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Old 07-27-07, 12:11 PM   #1
bobbyahines
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Help me respond to anti-cycling letter!

Yesterday's local newspaper, here in Fairbanks, Alaska, featured the following "Letter to the Editor:"

"This letter is in response to Leslie Almberg’s bicycling problems. Highways and roads are for motorized vehicles only. Bikes are allowed travel as an exception, not a rule, bikes will never be accepted as “traffic” because you lack the tools needed, a 'motor.' We can’t accept bikes as equals because there is no possible way you can afford all who travel on highways the same level of safety as in a motor-vehicle or vice versa. These taxpayer financed roads are engineered and regulated for travel with motor vehicles at 0-60 mph. Sidewalks are for pedestrians, people who walk or run at 0-10 mph. Bike paths are for … guess what, bikes. Bike paths are engineered to allow safe travel for speeds from 0-25 mph, Leslie stated bicyclists can travel up to 50 mph, that’s well over the limits for the design of the bike path so — slow down or get a car. If the bike path is obstructed by frost heaves or kids then complain to the Department of Transportation to have them repaired, don’t ask me to change my driving practices to accommodate their lack of path-repair funding. Do you see me dodging potholes by driving on the sidewalk? No. So why is it OK for them to dodge obstructions in their path by riding on the road? Let’s be realistic here, they choose to use a socially outdated system of transportation in an environment that makes construction and maintenance of a “road” bike path expensive and time consuming for taxpayers just so the very few who use it during a very short season can commute from day to day without any obstructions. Good luck with that, Lance Armstrong. My taxes aren’t paying for that."

Source: http://newsminer.com/2007/07/26/8099

I intend to draft a response to this letter, could you recommend some counterpoints to include in this letter? And what do you think of the phrase, "socially outdated system of transportation?"

-bobby,
Fairbanks, Alaska
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Old 07-27-07, 12:31 PM   #2
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Only one intelligent response possible:

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Old 07-27-07, 12:56 PM   #3
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Ah, some times I wonder why I left Alaska something comes back to show me. But for the most part there was a recent thread you can search for that had information about taxes and bicycles showing that the bicyclists were paying more per mile in taxes than the amount of wear on the roads. But the writer of that letter wont listen. If the RCW's for Alaska are available to you dig around and give him the numbers showing where bicycles are vehicles and are on the road. Then give him Chipcoms response
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Old 07-27-07, 01:13 PM   #4
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Seems unlikely that you'll be able to change this person's mind. Cycle long enough and you'll come across people like this. The obvious response would be to inform said individual of the traffic laws of Fairbanks and of Alaska regarding bicycles. An endorsement by local law enforcement wouldn't hurt either. I'm sure that Fairbanks PD has some kind of community outreach office that might be able to assist you with getting your facts together.

In general fighting fire with fire rarely works and doesn't really solve anything. Perhaps more constructive would be a letter to the newspaper asking for their help in informing the public of the benefits of bicycling, but spinning it so they'll have a story they can sell. I doubt very much the paper would help you proliferate a flame war on their pages. But if you've got a headline that can sell newspapers, maybe you'll find a journalist that will help you get a story going, and that would go much further than the "letters to the editor" column.

FWIW...
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Old 07-27-07, 01:21 PM   #5
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You'll get the best reaction from readers if you emphasize the following points:

- American/Western values regarding liberty require careful protection of everyone's right to travel to their destination of choice, requiring access to essential public routes. Public roads belong to the public.

- Americans value choice in vehicle type, from SUVs to Hybrids, motorcycles to bicycles. Americans don't want their government to prohibit their use of their preferred vehicles.

- Our traffic laws are designed to protect vulnerable road users from operators of heavier, potentially faster vehicles. Prohibiting travel by vulnerable persons in order to facilitate negligent operation of more dangerous vehicles would place the law on its head - the tail wagging the dog. Low-energy traffic poses less risk to the public; discouraging low-energy traffic in favor of high-energy traffic endangers the public.

- Bicycles are considered roadway vehicles subject to the rules for drivers because a long history of safety data has proven this to be the safest policy for cyclists.

- If the existing tax system is unfair - which it will always be - one should pursue a rational debate about improving the tax system. Meanwhile, it's inappropriate to deny basic rights to anyone as punishment for the imperfections of the government's tax system, which is beyond their control.
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Old 07-27-07, 01:24 PM   #6
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Attitudes like that are the main reason I strongly oppose bike paths. They promote the wrong idea with drivers. See signature.
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Old 07-27-07, 01:38 PM   #7
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Attitudes like that are the main reason I strongly oppose bike paths. They promote the wrong idea with drivers. See signature.
Yes, we're well aware of your 'my way is the only way' attitude. Personally, if I have a safe, convenient method of travel that isn't on road, I'll take it. As such, many of us appreciate well-designed bike paths. At the same time, if some inbred yokel wants to run me off the road when I'm on it, I'll be happy to report him or do what I need to do to maintain safety.

Oddly enough, even if the bike paths go away - which is your stated goal - guys like this will come up with some other tired rhetoric as to why you're in his way when you're on the road. Don't think for a second that if you eliminate bike paths and lanes from the world that idiots like him will accept you.
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Old 07-27-07, 04:10 PM   #8
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I really hate the identification of the general public as 'taxpayers.' We are citizens damnit. This implies that since I pay more tax than you do my convenience matters more than your life. If this character wants to get into a pissing match about how much his gas tax pays for the roads... Guess what sunshine, everyone pays taxes (sales, property and income) into the general fund to pay for the public conveyances known as roads. Owning a car does not give confer licence to be an anti-social cretin.
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Old 07-27-07, 04:24 PM   #9
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First remember you are not trying to convince him. You can't. You are not trying to convince his 'friends', menaing those who think pretty much like him. You will get negligable results. You also are not trying to convince cycling friendly people, no need.

You ARE trying to convince 80-90% of the people in the middle.

Some points.

1) The same government that designs the roads says they are for bikes.
2) What roads are designed for cars going 60 MPH besides freeways and how many bikes have you seen on freeways?
3) Just how many bike paths are there in Alaska?

Actually in Alaska one could make the case roads are for trucks and cars should not be permitted on them.
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Old 07-27-07, 04:57 PM   #10
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1. Bicycles were legally traffic and had a legal right to the road before cars ever appeared on the road. That legal status hasn't changed.

2. OP, check the Alaska statutes, they will tell you what Alaska law permits (i.e., is a bicycle "traffic"? Is a bicycle a "Vehicle"? What rights and duties does a cyclist have? Etc.).

3. We're all taxpayers. Driving a car doesn't make some jerkoff a more privileged taxpayer than you. Your taxes pay for the roads, just like his do, only your bike doesn't do anywhere near the damage his car does. If anything, you're subsidizing the jerkoff.

4. Don't call him a jerkoff.
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Old 07-27-07, 05:20 PM   #11
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2) What roads are designed for cars going 60 MPH besides freeways and how many bikes have you seen on freeways?
.

Actually I wish that were true... but here in sunny southern California we have surface streets bounded by sidewalks, with driveways and businesses alongside, that are marked at 60 and 65MPH. And many arterial roads marked at 50MPH. Said roads have the usual 5 foot wide (and narrower) bike lanes with naught but a thin line of paint 'tween cyclist and motor car.

This ain't just a problem of the far north.
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Old 07-27-07, 05:32 PM   #12
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Should I be denied my right to earn a living b/c I cannot afford a car? Public transportation cannot get you everywhere and often takes forever to get somewhere.
There are many developed countries where bicycles are a prevalant form of transportation- it is not socially outdated. If something is not popular should that mean I don't have the right to do it?
"We can’t accept bikes as equals because there is no possible way you can afford all who travel on highways the same level of safety as in a motor-vehicle or vice versa."-- Cycling is much safer than driving when they are given their full rights under the law.
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Old 07-27-07, 05:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post

Some points.

1) The same government that designs the roads says they are for bikes.
2) What roads are designed for cars going 60 MPH besides freeways and how many bikes have you seen on freeways?
3) Just how many bike paths are there in Alaska?
Some other practical concerns
* Anyone who thinks bikes slow them down should consider how much time they spend waiting behind drivers prowling for parking spaces or who want to turn left across a busy lane of traffic rather than continuing to a light

* The only reason bikes slow down cars is that the latter takes up so much space. If cars took up only quadruple the space of bicycle, they'd be able to get by without going into the other lane. What makes their trip to work or the store more important than the cyclist's trip to the same destination?

* 10 bicycles will fit in the space taken up by a stopped SUV or pickup, so you'll never encounter a situation where only 2 or 3 bicycles can get through on a green light cycle.

* A hundred bicycles can be parked in the same space as a few cars, and bikes can be parked where cars can't even go.

* On a related matter, if the cars going zero mph on the right hand side of the road (i.e. the parked cars) weren't there, many roads would have an extra lane for cars to use. You'll never see anyone leave a bike in everyones' way for hours on end.

* Cyclists are taxpayers too, and many of us are quite affluent (i.e. we get soaked as bad as anyone). If anything, we subsidize the roads for people who take up much more space than us.
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Old 07-27-07, 05:46 PM   #14
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Why in the world would you respond to a troll like this? The only way to make a published opinion die a silent death is an empty, echoing room; perhaps add some crickets chirping in the background. Instead, when you see a letter like this, make a special effort to be out on the road the next day, on your bike and exercising your right to the road in personal protest to that particular general opinion.
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Old 07-27-07, 09:33 PM   #15
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<<Why in the world would you respond to a troll like this>>

The whole point of public discourse in the press, it to exchange dialouge. This is how ideas are exchanged, and hopefully the public is educated. In this case, it is an opportunity to change minds, about the right to use the roads using whatever form of transportation we so choose.

It is a basic constitional right to free speech, and if that right is not excersed, you loose it.
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Old 07-27-07, 09:46 PM   #16
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It is a basic constitional right to free speech, and if that right is not excersed, you loose it.
IMHO, the common and fundamental right to travel also needs to be exercised:
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The [U.S. Supreme] Court will also apply a strict scrutiny test if the classification interferes with fundamental rights such as first amendment rights, the right to privacy, or the right to travel.
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Old 07-27-07, 10:14 PM   #17
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I have a letter to the editor pinned to the board above my desk: title: "Soccer, sport of terrorists" it is just sad that there are idiots everywhere that have enough time on their hands to write such trash.

The soccer letter is about how soccer is ruining American football and equates anyone who plays real fotbol with the taliban. Guess I am on some watch list because I played soccer. The writer of the Alaska letter is almost as stupid.
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Old 07-27-07, 10:26 PM   #18
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I would respond with something to the effect of:

'Before one can state facts, one must know facts. Highways and roads are NOT for motorized vehicles. Highways and roads are public spaces and, therefore, natural to pedestrians, cyclists and any other member of the public whom does not require special permission to access public spaces. By virtue of requiring a license, a motor vehicle is a GUEST upon a public space and must, by law, acknowledge and respect all other legally recognized users of public spaces. Look it up, brainiac. The laws are clear and before you ever passed your test, you should have known them.

Taxpayers, indeed, fund roads, but contrary to your beliefs, gas, vehicle and other car-related taxes do NOT pay for roads. Property taxes pay for roads. They are a municipal responsibility. All cyclists are either home-owners or tenants and, therefore, they all pay property taxes, directly or indirectly. As a result, they pay for the roads you have been granted the PRIVELEGE of operating your vehicle on, but that they possess the natural right to use.

Cyclists and motorists do exist as equals elsewhere in the civilized world and only the ignorant, misguided or self-aggrandizing think otherwise. In some respects the two modes of travel are unequal: bicycles, generally, are unable to travel as fast as a motor vehicle, but that does not make them unequal; it means they are physically incapable, for the most part, of exceeding the maximum speed-limits and, therefore are more law-abiding and safer and in some contexts, that would make them superior. Motor vehicles are generally less maneuverable and accessible to various roads, paths or trails, but that does not mean they are unequal to a bicycle; it means accomodations are needed to allow them to operate safely. Bicycles are generally incapable of hauling multiple people and/or cargo, but that does not mean they are inequal; it means accesories must be employed to accomplish the same tasks. Slower, perhaps, but with greater benefit, fewer downsides and less impact upon communities and infrastructure. Motor vehicles are responsible for more deaths and serious injury, greater environmental destruction and physical damage to infrastructure than bicycles are, but that does not make cars, trucks and motorcycles unequal to bicycles; oh wait, yes it does. Since there are fewer negative impacts with bicycles than motor vehicles, bicycles are clearly superior to motor vehicles.

You may not want your tax dollars going toward road repair, but combined with weather conditions, it is motor vehicles that cause the damage to roads, not bicycles. In a perfect world, only motorists would pay for road repairs, because only they cause them. Motorists also dodge obstructions, incidentally, but should you, specifically, encounter an object blocking your path or a deep pothole, I would expect you, alone, to plow through it and suffer the consequences, because it is your contention that cars are invulnerable to hazards on the road. I propose that if you swerve or veer once, you renounce your insipid argument and must vow to never utter another foolish word about this subject.

So, let's be realistic, as you propose, The U.S. bicycle industry was a $5.8 billion industry in 2006, including the retail value of bicycles, related parts, and accessories through all channels of distribution, according to research funded by the National Sporting Goods Association. 18.2 million Bicycles were sold in the US. Hardly, a socially outdated mode of transportation considering that 13.9 million motor vehicles were sold during the same period and production continues to drop. With the imminent exhaustion of oil reserves worldwide, motor vehicles as we know them today, will soon be socially outdated, economically outdated and environmentally outdated. So, while you are a relic and think you can choose where your money will be spent, if I, a cyclist, had the same fanciful right, I could then deny the municipalities my money that go toward the roads that I graciously allow you to operate your vehicle on. Maybe I could even choose to withdraw my permission for you to operate your vehicle on my public space. Yeah, I think that's what I'll do. Your privelege is hereby revoked. Just park it, pal.'

Or something like that. LOL

Last edited by EnigManiac; 07-28-07 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 07-27-07, 10:42 PM   #19
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I really hate the identification of the general public as 'taxpayers.' We are citizens damnit. This implies that since I pay more tax than you do my convenience matters more than your life. If this character wants to get into a pissing match about how much his gas tax pays for the roads... Guess what sunshine, everyone pays taxes (sales, property and income) into the general fund to pay for the public conveyances known as roads. Owning a car does not give confer licence to be an anti-social cretin.
I don't know if this is true everywhere, but where I live, local surface roads are not paid by gasoline taxes, but largely through property taxes. Gas taxes pay for highways, big-ass bridges, and mass transit. So, if you're primarily riding on local roads, and you own even a little property, and, since your impact on the road is much less on a bike than in a car, you may have more of a right to the road than the moron in the pickup or SUV who's getting bent out of shape because he has to wait two seconds longer to get to the next red light.
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Old 07-27-07, 10:49 PM   #20
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Don't argue with this guy, he's looking for a fight. The best response I've ever found is to totally agree.

Like so: (don't argue with this, it's satire, I'm making this up right now)
----------------------------
Roads are for cars, not people. Roads were put there by gifted engineers for cars to travel upon at speeds much greater than the draconian speed limits. Drunks and poor people are at fault for these unreasonable speed limits, because they won't or can't drive cars and some government safety nanny bleeding heart liberals think that the general public isn't able to avoid running over these people, since they're always getting drunk or high and wander out into traffic because they think they're cars. Why is it that millions of drivers can manage to drive a complicated piece of machinery at speed maintaining a narrow trajectory defined by nothing more than a few painted lines, while all these drunken poverty cases can't even keep themselves on the entire rest of the earth that isn't covered with speeding cars? These bikers should be arrested, and banned from riding a bicycle in a public place again before they get someone killed.
----------------------------

And so forth. (seriously, don't argue with this, it's satire) Present the same content, but nudged over the edge into something that can't be supported. Don't get too carried away, make it something your opposition would nod to in a bar, and more importantly something publishable. If it gets published, your opponent has three options: Tone down his/her argument to retain credibility, chase it over the edge, or ignore it while most sensible readers wind up offended by the bloodthirsty cyclist hating drivers. That's why it's important to not get carried away, because if you go too far he/she won't have to back down much if at all.
Unreasonable, blathering opponents are assets. Use them.
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Old 07-28-07, 05:15 PM   #21
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Oh I hate that tax argument.

By appearance I suspect I pay a butt load more taxes than most of the crappy pickup drivers that hassle me.
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Old 07-28-07, 06:14 PM   #22
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* On a related matter, if the cars going zero mph on the right hand side of the road (i.e. the parked cars) weren't there, many roads would have an extra lane for cars to use. You'll never see anyone leave a bike in everyones' way for hours on end.
No shyt.
Selfish mofos.
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Old 07-28-07, 11:51 PM   #23
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CONCLUSION:

Okay, I took everyone's advice, found the common themes, and this is what I did:

Cyclists try to get word out about rules of the road
By Matias Saari
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
Published July 28, 2007
The Critical Mass cyclists numbered just nine, but on an hourlong ride Friday night on Fairbanks’ roads accomplished one goal — getting noticed by motorists.
Whether they succeeded in their primary mission — promoting awareness of their lawful right to pedal the roads — remains open for discussion.

The debate between motorists who are reluctant to give ground and cyclists who desire to ride safely on roads has reached a mini-firestorm in recent days through letters to the editor published in the News-Miner.
“I felt that getting into the letter to the editor exchange would not be very fruitful,” said Bobby Hines, 32, who has escaped major injury despite being hit by vehicles twice in the last two years. “I think this might be more constructive and do better at bringing awareness. The roads are not motor vehicle byways. They are transportation systems that are designed to ensure access.

“To discriminate against cyclists is to deny freedom of access...”

See the whole article here: http://newsminer.com/2007/07/28/8150

Thanks folks!
-bobby
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Old 07-29-07, 07:48 AM   #24
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I think cyclists should respect the fact that 5 people in a car traveling 55 mph do not want to slow down to 5 mph to accommodate a single cyclist.

The safety argument is somewhat bogus. A better way to see things is if the road were a privately run toll road. Would they allow cyclists, on what terms?
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Old 07-29-07, 10:23 AM   #25
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I think cyclists should respect the fact that 5 people in a car traveling 55 mph do not want to slow down to 5 mph to accommodate a single cyclist.
In 10 years of adult cycling, I have never, EVER, slowed down a vehicle from 55 down to 5.
Nice strawman, trollyboy.
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