Yesterday, a young man was killed by a driver who was fleeing from a police traffic stop here in Atlanta. The cyclist was hit in the bike lane, where he so called ‘belongs’. Now this incident is a little different from the norm because the driver was fleeing from the police when he hit the cyclist and was out of the usual ‘he was not where he was supposed to be’ or ‘the driver was on their phone’ or even the standard ‘I didn’t even see him’. But what was odd, but not so different, was the response it got, when I clicked to scroll through the story, hoping it wasn’t one of my friends, I told myself the same thing I tell myself I read any local article pertaining to anything cycling related…’Don’t Read the Comments’. But of course, without fail, I did.
Many of the commenter’s did not read the article at all, just readying their fingers to type any nonsense that came to mind stemming from their hate for people who ride bikes. For example, a few wrote ‘he shouldn’t have been on the road’, ‘he deserved it’, or ‘we should ban bikes from the streets’. Aside from missing the fact that the cyclist was a casualty of a driver alluding police, these people commenting in this fashion are basically saying this man does not matter. Husband? Who cares? Father? Not important, the only thing in their minds was that this gentleman was on a machine that they believe shouldn’t be on the road, even though all the traffic laws in the world say he should.
To say a human deserves to die because he/she’s commuting by bike is asinine, plain and simple. Because a person chooses to use a different form of transportation other than a car, should that person automatically deemed DOA because of his freedom of choice? Or is it because we’re so desensitized by other deaths around the world, whether it be by war, rampant murders, video games, etc. that we just blurt out the ‘they should die’ phrase without understanding what that person meant to their self and others? Did they not make someone smile? Did they not have parents that adored him/her? Or maybe even their family who won’t get to see their father/mother/brother/sister ever again?
This guy was immediately chastised because he was on a bike, didn’t matter the circumstances, didn’t matter that the driver was fleeing police, he was on the road where he shouldn’t have been and he got what was coming to him. Just because another human being wants to ride his bike to work, to clear their heads, to get exercise, why would any one get so mad at this person to suggest his/her death? Did he make you get to work 1 minute later than you wanted? Or did she make you miss that green light only to be stuck behind another car at the next light?
Now, do cyclists obey all the traffic laws? Run red lights? Roll through stop signs? Cut cars and so forth? Sure they do, shit I do (well, except cutting cars), even though I always make sure it is safe and I don’t cause an accident, which some drivers do as well, which is what it is, but some drivers are also speeding, on their phones (A LOT), and are times very angry and impatient due to sitting in traffic or other things happening in their lives. The thing is a split second bad decision due to any of these circumstances can cost another driver or cyclist their lives.
This disregard for human life is unsettling, as a commentator on Barstool Sports calls for ‘Death to cyclists’ and even made a T-shirt for it, I wonder who’s next? The College student who can’t afford parking, a father/mother who needs to bike because they can’t afford a car, the ‘New year New Me’ who is hell bent on finally losing weight in 2018 so they start commuting by bike, or me, a father of two amazing kids and a loving wife who can’t imagine not being around for them and commutes daily.
We need to stop throwing these phrases around so loosely, these cyclists are human beings, like the man asking for change in the streets, like the child starving in Sudan, like you driving your car to work everyday. No one deserves to die in any unjust fashion just because someone ‘belongs’ there and they don’t, or because they are in your way. We can start a conversation and make our cities better for all people no matter mode of transportation they have the freedom to use, or, maybe I just need to stop reading the comments…