Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Amusing Interchange

Alternate title: ChipSeal Has Too Much Time On His Hands!

The newsOK has a rather poor story highlighting a number of attacks on cyclists by bully-motorists. Naturally, the comments to the story is where the fireworks are! Once again, I couldn't help myself, and now I am subjecting both of my beloved readers to my illness. You may be excused if you wish.

My comments will be in blue and the commenter's will be in red.

GRANT said: Hmmm. 180 pound man on a 25 pound bike vs. a 180 pound man in a 3000 pound car. I wonder who wins that one? Sorry bikers. I don't condone the acts of borderline violence, but I also think you guys need to get off the road... especially when you ride as large, slow-moving packs that back up traffic. [Hmmm. We need to get off the road because when we are the majority of road users at a particular location, we define what “normal traffic” is, not motorists, like you are used to. Color me un-persuaded.]

I'm all about your right to ride and exercise and save gas and all, [Pay no attention to my previous comment where I opine that you ought to get off the road!]but I'm more afraid that I'm gonna kill one of you. I about nailed a guy riding on Broadway extension, going about 20 MPH, during rush hour! [So you are admitting that you are a poor driver, one who is likely to hit other vehicles in the road in front of you?]He was single-handedly making three lanes of traffic very dangerous, all because he wanted to be defiant and prove that he had a right to the road. Come on! [Who was making the conditions dangerous? Are you able to read minds? How do you know what motivated this cyclist to travel on the PUBLIC road?]

Give me a safe, bike only route that connects major hubs of the cities (using railroad or utility right of ways or roads with wide shoulders), and I'll join you. I'd love to ride SAFELY. [So would we. Perhaps it is folks with attitudes like yours that are making it dangerous.]I just can't believe that we keep talking about spending $8-10 million or more on light rail service (that will never be utilized fully and always lose money), and yet we don't think about spending a fraction of that on a bike route that connects Edmond, Norman, Moore, Yukon, Tinker AFB, and Downtown. [We already have plenty of bike route connections between those cities; They are called PUBLIC roads, thank you very much!]

KRISTI said: This issue has been so irritating this summer. Bicycles should NOT be allowed on the road. [Bicycles are allowed by law. Call your state representative.] If you can't ride 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, dune buggies, or golf carts on the road, why is it legal for a bicycle that can't even get up to a decent speed? [Because our right to travel by our own power ought not be limited just because automobiles have become more powerful. Our right-of-way is to be accommodated as would any other slow moving vehicle.] Not only are they dangerous for everyone involved, they also hold up traffic which makes tempers rise even more. Its just ridiculous. [It actually seems that it is the unwillingness of motorists to respect the right-of-way of bicyclists that is producing the dangerous conditions. Are cyclists throwing trash and objects at automobiles?

Cyclists ARE traffic according to state law. It is not cyclists that are producing rush hour gridlock. Automobiles, buses, and traffic lights are holding up a lot of traffic, bicyclists- well, not so much.]

If you absolutely must ride your bike, ride it in a park or on the sidewalk where it belongs and where the only person you can hurt is yourself. [Because everyone knows that bicycles are toys, and motor-cars are serious grown up toys. Kristy, what part of “public“, in public road, don‘t you understand?]

I live on a section line road and its very hilly. There are no sidewalks. The speed limit is 50 but unfortunately everyone drives faster on it, whether they should or not. [Damn those scofflaw motorists!] But if someone flies over the top of one of those hills and a bicycle is there, guess what? Someone's going to get hurt or possibly killed because the cyclists didn't have enough common sense to stay off the road. [Yep, it is those darn cyclists! It has nothing to do with the operators of the automobiles driving too fast for the conditions, failing to exercise due care, recklessly driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Naw, that ain’t it!]

I wish I knew what genius decided that not only are bicycles street legal but that they should have the right-of-way. [It would seem your idea is to have faster traffic have the right-of-way, and all the slower vehicles must yield to overtaking traffic. I bet I could drive a motor-car faster than you Kristy. Will you stay out of my way?] Earlywine Park in OKC has a nice walking track, and its marked so you know how far you've gone. Ride your bicycles there where your [sic] safe.

CHRISTOPHER said: Why would you ride your bike on a road without a wide enough shoulder?
[Because it is not as safe, for many reasons. We have a right to the road, so it is really none of your business.] Be considerate to others and maybe you will not get attacked. [We are considerate, we are lawfully operating our vehicles on the public road. Are you justifying violence?]

I support people getting out and about but there is a line. Some people have to be places and you are upholding their progress. [Why is your trip on the public road of more importance than mine?] I often am the one found cussing behind a cyclist just because they want to enjoy the scenery. [How considerate of you.]

My job requires me to be somewhere quickly. Just to top a hill and see someone doing 10mph that I can not pass without putting them in danger puts me in a pickle. [If your job were so important that slower traffic needs to get out of your way, we would have equipped you with red lights and a siren. Since you are apparently not THAT important, may I suggest you manage your time better, leave earlier or use a different route.]

Recently in Edmond a cyclist almost got creamed by me. [You are a poor driver too?] Not on purpose. [You wish you could be a good driver but you just can’t seem to manage it?] Just the fact he was riding ignorantly. [Really? Do explain!] He was in the right lane in heavy traffic. [What lane should he have been in, if he were not’t so cussedly ignorant?] He was also in the middle of the lane. [So were you!] He also had a sidewalk he could of used. [Yes he could’ve, but THAT would have been an ignorant move! Dangerous too, about eight times more dangerous than riding where he did ride. It was probably illegal as well. I am not so sure it was the cyclist that was the ignorant one in that encounter. Isn’t the freedom of speech great! It makes it so much easier to spot the idiots among us!]

Point blank cyclist [sic] be considerate of others. Pick your path wisely for your safety. [Point blank Christopher, learn the rules of the road. Motorists have a duty to drive their automobiles with due care and in a safe manner. See to it that you are mindful of that.]

Grant I love your idea. That is truly actually an awesome one. One that would probably prove useful. That is also why they probably will never use it. LOL

TERRY said: Just the other morning I am driving down old 77 and two bikers [sic] are driving on the shoulder causing me to move to the left some. Unfortunately there were 3 cars driving the opposite direction.
[Goodness! What ever could you do! I hope you applied your brakes and waited for a gap in traffic so that you were able to perform your primary duty of using due care.] Fortunately I did not run anybody off the road.

I have no problem with bikers [sic], I have problems when they use the road when there are sidewalks that can be used.
[Why do you drive your automobile on the road, and avoid driving it on the sidewalk? The answer that that just popped into your mind is a reason why cyclists do not travel on the sidewalk.] These bikers [sic] need to use some common sense when they are riding.

People can exercise free speech but violence in any way is not right.

TIM said: Are you people serious? Terry, riding on sidewalks is ILLEGAL in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and many other cities. Riding on the road is LEGAL. Taking the lane when needed is LEGAL. It has nothing to do with defiance, it has everything to do with using a bicycle as a legal, non-polluting healthy means of transportation.

Christopher, the cyclist you described was not riding ignorantly by taking the lane, he/she was riding safely. Why don't you folks try slowing down, paying attention and treat ALL road users with respect.

KRISTY comments again: Tim, are you serious? Or are you just trying to rile everyone up?
[Tim is serious. You however, are about to display near criminal hubris.]

Surely you can see how dangerous it makes the roads when a bicycle is on it? [What makes you think it is the cyclists that are creating dangerous conditions?] Cyclists are lucky that people do pay attention or there would be a whole lot more deadly accidents. [So it is not cyclists causing the problems, it is the inattentive operators of automobiles! I see that you agree with Tim. So it must be you that is trying to “rile everyone up“!]

To be fair, it isn't only bicycles, but walkers and runners as well, although they usually do get over. [Is that on the hilly section line road that you said everyone is speeding on? It sounds to me that the reckless scofflaw motorists are the lucky ones! Lucky they are not in prison for manslaughter.]

Perhaps we should all start a petition to get the laws changed so that cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalks where it is safer, and not allowed on the roads. It makes so much more sense and everyone wins. [Ah, yes. I want to take away cyclist’s rights because they occasionally inconvenience me and force me to be a more careful driver. Just say it Kristy; “It’s all about me! I should always be able to drive at top speed!”]

TIM responds: Kristi, statistically it has been proven that due to obstacles, curb-cuts and intersections is is exponentially more dangerous to ride on a sidewalk than on a road. That is why it is illegal.

Now for a history lesson; were it not for the efforts of the League of American Wheelmen (now known as the League of American Bicyclists) you would not HAVE paved roads to drive on.
[A wee bit over the top, Tim, but your heart’s in the right place. It is a bit unreasonable to imagine that not one motorist in 150 years would come up with the idea of paved roads. But from what I’ve read here, I am fairly sure the imaginative motorist would not be from Oklahoma!]

Bottom line, we have the right to be there, are subject to the same rules and bear the same responsibilities.

STACY chimes in with: No wonder there are tensions[.]

I don't like cyclists myself, they don't pay attention to the laws while riding, they exepect [sic] you to let them run an intersection[.] if [sic] you don't they get mad, [sic]

they [sic] have little side mirrors on their helmets, which is a waste [sic] because if they used them [sic] they could see the 10 cars stacked of [sic] behind them on [sic] get the #$@# over instead of insisting [sic] riding 2 and 3 wide on the roadway.
[You have made a very confusing series of statements. On one hand, you are upset at the cyclists who break the laws. And then, astonishingly in the next breath, you are upset at cyclists who are obeying the law!]

Tim then says: And we don't like you either. So there.

While being snarky can be fun, I am trying to make a point. These folks are a very small minority of drivers. They have self-selected themselves and so cannot in any stretch of the imagination be considered a representative sample of any diverse population.

But they also do not hold their opinions in a social vacuum, either. Outside of those who acted out and physically attacked cyclists, these folks are the extreme edge of those who are hostile to cyclists. However, their positions reflect at least some of the community attitudes about traffic, the responsibility of motorists, civility on the highways, notions of right-of-way and impeding traffic.

I hope that some of my snarky comments really do point to a place that once was; Where lawfulness and civil behavior on the public way was expected of one another and common, and where I long for America to return to.

A difficulty that we face is that operating a motor vehicle today has become such an everyday common event that we have become callous to the terrible consequences of mishaps, and we have become cavalier about driving on the public way.

We have become a people who like to style ourselves as victims. We cannot countenance the idea that we may have some personal responsibility for the circumstances we find ourselves in.

We expect to be treated with grace and kindness, but feel no duty to extend such gifts to others. We are quick to take offense, but judge our own actions with gentler standards. We expect to receive the benefit of the doubt, but assume the worst motivations of others.

Hard times are upon us, perhaps it will be a catalyst for good. Bicycle advocates should watch for opportunities to shape the public's notions of what it means to be a good citizen in public spaces.


  1. Lost in all moto-centric commenting, and the responses, is the fact that at least a few of these cyclists may be trying merely to get from point "A" to point "B."

    And THAT, as ChipSeal knows better than I, makes ALL the difference...

  2. Actually Steve, it makes no difference at all. The public roads are to be shared with any who choose to use them, irrespective of their reason to do so.

    Ought a tourist have a preferred access over a local commute to work? Are grocery trips to yield to those going to the movies, or vice versa? (Or is that versa vice?)

    Objecting to recreational use of the roads by club cyclists could very well lead to objections of recreational drives by classic car clubs. In the end, considering one use of public space as superior to another is a dangerous strategy.

    Outside of those who are issued red lights and sirens, there is no priority given to one road user over another.

    But I notice the familiar hubris of "My use of the road is more important than yours..." on most of these newspaper comment threads.

  3. I think we're in violent agreement here. If I happen to come up behind you when I'm riding, I'll make a complete lane change to pass. Do the same if, as a "young punk kid," your "hammer and tongs" is quicker than mine (very probable), please...

  4. There are always PDAs (Personal Dumb Asses) out there. Just the other day, when we were riding 200 feet from home to the walking trail, some PDA in a Yukon honked at us. And, I did notice she was going at 20 MPH on a never-busy subdivision street and she was on the phone, yakking away. She apparently was lost and took out the frustration caused by being a PDA, on myself and my kid, who were legally using the road and traveling at about 12 MPH.

    I see lots of arguments between cyclists and motorists, on different news paper blogs and such. I still don't understand why some TX motorist can not understand that bicycles have the right to be on the road.

    Yes, and I meant TX, as by far it has been the worst state for accepting cyclists on the streets, in my experience.

    I love this country but I am truly not so sure about some motorists in TX :(

  5. Chandra points out: "I still don't understand why some TX motorist can not understand that bicycles have the right to be on the road. "

    I just ride in the lane. Whether they think I have right to be there or not, they always assent to my presence! They can rant and rave, but in the end they slow down and pass when it is safe to do so.

    I am not concerned about annoying motorists.

  6. ChipSeal,

    Your snarky comments to ignorant motorists are always fun :-)

    A day in Amish country was very much a return to...

    "a place that once was; Where lawfulness and civil behavior on the public way was expected of one another and common, and where I long for America to return to."

    Unfortunately, crossing into Chester County, we found ourselves back in modern America again.

    I'll have a post on it when I dig out.