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Old 05-19-08, 08:37 AM   #1
Elkhound
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Letter to the local paper in response to an incident

The other day, as I was riding my bicycle, a woman screamed at me to "get on the sidewalk."

The West Virginia Code says as follows:

"17C-11-2. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application."

Furthermore, the Charleston City Code, Section 114-706, forbids the riding of bicycles on sidewalks.

Hence, I was acting within State law--and the other forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have similar provisions--and had I obeyed her injunction I would have been in violation of city law (many other cities have similar provisions).

What can we conclude from this other than that ignorant, loudmouthed harridans should keep their pie-holes shut? At least no soldiers died to power my ride.

That being said, these same laws say that bicyclists are supposed to obey the rules of the road, and I admit that I see my fellow-cyclists flagrantly disobeying them--riding against traffic, on sidewalks, at night without lights; running stopsigns and -lights; otherwise behaving like asshats--and can understand motorists' frustration with us.

Yet I have never seen or even heard of the police issuing a citation to a cyclist for violating his or her obligations as a user of the roadways.

If we cyclists are to be considered responsible and respectable users of the road system, then we need to act as such, and we need to be held to the same standards as our motorized fellow-citizens. I call upon my fellow-cyclists to familiarize themselves with the law and to ride accordingly; I call upon motorists to respect our right to the road; and I call upon the police to hold us as accountable for violations of the law as they do drivers of vehicles powerd by petroleum rather than muscle.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:48 AM   #2
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It is very rare for people to be killed by dangerous cyclists (except the cyclists themselves). Therefore the police need to concentrate their efforts on the vehicles that cause the most death and injury. Bikes dont roll through stop signs any more than cars do and I dont think that is a safety issue. The low number of cyclists killed at night, when riding in dark clothes without lights, attests to the care and alertness of most motorists. I think cycling training and experience should be a prerequisite to obtaining a drivers licence.
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Old 05-19-08, 09:06 AM   #3
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Why are cyclists "us"? We're all just individuals on the road. If I were to color all motorists the same as the average idiot one I'd have to not leave my driveway!
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Old 05-19-08, 09:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
Why are cyclists "us"? We're all just individuals on the road. If I were to color all motorists the same as the average idiot one I'd have to not leave my driveway!
It may be unfair, but motorists do tend to tar all cyclists with the same brush. Your typical motorist will see a cyclist riding against traffic, at night without lights, or otherwise in a foolish, dangerous, or downright illegal way and yes, it will color his/her view of all cyclists.
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Old 05-19-08, 12:26 PM   #5
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It is very rare for people to be killed by dangerous cyclists (except the cyclists themselves). Therefore the police need to concentrate their efforts on the vehicles that cause the most death and injury. Bikes dont roll through stop signs any more than cars do and I dont think that is a safety issue. The low number of cyclists killed at night, when riding in dark clothes without lights, attests to the care and alertness of most motorists. I think cycling training and experience should be a prerequisite to obtaining a drivers licence.
Now that is an out and out lie.

I have biked in many major cities in the united states and I bet I have watched 90% of cyclists blow stop signs and at least 25% blow red lights.

I have seen no where near as many people drive like that.

Give me a break. Stop trying to justify your own behavior like that.
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Old 05-19-08, 12:31 PM   #6
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Now that is an out and out lie.

I have biked in many major cities in the united states and I bet I have watched 90% of cyclists blow stop signs and at least 25% blow red lights.

I have seen no where near as many people drive like that.


Give me a break. Stop trying to justify your own behavior like that.
You haven't noticed 90% of drivers driving over the speed limit?

If you drive, try it at the speed limit anywhere, and watch how many motorists pass you. Then tell me "I have seen no where near as many people drive like that."
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Old 05-19-08, 12:36 PM   #7
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I have biked in many major cities in the united states and I bet I have watched 90% of cyclists blow stop signs and at least 25% blow red lights.
And if cyclist-to-cyclist collision isn't as a result of that, it is a collision with a (or between two) meandering, weaving "leisure" cyclist(s) who end up slamming into each other by virtue of not paying attention.

(Yep, I'm on the leisure cyclist rant again )

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Old 05-19-08, 12:50 PM   #8
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Bikes dont roll through stop signs any more than cars do.
B.S.! Most cars i see stop or nearly stop at stop signs. Very, very rarely do I see a bike stop at a stop sign. Occasionally I see a bike slow for a sign.
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Old 05-19-08, 01:02 PM   #9
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Both cyclists and motorists break traffic laws, perhaps to an equal extent in rate. However the modes for law breaking while they overlap in some cases are often different

(in my offhand estimation...)
Motorists far more than cyclists:
-Travel in excess of posted speed limit
-Tailgate those that don't want to be
-Pass cyclists at unsafe distance

Cyclist far more often than motorists:
-Blow thru stop signs, especially 4-way, with none to minimal slowing
-Run red lights after stopping/slowing to check x-traffic
-Drive the wrong way against traffic flow
-Make turns from wrong lateral roadway position

Both motorist and cyclists:
-Run just turned red lights (perhaps more so motorists due to higher travel speeds)
-Don't stop at stop line
-Don't come to a full stop when making right on red or at stop signs
-Fail to signal

Al
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Old 05-19-08, 01:18 PM   #10
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Seriously? You wrote a letter to the editor bc someone screamed at you to get on the sidewalk?
No offense, but do you honestly expect them to take you seriously?
Can you imagine if ppl wrote to their papers every time someone did something ignorant or rude?

Save your letters for egregious offenses and grow some thicker skin.
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Old 05-19-08, 01:20 PM   #11
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Seriously? You wrote a letter to the editor bc someone screamed at you to get on the sidewalk?
No offense, but do you honestly expect them to take you seriously?
Can you imagine if ppl wrote to their papers every time someone did something ignorant or rude?

Save your letters for egregious offenses and grow some thicker skin.
The idea is that if this woman believes that cyclists don't belong on the street, there are probably others in the community who believe likewise. And, that if they resent cyclists, it is probably the ones who cycle in an irresponsible, unsafe, and unlawful manner that have given the rest of us a bad name.
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Old 05-19-08, 01:32 PM   #12
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Now that is an out and out lie.

Here's a funny story for you. Keep in mind that it pertains to a 3 way stop in a residential area.

A couple years ago a small lakeside community near me got tired of the racer boy wannabes flying around on thier local roads on the weekends. The roads are idea for cycling because they are very hily and curvy. This makes for a great area to ride as the cars can't go very fast, and there are few cars anyway.

So this community decided they were going to require licensing of bicycles inside thier city limits. This would allow them to more easily write tickets to cyclists that weren't behaving, and also deter cyclists that don't live in the area from using thier roads. They were going to vote on this at a town meeting.

One group of residents decided to hire a independent traffic engineer to record traffic at the busiest intersection in the area. This is the 3 way stop, and it's not very busy at all, even at rush hour as the area makes for a lousy through traffic alternative. So they placed a camera at the stop and recorded all the traffic, with the intention of recording masses of cyclists blowing the stop sign.

At the town meeting, they did not show the tapes or even mention the data. Later, it was found that the recordings showed that more motorists blew the intersection than cyclists... and I don't mean by hour, I mean per individual. It was something like 75% of cyclists and 80+% of motorists that ran the stop signs.

The town quickly dropped thier stupid idea of licensing, and we've policed the ride that contained most of the issues the residents were complaining about. Now everyone's happy, and we still roll most of the stops with no complaints. Turns out the biggest complaints came from two people, and involved riders peeing on the side of the road, and one guy changing next to his car. The stop sign issue was, for the most part, an easy excuse to remove the cyclists and not the major issue.

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Old 05-19-08, 01:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Both cyclists and motorists break traffic laws, perhaps to an equal extent in rate. However the modes for law breaking while they overlap in some cases are often different

(in my offhand estimation...)
Motorists far more than cyclists:
-Travel in excess of posted speed limit
-Tailgate those that don't want to be
-Pass cyclists at unsafe distance

Cyclist far more often than motorists:
-Blow thru stop signs, especially 4-way, with none to minimal slowing
-Run red lights after stopping/slowing to check x-traffic
-Drive the wrong way against traffic flow
-Make turns from wrong lateral roadway position

Both motorist and cyclists:
-Run just turned red lights (perhaps more so motorists due to higher travel speeds)
-Don't stop at stop line
-Don't come to a full stop when making right on red or at stop signs
-Fail to signal

Al
The other thing to consider is that motorists have a greater chance of harming others when they break the law. Odds are very good that of the 40,000 or so motorist deaths, few, if any, were caused by cyclists or pedestrians. On the other hand, of the 700 or so cyclist deaths, there is a good chance that perhaps as many as 40% were caused by motorists. This strongly puts the burden for obeying the law on motorists, not cyclists. Going further, of motorists' deaths, the NHTSA estimates that 1/3 were due to excessive speed... not cyclists running red lights. When an equitable amount of potential damage can be attributed to cyclist's law breaking, then perhaps we will see some sort of crack down... until then... cyclist scofflaws are not really a problem.
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Old 05-19-08, 02:17 PM   #14
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The idea is that if this woman believes that cyclists don't belong on the street, there are probably others in the community who believe likewise. And, that if they resent cyclists, it is probably the ones who cycle in an irresponsible, unsafe, and unlawful manner that have given the rest of us a bad name.
I understand that, and of course that's the case. It's the case all over this country. However when ppl yell at you and you complain about it it's hard to take you seriously. These letters are more likely to be printed and taken seriously when there's been an impact involved or something that illustrates what can happen when driver's don't know the law or take it seriously. It's not the paper's job to inform ppl of the law. It's the paper's job to print news, and your's isn't.
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Old 05-19-08, 03:43 PM   #15
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That being said.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:32 PM   #16
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Now that is an out and out lie.

I have biked in many major cities in the united states and I bet I have watched 90% of cyclists blow stop signs and at least 25% blow red lights.

I have seen no where near as many people drive like that.

Give me a break. Stop trying to justify your own behavior like that.
On Thursday five people passed me in the opposite left hand turn lane on the opposite side of an intersection of a three lane road going uphill (the crest of the hill was a mere 100 feet off).

Yea, drivers do it too. They break different laws. Probably 90% of drivers break the speed limit on every drive they go on. Shocking, I know. Most actually view speed limits as speed guidelines, and add 5mph for their actual limit. Not terribly egregious, but neither are most stop sign roll throughs.

Traffic light running, now there is a real problem. I've seen it once (and the guy was on the left side of the road too!). I thought for sure the guy would die. I was patiently waiting through the same light, on my bike.


But, just because cars break the law is no justification for me or anyone else to break the law. However, it does offer perspective. Traffic laws aren't felonies for a reason. Sometimes I think we take our legalisms a bit too seriously. The important thing is to be decent, patient, and to pay due care to your neighbor's safety.

When the first automated driving systems roll out, then our little legalisms will be intensely important. Running a stop sign could stop traffic city wide!
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Old 05-20-08, 09:28 AM   #17
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I understand that, and of course that's the case. It's the case all over this country. However when ppl yell at you and you complain about it it's hard to take you seriously. These letters are more likely to be printed and taken seriously when there's been an impact involved or something that illustrates what can happen when driver's don't know the law or take it seriously. It's not the paper's job to inform ppl of the law. It's the paper's job to print news, and your's isn't.
So, it is acceptable to yell at people who are not doing anything wrong? The Supreme Court of the US has said that people have a fundimental right to be left alone. If one does not protest when one's rights are violated, then one is in danger of loosing those rights.

I have as much right as anyone else to use my vehicle on the public road, be that vehicle powered by motor or muscle. As long as I obey the law, nobody has any right to interfere with my doing so.
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Old 05-20-08, 10:03 AM   #18
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Even school bus drivers get harassed. There was an incident not too long ago prompting this LtTE:
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepu...uelets206.html

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Old 05-20-08, 10:12 AM   #19
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So, it is acceptable to yell at people who are not doing anything wrong? The Supreme Court of the US has said that people have a fundimental right to be left alone. If one does not protest when one's rights are violated, then one is in danger of loosing those rights.

I have as much right as anyone else to use my vehicle on the public road, be that vehicle powered by motor or muscle. As long as I obey the law, nobody has any right to interfere with my doing so.
the rise of the National Auto Zelot Industry

First they banned the horse I didnt speak up because i wasnt a horseman.

Then thay came for the skateborder I didnt speakup becuase i wasnt a sk8r.

then the came for in liner and I didnt speak up because i wasnt a inline sk8r

then the came for the bicyclist and there was left to speak up
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Old 05-20-08, 10:16 AM   #20
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Seriously? You wrote a letter to the editor bc someone screamed at you to get on the sidewalk?
No offense, but do you honestly expect them to take you seriously?
Can you imagine if ppl wrote to their papers every time someone did something ignorant or rude?

Save your letters for egregious offenses and grow some thicker skin.
Actually, I think he did the right thing-- he took the opportunity to educate the public about the law. Whether anybody reading his letter will care what the law says is a different matter.

How else would he have a discourse on the laws allowing cyclists to use the road, if not through a letter to the editor? By yelling back at the nitwits?

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It's not the paper's job to inform ppl of the law. It's the paper's job to print news, and your's isn't.
I think it's the paper's job to provide many types of information, in addition to what might be termed "the news." For example, your paper probably has a weather section telling you what weather to expect today and the rest of this week. That' not "the news," and yet your paper provides that information. I've seen many, many "news stories" that were really just public service announcements packaged as "the news"-- everything from warning the elderly to be careful about giving strangers access to their bank accounts, to warning drivers to yield to pedestrians. The letters section is provided to allow those who don't own a press a forum in which to sound off on issues they consider to be important-- not to report more "news."

Last edited by Blue Order; 05-20-08 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 05-20-08, 10:20 AM   #21
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Do what you want. If you're going to bike commute you're going to run into this from time to time.
The person yelling at you is not violating your Constitutional rights. In most cases only a gvt org can do that.

Seriously...you need thicker skin if you feel the need to complain to a newspaper when someone yells at you if you're exercising legal behavior. The newspaper (unless the person getting your letter is a bike commuter) is likely to laugh as it gets pitched into the recycling bin.

Newspapers cover news and I'm sorry to tell you, someone yelling at you isn't. Good luck with the cause, though.
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Old 05-20-08, 11:13 AM   #22
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Seriously? You wrote a letter to the editor bc someone screamed at you to get on the sidewalk?
No offense, but do you honestly expect them to take you seriously?
Can you imagine if ppl wrote to their papers every time someone did something ignorant or rude?

Save your letters for egregious offenses and grow some thicker skin.
If there were only adults on the road I would agree with you but as a parent this kind of frequent rude behavior has a strong adverse effect on my kids and their willingness to ride.
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