Archive for Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vigilante driver

July 23, 2006


To the editor:

I guess it bears repeating. Nowhere is it written that cars own the roads, or that they have priority over anything or anyone on the road. Cyclists are constantly harassed by those who can't seem to grasp this concept. Some even deem it their responsibility to teach those cyclists a lesson on who they think does own the road by swerving in their direction on purpose.

Recently, one such driver of a black truck did just that when, on a dirt road north of Lawrence, the driver came way too close to a cyclist (a friend and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet just trying to get his ride in) and knocked him into a ditch and into next week and then drove off.

You could have killed him, do you get that? Hit and run is what that is, not some misguided vigilante justice. Please spread the word. When you hear a driver complaining about cyclists, they have a right to be there. The roads are for everyone. And, if you have to slow down for a cyclist, it is just a part of driving. Like stopping for lights, pedestrians, etc. We all own the roads. They are for everyone to use.

Caylen Vickers,



Jean Robart 11 years, 11 months ago

Just remember cyclists--traffic lights and signs apply to you as well as to vehicles with motors.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 11 months ago

Just remember cyclists, you are now able to carry a concealed firearm...

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

AND so are motorists. Things would go a lot smoother if the bicyclists could remember the rules of the road ALSO.

I always share the road, but am routinlely "p****ed" off when i run into groups and single riders who chose NOT to obey the rules as they apply to them and just ride because "they have a right to the road."

There are rules for them to follow also and some of them don't (just like motorists), and then get P****ed off when the cars get mad at them.

This goes both ways riders.

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

Observer - You are right and maybe I didn't make that clear in my post. It does go BOTH ways. Maybe I am a little more sensitive since I live on a road which is frequented every day by bicyclist and also drive on a city street that has a marked bicycle lane. I cannot count the number of time I have run into bicyclist who disobey the rules as they apply to them and the car drivers have to go out of their way to "share" the road.

I myself will do anything to keep from hitting someone. I can not cause that much pain to a person. But it does upset me that they cannot follow the basic rules I am supposed to follow.

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

I've been a road cyclist for years and whenever sombody complains to me in person about cyclists on the road, I challenge them to list exactly what they think we're doing illegally. More often than not, it usually ends with them listing things that are perfectly legal. We're allowed to go two abreast. We're allowing to use the lane, not just the shoulder. We're allowed to go in the left lane under many cases. Just because cars might find these things to be annoying, doesn't make them illegal.

blessed3x 11 years, 11 months ago

I had a high school driver's ed teacher that had a favorite saying. "You may be right, but you might be dead right."

Very fitting here. Dirt/gravel roads are notoriously narrow and dangerous. Why put yourself in a situation where you might be killed just because you have the "right" to be there?

Common sense. More and more rare in Lawrence.

grimpeur 11 years, 11 months ago

Common sense: expect to see cyclists on all roads all the time. Expect to slow down for cyclists, just like I have to do for all the motorists clogging up the roads.

gphawk89 11 years, 11 months ago

"Just because cars might find these things to be annoying, doesn't make them illegal."

Yes, but... just because these things are legal, doesn't make them necessary. Just because it's legal for a cyclist to take up an entire lane and block car traffic doesn't mean the cyclist HAS to do that (and then start spouting the standard "I have as much right to be here as anyone else" when someone complains). I cycle on city streets all the time, but I keep way over to the right and I often stop and get off the road if I know I'm blocking traffic, both because I don't want to get run over and I just plain don't want to block traffic. And now someone is going to say that riding to the far right is dangerous because of the chance of hitting the curb, running over all the debris, etc.; I do it all the time and never have a problem with it.

Same thing can be said about crosswalks. It's perfectly legal for a pedestrian to step out into a busy street - as long as they're in a marked crosswalk, they supposedly have the right-of-way. But common sense SHOULD tell a person not to do so. Legal - yes. Smart - no.

Jim Fisher 11 years, 11 months ago

To Fletch: Kansas law states that vehicles blocking the flow of traffic must pull over to allow that traffic by. I live south of town and rarely if ever seen that happen.

conservative 11 years, 11 months ago

rightthinker, it is legal, and safer for the cyclists to ride 2 abreast. It makes us more visible. It is appreciated when people like you do take us into consideration when going around.

And I too see way too many cyclists abusing their "right" to the road. I agree that while legal to ride on busy streets during rush hour there are usually back ways to get where you are going.

justmehere 11 years, 11 months ago

I hate driving a CAR in rush hour traffic...can't imagine trying to ride a bike in it! BTW, a 4-way stop means EVERYONE put your dirty looks away because I stopped and YOU didn't. lol....common sense isn't so common. Courtesy is a necessity as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

What's interesting is how bicyclists are all supposed to collectively bear the guilt of every transgression that has ever been committed on a bike, real, imagined or projected.

Kind of like the Lebanese now getting bombed into the stoneage by Israel.

justmehere 11 years, 11 months ago

Oooh, and I almost forgot...I think it bothers me MORE to see a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk. Can't tell you how many times I've had to step off the path so a bike can get past. You'd think they would have the courtesy to be the one to move over for the pedestrians! And Caylen, sorry to hear about your's true though, I grew up on a rural road and the things people in cars do to it a bicyclist, a person walking or even someone's pet! Seems they pull that cr*p because they think they can get away with it. Not too many people that drive down rural roads do it for cheap guess is make nice with the sherrif and I'm sure you can sort out who the yahoo was. Probably lives somewhere nearby.

BrianR 11 years, 11 months ago

I believe cyclists have to use common sense whilst riding on streets and roads regardless of what is technically legal. I'm sure there's no law that specifically states that I am prohibited from trying to catch a bullet in my teeth either but I'm smart enought not to try.

I've been riding for over 45 years and was hit by a car when I was in my early 20s. I was lucky suffered only deep bruising. I was riding on the shoulder.

I don't know where the idea that riding two abreast is safer. When I was 14 we were riding two abreast on a rural road on the east coast and I witnessed my best friend get dragged 195 feet to his death by a car. A distracted mother who lost concentration for a second - decades before mobile phones - it's twice as dangerous now. Therefore, I absolutely can not condone riding in the street just because it's legal. It's crazy.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

As opposed to all motorist bearing the guilt for the transgressions of a few? That is a chicken and egg arguement bozo........

as for a cyclist on the side walk.....DON'T BUDGE AN INCH!.....Make them move....And if they do not , shoulder check their a$$......After all they are showing pedestrians the same contempt they claim motorist give them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

"After all they are showing pedestrians the same contempt they claim motorist give them."

Care to describe exactly who "they" are, rednek?

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

Care to split hairs some more?THE CYCLISTS.....Or at least the ones whining here that no cycllist,ever,anywhere was being a jerk on or off the road(the same as the motorist who claims they never break the law).....Did I really have to explaiin this to you? Or do you believe you have some witty little logic game that you think you can spring on me.....Save us both the effort and just shut up about this before I make a fool out of you.

grimpeur 11 years, 11 months ago

This letter is not about the question of cyclists following the law. This letter is about a coward who nearly killed a fellow road user, then ran away instead of facing up to the consequences of his actions.

Consequences that now, as a result of his cowardice, poor judgement, and disregard for the law, will be much, much graver if he is caught and punished.

BrianR 11 years, 11 months ago

Grimp, Responders are quite aware of the meaning of the letter. if you couldn't figure that much out from the responses, YOU are the one with reading comprehension issues. --B

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

The idiots who ran you off of the sidewalks are almost certainly not the cyclists who follow the rules of road every time they go out, and just as certainly not any of the posters or letter writers here today, rednek.

Sorry if you got run off the sidewalk, but take that up with the idiot(s) who did it, not anybody and everybody who ever rode a bicycle.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 11 months ago

Is it legal in Lawrence for bike riders to ride on the sidewalks? I know it is illegal in some cities. If it is legal, it seems like self-preservation to ride on the sidewalks when riding on/along busy streets such as Iowa, 23rd, etc. Growning up here, if I wanted to go anywhere, I had a better chance of getting there, riding my bike than asking my parents for a ride. And to protect myself, I stuck to back roads or sidewalks. When I came upon a pedestrian, I went AROUND them (off the sidewalk). When I'm driving these days, I watch very carefully for both bicyclists and motorcyclists. I really don't want to spend the rest of my life with the guilt of having run over someone. And I don't just do this b/c they don't obey "rules of the roads"; they usually do. I do it b/c they could hit a slick spot or a rock and lose control. ON THE OTHER HAND, just last week, an idiot on a bike cut around me on the left side in Hy-Vee's parking lot and I almost hit him. I was stopped at the crosswalk and had my left turn signal on. When I started turning into the parking row, imagine my surprise to find a bicyclist there! As I remember from drivers ed, the golden is "Drive defensively". Seems to me it applies to all on the road.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 11 months ago

I try to be as courteous as possible with cyclists. It does bother me, though, that they are required by law to follow the same traffic laws that cars do. They are supposed to either use hand signals when they ride, or have turn signals on the bike. I've seen very few that use either.

What really gets me are the ones who ride at night. I almost hit a man on a bike once, because he had no headlight, not even any reflectors, and he was wearing black. He also didn't stop for the stop sign at the intersection I was approaching. If I hadn't seen a glint of my own headlilghts on the spokes, and slammed on the brakes, I would have had him.

Though it seems to me that the most dangerous riders at night are kids who are in residential neighborhoods. They don't even look for traffic first.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 11 months ago

I meant to say that it bothers me that they're required to follow the same traffic laws that cars do, but a lot of them don't.

conservative 11 years, 11 months ago

Jersey, bikes are supposed to only ride on sidewalks that are wide enough to allow them to pass pedestrians. The 6 foot wide sidewalks like what are along Kasold south of clinton parkway would be examples of sidewalks that bikers can use.

tweetybird2 11 years, 11 months ago

I drive farmers turnpike every day. There are bikes on it frequently. I have been behind quite a few riding in the middle of the road sometimes to and three across on hills. Please be considerate and ride single file. It will be safer for everyone.

grimpeur 11 years, 11 months ago

Whatever you do, stay out of my way. I have seen a lot of drivers breaking the law. I drive on our streets a lot, and I've seen this happening, so don't pretend like it doesn't. What really gets me are the ones who do a dozen things except pay attention. I almost crashed my dump truck into one recently. I know you think you have a legal right to be on the road, but if you're out there in front of my truck, on the phone, dialing, logging on, checking the sports ticker, shaving, reading, applying makeup, keeping your starbucks from spilling on your DVD remote, then you're not paying attention and you're a suicidal/homicidal maniac. You should realize that I'm coming up behind you very quickly (yes, I drive faster than you, and I'm bigger, so it's your responsibility to stay out of the way) and you should pull over so that I don't have to slow down! If I suddenly have to swerve into the oncoming lane because you're driving too slowly, it's your fault if someone gets killed. If you're alone in your car and you have passed closer than 1/2 mile from a co-worker's home or a neighbor's work, or are driving less than 2 miles to work, then you're a recreational driver, and you should be considerate and carpool, walk, ride a bike or the bus instead of dressing up in a fancy car and playing soldier/hunter/survivalist on our roads while I'm trying to get to work.

I cannot count the number of time I have run into drivers who disobey the rules as they apply to them and the truckers have to go out of their way to "share" the road. Why put yourself in a situation where you might be killed just because you have the "right" to be there? Just because it's legal for a driver to clog up an entire lane and block truck traffic doesn't mean the driver HAS to do that (and then start spouting the standard "I have as much right to be here as anyone else" when someone complains). Kansas law states that vehicles blocking the flow of traffic must pull over to allow that traffic by (and now someone will say, "but just because I go slower than you, and you have to slow down to the speed limit for safety, can't be considered blocking traffic.") I live south of town and rarely if ever seen that happen, and that's why there are so many traffic jams in town, too--slow drivers who won't get the heck out of the way and who insist on driving everywhere alone. You don't want me to start on the drivers strung out miles deep at sometimes 10 or more mph below or above the speed limit, with 90% of the cars having just one person in them, jamming traffic for miles...K10 and Iowa being the worst. If there is an interstate or US hiway - USE IT. Get off the county roads and state hiways you morons! Driving around because you're simply lazy doesn't make a lot of sense when you put yourself in danger of getting run over by my International 9400 when you insist on driving on narrow county highways such as "The Farmer's Turnpike."


gphawk89 11 years, 11 months ago

I smell plagiarism, grimp... But, awesome post anyway.

badger 11 years, 11 months ago


I'm sorry to hear about your friend's bad experience, and hope that he is not daunted or kept from riding by it. Some drivers fail to share the road with cyclists, just as some cyclists fail to share the road with drivers. It's sad all around.


For some reason (coughLanceArmstronglivesherecough), I live in a bike-happy town. You see them everywhere, on every major street and most of the minor ones. Here is a short list of things I've seen in the last week or so:

Turning without any sort of signal Right turn on red without stopping Left turn on red without stopping No turn on red without stopping (just went straight through) Failure to wear a helmet Biking at night with no lights or reflective tape Biking in the oncoming lane (not on the oncoming shoulder, in the lane) Wrong way on a one-way street Speeding in a school zone (I was doing 20 and he passed me, so he had to be speeding) Riding on prohibited highways Weaving in and out of busy traffic in Downtown Austin Riding four abreast in the center lane of a highway frontage road (speed limit 55, three-lane feeder road, hilly and curvy)

Mind you, the majority of Austin riders do follow the laws. But there are so many here that I generally can't drive my two miles home (a quarter mile of it is highway overpass with pedestrians and bikes prohibited, grimpeur, pleasedon'tkillmeI'dwalkitifIcould!) without seeing a cyclist do something at least dangerous if not illegal (like take the overpass, an elevated blind curve with concrete barriers to either side). I may see fifteen cyclists who follow the laws, but when one of the lawbreakers gets clipped, those fifteen get up in arms about how the driver (who is invariably chastised for his insistence on fossil fuels and status symbol cars) didn't "Share the Road."

I'd like to see more cyclists willing to say, "You know, it's really sad that Joe ended up in the hospital, but he was running a red light at night with no lights or reflectors, so it probably wasn't the driver's fault..."

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

Observer - I almost mis-read your post, but took my own advice from a couple of days ago and read twice. In a way you are correct - the innocent party is less likely to die. BUT, the chances are much greater of someone getting killed (probably the bicyclist).

Does that make it better somehow???? Someone still dies through stupidity and the other person has to live with that even though they were "right". This is not a good thing to have to deal with for the rest of your life.

Worse yet, the bicyclist just gets hurt and then the innocent party has to endure the lawsuits and hassle of this person sueing him. (Trust me, it happens)

There are both bad drivers and bad riders, I just get tired of hearing the bike riders spouting "share the road" and "I have a right to be here" when they are NOT sharing the road themselves and doing things that might be legal, but stupid. (I have also in previous posts made it known I don't like stupid drivers also.)

I have to drive Farmers Turnpike a lot and constantly see groups riding not 2 wide (which is legal) but 5 and 6 wide and daring someone to hit them. I just know they (or their surviving relatives) would be eager to file suit against anyone who accidently does.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 10 months ago

What is this Farmers Turnpike? Sorry, been out of town a loooooong time.

grimpeur 11 years, 10 months ago

"I have to drive Farmers Turnpike a lot and constantly see groups riding not 2 wide (which is legal) but 5 and 6 wide."

BS. Why exaggerate?

"You don't want me to start on the bikers who ride strung out 20-30 deep at sometimes 10 or more mph below the speed limit, jamming traffic for miles."

BS. Why exaggerate?

The reason that nobody has "accidentally" struck any cyclists from behind, on farmer's t-pike or anywhere else in Douglas County, is that it requires such a colossal act of negligence on behalf of the overtaking motorist that even our barely-qualified KS drivers would have to TRY to cause such a crash. The roads are straight, the grades are moderate, and sightlines and visibility are all very good. Even the area JLoh21 describes, like most curves and hills in our area, is preceded by looooooooong straight stretches of highway that allow plenty of time to view the roadway ahead. That is why drivers aren't surprised by bikes on the road, unless they're really not paying attention, and why this type of accident is so vanishingly rare.

Anyone who hits a cyclist from behind on our county roads is at fault, no matter if the cyclists are single, two-up or 4-up, because if there's not room to pass 4 or more feet from any group, you shouldn't be passing. Period! So let's stop suggesting that 3 or more riders abreast is more dangerous than 2-up, since it's nothing more than appearances. Besides, when the leaders of a 2-up group go to the back of (and are passed by) the group, they are momentarily more than 2-up. The law allows this, as it does passing in the oncoming lane, and it is no more dangerous than 2-up riders, because, again, dear reader, if you can't pass, you can't pass, no matter how many riders are in a group. Most of all, let's stop pretending that anyone else's behavior relieves motorists of their responsibility to pass safely, when there is sufficient room to do so, and only when the oncoming lane if visibly clear and free of traffic.

If a group of cyclists riding along 2-up is the worst of your problems on the road, you're having a pretty good day.

Plagiarism? You might say that, if you read the comments above mine.

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

Observer -

The other difference is that if a motorist runs through a red light and killed by a driver who can't stop in time, you don't get hundreds or thousands of letters sent to the newspaper, outraged and demanding that laws require motorists to be more vigilant, to be more prepared to react to road conditions.

You also don't get those same letters demonizing the not-at-fault driver for even getting behind the wheel of a car and saying that people like the driver are wasteful or obese. When someone driving 25mph in the middle lane of a major road is pancaked by a dump truck coming around a curve or over a hill at the speed limit, people say, "That's too bad," not "Why was the dump truck driving the speed limit? Doesn't he know slower-moving vehicles could be present?"

My post was a specific response to Fletch's "When people say cyclists are breaking the law, I ask them what law and usually it's things cyclists are allowed to do." I'd love to know what, of the things I listed, cyclists are 'allowed to do' and thus not breaking the law.

Furthermore, it's very frustrating to be standing in line at the Whole Foods and hear someone complaining about getting a ticket for running a red light on a bike, saying that "I can't believe the cops are hassling cyclists so much. What about the guy in the gas-guzzler who almost hit me? Why didn't HE get a ticket for not looking where he was going? I bet he was on a cell phone. It's just not safe to be a cyclist in this city..." and so on.

I have no doubt cyclists and motorists break laws in proportion to the size of their groups (I'm betting that a lot of people who make stupid decisions on a bike also occasionally make them behind the wheel). I just take issue when the cycling community responds to a lawbreaker being injured with venom and nastiness directed at not only the driver, but all drivers, after consistently deriding any cycle enforcement as 'harassing' cyclists.

Dixie Jones 11 years, 10 months ago

I SAY BAN CARS AND BIKES... everyone walk the roundabouts ..........walking is good for your health it would lower the obeisty we wouldnt have DUIs cause you would be walking and drinking ..... i think the city should look into the ban......

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