COPIED in full from the article !
SAYs it so much better than i can !
Drivers, give teen bike riders like me a break
By Luke Allingham December 8, 2013 6:48PM
His Website : http://t.co/kxPBU8ZC8f
Dear Automobile Drivers,
I am a 15-year-old cyclist, and though I have become more experienced on my bike over the past few years, I still feel very uncomfortable when I ride on the busier traffic-filled streets of Chicago.
It’s not the potholes or confined spaces that make me uncomfortable; it’s that I don’t trust the drivers who surround me in vehicles that weigh up to several thousand pounds. I dream of changing this. I want to see the cycling community reach a day when we don’t read about multiple riders dying each week.
Whenever the problem of cyclist safety is discussed, there usually is a backlash from drivers who blame the cyclists. News reporters and government authorities, such as the police, don’t help the situation. Reporters often conclude the cyclist was at fault. Police and prosecutors, especially in the United States, often make the problem worse by failing to file charges against the driver.
I admit that not all cyclists follow the traffic laws, failing for example to obey red lights and stop signs. I also know that some cyclists who have been hit by cars caused or played a part in the collision. But there has to be shared accountability. In 2011 in the United States, 667 cyclists died in collisions with automobiles. There is plenty of misjudgment on both sides.
Without placing all blame on drivers, I still would argue that all too often you are the ones seriously endangering the lives of cyclists. Whether it’s a simple “accident” where you’re not paying close enough attention, intentionally hitting us, yelling at us or threatening us, you’re endangering us.
You cannot believe that a driver would intentionally hit a cyclist? It happens more often than you think. In May, a cyclist was killed by an automobile in downtown Los Angeles; authorities later declared that the crash was intentional. In Norfolk, England, a driver, Emma Way, hit a cyclist, Toby Hockley, with her car, and then took to Twitter to boast that she’d knocked a cyclist off his bicycle. She wrote: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have the right of way — he doesn’t even pay road tax!” She later was convicted of a crime. Though hard to believe, some drivers do purposely attempt to hit cyclists.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Though not well-known to the general public, there is a community I label “bike haters.” They spew hate and make threats toward cyclists on various social media sites, especially Twitter, which is popular among cyclists. The posts range from simple comments such as “I hate cyclists on the road” to the posting of video of specific cyclists and criticizing them. Get that bike off the road and on to the sidewalk, they often warn, or they’ll hit you. I wonder how many people are aware that it’s illegal in most cities and states to ride bicycles on sidewalks past a specific age. In Chicago, the age limit is 12.
There is an increased awareness that cyclists are being verbally attacked, thanks in part to cyclists who record their rides with GoPro cameras. In the last month, I’ve seen two different videos in which a citizen verbally harassed a cyclist — simply for being on a bike.
You may wonder — I hope you will wonder — how you can help. First and foremost, of course, never intentionally hit a cyclist, and if you do hit one, don’t flee the scene. Second, keep calm if a cyclist aggravates you. Everyone on the planet makes mistakes. Third, if you see a driver or citizen harassing a cyclist, attempt to break up the confrontation so it doesn’t escalate. Fourth, follow the laws of your city and state when driving near a cyclist. If there is a law requiring three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist, give us the three feet (the more room we have, the better). Lastly, please help spread awareness of this problem. Remind your family, friends and co-workers that cyclists are human beings, too, who usually want to live life safely.
We can make our roads safer. We shouldn’t have to read stories every week about another cyclist being killed.
Luke Allingham is a sophomore at Amundsen High School and lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood."
This young fellow has been Tweeting and interviewing many of the current crop of Cycling Stars . Wonder if he will support this initiative :
23 days and 8 have signed ! Penalties apply to those who join ? NO !
When Luke wonders why Cyclists suffer , he has to look NO FURTHER !