Here's a letter that I'm just about to send off to the Governor of Utah after an expeirence I had during a ride yesterday. I can't imagine anything will come of it, but I think it is my responsibility to at least say something....
Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.
Utah State Capitol Complex
East Office Building, Suite E220
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220
Dear Governor Huntsman,
On Wednesday, December 21st, I was riding my bicycle southbound on Pony Express Road, less than a mile north of the intersection with 14600 South and just south of the state penitentiary. This is a route I take regularly for recreational rides because it is not very heavily traveled. At about 3pm, I was passed by two state vehicles, both of them white 8-passenger vans with state seals on the doors, and “EX” exempt license plates. The second van passed within less than six inches of me while the passenger rolled down his window and simultaneously screamed at me the instant his window was closest to my position. Because the vehicle was traveling so fast, I would estimate in excess of 50 miles per hour, the shock of the close proximity combined with the verbal assault, I was too startled to get the entire license plate number beyond just seeing the “EX” on the Centennial license plate.
While I have found that this type of behavior is relatively common among drivers, I was disgusted that this is how an employee of the state of Utah would behave. Additionally, the fact that the driver “buzzed” me while the passenger screamed out his window clearly shows that they pre-meditated their actions. I am almost certain they simply thought it to be funny but were unaware of how potentially dangerous their actions were. Had I flinched and veered even a few inches towards the vehicle I would have most likely been subjected to serious injuries. In my opinion, state employees should behave as a positive example, not utilizing some of the rudest, unprofessional and juvenile behavior imaginable, not to mention willingly and potentially causing serious injury.
Right now, 66 year-old Elizabeth Deseelhorst faces charges of negligent homicide. She has been accused of driving the Jeep Cherokee that hit 25 year-old bicyclist Josie Johnson, then proceeding to drive away, leaving the Johnson to die on the side of the road. Her actions and the tragic death of Johnson has resulted in HB-49, or the “Josie Law” as it has been coined, that requires all vehicles to allow for a three foot buffer zone around all cyclists. This information, in my opinion, makes the behavior of these state employees all the more deplorable! It also begs to question, how much worse the action of these state employees was that they willfully took such a risk with my safety, and I can only assume the safety of other cyclists or even pedestrians, for their petty amusement.
As I previously mentioned, I experience this type of behavior on a regular and frequent basis as I ride my bicycle for recreation, exercise and sometimes commuting, and while it is upsetting I find it all together disturbing and that any State employee would behave so poorly.
I realize that there is likely no way to be able to identify these individuals for their sordid behavior, and I realize that you have many more pressing issues that you face on a daily basis but I would hope that you would be able to recognize the seriousness of these actions and take any appropriate measures to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. I do not hold you personally responsible for their behavior but I do hope that you would be willing to do more than merely reply with a sympathetic letter.