Andrew Heckman Speaks!! Re: Dead cyclists

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Cycle America/N


Thanks for the impassioned words on my behalf. While it doesn't do any good -- directly, at least --
for others to be angry about what happened to me, the commiseration of individuals such as yourself
does a lot to help remind me that I am not alone. And it's energy I think can be put to good use.

I'd given a lot of thought to the issues you raise in your letter even before I got creamed. (My web
site is called, because I originally intended it to stand for "Patriots are
Fuel-Efficient." It's a concept I wanted to employ to try to encourage people to drive less and
bike/public trans/walk more, not out of any grand environmental design, but simply because it's
patriotic. It's a project I hope to get back to once I'm physically and mentally able to devote
serious time and energy to it.) While I was flat on my back, I had a lot of time to think further
about these issues. So here is my vision of how things can change.

I think Critical Mass has the right idea, to a certain extent. I don't favor the tendency of many of
their riders to disregard traffic laws and inconvenience motorists...that behavior I believe would
incline potentially sympathetic drivers to hate us, and reinforce the negative
militant/flake/anarchist stereotype that unsympathetic drivers already have of us. But what Critical
Mass DOES do is get drivers used to seeing bicyclists on the road. Here in Portland, where
bicyclists are relatively plentiful, the attitude of drivers towards bikes is remarkably different
than the attitude I experienced in Chicago. In Chi-town, bicyclists get little respect from
motorists, and confrontations are common. But in Portland, the majority of drivers give bicyclists
space and consideration. I think that's largely due to the fact that there are so many bikes on the
road here. They are more accepted as legitimate transport. So the first step to changing attitudes
is simply to get more bikes on the road, and encourage cyclists to obey traffic laws and ride with
courtesy. We are each of us ambassadors and we each have an opportunity every time we ride to show
potential converts the joy of cycling.

The other major thing that needs to happen is what I like to call a "union" of cyclists. By "union"
I mean a national group of dues-paying members. Let's face it, things get done in this country
through political process. And money talks. This is how car companies and oil companies have managed
to get their agendas pushed through Congress despite the fact that those agendas lead to pollution,
urban sprawl and US dependency on foreign oil. You see where I'm going with this. Ten million
bicyclists paying $10 a month becomes a force to be reckoned with in Washington. And THAT is where
we get the stuff you talk lanes in every city. A National Bicycle Greenway. More
legislation to protect the rights of cyclists and the police awareness needed to enforce those
rights. This would be extremely difficult because we bicyclists tend to be an independent bunch.
"Patfuel" is a start, but you'd need a strong leader and a strong, well-supported national agenda to
make it work. But I think it's possible.

You'll notice in all this that I put the responsibility of this vision on bicyclists. That's because
we are the ones who need to make it happen, and make it happen in a POSITIVE way. I'm always
incensed by people railing against the evils of SUVs. It's not the job of car companies to provide
less environmentally damaging products. The job of car companies is the give the people what they
want. When people demand hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles, that's what they'll get. For this
reason, bicyclists must fight the GOOD fight...not by yelling about how bad cars are, but by
demonstrating how great bicycles are. This is what "patfuel" is all about and why I'm such a fan of
what Martin is trying to do. As he would say, he's fighting with love, and that will be how we
change attitudes in this country. Yelling at the car-entrenched will simply make them more so, even
if only out of spite.

Tell you one last thing...I'm glad I got creamed trying to make things better...most people in the
orthopedic unit and ICU were there because of -- you guessed it -- car accidents. If I'd been in a
car going somewhere and got mashed, then I'd REALLY be upset.

Thanks for letting me ramble, it's helped me get my own head together. And good luck Martin!

Regards, Andrew

----- Original Message ----- From: "Cycle America/Nat Bicycle Gwy (NBG)" <[email protected]> To:
"Chris Robarchek" <[email protected]>; <[email protected]>
Cc: <[email protected]> Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 8:36 PM Subject: Re:
Dead cyclists

> At 10:10 PM +0000 1/17/03, Chris Robarchek wrote:
> >Hello,
> >
> >My name is Chris Robarchek and I've chosen cycling as a lifestyle for health. I ride everywhere,
> >in fact I even sold my cars. If I need a car for something like going to moms for xmas dinner or
> >something I rent one for the day. I'm a local guy right here in Santa Cruz and I was at your last
> >NBG event at San Lorenzo park. I think your vision of interliking bicycle paths accross to
> >country is really, really cool. As cyclists we've chosen a more riteous method of transportation
> >and we should be recognized for it not to mention we pay taxes and we need and deserve some
> >consideration and roads. Furthermore, we deserve some protection from our cities against
> >motorists.
> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yahooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
> >
> > On that note;
> >
> > I'm really ****** about what happenned to Andrew Heckman and all the countless many that are
> > killed every year by motorists.. I'm sure the person who hit Andrew felt really bad after the
> > fact. A lot of f**king good that does Andrew now... I'm sure the poor slob who hit him said
> > things like "I thought he was further over" or "I didn't see him" or "I just got my front end
> > aligned and I had to swerve to avoid a pothole". These kinds of things are what the self
> > absorbed motorist always says while looking down at the broken body of a cyclist. Regret from
> > the motorist who kills me is wonderful but again it isn't going to do me much good when I'm
> > dead.... How about prevention instead of regret? How many of us "second class citizens" have
> > to get run over by a boat trailer before we get some support from our cities? After all we're
> > talking about human lives so why aren't there HUGE penalties for motorists who commit offenses
> > against cyclists? Ther're big fines for driving under the influence or without insurance,
> > right? But driving without insurance doesn't even kill anyone. Big fines need to be imposed
> > for offenses like tailgating cyclists, cutting cyclists off, passing cyclists anyways although
> > it's unsafe to and the cyclist has taken the center of the lane. Why won't our police enforce
> > laws already in effect??
> After over five decades of cycling, I guess what has kept me alive is only wanting to see the
> positive aspects of cycling. Many of which are detailed at "How to Win an argument with a Car
> Driver" Granted there is a lot of darkness out there but I
> just want to see how things can be made better and not how bad they are.....
> >Or how about driver awareness at the DMV?? Maybe a short quiz when people go to renew their
> >drivers licenses could serve as an opportunity to educate drivers of just how fragile we cyclists
> >are and to inform drivers that we cyclists have a right to take the center of the lane if we feel
> >it's necessary. Cyclists have chosen a method of transportation that's clean, healthy and
> >efficient.
> Great idea. I know there has been much talk about this and I think something is scheduled to take
> place. Maybe someone on this mailing knows the timing??
> >Every day we get on our bikes, our lives are in the hands of oblivious, self centered people with
> >cell phones who don't care about us as long as they're safe and warm in their shiny little cars.
> >Motororists MUST be made to realize that if we fall when their tailgating us, we die. If they cut
> >us off when we're on a downhill, we die. If we take the center of the lane, it's for self
> >protection and passing us when it's unsafe can kill us. Do you think motorists would think twice
> >about tailgating us if our city imposed a $1,000.00 penalty? Aren't the lives of cyclists worth a
> >$1,000.00? Why won't the police cite motorists who block our already too small bike lanes when
> >they're waitng at intersections? How about enforcing laws for cyclists as well, laws like riding
> >your bike on the wrong side of the road (usually some drunk coming home from the bar at
> >12:00 am). Why aren't these things laws?
> To the best of my knowledge they are! You just gotta be proactive and call in those license plates
> that cause U trouble. As for bikes on the sidewalk, take the time to be polite but disapproving if
> that works for U....
> > Why aren't the police looking, waiting to catch motorists who endanger us the same way they
> > hide and wait to catch people committing much less dangerous minor traffic infractions? Why
> > won't the police wait at the bottom of the few hills around town for bikes to come down hill
> > with a car stuck on it's rear wheel so they can cite the tailgater?? Hills like the one coming
> > down Murray st. down to where the street becomes San Lorenzo. Are we really this expendable?
> > Does our city council see cyclists the way motorists do, as an inconvenience or an obstacle?
> > Our city "claims" to want more people to ride bikes so why won't they protect us better?
> Our council indeed is pro-bike. If the PD were to mobilize manpower for some of your great ideas,
> where would would the money come from? As bike riders, we do not pay into a reg fund or gas tax
> they can raid for this.........
> >How about some stings for bike thieves down town? If the word got out amongst crooks that the
> >police were planting officers by unlocked bikes around town witing to catch loathsome bike
> >thieves, our bikes would be a lot safer. Ok, forget the bike thief idea for now, just give us a
> >little protection from cars for god's sake, we're talking about our lives here!! We always seem
> >to have plenty of cops when it comes to arresting intoxicated but responsible adults walking home
> >from parties or harmless pot smokers in the park. Maybe our great city coucil could spare a few
> >of their oh so busy officers away from the all too urgent seatbelt citation detail for (in my
> >opinion) a much better cause like helping to save our lives. What do we have to do to get our
> >cities attention? Does there have to be more instances of cyclists dragging motorists out of
> >their cars and bludgeoning them with their cell phones or compact makeup cases? How 'bout instead
> >of flexing his muscles at bicycle rallies, maybe Kim Allyn could go write a few tickets to
> >motorists who are endangering our LIVES because they want to get home to watch the Raiders game.
> >He has an impressive physique and no offense intended to Mr. Allyn but I think if he wants to
> >help this cause there're probably better ways to serve it than impressing us with a body building
> >performance.
> While this is no excuse for not improving biking conditions, I have found that my attitude is
> reflected in how I experience my cycling. If I'm feeling feisty (the result of not doing my daily
> spiritual work), I can expect, often times unwittingly, contentious drivers. If I'm feeling at
> peace and loving, that too is also what I see in the car operators I find myself in and around.
> Or said another way, 'we see what we want to see'. This may sound airy fairy but if you want to
> see those moving around in car and trucks and buses and bikes, etc as just helping each other get
> to where they need to be that is what you will see. If instead, you want to see road rage, that as
> well will be the result. In all my hundreds of thousands of two wheel miles, I have met or seen
> just two people who saw their car as a weapon. And both of these individuals were at Critical Mass
> rides where that was the "desired" response.......
> >
> > If you have any ideas or suggestions NBG, I'm all ears. Feel free to forward this letter to
> > anyone you may wish to also or to tell me who I should send it to.
> >
> > See you at the next NBG rally!! Sincerely, Chris Robarchek
> THX for your fire Chris!! Wanna deploy some of that at our next Santa Cruz NBG Fest as a
> volunteer??
> >
> btw: If you want, you can shorten this and send it as a letter to the editor, with your name and
> address to the SC Sentinel. You can use [email protected]
> btw2: Why don't U join Santa Cruz Bikes where we talk about stuff like this. I am copying this
> letter to that forum. Visit to get on
> line with us! Here are the archives:
> --
> M A R T I N K R I E G : "Awake Again" Author Bent Since '83, Car Free Since '89, Attacking
> with Love Coma, Paralysis, Clinical Death Survivor '79 & '86 TransAm Vet - Invites you to:
> N A T I O N A L B I C Y C L E G R E E N W A Y
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