Use your heart, and your brain

A plea to not kill fellow humans on the road

Yesterday a local, Austin area bike commuter was killed on his way to work. 45 years old, father of four. Struck from behind by a driver who “didn’t see him while changing lanes”. No charges were pressed.

A tragedy. And one that hits very close to home.

His blog is still up, with the most recent post just a few days old. He seemed like a great guy. Lover of life. A family man. Taken too soon. I can’t imagine the grief that his family and friends are experiencing.

He even has his route posted to the site. A portion of which I regularly travel on my own bike commute, a few times a week.

So what are we to do now?

Protest? Make laws? Stop riding bikes altogether? Demonize the other side (Depending on your preferred mode of transport)?

What if instead of allowing this to be a polarizing event, once again diving humanity into two angry mobs hating and despising the other, like nearly every other headline, we instead allowed us to be more empathetic. To put others before our self?

I love being on my bike, just ask anybody that knows me. And yet I also regularly take trips in my camry. I’m neither an obnoxious “BIKES BELONG” nor a “RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK, WHERE BIKES BELONG” kind of guy. I ride bikes AND I regularly drive my car.

And that’s where the majority of us are. So don’t let the extreme ends of the spectrum polarize the issue here.

So here’s my plea:

Fellow cyclists, please choose roads that have bike lanes or shoulders at the minimum. Riding on roads with neither is EXTREMELY unsafe, and never worth the potential danger. I know this may cause a longer route, and I wrestle with this every time I commute. But let’s err on safety.

Also, be EXTREMELY visible. WEAR LIGHTS. On the front of your bike, on the back of your bike, in your wheels, on your helmet. Turn them on if there is the slightest bit of darkness. Also, where reflective clothing, and maybe even a vest. And if you can avoid it at all cost, don’t drive on or near a major road when dark, and especially during any times when alcohol can be at play (7pm — dawn).

Fellow cyclists, don’t be a jerk. Just because we’re saving the planet doesn’t mean we have a licence to be an idiot or mean. Be considerate, be kind, be smart, and have a heart. Also, if we want to be respected for being on the road, then we must respect all laws. Stop signs, red lights, right of ways… obey them, and earn respect of the others on the road.

Fellow drivers, PUT DOWN THE PHONE. I’m just as tempted as you are to check twitter, dial a number, or look at a map. It’s trite, but it really can wait. The reality is that we are daily driving around in 2 thousand pounds lethal weapons. Automobiles are a fantastic tool of convenience the majority of the time, but they are also extremely dangerous when used without caution.

Reading a tweet or text message is not worth taking a life.

Fellow drivers, don’t be a jerk. Just because you're in a 2 thousand pound metal box doesn’t mean you can bully someone on a 20 pound bicycle. Or a pedestrian, or someone in a smaller car for that matter. I won’t go into the legalities, but cyclist do have the legal right to share the road with cars on nearly every paved surface, except for interstate highways. If there are two lanes, the cyclist has the right to the right lane. PLEASE take a split second, move fully into the left lane, then switch back to the right lane when you are 30 yards ahead of the cyclist.

I’m not trying to preach.

Well, maybe I am. But it’s to myself first and foremost. Maybe it can be a good reminder to others as well.

Let’s look out for each other. Be smart on the road. And be kind.

Use your heart, and your brain. And let’s live to enjoy tomorrow.

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