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Old 12-22-05, 04:41 PM   #1
CanyonChaser
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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.

Sincerely,

Last edited by CanyonChaser; 12-22-05 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 12-22-05, 04:51 PM   #2
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I had a similar experience with a local Cable company van. Nobody screamed out the window but the 6 inches at 50MPH sounds real familiar (it felt like 3 inches). Thinking about it, someone screaming, showing that it was premeditated would be a little reassuring. I can only assume the idiot that passed me never knew I was there. Vehicles before and after him were giving me 5 feet. I was close to home so I called the company and complained. I got a call back from a supervisor and had to inform him about the 3ft for bicycles law here in AZ. I should have followed up with a letter.
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Old 12-22-05, 05:11 PM   #3
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Same here with UTZ potato chip drivers. I hate even to be near them in my car.
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Old 12-22-05, 06:12 PM   #4
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I think that is an outstanding letter. If I were you, after having spent the time to draft it, would mail it.

I would make one correction: "leaving the Johnson to die" presumably should be "leaving Ms. Johnson to die."

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Old 12-22-05, 06:27 PM   #5
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Good letter, although you might consider revising slightly for length. I'd copy it to your state senator and representative, and any bike advocacy groups you may have.
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Old 12-22-05, 06:29 PM   #6
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well written

I liked it!

Good luck on getting this resolved
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Old 12-22-05, 07:51 PM   #7
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Often the "letters" folks post here aren't particularly well written, but yours is well put together, nice! One typo where you put "the Johnson" and clearly meant something else. Send it out, see what happens (likely nothing but at least you tried).
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Old 12-22-05, 08:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by oboeguy
Often the "letters" folks post here aren't particularly well written, but yours is well put together, nice! One typo where you put "the Johnson" and clearly meant something else. Send it out, see what happens (likely nothing but at least you tried).
A good way to have an answer would be to send the same letter every week until they show life sign.

Yea .. I listened again to the "Shawshank Redemption" yesterday .. But man .. he had his library
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Old 12-22-05, 08:15 PM   #9
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Well written letter. Keep us posted if you receive (or even if you don't receive) a reply. I think that 90 days would be a good time frame.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:26 PM   #10
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In general, every rider should feel obligated to contact a company whose truck comes close to hitting them.
Word it well. Be civil and professional and courteous, and you'll have a greater impact.

In the case of the Cable Co., for instance, the company will likely send a memo throughout their company to remind drivers of their responsibilities. They don't want the bad PR (or the paperwork) that goes with an incident on the road.

Sadly, it's like holding back the ocean with a broom.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:35 PM   #11
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Since you were close to the prison, the vehicles probably were probaly headed there. You might send your letter to the warden of the prison. Chances are you will get a better response from the prison than the governor. The prison would probably be able to determine what vehicle it was and track down the driver and passenger since there are probably records of when vehicles enter and leave the prison.

The governor's office might send your complaint to the prison (if they make the connection) but I wouldn't rely on it.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:49 PM   #12
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Are you sure the governor's office is the correct place to send this? I can't tell you for sure but one time i had a bad experience with a state employee. I was at a state location delivering a product as a vendor to the state in which i live. A couple state employees as well as myself and one of my employees was unloading this heavy piece of equipment out of the back of the van. The door on my delivery van somehow came to rest on a nearby by truck. It made a tiny little scratch in the truck door.

It happened quietly and i never even noticed as i was busy unloading the product. Some long haired idiot came outside and started screaming at me. He was really mad and told me that i scratched "his" truck and that i was a dumb blankety, blank.

I apologized but he kept going at me. He told me it was going to cost me. He was literally spitting, he was yelling so loud at me. He threw an accident report at me and told me to fill it out and say that i damaged his truck. I told him that I wasn't 100 % sure that we damaged it. I said that although it was our vehicle, his employees were also helping and it just as well could have been one of them that opened the door into his truck. I simply coudln't remember.

So I stated that in the report. He was really pissed when he read that. STill, i wasn't going to admit guilt for something i was unsure of. ANyway, when i got back to the office i really started to stew over this. This guy was actually working for ME as a taxpayer. It wasn't even HIS truck. It was just as much mine as his. It was a state truck with state tags on it!

So I contacted the Secretary of Human Resources for the State via email. I was amazed to see that she herself replied to me within 24 hrs. She was very apologetic and told me that this would be corrected. A week or so later, she followed up and told me that the individual had been reprimanded.

My point? Not sure i guess, but it just got me thinking that maybe you need to be dealing with someone other than the governor's office.
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Old 12-22-05, 09:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supcom
Since you were close to the prison, the vehicles probably were probaly headed there. You might send your letter to the warden of the prison. Chances are you will get a better response from the prison than the governor. The prison would probably be able to determine what vehicle it was and track down the driver and passenger since there are probably records of when vehicles enter and leave the prison.

The governor's office might send your complaint to the prison (if they make the connection) but I wouldn't rely on it.
I agree. If you know which department the vehicles were from, it might be more effective to contact it directly. You're more likely to get through to the guilty parties that way.
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Old 12-22-05, 10:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyestrain

I would make one correction: "leaving the Johnson to die" presumably should be "leaving Ms. Johnson to die."
Thanks for all the compliements guys, and funny thing with that typo. I swear I read that letter half a dozen times, twice outloud, and still missed that one thanks!

And great suggestions on sending a copy to the prison and my state reps. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they were prison vans and state reps may be worthy of a few more stamps.

I was also thinking of revising it a bit and turning into a letter to the editor for our two papers.

Not that the incedent was really all that upsetting. This sort of thing happens all the time. In fact it didn't even put a damper on my ride. But after reading a blurb in the paper today about the continuation of Josie Johnson's case, I mean the lady hit her and just kept right on driving!!. I felt morally obligated to say something.

So thanks again for all the advice!

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Old 12-23-05, 11:50 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CanyonChaser
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.

Is this a state or federal law?
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Old 12-23-05, 11:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Rouleur!
Is this a state or federal law?
I believe it is just a Utah law...

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Old 12-23-05, 11:55 AM   #17
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Moving to Advocacy sand Safety.
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Old 12-23-05, 12:26 PM   #18
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I'd send it to the warden of the state prison nearby. I would also get rid of the language saying that they can't find out who did it. They very well might be able to figure out who was driving two vans together at 3pm on a certain day on a certain highway. So ask the warden to try to figure out who did it. Who knows, you might get lucky.
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Old 12-23-05, 12:29 PM   #19
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With slight editing, you could also submit this to you local papers. It's amazingly easy to get published in the "Letters to the Editor" section. Just trim it down a bit and get more mileage out of your words. This is something everybody should read. Good work, and I'm glad you weren't hurt.
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Old 12-23-05, 12:46 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Rouleur!
Is this a state or federal law?
It is not a federal law.
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Old 12-23-05, 02:15 PM   #21
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Two wheels. He's still on our team.
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Old 12-24-05, 12:48 AM   #22
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[
So I stated that in the report. He was really pissed when he read that. STill, i wasn't going to admit guilt for something i was unsure of. ANyway, when i got back to the office i really started to stew over this. This guy was actually working for ME as a taxpayer. It wasn't even HIS truck. It was just as much mine as his. It was a state truck with state tags on it!
.[/QUOTE]



I'm not going to say what he did was right or proper. I will say as a municipal employee who has a vehicle assigned to him I'm reponsible for my vehicle. If it comes back damaged, accident, etc. I'm the one who'll get written up and have the accident on my employment record or maybe ruin a 10 year safe driver string etc. this can and will be used against you if mgm't needs a reason.
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Old 12-24-05, 01:32 AM   #23
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"While I have found that this type of behavior is relatively common among drivers..."

Cyclists may be more aware of how common this behaviour may be - personally I would not volunteer this piece of information, and would infact atempt to imply the opposite, thus justifying outrage e.g. "in my many years of cycling I have never been subject to such aggresive and truly dangerous behaviour".

"It also begs to question..."

Shouldn't that be "It also begs the question"? Google returns 1,700 hits for your usage and 1.7 million for the latter.

"As I previously mentioned, I experience this type of behavior on a regular and frequent basis..." see earlier suggestion.

"I realize that there is likely no way to be able to identify..." I agree with other posts that this may not be a valid assumption. I would encourage that no effort be spared in finding and admonishing the culprits.

Your letter should include a comprehensice CC list including publication on numerous web sites (actually list them) and submission to all local news papers etc.

In general an excellent letter, sorry to hear that you also have been on the receiving end of this kind of reckless and totally infantile abuse - I hope it costs him/her/them their jobs. You might also want to mention the financial liabilty that these miscreants were potentially exposing the state to.
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Old 12-24-05, 01:37 AM   #24
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Good letter. I'd endorse that.
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Old 12-27-05, 07:18 PM   #25
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Excellent. Let us know what happens, if anything.

Other than this, is Utah a good place for cycists?
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