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Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

From the Baltimore Sun:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinio … letter0322,0,1125997.story

I wish to respond to the commentary published in the Sunday, March 21 eddition of The Sun entitled "Give Them Room" by Gregory T. Simmons. While Mr. Simmons hits all the in-vogue talking points with regard to bicycle transportation in and around Baltimore, unfortunately, these very same talking points help to perpetuate a host of fallacies. First, that riding a bike on a public roadway is inherently unsafe. It isn't. Second, that bike lanes advance the use of bicycles and safety of bicyclists. They don't. And third, that any form of feel good legislation aimed at errant motorists to supposedly benefit bicyclists will have its intended effect. Not a chance.

Mr. Simmons and those of his mindset propagate a form of mild psychosis best known as the bicyclist inferiority complex. People who suffer this psychosis think every motorist is out to run them off the road and that in order to ride a bicycle anywhere, a full set of private bicycle accommodations are necessary. The fact is that other than railways, bicycling is the safest form of land transportation in the U.S. In 2006, the National Safety Council reported that 928 people died while riding a bike. This compares with 45,316 motor vehicle deaths and 6,162 pedestrian deaths for the same year. Considering the fact that roughly half of the reported bicycle deaths each year are children who inadvertently ride out into traffic and another large percentage are wrong-way cyclists or non-illuminated nighttime riding deaths, the safety of an adult rider of a bicycle conforming to vehicular riding principles becomes even more pronounced. The cases of a motorist simply running into a bicyclist who is safely riding are so small as to be almost statistically insignificant. Yet those who clamor for more laws, mandatory helmet use and segregated bicycle facilities think nothing of driving their car -- a much more lethal activity.

This by no means translates into every bike ride in traffic being a walk in the park. It's not, nor should one expect it to be. A bicycle is a vehicle which requires operator knowledge and expertise like any other vehicle. Similar to a motorcycle or powered scooter, the fact that the rider is out in the open and the vehicle must be balanced demands a higher degree operator skill and vigilance than a four-wheeled vehicle. But that knowledge is readily available and the skills easily learned.

To Mr. Simmons request for legislation, there are already laws on the books that make it illegal to pass any other vehicle in a dangerous manner. There are a host of laws on the books that apply to all vehicles equally that prohibit a number of infractions with regard to overtaking another vehicle, yielding, right-of-way -- anything and everything associated with proper vehicle operation on a public road. The problem has nothing to do with how the laws are written; it's a lack of enforcement. There simply is no pro-active traffic law enforcement to speak of. When the government installs speed cameras and then mollifies the objectors by giving speeders 12 miles-per-hour grace above the posted limit, they effectively raised the speed limit of that roadway by 12 miles per hour. The average speed on the interstate system is routinely 20 miles per hour above the posted limit. While traveling by bike or by car, it would seem that the yellow line dividing opposing lanes of traffic simply does not exist for some motorists. Whether it's a same-direction motorist overtaking me when I am on my bike, or an opposite-direction motorist wishing to get around a the mail vehicle stopped on their side of the road, a percentage of motorists seem to have no qualms about crossing over the dividing line and forcing oncoming traffic to take evasive action instead of waiting for the lane to clear. I have even witnessed the local police doing this. So writing into law a three-foot passing margin will have no effect on how some people drive without enforcement. There are simply a percentage of motorists who don't follow the laws.

If the people of the state of Maryland via their elected representatives wish to make the roads safer for all users it's really quite simple: Enforce the existing traffic laws. If alternative forms of surface transportation other than the automobile are to be promoted, it's also not that difficult: Make it more exacting to gain and keep a motor vehicle operator's license and incorporate how to safely overtake a slow moving vehicle into the licensing education and testing process. Teach proper bicycle operation at a young age -- late middle school would be a good time. Maintain the road surfaces in good order for all users. To further encourage utilitarian bicycle use in urban areas where they are best suited, localities could reduce the speed limit to 30 miles per hour -- as fast as anyone need drive in an urban environment anyway.

Galen Wallace, Towson

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

Good words. I cannot disagree, however this seems like the perspective of yet another healthy, well-schooled guy from a nice neighborhood to imply that riding in the streets is "knowledge (that) is readily available and the skills easily learned".  The problem is, not everyone has these privileges. Many (most?) people have a lot to overcome to get a decent working bike, to keep it safe,  and to find other riders or resources to learn from. Gotta give these people all the help and respect we can.
       -Bob (yet another healthy, well-schooled guy from a nice neighborhood) Wagner

BTW Who is Galen Wallace?

bobwag@gmail.com
4130 on 28's @ 15
http://randoramble.wordpress.com/

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

"who is Galen Wallace?"

I haven't seen Galen in years - I mean like around 20 years.  But way back when in my racing days, Galen did some racing, at times rode with a group of racing friends of mine - sometimes down at Montebello, other times on trips out into Baltimore County, was a strong rider, etc.

back then had wife kids, etc.  IIRC

I think I remember seeing a post from him on one of the bicycle email lists within the last year or so.

Serious cyclist with lots of miles in his legs from many years of riding - not an anti-cyclist or anything.

I do remember that Galen has never one afraid to express his opinion.

Sam Walters

P.S. - It is a small PITA to have to come here to post a reply, after receiving the message in my email client.  I'd post a longer response dealing with the issue (to which I given lots of thought), but I'd want to mull over the language, getting it just write, be able to save a draft, have a record of what I'd written, etc.  And I can't do that in this setup.

My thoughts on the 3 foot law, drivers and cyclists in general will have to wait until some other time.

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

To add what Sam said, I have ridden with Galen as recently as last year when he came out for a BBC ride. He is a very knowledgeable, accomplished, strong rider.

Bob, at one time, he used to be a denizen of Bikeforums.net.   I'm not sure why he quit posting, but I haven't read anything of his, there, for years.

2013 mileage=12,169 miles;
2014 mileage=5,156 miles;
2015  mileage=6,200 miles;
2016 mileage=17,503 miles;

Isaias O'Daniell
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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

BrianW wrote:

I'd still support the legislation, if for no other reason than that it might educate a few people, but I'm certainly not going to depend on it for protection.

+1  ( <-- In forum-speak, that means I agree with the quoted statement)


That's weird! How did my post get ABOVE the post I'm quoting?!  Looks like an index problem.

2013 mileage=12,169 miles;
2014 mileage=5,156 miles;
2015  mileage=6,200 miles;
2016 mileage=17,503 miles;

Isaias O'Daniell
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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

I could nit pick some factual errors in Galen's post but while better traffic enforcement may seem desirable  but already we have cyclists at fault for riding too far left and at fault for riding too far right. Better safety education, again sounds nice but look at what the "experts" came up with to reduce our high pedestrian fatality rate:
http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs416.snc3/25110_370611053075_513493075_3545426_1626175_n.jpg

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

Draft your reply, edit and spellcheck it in your mail client. When you're satisfied, just cut and paste the response here.

I used to do Wednesday night rides from the Hillside Inn off Falls Rd with Galen, Dave Little, Brett Clare (sp?), sometimes Ken Anderson. Basically a whole lot of people who could put the hurt on you. I think he did the Montebello and Druid Hill practice crits then, too (1993-1996 or so). Fun times. current/wink  I think Galen took some time off from serious riding, but I saw him on a BBC ride in 2008 or so, and he was very fit again.

He's quite right in that all the legislation in the world isn't going to help when basic traffic laws are not respected by motorists - or enforced by authorities. It looks good on paper, but in the real world, it's not worth much. I'd still support the legislation, if for no other reason than that it might educate a few people, but I'm certainly not going to depend on it for protection.

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.
- Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

Yes, I noticed the same sort of thing in another forum. Something to keep Will occupied and off the bike. current/wink

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.
- Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

"Draft your reply, edit and spellcheck it in your mail client. When you're satisfied, just cut and paste the response here."

I've worked with PC's since their birth.  I've trained innumerable on how to use not only the basic but finer points of word processing, spreadsheet and other software.  Designed whole office systems, work with computers for my living.  Obviously I can cut and paste across computer programs - that is child's play.  But why should I have to do that.  It is like going back in time.

I've had to switch back and forth between Thunderbird, where I get these messages, to Firefox, where I can post a reply or look for a ride schedule - which I can't get by email anymore, about 5-7 times just today.   Last week, I'd have done it all in Thunderbird.  They say we will "eventually" get the repeating next 2 days ride schedules delivered via email - eventually usually quite time off and we aren't sure how to do it.

And a few minutes ago, I started wondering if I knew Brian W from the distant past since we rode with some of the same people and clicked on his picture.  The previous version of this reply written in the forum disappeared into the ether and this is a 2nd version - but one which now identifies another great flaw in this system.

I'll never get used to this when 95% of my email from other interest groups / sites is all handled conveniently in Thunderbird.

Back to riding back in the late 80's - early 90's - yeah I rode some with Dave Little back then, raced at Montebello and Druid Hill (repeats over Mansion Hill really separated the fit from the racer chaff.

And I remember Ken Anderson well.  He was the only person around at that  time who could just put the hammer down and ride off from the Cat 1-2-3 pack at Montebello.   Lots of folks, even many of the 18+ riders, have no idea what kind of power that would have taken.

Didn't really know him well, but from the limited contact plus what I heard from others he was really nice.  It was trying to keep up with him that killed you.  Think I remember riding with a group of Montebello racers that included him for about 70 miles one day - a straight 70, no lunch stop making it 2 35 mile rides.   For the first 2/3 or so of the ride he'd wait at major intersections for the rest of us to catch up.  Shortly after we made a quick stop for rehydration, he took off on a hill and we never saw him again.  And we were working hard in a paceline.

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Re: Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'

One of my proudest accomplishments was the day I rode away from the rest of the group on a route through Western Run, up York Rd, and onto Phoenix or something like that. Rode away in the sense that I was the only one who stayed on Ken's wheel, that is. =P   I'll never be one of those 6% body fat boys. Well, I suppose I could be two or three of 'em, if that counts.

If you like Thunderbird, can't you subscribe to the RSS feed and read and reply in Thunderbird still? I used to handle most of my mailing list stuff that way, via gmane.org. That might require a bit of Joomla magic on Will's part though. I'm reading via the RSS feed in Google reader, replying on site right now.

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.
- Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

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