I posted this in road biking as I saw something similar there. I was told to post it here. More than anything I just wanted to express my thoughts. This is not to propose anything or argue a point of view. Just some stuff I wanted to express. I am new most of this can change. I am trying to get a feel for what it means to be a biker.
I am new to road biking and being hit by a car scares me quite a bit. I think that fear is always why I stuck with running and swimming. I am starting to love cycling, so I guess I just have to weigh the risk like we all do.
As far as jumping all over cell phones - to me that is misplaced. We cannot legislate out distracted driving. Think about it - it would be impossible to really stop.
The following is distracted driving:
On the phone
changing song on ipod plugged into stereo
changing radio station if not on the wheel - if Sat radio it is much worse
trying to get the sleeve back on your starbucks coffee
trying to see where you just spilled said coffee
dropping part of muffin, fries, etc
looking at GPS or sheet of directions
reaching back to give 4 year old their toy
reaching back to give 10 month old pacifier
and the list goes on
We can lobby officials, put bumper stickers on our cars, get petitions signed, toss magnetic stickers on cars as they drive by, flip people off, or come on here and post and these are not going away.
I WISH WISH WISH it were different, but driving a car is one of the most significant risks we enter into every day. Riding a motorcycle is much worse. I am not sure statistically where biking comes in on a per mile basis. Bottom line is that the thing we love increases our risk of dying or being severely hurt.
As far as punishment . . . I do not know the legal system very well at all, so take this with a grain of salt. As long as people go in front of a jury of their peers, tossing the book at people or getting higher level of charges is not going to happen. People are human. They darn well know they do a thousand things in the car when they drive. This makes them much less likely to agree to big charges. Additionally I am sure there are plenty of people who, at some level, think that if you bike or ride a motorcycle you are sort of waiving some rights to safety. I am not agree with this, but I think we would be wrong to think otherwise. Now mandatory minimums or huge minimum fines (like with road workers) would help?
Another topic . . . bike lanes. I am not sure wider streets and bike lanes really are that much safer - this is not based on stats, it is based on observation. Two examples. I drive from time to time on a road called Meridian here in Indy. Between like 60th and 38th it is 4 lane (2 each way) with absolutely no room on either side. It was very tight before the SUV explosion. When I observe people driving on it (or myself) people pay very close attention. I pay more attention there than anywhere. Take a second road that is wide. People (me included) are more likely to do all kinds of stuff as they drive as there is a feeling of lower risk or increased safety.
I think the only think that we can do is to try to do better ourselves and remind our friends to do the same. I know I try much harder now than I used to.
That and prey (if you are a person of faith) or wear a lucky item. Just as every time you drive - when you leave to bike tell your spouse/kids/friends/family that you love them dearly. If you are a parent or spouse then have life insurance (but you should anyway).
I do not mean to offend - I am like all of you in that I wish to never hear or read about a biker being killed. And I really hope not to be the person named in such an article.