You may have noticed that recently I've added the tag line "People, not speed" at the bottom of my posts.
I've been an active cyclist for almost a year now, and by active I mean I've been corresponding with other cyclists all over the country (and the world, on occasion), and taking part in (or trying to take part, if COBAC would ever return my requests to join them) as many advocacy efforts as I can. This blog is a big part of that for me - I've gotten to meet a few of my readers and I have to say it's a pleasure to have done so.
But being an active cyclist has also shown me the dark side of traffic policy in this city and country. Not only is traffic policy overwhelmingly in favor of automobiles and their use, but it's to the point where cyclists are seen as road hazards (as indicated by LA Metro Supervisor Mike Dunn in this article from the LAist).
The latest example of this that I've read is from Great Britain's Velorution, where the story of Emma Foa' serves to illustrate two things:
1. Motorists place much more emphasis on being able to drive unimpeded and without restrictions than they do on driving safely and without harming others.
2. In many cases, the law supports such claims.
I am in favor of the Dutch system of law, where if a driver hits a bicycle or pedestrian, then the driver is assumed guilty unless it can be proven that the cyclist or pedestrian acted in a way that the driver was unable to avoid them.
This law would totally remove the famous excuse of drivers who have hit cyclists: "I didn't see him." You know what? No one cares. It's your responsibility as the driver of a larger and more potentially damaging vehicle to drive carefully and to see the entire street before moving.
Does this mean you shouldn't be able to drive while talking on the phone, or drinking coffee, or putting on makeup, or shaving, or reading a map? Yes, it means exactly that. If you are doing any of these things while driving, you are impairing yourself from taking the whole road and all its operators into consideration and you are jeopardizing the safety of those around you. You have rights, but as soon as your rights infringe upon the life or limb of those around you, those rights vanish.
Now it's just up to the law to catch up with this thinking.
People, not speed.