Friday, March 29, 2013

Dirge Without Music

(warning.  unfunny and unhappy)

If you have been around and survived more than one rant you may recall that I completely lost my shit a month or so back when I came across a white child's bicycle chained up to mark the place where a pick-up truck killed a fourteen year old girl.  If you think that my selective memory took over and I have conveniently forgot about that child or her family you would be mistaken.  I think of her often.  I daydream of a special car-free route from her neighborhood to her school that would be named in her honor.  I think about fire-bombing that piece of shit corner where she was killed, also in her honor.

I am tormented because beneath my pissed off countenance lies a nearly endless pool of fondness for children and for bicyclists.  I am unhappy because I have my own fourteen year old who loves to bicycle and I sense that the day will come when she will be out there, as I am, and it can be dangerous out there but how can I deprive her of the feeling of being a falcon that takes flight with the most ordinary of circumstances, a bicycle?  I cannot deprive her.  

I haven't done anything very constructive to change the world since this death in the next town over, and this embarrasses me, but despite my silence I do not approve and I am not resigned.  Maybe you bicyclists will be interested to hear that it is said that this fourteen year old girl was at fault in the collision that killed her.   It's said that she should have slowed down, she should not have gone into the turn at the same time as the pick-up truck, side by side as if they were equals when we all know that they were not equals.  There is a lot in this article that is not said.

It is not said that we should change that corner so that only children bicycling to school can make a turn before reaching the traffic light.

It is not said that too many children have died, that we must ensure that this is the last fourteen year old to be killed and we should build a separate infrastructure for bicycles.

It is not said that every day people driving cars and trucks and sport utility vehicles do not slow down or show caution and care as they drive past their neighbors and their neighbor's children.

It is not said that we could do better.  That we must do better.

Instead, it is said that this fourteen year old girl, adored by her friends and family, missed by her community, is an acceptable casualty, that she made a mistake, that we agree that there is nothing to learn from this death.

Do you know software?  If you are running a program, and it behaves in an unexpected way, perhaps fails to log a change or display a result or maybe it shuts down altogether?  That's a bug.  You encounter a bug and you file a bug report and that report is picked up by the software engineers who support that product.  They look at the bug, they try and reproduce your results, they run the software in debug mode, and sometimes quickly and sometimes after a lot of time goes by they find the problem and they correct the code and submit a change list and verify the fix.  Then they mark the bug as fixed.  Sometimes they just cannot reproduce the bug and they mark the report "could not reproduce." Sometimes they discover that the problem was with the user and they respond to the user saying what was done wrong and they mark the bug "working as intended."

Is this death, our idea of "working as intended"  Really?  REALLY?

I do not approve.  I am not resigned.  I ask, "How many more children and parents and friends and sisters and brothers have to die before we agree that it is important for people to travel to work and to school in safety?


  1. That those in "authority" can so casually dismiss a crash like this by saying it was a 14 year olds fault for her own death makes me want to vomit. Since when does it make sense that our children are supposed to 'look out' for the adults driving multi-ton vehicles on our streets. We seem to have our priorities exactly backwards.

    1. It didn't make sense to the Dutch in the 1970s. They really got mad about their kids being killed on the road and built safer road and bikeways. Apparently it makes sense to Americans though, which pretty much breaks my heart.