When Will The Car Murders Stop? - And Response (3)

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023
As a pedestrian and bicyclist here in Chattanooga our community is fed up with the constant threat of being murdered by a car.

We need slower traffic safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists and, if we do it correctly, car drivers will be mad and they will veraciously complain to the city. I might even complain, but this is proof that it’s working, not a reason to abandon it. Too many times the city has run away and acquiesced to a few complaints
When complaints from drivers come in this is proof that it’s working to save lives.

A Fact: By slowing traffic we can save many lives every year

A Fact: if we create better waking and cycling infrastructure we will save lives every year

A Fact: if our streets are consistently patrolled for unsafe driving we will save lives every year

A Fact: if we eliminate right turn on red in our city we will save lives every year

A Fact: if we rework dangerous intersections and eliminate opportunities to drive fast we will save lives every year

A Fact: if we put a real leader in charge of CDOT who cares about such things we will save lives every year.

Jaywalking should not be against the law, attempting to murder pedestrians should be.

Hit a pedestrian or bicyclist with a car and you are at fault until proven otherwise.

Let’s do it now before more innocent people are murdered by cars.
Cars are being used as weapons and it needs to stop now.

John Mathna

* * *

The recent injury and loss of life on Frazier Avenue is tragic, but "car murders" sounds almost like a term a bicycle salesman would create to play on the emotions of citizens and elected officials.

Speed breakers in that area would greatly reduce the risk for pedestrians. The same for Georgia Avenue.

However, bicycles are toys and do not belong on the road with motorized vehicles - no matter how much money Chattanooga's spandex-clad do-gooders spend on them. If we are going to create transportation policy to cater to cyclists, we may as well allow folks to roller skate in lanes of traffic, or shoot skeet at intersections, or play jacks on exit ramps.

Go ride your overpriced children's toys on one of the many trails in the area, or terrorize pedestrians with them on the Riverwalk. Stop demanding that those of us who drive motorized vehicles cater to your pedaling fetish.

Kevin Hargis

* * *

Now, I'm not saying I disagree with the general concept of pedestrian and cyclist danger that is expressed by Mr. Mathna. I haven't walked around downtown in more than a decade, so my past survival may not reflect present circumstances. I have ridden thousands of miles on a variety of bicycles, though, in urban, suburban, and rural conditions, and have experienced nearly everything that motorists (and dogs) can do to endanger cyclists.

My disagreement is with the expansive but vague way some seemingly reasonable concepts are often stated. We're regularly assaulted with fraudulent statistics, and citing possibilities as certainties to make a point is just as bad.

Here's just one debatable item in the latest list of six 'facts': "A Fact: if we eliminate right turn on red in our city we will save lives every year."

That surprised me. I didn't realize we'd had a rash of right-turn-on-red deaths lately. I don't recall hearing that a legal right-turn-on-red was a major contributing factor in any local death. If such a trend is occurring, that should be easy enough to confirm; the data will be in city records. Go ahead and dig out the numbers and prove the point. Give us an accurate year-by-year count of lives lost in Chattanooga because of motorists legally turning right after stopping at a red light. (Oh, yeah, there may be a couple of barbs in that last sentence -- "legally," and "after stopping ... .")

In general, if a motorist is legally turning right at an intersection after stopping at a red light, and if everyone else around is also behaving legally, then nobody should be in danger. But if a pedestrian walking against the red light and talking on a cell phone steps off the sidewalk in front of a turning vehicle, who is really at fault? If an impatient or self-entitled cyclist cheats on the law somehow while a driver is performing a legal maneuver, who's really to blame?

So how often does such legal activity by a driver result in the death of a pedestrian or cyclist in Chattanooga? I don't know; it isn't my crusade. If you want to prescribe the behavior of everyone in a motor vehicle, show us the real statistics that prove the motorists are the bad guys. I have a strong suspicion that if everyone on the streets and on the sidewalks meticulously obeyed the abundant laws that are already in effect, then every harmful incident would be a true accident -- something that no law could prevent.

That's only reasonable, isn't it?

Larry Cloud

* * *

Mr Hargis,
Bicycles are not just toys or exercise equipment. Bicycles are transportation. Of the thousands of miles I have put on my bike in the past few years, 90 percent of them were taking my son to school, getting to work, or running errands. Occasionally I'll take a leisure cruise, in which case I usually do stay off the roads and instead stick to the recreational trails, but for the most part I need to cycle on the road because I need to get to my destination, same as you. 

My choice of vehicle does not make me any less important than those who choose to take a car. And thankfully state law backs this up:

TCA 55-8-172 - "Every person riding a bicycle or electric bicycle, as defined in Section 2 of § 55-8-301, upon a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle..."

Now we can go back and forth with "whataboutisms" regarding whether drivers or cyclists violate more traffic laws, but the simple fact remains - in practice and under the law - bicycles are vehicles for transportation. 

Nathan Bird
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