Cycling

Kenji Sugahara

I can agree with Bush on one thing: cycling.

In the last week "Bush was indulging his new hobby, which he sees as a way to get his heart rate up and spend time outdoors without aggravating his achy knees." (referring to mountain biking)

Although... I do share more of an affinity with John Kerry. He's a roadie. He owns a custom Serotta.

Even the Secret Service has to train.

If the election ends up within 1 percentage point, I say we have a road race. Kerry-Edwards vs. Bush-Cheney. Could you see Cheney on a bike (with all the spandex)? THAT I would pay to see.

Either way, I think cycling has bi-partisan support. However, we need to change Oregonians attitudes toward cyclists. Talking from personal experience, some people don't look for or respect cyclists.

Examples: cars/trucks/RV's driving as close as they can to a group of cyclists while the opposite lane is completely clear. Vehicles turning in front of cyclists. Vehicles honking at cyclists. The list goes on.

Recently, a cyclist was struck during the Seattle to Portland ride. A few weeks ago in Salem, a cyclist was struck and sent to the hospital. Two years ago I was struck by a vehicle who turned right in front of me while I was descending a hill- it was ugly. A couple years before that, a driver intentionally ran over me. How do I know it was intentional? I was pulled off the side of the road approximately 20 feet away from a stop sign. A V-8 truck pulls up behind me and stops. Despite being off the road, the passenger yells out the window, "GET THE F*CK OFF THE ROAD!" While I was moving to get further off the road, the driver turned his wheels and ran over my back wheel. Instead of confronting them, I ran around to the back of the vehicle and grabbed their license plate number. Needless to say, I pressed charges. At trial his excuse was "It was a new truck and he didn't know its dimensions." He said this despite having a Commercial Drivers License. The jury didn't buy it, convicted him, and the judge sentenced him to 10 days in jail.

How do we change attitudes? Get more people cycling, raise public awareness of cycling, run PSA's, make cities and roads more bike friendly.

Sadly, there will always be an element that thinks that the road is theirs and only theirs. Those are the same folks who you read about in road rage incidents. For them, prosecution would be appropriate.

Comments

  • Shetha (unverified)
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    Having a husband who bikes to work when possible, I couldn't agree with you more. Sadly, there is another side to the coin. As a car driver, I am very aware of where the bike lanes are, where the bikers are, and I'm always checking my mirrors when I turn to be sure I'm not cutting any bikers off. I leave plenty of space when I am following a biker (you never know when they're going to go down and the last place I want to end up is on top of them) and I only pass when there is plenty of room and I don't have to speed. Sadly, no one enforces the biking rules. As a pedestrian I've nearly been flattened several times and as a car driver I've nearly been t-boned with cyclists FLYING off of sidewalks into the street. Stop signs and red lights are optional, evidently (did they ever legislate this?) and some bikers are content to coast without pedaling even when there is traffic stuck behind them. For as much biking as is done in Portland, I am surprised there aren't more police on bikes. In SE I have never seen any law enforcement on unmotorized 2 wheels. And I've seen the law broken by bikers too many times to count.

  • Sho Ikeda (unverified)
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    I used to ride my bike a lot to the University of Oregon until it was stolen a few years back. Now I have another bike and riding it around town has actually made me a better car driver. I pay more attention to bike lanes and I always check my mirrors before making a turn to make sure there isn't a cyclist there.

    The only problem I see with cyclists is that many do not obey basic vehicle laws. They run stop signs, ride too speedily on sidewalks, and go down one-way streets in the opposite direction. I've almost hit a couple who I didn't see coming on a one-way street because I was looking for oncoming traffic.

    If BOTH drivers and cyclists respected the rules of the road, there would be a lot less confict on the streets. Perhaps a campaign for more awareness between groups would be a step in the right direction.

  • Jerry (unverified)
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    I'm not a cyclist (anymore), but living in rural Oregon, I'm very aware of the growing number of folks on bikes on our rural roads.

    As Sho mentions above, there seem to be a growing number of cyclists who seem to think that running stop signs is alright. Maybe because they're going so slow or maybe the difficulty of removing their shoe clips from the pedals, but at the corner of West Union and Glencoe in North Plains, I rarely see a cyclist stop.

    Then there are the groups of 20-30 cyclists who train together in packs that are difficult to pass safely. Backing up traffic until the cars have enough clear road to pass a truck sized mass of bikes.

    Cyclists, as a group, need to understand that the actions of a few are alienating a large group of drivers to all cyclists - just as the actions of few car drivers are alienating cyclists to all drivers.

    A bit more respect on both sides would help immensely.

  • (Show?)

    I also think it would help if people know the rules of the road.

    For Bikes

    For Vehicles

  • David (unverified)
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    Since I moved to California, I've been bicycling a lot less.

    My first road trip down here in the mid 1990's I got hit by side view mirrors twice and got obscenities yelled at me three times. At least back then -- riding in Oregon was a lot more enjoyable and 99 out of 100 cars would move into the opposing lane while passing if they could.

    It's a little bit about ignorance (rules of the road and not knowing what it is like to be on a bicycle and be passed by a Suburban going 55 mph) and its a lot about congestion. In urban California drivers don't treat other drivers with a lot of respect and it carries over to their interaction with bicycles and pedestrians (with a lot more risk for life and limb). In contrast, in eastern Oregon you used to get a hat tipped to you when you passed a pickup truck. The people there actually notice(d) that cars had people in them and that bicycles had peoples on them (dogs are another story). Down here -- and probably in Oregon the level of mutual aggession has increased. You now have militant bicyclists who refuse to let anyone pass them for 10 miles on a country road and others who take over and block the streets of San Francisco.

    As for bicycles and the rules, I remember a Registrar Guard interview with some Eugene bicycle police a while back where they explained why they didn't come to a full stop at stop signs and why it was OK. I doubt they had that attitude before they started spending 8 hours a day on a bicycle and realized how much extra physical effort it took to follow the motor vehicle laws to the letter. Imagine if we all had Fred Flinstone cars and estimate the number of people who would come to a complete stop at every stop sign. That being said I'll be the first to admit that the majority of people on bicylces don't behave properly at all -- and it wouldn't be a bad thing at all if they got a little training. Not coming to a complete stop is a lot different from not slowing down, not looking, not yeilding, not using a light at night, or going the wrong way in a bike lane or car lane.

    When bicycling, I personally will come to a complete stop at a stop sign if there is other traffic anywhere nearby. I also make up extra rules for my own personal safety. I'll pull of the road before I get passed by a large truck on a narrow road or a corner. I'll walk my bike across two cross walks before trying to merge with traffic and use a left turn lane during rush hour. I'll give the right away to a car or truck if it looks like they are impatient -- a simple hand wave is all it takes. I won't barrel by pedestrians on bike paths at 30 mph while screaming "on your left." I'll pass at a reasonable speed and find a friendly way to tell them I am there.

    When driving, I'll take special care around universities or schools. You can make the assumption that in specific neighborhoods individuals on bicycles or on two feet are not paying any attention to you. As for groups of professional bicyclists -- give them space A large group can not react quickly without risking crashes and significant injuries and racing bicycles are particularly prone to flats and crashes on the shoulder where there is commonly gravel, broken glass, and irregular pavement.

    Don't let it raise your blood pressure. You'll live longer.

  • Z (unverified)
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    Maybe someone should suggest to Bush that he gets a $300 steel frame mountain bike. He wouldn't be able to go up the hills quite so fast -- but it would lower his center of gravity and he might not go over the handlebars quite so much. It is easy enough for a novice to get the rear tire to lift without a graphite frame bicycle.

    Always amazes me to see wealthy people misuse professional cycling equipment when they would be happier with something simpler and easier to ride. I hope he's not wearing a colorful multi-hundred dollar bicycling outfit just to run into trees.

    Z

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