Updated : Equal treatment is where we need to be. How soon can we get there?


Background Reading:

Equal Treatment Under The Law Should Be Our Aim!

Anne Alt presented a very thought-provoking illustration in defense of the Cycling Community. I have seen threads and read blog entries which echo this sentiment but none as succinctly. The illustration reads:

behavioural campaigns aimed solely at cyclists only continues to marginalize them and treat them as a sub-culture.

campaigns must be aimed at all traffic users or the most dangerous/destructive users — automobiles.

She writes in her entry:

Equal treatment is where we need to be. How soon can we get there?

The spelling used in this illustration makes me think its origins are perhaps in the UK. Nevertheless any American cyclist who considers themselves a part of the Urban Cycling Movement would understand and agree with the sentiments expressed therein. The second sentence in this illustration should probably have been truncated after the words “all traffic users“. The second half of the sentence while understandable violates the sentiment expressed in the first sentence.

In essence we should treat all traffic users the same.

And again as has happened several times in the past few days a similar sentiment conveyed in service of a completely different cause from the opposite end of the political spectrum is presented and the juxtaposition of the two is startling. Both of these illustrations came to me via Facebook.

Equal Treatment Under The Law Should Be Our Aim!

Equal Treatment Under The Law Should Be Our Aim!

Jose A. Hernandez shared The Tea Party’s graphic you see on the right. He writes:

I had to share this!

The graphic reads in each of the four panels as follows:

You beat him? What’s the matter with you?

You strangled him? What’s the matter with you?

You stabbed him? What’s the matter with you?

You shot him? We’ve got to do something about guns!

I have labeled each graphic “Equal Treatment Under The Law Should Be Our Aim!” The first of these is couched in terms that Liberals would understand. The second of these is meaningful to Conservatives.

Your Beliefs Don't Make You A Better Person, Your Behavior Does.

Your Beliefs Don’t Make You A Better Person, Your Behavior Does.

What is missing is a third graphic that Chris Kegel sent me on the same day at the same time. His reads as follows:

Your Beliefs Don’t Make You A Better Person, Your Behavior Does.

Ouch! He is quite correct in this sentiment as well.

Musings On Behavior

So if distill Chris’s illustration into its most concise terms it might be interpreted as:

Talk Is Cheap. Walk The Talk.

Now I am a person who considers gun control necessary. But for the moment I will do what any good existentialist should do and suspend judgment long enough to look at the facts.

We can indeed move towards equal treatment of automobiles, pedestrians, bus and train riders and bicyclists in 24 hours and here is what I propose:

  1. Every user of the roadway can henceforth adopt what I shall call the Randy Cohen Philosophy — Treat all traffic controls as Yield Signs.
  2. Every user of the roadway can henceforth travel anywhere they wish — Sidewalks, Super Highways, Side Streets are all fair game for any type of traffic user. No special lanes should be set aside for vehicles under any circumstances.
  3. Every user of the roadway will henceforth no longer have to pay taxes on fuel, or register their vehicle or in any way be licensed.
  4. Every user of the roadway has the right to travel down either side of the roadway as they see fit. We will dismiss the artificial notion of traffic direction. All streets will be considered bi-directional in actual practice.
  5. Every user of the roadway no longer has to have a vehicle properly displaying lights, mirrors, reflective strips or any other impediment to the clean lines of said vehicle.
  6. Every user of the roadway no longer has to signal turns, stops or reversals. Neither does the operator have to announcement their presence with a horn or other audio device.
  7. Every user of the roadway will henceforth no longer be subjected to artificial speed limits. You may travel as rapidly or as slowly as you see fit. All law enforcement speed traps and intersection cameras will be removed.
  8. Every user of the roadway no longer has to abide by an arbitrary safe passing distance. Everyone is on their own when traveling on the roadway.
  9. Every user of the roadway should have the privilege of using the roadway for Alley Cat Racing at any time of the day or night. Any vehicle involved in these races is not required to have mechanical brakes. They can use skid stops, engine braking or foot dragging, their option.
  10. Every municipality should henceforth dispense with parking meters and paid parking lots. All roadway users should have equal access to all drive-up facilities and no vehicles should ever be banned from any roadway during rush hour traffic for any reason.

The beauty of this approach is that it does not impose on bicyclists anything that they have heretofore expressed displeasure with in terms of limits being placed on their behavior. What we are proposing is that motorists and pedestrians be given those same latitudes in their operational modes.

Unintended Consequences

What should become painfully clear is that while equality will have been reached there will be some unintended consequences that ensue. We have tried in many ways to apply this kind of logic to other arenas. For instance we have asked that men and women be treated equally under the law. And that of course should mean that either we do away with a military draft or we are willing to apply the draft to both sexes.

Likewise we have decided that race, ethnicity and national origin should be removed from the equation where public intercourse is concerned. This means that long held practices like Affirmative Action will have to be dispensed with. And if you truly wish for equality between automobiles and cyclists then it is time to stop the Affirmative Action equivalent of cycling, namely the Bicycle Lane.

There should only be roadways on which all vehicles get to exercise their right to ethical behavior as defined by Randy Cohen. And because we are in essence leveling the playing field we are going to be removing the distinctive laws (i.e. behavioural campaigns) that turn classes of vehicle users into sub-cultures.

Can I get an “Amen”, Anne?

If we have the bicycle vs. automobile situation under control we should be able to then eliminate the onerous laws that govern weapon usage altogether. Everyone will therefore received equal treatment under the law. You will serve no more time for shooting a thief than if you beat him to death or strangled or even stabbed him. Dead is dead.

This would free us all up to carry any size or capacity or number of weapons as befits our sense of safety. This should make the NRA types quite happy and they will feel less like a sub-culture. We can dispense with silly notions like keeping guns out of the hands of people who have mental and emotional problems since no method of defending one’s person is considered distinct from another.

It all makes sense to me.

Who would have thought that you could get Liberals and Conservatives to agree so readily on legislative changes that preserve their dignity and rights so completely. It makes me proud to be an American.