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What happened to showing respect for the deceased?

May 11, 2012

Jacksonville, Florida…

3 cyclist hit in 1 week.

2 dead.

1 that was a hit-and-run, the cyclist suffering critical injuries.

I’ve been encouraging folks to ride bikes in a city where not only do our drivers not understand the rules of sharing the road, but are also the kind of drivers that feel the need to make heartless comments on stories about dead cyclists – even dead children who were riding bicycles. I don’t know what to do here in Jacksonville as an advocate. Damned if I encourage more bike riding and damned if I don’t.

The man whom I love dearly has chosen to give up the burdens of car ownership and willingly rides his bike all over this town. He makes mistakes just like every human being and has already been severely injured by a car – an accident where both he and the motorist were at fault. He risks his neck out there every day. If he were to ever get struck again, whether it was his fault or not, I’m sure there would be whole slew of heartless comments coming from a bunch of anonymous internet pussies who don’t know what they’re talking about.

So before you start thinking insensitive things about cyclists, think about this:

First off, everyone needs to be responsible behind the wheel of a car and while riding your bike. Use common sense. It’s not always that simple, but common sense goes a long way if you’re still learning all the rules of the road as a driver and cyclist.

One example of using common sense: When you see a cyclist, child, or pedestrian in your sights, slow down, give them room if you’re trying to pass them, stop if you have to. Keep your eye on them and your foot on the brake.

After you safely pass them, if you’re the kind of person who finds themselves to be impatient and ticked off when you have to be safe around cyclists and pedestrians, ask yourself some simple questions to help you calm down:

  • Was that really so difficult for me?
  • Was it really such a big deal to slow down for that person on a bike so they could safely reach their destination just like what I’m trying to do?
  • Was it really such a big deal to stop for that pedestrian so they could cross this busy road?
  • Did that really take up so much of my precious time?
  • Does my blood boil every single time I have to stop or brake for any reason?

As an expert on these matters, I can very easily answer all of those questions for you:

No.

Secondly, to those who have anything nasty to say about dead cyclists… What is wrong with you? Show some respect. Stop watching so many violent movies and playing violent video games. Obviously you’re so wrapped up in the sensationalism of unedifying, modern entertainment, you’ve grown completely desensitized toward your fellow man. That goes for those of you who say “Oh that’s so sad… BUT… (insert shallow validation point here)”. Would you want someone saying “Oh I’m so sorry for your loss.. BUT…”? Probably not. So keep your opinions to yourself, unless you were an actual witness at the scene, in which case take your comments about what you witnessed to the proper authorities. If you weren’t there, you don’t know anything.

Thirdly, before you spout off about what you think the rules of the road are, make sure you actually know the rules. I’ve found a need to correct every single solitary comment regarding what a typical motorist thinks the rules are as they hastily type out their ignorant comments on Facebook or on news stories for all the world to see. But if I actually attempted to enlighten every car-centric person who feels the need to write ignorant comments about pedestrians on foot or on bikes, I’d have no time for anything else.

Some things to consider before typing out that ignorant comment:

  • Did you know that cyclists have just as many rights to the road as motorists in Florida? A bicycle is a vehicle, and to some, it’s their only vehicle.
  • Did you know that pedestrians always have the right-of-way?
  • Did you know that you have to yield to, and look out for, pedestrians and cyclists no matter what the situation is? It’s true. No matter who’s making what kind of mistake, you as a driver of a large dangerous vehicle must drive safely anyway. It’s as simple as that. Drive safely. Period.
  • Do you think cyclists think they own the road and thus, should be hated and deserve to be struck? Let me ask you something: Do you ever act as if you own the road while driving your car sometimes? I’d bet my left ovary you do. So in that respect, if you think that cyclists deserve to die because they think they own the road, think again. Because that would mean that you deserve to die too, doesn’t it?

And lastly…

  • What if one of your loved ones was a bike rider?

When a person loses the sensation of feeling, they lose their ability to empathize with others.

They lose their ability to connect.

They lose their conscience.

Think before you make an insensitive comment about the deceased.

Jennifer Kubicki

Post referring to these articles:

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Bicyclist-hit-by-bus-on-Atlantic-Boulevard-dies/-/475880/13070600/-/1pkgew/-/index.html

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/article/256200/3/Police-Car-Hits-Bicyclist-in-Jax-Beach-Flees-Scene

http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-05-10/story/jacksonville-man-bicycling-work-becomes-latest-rising-number-traffic

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. chelsea permalink
    May 14, 2012 9:43 PM

    First of all, do not think that I do not feel sympathy for Pascual Sales, the gentleman involved in the hit and run on third street. I sincerely hope that the police bring the motorist to justice. However, my husband is a former EMT who happened to be at the Kangaroo station and watched the entire accident unfold. He passed Pascual as he pulled into the parking lot and it was obvious that Pascual had been drinking heavily. Based on how the motorist was driving and her reaction to the collision, I presume she was drinking as well. I believe that if bicycles are considered vehicles, both parties involved should face dui charges, not just the motorist.

    My other issue with the original post is referring to others, who are entitled to their opinions (however uneducated and insensitive you believe them to be), as “pussies”. This only makes the original poster appear uneducated and unable to handle anyone with an opinion differing from their own. This does not help your cause.

    Again, my husband worked the wreck that night until paramedics and police showed up and based on what he told me, it sounded horrible. My heart goes out to the cyclist and his family. I hope this woman is brought to justice quickly and the family has some recourse for what was done.

    To all motorists, please watch for bicycles. The one that you don’t see could be someone’s father, son, brother, or friend.

    • May 15, 2012 1:22 PM

      Bashing dead cyclists and pedestrians on the internet is very common. And it’s a cowardly thing to do.

      Those who might be offended by my choice words may have found themselves guilty of posting disrespectful things about dead cyclists and pedestrians on the internet where that person’s family can very easily see. Or are guilty of not driving carefully around peds and cyclists. Guilt is what drives them to further defend bad driving or disrespectful commentary. Like, for example, spotting a single curse word in an advocate’s argument and then telling them they’re “uneducated and unable to handle anyone with an opinion differing from their own”.

      Those who know me, know full well I’m educated and open, but also impassioned and not so open-minded that my brain might fall out. Of course I’m going to be upset that there are so many people who would still defend the motorist and find some reason to bash the cyclist, claiming the cyclist got what they deserved. That mentality is the very reason Jacksonville is still the third most dangerous city in the nation. Try as we might to get people to simply understand that you must drive carefully in neighborhoods, bus stops, school zones, or really anywhere where there are pedestrians and cyclists around, we will always get a whole slew of people who insist on spouting off on a different tangent to make themselves feel less guilty. It’s simply a clear indication to me that they, themselves, do not drive safely around pedestrians and cyclists.

      The young woman was driving (possibly under the influence) while going 60 in a 30 on 3rd Street of all places, where pedestrians and cyclists are known to be crawling all over the place, then hit a man, put him in critical condition, and drove off.

      I’m not going to be open-minded toward the motorist’s argument, nor will I be open-minded toward those who choose to defend her. That’s not an inability to handle differing opinions. That’s logic.

  2. chelsea permalink
    May 15, 2012 9:20 PM

    I do not condone the actions of the motorist. Also, I will not defend what she did in any way. However, I am of the opinion that both parties are at fault on one level or another. The motorist should not have been speeding and the cyclist should not have been attempting to ride while intoxicated. You mentioned in you original post that “if you weren’t there, you don’t know” and that you are an open minded person. Yet, below those comments, you state that you “will not be open minded towards the motorists arguements or those who defend her”. An open minded person who did not witness the accident would listen to all sides and filter them for themselves. What your post says to me is “Don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.”

    I did not state that you are uneducated. What I said was that your approach and the use of foul language makes you appear to be so. Perceived value counts for a lot and when people do not perceive value in your statements, it is difficult for them to perceive value in you. It is not what you are saying, but how your are saying it. You do seem like a very passionate person, but there are better ways to influence people than to come off as confrontational. You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

    You say that you are an expert and an advocate. Instead of telling people that they don’t know the rules of the road and leaving it at that, why not try to educate people of the rules of the road. I understand that the subject is something that you feel very strongly about and that’s great. I think there is a better approach to getting your message out there and getting a possitive response to it.

    • May 16, 2012 12:53 PM

      Good thoughts. And hey, we actually do try our best with what resources we have to educate the public. But high profile, public education takes money. We’re working on that. If you don’t know what we’ve already done, what we’re currently working on, or what’s in the works, you ought to come to one of our Brainstorms and get to know us better. Currently we are trying to figure out how to integrate cycling savvy into the drivers ed curriculum.

      What’s especially helpful is when people who make suggestions to the JBC also join us in the cause and help out with their own suggestions. We come across a LOT of folks who like to toss suggestions our way about what they think we need to do, and then scurry back into the shadows, never to be seen or heard from again; people who are not involved in any way with community building or advocacy or anything relating to their suggestions at all – they’re a dime a dozen. But the JBC members who have stuck around, are those who not only felt a need to tell me what I need to do, but have actually joined the cause and spearheaded their ideas to help carry the weight. And I love them for that. They know I can’t do it all, and they also know how it feels to have tons of people telling them what they need to do without an offer to help.

      I appreciate suggestions, especially creative suggestions that come with a plan of action, not just simply the suggestion; even suggestions from strangers off the internet who keep insisting on pointing out a minor mistake in my copy, and whom do not actually want to help do any of the work that we do. Would you like to join us and help see through your idea? Want to be part of the team, or a side-liner screaming from the bleachers, pointing out our mistakes?

      You catch more flies by actually creating that honey, not talking about it.

      This is a sincere challenge I’m giving you. I’d like to meet you, share ideas, and get more accomplished. Sincerely, Chelsea. But I’ve found only those with a strong stomach can handle this stuff, hence the reason I’m not sugarcoating my words here or giving you humble responses. If you’re up for it, this city needs your help. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but with genuinely interested, hardworking, intelligent people like you, the more grueling aspects of cyclist advocacy becomes a lot more bearable. And the more exciting, fun, creative aspects of advocacy become that much sweeter.

      Thanks for your suggestions. See you at the next Brainstorm, Sunday, June 3rd, 3:00 at Three Layers Bakery!

      • May 16, 2012 1:19 PM

        P.S. Warning: Occasionally we JBC members curse.

      • Chelsea permalink
        May 16, 2012 8:40 PM

        I would love to do what I can to help your cause. I work on Sundays until 3:30, but depending how long you guys will be there, I could try make it for part of the get together. What side of town is the bakery on? I am about 2 blocks away from Fletcher High School at the beaches.

        I’m sure that you are more educated on the laws surrounding bicyclists than I am since I own a bike but am not an avid bicyclist. However, both my husband and myself ride motorcycles, so I have some idea of your struggles with raising public awareness. There are several motorcycle groups who host events to raise awareness and try to get motorists to notice what’s on 2 wheels. Perhaps your group could join forces with these folks and everyone would benefit. If both groups worked together to host the event, the cost would not fall completely to one group and you would still get your message out there. If I am not able to attend the brainstorming session on the 3rd, I would be glad to get some contacts for you, if you’re interested. Is there a way to send a private message with this information to you?

        By the way, I am not offended by profanity. I did 12 years of Catholic school, so I’ve heard (and used) far worse than what was in your original post. I just feel that when trying to get the general public to listen to your message and take your cause as seriously as you do, it’s not a good idea to use foul language.

      • May 16, 2012 9:00 PM

        DAMN, you sure do like to harp on that one single curse word in a post that’s meant to make people who hate cyclists feel bad. Shit. Trust me, I edited out a lot of curse words before posting. We’re an underground group of rag tags. At this point in our outward image to the public, I’m okay with not being a bunch of squeaky clean bureaucrats. The fact of the matter is, we’re pissed at motorists who hate on cyclists. People are dying out there and there are so many internet assholes who speak disrespectfully about a person they never knew, and spew out BS about a scenario they were never involved in. That was the whole point of this blog post – that I’m pissed. And I’m okay with showing that I’m pissed at this point in my career as an advocate. Maybe down the road we’ll wash our mouths out and become a non-profit. In the mean time, I think we’re far cleaner than we’re tempted to be.

        Anyway, I have a lot of bikers (motorcyclists) in my family actually, and I’ve driven them, myself. Had to borrow other people’s motorcycles, mostly Harleys, because I couldn’t afford my own.

        You’re absolutely right about the two-wheeler dilemma. Keep in touch and maybe we can collaborate. I don’t want my father who avidly rides a Harley to deal with negligent motorists any more than I want my cyclists colleagues to.

      • Chelsea permalink
        May 16, 2012 9:36 PM

        I love it!!! =) What can I say? The curse word stuck out. =) I agree wholeheartedly about people bashing the injured or dead via a keyboard. It has become the easy way out when you don’t have the courage to say something to someone’s face. Even if you were there to witness what happened, there is a point when it can (and does) go too far.

        I think our misunderstanding stems from my viewpoint on all traffic accidents and injuries in general. I am trained in First Aid and CPR. I am also pursuing a First Responder certification. In my career, I deal with medical records and MD’s. A lot of the records come complete with photos, so I have become very desensitized to anything medical. My husband was an EMT for many years before he retired to take care of his mother. We tend look at situations like this from a very factual and medical aspect. There is not a lot of emotion in it for us. There is simply a job to be done in order to preserve life. While I feel sympathy for the injured, I don’t have an emotional reaction to a car wreck. When faced with someone who is injured the only thing going through my mind is what needs to be done to keep them alive. If you allow your emotions to get in the way when attempting CPR, people die. I can see how my point of view can be taken as cold and unfeeling. That is not the intent behind it. I think that there is a lesson to be learned from every accident. There were definitely lessons to be learned from what happened on 3rd street last week.

        I do have a few links for you if you’re interested. If nothing else, maybe we can get together and ride sometime.

      • May 16, 2012 11:28 PM

        I completely understand your point. Keep in touch, okay.

        Two Wheels for Life!

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