“Is It Okay to Kill Cyclists?”: Reactions to the New York Times Op-Ed



This weekend, The New York Times published a controversial op-ed and, boy, did it have people talking. In lieu of an online-comments section, which is suspiciously absent on the Times site, readers sounded off via opinionated tweets and heated Reddit comments.

In case you missed the article, here’s a recap: Daniel Duane, a newbie to biking the San Francisco streets, decided to investigate what legal consequences befall a driver who kills a cyclist. What he found is this: In most states, and in almost all reported instances, there are almost no consequences. Unless you are driving drunk or completely recklessly, the punishment for killing a cyclist with your car often amounts to a slap on the wrist (often nothing happens, but sometimes drivers are fined or receive community service). Makes you think twice about wearing a helmet, huh? The central question the op-ed aims to answer is this: “Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?” According to Duane, our justice system and the people who enforce its laws are giving everyone the impression that it is.

As you can imagine, the piece made the Internet explode with reactions from bike-lovers to bike-haters to bike-fearers to everyone in between. Here’s what they had to say:

And over on Reddit

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Some folks blame irresponsible cyclists for deaths on the road while others point the finger at distracted drivers. And many don’t blame the cyclists or the drivers for accidents—instead, they blame cities for refusing to adapt in a way that accomodates both modes of transportation. So, Be Wellers, what’s your take on this touchy subject?

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  • keenplanner

    I hate to say this, but the main reason this question has surfaced (after decades of bicyclist’s murders disregarded as “unfortunate accidents,” is that it is now impossible to judge a person’s wealth and social standing by his car or suits. With so many San Francisco and Peninsula very highly compensated, environmentally conscious workers eschewing car ownership for bicycles and transit, we suddenly have a new class of commuters. Now many cyclists have wealth, power, and connections, as opposed to the past, when cyclists tended to be considered enviro-nuts, or just too poor to own cars.

    Since we live in an oligarchy, when the rich start getting harassed, injured, or killed, it makes it into the legal system and onto the public radar.

  • Smith_90125

    The only thing that will make drivers and the courts change their attitude is a road rage incident, one where the cyclist draws and shoots a driver. I’m not advocating it, merely pointing out that things won’t change until there are consequences for drivers.