Though I am not a racing cyclist by any means (I don't even own a road bike), I enjoy listening to the Fredcast, a wonderful podcast for the high-end racing cyclist. David Bernstein is a great podcaster, he has a very even keel and covers all the issues well.
That being said...
I am going to take exception with some of the things he said regarding comments by a friend of Matthew Manger-Lynch, the alley-cat rider who was killed recently during the Tour Da Chicago when he ran a red light and was killed by an SUV. For those not familiar with alley-cat races, I'll refer you to the Wikipedia entry for Alleycat races, with the normal disclaimers about what you'll find there, it being Wikipedia. In an interview that David 'casted (not an interview he conducted, mind you, but one that he picked up from local media there) with Manger-Lynch's friend, the friend discussed the fact that our legal system is geared almost exclusively toward cars, a fact that I don't think anyone can deny. He went on to say that until laws are written to give liability to cars and other more deadly forms of transportation in the case of accidents, we'll never have any progress.
This jibes with what I've been saying about the US adopting the EU 5th Motorist Directive, which puts the liability on auto drivers in any car/bike or car/pedestrian accident, simply from the standpoint that cars cause more damage in an accident and can more easily maim or kill.
I didn't take the interview the way that Bernstein did, apparently, as he argued that the friend was simply making excuses for the deceased Manger-Lynch. I disagree, obviously. I think the interview was taken out of context, as we have no idea what led into that discussion based on the snippet we heard.
Are Alleycat races stupid and dangerous? Absolutely. Was the driver of the SUV at fault? Of course not. The racer ran a red light. It's as simple as that.
But, were the friend's comments about the legal system correct? Absolutely. Any legal system that takes the responsibility away from drivers of large, dangerous vehicles like cars is at the very least negligent, and at worst purposefully endangering lives.
David, keep up the great work with the podcast, I will keep listening because you put out a great show. But please keep in mind that our legal system is most certainly not perfect. And it is the job of riders, whether racers, commuters, or recreational cyclists, to work to fix it. I recommend you read the American Bicyclist article on adding "Equality" to the five E's of the League of American Bicyclists and think about this issue a little more deeply than simply within the context of a rather stupid bike race.
Edit: David has responded to my criticism in the comments, and as usual he's done a splendid job with explaining his views. Thanks David!
People, not speed.