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  1. #1
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    Opinion piece in local paper

    I was reading a local paper and stumbled upon this little gem of an opinion piece. It's part of a call-in/write-in open forum that the paper provides called "The Last Word." A local citizen says:

    I wish the bicyclists could stay off roads that lack a shoulder. Brick Bat, News, Jolly Pond and Cranston Mill Pond roads present great scenic bike trips, but they are an accident waiting to happen. I wish bicycling could be limited to the roads that have designated bike lanes. I don't understand why bikes are given such a broad berth when it comes to traveling on roads without bike lanes. A lot of money was spent to build the bike lanes, but I rarely see bicyclists using them. Luckily, my school bus was empty and the Dominion Power truck coming at me as well as the other cars behind it chose to stay behind the two bicyclists recently as I rounded the curve. If there isn't a bike lane, bicyclists shouldn't be on the road with motorists. The roads are meant for vehicles.

    Voice your opinions here: http://www.vagazette.com/news/opinion/lastword/

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Here's mine:

    ... I wish bicycling could be limited to the roads that have designated bike lanes. ... If there isn't a bike lane, bicyclists shouldn't be on the road with motorists. The roads are meant for vehicles.

    Although the heading said, "Share the Road," this letter was all about NOT sharing the road.

    Roads are for people, not just people in cars. If there is a safe, well-engineered bike lane along a reasonable route from my origin to my desired destination, I shall generally use it when cycling. However, everyone has the fundamental right to use our public roadways in a prudent fashion. That bicyclist who may inconvenience you momentarily has as much right to use the road as any motor vehicle, including a big slow-moving truck. Roads are for people, not just people in cars.

    John E.
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  3. #3
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    Your message is just the thing that needs to be published as a responce to that letter. Did you send that exact message to them? You sound like you are pretty good in that situation. I stumble all over myself. Please let that hag know where her real place is. wfin2004

  4. #4
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Writers like this one are part of the reason bike lanes are generally a bad idea. They make non-cyclists think that's where we belong. If you support bike lanes, you are partly responsible for the writer's opinion.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daily Commute
    Writers like this one are part of the reason bike lanes are generally a bad idea. They make non-cyclists think that's where we belong. If you support bike lanes, you are partly responsible for the writer's opinion.
    Screw bikelanes, what better thing to do than to put a bike lane right next to parallel car parking spots. Lane ends right where the door-swing out range would end.

    Then it's GG to you. Mucho useless if you ask me.

  6. #6
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    December 4 - 11, I'll be in Williamsburg. I'll be riding!~
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Trab's Avatar
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    I live in an area that is only accessible by curvy, two lane mountain roads with no shoulder. Lots of cyclists ride on them, especially on the weekends. I have no problem passing them when I am driving my car. What do I get stuck behind which really slows me down? Slow moving CARS with drivers who DON'T USE THE TURNOUTS to let the faster traffic pass. Sometimes they get a parade of ten cars behind them. If it's a downhill slope, many of these slow drivers actually hold up the cyclists! Give me the cyclists any day. It's those inconsiderate car drivers that drive me crazy.

  8. #8
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcausey
    ...If there isn't a bike lane, bicyclists shouldn't be on the road with motorists. The roads are meant for vehicles. /url]
    Here in California (and probably most other states) bicycles ARE vehicles and have as much right to the road as any other vehicle. Yet I still have people yell at me occasionally to "Get off the road". Driving a car gives people a feeling of power over lesser vehicles. This person was in a school bus, probably driving the same route every day, feeling like these were his/her roads. It gets me how the writer tries to justify their ignorant position by expressing concern for the children who luckily were not there to be put into danger by outlaw cyclists!!!

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Looks like another so-called writer feels like generating a few replies, and sees an anti-bike piece as a way of doing it. The best way to deal with people like this is to ignore them. Don't give him the attention he's so obviously trolling for.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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    With an open column in a newspaper, you're bound to get people who post opinions like that.

    Personally I see TWO problems, one being the attitude of the motorist in question, but I also see problems with the attitude of some cyclists.

    Many/most readers here likely ride responnsibly. However, there are a great many 'casual' cyclists that have no idea that they are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as everyone else.

    People here say they should have the same rights as cars AND be treated as such. Yet some riders here think nothing of riding between traffic, riidng up the right side of stopped traffic or generally doing things that cars would not be able to do AND that are against the law. (like not stopping at stop signs or red lights, no hand signals, riding on sidewalks etc, the list goes on and on) When I'm out riding I see these actions every day.

    Respect is EARNED, not given. We can't expect to be treated with respect on the road if we (cyclists as a whole) don't treat the roads with respect.

    I recall about 25 years ago when I was living in a smaller town they actually had license plates for bikes! All bikes were required to be licensed and to get your license you had to show proficiency at a local exam center. (which they often did at schools a couple times a year) Bicycle related accidents dropped dramatically as did thefts. (since the plate would have the bike S/N recorded on file, and a new plate wouldn't be issued to the same S/N unless you could prove ownership or transfer of ownership) Of course this great endeavour didn't stand the test of time (budget cutbacks) but it does go to show that you can craft a system that encourages responsible cycling.

    I think the only way that cyclists will ever get true respect from drivers is if measures are put in place to target/identify bad cyclists. (which they do here in Toronto on a semi-regular basis) Of course the same goes for cars not respecting cyclists, which is also something they target in my city. (officers will occasioanlly patrol the bike lanes for parked vehicles and/or people not respecting bikes.) Too bad it isn't done often enough to create a long-term impact.

    Attitudes aren't going to change unless there is change on both sides. When people who ride bikes realise that they have to stop at a stop sign like every other car, then perhaps we'll see an improvement. Until then, I expect attitudes won't change any time soon.

    Regards,

    Savant

  11. #11
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Looks like another so-called writer feels like generating a few replies, and sees an anti-bike piece as a way of doing it. The best way to deal with people like this is to ignore them. Don't give him the attention he's so obviously trolling for.
    I'd agree if this were a post in an internet forum. But a message like this cannot go unrebutted in a local paper. Otherwise, people could think cyclists agreed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    Respect is EARNED, not given. We can't expect to be treated with respect on the road if we (cyclists as a whole) don't treat the roads with respect.
    I agree that cyclists need to follow the law, but drivers owe individual cyclists respect now. Drivers don't get to be obnoxious jerks until 100% of cyclists follow 100% of the rules 100% of the time.

  12. #12
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    riidng up the right side of stopped traffic
    I'd like to see you get ANYWHERE downtown faster than a car without doing that. Or if not passing on the right, passing on their left.

    GG.

  13. #13
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    responding to, "riding up the right side of stopped traffic."
    I'd like to see you get ANYWHERE downtown faster than a car without doing that. Or if not passing on the right, passing on their left.
    You can pass cars on the right if it's safe (just like they can pass you in the same lane if it's safe), but you have to be very watchful for doors, cars starting moving, and turning cars.

  14. #14
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    The best way to deal with people like this is to ignore them.
    While I'll agree that we have to pick and choose battles carefully, it's important to remember that public policy is shaped by public opinion.

    In my area, there was a increase in funding for certain infrustucture for cyclists because public opinion at the time showed a possible increase in future cycling if these items were installed. Doesn't matter if the items were needed or the best way to deal with the problems that these items were supposed to solve. It was public opinion that got the funding to get these things installed.

    Some writers are influential in changing public opinion and policy and we don't want them to discourage cycling based on a profit motive due to the smaller customer base of readers, (cyclists) causeing a loss of convieniance to the larger customer base of readers (motorists) because as we know, cycling is part of a solution to traffic problems, not part of the problem.
    "My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything" -Peter Golkin
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    To be the devils advocate here, it is the taxes on cars such as registration and gas that fund the highways and streets so why exactly should bicycles have the same rights on the roads as cars? Possibly if cyclists were forced to pay some annual fee (tax) to ride on roads off the bike paths and shoulders then other motorists would show less resent toward bicyclists?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Frodocious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    With an open column in a newspaper, you're bound to get people who post opinions like that.

    Personally I see TWO problems, one being the attitude of the motorist in question, but I also see problems with the attitude of some cyclists.

    Many/most readers here likely ride responnsibly. However, there are a great many 'casual' cyclists that have no idea that they are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as everyone else.

    People here say they should have the same rights as cars AND be treated as such. Yet some riders here think nothing of riding between traffic, riidng up the right side of stopped traffic or generally doing things that cars would not be able to do AND that are against the law. (like not stopping at stop signs or red lights, no hand signals, riding on sidewalks etc, the list goes on and on) When I'm out riding I see these actions every day.

    Respect is EARNED, not given. We can't expect to be treated with respect on the road if we (cyclists as a whole) don't treat the roads with respect.
    Absolutely, as a cyclist and a driver, irresponsible actions by either group annoy me intensely. I've lost track of the number of times I've been driving home and witnessed cyclists on the wrong side of the road, ignoring traffic lights, riding on pavements and my personal favourite, are the ones, late at night, with no lights or reflectors and wearing dark clothes. Now if I were to hit one of these idiots, I would get all the blame - not fair if you ask me. The same lack of consideration for others is true of drivers as well of course, passing too close, cutting in front, ignoring signals (and running traffic lights) and shouting abuse. So there are those on both sides who are irresponsible idiots, but drivers seem to get away with more.

    In principle, I would be for some sort of registration scheme for cyclists, as it would mean that everyone was taught to ride sensibly and responsibly and those who didn't would be easier (in theory) to track down and educate or even prosecute.

    One of the main problems is that too many drivers think they own the road and nobody else should be on their road, in their way or, the worst sin of all, be in front of them keeping to the speed limit and obeying all the laws!

  17. #17
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadKill
    To be the devils advocate here, it is the taxes on cars such as registration and gas that fund the highways and streets so why exactly should bicycles have the same rights on the roads as cars? Possibly if cyclists were forced to pay some annual fee (tax) to ride on roads off the bike paths and shoulders then other motorists would show less resent toward bicyclists?
    Roads are funded by income, sales, real estate and other taxes, too. Since cyclists cause virtually no wear and tear on the roads, maybe we should get a refund. Maybe cars should be banned because they cause too much damage. Perhaps cyclists could get money from drivers because we don't force them to breath our fumes.

    And don't argue about bike lanes and bike paths. Bike lanes are there for the convenience of motorists, not bicyclists. They are generally anti-bicycle because they effectively remove us from 93% of the road. Bike paths are recreational facilities, which government provides to everyone. They are also no subsitute for access to the roads. If bike paths become an argument to keep us off the roads, I say rip 'em up.

  18. #18
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadKill
    To be the devils advocate here, it is the taxes on cars such as registration and gas that fund the highways and streets so why exactly should bicycles have the same rights on the roads as cars? Possibly if cyclists were forced to pay some annual fee (tax) to ride on roads off the bike paths and shoulders then other motorists would show less resent toward bicyclists?

    Already beat this one to death too. Not enough frigging cyclists for it to be profitable. Don't forget about all the schoolchildren and little kids on bicycles and tricycles. You going to charge them too?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    I'd like to see you get ANYWHERE downtown faster than a car without doing that. Or if not passing on the right, passing on their left.
    That's the point though isn't it? If your local laws prohibit the passing of cars in traffic (as most highway traffic acts do unless the vehicle is signalling to make a turn) then the cyclist is breaking the law. By this I am referring to the practice where traffic is stopped but a cyclist will ride between the lanes of traffic. In most every jurisdiction, this is illegal.

    I know it doesn't make sense to wait in traffic if you can squeeze by, but people can't say they should have the same rights as any other vehicle on the road and then expect not to have the same responsibilities as any other vehicle on the road. If they do then then they end up no better than a car that breaks the law by not respecting the cyclist.

    In Canada (all provinces) the respective Highway Traffic Acts dictate that cyclists have the same rights as vehicles but also have the same responsibilites as vehicles. While weaving through traffic may be tolerated, it certainly isn't legal.

    Examples:

    If there are two lanes on the road, the left packed with cars and the right lane with parked cars and space to the left of them, then the cyclist can use the space in the right lane if there is enough room to travel safely. (keeping in mind they are at a greater risk for people opening doors - but an extra wide right lane often takes this into account - and can sometimes even be big enough for small cars, which should be safe enough for the cyclist) However, in this case it is legal to use this lane since there is an actual lane to travel in, and it is not being used by traffic.

    If there is a bike lane on the road, then for all intents and purposes the lane can be treated as an open lane and passing is legal so long as you watch for right turning vehicles and other hazzards. However, some cycling advocates feel bike lanes do more harm than good.

    If there are two lanes on the road and both of them have traffic in them, then the cyclist is not allowed to pass traffic in the same lanes. (IE by squeezing between two lanes of traffic or between the right lane and the curb) The only exceptions are in cases when a vehicle has signalled to make a turn and/or is waiting to make a turn. In that case one can carefully pass around the vehicle on the side away from the direction the vehicle intends to turn. This exception does not apply to traffic that is going straight but is stopped due to volume. The reason being is that a vehicle could turn at any time, and since they are in front of you and legally have control of the lane then they have the right of way and are entitled to have the space in that lane respected by other cars AND cyclists.

    Of course one's local laws may differ, but the bottom line is that we as cyclists can't have it both ways. We can't 'demand' to be treated the same as cars and then toss the rules out the window when traffic backs up.

    For some good reading on effective cycling and advocacy, I'd suggest a visit to John Forester's website.

    Regards,

    Savant

  20. #20
    Senior Member fujibike's Avatar
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    Kudos to the Dominion truck driver for respecting and protecting the cyclists!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    That's the point though isn't it? If your local laws prohibit the passing of cars in traffic...

    Regards,

    Savant
    Yak yak, you're assuming all motorists are also driving within the law, painting the cyclists as the bad guy. I highly doubt you have never or will never break the law. Adding to your reasoning. If cars don't follow the laws to the letter, why the hell should I? Of course I don't really believe that.

    How many cars on the road do you see actually drive less than or at the speed limit? Nobody demands to be treated the same as a car. That's just silly. People just need to be informed of all the rights that we are afforded by the HTA.

    Do you seriously believe in a perfect society where every cyclists follows the laws to the letter that the MOTORISTS will? I bet you a case of beer, they'd still be honking, cutting you off, yelling at you and telling you to ride on the sidewalk and shove something up your somewhere. Laws are broken everywhere every single second of the day.

    Laws prohibit a lot of things, some are stupid some are not.

  22. #22
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    ...Personally I see TWO problems, one being the attitude of the motorist in question, but I also see problems with the attitude of some cyclists....

    ...People here say they should have the same rights as cars AND be treated as such. Respect is EARNED, not given. We can't expect to be treated with respect on the road if we (cyclists as a whole) don't treat the roads with respect...

    ...I think the only way that cyclists will ever get true respect from drivers is...
    Why are you comparing the attitude of the motorist in question with "some" cyclists? Get off your soapbox and look at the cyclists involved. What were the cyclists involved doing wrong? Nothing.

    Cyclists don't have the same rights as cars because they say so or they want to! It's the law!!! It has nothing to do with respect. By the way, in California it is legal for bikes and motorcycles to share a lane with a car.

    Some drivers respect for cyclists because they are human beings, not because of anything the cyclist did or did not do.
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Yak yak, you're assuming all motorists are also driving within the law, painting the cyclists as the bad guy.
    I'm not doing any such thing. I've never suggested that cars OR cyclists have the moral high ground here. That was the entire point of my post. BOTH sides need to respect the other. Cars and cyclists need to respect the rules of the road. That means cars should respect cyclists, and cyclists should respect the same rules that govern cars.

    I'll never forget seeing an incident where a cyclist was weaving through traffic between the lanes, and when a car changed lanes he nearly creamed himself on the rear of the car since he was flying through traffic while the cars were crawling. This cyclist had the audacity to bang on the car window and scream at the driver, who legally had the right of way. I, on the other hand, was on my bike, sitting two cars back, working my way though traffic like everyone else.

    As an aside, I tend to find that I get more courtesey and respect from drivers when I ride with traffic like everyone else. Perhaps the fact I'm in the same position (relatively speaking) makes my presense easier to distinguish. Whatever the case I've never had a close call in heavy traffic when I behave lke a car, whereas I used to have close calls often in my younger (novice) years when I had little respect for rules of the road.


    Quote Originally Posted by JavaMan
    Cyclists don't have the same rights as cars because they say so or they want to! It's the law!!! It has nothing to do with respect.
    I never said that cyclists don't have a legal right to use the road. What I did say was "people can't say they should have the same rights as any other vehicle on the road and then expect not to have the same responsibilities as any other vehicle on the road." Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. You have the right to be on the road AND you have the responsibility to obey the rules of the road. They're a package deal, and you can't have one without the other.

    Regards,

    Savant

  24. #24
    . . . rosebud . . . Diggy18's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcausey
    Luckily, my school bus was empty and the Dominion Power truck coming at me as well as the other cars behind it chose to stay behind the two bicyclists recently as I rounded the curve.
    "Luck" should have absolutely nothing to do with it. There is no justification for trying to pass bikes while you are going around a curve. The driver of the truck did the right, common sensible thing: he waited to pass until he had a clear view.

    The problems occur when the cars pass the cyclists without having a view of oncoming traffic, like when they are coming over a hill, or going around a bend. Recently I've been riding more in the suburban areas (as opposed to farm land), and I coming to realize that many drivers don't use good judgement when passing me from behind. So I try and compensate by slowing down or speeding up as appropriate to avoid blind spots. Heck, the other day there was a straight, flat road in front of me for a 1/4 mile with no oncoming traffic, but this lady driving some minivan/SUV was practically tailgating me (I'm only going like 17MPH) because she was afraid of going over the yellow line, I guess. I left her there for about 40 seconds before I got annoyed enough to pull over and let her by. And of course she had a line of about 5 other cars behind her. Basically, I often find myself thinking for the driver of the car. It's aggravating.

  25. #25
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    People here say they should have the same rights as cars AND be treated as such. Yet some riders here think nothing of riding between traffic, riidng up the right side of stopped traffic or generally doing things that cars would not be able to do AND that are against the law.
    Don't know about your jurisdiction, but the law here makes no prohibition on these actions (either for cyclists or motorists). Again, it's just overtaking. If a motorist thinks nothing of passing me when they have a huge engine to back it up, I will think nothing of overtaking when I have the ability to get through the gridlock that they can't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    Respect is EARNED, not given. We can't expect to be treated with respect on the road if we (cyclists as a whole) don't treat the roads with respect.

    <snip>

    I think the only way that cyclists will ever get true respect from drivers is if measures are put in place to target/identify bad cyclists. (which they do here in Toronto on a semi-regular basis) Of course the same goes for cars not respecting cyclists, which is also something they target in my city. (officers will occasioanlly patrol the bike lanes for parked vehicles and/or people not respecting bikes.) Too bad it isn't done often enough to create a long-term impact.
    Two things to remember here. Firstly, respect is not going to come by simply following the laws of the road. I do this about as impeccably as it's possible to (and certainly moreso than 99% of the human population of this city), yet I still get treated like s**t on the road. In fact, most of the abuse I get comes from stopping at red lights, and especially from stopping at marked pedestrian crossings. I've learned to take it with a grain of salt.

    This leads to the second point -- "respect" is a vastly overrated concept. I could care less if I'm "respected" by a driver who's not watching what they are doing. All I really want from drivers is compliance -- and I know from experience that following the laws myself is not going to make anybody else do it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Savant
    Attitudes aren't going to change unless there is change on both sides. When people who ride bikes realise that they have to stop at a stop sign like every other car, then perhaps we'll see an improvement. Until then, I expect attitudes won't change any time soon.
    To be honest, we can't gauge attitudes from this article. This is just some guy who decided he needs to increase the circulation figures of his newspaper, and so decided to target a group that he knows will respond. The quickest and most effective way to put a stop to these articles is to simply not respond. Sadly, nobody seems to be getting that message.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
    My blog.
    My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.

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