two weeks there has been a lot of dialog over the cyclists mowed down by a teenage lunatic in Ukiah and the proposed helmet law being floated by State Senator Carol Liu. First, let me address the kid who turned his Honda into a battering ram. I did not see anyone that really seemed shocked by what happened. That came as little surprise to me. As cycling continues its popularity, there is a growing discontent from some drivers that cyclists don’t belong on their roads. I mention “their” because I keep hearing the same stupid tired argument that bike riders don’t pay road taxes, registration, have bike licenses, formal training and so on. Don’t send me any letters, because I have already received them.
Forget the millions in sales taxes that performance bikes generate and the very little impact that bicycles have on our roadways. The issue is simple in my view. We are in a culture that does not know how to slow down. We are always in a hurry, always late, never catching up and that damn dude in spandex spending his leisure time slowing my life down just pisses me off. Get the H**L off the road already!! Stay in straight line, stay on the edge of the road, stay out of my way or I will lose it! Twice in the last two weeks I have had encounters with motorists including the punk Sunday in Bodega who rolled down his window to scream at me and give me the bird. I was three feet to right of the white line when this happened. Really? What did I do you, bro?
As beautiful as our roads are, we live in a culture where respect is lost on some. Cyclists are defenseless fodder for life’s frustrations for drivers in their protected cocoons. Can roads be made safer for riders? Sure they can. First, lets get one of those of jet blowers that they use at Sonoma Raceway and blow off of the shoulders of popular bike paths. Those things are like highway Zamboni’s and can cover a lot of ground quickly. The bike lane on Old Red between Santa Rosa and Windsor is nearly unusable with all the broken glass and other road debris along the shoulder. Believe me, that would help! The second change I fear will take some senseless tragedy to occur. We need to slow down our lives and try to find some patience in our world. Cycling is beautiful and we would all be a little less stressed if we could appreciate it.
Now this helmet law. I am old enough that I have heard the same arguments about seat belts, cigarettes and car seats for kids. There is no cure for stupid and if people want to live their lives at the shallow end of the gene pool, then so be it.