My Turn: Dehumanizing cyclists is a rocky road
Please allow me the opportunity to respond to the letter “Bicycle threat” in the May 23 Sierra Sun. As a year-around, North Tahoe bicycle commuter and longtime bicycle enthusiast, I found the letter to be not only inaccurate, but irresponsible and even offensive. To begin, the writer refers to bicycles as “creatures” and “a threat.” This seems to be an attempt to dehumanize the men, women and children who are riding those bicycles.
That’s right ” there are human beings pedaling those contraptions. The tactic of dehumanizing the “enemy” has been used by despots and dictators to justify the terrorization of others throughout the ages. I shudder to think how easily the mindset could lead from bicycle, to creature, to threat, to target.
The writer goes on to imply that all bicyclists ignore traffic laws. He writes that “they run red lights … they don’t signal for turns, they don’t stay in their lanes,” and “they speed down hills.” Now, I cannot be the only person to have noticed automobile drivers not yielding for pedestrians at crosswalks, not signaling for turns, changing lanes through an intersection, or speeding through Martis Valley (or down Glenshire Drive, or even Donner Pass Road, for that matter).
Which one of these sets of circumstances seems to be more of a threat? I am not trying to imply that multiple wrongs make a right. I will say that even though no automobile driver obeys every traffic law al the time, most drivers attempt to operate their vehicle in a safe and predictable manner most of the time. The same hold true for cyclists.
Let us examine the use of the word “they” in n the last paragraph. What if that word was replaced with “Asians” or “female drivers” or maybe “contractors in their F350s.” While any of these may sound like a punchline to a joke, it doesn’t change the fact that each of them would be inaccurate. Now try using “blacks” or “Jews” or “gays.” Do you see What I’m getting at?
I would like to take the time to remind all drivers that it doesn’t matter whether you are passing another automobile, truck, snowplow or bicyclist, it is your responsibility to overtake that vehicle in a safe manner. If you’re afraid that a delay will make you late for work or an appointment, I would recommend that you depart five minutes earlier. Better yet, try leaving 30 minutes earlier and ride a bike.
” Brian Nakagawa is a Tahoe Vista resident