Thursday, September 18, 2008

Everybody Wear The Mask.

Most of you will have probably heard by now that a cyclist was killed on Swanston Street this morning. Apparently she got caught on the tram tracks, fell off, and went under the wheels of one of those tourist buses. Something similar happened to me a week or so ago on Sydney Road, but I was lucky enough just to be stuck under the front wheel of a BMW with anti-lock brakes. It's much worse, of course, when someone has passed away. There's a sense of confusion, like no one has any idea of what they should do. At the rally this evening we just stood around feeling awkward while journalists took photos and interviewed people. The sense of outrage we all feel when a fellow cyclist dies didn't have anywhere to go. Someone probably should have said something, but really, no one seemed to know what to say.

But you know what? I'm still angry, and now that a couple of hours have passed, I know what I want to say. I'm pissed that there are still taxis, buses and delivery trucks on Swanston Street. I'm pissed that the state government put the kybosh on the Copenhagen-style bike lanes along St Kilda Road. And I'm pissed that nearly every single news story on the incident makes mention of cyclists being fuckups in some way - either with the Hell Ride debacle or the pedestrian being knocked over by a cyclist last year. But most of all I'm pissed that almost every day, on the way to or from work, riding out to coffee, or just visiting my friends, my life is put into danger by some motorist who is not looking, not listening or just not paying attention.

The problem now is figuring out what to do. I fully support the aims of Critical Mass, but find their rallies and rides excruciatingly annoying. The Amy Gillett Foundation have the best of intentions, but really, running ads that ask cyclists and motorists to respect each other is about as effective as those 'Look Bike' stickers from the eighties. And I'm a member of Bicycle Victoria, but I kinda feel the same way about them as I do my family - I want to be a part of them, but don't wanna hang out all the time, because we really don't have all that much in common. I'm into direct action, on a very personal level, but can't really figure out who to take action against. It's not like freeing animals or placing yourself in front of a bulldozer. Societal change - which is what is obviously needed here - is way more complicated than that, and takes way longer. But what do we do until that change occurs? Sit back and let more cyclists die? That's simply not good enough.

I don't know what, but I know that something has to be done. And that we have to do it.

The story is on the ABC news right now.

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