While 33 men were rescued from a Chilean mine, 6500 people died on American streets

Like everyone else, I kept an eye on the TV since the rescue of the Chilean miners began late Tuesday night.

My spirits soared when Florencio Avalos reached the surface, the first of 33 miners to be saved. And I’ve said a prayer of thanks for every one who has been brought out safe and alive, and rejoiced when the rescue capsule was raised for the last time and the final rescuer stepped out.

But let’s put this in perspective.

In the 10 weeks since the 33 miners were trapped on August 5, the world watched in rapt attention as an international team of rescuers literally moved the earth to bring them out.

But during the same 10 weeks, over 6,500 people died on American streets, based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In the same period, roughly 850 pedestrians and 140 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle collisions.

By my count, 12 cyclists were killed by motor vehicles here in Southern California alone since August 5 alone; another died as the result of a collision with a pedestrian.

And no one even noticed.

No massive press response. No live coverage.

No 24/7 media watch tracking the safety of every motorist, cyclist, pedestrian and transit user throughout their journey, and breathlessly reporting when each arrived safely at their destination. Or breaking the tragic news to the world when one of the 33,963 people who were killed on our streets last year didn’t make it back again.

Those same statistics tell us that of the millions of people who will leave their homes today, 93 won’t return.

It could be you. Or me. It could be someone you love, or someone you barely know. Someone who once crossed your path, or someone you’ll never meet.

It’s just collateral damage. The price we’ve come to accept for the privilege of getting from here to there. 93 people every day. 651 every week. 2830 every month.

Roughly one person killed on American roads every 15 minutes.

And it touches virtually every life in this country.

So when does it become unacceptable? When do we reach the point when we decide as a society that the price is too high, that the last death was one too many?

And we’re willing to put the same effort into saving the 33,000 that we put into saving the 33.

I’m already there.

I thank God the miners are safe.

And I’ll be just as glad when the rest of us are.

.………

An Orange County mom takes to Facebook to find the Mercedes Benz driver who apologized for hitting her bike-riding son in Lake Forest before driving off. Meanwhile, a repeat drug offender gets four years in prison for killing a cyclist in an Orange County hit-and-run, and police search for an SUV that fled the scene after hitting a rider in last weekend’s Sonoma County GranFondo.

.………

More on CicLAvia from the Occidental Weekly, and the Times publishes letters in support of it, as well as letters on both sides of the Wilbur Ave controversy. (The car is the “most efficient means of transportation ever devised”? Really?)

.………

In an incredibly shortsighted move, the new Brit government cut funding for Cycling England, the successful program that trained over 400,000 children how to ride safely each year, even though it will only save £200,000 — about $330,000; the Bikeability program will continue for now.

Hopefully, they’ll increase funding for the National Health Service to make up for it; just one injured child could cost far more than they’ll save.

.………

For the second year, the Amgen Tour of California will end in Thousand Oaks. Long Beach is getting another Bike Station, offering free secure bike parking, bike shop, rentals and repairs; my goal is to get one at L.A. City Hall to make it easier to ride to city council meetings. The Bus Bench complains about an inconsiderate schmuck with a bike on the Gold Line. Evidently, bike industry insiders just don’t like Anaheim. Riverside’s new Culver Center opens with an exhibit on bike culture in Southern California. Your choice for governor: big bucks Whitman vs bike-lane Brown. Give all the angry people Dutch bikes. Advice on how to ride a bike in a dress. A key rule for bike safety — when car traffic slows down, watch out. Portland cyclists get their own green light. Three members of the Cutters, the Indiana University the 11 time Little 500 champion bike team made famous in Breaking Away, are injured in a head-on collision a week after another team member was hit by a car. What happens when sidewalk cafes swallow bike parking. A beautiful shot of DC bike lanes. A Baltimore cyclist explains to drivers why he sometimes has to take the lane. The World Anti-Doping Agency says they’ve heard Contador’s tainted meat excuse before. If regular bikes are just too boring for you, how about one without a seat? Kiwi police crack down on a bike pub crawl. A Sydney paper is up in arms over lawless cyclists terrorizing the city’s new bike lanes. Buenos Aires aims to be the Amsterdam of South American biking.

Finally, Sir Paul McCartney was hopping mad over a rude cyclist.

2 comments

  1. Chewie says:

    I think you’ve done a good job of breaking down the numbers into a more emotionally comprehensible scale.

    I think it’s hard for people to connect emotionally to statistics that are large and horrible (33,000 dead from US traffic collisions in 2009). It would be almost impossible to actually feel that much pain without doing profound damage to one’s self. Maybe that emotional distance is a form of protection. But we shouldn’t forget either.

    Anyway, bravo. I think the one that resonated with me the most was “of the millions of people who will leave their homes today, 93 won’t return.”

    How can anyone accept that?

  2. graciela. says:

    Beautifully written.

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