Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

7.20.2011

Michael Lavery of Grand Isle Vermont Doesn't Get it

As evidenced by his "My Turn" letter in the Burlington Free Press:Mr Lavery's letter in regular text, my responses in italics:
Here we go again. Another article from the Free Press about how cyclists and motorists should behave on the highway ("Sharing the road is an easy first step each of us can take"). Actually, I think the article in the paper on Sunday, July 3, was some sort of joke. Maybe to see if anyone would notice that that brilliant lawyer is standing in the middle of the road, in one picture, while traffic is around. Then in the other picture he is standing on the side of the road facing the wrong way.
Here we go again. Another letter to the Free Press about how cyclists wear clothes you might not see on a night out at Applebee's, don't pay any special license and registration fees, sometimes ride in the road even when there is a "perfectly good" bike path adjacent and sometimes get in the way of passing motorists for a fraction of a second. Did I miss anything? 
It is, by my experience, a well-established fact that most cyclists already think they have the roads "completely to themselves" by the way most of these "Tour de France" wannabes ride.
Oh yeah, I forgot the obligatory reference to the Tour. Know what? I ride my bike every day, to get to and from work, and sometimes for fun.  I have no illusions about being in the Tour or any other race. And don't get me started on car drivers who are NASCAR wannabes. 
So let me get this straight. You had to wait for a slower-moving vehicle that was in front of you on the road for a few seconds or maybe even a minute, and because that slow moving vehicle was not a tractor, truck, antique car, or little old lady on her way to church, you have classified the operator of said vehicle as a TdF wannbe who thinks they have the road "completely to themselves."  Right. Or maybe said cyclist was "taking the lane" because, being ahead of you and all, they could see that it was unsafe to pass and decided to prevent you from doing something unsafe?
If a motorist has an issue with a cyclist that motorist is on his/her own. He/she cannot ID the cyclist because the cyclists that are the worst offenders are dressed in costumes, with headgear and sunglasses and no visible way to ID them. So, they can just "flip you off" and ride away. The police rarely, if ever respond to a complaint. What would you tell the cop? "Well officer it was, I think a male, ummm, female on a two-wheel bike wearing spandex and a funny looking "shirt" and helmet." That would narrow it down, Huh?
Oh the poor oppressed motorist, all out there on their own in their two-ton armored cage capable of going 100 miles an hour.  My heart bleeds. 
So you'd really like it if you were less identifiable to other users of the road when you were out in your car.  Also, it sounds like you have seen what you thought was an attractive lady in lycra, and maybe took in a long look, only to discover, horror of horrors, that you were looking at a man. Here's an idea. Look at the road instead. You know, that thing you're piloting the two-ton death machine down? Yeah. Also, I'm willing to bet that if a cyclist "flipped you off" it's because they had the right of way or you passed them too close (in violation of VT state law, by the way) and they were feeling a little righeously indignant about you risking their life so you could get where you were going 15 seconds sooner. 
I am also fed up with the "share the road" concept. Motorists pay most of the costs for these highways, including the signage like the sign that Sam Hoar is standing next to. Also, the road markings for bikes that they ignore.
No they don't. They pay most of the cost of interstate highways (which bicycles mostly cannot use) and state highways, but local roads are funded with a mix of funds in most states that include all sorts of taxes that we all pay, like income and property taxes.  Look up any of the federal GAO reports on the subject and see for yourself. I'm also not sure what road markings you see cyclists ignore, but on my daily ride to and from work, I stop at stop lines, use the proper lanes to get where I am going, all that good  stuff. I ride like I'm a car, except that when it's safe to do so I ride as far to the right as possible so as to be a polite human being and let the faster vehicles pass.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sharing the road. It is just that most cyclists don't want to share the road.
Most cyclists don't want to get killed. Most cyclists know that when they are on the road, the are a minority user of that road and need to ride defensively and visibly. I don't want to hold anybody up. But sometimes for my safety or because of the situation, that happens- guess what? It happens when I drive my car too. Stop complaining about traffic, we are all traffic.
Let's do something that motorists want. Register and ID these bikes. Then somehow get them to chip in. How's that for "personal responsibility" and "rights and obligations"?
I'm a motorist, and I don't want to do that. So let's not speak for me, OK?  You'd like to see every cyclist who ever inconvenienced you brought before the law and punished, I get that. I'd like to see the same happen  to each and every one of the fifteenish motorists I've encountered in the last three years on the road who willingly, wantonly, maliciously did things like trying to force me of the road or into a curb, throwing things at me, shouting profanity at me, clipping me with their side mirror, passing me dangerously on the right, cutting me off with a "right hook" after passing me, and a number of others. But the fact that those cars had plates on them made no difference in their drivers' accountability at all. I own a car. I pay taxes. I also ride a bike, and it's my road too, to use responsibly and safely. 
Even if I do wear those tight pants you keep staring at.
Michael Lavery lives in Grand Isle.
Good for him. When was the last time he gained a little perspective by, y'know, trying to ride a bike somewhere?