I recently read an article in the Irish Times about a push by police (the Garda) to require bicyclist to wear helmets and high visibility vests when riding. Here’s the link to the article. Of course, the import of the article was “cyclists should do something to prevent being killed.” The “authorities” behind this idea must have missed the whole “bicycle safety for police” seminars apparently, or logic classes, or statistics, or science….. or human factors research findings or common sense from their mothers.
This is wrong.
Years ago there was an anti-rape campaign campaign in London, New York and Los Angeles which was startlingly frank. It showed various situations in which women in everyday life have experienced a crime of rape. Each picture had the phrase “this is not an invitation to rape me.” The campaign was successful. The latest version is to the right. The message is the same: A woman’s clothing, mental condition, social situation is no reason to rape her.
This Irish Times article highlights an absurd version of this same idea in the world of cycling. It manifests in two versions. The first is: 1. “If you get hit on your bicycle, it’s your fault; what were you doing on the road anyway?” 2. “Car drivers can’t see everything, if a cyclist is hit that’s on them because they weren’t visible enough.”
These are nothing more than blaming the victim just like saying a drunk woman is at fault for getting raped. Getting beyond the clear insanity of the first version of “blame the cyclist,” the recent article highlighted the frustration of cyclists in Ireland with the police pushing for a law requiring bicyclists to wear high visibility clothing. Apparently there was police opinion it cyclists should do something about car drivers driving distracted or not looking at the road. Without understatement, that is insane.
It is a sign of the times that the police in Ireland believe it is the cyclists’ fault for getting hit by cars. If you look at the statistics in the United States and assume drivers are the same across the Western countries, you inevitably come to the conclusion that attitude is prevalent in the U.S. law enforcement community. Other than in a few enlightened large metropolitan communities, I can confirm this bizarre view.
There was another facet of this troubling article: obliviousness to the serious injuries bicyclist sustained being hit by a car. To quote the article: “The fact that car drivers perceived an interaction with a bike as less dangerous than cyclists did could imply that when in interaction with a bike, drivers are not as careful as they should be in avoiding a crash…” this does not bode well for the average commuting cyclist.
This attitude “cycling crashes can’t injure you” comes from a few ignorant sources. The first perfidious myth is: “You are just riding on a bicycle how badly can you be hurt?” The second is “if the folks on the Tour de France just jump up, every cyclist who’s been in a crash should do the same.” Perhaps the most widespread source now is YouTube. The stupid human tricks you see on the videos all end with the injured person grimacing and grabbing their are injured body part. The clip stops and the viewer feels no pain.
Cyclist are not on YouTube or the Tour de France. Those crashes you see? People are hurt and hurt badly sometimes as in stage 9 of the 2017 Tour, you just don’t see it on the YouTube clip or the race play by play. The average television viewer sees cyclists just jump up after crash and assume those riders aren’t injured. Perhaps that is where the difference in
Attitudes must change. Bicylists get hurt and motorists are required to not hurt them. Under Florida law, (316.027(1)(b)2) cyclists are vulnerable users. Their rides on the public road are not fodder for some “stupid human trick” video for YouTube. There are serious injuries from even a 5 mile an hour impact with a car. Brain injuries, sub-dural hematomas, broken hands, broken faces, broken skulls, broken shoulders, broken clavicles, broken forearms, torn and detached biceps, triceps, rotator cuff ligaments, anterior cruciate ligaments… and on and on and on.
Under Florida law (316.2065 (10)), bicycles have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicles when they’re on the public roadway. Nothing could be plainer than the legal actuality: bicycles are vehicles. More specifically stated, this is the “Same road, same rights” as the Florida Bicycle Association so eloquently puts it in it’s educational materials. It is an absurdity for any law enforcement agency to require cyclist to do more than the other vehicles on the road. Would it be appropriate for all cars to have flashing yellow lights on the roofs to announce their presence? Or perhaps hi-viz yellow paint on all cars so large trucks and commercial vehicles can see them better at night?
It’s the same thing as a rapist saying “she was asking for it” because she was drunk, asleep, wearing miniskirt, kissing passionately, etc. ….. you get the picture. Bicyclist cannot be blamed when drivers are driving distracted or not paying attention to the road. Bicyclist should not be required to wear high visibility clothing no more than car should be required to wear high visibility paint so trucks won’t run them over. Motorists should be responsible for their actions on the road- like not texting, paying attention, realizing they are driving a dangerous instrumentality- a motor vehicle.
If you are injured and searching the web for an attorney, stop clicking.
I am a full-service personalized, personal injury lawyer with a statewide practice in all 67 counties. I am a cyclists like you, but I have 31 years of experience helping cyclists recover from injury of whatever making. Call me so I can answer your questions: 1-800 – 535 – 3002. Email: JSteele@JSteelelaw.com Skype: ScienceCan Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JSteeleLaw/ Twitter: @JSteeleOlmstead or @FlaBicyleLawyr Whatsapp: J. Steele Olmstead Instagram: jsteeleolmstead.
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