Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

Not equal

October 6, 2005

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To the editor:

Henry Johns' "Rules of the road" (Journal-World, Oct. 1) really hit on the problem.

On roads with no shoulders - County Road 458, etc. - bicyclists ride two or three across or one down the middle of the road. Then, when you finally do get around them, you come to a stop sign. They do not stop. Then you have to go through getting around them again. It's like they think it's a funny game. Not funny.

Last Thursday, I was going into Target. I was in the crosswalk, with stop signs. The cars stopped. A student on a bike was coming. We made eye contact, then he turned away and sped up. If I hadn't stopped he would have hit me.

I want to see them have to buy license plates, pay personal property taxes on the bicycle, obtain an operator's license and at least liability insurance. Then, and only then, will they really have the right to share our roads. I'm not asking anything of them that we don't have to do. Then we could identify them, and insurance companies could pay when the bicyclists hurt someone. It's impossible now and they know it. Maybe then they would have a little respect for others.

You can tell the ones who are on bikes for transportation; they're the good ones.

The exercise ones should use the beautiful, smooth bike trails that the taxpayers paid for and they don't even have to share.

Hey, may I drive my car on those nice trails?

Jeanne Adams,

Winchester

Comments

Justabiker 9 years, 10 months ago

Just a couple random thoughts:

Bike riders do have to share those bike trails. With runners, walkers, rollerbladers, dogs, families with strollers, etc. And they're not always built for all kinds of riding.

Most of those "bad, exercise" cyclists you see already pay plenty of money into the state coffers through license plates, vehicle registration taxes, etc. on their cars. Chances are they have a 2-3 cars at home to go with their bikes.

And lastly, when was the last time a cyclist was the winner when it came to a bike-car collision? That's right, it's never happened.

Bottom line, all road users should now and obey the rules of the road. I suggest you brush up on them.

Spoken1 9 years, 10 months ago

You say brush up on the rules of the road? Most, and I mean MOST of the cyclists I have seen in this town do not stop at stop signs, do not use and kind of turn indication, ride more than two abreast, and generally DO NOT obey the rules of the road.

And your argument about who wins in a car-bike crash? Big deal, who's responsibility was the wreck? If it was the bicyclist that caused the accident because of failure to obey the law, then they got what they asked for.

And as far as riding on county roads, well, auto and truck traffic generally travels the speed limit of 55. Bicycles do not go this fast. My mother taught me to NOT ride my bike where there was danger. If you are stupid enough to put yourself in danger, then you get what you deserve. No one ever gets mad at a wave when a surfer has a bad accident, because the surfer got out on that wave and placed him/herself in danger. Would you swim in a riptide, or golf during a thunderstorm?

You state that the people with bikes also have cars and therefore already pay taxes. SO WHAT. I think bicyclists should have to do the same as EVERY OTHER VEHICLE ON THE ROAD. The folks with more than one car have to pay property tax on EACH vehicle, and so should they on bikes. Bike riders should also have MANDATORY LICENSE TESTS, and should carry MANDATORY INSURANCE. If you want equal rights on the road, then go all the way.

I do not 'share the road' with those cyclists that do not share it with me. On the flip side, when I see a cyclist obeying the law, I go out of my way to be accomodating. Where the hell is your personal responsibility?

craigers 9 years, 10 months ago

I would completely agree with this letter. I will say going to tags and insurance might be a stretch, but I was always taught that if you are driving any vehicle of transportation on the road, then you should obey all of the traffic laws. Stop at lights, stop signs, yield, and many more. However the experience in the Target parking lot is nothing new and I have pushed carts in that parking lot. Cars don't even stop there all the time. I used the cart pushing machine and people would cut right in front of me without stopping. There are good bicycle riders and car drivers, but then there are the bad ones that give the others a bad name.

Justabiker 9 years, 10 months ago

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the education of all road users. But until you've ridden a mile or two on a road where bad drivers in cars regularly flout the laws, then you've got no room to criticize.

The original letter writer stated that she comes across riders riding "two or three across." Does she know that it's perfectly legal to ride two abreast in Kansas? Do people know that when they go out of their way to yell at me to "get single file?" That's where more education would be helpful.

Ultimately, everyone should be following the rules of the road (as craigers quite correctly posted above). But when folks in cars don't know the rules, the consequences for others can be deadly. Cyclists don't have any protection from 2 ton vehicles. Even if they're riding in a legal manner on a road that their taxes dollars help pay for. If anything, you should be happy that they're out there riding their bikes on our roads...how long do you think it would take for a bike to wear down the road surface?

Spoken1, you'd like for cyclists to have a mandatory license. Will my driver's license do? Are there extra rules I should know about when operating a bicycle? Let me know what they are.

Additionally, the danger you speak of on county roads doesn't come from cyclists. It comes from motorists that aren't in control or are inattentive with their vehicles. Unlike a rogue wave in the ocean, a car is generally piloted by a human being whose responsibility it is to control the thing.

One last thing before I go ride my bike. The original letter writer stated that the people who ride bikes for transportation are the "good ones," while the ones that ride for excercise should get on the bike path. She also relates how she was almost mowed down in the Target parking lot by a rule-breaking cyclist. Was that cyclist a "good one?" 'Cause I don't see too many cyclists getting their exercise miles in by riding around Target.

mermily 9 years, 10 months ago

the author says "[she is] not asking anything of them that [she doesn't] have to do." things are not equal though. for starters, the risk is not the same. about the time bikers cause as many deaths to 3rd parties as car drivers do, then they too should have insurance. and here's another one, i'll pay the same property tax on my bike as you pay on your car, about the time your car emits as much pollution as my bike does. think asthma and medical bills. think environmental degradation.....

as for spoken1's comment that "if you are stupid enough to put yourself in danger, then you get what you deserve", i must ask if you drive on the roads with 18-wheelers and trucks that outweigh you by several tons. driving is a risk, check the statistics, moreso than almost any other activity. however, when a motorist is injured, you don't hear me saying "[b]ig deal". comparing drivers and waves and the blame we allocate to each, well.....i just don't know what to do with that one! you picked natural disasters b/c they were the only category that supported your argument- i mean, come on, we even hunt down wild animals when they attack a hiker who engaged in "dangerous" outdoor adventures.

finally, glad someone mentioned it is legal to ride two abreast in kansas....i was hoping someone in the midst of this debate about who is obeying the laws would actually know this law.

Spoken1 9 years, 10 months ago

"Spoken1, you'd like for cyclists to have a mandatory license. Will my driver's license do? Are there extra rules I should know about when operating a bicycle? Let me know what they are.

Dang right you should have a license for that bike, and that means taking a test. Just knowing the rules doesn't mean you know how to ride that bike in traffic.

"Cyclists don't have any protection from 2 ton vehicles."

No kidding, take the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO NOT RIDE WHERE THERE IS DANGER.

"Additionally, the danger you speak of on county roads doesn't come from cyclists. It comes from motorists that aren't in control or are inattentive with their vehicles."

Bullcrap. People in cars have a LOT to keep track of, your lack of personal responsibility to not ride on roads where the median speed limit is 55 or higher in no way makes me responsible for your poor decision making.

"I must ask if you drive on the roads with 18-wheelers and trucks that outweigh you by several tons."

Damn right I do, but not on a bicycle. See, the bike isn't very fast, whereas I am going approximately the same speed as the 18 wheeler, in the same direction, which dramatically lessens my 'risk'. I also have seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, steel, and various other things that make the car inherently safer. By driving a very slow, and visually insignificant vehicle on roads made for larger and heavier traffic is just not responsible.

"comparing drivers and waves and the blame we allocate to each, well.....i just don't know what to do with that one! you picked natural disasters b/c they were the only category that supported your argument- i mean, come on, we even hunt down wild animals when they attack a hiker who engaged in "dangerous" outdoor adventures."

Not in the wild. If it is near a lot of human habitation, then we may hunt the animal. But once again, where is the personal resposibility? If someone messes with a wild animal that they are FULLY aware may kill them, then they are not exercising good judgement. I just loved how you missed my point completely. I didn't 'pick' natural disasters to prove my point about drivers, I picked it to prove my point about personal responsibility.

Here is the point. RIDING YOUR BIKE ON A ROAD INTENDED FOR CARS AND TRUCKS TRAVELING AT 55 MILES PER HOUR OR MORE IS DANGEROUS. BE AWARE THAT YOU RISK LOSING YOUR LIFE.

If you are riding on one of these kinds of roads, and you get hit by a fast moving vehicle, that's it, it's over. Do you really think this is smart? When the hell are people in this country going to understand the ONLY YOU are responsible for yourself. ONLY YOU. I don't wish for anything to happen to any one that rides a bike, but if you get hit while doing something stupid, don't expect anyone to feel sorry for you (except others that have poor judgement).

Justabiker 9 years, 10 months ago

I hate to keep wading into this, but here goes.

Spoken1, if I'm to be tested (and not merely made aware) on the rules of the road, then will you also require motorists (whose vehicles have far more power to inflict harm) to be tested as well? To paraphase you, "just knowing the rules doesn't mean you know how to [drive] that [vehicle] in traffic.

You and I may obviously disagree, but it's my contention that the roads we're talking about here (since we're not talking about interstates, are we?), aren't expressly "intended for cars and trucks travelling at 55 miles per hour." Rather, they're intended for PUBLIC use. That means that if I pay taxes (and I do on several levels), then it's my right to use the PUBLIC conveyance in any way that isn't forbidden by law. Bike, lawnmower, walking, tractor, whatever.

Now I won't argue with you...it's my PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY to operate my bike in such a way as to diminish the chance that someone will hit me, but at the same time it's your PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY to operate your 2 ton vehicle in such a way as to make sure you don't hit me, or the little old lady that's walking across the street to get her mail. That means slowing down at the top of hills, corners, poor light conditions, etc. It also means removing those "distractions" that you claim motorists endure (incidentally, what are those distractions...cell phone, tuning the radio, what?). Just being encased in steel doesn't relieve you of your responsibilty.

My cyclist friends will probably hate me for saying this, but I think motorists ought to be less considerate of cyclists. What I mean is this. When I arrive and stop at a 4-way stop with a motorist coming the other way, 9 times out of 10, the motorist (in an attempt to be nice I'm sure) waves me through the intersection, even if I was there much later than them. I've literally spent 10's of seconds gesturing back and forth with do-gooding motorists trying to get them to realize that they've got the right of way. As a frequent cyclist, I don't need a motorist to be "accomodating." I need all road users to obey the law. That means giving me room to ride my bike, passing when it's safe to do so, not cutting in front of me at an intersection, etc. Remember that when a motorist isn't obeying the law (and controlling your vehicle in all conditions is the law), then the consequences can be extreme. When a cyclist disreagrds the law, typically the only person hurt is the cyclist.

grimpeur 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, it's so dangerous for cyclists out there. That's why the number of car/bike accidents on our 55mph county roads last year was...zero. And the year before that it was...zero. And the year before that...zero. And the year before that...one. Why?

Because the accident Spoken1 describes (hit from behind by faster traffic) doesn't happen. Why?

Because you have to be blind, stupid, or a homicidal maniac to somehow manage to fail to see a whole person or persons in the road ahead, given the straight roads and gradual hills in our county. And for other locations, like Gun Club hill south of town on 1055, there is a 40mph advisory speed limit.

I also, like Justabiker, need for cyclists to obey the law, because when they don't, the nutjobs come out of the woodwork to suggest banning bikes, or to try to "educate" me about how dangerous it is out there, or how bikes are the most dangerous problem on our roads, all of which is garbage. Funny, everyone reading this is endangered way more by cars every day, but I don't hear anyone calling for even the slightest bit of tougher licensing requirements, stricter revocation rules, or better driver education. That shows how short-sighted these observers are. You want safer roads? Start with the real problem: motorists.

The main "danger" on our roads is from cars, not bikes. Period. Yes, bikers are sometimes discourteous, and sometimes do dumb stuff because they're either inconsiderate or unaware of traffic behind or ahead. But let's imagine removing bikes from the county roads for a month. How many accidents would there be on the road? About the same number, with the same number of injuries and fatalities. Now let's imagine removing cars from the road. The accident rate would drop to almost nothing.

Roads were paved for bikes long before cars existed, so roads were made for bikes, not cars. Today, of course, it's a different world--there are now more cars on the road. But I'm still willing to share the road with these motorized newcomers even though MOST of them also blow stop signs, speed, tailgate, fail to signal, don't yield, fail to give FULL attention to driving, or othewise ignore rules of judgment, courtesy and the law. Everything noted about poor cyclists goes 1000-fold for motorists.

It doesn't matter how fast you're going, how big your vehicle is, or where you're going. So stop suggesting that it does. If you want to suggest that any type of vehicle shouldn't be on the road because of its operators' poor judgment, discourtesy, disregard for the law, or tying up traffic with unnecessary driving, then cars will be the first to go. That's where any such discussion begins and ends.

Todd 9 years, 10 months ago

Some car fanboys won't be happy until we put bumpers on the sides of the road so they don't even have to steer. Seriously, round abouts, bikes, etc... all make you pay attention to driving which is a good thing. That's why I simply love street in Lawrence that have cars parked on both sides. It slows traffic down a little. (People are still nuts going through OWL at 30-40mph)

rdunlap 9 years, 10 months ago

Grimpeur is right on target. I would love to have more bike trails...through-out the State....but as my personal property taxes primarily go to support the the roads we all should share, I'll have to take the roads. I'm not out to create "dangerous" situations and I respect the laws...but to say you have anymore rights to public domain than I, indicates you've been huffing just a few too many exhuast fumes.

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