Op Ed by Jean Davis

Op Ed
	by Jean Davis
San Francisco Independent | 02-May-2001

Who was Chris Robertson and why should you care? He was a friend
of mine that I thought I knew fairly well. But after he was
killed on his bicycle by a trucker driving a big rig last
November, I found I didn't know him as well as I thought I
did. I met his family and many other friends at his memorial
service during Thanksgiving week. As the months went by and we
pursued his case, I found out what a full and varied life he had
led, and what neat people and adventures he had encountered in
the brief 30 years he lived. He was as close to a Renaissance
man as I've met, enjoying food, the arts, culture, and
environmental causes.

Could Chris Robertson or someone like him have been... your
neighbor's kid? Your son? The person who smiled at you across
the table at breakfast this morning?

The answer is yes. Everyone is at risk out there in the mean
streets of this once beautiful City. There is so much emphasis
on speed and convenience at any cost in our culture. Ask
yourself if what happened to Chris might not happen to one of
your friends or family members next week, next month or next
year. When is the last time you felt threatened walking across a
street in this City?

If you drive in commute traffic, I don't need to tell you about
road rage. Chris was a victim of road rage. A block of wood was
thrown at him while riding in a memorial ride for a friend who
had died the preceding week. He didn't move out of the way
quickly enough for a driver who had at most 2 blocks until his
destination. That driver had many options. The one he chose was
a big mistake and sad for all parties involved. But you know
what? His felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and
because he used a truck rather than a gun, he is once again out
on the streets as a professional driver.

After accidents (those that are reported), we often read in
the newspaper, "I didn't see her" or "the sun was in my eyes".
Let's stop calling these "accidents". If you're driving a
motor vehicle that weighs over 2000 lbs, don't you have a
responsibility to be sure that it is safe before you proceed?
And yet, according to one of the local dailies, there are
10,000 red lights being run in San Francisco every day.

Many of us in the bicycle community are perplexed about where
this leads next. But we know this: it is time for all of us to
hold people who angrily or carelessly cost others their lives
accountable.  Someone's need to get somewhere in a hurry ends
way before the point that Chris Robertson lost his life. We all
need to cool our tempers, hang up the cell phones, put down the
makeup and fast food, and start looking for solutions: from
ourselves, from our legislators, from our judicial system
and from law enforcement. What happened to Chris Robertson was
more than gross negligence, but blind justice really wasn't
looking this time. Do we want a society that values the needs of
drivers and speed over a livable city where citizens are allowed
to enjoy a full life and safe access to our streets and
sidewalks?  The legislative system, and the justice system seem
to have failed us.  Well, I'm not riding at the back of the bus
anymore. The cost is too high.

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