Louisville Bicycle Club
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March-April 2001 Newsletter

Advocacy Matters

by Cheryl Brawner


Make a motorist and a politician your friend!

Proposed Texas legislation has caused quite a stir among cyclists around the country. From what I have gleaned from the Texas Bicycle Coalition web site (http://www.biketexas.org/sb238.html), if passed, SB 238 will:

  • Require all riders to ride single file
  • Require all riders to use a “slow moving vehicle” triangle
  • Ban groups of three or more from roads without improved shoulders.

Imagine how this would affect our club rides if this were to catch on nationwide! How many folks in Kentucky would like to see cyclists forced off the road? How many of us avid cyclists are there? How many of us vote? Who do you think would prevail if a vote were taken? Hence, the following story....

I recently had a run-in with a motorist on Frankfort Avenue on the way to a weekend club ride. I had made the mistake of not taking the curb lane, assuming that motorists would give me the lane, for all the obvious reasons. I was wrong. A young man almost forced me off the road, causing me quite a scare! My knee-jerk reaction again raised its ugly head, causing me to make a hand gesture I normally wouldn’t use on a bet. He slowed and we shouted indignities at each other, but the one that alarmed me the most was “What was I supposed to do, risk getting my car sideswiped to avoid you?” This is the kind of mentality we are dealing with out there, so please be careful. We cyclists are just so many inanimate objects to many drivers, no more than a pot hole or road kill another thing slowing their progress down the road not humans like them. This mental vision of us is not a pleasant one to us, and yes, this squabble made my blood boil, but we only perpetuate this perception of us when we have altercations with motorists. I was wrong, and I will try to do better next time. I’m not so sure he will.

As I have preached many times before in past articles, let’s make friends of motorist not enemies. Ask yourself, do you:

  • Only make a motorist pass you once (in other words, don’t go flying past them on the right a the next stop light and expect them to respect you);
  • Make friendly eye contact at each intersection (for instance, smile and nod appreciation if they offer you the courtesy of yielding to you);
  • Obey traffic laws and make yourself predictable to others (no cutting or swerving); and
  • Let motorists pass you when it is safe for them to do so (don’t ever ride more than two abreast, and don’t take the attitude that “It’s the law I can ride two abreast, come hell or high water!”)?

Let’s try to keep these “rules of the road” in mind the next time we set off on a club ride. We’ll gain respect from just these small “random acts of effective cycling”.

I hope to join the LAB Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., this March to represent you all at this very important event. I want to get to know our local politicians making decisions in Washington, so they know I’m like them, not just so much road kill. I, too, have a family, loved ones, responsibilities a life not much different from theirs. I want to stress we are humans, too, we ride bikes, and we vote. We are their constituents who believe in the bicycle and want to continue to share the roads with motorists. Perhaps this Texas legislation will be stopped before it becomes a giant snowball across the nation, but our sport is under attack, and we cyclists have a duty to try to stop this movement at the grassroots level. The reason this legislation ever came about is because farmers were not able to make it to market without being impeded by large groups of cyclists out on their country roads. Sound familiar? That’s all it takes. So take heed. Let’s head it off at the pass. Be courteous. Share the road. Know your local politician make him or her your ally. Don’t wait till it’s too late.


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Copyright 2001 Louisville Wheelmen. All rights reserved.
Web posted: 2 March 2001
last updated: 3 March 2001
by Duc M. Do