Yes, I know. It has been a long while since my last post. However, sometimes real life intervenes, and in this instance “real life” means changing jobs and returning to the friendly confines of New England, abandoning once and for all the bicyclist-infested hellscape that is our nation’s capital.
To make up for my long absence, I present to you this offering: an absolutely beautiful piece of hate mail from an angry sexagenarian. The simple knowledge that my work has inspired someone to waste what was likely several hours of what limited life they may have left makes it all worthwhile.
Here it is in its entirety:
“Now, if an individual had attacked me in this way without a car, then it would have been a shocking assault that would have ended in court. But as my attacker was car-borne, it’s no such thing. Why is this so? Why are car-borne assaults of this kind deemed so trivial and understandable? Why can people knock you flying, mangle your property, and then think it reasonable, if they were in a car at the time, to say they were terribly sorry, they don’t know how it happened, they’ve never had an accident before, etc , etc,”
“In the case of the driver the danger is almost entirely to others, and hardly at all to him or her. Seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, side-impact protection, airbags and the rest have in the past few years made the occupants of cars incredibly safe in almost anything short of a head-on collision.
I think this has encouraged a subconscious (FOR THE RECORD, I DON’T EVEN THINK IT IS SUBCONSCIOUS) carelessness which is really, really important where there are pedestrians or cyclists within range. For they, unlike the car-borne, are not safer. On the contrary. Drivers of cars, and even buses, accelerate and brake more violently, drive faster, go round corners as if they could see round them, when they can’t, and take less care because of these safety devices which surround them. The risks to us soft targets increase. I was surprised how badly I and the bike were bashed, at what must have been a very low-speed impact. They are also just that bit more careless than they otherwise would be.”
“Anyway, this is just one of a dozen reasons why I wish cars had never been invented. Their benefits, such as they are, don’t begin to counterbalance the damage they do, the ugliness, noise and desolation they bring to city and countryside alike”.
The above quotes are from an article by Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail journalist. Now for me –
I am sixty six years of age and have never owned a car. When I was younger (in my teens and early twenties) everyone but everyone was getting a car; and I thought “Yeh, that is the trend”. I gave some thought to the proposition, the negatives outweighed the positives – in fact there were no positives as far as I was concerned. One particular negative hit me hard “Jesus! I could easily kill someone if I owned a car”.
Five years later I got myself a push bike. My innocent way of thinking concluded cycling was cheap, healthy, and harmless. I wasn’t aware then of how power and status conscious people were; to their way of thinking bikes were were for peasants and paupers – never occurs to such people that there are other things in this world than power and status. I once cycled to a work social occasion, I recall the barely hidden ridicule and horror from my work colleagues.
I was once practically thrown off a housing development site (I went with a view to a purchase) because I had the temerity to turn up on a bike.
Power and status.
In the UK over thirty thousand people have been killed on our roads in the last ten years, ONE QUARTER OF THEM PASSIVE PEDESTRIANS. Hundreds of thousands have been seriously injured, again ONE QUARTER OF THEM PASSIVE PEDESTRIANS – serious means life changing injuries, loss of limbs, loss of eyes, brain damage etc. Minor injuries would be close to one million.
The penalty for killing someone in the UK is a life sentence. The penalty for serious violent assault is ten, fifteen, even twenty years in jail. Those who kill, or injure, whilst driving a car receive the equivalent of a slap on the wrist – driving a car is a licence to kill or seriously injure.
There is no such thing as a car ACCIDENT. The moment anyone gets behind the wheel of a car they become potential killers. If a guy goes out with a knife or a loaded gun, in the UK at least, they are committing an offence. It is the modern world and powerful lobby groups which have created a situation whereby a certain group of people are allowed to kill and maim with limited consequence for themselves.
The private motor car is the vilest thing on our planet. As well as killing and maiming, it desecrates our town, cities, and residential areas. It pollutes, and pollutes to the extent that it kills even more indirectly (heart disease, pulmonary disorders etc) than it kills directly.
But of course all of this is the price we pay for progress, power and status – most surely more worthy than a few dead peasants.
Kindest regards (not)
It’s a work of art. Breathtaking in its perfection. From the assertion that “the private motor car is the vilest thing on our planet” (come on man, have you ever SEEN a lamprey?) to the absolutely astonishing statement that it took FIVE YEARS of careful consideration before deciding to buy a bike. I mean listen, bikes aren’t for me, but if I came to the conclusion that cars were the devil, I doubt it would take me five fucking years to notice that there actually ARE other types of vehicles. Five years, man! Five years!
PS. I gotta admit he got me with the “(not)” though. I kind of thought we had come to an understanding by the end there and then BOOM the rug gets pulled right out from under me. Just an absolutely brutal diss to end with, I am floored, just floored by the disrespect.