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Dear Motorist: A Follow-Up

by Stacey Moses
Last month, following the rash of cycling fatalities in London over a two week period, I composed a post called Learning from London (Or Are We?) in which I reviewed and critiqued the reactions of the media, the mayor and a former Olympic cyclist. My point, that there isn’t a single type of road user to blame and that simply being more aware, whether you are on a bike or in a motor vehicle, is as necessary as devising more complicated infrastructure improvements, caught the attention of Wesley Bauer, who sent along a link to his video. As the creator of  Dear Motorist, Wesley hopes to raise awareness that cyclists are “more than just obstacles on the road.” Enjoy the piece and Wesley’s words below.

Dear Motorist transpired after a personal friend of mine was hit and killed while cycling on the road. Truthfully, this is something that has greatly shaken me up and I have yet to get back on my bike. Instead, I have turned my focus to gathering the assets that I have to develop the Dear Motorist campaign to encourage both motorists and cyclists to do better. I am fortunate to work for ENDEVR™, a company that manufactures MyID™, an evolved medical identification bracelet that keeps your medical information current and up to date. Having the full support of my company has been something I have been grateful for. They understand better than anyone the importance of being safe on the road. My firm goal with Dear Motorist is to save the life of at least one cyclist. I feel we can accomplish this goal by:

  1. Creating an understanding that we are more than just cyclists
  2. Creating the understanding that as cyclists and motorists, we both can do better
  3. Ensuring that everyone has the proper equipment: highly visible clothing, a medical identification bracelet, and a helmet
  4. Continuing to improve education and the infrastructure of cities to be inviting to cyclists
Truly, the more the video is shared, the more I hope that motorists have the chance to see these individuals reading their letters. At the time of filming, all ten of the individuals who are reading the letters had just lost a close friend the week before while he was out cycling and was struck from behind.
I, too, live on both sides of this discussion. I ride and I drive. I am a daughter, a cyclist, a sister, an automobile driver, a friend and a friend of many cyclists. And I couldn’t agree more that we can all do better.
 
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6 Responses to “Dear Motorist: A Follow-Up”

  1. Todd says:

    While I appreciate the idea behind Dear Motorist, i couldnt sit through it. I’m a cyclist, and a commuter. People reading as they were in the video was terribly boring and not engaging in the least. I loved the idea and was excited when I first heard about it. As a marketing professional, it could have and should be done better.

    I’m also against the whole hi-vis clothing. Why should I be asked to spend additional money on one purpose clothing? Perhaps it is the motorist who should be paying more attention instead. Or better yet, lets force motorists to affix flashing lights and sirens so we hear them coming. Sounds silly right? Point made.

  2. Kevin Love says:

    My father was also killed by car drivers. More than three times as many people are killed by car drivers by being poisoned by them than by being crushed to death by those car drivers. My father was one of these poison victims.

    I miss my father every day. Aside from my dear wife, I was closer to him than to anyone in the world. He was my friend, my business partner, the grandfather to my children and the kindest, gentlest person I have ever known.

    And then car drivers viciously poisoned him with their lethal cancer-causing poisons, gave him cancer and killed him.

    As we approach Christmas, grief strikes me particularly hard. It is six years since his death, and I still catch myself seeing or hearing interesting things and saying to myself, “Hey, I’ll have to tell Dad about that.” And then realizing that isn’t going to happen.

    I am not alone, but in this case misery definitely does not love company. My sincere wish is that there be no more car drivers to poison and kill people – particularly poisoning and killing innocent children.

    Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, with the City Public Health Department has produced a Report showing how in Toronto:

    *Car drivers poison and kill 440 people every year.

    *Car drivers poison and injure 1,700 people every year so seriously that they have to be hospitalized.

    Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to being poisoned by car drivers.

    *Children in Toronto experience 1,200 acute bronchitis attacks every year due to being poisoned by car drivers.

    *Children in Toronto suffer 68,000 asthma symptom days every year due to being poisoned by car drivers.

    Finally, the health-care costs of all this death and injury: $2.2 billion every year due to people being poisoned by car drivers.

    That’s just in one city: Toronto.

    For the horrifying details, see the official City website for:

    The complete Report at:
    http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-8046.pdf

    The City of Toronto Staff Report Summary:
    http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe/pdf/air_pollution_burden_boh.pdf

    An excerpt from the Staff Report Summary:

    “…traffic pollution gives rise to about
    440 premature deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations per year in Toronto… Children experience more than 1,200 acute bronchitis
    episodes per year as a result of air pollution from traffic. Children are also likely to
    experience the majority of asthma symptom days (about 68,000 per year)…

    This study estimates that mortality-related costs associated with traffic pollution in
    Toronto are $2.2 billion each year…”

  3. Karen Loewen says:

    Hi guys! I came here to read the article about the blinking gloves and was disappointed to see a site about bike commuting featuring this video. I find it offensive that we think we have to beg for our lives, don’t you? I have just as much right to be on the road as any car. As bike commuters we should be pushing THAT idea – not begging a car not to hit us. Learn how to drive your bike and live! The examples of the people in the video hugging that stupid line inviting people to buzz them is ridiculous! I hated this whiney video! There’s lots out there like me. I’m sorry that this guy got killed…I have a friend who was killed too. BUT my response was to learn how to control my own safety! Not beg!

  4. Jeff Gardner says:

    Karen, as much as I understand your thinking, I’m afraid to say that this is the sort of thinking that predominates on this site — and is the reason why cycling of any sort gets no where.

    There is a sort of holier-than-thou attitude amongst cyclists, often from parsing out a superior idea or two, or three, and leaving the rest as contempt for motorists. All, at least on this site over the years, with a steadfast refusal of people to do much in the way of paradigm shifts that are routinely demanded of motorists.

    No, Karen, cyclists do NOT have as much right to be on the road as any car. This is nice-sounding, and draws easy cheers. But this attitude as a cornerstone is fundamentally wrong at law. The LAW says that for the most part, bicyclists travel by right. Motorists drive pursuant to privilege.

    This sounds great. And, it is, if bicyclists would assert it. Instead, for years, these pages have routinely been filled with groveling appeals to the purveyors of privilege for a crumb here or there. Complain about the unfairness or shortsightedness all we want. It will NEVER happen.

    Problem with asserting rights is that it isn’t a carve-out that can apply to bike commuting and then choose to return to slavishness on either side of that commute. You have rights, or you give them up. Cyclists pretty generally give up rights. There is little left thereafter.

  5. Robert says:

    I think that Karen’s message was missed here. She’s not REALLY talking about the finer points of cycling culture, she’s taking a pragmatic approach to the world we cycle through. Vigilantly and constantly trying to find safer, better ways to ride and learning from others regarding the safest, best ways to ride is a good way to keep yourself alive.

    We do have a right to the road (or as much right as anyone else), but the nurses in the ER don’t care if you were within your rights or not. Cyclists have very little protection and our main protection is learning to ride through the world in the best way possible.

  6. Mark Tandan says:

    I really appreciate this post. As a year round bike commuter (and occasional motorist) I can see both sides quite well.

    Your point that both parties can and need to do better is very well made. I can almost understand the frustration some motorists must feel when certain cyclists blatantly ignore the rules of the road. But I also feel, as a cyclist, that certain motorists don’t respect my right to be on the road.

    We’ve had a few cycling vs car deaths in my city this past year. In most cases, upon further investigation, it would turn out the cyclist was partially at fault – no lights at night, riding the wrong direction, illegally riding, whatever. But more recently an incredibly skilled rider was killed – right hooked by a trailer truck. He was an avid mountain bike racer, and commuted daily about 25km each way. Taught cycling classes for kids. No way this guy was unsafe or lacking skills.

    So his death really shook me up. Not enough to keep me off my bike, but enough to be extra vigilant on every ride.

    So, in a nutshell, all road users need to foster a little more mutual respect. That would make a huge difference.

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