Monday, April 11, 2005

Example of a wrong scape goat

A local newspaper reported that a group of bicyclists, pausing 10' off the road pavement to assist one of their group repair a flat tire, was struck by a vehicle driven by a drunk driver. Several among the group of bicyclists were run over and seriously injured. A photograph shows the van driven by the drunk in a drainage ditch 30' off the road pavement, with one of the cyclists trapped underneith in the mud.

The news story goes on to quote a representative of the bicycle community that "we need more bicycle paths along our roadways." In the context of this story, this is a dumb statement - a thougthless and ill-conceived opinion. More bicycle paths would be nice, but they would have done virtually nothing to prevent this assault by a drunk driver. The drunk drove 30' off the street, for Pete's sake. The best designed bike paths are seldom built more than 10' from the travel lanes.

A more relevant, educated, helpful, and enduring opinion would have been "we need to do more to keep impaired people from driving" or "people need to have more self-control and consideration than to drive while impaired" or "people ought to refrain from getting drunk and be more responsible." That is the point of this news story. The newspaper reporter and the person he quoted had the right to their ill-timed and irrelevant opinion. But it was both poor journalism and poor choice of timing on the part of the cyclists to crusade for a pubic amenity that would do nothing for the people run over by drunks.

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