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If you want people to drive slower, design the roads for slower speeds. People will drive at the speed that the road is designed for and they therefore feel is a comfortable speed, irregardless of the speed limit.

I agree, there are a lot of design changes that can slow drivers down - but until we can rebuild the entire streetscape of America, we're stuck with speed limits to do the heavy lifting.

They should really think about signing Jackie Stewart up as the spokesman for the Smooth Operator campaign. Winner of 3 World Drivers' Championships he definitely has more cred in making good time than Reardon Sullivan. And his advice for driving on the street to make the best time--drive smoothly. No jack rabbit starts and no tailgating means no reason to get on the binders in a hurry, that just slows everybody down. The best part of the campaign could be putting the mug shots of aggressive drivers online with Jackie intoning "Yerr a bawbag ya choob!"

All I hear is an opinion from Reardon Sullivan, but no rationale. Indeed, it doesnt even make sense. Who is this fellow? Does his opinion have any particular weight over anyone elses?

No, but the paper felt it was one of the only ones worth reporting - and that matters.

Reardon Sullivan is apparently founder and principle of this engineering firm. The guy must've been smoking something that day, because there's absolutely no basis in reality for his statement.

The bicyclists that ride through my community do not obey the traffic signs, are arrogant and act as though they are above the law. One on Sunday in June we video taped cyclists actions and posted same on u-tube “Unsafe Cyclist in Montgomery County Maryland” during this period only 3 of over 60 bicyclist stopped at the stop signs. We have sent same to the county council and the police urging ticketing of bicyclist and for egregious violators impounding the bicycles. This direction is gaining popularity in our community

According to the MoCo police any time there is an accident between a car and a bike, the car is automatically assume to be at fault. I don’t believe this assumption is fair especially given the actions of the riders in my area.

Most of the cyclists have responded to the U-tube post along the lines of:

1) Cars run stop signs
a. IMO this is no excuse for bikes to run stop signs
b. The stop rate of my neighbors was much higher than the bikers

2) My community should pay for wider roads so that the bikers can ride in the area
a. IOM let the bikers pay the higher taxes for wider roads

3) Bikes are lighter / smaller than cars and deserve special treatment.
a. Using this logic smart cars should have different laws than an SUV.
b. IOM the law needs to be equally applied.

4) Bikers / drivers need to be educated
a. IMO anyone (car or bike) that doesn’t know to stop at a stop sign should not be on the road.

All I’m asking for is equal treatment for bicyclist in the event of an accident as well as ticketing and the same enforcement for both cars and bikes.

I have never been ticketed by a speed camera, had an accident or moving violation in over 30 years in MoCo.

You received bad information from the MoCo police. If there is a crash between a car and a bike, the car is not automatically presumed to be at fault. That isn't how the justice system works in general. The only exception I can think of that is when one vehicle rear-ends another. In that case, there is a presumption of guilt. If you can cite an example of this presumption of guilt for a driver or a statement of this policy then that would help.

If anything, nationally at least, the application of the law has been that there is an institutional bias against cyclists. Read this article. Or read about this">http://www.thewashcycle.com/2009/05/more-on-why-the-virginia-beach-homicide-was-not-a-crime.html">this incident. Or read this.

In response to some of your points.

1. If you want full application of the road laws at all times, I would be fine with that. But realize that if behavior did not change drivers would receive dozens of tickets a day - and probably more per capita than cyclists.

2. Having different laws for different classes of vehicles is not illogical. We already have different laws for heavy trucks, cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles etc...It would not be illogical for laws to applied differently for smartcars and SUVs. Nor is it illogical for laws to be different for bikes than cars - as is already the case. [Cars for example can not ride on the sidewalk, but bikes can]. What you show in your video on you-tube, while illegal, is not particularly dangerous.

And finally, how can you defend your position that bikes constitute one of the major hazards on our roadways? What hazard? How do you measure it?


Why do you get so worked up when some schmoe says something stupid?

Is this guy going to make you do anything? Probably not. He may represent a point of view, but he has no more power than you or me.

So Reardon Sullivan thinks I'm the biggest hazard on Montgomery's roads. So what?

I'm not worked up. It's not so much that he said, it's that the Gazette decided to print it. Of all the things said, this ranked as worthy of paper space in their mind.

And, this guy is out making video and posting it and going to community meetings and calling the police. He may not have more power than you and me, but he has power and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The reason Jim Graham wants to increase enforcement on cyclists is because of complaints from constituents and Mr. Sullivan is someone's constituent. I would not be surprised if eventually some officer is sent out there to ticket cyclists for a couple of hours to make Mr. Sullivan happy.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I hope I can back him off of his position a little or even change his mind.

Dear Wash

We do agree that “everyone is someone constituent” and you are exactly correct that I am going to community meetings, lobbying the county council and local media and working to raise awareness of this issue.

I am not saying that all car drivers are safe, stop at all stop signs or stay with in the speed limit. I agree that there are some bad car drivers on the road. I also realize that your constituents can point to statistics regarding bike / car interactions that can favor any point of view. However as I’m diving through my community I don’t feel that bicyclist have the right to behave the way they do… there actions appear to be dangerous to themselves and others.

One Saturday in May I was driving a large SUV through the community and I was 4 cars deep in line at a stop sign. By the time that I got to the stop sign I was being passed on both the left and the right by cyclists. As I was turning right, almost hit on of them that was between my truck and the shoulder of the road … he started cursing at me … This type of dangerous behavior is quite common and included on the video.

The following Sunday I was diving though my neighborhood at 25 mph Getting ready to turn into my driveway, I was overtaken by a man in his wife to the point that they where less than 10 feet from the back of my car… the man started yelling at me to speed up down the hill … they where so close I could hear his rants and could not turn into my driveway as if I had stopped he would have ran into the back of my car… There is no reason for cyclist to tailgate cars and yell at the drivers.

While taping at several locations I have several cyclists rationalizing / arguing as to why they ran the stop signs, threatening me, etc… CAPTURED ON TAPE … These people don’t come off very well defending running stop signs. It appears that they are nonsensically defending / making excuses for an obvious violation to which there is no defense …

In talking to others in the community they all have stories like mine and include cyclist cursing at residents in the community, riding irresponsibly etc. Most of the people in the community are fed up with the rudeness, arrogance and lack of consideration of your constituents. If there is a change in the behavior of the cyclist, I suspect that the issue will go away … that is where you and the e-media / bloggers come in ….

It would be great if you could motivate your constituents to NOT run stop signs, swarm cars at stop signs, obey the traffic signals … (and possibly stop spamming me) … The community reactions, video tapes letters to the editors etc that you see are a direct result of the actions of bikers as perceived by the residents of the community. If the perception goes away so to the reaction.

Are you up to the challenge?
R Sullivan

I am not saying that all car drivers are safe, stop at all stop signs or stay with in the speed limit.

While we're talking about who is "arrogant and act as though they are above the law" here's a little experiment:

Set your cruise control to the speed limit some time. You'll quickly find out that, quite literally, *no* drivers stay within the speed limit unless they're forced to by congestion.

Not one of them.

Once you cop to that, we can start having an honest discussion.

I was diving though my neighborhood at 25 mph Getting ready to turn into my driveway, I was overtaken by a man in his wife to the point that they where less than 10 feet from the back of my car… the man started yelling at me to speed up down the hill …

I probably shouldn't waste the time, but...I can see this happening if Mr Sullivan passed extremely close to the cyclists, then whipped in front of them, then hit the brakes...

Otherwise, this anecdote is faintly redolent of some USDA Prime B.S.

What a great tableau: this poor driver rolling along at just below the speed limit, only to have some deranged bicyclist (On a tandem! With his wife, no less!) come around the bend, get on his bumper, and start wildly gesticulating and screaming angrily that he speed up.

It's so laughably improbable, it makes me wonder if the poster is incapable of feeling the embarrassment which he has so rightly earned.

Mr. Sullivan,

The actions you've described fall under several categories.

Illegal and Dangerous: Tailgating and passing on the right hand side of a right turning vehicle are both illegal and dangerous activities and cyclists should avoid them.

Rude: Yelling profanities and spamming represent bad behavior and aren't constructive. No one should behave this way. [Unfortunately, your quote has been picked up by a few national blogs and message boards, so I'm not sure what I can do to stop that, but I'll mention it on my blog]. I would point out that sometimes yelling at drivers is what cyclists do because we don't have horns and it isn't always meant to be rude, more of a "head's up" kind of call out. I would also point out that most people don't like to be videotaped and confronted about their behavior, so I can't say I'm surprised that you occasionally get a hostile reaction (several TV shows - TMZ, Cheaters, etc.. have been built around this kind of reaction) . Some might even consider your behavior rude - and it doesn't helps to keep labeling cyclists as "arrogant.". I didn't see any of these confrontations on the video (though I saw a few profanities sent your way), so perhaps I saw a different one.

Illegal but not dangerous: A lot of what you show in the video is technically illegal but not particularly dangerous. Many of the rolling stops are quite safe. I, and most of the readers of this blog (according to a very non-scientific poll), would like to see the law changed to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs; and additionally I don't really care if people break the law, as long as they're being safe and considerate. So I'm with you in asking cyclists to ride safe and be considerate, but I'm not sure what would be gained if cyclists were to come to a complete stop at this intersection (which intersection is it?). Rolling through a stop sign on a bike may not be legally defensible, but it could be morally defensible. That all depends on your own personal moral convictions about the law. I would say that laws regarding traffic control devices were written with cars in mind and a more nuanced argument is that it isn't fair to apply these laws to bicycles without a more complete review of their appropriateness. I would ask this: what are the negative effects of these rolling stops? Has anyone been hurt or killed? Where is the victim? You'd have to convince me that this behavior is causing real harm to someone before I'd be willing to fight a battle to change the behavior.

Nor am I sure how much a change in behavior will make the issue go away. Some people simply wants cyclists off the road and out of the way. I do recognize that cyclists need to try to change the toxic opinion that the general public has of them, but I'm not sure complete fidelity to the law will do that.

Neither illegal nor dangerous: "Swarming" a car is not specifically illegal. Cyclists in Maryland are allowed to pass stopped vehicles and I don't see anything in the law that precludes passing on the left. The only rule is to "exercise due care when passing." Nor am I convinced that this behavior is dangerous as long as cyclists don't put themselves in the way of a turning car.

Laws are written, ideally, to serve a purpose. The purpose of most traffic laws is to increase safety. If the cyclists are safely negotiating the intersection, does it really matter that they aren't following the letter of the law and if so why? I believe you're making a mountain out of a molehill. Cyclists are breaking a misdemeanor law, that most of us would like to see changed and which harms no one - I'm not convinced that that is a cause worth fighting against.

Reardon Sullivan is clearly not in his right mind. He states opinion, not fact. In fact, some far greater concerns to our nation right now include obesity and the associated staggering increase in health care costs. Taking a look at the people in Reardon's video seems to demonstrate that the one thing cyclists are NOT is obese. So, they can run all the stop signs they want because they are saving millions in health care costs. Cycling also addresses the very serious problems we have with pollution, traffic congestion, and reliance on fossil fuels. What Reardon Sullivan's statements do show is a need to create traffic laws that are specific to cyclists and make sense. Many bike-friendly communities around the country are revising laws that were really developed with cars in mind to be more accommodating to cyclists. For example, some states have changed laws to allow cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs and red lights like stop signs. Having a cyclist come to a complete stop at every stop sign is akin to asking a motorist to turn off his/her car at every stop sign. It makes no sense.

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