Monday, May 26, 2008

Go Blog About It!

As I sit down to a healthy helping of yet another book on the questionable activities of highly funded US Government Agencies, I pause to reflect upon my weekend, and a particular incident comes to mind which I feel could serve as an interesting blog post. Now, I don't like blogging about personal experiences: the whole process seems somewhat self indulgent. So hopefully I'll be able to get past that quickly and on to a broader issue that made me consider this particular scenario.

The self indulgent setup:

So on Saturday, post training, I sauntered over to Commonwealth Park on the shores of lake Burley-Griffin, to partake in the inaugural Canberra Ride of Silence. The Ride of Silence, originally started some years ago in the USA, is to remember the cyclists injured or killed on the roads of this world, and raise awareness about cyclists and our status as road users.

The ride itself was good, but it's not really the foundation of the story. What happened to me after is: I was cycling (funnily enough) home, when I stopped at some traffic lights, because I'm one of those nice, law abiding cyclists. I was in the right lane, as is my right, to turn right, because this particular road had no cycle lanes or shared path. I'm waiting, minding my own business, when a cement mixer (known to others as a Concrete Transport Truck) comes up behind me, and attempts to run me over.

Now, I'm aware that such vehicles are not only on a limited schedule due to the possibility that their load will dry. However, I saw this guy leaving a construction site, so I'm going to say that this wasn't a priority. Next, I'm also aware that these things weigh many, many tons, so their braking is not exactly the same as, let's say, a bicycle. However, I was stopped. At a red light. With traffic flowing quite steadily in the perpendicular street. So this guy is beeping his horn, and I'm forced to hop a median strip into the opposite flow of traffic and get to the sidewalk. The guy flips me the bird (for those who are not familiar with this colloquialism, it is the sign one makes with one's middle finger that indicates your patent disregard for another), then waits at the red light another 15 seconds until he turns right onto London Circuit and moseys off.

Well, I, somewhat irate, head to the local police station, more in the spirit of inquiring whether there is any chance I can get this grade-A [insert favourite profanity here] put into a spaceship and fired into the sun, or at the very least slapped over the wrist. And I'm informed that there is nothing they can do. it'd be my word against his, no witnesses I could rack up, and no property damages. That, and there is no real classification that fits into the "the bastard tried to kill me!" category that he'd fit into. Reckless driving, maybe. And, when all things are considered, the only crime admittedly committed is that I hopped a median strip into the opposite flow of traffic to make my escape. So, that was that. I'm going to ring the company he belonged to (the joys of advertising on the sides of one's trucks), quote his vehicle rego and the time, and demand that they utilise one of their own spacecraft to launch him into the sun, or at least the unemployment line.

The somewhat less self indulgent point:
It would appear to me that an immoral act was committed. This particular verminous piece of automobile driver put not only mine, but potentially others lives in danger. 1 If I had been a car driver, I would have been a) crushed, or b) forced into the perpendicular stream of traffic which, contrary to normal Canberra traffic, was actually rather busy. However, because I had the good sense to save myself, there is no legal recourse for the sheer venom with which this human approached me. Now, I'm not particularly worried about such things for my own person (shot-into-the-sun aside), but it intrigues me that this man had no way of knowing the quality of my bicycle riding skills. So his malice was directed at me either with no concern as to my status as any type of human being, or directly as my status as a person on a bicycle. Both unsettle me.

So pose this question, because I have no ideas of my own: what type of justice is there for those with no legal recourse for an evidently immoral act committed against them? Is it enough that they know? What in the case of someone who obviously takes a disinterest in your continued living? How does one explain this apparent discrepancy between someone in my society trying to off me and my societies inability to a) protect me or b) prevent this from happening again/to someone else?

1 - On reflection, the ultimate tactical decision on my part would have been to hop the median strip myself, and leave my bike to be run over, demand compensation and get that fixie I've been wanting. But I am somewhat attached to my current bike, both in the quasi-romantic sense and in the quite literal sense, in that I use high-tension clipless pedals. Regardless, I'm not willing to get myself killed just on principle, either to score a new bike or to demonstrate this man's error.

No comments: