Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rick's Open Letter To A Hummer Driver

Rick Logue at My Two Mile Challenge wrote an open letter to the Hummer driver who almost hit him, and the message was so poignant that I simply had to reprint it here. I hope he's okay with that.
Dear Jack,

You do not know me, but my name is Rick. I was the cyclist you almost hit this morning. Did you even notice me as you sped down the street in your Hummer? Did you hear me yell at you? I apologize, but what you did scared me. I was seconds away from being a speed bump. You backed out of your driveway and forced me to jump the curb in order not to be hit by you. I think you heard me yell. I will also assume that you were embarrassed. After all, why else would you speed down the street, past a bus stop with children, at twice the speed limit?

What was it that you did not see? Was it the lime green reflective helmet cover? the blinking light on my helmet? the green blinking lights on the stem of my bike? the white blinking light on the handlebars? my reflective vest? the three yards of reflective tape that cover most of my bike frame? I spend a great deal of time on my bike. In the first two months of this year, I have already ridden more than 300 miles. I want to be safe.

Did something happen this morning? Maybe you woke up late. Being first is more important that being safe, right? Did you have a fight with your children about eating their breakfast? Do you have kids Jack? I have a four year old, a two year old and a baby boy due at the end of the month. Can you imagine what it would be like to tell my daughters that they would no longer see their daddy? Can you imagine how sad their wedding days would be with no one to walk them down the aisle? Can you imagine my son who would never know his father? Can you imagine my wife as she tries to raise three children by herself? Would you be willing to take care of my family?

Jack, I am sure that you did not see me. In 1996, a car hit me. After I regained consciousness, the first thing I heard was, “I never saw him.” Since then, I have involved myself in cycling advocacy. You know what the first thing a majority of drivers say after they hit a cyclist? Right. “I never saw him.”

Please, go to the website yieldtolife.org. I have no connection with it. Read about why the website exists. Read the tips. I promise, if you follow the tips for drivers, I will follow the tips for cyclists. Keep your eyes open. Cycling is becoming more and more prevalent. Today was a close call. Tomorrow we might not be so lucky.


Few things annoy me as much as the excuse "I didn't see you." To me, that just means you weren't trying hard enough, and should lose your license due to simple negligence - especially if you're driving something as big as a Hummer.

People, not speed.

11 comments:

  1. I yelled at a guy who pulled a left cross in front of me. He actually stopped and rolled his window down! I yelled at him some more, paused to take a breath and then.... he apologized!

    Made me feel like a creep.

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  2. Thanks. I talked to Jack today. It was weird, but I think I got the point across.

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  3. Not seeing is a little like not remembering. IT's generally not done on purpose.
    Not to relieve *anybody* of responsibility for learning ot pay attention - however, it is important IMHO to figure out the real root of the problem.

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  4. I have to disagree, SiouxGeonz.

    If it's done on purpose, it's reckless endangerment. If it's not done on purpose, it's negligence. All drivers should be aware that their vehicle can injure or kill if they let down their guard.

    The European Union wisely and legally puts the onus on the drivers of cars and larger vehicles for the safety of everyone around them. We should be doing that here, too. That would be a great way to get drivers to pay attention and drive more safely.

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  5. why not show some real balls and post the idiots address since he was pulling out of his driveway.

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  6. What would that really do, ruzicho2000? Open him up to abuse by other people? I think Rick did exactly the right thing. He confronted the driver and told him about what he did, acting courteously and as a good ambassador for cycling in town. That's going to have more positive impact than starting a smear campaign against the guy, especially since Rick seems to live in the same neighborhood as Jack.

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  7. I've been on both sides of this situation. When I'm the driver, I ALWAYS stop to apologize, and when I'm the cyclist, I try my hardest to at least make the person aware that they almost hit me.

    Sadly, some acquaintances still have the "cars rule the road" mentality and won't wait for pedestrians in a crosswalk or even yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the road.

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  8. That's interesting, Rick - even the LAW says that's not the case.

    That's one of the reasons I think we need to adopt the 5th Motorist Directive like the EU has, as I paraphrased in my response to SiouxGeonz.

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  9. I think people should remember that sometimes cars really can't see cyclists, especially if they're not properly dressed. Usually I agree with you, saying I didn't see you is a cop-out, but sometimes it's appropriate.

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  10. That's my whole point, though, Krystal - if they can't see cyclists, then they're not looking hard enough. If they look around completely before moving, then they'll see the cyclists. The same goes for cyclists who hit pedestrians - if they are looking around and riding defensively, they'll see the pedestrians no matter what they're wearing. And cars should be even MORE careful given their vastly greater ability to hurt people.

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  11. In 2003, former Miss America Heather French was blinded by the sun as she piloted her Lincoln Navigator through an intersection, killing 44 year old Karola Stede as she cycled across the intersection. The wife of the Kentucky Lt Governor was reportedly very upset that she had to go through the ordeal. No charges were filed in this "accident."

    IF YOU CAN'T SEE WHERE YOU'RE GOING, SLOW DOWN OR STOP. It's not that difficult.

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