The letter to the editor fight at the Gazette continues. In addition to last week's action, there's another letter I missed. This one from Michael Klein of Poolesville. Mr. Klein is a remarkable man, who is apparantly able to know, by observation, where people come from and their relative level of humility.
come out to Poolesville and witness the arrogance and lack of law-abiding bicyclists. I have seen some of the most outrageous behavior from these bicyclists and they reside in Washington, D.C., and bike in Poolesville.
Sit on Hughes Road and watch groups of 10 to 20 cyclists blasting through stop signs at Hughes Road and Westerly Avenue, and giving the middle fingers to drivers that try to alert them when driving up behind them because they are too far out in the road and not using the tax-paid bike lanes. They need to pay road taxes, have an ID tag on their bike, so that we can contact the police and report them when they break the road rules. They need to be held accountable for their negligent actions.
I don't doubt that they run stop signs or give the middle finger to drivers who sit behind them and honk their horns at them. The middle finger is probably not very productive, but it's hard to distinguish a "hello, I am here behind you, FYI" horn from a "Get the f*** out of my douchkitty" horn. If you don't want the finger, don't honk your horn. I don't condone the finger, but last I checked, no one ever contracted psoriasis from it either.
Basically your boilerplate anti-cyclist screed with scofflaw cyclist complaints, misinformation about where cyclists are allowed, false free-rider claims and calls for license plates. It includes the "cyclists are a menace" line, which is standard in such writing. Of course, there likely has not been a single person in Poolesville injured, let along killed, by a cyclists in 50 years. Probably a different story for motor vehicles. Nonetheless, Klein is fed up.
Beatrice Fitch decides to help Klein out by making something up that is entirely untrue.
In almost every other country in the world, cyclists are obliged to register their bicycles, to pay for the registration and to affix a small license plate (ID tag) so that — in case of accidents or infractions — the owner of the bicycle can be held to account.
In London, I believe bike couriers have to have plates. I can't think of anywhere else. So, she's very close to right...IF a subset of cyclists in one city is close to the entire world.
it also brings in revenue to cover the costs of maintaining roads and bicycle paths. What's not to like?
I don't know, how about that it discourages cycling while bringing in very little revenue? And that Mongomery County, Maryland, the United States and the UN all have voiced support for encouraging (aka the opposite of discouraging) biking? Not to mention how difficult it would be to institute. What about out of state cyclists? How big would the plate be? Where would one affix it? Has the London program been effective? But that's just off the top of my head.
Frequent washcycle commenter (though not lately) Nancy Taylor responds with less vitriol, but more facts (7 of them to be correct - though they either cut 5 or she made a counting error).
First, there is no such thing as "road tax." Local county roads such as Hughes are constructed and maintained with money from Montgomery County's general fund, and the majority of money in the general fund comes from property and local income taxes. Second, there are no bike lanes on Hughes. Third, cyclists are not required to get out of the way of impatient motorists at the toot of a horn (and motorists who honk angrily at cyclists shouldn't be surprised to get an angry response in return). Fourth, no matter where the cyclists live, they are entitled to use public roads. (Mr. Klein, even though you reside in Poolesville, you are allowed to drive in Washington, D.C.). Sixth, most every cyclist Klein is complaining about also owns a car and is a licensed driver who pays gasoline taxes, registration fees and the like. In Maryland, even a portion of sales tax is now going toward state road construction and maintenance, because gax taxes and other vehicle fees don't cover all state road expenses. Seventh, though some cyclists may roll through stop signs (as I see motorists do every day), I have not heard of any incidents where drivers were endangered.
Finally, the cyclists on Hughes undoubtedly were on their way to or from businesses in Poolesville, where they spend money.
Oh no she didn't...
Mike Cavey, meanwhile, talks about the law
The cyclist, as a courtesy, is supposed to move over to the right as much as safely possible, but the cyclist can utilize just as much of the right lane if needed as a driver. Look that up in your Maryland Driver’s Handbook. Also, were you aware that a driver in Maryland, by law, has to give at least 3 feet of space, at least an arm’s length, when passing a cyclists?
And Denise Cohen of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance piles on some more
In several other respects, however, the writer seems to be manufacturing facts. For example, he claims that the cyclists he sees running stop signs "reside in Washington, D.C." If, as the writer points out, cyclists don't have "ID tags," how is he able to identify them as D.C. residents?
Klein also refers to additional myths like "tax-paid bike lanes" on Hughes Road and Westerly Avenue (there are none) and road taxes (there is no such thing). County road improvements are paid out of a general fund comprising, in part, property taxes.
Which leads me to my next point. The writer is annoyed that non-county cyclists use county roads for cycling. "How dare they," he implies. "I pay Maryland taxes, and they don't. Therefore they have no right to use county roads." He doesn't complain about non-county motorists using county roads. If it makes the writer feel better, I own a house Montgomery County that serves as my main residence. I can assemble a list (numbering in the hundreds) of people who cycle in Poolesville and who are Montgomery County residents.
Public roads are a shared resource. Motorists and cyclists would do well to learn how they are maintained and how to use them legally.
So, is that to be the last of it or will it drag on like The Facts of Life did when they had the season with just Blair and she owned the school? I hope not.