In the world of today, it is very easy to argue in favor of the preference of bikers and their pollution free, eco-friendly, health conscious way of commuting. Bicycling was once the preferred mode of commuting, but has since been subsumed by the ever growing desire to travel long distances in a short period of time. Overtaken by cars and motorbikes, bicycling has now been restricted to the realms of mostly recreational sports and short commuting.
However, the tide is turning once more in favor of bikers with rising fuel costs and a growing consciousness towards the environment and personal health. The major problem plaguing the present day bikers involve a safety concern against the still-growing automobile traffic, which had already increased by 76% during the period 1980-2000 (U.S Department of Transportation), and the fight is on to push the State authorities to designate specific bike lanes which purportedly enhance that safety of the pedestrian-friendly two-wheelers. The question is, does it really?
While motorists are under a general obligation to be wary of cyclists and pedestrians alike, anything without a motor on the road is usually scorned upon by anything with a motor. In a city like Los Angeles which is reputedly named as one of the most congested cities in the U.S, this translates into a hostile environment for the uninformed cyclist on a regular stroll through the neighborhood. With the recent rise in the number of claims of being victims of road rage at the hands of cyclists, it is no surprise to see an actual case being flaunted by the press to bring the issue into the limelight. Such was the instance of Dr. Thompson, who on July 4, 2008, apparently succumbing to insults and verbal abuse by two cyclists in the residential locality of Brentwood neighborhood, assaulted them with his car by driving in front of them and braking abruptly. Both victims were seriously injured as a result, one breaking his front teeth and nose, the other falling to the pavement and separating his shoulder (Leonard). The press jumped on the scene, and prompted a spur in the cycling community which urged, through emails and letters, the delivery of a lengthy sentence in order to set up a precedent for similar meddling motorists. The judge at the L.A County Superior Court heeded their call, although purportedly completely on his discretion, and sentenced Dr. Thompson for 5 years in jail, describing this case as a wake-up call.
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