Dear Lexus Driver,

by Arlyn on March 31, 2009

Dear Lexus Driver,

Hello, my name is Arlyn and I’m 39 years old. My wife and I have been married for eighteen years and we have two wonderful children; a seven year old daughter and a five year old son. I have many great friends and enjoy spending time with my parents.

Have you ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life – that Jimmy Stewart movie where he gets to see what the world would be like without him? I wonder sometimes what my family’s life might be like if you had killed me today.

Now, I know you would not choose to kill me. You’re probably a very decent person, maybe with a family of your own. But you did choose a moment of inattention while driving your car that could have resulted in my death or grave injury.

Please keep an eye out for us cyclists. We’re people, just like you.

Arlyn Asch
Father, husband, son, friend and cyclist

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott March 31, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I’m sorry to hear of your mishap, but glad that you are ok. My friends’ eyes get glossy when I go off on my rants about how motorists too often forget the high stakes of driving large heavy vehicles.

Yours is a good approach, revealing yourself as a human being. I’m better than I used to be about getting angry at motorists and I’m learning that a friendly explanation of who you are and cyclists’ legal rights goes a lot farther than some of the baser reactions, but it’s always a struggle.

Be safe out there.

Arlyn March 31, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Thanks Scott. I have to admit that when it happened, I screamed obscenities at the car. Then I followed the driver to their house and very politely introduced myself and said what happened. The driver was very nice about it.

Barry April 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

Sorry to hear about this. I guess this is the inherent risk of mixing cars and bikes on the road. When I was in the army in Anchorage Alaska in the 70’s, I did not have a car. 6 months out of the year I rode my Peugeot 10 speed (it weighed 50 pounds I am sure) everywhere. Someone in Anchorage with amazing foresight designed a system of bike trails that kept cars and bikes separated and allowed me to get almost anywhere and avoid major arterials. I felt safe, even though we did not know what a helmet was back then.

I do not think that you can expect random acts of stupidity to stop. Unfortunately, the onus is on you to pay attention and protect yourself so that you can spend time with your wife, children and friends. One thing you can do to make sure that the roads are safer for future generations, is to actively support the part of cycling community that is trying to ensure that bike lanes and right-of- way are not an afterthought or considered a necessary evil. This not only applies to new construction, but to redevelopment and retrofit as well. I did a report on cycling while I was in college, and was astonished what some cities did to promote cycling in their area. Not just mandating trails as a condition of new construction, but making the tough and expensive decisions to provide safe corridors for cyclists. It will take a lot of perseverance, but I think with the current political shift toward green technology, the awareness of carbon footprint and the benefits of exercise, there is no time like the present to let your voice be heard, or at least support those that have taken on the cause.

Arlyn April 2, 2009 at 9:38 am

Thanks Barry, you make some excellent points. I like your assertion that if we want to be safe as cyclists, then we should expect to be part of making cycling safe.

Andrew April 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Glad to hear you’re okay. And I like your approach to getting the word out. I too, find myself yelling out at the momment of the occurance. But in retrospect, I find that I am acting out of fear, and not in anger.
And it’s not really a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of life or death. The lawyers will sort out the right from the wrong, but at that point the damage is done. I hope that any accident would never be out of malicious intent.
I know of an area in my neighborhood that has me in the position of writing to the city, the newspaper, Caltrans, all all of the above. Or do nothing. I choose not to do nothing. The area that I am referring to is a brand new interchange that at first blush appears to be a candidate for some award. If your driving a car it’s wonderful, but try riding your bike through there and you’ll be in for a rude awaking, I was. I am both shocked, and amazed that the best minds in the industry did not even see this as a potential for trouble and install signs warning both the motorist and the cyclist. Until everyone rides bicycles, or no one does, we need to stay aware.

Arlyn April 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Thanks Andy. I like:

And it’s not really a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of life or death.

Good luck in making your neighborhood safer!

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