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Old 08-13-09, 08:10 AM   #1
JohnBrooking
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*Friendly* editorial from a talk radio host

Head Strong: It's time for cyclists and motorists to reconcile
By Michael Smerconish - Inquirer
Inquirer Currents Columnist

In part:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Smerconish
...

I also acknowledge bad behavior on the part of bikers and confess to having contributed to it. Cruising along some bucolic farm roads about 15 miles from Atlantic City, I have drifted through a few stop signs based on a fatigue-induced sense of entitlement. That was wrong. But I now understand what causes some to behave similarly.

I'm also convinced that bikers have a legitimate right to use the roadways. But ending the kerfuffle between them and motorists is going to take some compromise on both sides.

Here's a starting point: Bikers should recognize that hitting the road means obeying laws as every other vehicle does. So ride with traffic, stop at lights, and yield when appropriate. Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled.

And stick to single-file lines. That doesn't mean hugging the guardrail or the side of the road. Cyclists who give themselves a couple of feet will make it more likely that drivers do the same.

Drivers, meanwhile, should give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. They should stay off the shoulder, even when the car in front of them is making a left; it's meant for bikers and emergencies.

And stop honking at bikers to make a point. Treating them like vehicles on equal footing with cars will go a long way toward keeping everyone safe and civil.
Michael Smerconish's column appears Thursdays in the Daily News and Sundays in Currents. He can be heard from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays on "The Big Talker," WPHT-AM (1210). He can be contacted via www.smerconish.com.

There will still be a few points of contention. Group riders will not like the single file statement, and I'm not sure about "all roads are not meant to be pedaled" and especially "shoulders are meant for bikers and emergencies". So I just sent him the following email:

Quote:
Hi, Mr. Smerconish,

As a 7-year full-time bicycle commuter, I appreciated your column yesterday about cyclists and motorists, which I read in the Portland Press Herald, Portland Maine. It's refreshing to read comments from a talk radio host who's not ranting about hitting us! I completely agree with you about cyclists needing to follow the law, and focus my advocacy precisely on education as well as law enforcement.

I do have one bone to pick with the article, and it's in the following sentence: "They [motorists] should stay off the shoulder, even when the car in front of them is making a left; it's meant for bikers and emergencies." I strongly disagree with the sentiment that the shoulder is meant for bikers. Shoulders are *not* designed for bicycle transportation, and as such they are not designed to the kind of standards that bike lanes, which *are* meant for bicycle transportation, are. Most of the public does already, and incorrectly, conflate shoulders with bike lanes, but THEY ARE NOT THE SAME! I know of no state where bicyclists are required to use the shoulder, even states where they *are* required to use a bike lane. The idea that shoulders are provided for bicyclists to use is not only incorrect from a traffic planning standpoint, but discriminatory and harmful to cyclists when reinforced in the public mind. I would ask to you to please think more on this point.

Are you aware of bicycle driving courses offered by the League of American Bicyclists? (www.bikeleague.org). They teach "vehicular cycling" very similar to what you are talking about, and I think they are a great resource for both bicyclists and motorists to learn more about sharing the road. You might want to check them out if you haven't already.

Again, thank you for a generally good and useful editorial.
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Old 08-13-09, 10:21 AM   #2
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Cyclists are not required to ride single-file in many states either. In Michigan the law specifically allows side-by-side riding, though not three or more.

In general, an incredibly enlightened post though.
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Old 08-15-09, 01:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Originally Posted by Michael Smerconish
...

I also acknowledge bad behavior on the part of bikers and confess to having contributed to it. Cruising along some bucolic farm roads about 15 miles from Atlantic City, I have drifted through a few stop signs based on a fatigue-induced sense of entitlement. That was wrong. But I now understand what causes some to behave similarly.
...

Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled.

And stick to single-file lines. That doesn't mean hugging the guardrail or the side of the road. Cyclists who give themselves a couple of feet will make it more likely that drivers do the same.

Drivers, meanwhile, should give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. They should stay off the shoulder, even when the car in front of them is making a left; it's meant for bikers
OK, the guy has ridden a couple of organized charity rides, sampled a touch of harassment, and now he thinks he gets it.

Far from it. Someone in the area, please take this guy on a months worth of rush hour commutes. I want to know just which of the best commute roads, he would ban cyclist from using - "Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled."
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Old 08-15-09, 05:04 AM   #4
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OK, the guy has ridden a couple of organized charity rides, sampled a touch of harassment, and now he thinks he gets it.

Far from it. Someone in the area, please take this guy on a months worth of rush hour commutes. I want to know just which of the best commute roads, he would ban cyclist from using - "Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled."
Agree completely. "Not meant to be pedaled"? What a crock. Roads around here are not meant to be traveled at twice the speed limit in your brand-new luxury SUV, weaving in and out of traffic and blowing just as many lights/stop signs as cyclists. Take that segment of drivers out of the equation and roads become perfect for cycling.

And what is with this whole apologist attitude for cyclists? Some do stupid things. Far more motorists do stupid things - in vehicles which are much more dangerous than bicycles.

It is a sad day when an article like this is seen as "friendly" towards cyclists. Leaning more towards cyclists than other articles, sure - but certainly not "friendly".
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Old 08-15-09, 12:19 PM   #5
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I want to know just which of the best commute roads, he would ban cyclist from using - "Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled."
Agree there. Just because a road was incompetently planned doesn't mean that if it's the best route for me to take, I shouldn't use it.
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Old 08-15-09, 08:30 PM   #6
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All roads AREN'T meant to be pedaled; I, for one, have no desire to pedal the interstate system.
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Old 08-15-09, 09:37 PM   #7
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All roads AREN'T meant to be pedaled; I, for one, have no desire to pedal the interstate system.
Many cyclist in the west do cycle on the freeway system and have few problems doing so. Many places, it is the only reasonable way to get from here to there.

Additionally, I doubt the author was even thinking of freeways when he made his "Recognize that not all roads are meant to be pedaled" statement. He was taking about many highways and minor roads that we commuters travel on every day.
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