This is a story of John O’Day
Who died maintaining his right of way
He was right, dead right, as he sailed along
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.
I have had several unpleasant experiences of late, all while exercising my right to do what I like, wherever I like, and when I like.
While out for a stroll in the countryside, I came across a perfectly prepared path, nicely marked by two shiny strips of metal along its length. My enjoyment was rudely interrupted by the whistle of large train that made no attempt to slow down to match my pace. I was forced to throw myself off this pathway and landed in a clump of rather prickly bushes. As the locomotive passed me, the driver had the temerity to make a very unfriendly gesture.
Surely the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem railway line should be open to all.
A few days later, I took possession of a new car. Although it is not large, it has a powerful engine and I wanted to see just how fast it could go. I found the ideal place to test my car’s performance, a long straight pathway, with no other cars in sight. As I accelerated, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a Boeing 747, coming towards me with no thought for my right to do what I like. It was obvious that the pilot had no intention of stopping and I was forced to swerve off the path, narrowly missing a ditch.
I pay my taxes, why shouldn’t I be able to use Ben-Gurion airport’s runways for my personal pleasure.
Needing to exercise both my body and my inalienable rights, I took out from the back of a cupboard my roller-skates. As I am sure you know, roller skating, which uses all the body’s muscles and especially the heart, gives a full aerobic workout. Roller skating has the same health benefits as jogging. I live not far from a very convenient roller skating track, most of the roller-skating community call it Kvish 6, although its official title is the Trans-Israel Highway. They do try to charge with a complicated electronic toll-collection system, but my roller skates don’t have a license plate and I just glide straight through. Usually, I skate with the traffic, but I felt like skating in the opposite direction, as, of course, is my right. Drivers were even more unpleasant than usual; the shouts and the blowing of their horns would have been deafening if I had not been wearing earphones and listening to Beethoven.
After some strenuous roller skating, I felt the need for food. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which some 160 states have signed, people have the right to food with which to feed themselves in dignity. I walked into my nearest supermarket and helped myself to a couple of beef sandwiches. I was not sure if the right to food included a drink, but took a small bottle of wine, making sure it was the right colour for the beef. To my amazement, an unpleasant man, claiming to be the store manager tried to get me to pay for this basic human right. I let my right fist explain his error to his nose and walked right out.
Sometimes, exercising our rights come with tragic consequences. Just a few days ago, two middle-aged cyclists were killed by a car that was driving way over the speed limit. They join a long list of cyclists killed while riding on roads intended for cars and trucks. In most cases, the cyclists were not at fault, but they are, like John O’Day, just as dead as if they had been.
Back in 2011, after a champion bicyclist was struck and killed by a car, the chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee for the War on Traffic Accidents, MK Robert Tibayev, called for a ban on bicycles on interurban “fast” roads.
“Bicycling in Israel has turned into a game of Russian roulette and a real danger to cyclists on high-speed roadways.”
So far, nothing has been done to keep cyclists off the roads. They continue to be a danger to themselves and a hazard for others. It is time to relegate the bicycle to its rightful place – closed stadiums.
And thank you, dear reader, for reading this right to the end