Tuesday, April 18, 2006

One More Response to the Editor - Eric Mosterd

Thanks to Eric for allowing me to post this!

Over the past few years of reading the Volante, I have grown accustom to the more salacious—Mr. Fischer's writings spring to mind—and even downright fallacious publications in the editorial section, but I realize that at least on some level, this is a means to an end: to get the students to debate and take action. At least from this perspective, I commend these people, even though I do not necessarily agree with them.

What concerns me is when opinion spills out to other sections of the paper—opinions that must have been condoned by the editors in order to appear outside the editorial section—then I grow concerned. When such opinions encourage violence against others, then I grow outraged and such is the case with Kerry Hacecky's "Reasons We Have Sidewalks" article in the Verve section of the April 12th edition of the Volante.

The Volante editors have, on occasion, published some bad things in the past, but they should be ashamed of this article. Ms. Hacecky's article was misinformed, under-researched, uneducated, and even worse, incites intolerance of, and even outright violence toward, a group of people. Would an article have been published that proposed such acts against a religious group or ethnicity? I think not.

As the secretary and ride coordinator of the local cycling club as well as and an avid cyclist, who puts in around 2,000 miles per season, I have to deal with too many drivers like Ms. Hacecky, who think they own the road and that nothing should stand in their way in getting from point A to point B. I have had both insults and objects hurled at me as well as other cyclists, have been run off the road on occasion, have watched aggressive drivers run oncoming traffic off the road while trying to pass a pace line, and have even been grazed by traffic not moving over to pass me. Encouraging such dangerous and even deadly behavior as this article does simply cannot be tolerated.

Let me address Ms. Hacecky's points one by one, as she obviously did not take the time to research her arguments. First, when she tells cyclists to use the sidewalks, she did not bother to check the fact that in many cities—Vermillion included—it is illegal for cyclists to ride on sidewalks. Perhaps the next time she is downtown she should take a moment to notice the big signs stating this above her beloved sidewalk. And just in case she is interested, the reason for such a law is that, according to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, it is nearly three times more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk than it is to ride on the road. Sorry if that is just a "grand old excuse," but I am sure every pedestrian, or "two-footed fool" as she so kindly referred to them, appreciates it.

In terms of taxes, it should be no surprise that cyclists pay taxes too, so we have just as much right to use the roads, as do drivers. Furthermore, even though the bicycle is not a motorized vehicle, it is a vehicle as defined in SDCL 32-14-1 and in the eyes of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, it is a vehicle just like a car so all the rules of the road pertain to bicycles as well; ergo, they must be treated like any other vehicle, motorized or not.

Grouping her next few statements together, like "following too closely," her admittance to not understanding official hand signals—something she would have learned in driver's education—and her implied talking on the cell phone while driving, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center & the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the majority of automobile-bicycle collisions are caused by drivers and most of these accidents are caused by not obeying the rules of the road (e.g. following too closely and hitting the cyclist from behind), being distracted (e.g. talking on the cell phone), occupying the same lane as a cyclist instead of waiting until it is safe to pass, or the driver not understanding signals given to them by the cyclist at intersections.

As for the cyclist in her story, just like there are bad drivers, there are bad cyclists as well. I cannot condone such actions as the cyclist in the article was purported to have done; however, this does not warrant such action as to "follow them and run them over," nor does it justify an outright attack on cyclists. Even the ones too slow for Ms. Hacecky's taste.

What strikes me are the many similarities this article has with an incident a few years ago in Ohio when a DJ at Cleveland radio station WMJI stated many of the same inciting remarks on air—encouraging people to run cyclists off the road, run them over, take out a whole pace line, etc.—after being stuck in traffic behind a cyclist. In that case the station fired the producer, disciplined the DJs and donated to local cycling organizations. In that vein, I believe such action should be taken against Ms. Hacecky. Furthermore, both she and the editors of Volante should publicly apologize to all cyclists for publishing such an abhorrent article.


Eric Mosterd
Coordinator of eLearning &
Manager of TechFellows Program, Center for Teaching & Learning
Instructor, Music History, Department of Music

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