Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Outrage and Compassion

Someone wrote me and asked how best to channel our outrage at events like the California crash.

This is a very good question. I've been working through that very issue every time I'm involved in an incident with a motor vehicle. I try to not get "outraged" I try to teach the motorist how dangerous their behavior is.

In cases like this one, though, I think some outrage is justified, and I think we need more outrage from ordinary people who aren’t cyclists. In some of the initial reports I read, the press questioned why the cyclists would be on such a "dangerous" road or if they were riding 2 abreast.

There should be some outrage that those are the first questions asked, not what the hell was the deputy doing on the wrong side of the road. So some of the outrage should be directed at the press for their biased reporting. If the deputy had run down a couple kids in a residential neighborhood it would be on the national news. But because he mowed down a couple cyclists in the prime of their life, it's relegated to the local media and the bike blogs.

The outrage should be directed at the department the deputy worked for to insure this doesn't happen again. Reports I've seen say this deputy plea-bargained his way out of a drunk driving charge in 2001. I think this is a valid question to raise, "is this type of person we want patrolling our roads?" It may well be the answer is yes. But until someone other than cycling advocacy groups start asking these questions, I think some outrage is understandable

We need some of that outrage directed at the CHP for the way they are running their investigation. They failed to do a blood test on the officer involved because they didn’t suspect alcohol or drugs. They didn’t suspect, but they didn’t know for sure, so they just left it at that, they didn’t make sure. This is after all a man who plea-bargained his way out of a drunk driving charge once already, and has now killed 2 people. I’m not saying alcohol was in any way involved here, but if the investigating agency isn’t even willing to do the most basic of tests to find out, I think they deserve some outrage.

I think the best way to positively channel our outrage is to contact as many people and agencies as possible. To let them know that something needs to be done to prevent this from happening again, or happening at all in our area and to insure that justice is done in this case, whatever that might be.

But more importantly than outrage, we need compassion for our fellow man. We should all be outraged not because 2 cyclists are dead for no good reason but because 2 human beings are dead for no good reason and another life is forever changed. We all need to understand when we are on the road that it is an awesome responsibility and others lives are at stake. We all need to make sure we do what we can to look out for each other whether we are in cars or on bikes or on foot.


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