Forgive me if you’ve heard this one before… Car vs Bike – Cyclist Looses… I’m sure it happens somewhere each and every day.
I clicked on this Boulder Daily Camera article about Richie Cunningham’s recent season ending altercation with a pick-up truck because 1) its close to home and 2) I’m a fan. I can’t say that I know Richie, but he had been a member of the Rev3 Pro team until this year. He continues to race at many Rev3 events and be a big supporter of the series. I’ve seen him race many times and you could say I’ve followed his career as closely as any pro over the last 4 years.
I’m not writing about the incident because Richie is a celebrity in need, or because we need to rustle up a spandex posse to bring justice to the driver, or because I think you need to know that a war is coming so that you can choose a side. I’m writing because some of the comments from readers scare the hell out of me. I couldn’t even read past the first dozen or so, let alone the comments with 12 comments. (I’m also writing because I had my own little shouting match with a Cadillac last Saturday.)
I understand that people will type things from behind a modem, or yell things from behind a windshield, that they would never say to another person’s face, or heaven forbid, DO. We all know, ‘…words will never hurt me.’ I also understand that some people use these comments just to rile people up, throw some gas on the fire, or sit back and watch people loose their minds.
I’m afraid though, that whatever their intentions, they’re giving people a sense of like minded intolerance, on both sides. Clearly, people of both sides see themselves in the right. For some reason, humans tend to get bolder when they feel support from other humans. It isn’t always a good thing.
I hope we’re a long way from readers and posters following though with actions. But there have already been other similar cases go further. (It appears this one won’t.) What’s my grand plan for keeping the peace? I hope it isn’t a Bernie Goetz or Treyvon Martin -esque altercation where the courts decide a winner. I’d prefer a lot more education and bit more tolerance.
I think both sides could use a little education. If you happen to live in Colorado, here is a great place to start coloradobikelaw.com. If you’re into reading statutes, or don’t like taking anyone else’s word for it, here you go. If you want me to summarize it for you, it says that while on the road, cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. There are also some rather interesting details in there about riding far right, how far right, how much room is required to pass, riding two abreast/single file, and when its okay to not ride far right.
I’ve heard people say that F=MA is the only law you need to know. I guess its hard to argue with a trump card like that. Its equally hard to argue with the person that plays that card. Regardless, I don’t want to be ‘right’ and dead. Nor do I want to be ‘right’ and in jail or trying to sleep with someone’s life on my conscience.
I also think that roads are so obviously designed for motor vehicle traffic, that many drivers take for granted that they are designed for their exclusive use. I think cyclists do plenty of dumb stuff too. Nearly every time out, I see at least one move that makes me think, ‘that’s why drivers hate us.’ I’d also wager that 8 times out of 10 the dumb stuff cyclists do, and the reason drivers get bent out of shape, has to do with a general lack of patience. It only takes an extra 20 seconds to stop and put your foot down. Which is about the same amount of time it will take you to slow down and wait for a safe place to pass a cyclist.
I’m not sure how you found your way to this post. If you’re a friend or family member, I’d hope you’re reasonably sympathetic to cyclists by now. If you’re late, hurrying, and getting madder by the second, TRY to remember why you’re late in the first place. If you rode all the way to the top of that mountain don’t ASSUME you have the right to come down as fast as you want. If you yell/swear/gesture at a car, or bike, how will you FEEL at the next stop light when you’re staring that PERSON in the eye. And if you do loose your cool, please get it back before the sticks, stones, and 3,000 pound vehicles get involved.