August 21, 2009

Cyclists busted for running stop sign.

Yeah, I guess I might as well weigh in on this one.

There is something to be said for the permeable membrane of society with regards to certain subject matter. For example, you ask someone on the street about Paris-Brest-Paris, they'll likely think you're talking about a gentlemen's club. Ask that same random person about Lance Armstrong, and they'll probably at least know who he is. So, when the desperately non-cycling substitute security guard at the front desk of my office this morning asked me if I was one of the 17 cyclists that got a ticket for running a light, I figured the pervasiveness of this story had about maxed-out.

My take on cyclists getting tickets? Good. About time. Bring it on.

Of the reports I've read, my favorite quote comes from a lawyer that attended the ride exonerating himself because he came to a self-proclaimed "near-stop". If you'd near-stopped in a car, the same thing probably would have happened. Proof that a law degree only makes you one thing: a college graduate.

This kind of thing irks me to no end, and I really don't even want to waste the energy debating it. It happened, they got tickets, and I hope to all-that's-holy that area police continue to hand out tickets to cyclists that break the law. PERIOD. This is why I will continue to shun and avoid nearly every t-shirt and semi-organized group ride in the area, because the last time I attended one I got yelled at and shunned BECAUSE I stopped at a stop sign. I announced I was stopping, signaled - something the cyclists behind me had probably never seen before, come to think of it - and I believe the phrase was something to the effect that I almost made someone rear-end me because I was stopping, and I should "stop being such a blankity-blank Boy Scout." I responded by smartly out-climbing him on my single speed, and heading home. That was in 2003. The only groups I feel comfortable riding with are in Grandview on Saturday mornings, randonneurs, and my small circle of like-minded friends.

To you offenders: I don't get it. There is no reason for it. There is absolutely nothing about your ride or your group that temporarily lifts the rules of the road. You are not transporting intelligence documents by bicycle to the President of the United States. You are not on your way to fight a fire. None of you will ever impress me with an average speed on a group ride unless you can do it while still obeying all the traffic laws. If you want to improve your average speed, learn how to brake faster, track-stand, and sprint back up to speed. If a cop doesn't see your spokes stop moving from across an intersection, you didn't stop. If you can't stomach that, then learn how to ride faster (because, trust me... you're not fast.) and save it for the crits on a closed course for your "bragging rights". The only thing close to in-between is the Tour De Shawnee on the 30th of this month, and I personally kinda hope the cops protest and refuse to control the intersections for you. In the meantime, I get the pleasure of fending off the drivers continually hacked off by the cyclists doing it incorrectly. Now that it's made the TV news, radio, and newspaper, I get to fend off people that weren't even there to witness the bad behavior. Doing it right or not, I'm still a "dang biker" when drivers come up behind me during the morning commute. Thanks, again.

This is why there will always be an "us and them" division among cyclists.
And "them" are never going to read these blogs.
But, if YOU, loyal reader whose valuable time I greatly appreciate and never take for granted - if YOU see someone cycling poorly, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE... speak up. If we are going to live in a community of us-and-them cyclists, the only way to pull someone over to the "other" side is to talk to them.

The Blue Moose, in the meantime, reserves the right to refuse service to anyone - just like any other legitimate business - and in this down economy, I wonder if they can afford the bad press? Heck, who am I kidding? There is no "down economy" in "Perfect Village"(sic). Still, I wonder how long we'll continue to see spandex-clad lawyers bellied up to the bar there? I wonder how long angry motorists will wait before stopping in for a drink one of these Thursday nights? Maybe they'll strike up a conversation.

Okay, I'm finished.


kG said...

As an addendum to this: EVERYtime I write something like this, I feel instantly bad. I don't know why that is. I don't want to be hypocritical. I don't like pointing fingers, and pointing out flaws, because I don't have the best self-opinion. BUT, I was always taught the value of right and wrong - and for whatever that is worth, I try to live by it as a member of upstanding society. I try to set the right example for my children, even if they aren't there to see it. I sleep better because of it, and as Noah put it, I try never to take for granted my existence, my health, and my very place on the food chain of the highways and roads by living under some sort of false self-entitlement. I would really rather have it "not matter", and would really rather have a good time riding with ANYone that rides a bicycle. But, I have to handle it the same way I handled my "friends", many years ago, that decided they couldn't have a good time unless drugs were involved. I had good relationships there, good times, but in the end I was never going to grow as a person and keep myself alive if I continued hanging out with them. Their behavior was never going to change, and so I had to leave. Same thing here: these cyclists that ride this way are never gonna change, and I'm not playing "holier-than" by shunning their rides or their friendship... but I can't ride that way. It's as simple as that. I'm not infallible, and I don't want to be someone that puts human beings into groups... but, dang-it, I'm not the one breaking the laws here. Apologies? NO. Justification for how I feel... hell, I sometimes DO care what people think of me, and I don't want to come across as a self-serving jerk about this kind of thing. Can I please everyone? No way. So what? Ride on.

warbird said...

There is no reason to apologize or feel bad for speaking truth.

Susan Tomlinson said...

Amen to all that.

dmar836 said...


Mom Knight said...

I agree too, and this is the first of your blogs I've read.

Anonymous said...

Although I believe cyclists should obey traffic laws, I would still like to see an Idaho style law for cyclists. That law allows them to treat stop signs as yield signs. If there isn't any oncoming traffic, they simply have to slow and proceed cautiously.

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Anonymous said...

Get of your high horse dude! "They" are not going to 'love' you if everyone on a bike stops and suddenly obeys all traffic rules. The fact that bikes are even on the road is the reason for the hate, so don't blame the 'offending' cyclists for how you are treated. This is not a bike country, despite the increased popularity, and you will have to live on the fringe and deal with being the "sissy in spandex" we all are. Me, it is slow and roll if the traffic warrants. If the lights don't change after I stop, slow and roll if the traffic warrants it. (Seriously in your commutes you sit and wait for a car to trigger the light in an empty intersection?) I ride in a manner for my absolute safety. That means I move to the left at intersections and go through alone so they can't turn right in front of me. This move left pisses more drivers off than anything and is imperative to your safety. Don't ride in the gutter. Don't share the intersection. You have a right to the road. In the end go ride gravel and get away from most of the cars. Ride on CD!

Robert Patterson said...

"There is absolutely nothing about your ride or your group that temporarily lifts the rules of the road."

Hear, hear!

Thanks for the post.

O. T. said...

I did not get a chance to weigh in myself, but you are spot on CD. Don't feel bad about it. You never know, someone may read this, think twice and stop at a stop sign and not get splattered by a truck! Take your time, enjoy the ride.


QueriesonFoodsandHealth said...

"I sometimes DO care what people think of me, and I don't want to come across as a self-serving jerk about this kind of thing. Can I please everyone? No way. So what? Ride on."

Indeed, we can't please all the people that are looking unto us. That's why we must learn when to obey or please others or when to obey our own principles in life.

Peny@discount scrubs