Victim blaming is rape culture and why we need to stop!

A cyclist was killed in Ohio.

Officials reported that Prater was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“Preliminary information suggests that he was doing everything correct,” Drifmeyer said. Via Cincinnati.com

Humor me as I give this a creative rewrite.

A woman was killed in Ohio.

Officials reported that Prater was wearing a turtleneck at the time of the attack.

“Preliminary information suggest that she was doing everything correct,” Drifmeyer said.

When a person is killed by the intentional acts of another person, why do people feel they need to defend the actions of the victim; if the said victim is a person riding a bicycle?

Typically, when the media reports whether or not a person was or was not wearing some safety device i.e. high vis. clothing and/or helmet, it is because there is some type of legislation specifying its use or someone is trying to push legislation pushing its use.

When I lived in California, every news article and t.v. spot always mentioned whether or not the person was wearing a seat belt. They most frequently reported on those collisions in which someone was injured or killed and NOT wearing a seat belt.

There is ample scientific proof that wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle collision provides the user protection.

The same can not be said for the bicycle helmet.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it.

There is ample scientific proof that wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle collision provides the user protectionPhysics; Georgia State University

The same can not be said for the bicycle helmet. I couldn’t find a corresponding link to a science based article so here’s a Google search instead.

The cyclist was wearing a helmet.

He was wearing a helmet and he still died.

He may not have suffered any head injury due to wearing the helmet. Or he may have suffered severe head injury in spite of the helmet. The evidence isn’t presented in the media.

Stop legislating mandatory bicycle helmet use and stop making a point by reporting the use or nonuse of a bicycle helmet by the victim.

A bicycle helmet is no more protection to a cyclist against a 2 ton motorized weapon than a turtleneck is to a woman being attacked.

They are both the victims of an intentional act by an outside force.

The police suspect drugs were involved.

The use or nonuse of drugs, alcohol, cellphone, discipline of screaming kids in back seat, and the ever faithful “sun was in my eyes,” excuses are just that; excuses.

A person who uses alcohol or drugs and then gets behind the wheel is committing an intentional act.

A person using a cellphone while driving is committing an intentional act.

A person disciplining screaming kids in the back seat while operating a 2 ton motorized weapon is committing an intentional act.

A person who can not see the road ahead of them, yet continues to operate their 2 tons of motorized weaponry is committing an intentional act.

When you choose to do something behind the wheel, you are making a decision which places the lives of those around you and the lives of those in the vehicle, including your own, at risk. You are committing an intentional act.

I know people who treat their bicycle as the legally defined vehicle it is and still get treated with scathing disrespect by people who operate their legally defined MOTOR vehicle as though it were a toy.

Your motor vehicle is not a toy. No matter what the auto commercials may show  you.

The road is not where you express your “spirit for adventure!”

The police suspect drugs were involved.

A sober person rapes another person.

A drugged up person rapes another person.

A sober person kills another person.

A drugged up person kills another person.

The use or nonuse of drugs isn’t a defence and it isn’t an admission of culpability.

THE ACT OF KILLING IS WHERE IT’S AT!

As a society we make too many excuses for wrong behavior based on the thought that “It could have been me.” It could have been me except “I don’t do drugs,” so my conscience is clear and I’ll keep driving distracted because that’s not nearly as serious as doing drugs.

Except that it is.
See; Top Ten Dangerous Driving Habits, I bet you’ve done at least five of them if not all of them.

By “suspecting drugs,” we are giving a clean slate for others to kill.

The whole “it couldn’t possibly happen to me” syndrome. Except that it does.

A cyclist was riding on the edge of the road and a woman driving an SUV killed him. He was wearing a helmet and she thought she was giving him enough passing clearance. Her side view mirror struck the helmeted cyclists head at 55 mph and killed him. She was not drunk or on drugs. The sun was not in her eyes. Via. Biking in L.A.

She saw the cyclist and still killed him. She killed him because she did one thing wrong.

She did NOT treat him as the operator of a vehicle and instead of changing lanes to pass, like she would any other vehicle (including a motorcycle), she instead chose to pass him with minimal clearance.

This was an intentional act on her part.

This article also states that the driver was 77 years old.

Aging drivers are less able to judge distance. They also have poor motor coordination and it is the intentional act of the auto industry to promote their product in such a way that they have intentionally killed public transport.

By now you may have noticed a theme.

Driving is an intentional act. There are no excuses for killing someone when you are behind the wheel.

If you don’t need to drive, then don’t do it.

If you do need to drive, then do it with the thought “Today, would be the day I kill someone if I don’t put away these distractions and focus solely on driving.”

There are a lot of distracted drivers out there.

Distracted driving is ultimately the excuse given by the driver.

She claimed that she was distracted by unruly kids in the back seat. It was after the fact that they found evidence of drug paraphernalia in her purse. We won’t know for sure if she was high at the time, until lab work comes back. And if it is found that she was not under the influence at the time, THAT SHOULD NOT BE AN EXCUSE FOR GOING EASY ON HER. SHE KILLED SOMEONE!

Defending his honor!

We shouldn’t feel the need to defend the victims honor. We can honor the victim but elevating them to godlike status isn’t doing anyone any favors.

It is enough that they are a human being who lost their life.

The counter effect to defending the honor of those killed by people driving auto’s is this; Anyone who is less than perfect, and you know that none of us are perfect, implies that they are somehow to blame in their own death.

Neither does it matter that the cyclist killed is in fact a father, husband, and all around swell guy. He could be a bachelor who’s a real prick and his death would be every bit as important.

But if you paint them as being somehow unsavory then the attitude of people will be less likely to support the victim.

That is where the problem is.

Facts are the only thing that should matter. The content of their character doesn’t matter; when someone intentionally operates an auto in such a way that they kill someone, who they are as a person doesn’t matter.

The driver could have been Mother Teresa; sorry bad example. The driver could have been Doris Day and she should still be charged with a felony manslaughter. Her only saving grace would be if she could prove that she did everything possible to avoid the collision. In which case she too would be riding a bicycle, walking, or taking public transit.

5029386406_7947075f60
It is possible to take the kids along in a bicycle version of an SUV. 

This death should never have happened. Because she should never have gotten behind the wheel if she was in fact found to be under the influence at the time of the collision. She should never have taken her eyes off the road, not even for unruly kids.

How to drive with unruly kids.

  1. Don’t have kids.
  2. Don’t drive with kids if you do have them.
  3.  If you do have kids and you do intentionally choose to drive with them educate them on how serious driving is and why they have to behave.
  4.  If you have educated them and they still choose to behave like typical kids, then you keep your temper, you keep your eyes on the road, you scan the edge of the road for a safe place to pull over, you pull over, and then you discipline the kids.

Only after the interior of the car is completely calm do you then resume operations.

You don’t belong!

Why elevating the victim to sainthood hurts other road users.

“She sounds like someone we can support, unlike those other yahoo’s.” Andy Clarke

I’m sitting in court and my cycling advocate friend is sitting next to me. He is looking at his phone and he shows me an email he just received from Andy Clarke (Former President of League of American Bicyclists). He shows me the email. This is his attempt to show me that this backwater town isn’t going to ride rough shod over a cyclist. We have the support of Andy Clarke “big man honcho” with LAB.

My immediate thought was “those other yahoo’s?” and I asked my friend about what he meant by that. My friend brushed my concern aside by saying “You know wrong way cyclists, people who lost their license for driving drunk.” Those other people. Yahoo’s. He went on to say “but they aren’t like you Cherokee, you are cycling correctly and for the right reasons.”

Classifying people as “other” creates a distance between us and them. It creates an US vs. THEM. They are “those” people but we are “these” people. “Those” people do it wrong but “these” people do it right.

You have to cycle correctly and for the right reasons?

Because, if you don’t then you could be held liable in your own death?

Drivers Fault.PNG
Not according to already established case law. 

That’s right! If you are driving a motor vehicle and you injure someone else then you should be presumed at fault.

But this would discourage driving so auto companies have paid to influence our perspective.

Watch the news. Count the car commercials. Notice any collisions reported where the injured person is not in an auto.

I did.

Here’s what I found.

Roughly 80% of the placed ads were for auto’s. 100% of the ads implied that driving is exhilarating, for freedom lovers, and that public roads are personal playgrounds.

Of the injuries reported the vulnerable road user was painted as somehow at fault.

Except that legally they are not.

Except that since “Deputy v kimmell” there has been a push for laws to make it legal to find fault with vulnerable road users.

Imagine if we did the same thing for rapists? Or people who kill other people with guns?

Imagine a world where it is normal to assume the woman was somehow at fault in her own rape based on her clothes or lack thereof. We don’t really have to imagine because we do live in a world where such judgments exist.

But imagine if they passed legislation placing the woman at fault if she wasn’t wearing a turtleneck at the time of her attack.

Or imagine; they passed legislation placing fault of a mass shooting on the children killed because they were in school instead of adjacent to the school.

Such thoughts should be highly offensive to you.

but this is exactly what we are doing when we blame people for being assaulted by someone with a motor vehicle.

Why I take the lane.

I take the lane because it reduces risk. I’m a survivalist. I’ve put aside all the urban myths and studied the facts.

I found that wearing a helmet to protect you from car collisions is a myth. Or to reduce the severity of injury in a car collision, also a myth. (I would however wear a helmet to protect me from head injury if I were say; Mountain Biking or Group Riding.)

I found that cycling on the shoulder isn’t safer than taking the lane.

I stopped wearing a helmet because the social response from people driving cars was “Omigosh! She’s so vulnerable without a helmet!” and they give me more space by default.

I stopped cycling on the shoulder because I found that when I’m in the lane people notice me. When I’m in the lane and people don’t notice me, this has happened, they have space to the right to ditch out on.

Anyone who would blame me for being in the lane is victim blaming. Review the graphic on Deputy v Kimmell. Anyone blaming the cyclist for being killed while on the shoulder is victim blaming.

THAT SHIT HAS TO STOP AND IT HAS TO STOP NOW! 

If you would like to donate to the family’s GoFundMe account you can do so here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who needs a safe passing law? SB 80 Part II

When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?

Before we can answer that question we first need to explain what a highway is. The definition for Highway is listed in KRS 189.010 (3).

“Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots…

We have a highway and within the highway is a Roadway or synonymously a Lane; and KRS has a specific statute for those lanes. KRS 189.340 (6) (a)

A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

If everyone is following the law and more importantly the spirit of the law; the spirit of the law being safety, then there isn’t any harm to any road user and no need for extra measures of protection.

Unfortunately not everyone feels duty bound to operate their vehicle with due care.

A lot of people are under the misguided notion that speed grants extra privileges.

KRS 189.390 is very clear that there isn’t a right of speed on Kentucky’s Highways.

An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.

Traffic: The ​movement of ​vehicles or ​people along ​roads, or the ​movement of ​aircraft, ​trains, or ​ships along a ​route. Via: Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

What is the purpose of a safe passing law?

The purpose of a safe passing law is to give the police a statute with which to cite the offending person. It also provides lawyers and insurance adjusters something tangible when trying to ascertain fault and how much liability goes where and with whom.

Did this explanation bring up a mental image of buzzards picking over roadkill?

That would be because this law is what I term an “after the fact law”. There isn’t any visual guideline to show a person operating a motor vehicle just how much space is three feet. Often times that three feet puts the cyclist’s head right under the motorists tire. Should the cyclist fall over, their head would be squashed. Bicycle helmet included.

Have you ever heard of Dr. McCarroll?

[Dr] June McCarroll, a physician in Indio, California who started experimenting with painting lines on roads in 1917 after she was run off a highway by a truck driver. In November 1924, after years of lobbying by Dr. McCarroll and her allies, California officially adopted a policy of painting lines on its highways. A portion of Interstate 10 near Indio has been named the Dr. June McCarroll Memorial Freeway in her honor.

Painted lines give drivers a visual marker with which to judge distance.

It is safer to have a stated change lanes to pass law than it is to have a minimum three feet law. In Kentucky there are drivers who will fail to understand KRS 189 and give only the minimum passing distance. And in a state which educates teen drivers that it is OK to driver 10 mph over the posted speed limit; see Transportation.ky.gov/Drivers Licensing Documents Page 5. giving a cyclist the minimum distance when passing at 10 mph over posted speed limit; is a recipe for disaster.

Our car culture has created a social, cultural, and legal norm for people to kill, without penalty, on our public right of ways.  It’s the “Oops I didn’t see them syndrome” and it is bullshit.

The driver of an automobile is bound to anticipate the presence of pedestrians upon the streets of a city or upon rural highways, as well as to exercise reasonable care that he does not injure them after he is aware of their presence. O’Dowd v. Newnham 13 Ga. App. 220, 80 S. E. 36.

A safe passing law is a band aid on a gaping wound.

A safe passing law is an after the fact law.

Do we need it?

Yes.

We need it because it is a start. Not the best example of a start, especially when other states are making better statutes from which we can draw from. But it is a start none the less.

We also need it because the infrastructure here is substandard.

Misguided advocates are pushing for bike lanes (think paint) on highways with 45 to 55 mph.

Gallons of paint will never replace the infrastructure we so desperately need. Nor will it replace urban designed spaces which give precedence to walking, public transport, and biking.

We are terribly entangled in car culture which is choking the very humanity out of us.

If you are wondering what we can do to make it better.

We can form a statewide advocacy group and lobby for better laws. Laws which require city planners to take into consideration all users of our public highways. Laws which specify dense urban planning as opposed to sprawling communities which are harder and more expensive to maintain. We need laws which require a one year mandatory probationary period for new drivers, mandatory retesting every four years, and an education program enacted in our schools. Driving school should have a required bike law and safety instructional forum.

We need a multi pronged approach to cycling and more importantly pedestrian safety.

Tiered licensing which ensures that teenagers are truly ready for a license to operate a vehicle. An exception for farmers children to operate farm equipment in the natural course of their duties. But not to operate non farm equipment on public highways.

Lower speed limits as a means of changing the culture of speed along with enforcement of speeding during times where operating a vehicle at speeds under the limit but higher than is safe for road conditions. Mandatory slow down laws when pedestrians or cyclists are present. Policies which make separate infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians a mandatory part of all construction. Policies which ensure that for every 100 people there are adequate shopping districts within walking distance. Wider and better sidewalks. Enforcement of stop lines. Elimination of right on red. Timing streetlights to favor pedestrians and cyclists. Narrower streets and wider bike lanes and sidewalks.

Vulnerable road user laws which enact stiff penalties for harming any road user with their vehicle.

When we pass another vehicle we are required to pass in the lane adjacent to the vehicle being passed. We are required by  law to pass left of the center of the highway. To pass with enough clearance to avoid a collision or to cause the vehicle from being passed to have to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. These are the laws. These are for safety. These ensure the courteous use of public roads and when those laws are broken the best possible outcome would be a citation. The worst would be a collision and people hurt. All too often these brazen flaunting of laws are unobserved and the confidence of the abuser is increased. The police can’t be everywhere but we can create legislation enacting a police task force which takes these complaints and investigates them and if found guilty penalties applied.

Remember the opening question?
“When a cyclist is on the highway are they any more vulnerable than any other person on the highway?”

The answer which you may have realized by now is No. We are all vulnerable on the highway. While there is a hierarchy of how much vulnerability each user has, we are each of us putting our lives at risk by walking out our front door.

We need more, we need better, and we need it now!

So let’s start with three feet and then demand more.

I’d rather have miles of this…

bikeINFRA

Than miles of this…

DowntownLexington.PNG

 

I understand now why so many cyclists in the US and UK are being killed.

I understand now why so many cyclists are being killed. Cycling like you are in the Netherlands or Copenhagen will get you killed in other countries.

There are some false beliefs out there. One is that infrastructure requires mandatory use laws, the other is that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure means you just ride willy nilly all over the road.

  1. Netherlands cycle tracks are, for as near as I can tell, complete and connected. Like any highway, they go exactly where the user wants or needs to go.
  2. This is not true for the UK and US.
  3. If you don’t have complete cycle tracks and those cycle tracks do not meet your needs, you ride on the public highway.
    1. When you ride on the public highway you operate according to the rules of the road.
    2. You do not filter on the passenger side of a vehicle. Unless you have a death wish or are uneducated in cycling safety.
    3. You filter forward using the rules of the road and yield to oncoming traffic on a two way street.
  4. The main reasons people are opposed to bicycle specific infra are:
    1. The Netherlands set a bad example by legally mandating the use of their bike paths. Even in the Netherlands, if you are being honest when you bring them up, they do not have perfect infra everywhere you go. They still have door zone bike lanes. I sometimes find them in videos of locals who post their cycling trips but there aren’t any video’s of the Netherlanders specifically railing against them. Here is a blog on the subject for the Netherlands: On road cycle lanes: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
    2. The reason this is often not considered an issue is because the Netherlands also have strict liability laws. So if a driver injures a cyclist by throwing the door open without looking, the cyclist (should they survive the experience) can rest assured that the police and public media are not going to further victimize them by questioning their right to be there. No one will ask if they were wearing a helmet (as though that could really protect you from having your head run over by 2 tons of machine). No one will question the color of your clothes. The cyclists in the Netherlands have the homefield advantage, even in the face of crappy infra. Their medical bills are promptly paid and they get to go on with life as usual.

Bike specific infra (in the UK and US) is often a painted line on the ground. More often this painted line on the ground places the cyclist out of the driver’s field of vision. With a very narrow margin of passing clearance. In many ways it’s like we forget that often touted slogan of “3 feet minimum” to pass. Our engineers do not take safe passing into account when painting bike lanes. The faster the traffic the wider the bike lane should be.

  1. We often overestimate a driver’s area of vision as extending from the front side windows forward. The average driver does not drive with a 90 degree arc of vision. The average driver drives distracted. This is often compounded with age and limited physical mobility which makes it difficult to turn the head and look to the left and right as well as over the shoulder.
  2. To avoid a drivers blind spots always put yourself directly in front of the driver when operating your bicycle. The Dutch/Netherlands started (as near as I can tell) this idea of hugging the curb. Which is easier to do if you are operating at a snails pace.
  3. So if you are riding like the Dutch/Netherlands (think hugging the edge or weaving haphazardly in and out of traffic, also those box style turns where you cross like a pedestrian, honorable mention to filtering forward to the front of the line), if you ride like this, on public highways, you are riding with a death wish.
  4. The Netherlands have taken into consideration that motor traffic occupies a great deal of space and they have adjusted their light signals to accommodate cyclists at intersections.  
    Which as you can see from the video, still needs a lot of tweaking. It’s o.k. to let loose on all sides for cyclists but not for cars? Come on! Where is the fairness in that? 😉

I’ve watched several videos of average people in the Netherlands, they are catching the film my ride fever too, cycling in the Netherlands, Copenhagen, and the Dutch. They do all of these things. (See this video for a full understanding of what I’m talking about:

I’ve also had the opportunity to read their laws and it is expressly illegal to haul passengers on bike racks. You will see a lot of law breaking in the video’s promoting cycling in the Netherlands.

If the Netherlands did away with the mandatory use laws this would solve the problem of faster cyclists running over pedestrians and slower cyclists. (This is a hot button topic in the Netherlands.)

Remember the Netherlands also have fast club rides. I feel very strongly that those cyclists do not belong on bike paths with slower moving traffic.

There will be the usual stupid comment: “Oh you just want children to cycle on heavily trafficked fast moving roads!”

No, I don’t. What I want is for there to be no heavily trafficked fast moving roads. Any roads that are used to swiftly move people from town to town should be limited access and built to those standards. All other roads should be built to accommodate all other road users regardless of vehicle type. All roads should be safe for foot traffic above and beyond anyone else’s needs.

When we build communities that are based on people walking, then we will have a community that is safe for cyclists of all ages.

I, as a responsible parent, taught my children how to cycle safely on the only road that took us to our destination.

I’m not the only parent out there who understands where the real risks are to riding in traffic. This is an old article but it clearly shows where the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from and if you yourself don’t know, allow me to state it plainly.

UK father commutes kids to school by bicycle. Stopped by police.

1. Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Overtaking through intersections on the passenger side is illegal because it is dangerous. You wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bicycle.

2. Motorists obey the rules of the road. Treat cyclists just like you would any other vehicle out there on the road. Change lanes to pass and yield right of way when legally required. Do not create confusion by yielding right of way when not legally required to do so.

For both Cyclists and Drivers, use sound judgement and know your transportation codes and laws before heading out. Always leave at least 10min early. You will never be late and find that your commute is much more relaxing when you don’t feel pressed for time.

How far did you get buddy!

Someone posed the question: “When controlling the lane, how do you handle the motorist or passenger that yells, points or beeps and says get out of the road? Yell back, shake your head, wave, wave w/one finger, try to educate them or something else? Thanks!”

Here is my response.

My daughter who typically blows kisses and hollers love ya!, got caught up in a motorists obvious rage a few days before christmas.
We were coming out of Oxmoor mall and heading to St. Mathews mall. We determined that the middle left turn lane was our best option to avoid merging traffic trying to get on and off the interstate.
A motorist flipped his lid that we were in the left turn lane and started honking outrageously. At first I ignored him as he was pretty far behind us and I thought he was honking at traffic in general. The old man driving the minivan managed to get up to the left of us and started the aggressive honking again. My daughter and I had been feeling pretty stoked up to that point. After everything we have been through a chance to decompress over the holidays was really rewarding and this turd broke the mood.
My daughter became very agitated as we advanced and passed the driver and then as the flow of traffic goes, we caught up to him and passed him.
Here is where it gets funny.
At the time it wasn’t funny.
So my daughter gets really angry at this guy who shat all over our peace and in an italian gesture puts her hand up and says “how far did you get buddy!” She is looking at him the whole time and I scream at her to look out. She caught herself in time to avoid serious injury but still managed to rear end the car in front of her.
At first we were both kind of shaken. No one was hurt and there wasn’t any damage. The driver looked in the rear view mirror and I waved. They shrugged and went on.
Now we laugh about it and when someone honks or is rude to us, we look at each other, smile, and say “How far did you get buddy!”
My personal opinion is do what you want. In that moment at that time your response is yours and I would never judge you are criticise you for acting the way you chose.
My only advice is to not let them rile you up to the point that you lose control of your own safety.


I would like to add.

Some people operate under the illusion that we can control the behavior of those around us. The reality is that we can only control our own behavior.

There isn’t any shame in losing your temper and the adage that “Civility is free” holds true. To each his own. Sometimes I smile and wave, sometimes I holler fuck you. It just depends on the situation, my mood, and if I feel my life was in peril by their actions.

Mostly I would just like to see this bad human behavior of judging other peoples reactions to potentially life altering situations come to an end.

How far did you get buddy!

My daughter.
My daughter.

She sits thoughtfully at a charity event. She had at this point won 3 frozen turkeys. Seeing a family that had not won anything she gave them one of the birds and gave the other one to another family.

Now I know

The image at the top is what happens when cyclists ride on the edge of a highway. This is our story on how we learned the easy way to stay safe.

When I first started out, I didn’t have a clue but now I know.

I know that the biggest problem with getting people to accept cycling as a viable means of transportation is not a lack of bike lanes. It is instead the human condition. What we lack is knowledge and critical thinking skills. This idea that you have to be “fearless” to ride a bicycle on certain roads is complete bunk. Knowledge of the laws and why we have said laws or rather the lack of such knowledge is far more crippling to cycling than the lack of bike lanes.

How can I be so sure?

Because I was faced with the choice of keeping my kids locked up and confined to a small town. A town which doesn’t have a single movie theater, museum, or anything remotely kid friendly for entertainment. A town that moved it’s one form of entertainment a.ka. the local library, and put it so far out of reach that we had to ride our bicycles through a high-speed road where dump trucks were accessing the entrance to the local rock quarry. A town where there isn’t a single bike lane and all roads are driven at 35 mph or greater regardless of signage. A town where a family of five burned up in a fiery high-speed crash and a pedestrian was mowed down while crossing her residential street to visit a neighbor.

My choice was to educate my children on how to safely group ride from one town to the next.

In the beginning they were nervous and my youngest said she was down right scared. I told her that if we decided it was too scary we would turn back and go home.

So we discuss our route. I explain where we are going to ride on the shoulder and I explain where we are not going to ride on the shoulder. I explain the different movements that vehicles make and discuss driving theory 101 with them.

We pretend to be people driving cars and one of us pretends to be on the edge as a cyclist. They get a first person experience in a closed environment and learn about why people drive the way they do and how we can prevent common mistakes.

We start out.

The first thing we do is turn onto the shoulder at the junction of Wichita lane and U.S. 27. Very quickly we approach that section where riding on the shoulder is no longer safe. Motorists go flying past us at full speed. 60 mph + onto the off ramp. We are not a part of traffic. We are irrelevant to them. We stop and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. It starts to get tense. Sitting still while cars go flying past you is very uncomfortable. There on the edge my daughters fear rises as motorists blindly fly by, her anxiety climbs. I’m feeling it too. As soon as it is clear, we dart across the on ramp and continue on the shoulder. Things go well. My daughter starts to feel better and before we know it we are now at the off ramp. This is the junction where U.S. 29 meets U.S. 27. It is important to note that these ramps are marked as 15 mph. However they are engineered in such a way that you can take them at full speed and take them at full speed the locals do.

We all stop in the center “no mans” land. It was the shoulder but now it is an island of doom. Cars are whizzing past us on both sides. The break comes sooner than last time and we make our way onto the road. This time we do something different. We ride the travel lane. The shoulder here is like all the other shoulders covered in rumble strips, broken glass, gravel, bits of metal shards and other garbage strewn across it. The travel lane is smooth and worry free.

As we bike down the high-speed road I ask my daughter how she feels. “This is a lot better than the shoulder” she says, I was surprised. Shocked really. I was sure that she would “feel safer” on the shoulder. My daughter explains: “When I was on the shoulder all these cars were just whizzing by us like weren’t even there. Once we were on the road it was like they saw us and a lot of people slowed down and passed us at slower speeds. I didn’t have to worry about someone running into us”.

We ride the travel lane over to Etter Dr. and after we make it through the intersection we move back to the shoulder at my request. Both kids were asking why we had to be on the shoulder. My son was saying “Come on mom. We can be in the travel lane. Let’s just move over.” I was determined to keep us on the shoulder and we kept on going. Right up until we came to Raising Cane’s. This is another section of road where the engineers designed a nice high-speed right turn. My fear is that someone will take that right turn at typical speed and plow right into us. So we waited and waited and waited and waited for traffic to clear. Then we carefully navigated the rumble strip and we rode the travel lane. Once again the anxiety that had been building in the kids quickly dissipated and even though we were honked at and screamed at by passing motorists. Everyone enjoyed their ride in the travel lane. People in cars noticed us. They slowed down to normal speeds and acknowledged us with honks and screams. We shook our heads at the sorry ass motorists and kept on biking.

We went through the intersection and just like before, we signaled and moved onto the shoulder. Same thing again. Ride the shoulder, anxiety increases, fear mounts, and then we come to an area that is no longer even remotely safe to be in so we move over to the travel lane and the anxiety decreases, the fear disappears and we are safer than we were before.

Motorists are anxious. They don’t like us to be in the travel lane. They honk at us. Scream at us. Call us idiots. But we are not idiots. We feel safe and carefree in the travel lane. It was after all built and engineered for traffic. The rules of the road are dictated by the lane. We are following the rules of the road and it feels good. My daughter laughs. My son shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. Life is good.

As we wait at the light that intersects Business U.S. 27 from U.S. 27 I ask them if they want to move over to the shoulder after we get past the on ramp. They say “NO”. We are safer here in the lane they insist. I shrug and say o.k. but inside I am bursting with pride. My kids are smarter than Andy Clarke of L.A.B. infamy and Carl Overton of Lexington who at 30 something is afraid to ride his bicycle on anything other than 25 mph roads.

Cars drive past in the left lane. We ride on in the right lane. My kids are practically bouncing up and down on their respective seats. “This is fun!” my daughter screams at a motorist who aggressively honks as they pass us. They flip her the bird. She laughs and flips them the bird back. “Fuck them” she says. I chide her on her language. “They flipped me the bird first.” she says. We agree to let it go and continue our ride.

We make our first pit stop at Catnip Hill Road. We stop at the BP and get sodas. We talk about the route so far. We discuss how we felt on the shoulder as opposed to the travel lane. My kids are practically walking on air. They high-five each other and shout “We are riding the travel lane.” and off we go.

We take a left from Catnip Hill Road back onto U.S. 27 and this is where the safety of the travel lane is re-enforced into our mental psyche. As we are riding along a motorist comes flying out of a local strip mall shopping center and slams to a halt right on the shoulder. You can see from the tire marks on the pavement that this is normal motorist behavior. My son says “Good thing we weren’t on the shoulder”. My daughter says “Yea, they would have hit us for sure.” We ride on.

As we continue down U.S. 27 I point out the potholes, rumble strips, and broken pavement. They point out the rocks, gravel, and broken glass. We all agree that the travel lane is best.

We had a great time in Lexington and half the fun was traveling there. We rode back home without incident and on the way back my daughter said “I can’t believe I was afraid to ride my bike.”

Fear for fears sake

or

Fear of the unknown

Propaganda fueled rhetoric about making cycling safer isn’t helping anyone. So shut up and put up. If you can’t ride the ride then you have no place deciding what is or isn’t safe.

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There are not any side roads to get to Lexington. All of the roads are high speed roads. So we pick the one that takes us directly to our destination. It also has the added benefit of being a multi lane road.
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We are traveling from Nicholasville to Lexington. U.S. 27 is the safest and most direct route.
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Nathan has his back to the camera. Elena is looking out towards Main St. in Lexington.
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Elena. Bicycle adventurer. She loves exploring the town on her bicycle. She says “Sidewalk riding isn’t safe.”
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Nathan. He likes to visit his friends. He gets around on his bicycle. Nathan says “Who needs a car when you have a bicycle?”

I need your help

I am being prosecuted for Wanton Endangerment 2nd degree. My crime? Riding my bicycle on the travel lane.

Before you flip your lid, as some have done.

Please understand.

I did not start out operating in the travel lane. I used to have an old style Sun-EZ recumbent and I used the shoulder almost exclusively. Figuring out how to navigate the shoulder was no picnic. In some locations the shoulder was literally covered in a half an inch of debris. I used the travel lane only when necessary. I was afraid of the people operating their vehicles.

There was one incident where I was traveling home and I was trying to share an un-share-ble lane. The motorist who approached me from the rear almost hit me at an intersection. This was in Fayette Co. and there are not any shoulders at this intersection.

The motorist began to berate me and hurl verbal abuse at me.

I rode on and we met up at the next light where he continued to hurl abuse at me. I called the police.

Fayette Co. police officer took the report and advised me that I was not required to share the lane. He said the entire lane was mine. I didn’t not believe him but I wanted to see the law for that. He didn’t mention any specific law. So I kept riding the edge.

After I graduated to my first road bike. I found the shoulder very unsafe to navigate on two wheels. I used the travel lane more frequently. I went on my first club ride and realized that I was not in very good shape. I had lost a lot of weight at this point but I was still not in great shape.

So I spent a lot of time recovering from that ride.

I continued to use the shoulder, even when it was dangerous for me to do so. Every time I tried to use the travel lane a motorist would harass me.

I was very vocal with the police about the treatment I had been receiving. I often reached out to them for help. They often refused to help. I quit asking for help.

When things would get really hairy I would call them. Not much was done.

Motorists started chasing me down. Driving on the shoulder. Chasing me down, while driving on the shoulder.

It was nuts. I tried taking an alternate route home. That was worse. They could barely manage to share a 5 lane road. They sure as heck were not going to share a 2 lane road. All of them 55mph. Did you see that? All alternate routes are 55mph. The worst ones are two lanes. Zero shoulder. Gravel lined ditch on either side.

All with lanes that are not able to be shared. It was horrifying to watch them pass me with oncoming traffic. I was scared to death that someone would be killed. So I stuck to US 27.

To make a long story short. They started ticketing me for using US 27.

Ky state law is clear. I have not broken any state laws. Even Jessamine Co. recognizes how dangerous it is to operate on the edge. They have banned bicycles from sidewalks. I was told by a police officer that using the sidewalk is illegal in Jessamine Co.

Using the shoulder is illegal in the state of KY.

That is why they made an exception. The exception states that bicycles MAY use the shoulder. KY understands that the shoulder is not always the safest place to be.

Whether you agree with where I ride or not. You do agree that bicycles have a right to be on the road. Even the L.A.B. has said Bicycles have a fundamental right to the road.

I have an attorney. I have just enough for his retainer. I still need your help.

I know times are hard for a lot of folks. You don’t have to donate if you can’t. But please share this. Share it far and wide. Because someone who knows someone just might be able to help and the fact that you shared it with them is a huge help in and of itself.

Thank you!

http://www.gofundme.com/8uvfkw

 

That’s a lot of if’s! OR Much ado over protected bike lanes.

I can see the appeal of “Protected Bike Lanes” for family’s, young riders, and scared adults.

The problem I have with these:

1. Laws that legally mandate me to use it. Which is a violation of my Civil Rights.

2. Non-Integrated engineering to create lanes that work with existing laws regarding movement of traffic on the roads. i.e. stop lights for the bicycle lane to prevent cyclists from moving forward when it is legal for right turning traffic to turn.

3. Lack of anything even remotely close to a real barrier for protection.

If they would fix the mess these “Things” create, I would support these types of lanes for the sake of encouraging ridership.

If schools would integrate bicycle education into the curriculum for students.

If there were bicycle driving education centers.

Then these could work.

Otherwise it is just window dressing and more people are going to get killed.

 

The inspiration behind this particular blog.

Window-Dressing-Vogue-Butterick
Window dressing: It looks nice, but it doesn’t actually do anything.

 

In the mean time we will just have to stick to “Old Fashioned” roads. Like the ones we had when I was a kid. And we will have to take responsibility for educating our kids on how to operate their “Vehicles” responsibly.

 

Teaching kids to drive.

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A lot of states have removed Drivers ED from the High School curriculum. So how are our kids learning to drive?

Our children learn to drive by observing us as we operate our vehicle.

Hopefully we are good drivers.

But….

What if we are not?

What if we are the type of driver that runs a red light and then laughs and says “Well, at least the cops aren’t around.”, What if we are that kind of driver?

Putting out the message, whether subtle or overt,  that driving is something you do with little or no care as to the responsibility of operating two tons of potential death is creating a slew of dangerous drivers.

The CDC puts 5 to 34 year olds number one cause of death firmly at the fault of dangerous driving. CDC on injuries and death.

Let’s face it. We treat our automobile like it is a play thing. We treat our Public Roads as a play ground and our Automobile as a toy. We run around bullying Other Road Users. Honking our horn, not to warn of impending danger but to shout at Other Road Users. Driving the message home that we don’t like you and we feel that you should be punished for displeasing us.

So how do we teach our kids to drive?

We teach them to have respect for others and how to follow the rules of the road by putting them on a bicycle. We take them out and we educate them on how to stop, yield, maintain a lane, and how to interact safely with automobiles.

Drive your bicycle!

The same basic rules that apply to an automobile apply to a bicycle.

1.Stop at red light

2.Stop at stop signs

3. Stay in your lane

4. Operate on the Right side of the road.

5. Do not tailgate other vehicles.

6. Signal your turns and lane changes.

Bicycles pre-date the automobile and are over looked as a useful tool in teaching children how to safely operate a vehicle on the road.

Hand Signals are used when you don’t have signal lights.

Get yourself and your kids bicycles and teach them the basic rules of the road.

P.S.

Did you know that occupying as much of the lane as possible is a Safe, Predictable, and Courteous form of Non-Verbal communication?

Did you also know that it is legally required by UVC (Uniform Vehicle Code) and State Statutes.

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Roads were not built for cars.