There has been quite a letter-to-the-editor fight going on in the pages of the Gazette lately, and it even includes local media personality and self-described hypocrit Chris Core.
It all started with the article "Cyclists ask for care from motorists at meeting with police in Rockville" from June 22 that covered the police's meeting with cyclists and drivers about MacArthur Blvd.
Mark Scott found a request by cyclists that motorists give cyclists their share of the road too much to handle.
it will surprise you to learn that courtesy on the road is a two-way street
Which is, on it's face wrong. Cyclists weren't asking for courtesy, they were asking drivers to give them the space they're required to give by law. And then, in general it will be the wild west out there if people decide to drive unsafely around bad drivers. It'll be a race to the bottom. You're required to drive safely, regardless of what other people do. And other than yelling "look out" while passing, he never really identifies the discourteous behavior of cyclists. Even that isn't that discourteous depending on how it goes down.
He does pull out a lot of standard tropes. Cyclists don't pay for the roads they ride on (not true). He calls cyclists arrogant (without defining why. I guess riding in the road like a car makes them arrogant). They don't ride on the perfectly good trail right over there. He claims all cyclists are scofflaws.
when did you last see one of these law-abiding, courteous bicyclists actually come to a stop at a stop sign.
Last night, when I was on my way to dinner. I, and the lady in front of me, both did so.
He's also wrong about violations on bikes leading to points - you don't even need a driver's license to ride a bike. So he doesn't know what he's talking about.
So in order for cyclists to show respect they should: pay more taxes, stop at all stop signs, be more humble, and get out of the road and onto the trail. Once they're safely out of the road, he will give them respect on the road.
1. Obey the rules of the road: don't blow through stop signs and red lights.
This is against the law. But Mr. Core told me in an email once that when he's on a bike, he runs stop signs.
2. Don't zigzag in and out of traffic.
What does this even mean? Filtering? Legal. Passing slow vehicles? Legal.
3. Don't come up to cars on the right side and crowd to the front of the line at lights; wait your turn as we do.
Filtering, as I mentioned is legal. In some cases it's safer since it makes cyclists more visible - that's why cities are building bike boxes.
And if driver's truly waited their turn, they would sit behind a bicycle and wait just like they would a slower car. But they don't. They look for any opportunity - legal or not - to pass. So, in a sense, cyclists do wait their turn as driver's do - in that they don't.
4. Don't ride several abreast on the roads we share.
We've discussed this before. It's illegal in cases where a driver would legally be able to pass, but if not it's OK. And the alternative is to ride in a long unpassable line.
5. Don't ride on sidewalks, it is against the law.
Not in Montgomery County or any part of DC close to it it isn't. If I were going to write a letter to the editor, I'd look something like that up before including it, but that's me
So 3.5 of the 5 things he's identified aren't illegal. Having cyclists ask to be given the treatment they're legally entitled to and being told that they'll only get it if they adhere to a behavior standard that exceeds the law and, in at least one case, decreases safety is not a two-way street. It's one-sided.
And it always will be. When one person is driving a 2000 pound bullet and the other is on a bike, it's inherently one-sided. Driving a car means you have to show more courtesy to bikes and pedestrians - and the law even makes that clear.
A few weeks later, Jon Morrison wrote in to knock down the "cyclists don't pay for roads" canard. He also points out that Chris Core
contradicts himself, saying cyclists blow through stop signs and red lights, then complains cyclists crowd to the front to wait for red lights.
And makes several other good points.
Lew Baker echoes many of Morrison's points and adds that certainly cyclists are not alone in breaking the law.
Finally, Generosa Collins writes in to complain about sidewalk cyclists who pass from behind at great speed. There are jerks on bikes, and they should be ticketed appropriately.