Why is the cyclist the villain?

This really chaps my hide.
A bicyclist – who happens to be a friend
and fellow blogger – was riding his bike at night on a major Fort Worth thoroughfare, Camp Bowie Boulevard, wearing a helmet and with lights front and rear, when he was hit from behind by a motorist and left for dead.
The good news is that the cyclist, Zac Ford, is recovering nicely after a couple days in a hospital with a concussion and severe road rash on his back and the left side of his body.
“Whoever hit me didn’t stop and didn’t even know if I was alive or dead,” Ford, 26, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It just kind of blows my mind.”
The bad news is that the motorist is still at large and probably will remain so unless he or she has pangs of conscience and goes to the police.
And perhaps even worse news, for the future of cycling in Fort Worth and car-centric America at large, were some of the online comments posted in reaction to the Star-Telegram story.
The story, of course, prompted the usual back and forth between motorists and cyclists about rights on the road.
Some drivers suggested that roads are for cars and trucks, not bicycles, that cyclists should ride into traffic so they can see what’s coming, or ride on the sidewalks or on those bike paths that government has so frivolously spent tax money on. Even on the trails, one commenter said, cyclists “knock down people walking and run over puppies.”
But some of the comments by motorists, among the 154 posted on both sides of the issue as of this writing, were downright scary. Others were deleted by the Star-Telegram, apparently because they were so over the top.
“These bikers want all the respect but refuse to obey traffic laws as they are supposed to,” wrote a driver with the handle HonestTX_Proud. “I had one turn into my vehicle. They all lied and said I hit him. He scratched his elbow. 6 weeks later here comes the lawsuit for $75K. Insurance gave him a few thousand to go away. If I’d known they were going to do that I would have hit the punk. And backed over him a few times. Want to ride with the traffic? Obey the laws and be courteous.”
Added a critic with the Internet moniker RonRico: “It will be interesting to read the future story about the cyclist who ended up like a bug on a windshield. Au revoir…”
RonRico, who apparently fancies himself as oh-so-clever, couldn’t resist jumping into the comment thread time and again. There was this gem: “Common sense for cyclists seems to be trumped by reduced bloodflow due to those gay spandex riding suits they wear.” And this one: “Ahhh… I see. Go figure… another victim who helped himself to victimhood.”
I liked this bit of idiocy from Obama_Hoax: “If Obama’s re-elected we’ll all be on bicycles!”
Wouldn’t that be great!?
But perhaps most disturbing in the series of comments was the seeming sympathy for the driver, despite the fact that whoever hit Zac Ford left the scene without checking whether he was hurt and failing to render aid. The driver probably would have been pilloried had he or she run over a dog sleeping in the road. But hitting a cyclist and leaving the scene seems to be OK with some folks.

By all accounts, Zac Ford was doing nothing wrong. His bike had a headlight and a red taillight. He was wearing a helmet and he was riding in the right lane of a boulevard that has two lanes of traffic in each direction. But many motorists see him as the villain of the piece, apparently because he was riding a bicycle.
Damn, some people are sick!
But a friend and fellow cyclist struck an optimistic note in a comment on Facebook:
“The only consolation I have is knowing those fat bozos that want to run down cyclists for putting them out 30 seconds and wish their death is knowing we are making this city better for future generations, empowering all sorts of people to take back their streets. Not just by typing at a keyboard, but by getting out there and doing something.”
Amen, sister!



Filed under Politics, Texana, Urban cycling

4 responses to “Why is the cyclist the villain?

  1. Well said, as usual. I’ve tried to stay away from conversations about this issue because there is no reasoning with someone who thinks that what the driver did okay, or at least excusable. Thanks for being an articulate voice for cycling.

  2. Kim

    I certainly hope Zac Ford makes a full recovery and will be cycling again soon. I am extremely new to cycling, purchasing my first road bike in February and riding America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe in June. On a training ride, I was pedaling into the left turn lane and using my hand signals. A motorist flipped me off, yelled the most obscene profanities at me and told me I was breaking the law. I was wrong to engage him in any way but I told him I was not breaking the law and I encouraged him to go online to see for himself. He continued his barrage of disparaging remarks and told me if I got in front of him he would run me over. Fifteen minutes later a passenger yelled out of a different vehicle’s window for me to get on the sidewalk and off of the road. Well, that would be just dandy if a) there WAS a sidewalk b) if it was not illegal for me to ride on the sidewalk. I don’t feel safe out there but why should I be forced to take my bike and put it on my car to drive it 15 miles away to cycle through a Metro or State park? I am most comfortable riding in these parks because those are areas in which motorists have come to accept and expect to see people riding their bikes on the road and will look out for us.

  3. Mark

    I hope your friend recovers well, and I hope the perpetrator is apprehended.

    The comment that bicyclists, by stereotype, “don’t obey regulations” is so old as to be cliche. And while it’s true that this is sometimes the case, there are two truths made evident by it:
    1. If motorists, as a stereotype, were held to the same standard that only those who follow all regulations could be on the roadway, there would be very little traffic.
    2. Very little effort has gone into education bicyclists about exactly what the regulations are, educating motorists regarding their responsibility about bicyclists, and enforcing regulations for both.
    In the case of your friend, the driver is at fault regardless for leaving if nothing else. I don’t believe you can hit a 200-pound mass and not know it. If the cyclist was following regulations at the moment as it appears, the charges are much more serious up to attempted homicide. (I should say at this point that I am not a lawyer, I only like to play one on forum posts.) The motorists act would be no different than striking a pedestrian in the road, the fact that a bicycle was involved is really inconsequential.
    There is always the possibility that this genius will take his car in for body repair, or that an observer will note the new damage on the offending auto and report it. Let’s hope for the best.

  4. Bike

    Power corrupts. After one drives for years, they see it as a right and a necessity rather than a privilege. They see themselves as having earned a place in society where they don’t have to walk or bike or bus. They are now above that.

    Place the power of life and death in their hands, and it’s no surprise the amount of reckless and cavalier attitudes. Most people are caring and want to be helpful, but the power of the automobile corrupts and warps their mind when trying to deal with transportation issues. It’s the real aggressive types who you’ll see post the worst comments. The others are trying to circle the wagons. They don’t want the responsibility of having to be alert for vulnerable users

    They all forget their humanity however, because they have a license and instrument of death that they must restrain themselves from plowing into and over things while using.

    The only sympathy comes from other cyclists, most of whom are also drivers. I see a groundswell of more people cycling. It can only help to raise awareness.

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