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Old 12-21-06, 10:11 AM   #1
invisiblehand
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Editorial rant

FYI ... A lot of Washington DC area riders drive out to Loudoun County for "country" rides. The WOD (Washington Old Dominion Trail) is a heavily-used multipurpose trail running from Loudoun County into Arlington County.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

From the Loudoun Times-Mirror...
_____________________________________

http://www.loudountimes.com/site/tab1.cfm?
newsid=17611256&BRD=2553&PAG=461&dept_id=564239&rfi=6

________________________________

Cyclists should stay on W&OD
12/19/2006

Let me begin by saying I don't care who gets offended by this letter -
it's for their own good.

What is it with these Spandex-clad "citiots" who insist on riding
bicycles down these busy secondary roads throughout western Loudoun? I
watched an individual riding down Route 690 (aka Hillsboro Road)
hunched over his handlebars in his Easter egg-colored outfit, pedaling
along in grim determination, pretending the traffic jam he was creating
did not exist. Drivers were crossing the double yellow line in order to
get around him; one even went entirely into the opposite lane, on a
blind hill!

You transplanted suburbanites need to wake up to the fact that these
are not sleepy little back roads - not anymore. These roadways have
little or no shoulder, limited visibility around curves and over rises,
and have a heavy rate of vehicle traffic, since they connect routes 7
and 9.

Yeah, I know, you pay taxes too, but that should not entitle you to
create a hazard to yourselves and to the motorists trying to go around
you. You have miles of bike path at your disposal along the W&OD Trail;
why don't you stick to it?

Tom Dukes

Hillsboro
©Times Community Newspapers 2006
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Old 12-21-06, 10:22 AM   #2
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"Drivers were crossing the double yellow line in order to
get around him; one even went entirely into the opposite lane, on a
blind hill!"



OMG! drivers were forced to break the law and drive in a manner that could potentially kill someone.

give me a break. this guy can look down the barrel of a gun and pull the trigger for all i care.
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Old 12-21-06, 10:30 AM   #3
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"one even went entirely into the opposite lane, on a blind hill!"

I'm thinking the driver, not the cyclist, is the "citiot" in this scenario. What kind of moron passes ANY vehicle on a blind hill? Drivers do this every morning on my commute (and I'm usually hugging the fog line; I tried taking the lane and it just made matters worse). I just don't get it.
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Old 12-21-06, 10:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Itsjustb
I just don't get it.
me either. it's one of the most dangerous things you can ever do in a vechicle. it's russian roulette. how could anyone be so stupid and careless?
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Old 12-21-06, 12:55 PM   #5
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Another facet of the problem is very poor urban planning. The developers out there just keep buying up farmland pushing up mcmansions by the hundreds with no regard to roads, schools, shopping, utilities or other infrastructure. They sell the dream of rural living to suckers who buy into it and later wonder out loud why they're so stressed from driving 3 hours a day for work only to come home and do yet more driving for each and every errand.

The end result (among a long list of other things) is an extremely hostile environment for cyclists.

I would recommend crossing over to Maryland-- although it looks like some areas are already starting to look like Northern VA.
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Old 12-21-06, 01:43 PM   #6
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My favorite part about these rants is that it always seems necessary to immasculate the cyclist by talking about lycra and bright colours and such; basically implying they are homosexuals. What the hell is the relevance? That you're uncomfortable with your body image and feel threatened? Maybe its so he sounds 'normal' and cyclists sound 'crazy', because his points are so weak they won't stand up on their own.

Who is forcing you to pass? Cars DO have brakes.

Is it the cyclist's fault that the drivers around him don't know how to safely pass a slower moving vehicle?

What about the farmers in these areas; how do they get their tractors around?

If we are forced to ride on the bike path, why don't the cars drive on the 'primary' road only? Then we can save the 'secondary' road for pedestrians.

This guy just very successfully criticized himself and the other drivers.
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Old 12-21-06, 01:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Shiznaz

What about the farmers in these areas; how do they get their tractors around?
...and how do cars get around tractors?
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Old 12-21-06, 02:02 PM   #8
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Another facet of the problem is very poor urban planning.
And poor suburban planning. And poor rural area planning. I have not been on the roads under discussion, but I have driven a bit on Virginia roads around Manassas, Fredericksburg, and other Civil War battle sites. What I noticed first and foremost on virtually all roads I was on, even the major ones, is they have exactly enough asphalt to allow two cars or trucks to pass each other and not one tiny bit more. Example: State Highway 3 west of Fredericksburg to and past the Chancellorsville battlefield site - 65 mph traffic, not a paved shoulder to be found, and alternatives that are indirect and not easy to find for a non-local, not to mention a few "you can't get there from here" stretches. It's almost as if the very idea of a paved shoulder has been banned except on interstate freeways, where you have to have them to get the federal highway money.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix that problem and the mindset that fuels it is to go to planning department meetings, bring like-minded friends, and make noise (politely, but firmly at first, less politely if there is demonstrated need), early and often and for as long as it takes. Or, better yet, get on the planning departments and city councils and boards of supervisors or aldermen or whatever they are called where you are. Getting pissed at these people and simply dismissing htem as morons or buffoons is counter-productive.
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Old 12-21-06, 02:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by eubi
...and how do cars get around tractors?
On rural roads in Northern California, the same way they get around cyclists - some drivers, perhaps even most, are considerate and wait for a safe place to pass, but far too many do it dangerously, illegally, stupidly and with no consideration of potential consequences. My guess is it's the same in Virginia and pretty much everywhere else. The percentages may vary, but the basic pattern likely is pretty consistent.

Except in Iowa. Iowa drivers are, as a group, the best I ever encountered (granted, it was 26 years ago), and the roads, even the major ones, tended to have very narrow shouldes when they had them at all. Must be the RAGBRAI effect.
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Old 12-21-06, 02:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invisiblehand
FYI ... A lot of Washington DC area riders drive out to Loudoun County for "country" rides. The WOD (Washington Old Dominion Trail) is a heavily-used multipurpose trail running from Loudoun County into Arlington County.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

From the Loudoun Times-Mirror...
_____________________________________

http://www.loudountimes.com/site/tab1.cfm?
newsid=17611256&BRD=2553&PAG=461&dept_id=564239&rfi=6

________________________________

Cyclists should stay on W&OD
12/19/2006

Let me begin by saying I don't care who gets offended by this letter -
it's for their own good.

What is it with these Spandex-clad "citiots" who insist on riding
bicycles down these busy secondary roads throughout western Loudoun? I
watched an individual riding down Route 690 (aka Hillsboro Road)
hunched over his handlebars in his Easter egg-colored outfit, pedaling
along in grim determination, pretending the traffic jam he was creating
did not exist. Drivers were crossing the double yellow line in order to
get around him; one even went entirely into the opposite lane, on a
blind hill!

You transplanted suburbanites need to wake up to the fact that these
are not sleepy little back roads - not anymore. These roadways have
little or no shoulder, limited visibility around curves and over rises,
and have a heavy rate of vehicle traffic, since they connect routes 7
and 9.

Yeah, I know, you pay taxes too, but that should not entitle you to
create a hazard to yourselves and to the motorists trying to go around
you. You have miles of bike path at your disposal along the W&OD Trail;
why don't you stick to it?

Tom Dukes

Hillsboro
©Times Community Newspapers 2006
Sadly, this rant accurately reflects the beliefs held by many Americans about cyclists on roads, perhaps even the majority. Tragically, it also reflects the beliefs of many cyclists, including most "bike advocates", and probably most potential cyclists.

Cyclists, like all drivers of slow moving vehicles, have a right to ride on any road where slow moving vehicles are not prohibited, no matter how much that may slow down others, and there needs to be more of us out there asserting that right (so everyone gets used to it and accepts it), and not capitulating to these wrong-headed beliefs by calling for "separate 'velo-transit' space" for cyclists.

Unfortunately, the latter -- enforcing the notion that cars and bikes sharing the same road space is undesireable and should be avoided as much as possible -- , not the former, is what "bike advocacy" is currently mostly about promoting.

The sentiments expressed in this editorial rant should be no surprise, for they are logically consistent with exactly what most "bike advocates" are calling for today.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 12-21-06 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 12-21-06, 03:19 PM   #11
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Ya, right and cars should stay on the expressway for the all the reasons he mentioned.
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Old 12-21-06, 04:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
And poor suburban planning. What I noticed first and foremost on virtually all roads I was on, even the major ones, is they have exactly enough asphalt to allow two cars or trucks to pass each other and not one tiny bit more.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix that problem and the mindset that fuels it is to go to planning department meetings, bring like-minded friends, and make noise (politely, but firmly at first, less politely if there is demonstrated need), early and often and for as long as it takes. Or, better yet, get on the planning departments and city councils and boards of supervisors or aldermen or whatever they are called where you are. Getting pissed at these people and simply dismissing them as morons or buffoons is counter-productive.
+5 Many of the roads in Arkansas are in similar condition.


Really considering that bicycles have been on the highways longer than automobiles, it represents over a century of really bad urban planning. Room for bicycles should have been planned into the roads when they were originally paved in decades past. It often costs a lot of money to purchase the extra 3 feet needed for a decent bike lane.

Join your local advocacy group and work as a team.
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Old 12-21-06, 04:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand
I watched an individual riding down Route 690 (aka Hillsboro Road)
hunched over his handlebars in his Easter egg-colored outfit, pedaling
along in grim determination, pretending the traffic jam he was creating
did not exist.
I must admit that I admire the picture he paints with the first part of that sentence. However, I've been in a lot of traffic jams on interstates such as I-95 and the beltway, and there were no cyclists present. I've never seen a cyclist create a traffic jam unless you count taking an extra 15 seconds to get around one. I think this guy fancies himself a clever fellow, but is actually a surly old curmudgeon who hasn't had a friend since 1963.
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Old 12-21-06, 04:55 PM   #14
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Most of these rants are not really about cyclists but rather about drivers. Cyclists are just seen as an identifiable "other" that can be targeted for group anger. People like this have far deeper problems than the cyclists on the road and should really deal with their own issues rather than ranting about other people's practices. I feel sorry for the idiot.
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Old 12-21-06, 04:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiznaz
My favorite part about these rants is that it always seems necessary to immasculate the cyclist by talking about lycra and bright colours and such; basically implying they are homosexuals. What the hell is the relevance? That you're uncomfortable with your body image and feel threatened? Maybe its so he sounds 'normal' and cyclists sound 'crazy', because his points are so weak they won't stand up on their own.
To me, the attack on cycling gear is exactly what you claim. That, and a great fear of actually looking different from what a person might think is the norm. Some people are such cowards

On the other hand, we could take a look through the lense of the letter writer at other sports. Look at football players with their goofy looking tight lycra pants. Makes them look like well padded nancy boys! Or the baseball player with his quaint garters. I mean, who but the most earnest uses garters for their socks? And dare I talk about the insecticide infested polyester clad golf pros... Well heck yah, I do so dare. Ever check out the "strike a pose" so many take after each swing?

I mean really, the sports that so many like and admire are no more or no less goofy or stupid than the one the "lycra clad circus clown" participates in, and the attitude the letter writer the OP quoted is just plain silly when seen in this light.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by sgtsmile
To me, the attack on cycling gear is exactly what you claim. That, and a great fear of actually looking different from what a person might think is the norm. Some people are such cowards

On the other hand, we could take a look through the lense of the letter writer at other sports. Look at football players with their goofy looking tight lycra pants. Makes them look like well padded nancy boys! Or the baseball player with his quaint garters. I mean, who but the most earnest uses garters for their socks? And dare I talk about the insecticide infested polyester clad golf pros... Well heck yah, I do so dare. Ever check out the "strike a pose" so many take after each swing?

I mean really, the sports that so many like and admire are no more or no less goofy or stupid than the one the "lycra clad circus clown" participates in, and the attitude the letter writer the OP quoted is just plain silly when seen in this light.

While I agree with you fully... the primary difference is that the cyclists' "playing field" happens to be public roadways... where oddly enough motorists also "play" by taking "Sunday Drives," or "cruises," yet apparently cyclists are supposed to stay in their own little worlds.

This of course is not to imply that cyclists are only "playing" on the roadways either, as commuting is also done there.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
+5 Many of the roads in Arkansas are in similar condition.


Really considering that bicycles have been on the highways longer than automobiles, it represents over a century of really bad urban planning. Room for bicycles should have been planned into the roads when they were originally paved in decades past. It often costs a lot of money to purchase the extra 3 feet needed for a decent bike lane.

Join your local advocacy group and work as a team.
Honestly, that looks like an awesome place to go cycling, as is.

Do you have any idea what it would cost to retrofit every road like this? To what end? Do you really think a 3 foot wide debris-filled swath of pavement that leaves the 2' wide centered cyclist 6 inches on each side would be an improvement over riding in the right tire track of this road as it is pictured in the photo?

You and the writer of the editorial rant appear to be in complete agreement.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:23 PM   #18
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I can't get past the comment that a cyclist forced a motorist to make an incredibly stupid pass on a blind curve. It's such an ingrained thought among some drivers. Take the comments of an Assembly Member about AB 60, which would establish a 3-foot passing distance:
Opponents argue AB 60 would create unintended consequences in a state stretching hundreds of miles, with roads generally 11 or 12 feet wide, not counting shoulders or parking slots.

"I think the objective is admirable," said Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. "But I just don't think our roads are wide enough to accommodate what they're trying to do."

Huff said the math doesn't add up: A 2-foot-wide bicycle, a 7-foot-wide car and a 3-foot-wide buffer zone can't squeeze into an 11-foot lane and would cram a 12-foot lane.

AB 60 could solve one safety problem by creating another, forcing cars routinely to cross center lines into oncoming traffic to honor the 3-foot buffer, critics say.
Seriously! It's been the rule since the Romans that the overtaking vehicle has the duty to pass safely.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:32 PM   #19
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I can't get past the comment that a cyclist forced a motorist to make an incredibly stupid pass on a blind curve. It's such an ingrained thought among some drivers. Take the comments of an Assembly Member about AB 60, which would establish a 3-foot passing distance:
Opponents argue AB 60 would create unintended consequences in a state stretching hundreds of miles, with roads generally 11 or 12 feet wide, not counting shoulders or parking slots.

"I think the objective is admirable," said Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. "But I just don't think our roads are wide enough to accommodate what they're trying to do."

Huff said the math doesn't add up: A 2-foot-wide bicycle, a 7-foot-wide car and a 3-foot-wide buffer zone can't squeeze into an 11-foot lane and would cram a 12-foot lane.

AB 60 could solve one safety problem by creating another, forcing cars routinely to cross center lines into oncoming traffic to honor the 3-foot buffer, critics say.
Seriously! It's been the rule since the Romans that the overtaking vehicle has the duty to pass safely.
Yes, the idea that it's normal to have to slow down () for a cyclist up ahead and wait () until it is safe to pass is all too foreign to many people (including to many cyclists). The solution is to get more cyclists out there forcing motorists to slow down (so that it becomes more common, normal and, eventually, more accepted, like it is in low facility countries like Mexico and France).

The counter-solution is to build more and more segregated cycle facilities (e.g., Germany, Holland) that make having to slow down and wait for a cyclist even more unusual and less normal. You will only hear "get in the bike lane, a-hole!" (on narrow roads without bike lanes) in areas that have bike lanes... Hmmm.... In areas without bike lanes it is much less likely (but not definite) to occur to anyone that cyclists simply shouldn't be slowing down motorists.

Since I've been using a mirror I've learned a lot. One thing is that motorists approaching a cyclist controlling the lane up ahead are often perplexed and unsure about what to do. I'm convinced that they move across the center line and start passing, even if they're approaching a blind corner, because it does not even occur to them to slow down. I am convinced of this because when I see them approaching in my mirror and I give them the idea to slow down, by issuing the slow/stop signal with my left arm, they almost always do.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 12-21-06 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 12-21-06, 05:58 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Yes, the idea that it's normal to have to slow down () for a cyclist up ahead and wait () until it is safe to pass is all too foreign to many people (including to many cyclists). The solution is to get more cyclists out there forcing motorists to slow down.

Since I've been using a mirror I've learned a lot. One thing is that motorists approaching a cyclist controlling the lane up ahead are often perplexed and unsure about what to do. I'm convinced that they move across the center line and start passing, even if they're approaching a blind corner, because it does not even occur to them to slow down. I am convinced of this because when I see them approaching in my mirror and I give them the idea to slow down, by issuing the slow/stop signal with my left arm, they almost always do.

I tend to agree with you on this... and saw this "perplexion" in action in my wife just this last summer while I was on bike/road tour of Arizona. Bear in mind that my wife has put in some long bike miles, even touring the length of Calfornia... but her reaction at coming upon a cyclist on a steep isolated twisty mountain road just shocked me.

As we climbed the road in our vehicle, just ahead was a touring cyclist laden with gear climbing this narrow windy road. My wife, who was driving, suddenly exclaims: "Now what?" I told her... "Well, what would you do if that was a VW camper van." Her reply... "Oh." It was that simple, and the solution was that easy... we slowed until there was a good, safe, clear spot to pass the cyclist and we did just that. But her reaction, even with her own cycling and touring experience was that of many motorists... "Now what?"

What really amazes me is how many motorists throw their own personal safety out the window and will chose to pass on blind corners... when in reality it is only seconds to at the most a couple of minutes "lost" to pass safely. Yet priorities get somehow reassigned when a bike is involved. Sigh.

Just go back and look at that editorial... and note how the motorists "had to cross the double yellow." Guess the cyclist had a gun to their heads, eh?
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Old 12-21-06, 06:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Yes, the idea that it's normal to have to slow down () for a cyclist up ahead and wait () until it is safe to pass is all too foreign to many people (including to many cyclists). The solution is to get more cyclists out there forcing motorists to slow down (so that it becomes more common, normal and, eventually, more accepted, like it is in low facility countries like Mexico and France).

Oh BTW... I nearly missed your rant at "facilities" there... Facilities have nothing to do with it... it is all about acceptance of cyclists as legitimate users of the road and cycling as a valid form of transportation. France has "facilities" too, and drivers seem to respect cyclists just fine, whether in a "facility" or not.

It is the motorists mindset that is the problem.

This was clearly proven to me when I toured in Baja and the Locals had no problem giving me half the road and passing when it was clearly safe for them to do so... yet not a single American would do that (I could tell by license plates). The Americans chose to crowd the cyclists as their solution to the situation.

This is NOT a Bike Lane or facilities issue, it is an American motorist issue.

Do I need to post pics of "facilities" in France? Such as their Bike Lanes, and even cooler bike stop lights?
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Old 12-21-06, 06:54 PM   #22
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I tend to agree with you on this... and saw this "perplexion" in action in my wife just this last summer while I was on bike/road tour of Arizona. Bear in mind that my wife has put in some long bike miles, even touring the length of Calfornia... but her reaction at coming upon a cyclist on a steep isolated twisty mountain road just shocked me.

As we climbed the road in our vehicle, just ahead was a touring cyclist laden with gear climbing this narrow windy road. My wife, who was driving, suddenly exclaims: "Now what?" I told her... "Well, what would you do if that was a VW camper van." Her reply... "Oh." It was that simple, and the solution was that easy... we slowed until there was a good, safe, clear spot to pass the cyclist and we did just that. But her reaction, even with her own cycling and touring experience was that of many motorists... "Now what?"

What really amazes me is how many motorists throw their own personal safety out the window and will chose to pass on blind corners... when in reality it is only seconds to at the most a couple of minutes "lost" to pass safely. Yet priorities get somehow reassigned when a bike is involved. Sigh.

Just go back and look at that editorial... and note how the motorists "had to cross the double yellow." Guess the cyclist had a gun to their heads, eh?
Thanks for the real-world confirmation of yet another HH hypothesis. To everyone else: when you're riding on a road with sparse traffic remember the next driver approaching from behind might be Gene's wife. She might not have Gene beside her when she thinks or even says out loud to herself, "Now what?". Help her out. She's looking to you for guidance. Give her the slow/stop signal with your left hand. If it's a good place to pass, move aside; if it's not, adjust left and stay there until it is safe for her to pass, and then move aside. Don't be oblivous about motorists behind you. Notice them. Interact with them. Help them. It's all good.

The unhelped motorists did have to cross the double yellow line, because the option of slowing down did not occur to them, and the cyclists (probably) did nothing to seed that idea in their minds.

It would be nice if all drivers were thoughtful about car-bike interactions and traffic. But, at least for now, there are a lot of Mrs C's driving out there, and we need to ride and behave accordingly.
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Old 12-21-06, 06:58 PM   #23
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Oh BTW... I nearly missed your rant at "facilities" there... Facilities have nothing to do with it... it is all about acceptance of cyclists as legitimate users of the road and cycling as a valid form of transportation. France has "facilities" too, and drivers seem to respect cyclists just fine, whether in a "facility" or not.

It is the motorists mindset that is the problem.

This was clearly proven to me when I toured in Baja and the Locals had no problem giving me half the road and passing when it was clearly safe for them to do so... yet not a single American would do that (I could tell by license plates). The Americans chose to crowd the cyclists as their solution to the situation.

This is NOT a Bike Lane or facilities issue, it is an American motorist issue.

Do I need to post pics of "facilities" in France? Such as their Bike Lanes, and even cooler bike stop lights?
We've talked about this before.

What's the fastest way to infect Mexico with the American mindset about cyclists? Start painting bike lanes.

Compared to Germany and Holland, France is fairly light on bike lanes, and cyclists on the road are proportionately more accepted.
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Old 12-21-06, 07:11 PM   #24
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"What really amazes me is how many motorists throw their own personal safety out the window and will chose to pass on blind corners..."





"Just go back and look at that editorial... and note how the motorists "had to cross the double yellow." Guess the cyclist had a gun to their heads, eh?"
The car drivers just swerve back into the right lane if someone is coming.


No, the cyclist doesn't have a gun to their heads, but if it's miles to the next spot where a car can pass, then we, as cyclists that demand that motorized vehicles obey the vehicle code, expect the cars to patiently wait behind us for miles by not crossing over the double yellow, or are we asking them to break the law and do it anyway?
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Old 12-21-06, 07:14 PM   #25
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No, the cyclist doesn't have a gun to their heads, but if it's miles to the next spot where a car can pass, then we, as cyclists that demand that motorized vehicles obey the vehicle code, expect the cars to patiently wait behind us for miles by not crossing over the double yellow, or are we asking them to break the law and do it anyway?
Personally, I will temporarily move aside to let them go by, and even pull over and stop if that's what is necessary. That is the responsibility of the driver of any slow moving vehicle. But, this is rarely necessary.

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