Friday, February 19, 2010

My Formal Reply To Larry

What are you hoping to accomplish with this "rank political activism"? Is pissing off the drivers your goal?

No, my goal is to travel about on the public road. I am often going someplace. But why I am on the public road is immaterial, isn’t it? The only purpose that is required in order to use the public road that one is using it for travel. (Sec. 541.301 TRAFFIC. In this subtitle "traffic" means pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and conveyances, including vehicles and streetcars, singly or together while using a highway for the purposes of travel.)

I don't know about you but making mad the people operating things that could easily kill me seems pretty foolish.

I am not responsible for the emotional state of other people. I am acting lawfully. If that upsets other travelers on the public road, rest assured I am on a very long list of other things that are making that person angry. It is not especially hard to overtake a bicycle on any road, let alone this one. It is not a maneuver that requires the lightning fast reflexes and the focused skill of a Formula 1 race car driver! Encounters with motorists on this road last less than a minute. It takes an expansive ego to assume that it will ruin the rest of the day for someone! If having to overtake me on Hwy 287 is the worst thing to happen to someone during their day, they have it rather good, don’t you think?

What is worse is they will be more likely to [not] be courteous to OTHER bikers they see. Thanks a lot!!

The vast majority of drivers I encounter on the public road are courteous and display due care around bicycles. Surrendering to bullies is not likely going to have an outcome you will like.How about adjusting your attitude and approach. I find that being courteous to drivers (and cops for that matter) gets the drivers more courteous to me on a bike.

I am the very picture of courtesy to those around me! I drive where they are most apt to notice me from a distance, thus allowing them plenty of time to negotiate a merge into the passing lane. (A maneuver that is so common, it is rarely even recalled at the end of a trip.) It is only the motorists that are not paying attention to the task at hand that end up having to slow because they don’t notice me in a timely manner. Is it courteous to other drivers to neglect your primary duty when operating on the public road?

Those who are paying attention never even have to let up on the gas. Projecting the hardships experienced by incompetent motorists onto me is a neat trick. My conscience is clear.

I violate no one’s right-of-way, nor does anyone violate mine. How am I discourteous?

I wave, smile, and try to not impede them as much as I want them to not impede me.

I am not impeding anyone who is driving competently. In order to do that, I would have to drive my bicycle simultaneously in two lanes. Do drivers have the right to drive at top speed at all times? Please take a moment to review “Texas Maximum Speed Law Explained”, it should clear up this misapprehension of yours.

THAT makes the world a better place for bicyclists, not your childish antics.

Capitulation and abandoning my express statutory right to operate on the roadway? (Travel lane) That would make it better for cycling how? I find it hard to call a roadway “public” when the only vehicles that are allowed on it are those that are first required to obtain a license from the state!

You seem to think I am doing some sort of stunt. I am not. I am lawfully traveling between Waxahachie and Ennis on a public road that is not a limited access highway, nor does it have a minimum speed limit.

I am not only doing it lawfully, I am doing it in the safest manner possible. I am sure that I have made the round trip on that highway twenty times. At my reasonable speed for a cyclist, that would be about an hour of exposure in the sixteen miles I travel on it round trip. So with twenty hours of exposure, across 320 miles, how many times do you think I have been hit? How many motorists crashed into each other within a mile of me?

Anonymous, you have no clue how high speed traffic behaves around slow moving vehicles. To think it is hazardous can only be the result of hysteria. If this is a stunt, or childish antics, it is as dangerous or controversial as taking a bath.

In the series of photographs below, they are taken from the side of HWY 287, near where I was arrested twice. This was taken on a Friday morning, a week ago.

Besides an official traffic control device warning of a pedestrian crossing ahead on a road with a 65 PSL, this series documents the heavy congestion in both directions one can find on this roadway.

second in series

third in series

fourth in series


  1. Your words could have been written by me, describing my purpose in riding. Transportation, safety, even and especially the part about how the majority of other road users have no trouble dealing with a bicycle on the road.

    Very well said.

    p.s. traffic stop 19 for me today, "impeding traffic" because I can't do the speed limit. Four lane road, all traffic passing safely. No citation, perhaps two officers with a better understanding, perhaps not.

  2. Chipseal, well said! The photos are excellent.

    Fred, do you have video of your stop?

  3. I drove the segment between Waxahachie and Ennis on Tuesday. It was about 3pm. I drove the posted speed limit the whole way. I was passed by eleven cars in the fifteen miles, and I passed two. Actually, it was a pretty boring drive.

    I encountered a number of potential obstacles along the way. In all cases, I had no difficulties in simply moving over to the left lane a half mile before I had to deal with those obstacles. Mostly, the obstacles were cars on the shoulder that I prudently changed lanes before I got close to on the off chance that they might do something other than just sit there. I didn't notice my fellow motorists doing a whole bunch differently.

    I was not compelled to apply my brakes at any time in that stretch of road, but I didn't encounter any annoying fair weather cyclists either. Such creatures would be so rare as to cause a dramatic reaction in me if I were not devoted to continually seeking out same.

  4. I see some advertising on Facebook about your plight that directed me to The ad reminded me of your plight, and upon clicking on it ... I see it's you.

    Neither here nor there, just mentioning it ...

  5. I don't think I would ride the shoulder of that road, either. It looks rough (is it gravel?), and possibly slopes. The roadway looks like a reasonable option, since there are good sightlines and low traffic volumes. As long as I could use my mirror to monitor that overtaking traffic is changing lanes to pass, and there wasn't fog, heavy rain, or a low sun to obscure visibility, I'd ride it.

    I'm sure the 911 calls were made with your safety in mind... even cycling in slow dense urban traffic seems suicidal to most non-cyclists. Cycling on a highway must just be incomprehensible... and an emergency! He's gonna jump! I'm sure no-one would have called 911 for a tractor or a horse and buggy... those are almost cars.

    To non-cyclists, a bike is an awkward toy. I remember going for some of my first bike rides with my non-cyclist husband. He had ridden a bike as a child, as most of us do, but not often since. He had no confidence in the brakes, couldn't shift gears in the direction he intended, and was terrified to go down slopes that would get his speed up over 30 km/h. He couldn't figure out how to use the mirror, and expected to crash at any moment. I have also experienced that feeling a little in the first few moments when I switch between bikes at the beginning and end of winter, or ride a new bike for the first time... I am very aware that I am riding a bike. However, the bike quickly becomes almost a part of my body, and I don't need to think about interacting with it, I just ride. I imagine many motorists feel the same way about their car... they know how wide it is, how hard to apply the brake, exactly where to reach to activate the wipers, etc. Once your bike is part of you, riding it isn't scary any more. Traffic flows around you relatively slowly and predictably. With experience, the game slows down for you.

    It's too bad, but I think it takes a very experienced cyclist to understand that what you were doing was a safe travel choice. From the comfort of a car, I can see how wrong it must look. It takes time on the bike to develop traffic skills. To be comfortable, you must trust that the vast majority of motorists will see you, but that you will have the defensive skills to know when you haven't been seen.

    Good luck with standing up for your rights! I'll be cheering you on.
    Heather from Canada

  6. Thanks Heather! As I said in a recent post, it is something one works up to, like your first 30 Km ride.

    My experience has made me feel that mirrors are a waste of energy: If motorists see they have to avoid you, they do.

    But just because I drive without mirrors doesn't mean everyone else should abandon them. The great thing about cycling is that it appeals to all types! Good clean fun!