Yesterday, for the first time ever, I dialed 911 from my cellphone.
I was riding through SoDo, behind a red Jeep, when I noticed a stop light ahead. I applied my brakes, but the Jeep did not. As I rolled to a stop, the Jeep smashed into a white van in front of us, totalling the Jeep and sending shards of debris flying.
I ran up to both drivers, made sure they were both conscious and moving (they were), and then called 911.
Fortunately, the vehicle occupants were fine, but unfortunately, they will live to crash another day. Had the Jeep been behind me instead of in front of me, I would currently be dead. 5 seconds and luck are all that caused me to be behind this inattentive driver. Had the Jeep driver killed me, he would have gotten points on his license and perhaps have to pay higher insurance rates, but he would be back on the streets very soon.
This brings me to my point.
Over the past several months, I’ve watched with amused interest as the pro-tunnel, anti-McGinn crowd has done everything in their power to paint bicyclists as the scourge of Seattle.
“Bicyclists are freeloaders because they don’t have to get car tabs!”
“Bicyclists are freeloaders because they don’t have to get insurance!”
“I work downtown, and I get run over by a bicyclist EVERY DAY!”
“Bicyclists slapped my mamma, killed my grandpappy, and brutally kicked my dog!”
Think I’m exaggerating?
Search the Seattle Times or P.I. for any articles relating to “Downtown Tunnel”, and read the comments below each article. If you aren’t slapping your knee and laughing hysterically by the eighth comment, I submit that you’re comatose. There are dozens upon dozens of just such comments under each and every article.
Now, does the Times or P.I. ever rebut any of this nonsense?
As usual, stating the obvious and offering common-sense to the masses usually falls to the alternative media, so without further ado:
Worldwide it was estimated in 2004 that 1.2 million people were killed (2.2% of all deaths) and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions.
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of injury death among children worldwide and are the sixth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
In Canada, motor vehicles cause 48% of all severe injuries.
In the United States in one year alone, 45,800 die in automobile accidents, and 2.4 million are injured. This is roughly 1 in 120 people in the USA, or just under 1% of the population, per year. Extrapolated over an average lifespan of 75 years, it’s at least theoretically probable that most Americans will be injured by an automobile.
According to pro-tunnel advocates, however, unlicensed bicyclists are the real threat to Seattleite safety. Bicycles don’t have license plates, don’t pay insurance, and are thus leaving maimed-yet-uncompensated pedestrians in their wake. It’s a veritable slaughter out there.
Is this true, though? Compared to automobile accidents, how many people really are killed or injured at the hands of bicyclists?
The answer is that we don’t know. The numbers are so small that records are not kept.
Here’s the thing, though. I live in Downtown Seattle. Every morning, I go out for a ride, and every afternoon, I take a long walk from the Financial District to Belltown. In-between, I shop at Pike Place Market, Westlake Park, and scores of other businesses.
At this point in time, aside from cops and homeless people, I probably spend more cumulative hours on the streets and sidewalks of Downtown Seattle than any other person on planet earth.
This being the case, surely, I am dodging maniac bicyclists left and right. Right? I mean, given the supposed prevalence of the problem, I’ve probably been knocked over at least a dozen times. Right?
After hundreds of cumulative hours pounding the pavement in 2011, I’ve been sideswiped or almost run over by bicyclists a grand total of … zero times.
That’s correct. Zero as in nil. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
But, but, how could this be? The comment section of the Seattle Times and P.I. is rife with stories of pedestrians dramatically jumping out of the way to avoid being dismembered by bazooka-wielding, spandex-clad bicycle terrorists.
Well, guys, after careful consideration, I’ve come up with the only hypothesis that makes sense:
And really, why wouldn’t they? If I had an anonymous screen name and no audience, I might lie too. It’s human nature. We desperately want to persuade people that we are right, and sometimes the best way to do that is just to lie our ass off.
“Obama wants to kill old people with death panels!”
“Drugs are evil because they turn people into zombies!”
“We have to go to war because Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons!”
“Every hour the tunnel is delayed, the taxpayer loses $80 billion and a baby seal gets cancer!”
“Mayor McShwinn and entitled Seattle bicyclists are out of control! They want the transit budget all to themselves and they are engaged in an all-out war on motorists!”
Face it folks, lies are the basis for all public policy. Lies are how lobbyists get their way, and lies are how our legislators convince us to go along with it.
Unfortunately, lies are the basis for all of the anti-bicycle, anti-McGinn, pro-tunnel rhetoric coming out of Seattle lately.
The primary threat to the health, welfare, and safety of most Seattleites is, was, and always will be the private automobile and the highly unskilled masses who operate them.
If you want to relieve congestion and make the streets safer, don’t build tunnels, revoke the licenses of people who have no business driving in the first place. People who rear end large vans at red lights. People who don’t take the task of piloting a 3,000lb craft at high speeds on narrow city streets seriously.
If we started revoking licenses and giving bicycles to the convicted, they would very quickly learn how to drive defensively and responsibly. You don’t rear-end someone at high-speed if it means your own demise. You don’t change lanes without looking when you’re on a 25lb vehicle without airbags or seat belts. You don’t talk on a cellphone when you need all of your senses to make it from Belltown to Pioneer Square on one piece. You don’t take as many chances when you aren’t surrounded by 3,000lbs of reinforced steel.
If drivers were forced to spend a year or two commuting on a bicycle, or even a scooter, they would have no choice but to learn how to pay attention while on the road. They wouldn’t need tabs nor insurance to encourage them to do so. Their own life would depend on it.
If we were to take this one small step, not only would we save the taxpayers of Washington $3 Billion, but we would also make the streets of Seattle a much, much, safer place for our citizens.