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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

OK... there will (weatehr permitting) be a "Ride of Silence" in Champaign. W We are actually pretty lucky around here. The automobile culture is, for the most part, not hostile to bicyclists. Yes, there is a contingent who complain or who will shout at us and direct off the roads, but I rarely feel actually endangered.
However, what I can't know is how much of this is culture and how much of this is coincidence. I do know that when riders are struck and killed, drivers tend not to be faulted. The elderly driver who killed Jan Briese from the Joliet club had all charges dropped; while I do not know the details of his defense, I know a little bit about human nature and power. I suspect that many people, including judges, think that a cyclist on the road who is struck by a car or harrassed was, by definition, “asking for it.” After all, shouldn't they know that cars are bigger than they are?
The same was once acceptable thinking regarding women who 'asked for' harrassment or assault, or the people of color who “asked for” discrimination and brutality. Didn't they know that those things happened? That people were like that?
Yes, potential victims should validly be expected to evaluate a situation even when one has "rights" - but one of the things this silly country is ***supposed*** to be about is being a place where some people don't automatically get more rights than other people, simply because they *can* overpower them. Might isn't supposed to make right... yet the little guy is asking for it if s/he doesn't humbly be sure to never inconvenience the powerful ones?

The Ride of Silence is one way that cyclists can work towards graduating towards being recognized as valid users of the roads, even if smaller and more vulnerable than automobiles.

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