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‘Reconciliation’ is up to motorists
Patrick Brady did a great job covering the trial of Dr. Thompson. I especially admire the job he did capturing the mood of the sentencing hearing. That said, any sympathy that I might develop for Dr. Thompson quickly evaporates when I ride past a location where I have been threatened or bullied by someone in a motor vehicle — or where a fellow cyclist has been struck down. Unfortunately, I never have to go far before being reminded of the terrible consequences all cyclists face while seeking the pleasure of a simple bicycle ride on a public road.
Dr. Thompson is but one of a legion of people who prowl our roads safely encased in their isolated environments, comfortably seated in their personal throne of power, who feel compelled to recklessly demonstrate their scorn of others. That Dr. Thompson will no longer be among them is but one small step. He asks for reconciliation. But in consideration of the uncountable tragedies where no justice will ever be served — both past and future — there remains much to reconcile.
I say the overwhelming burden of that reconciliation lies with the group just coming to realization of the consequences of this conflict. The cyclists have had ample and far too regular reminders already.
Why the focus on road-rager’s profession?
I have been an avid reader and a cyclist for years, but must speak out regarding your coverage of the L.A. road rage assault. I have personally faced incidents of road rage while cycling, but thankfully have not been a serious victim.
Titles such as “L.A. road rage doctor to be sentenced on Friday” and bodies of the articles emphasizing the convicted party’s profession seem like poor journalism to me, particularly if Dr. Thompson doesn’t even earn much, if any living as a physician. His profession bears little relevance to the story, where the primary issue is the act of driving and assaulting cyclists with a car. Why vilify doctors? Wouldn’t the educational value to the public and the warning to drivers be greater if the headlines were instead “Driver convicted of assaulting cyclists?”
If such things of little relevance are to be emphasized repeatedly in these stories as much as his profession, why not change the word “doctor” in the title to something equally irrelevant like “L.A. road rage Caucasian man to be sentenced Friday?” Replace “Caucasian” with any other race, profession, gender, or other irrelevant term, and the title will be just as insulting to any other group. The first line of this article starts with, “The California physician, convicted of assaulting a pair of cyclists with his car, is scheduled to be sentenced in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday morning.” Why not the “California driver?” Other articles published by VeloNews and others have also emphasized the assaulter’s profession.
When I’m not cycling, I’m also a physician. Having spent 13 years of my life in post-college education, I now try to provide the best neuroradiology diagnosis and care I can for our veteran soldiers. I find it degrading to my profession that a single driver who misbehaved has now been labeled the doctor who misbehaved, when the relevant point is that the driving behavior was unquestionably unacceptable. While medical boards can and do revoke medical licenses, it is up to the board to decide what to do with Christopher Thomas Thompson’s medical license, I see no mention in the articles of the department of motor vehicles and/or revocation of a driver’s license.
I hold myself to a high standard at work, in my car, and on my bike; my patients and fellow drivers and cyclists deserve it. I enjoy reading my VeloNews, but I’d also like to remind the writers and editors to hold their editorial standards higher than that of sensationalist journals and tabloids; the readers of VeloNews deserve it.
James Chen, MD
San Diego, California
And now for something completely different
Is it me or have the costs of cycling kit gone beyond the outrageous? $300 for a shirt? $500 for a freakin’ jacket? Who buys this stuff? I can tell you who doesn’t; fast riders. They’re usually sporting subsidized team gear or kit that reflects the ability to appreciate money. Hell, I doubt pro kit costs this much.
On the list of things that make one go fast, clothing is probably number 68 (I was nice). Spend less. Train more. At least pretend to acknowledge the billions lost globally in the past two years in personal wealth.
James T. M. Preis
Cary, North Carolina