Because we are people there will always be crashes; as a group we are just not capable of perfect driving all the time. But the kind of crash that claimed the life of one cyclist and left another in very critical condition last week can be made less likely.
One of the first complaints from motorists about cyclists is when they see a cyclist run a red light or commit some other traffic code infraction. While I don’t think that cyclists should run red lights, can anyone site an instance where a cyclist running a red light resulted in the death of another road user? If the NRA can say "It’s not guns that kill people, its people that kill people." to keep guns legal, then I am going to say "Cars don't kill people, people kill people!” When we, you or I, drive a car in a careless, illegal or inattentive way, we are gambling with not just crumpled metal and a wrecked vehicle, but with life. And while some of us are more vulnerable road users than others, everyone is put at increased risk by the careless, illegal and inattentive driving habits we see around us every day. People like Matt Trujillo and Dan Montoya can be cycling in completely lawful, safe ways, but those practices cannot protect them from all drivers. From a KOAT online report May 12, 2011, “The bicyclist (Dan Montoya) was heading eastbound on Tramway when a car crossed the median and hit the bike head-on, (Bernalillo County Sheriff’s) deputies said. Deputies said the driver of the car may have had a medical episode.” Reports of the incident that caused severe bodily harm to Matt Trujillo said that he was hit by a driver who ran a red light. Motor vehicle drivers are in control, or not, of a potentially far more dangerous means of transportation. Our streets and highways are not a level playing field.
It is not the other driver I’m asking you to look at, it’s you. We are each responsible for our own driving habits. Take a realistic look at your abilities, attentiveness, and habits. What about your cell phone use, texting or talking? Can you see well enough or do you need new glasses? Are you healthy enough? How is your awareness of two wheeled vehicles, motorized or human powered? Do you obey the traffic laws? What else do you think it is OK to do while driving, besides paying attention to the road?
Being in denial about this could have an incredibly high price.
President, Duke City Wheelmen Foundation
There will be a minute of silence before Wednesday’s Ride Of Silence for Matt Trujillo and Dan Montoya, their families and friends in addition to the usual dedication of the ride to cyclists injured or killed. For more information about this ride, go to dukecitywheelmen.org