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Old 07-11-05, 12:52 PM   #1
billh
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Residents, bicyclists clash on sharing rural roads

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C%22bicycle%22

Residents, bicyclists clash on sharing rural roads
By SUE HURLEY
Special to the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Jul. 10 2005

Trouble is brewing in the bucolic hills and dales north of Alton, say some who
use the roads there for their original purpose - to handle cars, trucks and
farm vehicles.

Some residents of Calhoun and Jersey counties are irritated with the increasing
number of bicycle riders who use the roads for pleasure.

Pennie Pohlman recalls a recent Saturday when more than 100 participants in a
charity bike ride converged on her tiny hometown of Brussels. What she saw that
day on the winding Calhoun County roads leading from the Brussels Ferry into
her village frightened and angered her.

"(Bicyclists) were riding three abreast and sometimes stopping on the shoulder
of the road" holding up vehicle traffic, said Pohlman, who was working at the
Red and White grocery that day. "We have a lot of bike riders come through
here, and I'm sure it's because the countryside is very pretty. But it's
infuriating to see what they're doing because they are so inconsiderate."

Pohlman said it's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

"There will be a head-on collision," she said. "It's going to happen."

Brussels resident Matt Meyer said he frequently sees cyclists pedaling on the
shoulder of the Great River Road near Grafton instead of using the Vadalabene
Bike Trail a few feet away.

Once, Meyer stopped a rider and asked him why he didn't use the bike path.

"He said, 'I have just as much right to use this road as you do,'" Meyer
recalled. "I understand that the paths get crowded, but they're not using them
at all."

The cyclist was correct. Illinois State Police Safety Education Officer Ralph
Timmins said bike riders legally can travel on the roadways as long as they
allow motorists sufficient room.

"(Bike riders) can continue out into the lane to miss rough spots or potholes,"
Timmins said. "They have a right to the highway, as well."

But the dangers of sharing the roadways are clear. In 2003, 17 bicyclists were
killed on Illinois roads, and 2,971 were injured, according to Illinois
Department of Transportation officials.

In Missouri, nine people were killed in bicycle traffic accidents in 2003, the
last year for which statistics were available. More than 650 were injured in
crashes involving bicycles, said Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Most
car-bicycle accidents occur in urban areas.

Calhoun County Sheriff Richard Meyer said although no cycling collisions have
happened there in several years, he agreed the road-sharing issue could be
solved with common sense, especially on summer weekends when bikers swell the
county's population of 5,300 to about "five times the normal," Meyer said.

And although Sheriff Meyer said he has reprimanded riders for ignoring stop
signs or otherwise disobeying laws, he hasn't issued any tickets.

"There's not much I can do unless I sit out there with my red lights on,
slowing traffic down even more," he said. "We have done that."

Ride organizers also are doing their part to make rides safe. Cycling events
such as the annual Tour de Cure on June 11, which took 150 cyclists through
Brussels, involve plenty of safety planning.

Lesli von Seelen with the St. Louis branch of the American Diabetes Association
- the organization that sponsors the Tour de Cure - said she makes sure the
chosen route is safe for the riders and manageable for the communities along
the way.

Warning and hazard signs are posted along the route the bikers travel, and
volunteers in support vehicles follow, monitoring them closely.

But, von Seelen added, it is after all a charity ride.

"It's just one day out of the entire year," von Seelen said. "We realize it may
cause congestion, but it's our biggest fundraiser for diabetes research
throughout the year."

This year, the 560 participants - 150 of whom rode into Calhoun County - raised
more than $235,000 for the local chapter. No injuries, accidents or
confrontations were reported at the event, which began in Grafton and continued
through Jersey, Calhoun and Greene counties, von Seelen said.

Alton bicycling enthusiast Ron Mayhew didn't take part in this year's Tour de
Cure, but he has pumped the pedals for the local MS 150, a two-day, 150-mile
annual ride that benefits the American Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Mayhew's riding experiences include angry drivers who have tossed water on him,
given him the finger and even spit on him, despite his following proper
bicycling etiquette.

Mayhew said problems often arise when amateur bikers who are unfamiliar with
group events join ranks with more seasoned riders. "They don't have a clue as
to what the rules are for bike riders sharing space with cars," Mayhew said.
"Sometimes you get people riding three or four abreast right down the middle of
the road."

That's the kind of behavior Pennie Pohlman witnessed, but cyclist Chuck Mayden
of Alton said that was neither typical nor acceptable.

"There's no excuse for riding three abreast," said Mayden, who has put over
10,000 miles on his Trek carbon fiber bike in the past three years. "Folks like
that make people upset for no reason. You just have to be smart about it."

Mayhew said the wise solution would be for both bikers and drivers to do their
homework. "Lots of (drivers) don't know what the rules of the road are,
either," said Mayhew, who recently co-founded the Alton-based Riverbend Cycling
Club. "It's an education issue."

Pohlman urged riders to take extra precautions in areas like Calhoun County
where there are no bike trails. "Farmers (driving slow-moving farm machinery)
pull over and let cars pass them. Bikers let cars pile up behind them. Common
courtesy would be to get off to the side and let cars go."

Cyclist hit in 1998

Tensions between drivers and cyclists flared in Monroe County in 1998 after a
farmer intentionally struck a cyclist, Norma Browne-Gerner, with his pickup in
Valmeyer. The farmer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The following year, cyclists from Illinois and Missouri gathered in Valmeyer
for a "Harmony Ride" to prove cyclists and drivers could coexist peacefully on
county roads.

Dan Kelley, the Monroe County sheriff, said tensions since had cooled as
motorists have recognized the right of cyclists to use county roads and
highways.

"It's not a constant ongoing problem," Kelley said. "The problem with the
bicycles tends to be the numbers on rural and small roads. If you're riding 50
or 60 bikes, even if they're riding single-file, how do you get a passenger car
around safely?

"That used to be the bone of contention when they used to have big bike rides.
You've got people on both sides of the issue who contribute to the problem by
either not knowing or not adhering to the rules."

William Lamb of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this story.
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Old 07-11-05, 12:56 PM   #2
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Here's now to solve it: Next time, all the bicyclists come in their cars. That will cut down on congestion! Oh, and they all bring sack lunches, no spending in town, so there's none of that filthy biker lucre going into the shops.
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Old 07-11-05, 01:03 PM   #3
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Looks like a very balanced article to me. They really should have stronger emphasis on the "rules of the road" on the charity rides. I've participated in a couple, and you generally get an information sheet in the package, but there's not a lot of importance placed on it or any kind of briefing before the rides. I'm sure that it varies a lot from organization to organization, but you get that many people on the road on bikes at the same time and a good number of them are occasional riders, there are going to be problems.
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Old 07-11-05, 01:15 PM   #4
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You can also help to make the unscientific online poll associated with the story even MORE unscientific by responding here . . . link, see right sidebar

"Are you irritated when bicyclists use local roads?"

38%
ABSOLUTELY: They take up too much room, ignore traffic laws and refuse to use less-traveled roads.

39%
SOMEWHAT: They have the right to share the road, but they need to use common sense and follow laws.

23%
NOT AT ALL: The road belongs to bicyclists too; motorists are responsible for avoiding them.

(responses as of 1:45pm July 11, CST)
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Old 07-11-05, 01:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twahl
Looks like a very balanced article to me.
I don't think it was so balanced. For example the comment by ISP Meyers that bikes can legally use the road as long as they allow sufficient space for cars, and later.. "There's not much I can do..." I am finding more and more that that term 'legal' is used to really mean: You are allowed to (but its socially not acceptable) - hence the comment there is not much the SP can do other than ticket illegal behavior.

Balance would also come noting how much drivers are really held up and how important it is for them to be in such a hurry on (likely) these weekends.

Al
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Old 07-11-05, 01:35 PM   #6
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For example the comment by ISP Meyers that bikes can legally use the road as long as they allow sufficient space for cars
Well, it is a qoute from the state trooper, not the author of the article.

Quote:
how important it is for them to be in such a hurry on (likely) these weekends.
That's a pretty weak argument. The same can be said for the cyclists, since they are riding for fun. I don't think anyone wants "need" to be one of the criteria for using the road.....i would never be able to ride my bike....I ride for fun.....
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Old 07-11-05, 01:37 PM   #7
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They interviewed a couple of cyclists who had rational things to say. That makes it balanced. Bringing in another issue, motorists in a hurry, doesn't bring balance, it confuses the issue. It seems to me that a very specific problem is being reported, which is a lot of inexperienced cyclists causing problems not only for motorists, but also for the regular cyclists in the area.
Why is it that drivers can recognize that other drivers are bad it at, but cyclists, at least in this forum, only seem to find fault with other cyclists if they are either on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way?
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Old 07-11-05, 01:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...C%22bicycle%22

Mayhew said problems often arise when amateur bikers who are unfamiliar with
group events join ranks with more seasoned riders. "They don't have a clue as
to what the rules are for bike riders sharing space with cars," Mayhew said.
"Sometimes you get people riding three or four abreast right down the middle of
the road."

That's the kind of behavior Pennie Pohlman witnessed, but cyclist Chuck Mayden
of Alton said that was neither typical nor acceptable.

"There's no excuse for riding three abreast," said Mayden, who has put over
10,000 miles on his Trek carbon fiber bike in the past three years. "Folks like
that make people upset for no reason. You just have to be smart about it."

While there is an exception to every rule, I have to agree with what these cyclists said. It explains why I always ride solo, and in general have contempt for cyclists who ride in clumps, whether side by side or not. Individual riders should stay far enough apart that there is room for automobiles to pass them one by one. Using my rear view mirror, I find often I can adjust my riding pace to make sure that there is always room for cars to move a bit to the left as they pass me. To expect people to move way to the left for hundreds of feet while they pass a gaggle of cyclists is ridiculous.

IN fact, loggin' off right now for a 30 mile ride. Take care all!

roughstuff
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Old 07-11-05, 02:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemcycle
That's a pretty weak argument. The same can be said for the cyclists, since they are riding for fun. I don't think anyone wants "need" to be one of the criteria for using the road.....i would never be able to ride my bike....I ride for fun.....
Interesting thought and probably reflects many motorists opinions... "Oh those bicyclists are just out riding for fun... but I need to go down to the store in my car, for another pack of cigs."

I wonder how often motorists view bicycle use as superfluous, rather than as simple transportation.
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Old 07-11-05, 02:18 PM   #10
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How typical of whiners. An opportunist would quit complaining and set up a Gatorade stand.

If my town's population swelled to five times its size you bet I'd find something to sell to these people.
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Old 07-11-05, 02:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twahl
They interviewed a couple of cyclists who had rational things to say. That makes it balanced. Bringing in another issue, motorists in a hurry, doesn't bring balance, it confuses the issue. It seems to me that a very specific problem is being reported, which is a lot of inexperienced cyclists causing problems not only for motorists, but also for the regular cyclists in the area.
Why is it that drivers can recognize that other drivers are bad it at, but cyclists, at least in this forum, only seem to find fault with other cyclists if they are either on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way?
The whole thing is fundamentally about motorists being in a hurry. If they weren't they would just wait for the cyclists to move thru or wait for a place to safely pass. It doesn't take long for a group of 100 to move thru a small town, unless they are stopping there and spending their money, etc.

Cyclists breaking laws is a problem, agreed.

Al
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Old 07-11-05, 02:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
The whole thing is fundamentally about motorists being in a hurry. If they weren't they would just wait for the cyclists to move thru or wait for a place to safely pass. It doesn't take long for a group of 100 to move thru a small town, unless they are stopping there and spending their money, etc.

Cyclists breaking laws is a problem, agreed.

Al
It's all in the eye of the reader. I thought it was all about inexperienced cyclists being clueless/inconsiderate road users, and city-dwellers inundating rural communities.

Charity rides are good for raising money, but they tend to attract the most casual of cyclists.
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Old 07-11-05, 02:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
Tensions between drivers and cyclists flared in Monroe County in 1998 after a
farmer intentionally struck a cyclist, Norma Browne-Gerner, with his pickup in
Valmeyer. The farmer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
That. Does. Not. Make. Sense. I hope hope hope there was a civil suit that put that SOB in the gutter, and they just aren't mentioning it.
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Old 07-11-05, 02:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemcycle
I don't think anyone wants "need" to be one of the criteria for using the road.....i would never be able to ride my bike....I ride for fun.....
Actually, if FUN means riding at 15+ mph (which is fun for me anyway) then there IS a NEED to be on the road. Where else you gonna ride at 15+? Sidewalk? Don't think so. I have a NEED to be on the road because at 15+, it is safer for me to be there (as long as ALL road users obey the traffic laws) than among the sidewalk dwellers.

d.tipton
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Old 07-11-05, 03:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by womble
It's all in the eye of the reader. I thought it was all about inexperienced cyclists being clueless/inconsiderate road users, and city-dwellers inundating rural communities.

Charity rides are good for raising money, but they tend to attract the most casual of cyclists.
And often riders with an attitude that since they paid so much everyone else should defer to them. (not all or even close to most, but just 5% is enough to make enemies).

It seemed the anger all came from organized, take money, events, not from riders just going out and riding. The organized ride likely gives nothing to the town, directly or indirectly, yet causes major headaches. Take a narrow road with no alternative for the next 10 miles with riders strung out going 15 miles per hour and you get stuck for the better part of an hour trying to go 10 miles. I would get upset also. I've rarely had problems with drivers, but then I usually do remember just how I would feel stuck behind a slower vehicle and make it easy to pass as soon as it is safe.
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Old 07-11-05, 03:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tippy
Actually, if FUN means riding at 15+ mph (which is fun for me anyway) then there IS a NEED to be on the road. Where else you gonna ride at 15+? Sidewalk? Don't think so. I have a NEED to be on the road because at 15+, it is safer for me to be there (as long as ALL road users obey the traffic laws) than among the sidewalk dwellers.

d.tipton
I think chem's point was that Fun = Want != Need.
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Old 07-11-05, 03:17 PM   #17
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The responses are now going in our favor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
You can also help to make the unscientific online poll associated with the story even MORE unscientific by responding here . . . link, see right sidebar

"Are you irritated when bicyclists use local roads?"

38%
ABSOLUTELY: They take up too much room, ignore traffic laws and refuse to use less-traveled roads.

39%
SOMEWHAT: They have the right to share the road, but they need to use common sense and follow laws.

23%
NOT AT ALL: The road belongs to bicyclists too; motorists are responsible for avoiding them.

(responses as of 1:45pm July 11, CST)
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Old 07-11-05, 03:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkrownd
That. Does. Not. Make. Sense. I hope hope hope there was a civil suit that put that SOB in the gutter, and they just aren't mentioning it.
A lot of cyclists were upset about that one. Typical slap on the wrist. Plus the judge denied any restitution. I never heard about results of a civil case. I know the cyclist was a former sheriff who was relegated to a desk job with constant back pain after the incident. Here's what I found on google.

link

Browne-Dillenberger Incident in Monroe County

Ray Latimer, district 8 board member of the League of Illinois Bicyclists has been
tracking the Browne-Dillenberger incident in Monroe County for over a year now. In
addition to attending all the sessions in the Monroe County Courthouse dealing with
the case, Latimer also talked with the Monroe County State's Attorney, the Sheriff,
was interviewed for newspaper articles and has taken part in radio and television
reports.

The case involves a rural Monroe County man who intentionally drove his pickup into
a bicyclist in a December, 1998 incident. The cyclist, Norma Browne, a former St.
Louis County Police officer, incurred a number of injuries when the angry James
Dillenberger rammed his pickup into the back of her bicycle.
The driver, Dillenberger, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated reckless
driving in a Monroe County court on November 17, 1999. On December 29, 1999 he
was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $250. At the sentencing hearing, the judge
postponed a ruling on the amount of restitution to be paid by Mr. Dillenberger to Ms.
Browne.

On Tuesday, January 11, 2000, Monroe County Circuit Judge Ellen Dauber denied
the request from Norma Browne-Gerner for $88,960 in restitution from farmer James
Dillenberger, 46. According to a report in the January 13, 2000, St. Louis Post
Dispatch, Ms. Browne said, "I guess that leaves me no option other than to pursue it
civilly. They've given me no alternative. It doesn't surprise me that they'd rather have
me sue him than them be the bad guys."

According to Latimer, "Norma appreciates the support and interest the cycling
community has shown." He says she also asks that, "The cycling community, despite
our strong feelings, not do anything that would further aggravate her personal
situation with the criminal and civil courts of Monroe County or that would further
inflame the general situation with respect to cyclists there."

A Harmony Ride bringing together Monroe County residents and recreational
bicyclists is being planned according to Ray Latimer. He says "We have established
April 15, 2000 as the date of the ride with April 22, 2000 as a fall back date. We hope
many of you will join in supporting the ride and be at the ride itself."
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Old 07-11-05, 03:51 PM   #19
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These guys are all really brave, ramming woman and older cyclists when not ramming into kids. That town needs an NRA Ride, all riders to be armed and ready to defend against life-threatening aggression.
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Old 07-11-05, 03:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
These guys are all really brave, ramming woman and older cyclists when not ramming into kids.
As if it matters WHO they're running over?
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Old 07-11-05, 04:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
These guys are all really brave, ramming woman and older cyclists when not ramming into kids. That town needs an NRA Ride, all riders to be armed and ready to defend against life-threatening aggression.
Problem is that the town may already have a significant NRA participation.

Seems to me that the cycling community and event organizers have a lot of perseverence in trying to improve the situation in a peaceful way and I wish them success at every bit of the way.
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Old 07-11-05, 04:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
These guys are all really brave, ramming woman and older cyclists when not ramming into kids. That town needs an NRA Ride, all riders to be armed and ready to defend against life-threatening aggression.
If it involved the NRA, the firearms laws would be strictly adhered to.
This is the same area where a woman, I think named Morrison(?), wrote an article last year or the year before, about cyclists being on HER roads. Others responded about our "revealing" clothing, which should have given us an idea about their prejudices.
In the article, it mentions drivers being held up by cyclists that have stopped on the shoulder. (???????????)
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Old 07-11-05, 05:08 PM   #23
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I consider the article as more negative towards cyclist. It sets the tone that roads are for motorist not bicyclist, with the very first sentence.


Quote:
Trouble is brewing in the bucolic hills and dales north of Alton, say some who use the roads there for their original purpose - to handle cars, trucks and farm vehicles.
Note that the words in red are put forward as a statement of fact and not as a viewpoint. And here I thought cyclist were the group who originally worked to get the streets paved. The author seemed to miss that point.

The article continues to build the position that bicycles do not serve a useful purpose with the implication that they are only used for fun, while on the other hand cars, trucks and farm vehicles serve only useful purposes. If the article were balanced, the author would point out that car and trucks are often used for recreation on weekends and that bicycles are often used for commuting and utility.


Quote:
The cyclist was correct. Illinois State Police Safety Education Officer Ralph Timmins said bike riders legally can travel on the roadways as long as they allow motorists sufficient room.
Since the above was not placed in quotes, I wonder if the Illinois State Police Safety Education Officer really does not understand the meaning of Illinois law or if the author simply attributed her bias into general statements the officer made in reference to the law. I doubt the author even bothered to actually sit down and read the laws herself.

The author then moves into the bicycling is dangerous theme with her statistics and statement of there is going to be a head-on, along with the bicyclist should get on the bike path and out of my road statement of "I understand that the paths get crowded, but they're not using them at all." No effort by the author is made to note relative death rates to the intended users of the roads; cars, trucks and farm vehicles or is the point made that motorist could make the roads safer for cyclist with proper behavior and patience on their part.

After the reader gets halfway through the article (assuming they even read that far) they get a couple of neutral paragraphs. Then the reader finally gets to hear a bicyclist defend his use of the roads and point out how some in the charity riders were cycling improperly.

The author gets brownie points for including a few comments by a cyclist and by finishing with a neutral sentence (even though the lead into the last sentence was not neutral).
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Old 07-11-05, 06:27 PM   #24
Keith99
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From the article:

Brussels resident Matt Meyer said he frequently sees cyclists pedaling on the
shoulder of the Great River Road near Grafton instead of using the Vadalabene
Bike Trail a few feet away.

Once, Meyer stopped a rider and asked him why he didn't use the bike path.

"He said, 'I have just as much right to use this road as you do,'" Meyer
recalled. "I understand that the paths get crowded, but they're not using them
at all


Assuming this is what really was said and it is typical then cyclists and their attitude are a big part of the problem here. Matt Meyer asked a good question. It deserved a good answer. He is now an enemy. AND the question in and of itself deserves an answer. I assume there is a good answer. Let's say it is bacause the path is not maintained and is dangerous just saying that might well have made Meyer into an ally, or at least lest him neutral.
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Old 07-11-05, 08:07 PM   #25
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I like the part about cycling being dangerous, then giving the stat of 17 cyclists killed in Illinois in 2003. I bet more are killed in cars over a weekend in Illinois.
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