Sad News, Pedestrians and Cars

"Bike Lane" by M.V. Jantzen courtesy of DCist Flickr Pool

DC is a very bike-friendly city. Why only this morning, I was on Capitol Hill and saw a young gent in a suit, slooooooooooooowly pedaling his white-wall-tired fixie uphill. Jerk.

Even in this pedestrian and bike friendly city, I cringe whenever I hear someone say cyclists “share the road”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bikes are lightweight, defenseless insects compared to the lumbering, gargantuan steel dinosaurs that most people tool around in. Add in distracted or just plain terrible drivers, and cyclists are even more at risk. My girlfriend bikes almost everywhere, and even here I’m not totally comfortable when she’s out at night. Call me a worrywort, or worse, but consider this sad story from Maryland.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md.  — A Green Party candidate running for U.S. Senate in Maryland has died after being hit by an SUV while riding her bike.

Maryland State Police say Natasha Pettigrew. 30, died early Tuesday. She was hit by an SUV in Prince George’s County early Sunday.

Police say the woman driving the Cadillac Escalade that hit Pettigrew kept driving nearly four miles to her home, even though the bicycle was still lodged underneath the vehicle.

Police say the woman thought she hit a deer or a dog and didn’t want to stop in the early morning hours. When she and her husband found the bicycle under the SUV, they called police.

A tragic story. It reminds me of Nicholas Taleb’s thesis that we should make society more risk averse, instead of trying to make it more ideal. Striving for ideals hurts people, and ruins lives. Avoiding foreseeable risk means accepting personal responsibility in your community, and necessitates innovation. These are tradeoffs I welcome.

And if any of you bike home tonight, be safe.

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