A couple of years ago I got a lot of angry email after a commentary criticizing bicyclists. Stupidly I'm about to do it again. Too many people who ride bicycles do so in a very arrogant and dangerous manner. They cut in and out of traffic and blow through stops signs. They're a menace to themselves and to others.
Last week two bikers collided head-on on the Capital Crescent Trail, both were badly injured. The Crescent Trail is meant for mixed use. People walk on it, jog on it. Push strollers on it. It's not a race course
Couple of years ago the county imposed a 15 mph speed limit on the trail which is routinely ignored.
Washington is a tough area to ride a bike. We have way too much traffic. Biking on the major streets is asking for trouble. Riding really fast is insane. Those bikers who want to be the next Lance Armstrong need to find a dedicated bike path or a track to ramp up their speed and stop putting the rest of us in harm's way. Bike riding is good exercise, fun and it's green, but being law-abiding and considerate is a core value.
First, if you contact Chris Core, please be overwhelming polite. Do not give him the opportunity to hold up a bunch of angry emails calling him names and backing up his assertion that cyclists are hot heads. Calm, cool, and polite comments will do us a world of good. Seriously. If you're too angry just don't write.
Back in Nov 2008, Chris Core had a commentary complaining about bicycle road rage on the Rock Creek Parkway, which spawned so much email that he had a follow-up on it and then had Eric Gilliland and I on his show (I don't believe you can still find that online, but here is my report).
So now, here he is again, in a post entitled "Bicycle Road Rage 2010" - even though it has nothing to do with Road Rage, making inflammatory and inaccurate statements about cyclists.
The worst part is that he basically says there is nowhere for cyclists to ride. He doesn't want them in the road because there's too much traffic and it's asking for trouble (last time he mentioned that it's impractical for cyclist to share the roads with cars and in the letter to Dr. Gridlock he wrote in 2002 - below the fold - he claims that riding in the road is dangerous and holds up traffic). But now, they can't even ride on the trail. Dedicated bike path? There is no such thing. A track? The closest velodrome is in Pennsylvania.
But it doesn't end there.
He also implies that one or both of the two cyclists were racing or speeding, which doesn't seem to be the case. They were both commuting, not racing and Roberts, who was going downhill, denied speeding,
"I'm 50 years old, 20 pounds overweight and ride a 20-year-old bicycle," he says. "I'm no Lance Armstrong."
Which doesn't stop Core from pulling out the old "Lance Armstrong Wannabe" chestnut. Of course, the other cyclist, who was passing and going uphill could have been speeding, but I'm doubtful.
He goes on to talk about how "too many people who ride bicycles" ride dangerously. While even one cyclist riding dangerously is one too many, if the implication is that cyclist behave more dangerously than drivers that just isn't true. Drivers are, by far, more likely to be in a crash than cyclists or pedestrians are. The reason this is a story at all is that bike-bike crashes that end in a hospital trip are so rare.
He claims that the 15mph speed limit is routinely ignored - even though it has nothing to do with this incident - but he doesn't cite anything to back that up. In fact, based on his 2008 commentary, he doesn't even think it's possible (emphasis mine).
a 20 lb bike that does about 15 tops. Yet, bikers now apparently feeling newly empowered seem to feel it's perfectly fine for them to ride right in the middle of traffic doing 15 mph and get hostile when you drive around them.
I don't know of any analysis of how often the speed limit is ignored. Obeying the speed limit requires a bike with a speedometer and most cyclists don't have one of those, but still Core jumps at the scofflaw element. If speeding is his concern, perhaps he should pay attention to the 70% of drivers who speed. Whatever the non-compliance rate is on the CCT, it's lower than 70%.
Finally, I still don't know what it means to ride in an arrogant manner. People say this all the time, but when I press them I never get an answer.
The sad thing is that in the last two years he seems to have learned nothing. Perhaps he should take a free Confident (not arrogant) City Cycling course from WABA. Learning is fun and should be a "Core Value".
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Maybe some of your readers can answer this for me. The taxpayers paid for a very nice bicycle path through Rock Creek Park. And yet, whenever I drive through the park, many of bikers are riding on the road, not the path, even when the path is only about two feet away!
This is especially true in the Kensington area of the park. Can anyone tell me why the bikers would rather drive dangerously near passing cars, often holding up traffic, instead of on the terrific path built for their convenience?