Letters to the Editor

Not so friendly

May 21, 2012


To the editor:

“Bicycle friendly” (Journal-World, May 15)? Hardly. I ride my bike nearly every day, and it has been only through sheer luck and humility that I have yet to be transformed into roadkill on Lawrence streets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been run over by some angry, impatient or distracted (texting! cellphones!) auto driver.

I’m aware that some cyclists don’t always set the standard for safe driving, but in the contest between auto and bike, the auto wins every time. I applaud our city leaders for working to gain the “bicycle-friendly” accreditation for Lawrence but suggest that they spend more time actually riding their bikes throughout town to understand just how unfriendly and dangerous our roads have become.


KS 5 years, 11 months ago

Don't even get me started, Mr. Finch!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 11 months ago

Most bicycle riders I see are selfish, are impeading traffic and are generally a nusance.

gudpoynt 5 years, 11 months ago

haha! Are they the same darn kids who won't get off your lawn?

Don't be such a crusty old fart.

Also, add "impede" and "nuisance" to your vocabulary list for this week.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't care about kids on my lawn actually it is quite fun to see them scatter. I do not like at all the people down the street that walk their dogs and bless my lawn with last nights supper. One of these days Im a gonna pick it up and go wipe it under their car door handle and door knob on their house to see if they like it as much as I do. Then I might call the cops and tell them that their car is parked over the sidewalk. You see, I need to be a good neighbor too!

cato_the_elder 5 years, 11 months ago

"I’m aware that some cyclists don’t always set the standard for safe driving...."

Understate much?

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago


Matthew Herbert 5 years, 11 months ago

when I was attending KU 10 year ago, bike v. car accidents were a bit of a problem. Finally, KU police started sitting at that 3 way stop near the library and would ticket bicyclists who ran the stop sign. The outcry amongst the student body was loud. The biggest problem with doing what the KU police did was that if you received a ticket for riding your bike through a stop sign, that's a moving violation the same as if you were a car driver and thus your car insurance premiums would go up.

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

dear renaissanc,what a perfect solution ,get a ticket on your bike and your rates go up! If the police would just issue them now [10 years later ] again that would cool some of these too good to follow traffic laws bicyclist jets!P.S.I ALSO AM A BIKE RIDER!

Tomato 5 years, 11 months ago

Most of them very likely do pay personal property taxes on their vehicles and pay for tags. It would be incredibly impractical to live in Lawrence without a car and I suspect bike riders who don't own cars are an extreme minority.

There's probably a fairly good portion of them who are homeowners and also pay property taxes.

And they often ride their bikes to buy things - so there are sales taxes.

And they probably pay federal and state income tax. Maybe even more than you.

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

if they can pay sales taxes 0n a 3-5 thousand dollar road bike ,taxes on their professional riding gear i am sure they can pay property taxes and tags.If they want to share the road they can share the taxes,p.s i as a buisiness owner/farmer i can tell you i doubt they pay as much taxes as me!

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

why dont they use the 5 million dollar concret bike path that was built for people that just ride as a hobby instead of our county roads and streets

repaste 5 years, 11 months ago

Funny, I know their are many more cars, but if you stay 1 mile from KU, I see many, many more unsafe, inattentive car drivers than cyclists. How many of you moan when you get stuck behind the little old lady going 28mph down 6th? Does she have that right?

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

that is impeading traffic ,and if the cops would issue tickets to all the city of lawrence might just be more friendly to everyone

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

Going below the speed limit is not illegal, except on roadways with a posted minimum speed. The posted speed limit is the maximum you are allowed to legally drive. It is neither a required speed, nor is it a suggestion of a minimum speed.

grimpeur 5 years, 11 months ago

The problem is that there is little punishment for bad driving. If drivers were afraid of losing their licenses for committing acts of recklessness and negligence, and if drivers were actualy held to any kind of standard of responsibility for where there cars go, and if aggressive and threatening cowards and thugs who use their cars as weapons were charged with assault, and if judges and traffic prosecutors stopped even considering the "I didn't see them" excuse, then perhaps we'd see some improvement.

The good news is that most drivers and cyclists are OK with each other. But there is a (thankfully small) problem segment of motorists that cannot seem to tolerate the presence of cyclists on the road, either because these drivers are so incompetent that this cooperation poses a serious challenge to their skills, or because cyclists are an easy scapegoat for congestion and delays which are actually caused by motorists themselves, and so they pretend that cyclists are a safety hazard or that cyclists break the law more than motorists, both of which are completely false and are simply used to justify bad motorists' double standards and hypocrisy about waste, discourtesy, and disregard for the law.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

"The problem is that there is little punishment for bad driving."

That's true. The most you can get is death, dismemberment, and paralysis.

Alyosha 5 years, 11 months ago

Certainly you can do better than this comment, False. Try to inject a moment of rational thinking and consideration before you type. And try to be more Christ like in the way you imagine and treat other people. Be part of the solution, not the poster boy for being part of the problem. You'll find that God rewards you.

pizzapete 5 years, 11 months ago

Great letter, as a bike rider I totally agree with Ray. Unfortunately a lot of motorists are too fat lazy, and closed minded to try walking or biking any distance in this town. I would challenge any of you that complain about bike riders to give it a try yourself and you'll soon conclude that car drivers are a greater problem than someone walking or biking. Heck, you might even lose some weight, lower your blood pressure, feel better about yourself, and have a more positive impact on our community.

Alyosha 5 years, 11 months ago

Be the change you wish to see, false. Take the 2x4 out of your own eye before worrying about the mote in others. Then God will bring you peace.

pizzapete 5 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, I didn't mean to attack anyone, just trying to point out there is an obesity epidemic in this country that is due in part to our dependence on automobiles. I know it's immature of me to say there are many among us that don't exercise enough and that biking would help them physically and give them a new perspective on the bike vs. auto problem. And yes, I do obey the rules of the road, period. Ok, I'm over myself, how about you?

pizzapete 5 years, 11 months ago

No, while being above average in most things, I don't feel superior for riding a bike. I do understand how someone with a gym membership for exercise, an SUV for transportation, etc., might feel more priviledged than a bike rider. And I too, often have poor reading comprehension and social skills, just like a lot of other people.

Tomato 5 years, 11 months ago

Well, insulting the people you're trying to convince isn't a particularly effective way to convert people to your point of view, the rest of this post essentially stands.

I challenge any complainer here to actually go ride their bike somewhere on a road, following the rules of the road of course.

Within a couple of bike rides, you will graced with magical patience every time you meet a rider on the road. You will want to give them wide berth and will likely mutter under your breath, admiring their courage to actually cycle on a main roadway.

It takes almost no time riding your bike to realize how incredibly dangerous it is to disobey the rules of the road while on a bike - dangerous to the bike rider, not anyone else. Blowing a stop sign in my car would be scary because it could cause an accident. Causing that accident on my bike may mean I become seriously injured or die.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

They (bikers and drivers) both equally suck! It just so happens that more people around here drive rather than bike but both groups have jagaloons and both need to wise up. From the hipster anarchist who wants to ride in the middle of Kentucky St just to anger traffic or to the self absorbed soccer mom breezes through school zones because the law does not apply to her, can both suck an egg. We all could be better when using the road!

mcmandy 5 years, 11 months ago

Where is everyone seeing cyclists create hazards? I see cyclists all the time around town and have only seen a couple doing blatantly stupid things.

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

well i would say ask the one at k10 and 1500 rd but he ran a stop sign got hit and died !!!!!

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

The vast majority of the cyclists I see on the road don't follow the correct rules of the road - hardly any stop at stop signs, most take up more space in the center of the road than they're supposed to do, etc.

jonas_opines 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm pretty sure that cyclists, legally, get a whole lane, just like any other road vehicle.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Many people believe this, but it's just not true.

Look up the relevant KS statute, which states that bicyclists traveling slower than the general traffic speed (which would be most of the time on most roads) are supposed to move to the right and travel single file.

Or call the DMV.

I've done both, and I'm sure that my view on this is correct.

jonas_opines 5 years, 11 months ago

Fair enough. Do you know how long that statute has been on the books?

Tomato 5 years, 11 months ago

That's because it's not true. If "most" cyclists never stopped at stop-signs they would get hit by cars in no time.

Imagine if you just decided not to stop at stop signs in your car, or stepped out into the street as a pedestrian without looking both ways. How long do you think you could go without causing an accident?

And these cyclists who take up an entire lane are also a rarity, and when people do encounter them, the car is generally able to pass safely within a minute or two. That said, if these lane-hogging cyclists also existed en masse, it would also be only a matter of time before some driver on a cell phone or texting hit them.

My car has been hit three times by people not paying attention or doing stupid things in their cars. I've never collided with or been hit by a cyclist doing something stupid.

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

i will make up shirts to hand out to those bikers that are too good to follow the law it will read [ I CUASE MORE ACCIDENTS THAN I HAVE BEEN IN ] that sums it up.

jonas_opines 5 years, 11 months ago

"Where is everyone seeing cyclists create hazards?"

They're around. People see and remember the violators, I imagine, where as they forget the ones that don't immediately upon passing them by. If they register their presence at all.

gudpoynt 5 years, 11 months ago

If you're following a bicyclist in a car, and they appear to be taking up a lot of the car lane, keep in mind that they have to be more mindful of parked cars than you do. I've seen a cyclist get "doored" before by somebody getting out of a parked car. Very scary. People can get seriously injured or killed from that.

I've also nearly been hit by cars backing out of parking spaces on Mass. People backing out are much more likely to look and wait for cars than they are for bikes.

And I've seen a bicyclist get hit by a motorist who was doing the "look left, while turning right" maneuver.

And I know of a bicyclist that was hit in a roundabout by an inattentive driver who simply didn't see (or expect) a bike to come through the same way cars do.

And I've seen bicyclists nearly get hit by cars turning right, because the motorist didn't properly look over their right shoulder. Note that in these cases, the bicyclist is right where they should be and has the right-of-way to proceed through the intersection before the car makes it's turn.

Not to excuse bad behavior on a bike, but if there is a "courtesy deficit" between motorists and bicycles, it is overwhelmingly on the side of motorists.

This is because bicyclists in KS are generally not seen as 1st class citizens of the public roadways. I imagine this stems from Kansas being so spread out, and the ubiquitousness of cars as the de facto mode of transportation.

That being said, more bikes on the road is a welcome trend in my book. It means less traffic congestion, less pollution, more exercise, and in my opinion, riding a bike is just way more fun than driving a car.

More bike lanes (on the streets that are wide enough for them) and "sharrows" (for narrower streets) help to identify cyclists as 1st-class citizens of the public roadways, which leads to more respect, and better adherence to traffic guidelines, and a higher degree of safety for both motorists and bicyclists.

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

why do i see so many bikers on the sidewalks and not in the roadway????

Tomato 5 years, 11 months ago

Because they think you're going to hit them with your car.

Seriously. Would feel safe riding your bike on a busy street after reading the LJWorld forum and seeing how motorists feel about cyclists?

John Duval 5 years, 11 months ago

i do my biking on the lawrence bike path thank you !

notorious_agenda 5 years, 11 months ago

Many places in Lawrence have dual purpose paths designated for bikes and pedestrians. There is a bicycle drivability map for Lawrence which is very complicated but informative.

xclusive85 5 years, 11 months ago

"And I've seen bicyclists nearly get hit by cars turning right, because the motorist didn't properly look over their right shoulder. Note that in these cases, the bicyclist is right where they should be and has the right-of-way to proceed through the intersection before the car makes it's turn."

This seems a little odd to me. which way are the bicyles going that you are talking about? If they are going the same way as the vehicle, and are on the street, they shouldn't be passing a car making a right hand turn, correct? Maybe I am confused, but to make a right hand turn, a vehicle should be in the right hand lane. So you shouldn't have to look over your shoulder to see a bicycle passing you on your right when you turn.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

It happens quite frequently. The bike is in the gutter lane, where they're required to be, and a car passes them only to make a right turn just in front of the bike they just passed, cutting them off, at best, running over them, at worst.

Hoots 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm shocked when I see a cyclist stop at an intersection, crosswalk, or follow most other rules of the road as it happens that infrequenly I applaud those of you who do but you are rare.

honestone 5 years, 11 months ago

Damn bikes. As I went wide around some bikes one rider flipped me off. When I was stopped at the light and turning right the same bikes cut me off by riding down the right side. Many cyclists get what they give.

jonas_opines 5 years, 11 months ago

Because you never cut off or flipped off by motorists? Cyclists are composed of people, some of whom are jerks, just like every other subset.

honestone 5 years, 11 months ago

You are 100% correct!! Isn’t weird how there always is someone that writes an editorial who doesn’t seem to understand that. What…you think it will ever change?

jonas_opines 5 years, 11 months ago

The writer acknowledges that this is the case from time to time pretty clearly, from what I read.

concernedeudoravoter 5 years, 11 months ago

My comments are for the cycling activity I see in and around Eudora. For some reason Douglas County Roads 458 and 1061 are very popular for cycling, particularly on weekends. People show up in large groups and don't ride single file as the regulations require. Both of these county roads are very narrow and have little to no shoulders. I do not understand why both of these roads are so very popular. Also, when the groups get to Eudora, or to a stop sign at an intersection anywhere along 1061, they rarely stop. I fully understand the physics of bringing oneself to a complete stop and then having to expend energy to get started again, when under pedal power. But the physics of the situation do not matter. It is the law. Come to a stop.

grimpeur 5 years, 11 months ago

So lemme get this straight: two people shouldn't be able to use half a lane so that you get use the whole lane to yourself so that you don't have to slow down or pay attention? Just because you have a car?

That's not how it works.

The law in every state is two abreast: it shortens the length of the group, increases visibility, discourages improper passing, and allows people riding together to ride "together," communicating without turning around or yellling or taking one's eyes off the road.

If there is oncoming traffic, you should not be passing even a single cyclist, because there it not enough room to do so safely. If there is not oncoming traffic, then it doesn't matter how many cyclists are abreast, does it?

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

That's just incorrect.

The relevant KS statute states that cyclists who are traveling slower than the prevailing speed of traffic (which would be most cyclists on most roads) are supposed to ride single file as far to the right as is practicable.

Look it up, or call the DMV - I've done both.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Then why does the statute say this?

"(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles."

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

That sets out the limit of how many abreast they can ride.

It doesn't say they can always ride that way.

Please call the DMV, as I've done, and ask them for clarification - you'll find that my statements are true.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Your preferred interpretation can only mean that with respect to riding two abreast, the statute has a rather blatant internal contradiction. Either riders can ride two abreast, or they can't. You choose the latter, thereby ignoring the part of the statute that says they can.

If bikes can't ride two abreast, why do you suppose the language that says they can is even in there?

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Call the DMV, for goodness' sake - it's not "my" interpretation.

I posed the question to them that we were debating, and they said clearly and without any confusion that riders should ride single file as far to the right as possible if they're traveling slower than the prevailing rate of traffic.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Ok - now I've called the State Highway folks as well, and they concur also.

If there's traffic that's going faster than the cyclists, they're supposed to ride single file as far to the right as is practicable.

I asked when they could ride two abreast, and they said if there's no traffic, or if they're "superbikers" who can go as fast as the cars are going.

So, as I've said, in almost all cases, bikers should ride single file to the right.

Seems to me that there should be some sort of exam that cyclists take, just as auto drivers do, so that they're aware of the rules of the road.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

But the actual applicable laws don't say that. On what authority do these state agencies base these rather curious extra-semantic interpretations, and how is the general public to know that what the law says isn't the way the laws are enforced?

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm going to stop responding now.

It's clear that you don't want to get this point, and understand the law correctly.

I wish they'd start ticketing cyclists who break this law - maybe that would get their attention.

If you want to know more about this, you're free to contact anybody at the state level, as I've done twice for you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

I get it just fine, but the interpretation you prefer has a very distinct internal contradiction.

I happen to agree that bikes should fall into single file if a significant amount of traffic is on the road. But that's just not what the statute says.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Ok - one more, then I'll stop.

I've asked people at two state agencies, one of which is the agency responsible for enforcing these sorts of laws.

According to both of those, you are incorrect.

Feel free to believe whatever you like, of course, since that's what you seem to want to do here.

I think I will call the city and ask them to aggressively enforce laws about cycling - seems like that's the only way that cyclists will learn about them, and follow them.

By the way, it's interesting that I've contact people at the state level and asked them for information/clarification, but apparently you haven't - I imagine that's because you want to maintain your interpretation, rather than get the correct information.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't care what the state officials say-- my reading comprehension is just fine, and the interpretation you prefer requires accepting an internal contradiction, even if you and I can agree that in heavy traffic situations, riding two abreast is not a good idea.

Words either mean something, or they don't. If the legislature wants the interpretation you prefer, they should completely eliminate the clause permitting riding two abreast.

If my saying that incites you to go on a personal crusade against bike riders, that's your choice.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

"I don't care what the state officials say"

Ok - your choice.

It's not an internal contradiction, by the way, it's two different clauses that apply at two different times.

When there's traffic faster than the cyclists, "a" applies, and when there isn't, "c" applies.

That's an interesting suggestion - maybe I should call the state and suggest they eliiminate the two abreast clause entirely - thanks.

It's extremely frustrating to try to educate obviously intelligent people about the laws, only to have them stubbornly resist that - if cyclists want respect on the road, they should educate themselves on the laws, and follow them.

Otherwise, they create well deserved resentment from automobile drivers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

There is virtually no place on any roadways where there is no traffic, or where even the fastest riders will keep up with car traffic, which makes your interpretation nonsensical.

Like I said, if the legislature prefers your interpretation, they should remove that clause.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

It's not "my interpretation" - it's the information I got from state officials in two different appropriate agencies, the DMV and the Highway Patrol.

Given the choice between their opinion and yours, I'll stick with theirs.

And, there are times when there's not traffic, of course. But, I agree that's rare, which means the two abreast clause doesn't apply most of the time, which was my original point.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Look at the "a" section.

Somebody nicely posted it at the bottom of this thread.

grimpeur 5 years, 11 months ago

Read the "c" section. Those two abreast riders should stay to the right, thereby taking up only half a lane. Again, that doesn't really matter. What's important is this:

Two abreast is the sensible, safe, and lawful way for groups of cyclists to ride. Everywhere.

You and your DMV and highway dept. person are both incorrect in your interpretation of the law.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

You're just wrong, as is bozo, and you don't want to get it.

The "a" section applies whenever there's traffic that's going faster than the cyclists, which is most of the time.

When there isn't traffic, or cyclists can go as fast as it's going, two abreast is ok.

Maybe I'll call the city and ask them to start ticketing cyclists who don't follow the rules - maybe that'll get their attention.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

grimpeur does make a valid point-- riding single file does encourage drivers to pass when there is oncoming traffic, often forcing them to drive too close to the bike riders, either risking a collision, or forcing them into the ditch.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

That may be a problem - perhaps you should contact your legislators, and suggest they rewrite the legislation to fit your ideas of what would be better.

Or, you guys can just ride two abreast if you think it's safer - just don't complain if you get ticketed for it, since you're breaking the law.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Within city limits, I believe riding two abreast is disallowed.

But outside city limits, if there ever was a ticket, and it's challenged in court, the judge will make an interpretation based on the wording of the statute, not an obscure interpretation by some state official.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago


And, if the judge's opinion concurs with yours, I'll eat my hat.

esteshawk 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't recall all the haters when Bob Frederick died in a bike accident.

avoice 5 years, 11 months ago

The biggest problem as far as I can see is that you have significant differences in the vehicles' size and speed capabilities. What is really needed is exact rules and laws, and separate driving and cycling lanes. "Share the road" will never work because there is too much difference in the way one drives a bicycle and the way one drives an automobile. If bicycles are to be taken seriously as transportation for adult "drivers," then the laws and rules of operating them must be specific. And how about training/certification of safe cycling just as we have to prove that we're prepared to drive cars on public roads? Also, driver's education should include the cycling training as well, so people would be tested on their knowledge of how to interact with cyclists. Driving is a privilege and a responsibility. Ditto cycling on public streets.

westside_lawrence 5 years, 11 months ago

I ride regularly and always use sidewalks or bike paths. Generally I find Lawrence pretty bike-friendly, with exceptions, of course. It is a mystery why some bicyclists insist on using the road when there is a wide sidewalk available. Drivers should not treat cyclists as moving targets, either.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

I have - but I doubt it accomplished anything. When a cyclist flew through a stop sign at a four-way stop while I was at 90 degrees with the right of way, I said "That was a stop sign". Do you think he'll change his behavior in the future because I did that?

I think I may call the city and ask them to more aggressively enforce the applicable laws - maybe that'll improve things.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

See my above attempts to educate folks, which don't seem to be working, though I've contacted two appropriate state agencies to get clarification, and passed that on.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

No matter who you contact, the wording of that statute will remain internally contradictory under the interpretation you prefer. It's purely a matter of linguistics. I don't understand why you take that so personally.

asixbury 5 years, 10 months ago

You keep saying it’s the interpretation Jafs prefers, but it is really the interpretation he was given. So, in essence, it’s the preferred interpretation of the state agencies, not Jafs. You seem to be trying to pick a fight or something with your nonsense banter.

George_Braziller 5 years, 11 months ago

I used to ride my bike to work everyday. Never did it again after one memorable event on 19th Street. Despite riding as close to the curb as possible the driver of one car going 30 mph thought 12 inches was sufficient room to pass me. If I had stuck out my elbow it would have hit the passenger-side mirror.

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