Today we will venture down a road that illustrates that justice is not only blind, but that in some cases her eyes have been plucked out, ping-ponged, abused, assaulted and then catapulted off into the wild blue yonder.
It was just last week that Sally clued me into this story.
Go ahead and read it, I’m happy to wait.
Oh, you’re too busy? That’s fine. The short version is that an inattentive Washington driver ran over and killed a person on a bicycle. And for this affront, what punishment did they receive?
That’s right, a $42.00 fine.
This got me to thinking. I have done lots of things in my life that resulted in me signing a check over to THE MAN. I’ve never killed anyone, but I have done some various lesser crimes, and to that end, I know very few people who have not. I thought why not compile a short list of reader’s infractions and the resulting dollar amounts and compare them to the $42.00 dollar fine the young man in Washington has to pay for the act of ending a life.
Ben- Iowa. Drinking in public- $90.00.
Danny- California. Drinking in a city park $180.00.
Karna- Minnesota. Running a red light $130.00
Jason- Missouri. Riding while intoxicated $150.00.
Jessica- New York. Jumping a ticket turnstile. $450.00.
Martin- New York. Public urination $60.00.
Shane- Tennessee. Running a red $50.00.
Mike- California. Running a red light. $380.00.
Nate- Nevada. No brakes, plus 35 mph in a 20 on a bike, $550.00.
Scott- Minnesota. Crossing a Ped/Bike bridge, speeding on Bike, $250.00.
Chip- California. Speeding. On a bicycle. $300.00.
Tyler- California. Speeding. On a bicycle. $63.00
Andrew- Australia, Riding in a crosswalk $180.
Daniel- New York. Running a red light $190.00.
Sean- Massachusetts. Running a red light $150.00.
Lane- Alabama. Peeing on the side of the road $20.00.
Aden- DC. Not putting a foot down when stopping at a stop sign $90.00
Greg- California. Riding in crosswalk $100.00 plus 40 hrs community service (after being hit by a car).
Bjorn- California. Jaywalking $85.00, and $120.00 for running a stop sign in Florida.
Toby- California. Running two stop signs $360.00.
Matthew- Manitoba. Rolling a stop sign $191.00
Why, even I have been on the wrong side of the law from time to time. Easily my most memorable experience was getting hit by a cab in Denver in 1992. As I was traveling west on Colfax, I was t-boned by a cab traveling east and making a left into a Wendy’s parking lot which knocked me onto the hood, and off onto the sidewalk.
I got the ticket.
‘Riding on the sidewalk’ they said. $150.00, thankyouverymuch.
Of course I am not a saint. For jumping a San Francisco public transit turnstile I got a $160.00 fine, and the last parking ticket I received in Oakland was in fact, $42.00.
Had I known that I could have gotten away with cold blooded murder for the same amount, I certainly would have gotten my money’s worth.
By presenting this list I’m not saying that we as cyclists are being persecuted. As a matter of fact, for a few of these infractions, I believe the punishment fits the crime. What I am saying is that the dollar amount attached to these deeds is fairly disproportionate to that of, say… ending someone’s life.
If this isn’t working to make you hot under the collar, then I highly recommend you pick up the newest (Fall 2011) issue of Paved Magazine. In it you will find an extraordinarily comprehensive article by Michael DiGregorio about Ontario’s then Attorney General, Michael Bryant’s murder of Toronto bike messenger Darcy Allen Sheppard. It is a maddening piece about classicism, and what turned out to be an easily disposable life that anyone who spends even a small percentage of their existence on two wheels needs to read.
It only inspires me to open the eyes in the back of my head wider, encourage others to do the same and keep in mind that it’s clear that we are the only ones looking out for us.
From this point we either begin drinking to take the edge off, or we watch a sweet science experiment that Tina sent me of a smashed face fuzzy buddy who enjoys getting into boxes, regardless of their size.
That made me feel better.
Continuing on with the good times, Darin comes though with a few from the far east;
“As I sat in the public eating area of the swanky Harbour Plaza Metropolis in Hong Kong, I tried my best to hold off my laughter while trying to finish this shitty piece of ‘artwork’. Very quickly into the project I realized that my unicorn was gonna look worse than the shit-mobile firetruck that needed to be shaved;
The staff started getting worried, but kept the coffee coming. 10 minutes in I start laughing at my apathy but continued to push on. Soon the waitstaff stopped seating people next to me. It was kinda like I made my own first-class section (or really more like a smoking section like Denny’s had in the 80’s). With that, I give you my shitting unicorn:
Darin, age 37″
Darin’s parents never told him he couldn’t play with his food and today we are all the better for it.
Another item I found recently was this piece on a website called Chasing 120(dot)com.
It’s a hi-larious romp though the nooks and crannies up cyclocross styled athletic pursuit upgrades.
Pay close attention to THE CATEGORY 3 CYCLOCROSS SURVIVAL GUIDE.
What author Chris Plummer doesn’t mention is that after you’ve spent your time and money chasing your dream as a bike racer for the weekend, throughly scan the internet for photos of yourself to post on your Facebook page.
Unless you are these people, I don’t care, though I’m sure someone must.
I can say with sincerity that I am a pretty good bike rider.
I can counter that by saying I have grown into an amazingly poor bike racer.
I read that piece several times and picked up new details each time through. What I walked away with, and what was possibly not even intended by Mr. Plummer, is that I should stick by my decision to stay away from bike races, lest I be just another turd in the log jam.
I suspect we’ll all be better for it.
I’m certain this guy will be.
In other news of bicycle related athletic pursuits, Billy just returned from the second largest messenger, people-who-look-like-messengers, and/or who hope to one day be employed as one, event in the world.
This of course was the Messenger Nationals, NACCC, or the NAX, if you care, which was held in America’s abdomen, Austin, Texas;
He forwarded me a request to help spread his word on the matter which can be found here.
Getting paid to play in the streets was the one job I hated less than any of my others, and it does my heart good to see that despite the profession’s downturn, and commercial commodification, the community is still alive and well.
During that particular span of my life, whenever I would speak with my dad on the phone, before he told me he loved me at the conversation’s conclusion, he would always request that I stay out of under any vehicles. It was a light hearted comment, though I understood the gravity of it.
In hindsight however, I most likely would have taken it more to heart had I known my life was only worth $42.00.