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Don't Rush Me


Frogs, bikes and cars . . .


Oh My! The saga continues with more opinion



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July 14, 2010 - Holy I-Got-A-Blister-On-Me-Bum, Batman! Letters and emails keep coming in about bicyclists and their rights . . . I should have known better than to try and buck the Spandex Revolution, yet something had to be said.

Whilst I cannot spend any more print space on the matter I waster cyber space. So, here are some of the opinions folks have sent me. So, this week you get two Don't Rush Mes.

Keep your thoughts coming!

Don

PS: If you want to read what all the ruckus is about, click here

http://www.oxfordleader.com/Articles-i-2010-06-30-236525.113121-sub_What_do_frogs_and_bicyclists_have_in_common.html

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Dear Don,

I don't expect you to write any more on bicyclists in the road ... two columns is probably enough. But I would like to share this notion:

I do share the roadway with any vehicle I encounter, including bicycles, but I ALSO expect courtesy in return.

I don't live in Lake Orion anymore, but the roadways where I do live are comparable. When you have a bicyclist on the side of a 55 m.p.h. road with no shoulder, you might normally pass them. However, many roads are long and winding, with no passing zones for miles on end. A no passing zone means that it is not safe to cross that yellow line because of visibility. I wouldn't dare cross a double yellow to squeeze past a bicyclist if I can't see what's coming around the next corner, and usually I can't.

So, it follows then that me and my school bus must remain behind that cyclist as they continue to ride on the white line at 15 M.P.H. If traffic normally moves at 55 to 60, tell me how that is courteous and "sharing the road?" -- Mike

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Dear Don,

Thank you for your tongue in cheek article about bicyclists and frogs. I'm sure you've gotten many comments pro and con.

As a driver, I understand your frustrations regarding cyclists in the way. You are correct in stating that cyclists have the same rights on the road as cars but they also have the same responsibilities. Although it is legal in Michigan to cycle two abreast, club cyclists are taught to ride single file when in traffic for their own safety and to avoid being a road bloc.

They are also told that when riding in a huge event with thousands of riders to always ride in small groups so cars have space to safely pass. But just like drivers, cyclists don't always obey the rules, sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes out of stupidity. But as a cyclist that rides about 4,000 miles a year, I would like to explain why we don't ride what some call bike paths but, in fact, are multiuse paths.

These paths are used for baby strollers, toddlers on bikes learning to ride, skateboarders, walkers with head phones on (they don't hear you coming even when you call out, "Bikes back!" sprinklers, dogs, overhanging branches, mud and overgrown weeds. Every driveway is a 4-way intersection, you must be aware of cars turning from the front, the back and coming out of the driveway.

And many drivers do not stop behind the bike lane when merging into traffic; they drive over it to get closer to the intersection. Also, multiuse paths have a tendency to start and stop; often they end in the middle of a field and don't go the direction we need to go. A two mile walk for you is great, a two mile bike ride is nothing, we usually ride 35-40 miles a day, average 17-18 miles per hour, and we need more continuous roads. Cyclists would prefer paved bike lanes adjacent to the roads.

Why do we ride close to the white line? Next time you see that, check to see what the shoulder looks like. Are there drainage grates (holes wider than bike tires): lots of gravel? glass? pot holes? debris? We also need "wiggle" room to the right for the occasional driver that thinks it's funny to get as close to us as possible.

Now that you are exercising, I recommend you go to Kinetics there in Clarkston, Jeff and Louise will be glad to get you started in a great new exercise program.

Gail and Bud Preston

Northville

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Dear Don,

To those of us who ride, we can plainly see you don't see the big picture. For starters people use their bikes as transportation, not just to go get in your way.

Many people ride to work and have to take roads with no bike lane, putting them in traffic. Most people who commute to work on a bike can keep a speed of 20 miles an hour or more, many side WALKS have a speed limit of 15 miles, I know people who have been stopped by the police and told to get off the side walk or they will get given a speeding ticket.

Many states which are not as fat as Michigan (we are number ten in of the fattest in the fattest country in the world) have laws that any new street has a bike lane on the road not on the side walk where you are implying we should ride, this bike lane even has a left hand turn lane next to the car left hand turn lane. Yes between the lane for cars going straight and the cars turning left.

There are many benefits to cycling to the person who is riding and the world around them, for those of us who have found then we will keep riding on the roads because it is the law, and the motorist job to follow it, so the cyclist are safe. We will only feel bad for all of you who have not found out what cycling is really all about.

See you on the roads,

Karey Collins

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Dear Don,

The problem is that there really are not enough miles of bike paths or bike lanes for cyclists today, and with our roads in such poor condition, it does force some cyclists to ride farther out into the road than they want to in order to avoid potholes... which can bring you down pretty quickly. I can assure you that most cyclists do not feel arrogant riding a bicycle on the same roads as cars.

My suggestion for you is to buy a road bike and join us. Then maybe you'll be able to understand the freedom and pleasure we get out of a quick spin through the countryside, and forget about squashing cyclists... err frogs with your heel.

Best,

Tom (in Farmington Hills)

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Hello Don,

I read your article about bicyclists on the road with great interest; I ride along the road and understand how frustrating two riders side by side can be, that is not the proper way to ride on the road.

My routine is about 50 miles per daya at an average of 16 miles per hour. How do you think people walking would like a bicycle passing them from behind at sometimes 25 mph would feel, they would run us off of the pathway. The City of Clarkston's ordinance does not allow bikes on the side walks so that puts us on the roads.

As for spandex, they have special pads built into the seat to cushion your butt!

Sincerely, John Morgan

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Dear Don,

As a veteran of cycling on roads here in Michigan as well as many

other parts of the world for the past 30 years, I share your impatience

and sometimes frustration with the self-righteous attitude of some

cyclists on our narrow, shoulder-less roads.

I even point out to other riders the fact that they are setting a bad example while endangering themselves and others. I also have to point out to rude drivers that I have a right to the roads, that I travel for work as

well as pleasure/fitness, and that I am doing my part, however small,

to change attitudes about transportation.

I urge you to ride a mile (or a dozen) in their spandex though. See how it feels to get buzzed at your left elbow by a SUV doing 65 while trying to dodge ubiquitous pot holes. Accept and embrace because bikes are here to stay and will probably be here long after the cars have burned up all the

oil.....

Nick Durrie

Ann Arbor

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Dear Don,

I just read you column. Truth is, I seldom get through most of them as they wander a bit much for me. This one though,, I read just to see where you were going with it.

The thing about bikers. Most feel like they do have RIGHTS and while they do, there are also many laws they break on a regular basis. They seldom signal, never stop for signs, don't yield and the big one: they obstruct traffic!

And when was the last time you saw one of them carry a wallet in their spandex? Drivers license anyone? All are ticketable. And the obstructing traffic is an easy one to write.

OK, so you think I don't ride. I do. I ride a mountain bike in the woods on trails. A LOT! Sometimes I will HAVE TO ride on the road for some reason... I don't like to because I spent 20 years fixing wrecked cars and can tell you first hand (or is it second) how most people who are driving roll. Picture this..

. . . Some person is driving down the road multi-tasking. They are eating a taco from Taco Bell, smoking a cigarette (or a joint), drinking a soft drink (is a beer soft?) , and talking on their phone (because we all know texting is just wrong). That is when they realize they almost missed their turn.

Where do you think the bike is in this picture?

I have had many heated conversations with bikers about how this will hurt them and why do they not use the millions of dollars of BIKE PATHS we have built for them. The one answer I get the most is that they go too fast to be allowed on the path. Is this true?

I know they seldom go even close to the speed limit on the roads they ride. And their favs, seem to be the ones with a 50 mile limit and no shoulder. Can you say Oakwood and Grange hall? Even down hill they aren't so far as they seem to think. The last one I asked claimed to be averaging 13 miles an hour as his over the limit speed. I do better than that in the woods on trails dodging trees and rocks!

Maybe the reason they ride the roads is because they lack the bike handling skills to ride around mom and the stroller? Do you think Lance would have a problem dodging strollers? Hmmmm..

OK, enough for that rant. How about this? I ran a lot of 5 and 10 K's when I was more stressed (younger). John Gault (no not that one) who runs the Riverbend Striders out of Flushing would give this speech before each race. It went something like this:

" Folks, we are running in traffic, and while we are supposed to have the rite of way ... Don't forget that if you get hit by a car you are going to loose and the right of way will not protect your body, so be careful and don't piss the cars off."

OK, that last part may have been more implied than spoken but I think it applies to bikers too. After all, all the threats to sue someone and take all they own when they hit you will not make you walk (or ride) again. And the person who hits you is going to be the one who has lost their driving privilege for drunk driving and has no insurance to go with the lack of a pot to piss in anyway so good luck with the lawsuit anyway.

So there it is, my rant. Take it for what it is. Do I care if some biker gets themselves run down? Only if I am the one who does it. Why do I care? Because I will always feel bad about it and the damage done to me by some stupid biker may not be broken bones ( only emotional) but will still harm me for the rest of my life.

Print that. Greg H

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Dear Don,

I tried to appreciate your attempt of humor towards justification of "squishing" frogs, and loosely comparing that to "squishing" cyclists (albeit human) riding on the shared roadways of our community.

As a cyclist, and quite possibly one of your doctors, your neighbor, or the parent who drives your kid to baseball practice, I beg you to realize that these are human lives you are disregarding. The question I always ask is: truly how intrusive or how delayed are you due to the shared rights of cyclists on the road?

At most, maybe 15 seconds out of 86,400 seconds in a day? Doesn't seem like much, does it? Would you feel vindicated to plow through them to save 15 seconds, or simply to prove your point?

Since you have your own dictionary, maybe I can draw you back into the Webster's Dictionary definition of:

civility: noun, plural -ties.

1. courtesy; politeness.

2. a polite action or expression: an exchange of civilities.

3. Archaic . civilization; culture; good breeding.

Or better yet, don't act like an entitled idiot, share the road, and show respect. From now on, I'll keep looking back as I ride my bike, watching out for the "frog squishier".

Brian

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Dear Don,

To be stupid is one of the great American unenumerated rights. This law of creation kills a goodly number every year. Rest in peace, with your right to bike in traffic. -- Rob

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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