Monday, March 3, 2008

An open letter to Jack in his Hummer

Note:  I assume that the guy who almost hit me is named Jack.  His personalized license plate had his name on it.

Dear Jack,

You do not know me, but my name is Rick.  I was the cyclist you almost hit this morning.  Did you even notice me as you sped down the street in your Hummer?  Did you hear me yell at you?  I apologize, but what you did scared me.  I was seconds away from being a speed bump.  You backed out of your driveway and forced me to jump the curb in order not to be hit by you.  I think you heard me yell.  I will also assume that you were embarrassed.  After all, why else would you speed down the street, past a bus stop with children, at twice the speed limit?

What was it that you did not see?  Was it the lime green reflective helmet cover?  the blinking light on my helmet? the green blinking lights on the stem of my bike?  the white blinking light on the handlebars?  my reflective vest?  the three yards of reflective tape that cover most of my bike frame?  I spend a great deal of time on my bike.  In the first two months of this year, I have already ridden more than 300 miles.  I want to be safe. 

Did something happen this morning?  Maybe you woke up late.  Being first is more important that being safe, right?  Did you have a fight with your children about eating their breakfast?  Do you have kids Jack?  I have a four year old, a two year old and a baby boy due at the end of the month.  Can you imagine what it would be like to tell my daughters that they would no longer see their daddy?  Can you imagine how sad their wedding days would be with no one to walk them down the aisle?  Can you imagine my son who would never know his father?  Can you imagine my wife as she tries to raise three children by herself?  Would you be willing to take care of my family? 

Jack, I am sure that you did not see me.  In 1996, a car hit me.  After I regained consciousness, the first thing I heard was, “I never saw him.”  Since then, I have involved myself in cycling advocacy.  You know what the first thing a majority of drivers say after  they hit a cyclist?  Right.  “I never saw him.”

Please, go to the website  I have no connection with it.  Read about why the website exists.  Read the tips.  I promise, if you follow the tips for drivers, I will follow the tips for cyclists.  Keep your eyes open.  Cycling is becoming more and more prevalent.  Today was a close call. Tomorrow we might not be so lucky.  

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Smudgemo said...

You should leave this as a note on his windshield.

Jamie said...

Darn it, Smudge! You beat me to it.

Few things upset me as the excuse "I didn't see you/him/her." It's simple: if you didn't see me, then you weren't looking hard enough. And if you weren't looking hard enough, you're a menace on the road and should have your license taken away. What else might you have missed? A kid crossing the street? A mother and her baby? A senior citizen trying to make her way to the store?

No excuse... none whatsoever.

Rick Logue said...

Thanks guys. I did get a chance to talk to Jack today. While I was calm and reserved, three quarters of me wanted to smack him in the head. I did not figure assaulting him would help.

danc said...

Sorry to hear of your bad encounter. Have you filed a report with the law enforcement? you have a right and in a special sense, responsibility.

Motorist who are obvious or do not use due care with other vehicles of the road are danger to others as much as themselves. Given the Huffy vs Hummer comparison, the cyclist is at a physical disadvantage in any contact.

File a informational report, why, because it documents an incident, it's beyond gripping or pleading. The driver of the vehicle is identified. Let's say Mr Hummer does something aggressive with another vehicles, possibly a motorist but let's say he really does not understand why cyclist is on the road and is in his way so he buzz's another cyclist. Another cyclist files a report then law enforcements has independent reports of behavior.

I was horned and buzzed by a Mr SUV twice last summer, I filed a report and the Deputy asked if wanted to files charges. I suggested how Colorado State Police deals with "aggressive drivers". After several calls, they contact the owner of the vehicle to discuss the reports. If additional complaints are received against the vehicle, a uniformed CSP member makes personal contact with the registered owner of the vehicle and takes appropriate enforcement action. In my instance the Deputy decide to made a friendly call to the owner and it's been a respectful state with Mr. SUV and me. I've also left an informational note on a co-worker's windshield.

Two final items: 1) take a bicycle safety class (aka Road 1), the instructor will overview legal rights, responsibilites, which will help when talking about incidents with law enforcement. 2) Highly recommend reading "Bicycling and the Law" by Bob Mionske. Mr Mionske writes the Legally Speaking" columun, highly interesting.