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?

Monday, March 25, 2013

What I really wanted to say. Also, WAY TOO LOUD.

One reason I had to start writing here was because I lied (not just a little either, pretty much all the time) whenever people would talk to me about bicycling.  They'd say "I don't know how you can do it!" and I'd kindof simper prettily and smile and hate myself in the morning because what I really wanted to say to them was "if you got off your sorry ass once or twice a year you might be amazed at what you could do."  In keeping with that, there is this one thing I reliably hear that I have been routinely extra-nice about, because on an important quiet level I sympathized with the sentiment.

What I hear:  I'd like to ride my bicycle to work but I'm too scared to do so.
What I say:  Yeah well I get that.  Cars can be really scary.  Choosing a good route can make all the difference though, where are you coming from?
What is slowly dawning on me:  It's total horseshit.  They aren't scared at all.  They've never bicycled to work, they have no idea if it would be scary or not.  If they have any ideas on the topic they come from driving like a total bastard and scaring themselves.  
With this new understanding, what I would really like to say (but probably will never be drunk enough for it unfortunately):  "A coward dies a million deaths, a hero dies but once."  So wander off, Coward, and piss on someone else's parade.  You're tedious.

Yes the weather here has been lovely.  Thanks for asking.  Onward.

Probably three weeks back now it is Friday and I am happily pedaling my way home for the weekend.  I do not make the traffic light at Charleston and Amp and I pull up behind a very shiny black sports car.  It's a long light and I have time to consider the shiny car.  The label on the back says "Lamborghini."  Ok.  It's a Lamborghini.  Whatever, right?  Wrong, my friends.  Wrong.  A mid-sized sedan pulls up immediately to the right of the shiny car and windows are rolled down.  High pitched squealing emits from mid-sized sedan.  The softy-looking Laborghini driver responds by gunning the apparently massive fucking engine of his car which, if you will recall, I am immediately behind.  Me.  Not in a car.  With nothing in between me and what feels like about a billion decibels.  Do you know that expression "made my ears bleed"?  Turns out having your ears bleed is super unpleasant.  

The revving stops so that the two monkeys can return to assessing each other's genitalia,  I have time to look around and see a bunch of guys, also on their way home from work, all driving Nissan Leafs or Prii.  They look tense and unhappy but not deaf.*  To those guys I say "Don't look so worried.  No woman worth keeping is attracted to you because your car is loud.  Just saying.  It's like attracting a guy by stuffing toilet paper in your bra, eventually you'll be in bed and he's going to notice the difference.  

...and revenge is always there and always fresh and interesting.  The light turned green and the black car stomped on the gas and exploded out of the gate and I started pedaling.  Pedal-pedal.  As I biked across the 101 overpass I looked down and saw the usual bumper to bumper parking lot that is the 101 on Friday during rush hour.  And I saw that the Lamborghini hadn't even made it onto the highway.  He was stuck in traffic waiting to get onto the highway which when he finally arrived at would translate into more traffic.  

Buh-bye you worthless jerk.  Maybe if the traffic gets bad enough some floozy in a sedan will crawl in your window and show you a shallow time.