Monday, March 1

Bigger Issues

Headline from the Daily Astorian: "Man suspected of deliberate bicycle accident {my italics} put in jail. Stephan Fox faces charges of attempted murder, assault, hit and run, after rider is severely injured."

I see bicycle advocates going after other bicyclists every day. These are all people whose differences, in the final analysis, are minor. I do NOT consider myself a bicycle advocate. I have never in my life belonged to any organized bicycle group (unless you count the Boy Scouts). I ride to get where I'm going. End of story, other than an occasional recreational ride. I ride the way my experience and training has taught me is safe. While I do not call myself a "vehicular cyclist," I do ride on the road in the ways one would expect a vehicle to operate. It's the law, and it makes sense. In 50 years of riding, my only collision with a car involved my bike in the garage falling over onto my E-type Jaguar when I was not on the bike. I don't know if that counts. I did have a close call as recently as 1973. I do not expect that everyone reading this blog will agree with me, or the details of how I ride in a given situation, but I certainly hope that commenters will point out ways I might improve my own riding and safety without endangering others. I also pray that some will see ways to improve their own safety. If I help one single cyclist, that's repayment many times over for whatever effort I put into this. I NEVER want to hear about any reader of this blog getting hit. I don't like the notion of a funeral for a friend. Cycling truly IS fun AND safe.
Still, in the meantime, I read headlines, such as that above - what is a "deliberate bicycle accident" anyway - with a guy that was "well off to the side" of the road? I see people I have ridden with, such as ChipSeal, targeted by local law enforcement for what should be perfectly legal riding, whether I would have made the same exact choices or not. I see people who I do not know and who, to the best of my knowledge, have never met Chip, nor seen where he has to ride, accusing him of extremism. "Well off the roadway" sure didn't help Seth A. Goldstein. Perhaps had he been riding IN the roadway, the crazy that hit him might have had his instinct kick in. I HAVE been down in Ellis County, and I've never felt quite so cold, nor wondered so much about how I might ride if I had to ride the same roads. I saw Chip on trial, and the videos of the traffic stops. Seeing Whareagle up on Chip's porch, knocking at the door, gave the "cyclist pit of doom" another whole meaning. What sort of insanity is this when the main effort of cyclists is to complain about what other cyclists have wrought? In the meantime, Keri Caffrey and I argue about a single foot's difference in sharrow placement. Crimeny. I'm sorry, Keri. Let's stop picking fly poo out of the pepper!
Perhaps it's time to write the next chapter in "the carbon series." I really DO enjoy talking about something I've worked on and with for most of my adult life. What's more, nobody will complain it doesn't fit their cycling nirvana image.
Still, in the final analysis, all of this stuff doesn't mean a whole lot if people can't ride their bikes down the roads they paid for with their property taxes, without having to worry about either being harrassed, arrested, or worse. I got stopped myself once, by a Fort Worth Police Officer that didn't like the notion of me riding on the only eastbound road out of the Fort Worth Alliance Airport. I also got honked at by a Keller police patrol that didn't seem to appreciate me riding on Bear Creek Road on instead of its deteriorating shoulder  . Luckily I was not ticketed by the FW cop - but it was a shock because the FW route was only road out of Dodge, so to speak. In the case of the Keller cops, I made a RH signal, went on to the shoulder, and then went back into the roadway after the police passed. Perhaps they had a call, perhaps not. Either way, I now avoid that road in favor of one with no shoulder, FM1709. Bike lanes are fine. Bike paths, too. I like bike paths even though most of my falls have occurred on same. None of that means a whit compared to the need to remember that there is no such thing as a "deliberate bicycle accident" and there's no legitimate reason that cyclists ought to have to go drive a car to avoid getting targeted. I know I'm perturbed. I'm not sure exactly what to do about it all, nor exactly who I'm irritated with. All I know for sure is cyclists need to stop being a fractious lot that will argue about how many angels can sit on the head of a pin.
In the words of someone who has wisdom in an informal way, "we need better advocates." Yeah, we do.


PM Summer said...

Welcome to the world of "grumpy" bicyclists.

Deliberate accident. Hmmm. Gernalism Skools aren't what the used to be, either.

Anonymous said...

It was not until August 11, 1997 that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided that “Crashes are not Accidents.”

acline said...

I'll vote for you for "better advocate" ;-)

Chandra said...

Steve, You do belong to CycleBabble !!

And, we love having you in the group!

Peace :)

Steve A said...

I'm not Grumpy. Grumpy is a dwarf. I MIGHT be a little Crabby.

Crashes AREN'T accidents. "Deliberate Accidents" SURELY aren't accidents.

High praise indeed from acline, though undeserved, and coming from one who epitomizes a better advocate. Someone that builds bridges, not walls. It's his inclination to build tracks that occasionally worries me.

Chandra, only YOU would consider a group named "babble" an organized cycling group. I do admit we encourage all sorts and things get kept pretty congenial.

Rantwick said...

Dwarf! Are you Grumpy the flip-flop racing dwarf? Hah! I knew it!

Seriously, I agree very much with the spirit of this post. We all love riding bikes. Hair-splitting wastes everyone's time... be safe, enjoy. Carry on, Steve. You're speaking my language, brother.

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