Monday, July 04, 2011

Op-Ed: "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This July 4th, our Nation will celibate these greatest of Thomas Jefferson's words.  They are the cornerstone of our freedoms and were the thrust of our fledgling Nation's Declaration of Independence ratified 235 years ago today.  I think that it goes without question that all Americans will agree that nothing is more American than Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  These "inalienable Rights" that all "are endowed by their Creator" cannot not be infringed upon no matter what peaceful and legal endeavor one so chooses.

However as someone who regularly walks and rides a bike, I cannot help but wonder if these rights, do not apply to me when I travel using these modes.  As a free American, I hereby declare that I demand the return of my rights of "Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" no matter what legal form of travel I so choose.

Life - I demand the right to walk or ride my bicycle on the public right-of-way free of the real fear that my life is in imminent danger due to:
  • roadway engineering that continues to ignore the practical needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • the poor driving skills of the operators of motor vehicles and the government agencies that continue to allow these incompetent persons to legally operate said motor vehicles with impunity.
  • laws, police and a legal system that regularly ignore the rights and the sanctity of life of bicyclists and pedestrians, even when a bicyclist or pedestrian is killed or injured due to the carelessness or even wanton recklessness of a driver of a motor vehicle.
Liberty -
  • I demand the liberty to walk or ride my bicycle from anywhere to anywhere, within reason, by a route using the public right-of-ways that is safe, convenient, relatively direct and that is at least of equal distance to that which the driver of motor vehicle may travel.
  • I demand that the government agencies that are charged with developing and maintaining the public streets and roadways, build said streets and roadways with proper contemporary bicycle and pedestrian facilities that encourages the liberty of movement of those not driving a motor vehicle.
  • I demand that no other person, law enforcement or other government official question this right of liberty no mater the location of were one is legally traveling on the public right-of-way, or the time of day or night that one chooses to travel on the public right-of-way.

Pursuit of Happiness -
  • For those of us that choose to walk or bike for recreation and/or transportation, these activities are often for us, "the pursuit of Happiness."  For myself, few of the good things in life are more fulfilling and full of joy than a long and challenging bicycle ride on the public roads that pass through the beautiful New Jersey countryside.  Unfortunately, rarely does a ride go by where a stressful incident does not occur due to one or more of the reasons already listed above.  As such I demand that not only our government but our fellow citizens do all that is reasonable to preserve this right.  In return, I swear to do all in my power to defend this right for my fellow Americans as long as their pursuits are peaceful and do not have other detrimental effects upon our society.

Enjoy your Fourth of July but remember that the continued enjoyment of these three most basic American rights will only be preserve so long as citizens of this Great Nation continue to remain vigilant.

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