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  1. #1
    Utility Cyclist Ian Freeman's Avatar
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    Forced onto the bicycle

    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum to post this, but it has to do with commuting:

    DUI. Poverty. Car crash. All the less than desirable reasons people look to bikes for transport. This particular breed of bicycle commuters isn't out on two wheels because they want to be, it's because a bike is the only option left to them. More often than not, these are the people riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road, or at night without lights, commonly on a bike that is not remotely fit for them and causes handling dangers.

    So what do we think? Is any bicycle on the road something to be commendable? Do we hope these people have epiphanies and come to love traveling by bike? Do they do the vehicular cyclist commuters a disservice by setting a bad example to drivers? Is their view of the bicycle as a last resort detrimental to bike culture? I'll stop there.
    "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." -J.R.R. Tolkein

  2. #2
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Freeman View Post
    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum to post this, but it has to do with commuting:

    DUI. Poverty. Car crash. All the less than desirable reasons people look to bikes for transport. This particular breed of bicycle commuters isn't out on two wheels because they want to be, it's because a bike is the only option left to them. More often than not, these are the people riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road, or at night without lights, commonly on a bike that is not remotely fit for them and causes handling dangers.

    So what do we think? Is any bicycle on the road something to be commendable? Do we hope these people have epiphanies and come to love traveling by bike? Do they do the vehicular cyclist commuters a disservice by setting a bad example to drivers? Is their view of the bicycle as a last resort detrimental to bike culture? I'll stop there.
    Woah, hey now.

    I started riding for 2 out of 3 of those. (Car Crash late at night, lets leave it at that) However there is currently no reason I couldn't go out today and buy a car and drive it. I choose not to. Biking keeps me healthy, and helps me stay wealthy(by my standards), I have no desire to go back to driving.
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  3. #3
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Well, in college my friend's roommate lost his license to a DUI so he started riding his bike. Besides me he was the only one who would brave riding down the busy main drag of the campus. He got my repect simply because he would go everywhere on his bike, ride in any weather, and was out there with us everyday. Of course, as soon as he was able to get a car he did and as far as i know he stopped using his bike as transport, which is sad really. So i guess that kind of looses my respect because he never saw the light or had any kind of epiphany about bike commuting, and is probably going out to bars and driving home drunk again.

  4. #4
    CVB
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    Maybe the better question is not "are these people to blame for the poor image of cyclists" but "Why don't cycling advocacy groups do more to educate these people on proper cycling safety and help them find suitable yet affordable bicycles to use for transportation?"

    For instance, a cycling advocacy group could team up with the local court system to provide information and even donated bikes to folks who lose their licenses. Similar things have been done to get drug addicts and alcoholics into rehab programs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CVB View Post

    For instance, a cycling advocacy group could team up with the local court system to provide information and even donated bikes to folks who lose their licenses. Similar things have been done to get drug addicts and alcoholics into rehab programs.
    That's a great idea! I've wondered how to address that very issue for the past year. I see so many 'bike riders' putting their live in danger through ignorance. Historically, when offered advice on safe commuting, a helmet (no helmet/anti-helmet flames please), etc. they are not very interested. While I don't envision creating an army of inner-city roadies (imagine the kits!), it would be nice to have law abiding 'bike riders' to help the image of all cyclists.
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    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Oh man....I hear ILIKETOBIKE coming....

  7. #7
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    More bikes is better. One of my friends (I'll gladly call him that) whom I met because he bicycles all over the place, isn't DUI... but he's currently homeless and self-employed with a decent business plan if he can get it off the ground. At least he's trying.

    I cringe at anyone who rides recklessly, but given the fact that at least half of the morons I see doing stupid stuff are well-to-do folks from my comfy little suburban utopia, I'd say that -- at least here in the KC area -- life situation has very little to do with cycling safety or common sense.

    Also, there are some people who have every opportunity to drive, but still BEGRUDGINGLY ride their bicycle. Some die-hard environmentalists, for example, don't exactly love their car-free lifestyle, but accept bicycling as a hardship that's worth enduring. It sounds far fetched, but it's no different than people who begrudgingly live on a shoestring to save for their kids' education, or begrudgingly go to the gym to stay in shape. Not all people with the means to drive enjoy their bikes, and not all people without the means to drive would choose to drive if they could.
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    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Freeman View Post
    So what do we think? Is any bicycle on the road something to be commendable? Do we hope these people have epiphanies and come to love traveling by bike? Do they do the vehicular cyclist commuters a disservice by setting a bad example to drivers? Is their view of the bicycle as a last resort detrimental to bike culture? I'll stop there.

    Yes. Yes. No. No.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  9. #9
    Ya never know 'til ya try littledog's Avatar
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    I think they would best be served by a Bicycles Anonymous group.

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    Senior Member mulchie's Avatar
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    [QUOTE= a cycling advocacy group could team up with the local court system to provide information and even donated bikes to folks who lose their licenses. Similar things have been done to get drug addicts and alcoholics into rehab programs.[/QUOTE]

    I think this is really a superb idea. THere have to be lots of folks with old beaters who would donate. And a single class could both keep these folks safe and educate them so that they don't jeopardize the safety of others. Now who.......?

  11. #11
    Utility Cyclist Ian Freeman's Avatar
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    Maybe bike co-ops that exist in various town already could serve as educational centers for inexperienced commuters. No "purchase" atmosphere of a bike shop and still lots of knowledgeable people and mechanics to help answer questions. Good thoughts everyone.
    "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." -J.R.R. Tolkein

  12. #12
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    How do you know that DUI/poverty/etc driven cyclists mainly ride in opposition to traffic laws?

    For a country founded with freedom in mind, we're sure interested in dictating how others behave.

    A world where courses in highway use and manners were free and readily available, where police and interested citizens handed out phamphlets on those courses, and where tickets to all who violated law on the highway included reductions in fines for attendance. Wouldn't that be a trip?!

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Freeman View Post
    Maybe bike co-ops that exist in various town already could serve as educational centers for inexperienced commuters. No "purchase" atmosphere of a bike shop and still lots of knowledgeable people and mechanics to help answer questions. Good thoughts everyone.
    I'm just heading down to my local co-op to turn wrenches and perhaps educate more folks on the virtues of cyclo-commuting although most folks that come in have already seen the light.

    The number of folks that have expressed interest in my upcoming winter cycling workshop is downright phenomenal and I may have to run several.

  14. #14
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Wow. I've got so many thoughts on this subject, it's hard to know where to begin. I'm the office manager of a community mental health clinic. We also provide alcohol and drug treatment. About 70% of the clients at the site I run are referred by the criminal justice system. I'm lumping DUII offenders into this percentage. Sometimes the 2 populations are the same and sometimes not. We are an area that also has a very good (for North America) public transit system. We have 2-bike racks on all our buses and bikes are allowed on our light rail trains with no peak time restrictions. This allows for bike-public transit-bike commutes quite easily. Also, if you are currently receiving mental health and/or drug & alcohol treatment with a licensed provider, you are considered as "disabled" by the public transit system, and are eligible for tickets and monthly passes as a large discount. The agencies certify this, and we only do it in periods of 30-90 days unless the client is considered disabled by Social Security. This prevents people from abusing it if they leave treatment.

    In the community, there are 3 not-for-profit bike shops that have resources available for low income people. They don't really care why someone doesn't have a car or why they cannot drive. They just want to be available to help them use a bike to get around and do what they need to do in their daily lives. One of the organizations has a great, comprehensive program for "creating" bike commuters. You can also get free lights from them if you are in need. The other 2 shops have stands available outside, some tools, and usually someone around to offer general advice. We've also got this nonprofit "bike school". They organize beginner pleasure rides, offer classes and repair stand time at a sliding fee scale, and have mechanics that freqently go to events and offer free bike maintenance. I see bicyclists from all walks of life at these places.

    As for DUII offenders specifically, I know there is a partnership in the works between the city's bike people, the county courts where DUII cases are handled, some social service agencies, and some non-profit bike organizations to help address the barriers DUII have to deal with. They're applying for grants now. A scenario that often happens is when a DUII offender goes before the judge and tells them they can't get to work because they can't afford a bike lock (we've got a major bike theft problem in this area), lights, the cost of public transit, etc. In the past, judges who really don't know anything about the matter would often grant hardship licenses and the offender would possibly drive drunk or high once more. With a community partnership like the one they're envisioning, the judges have received training and information about the issue. Instead of granting a hardship license, they're hoping for the judge to say tough cookies to your request to drive to work, hand over a lock, a set of street legal lights, a package of bikeway maps, and an order to get your rear end over to your DUII treatment provider to get certified for the discounted transit passes.

    As for me personally, I'm doing the one thing I can do as an individual - I never say no to a client who wants to bring their bike into the clinic because they don't have a good lock. Now that we're phasing out paper client charts, I will soon have space specifically for the bikes instead of having to stuff them wherever there is space in our cramped office.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  15. #15
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    I really can't stand "these people" posts.

    I like seeing transportational cyclists of any sort.

    I observe that most of the idiot-stunt bicyclists I see are obviously affluent college students.

    I consider myself to be "forced onto the bicycle", because I can't afford to park my car in downtown Boston and because the Green Line makes me want to kill.

    One other thing about Boston: the majority of people who post in this forum seem to be in a situation where using a car for transportation would be quicker, more convenient, and cost little beyond the gas (e.g., ready access to free or very cheap parking). For these people, transportational cycling is a true choice: you have an easy out. Around Boston, OTOH, most transportational cyclists seem to be riding to save money, time andaggravation over what they'd have to deal with using a car or public transit. It's not just a healthy and virtuous alternative to using a car. In that sense, I feel a lot more kinship with someone who can't afford to buy a car than I do with a yuppie who's riding a bike to work just because he/she feels like it.

  16. #16
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    If someone is riding a bike due to a DUI conviction then I say more power to them. Maybe they'll never get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle again. It's tough enough to get around on a bike if you're sober and you won't get too far bombed out of your mind so it's a lot harder to drink and ride than it is to drink and drive. Sad to say but another plus is that an intoxicated cyclist is more likely to do physical damage to themselves than to others- though were I to hit a drunk rider with my car I know I'd be screwed up from it even if it were 100% the cyclist's fault.

    Live and let live.

    And the last thing I'd need after a DUI conviction is some well-intentioned, reflector vested, helmeted, 20 watted, lane positioning safety nanny telling me how to ride my bike.

    Set the example by riding well and safely and let others learn by that and not by chastisement and self-righteous shrieks of indignation.

  17. #17
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    And the last thing I'd need after a DUI conviction is some well-intentioned, reflector vested, helmeted, 20 watted, lane positioning safety nanny telling me how to ride my bike.
    I know what you mean, but that's not the purpose of this community partnership. It's to get judges to stop issuing hardship licenses when the offender says they cannot possibly get to work by bike. It's also to try to reduce the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers around here. In the end, that's really more for the safety of everyone the offender encounters, rather than the offender themselves.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  18. #18
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I ride a bike AND have a drivers license. I just don't have a car or money to maintain one.
    The only time I don't wear blue jeans is weddings and funerals! I wear my "good" blue jeans for normal "dress up"!
    Sorry I don't meet your standards!

    BTW, I have an acquaintance that got a DUI on his bike because he DIDN'T drive when he went out drinking. It still screwed up his drivers license!

  19. #19
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    The guy I bought my first (and second and third) bike from actually fixed up bikes to donate to people just out of rehab and such. He got bikes donated to him and he sold the better ones off to get the parts and whatever to fix up the non-name brand bikes and he donated them to people just out of programs.
    Quote Originally Posted by M_S View Post
    ..... but at the end of the day we're all just dorks riding around on bicycles, right?

  20. #20
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyBikeGotStolen View Post
    The guy I bought my first (and second and third) bike from actually fixed up bikes to donate to people just out of rehab and such. He got bikes donated to him and he sold the better ones off to get the parts and whatever to fix up the non-name brand bikes and he donated them to people just out of programs.
    The homeless guy I mentioned in my post does the same thing. He goes to the library, posts good bikes on craigslist, and takes the money he makes, gets food to survive, and spends the rest on bike tools and parts to fix up other bikes. Some are ones he's fixing to sell. Others are those he's fixing for people. He wants to start a real shop. Right now, he has an old truck trailer that he rents to store his bikes, parts, and tools in. He's just about the friendliest guy I've ever met. I even blogged about him.

    Sure, a lot of times he trades labor for goods, or trades people straight up their newer, broken bike for an older one that he restored. He's got to make a living somehow. But all in all, he's ridiculously generous.

    Before he became homeless/jobless, he worked for a local non-profit bike collective type place with grant funding and the whole nine yards, doing much like what you mentioned.
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  21. #21
    ---- buzzman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb View Post
    I know what you mean, but that's not the purpose of this community partnership. It's to get judges to stop issuing hardship licenses when the offender says they cannot possibly get to work by bike. It's also to try to reduce the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers around here. In the end, that's really more for the safety of everyone the offender encounters, rather than the offender themselves.
    My comments were not in reference to your post or the responsible manner in which you described a judge handing over a lock and some good be-seen lights and perhaps a primer on biking safely- that's fair justice, keeps the roads safer for all of us and basically offers a DUI offender a light at the end of a pretty dark tunnel that they'd be a fool not to accept. I'd much rather that than giving way to pleas of, "I'll lose my job if I can't drive!" (as if it were someone's fault other than their own) and giving them back their license.

    I was responding in agreement with lil' brown bats post about "these people" posts. What is that? Are those of us who ride what we call "responsibly" becoming some new form of Puritan. Soon we'll have stockades along every bike path and roadway for cyclists who don't conform- and that I find counterproductive.

    edit: probably my first ten years of bike commuting were as much due to economics ("poor"- dirt poor to be exact) than any other reason. I don't personally see that as a "less than desirable reason" to use a bike for transportation. I am no longer among "the poor" but I do not consider my biking any more noble and/or desirable than I did at that time. I might be responding to that "this particular breed" comment in the OP- I found it insulting and I think it didn't sit well.
    Last edited by buzzman; 10-27-07 at 05:43 PM.

  22. #22
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Ah. Well for me, a person on a bike is a person on a bike. If they're willing to talk, we've got something in common. I talk more about bikes with the "DUII guys" on the train than I do the commuters dressed in the full lycra regalia. It's a funny world we inhabit.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  23. #23
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb View Post
    I know what you mean, but that's not the purpose of this community partnership. It's to get judges to stop issuing hardship licenses when the offender says they cannot possibly get to work by bike. It's also to try to reduce the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers around here. In the end, that's really more for the safety of everyone the offender encounters, rather than the offender themselves.
    Pardon my ignorance, what is a 'hardship license'?

  24. #24
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    It's a limited license when you've lost your regular one. It generally only allows you to drive to and from work.

    Here's info. from my state's website. Other states' policies differ.

    Hardship and Probationary Cases

    Although suspension prohibits driving, there are exceptions for hardship cases with a hardship or probationary permit (for habitual offenders). The exceptions could allow you to drive for:
    Transportation to and from work
    Driving related to employment
    Medical treatment
    Seeking employment
    Participation in alcohol or drug treatment

    Hardship permits allow for driving only noncommercial vehicles and must be granted by the DMV or courts. To find out if you are eligible, contact DMV at (503) 945-5400.You are not eligible if your license was revoked for a traffic crime or for violating a hardship permit. If your license was suspended for failure to appear or failure to comply, you are not eligible either.
    If your suspension is for an uninsured accident or a minor in possession of alcohol, a hardship permit may be issued for basic needs, such as transporting children to and from school or day care, grocery shopping, or seeking medical treatment.
    Oregon may issue a probationary permit if you have lost your license as a habitual offender. The probationary permit allows you to drive a car for:
    Transportation to and from work
    Driving related to employment
    Seeking employment
    Participation in alcohol or drug treatment
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  25. #25
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Ah, you've opened a big and contentious one here.

    The answer is an absolute yes. Everyone should be able to ride no matter how bike-abled they are. I think that the right to bike is up there with the right to walk. Bikes should not be reserved for any self-ordained elite. This world owes people a fairly fast efficient method of travel, no matter their circumstances. Those of us that have invested heavily in bicycling theories and fine bicycles must accept that there are bicyclists of all abilities out there.

    Having said that, I also support universal education about bicycling.

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