Published Somedays

Bring on the high gas prices...

(updated: Jul 11, 2008)

Cycling is under attack. High gas prices is really the only thing that's going to make this country more bike friendly.

If you didn't see the article in today's Star News, here it is:

Damage to River Road bike lanes should be repaired soon

By Patrick Gannon
Staff Writer

Area bicycling advocates hope damage to bike lanes along River Road is repaired quickly and adequately.

A piece of heavy equipment removing overgrown vegetation from the sides of River Road for the N.C. Department of Transportation recently damaged bike lanes in several areas south of Sanders Road, creating small indentations in the pavement.

Al Schroetel of the Cape Fear Cyclists group said the damage occurred as some people are parking their cars and using bicycles instead because of high gas prices.

"It's unfortunate it happened at a time when a lot of people are saying, 'Let me take my bike out, let me give it a shot,'" Schroetel said. "We certainly hope they will restore it to a nice, smooth path."

Jerry Taylor, New Hanover County maintenance engineer with the DOT, said tracks on the bottom of the equipment can cause damage when the vehicle turns. He said he believes the damage was limited to several areas. He said it might cause a small bump for bicyclists but that he didn't consider it a safety issue.

"Do I think it's endangering people out there? No, not really," Taylor said.

He said the operators are trying to be careful not to tear up the road, which creates additional work for DOT maintenance crews.

"Trust me, we don't want to go out there and damage the road while we're doing something else," Taylor said.

The DOT is currently cutting back vegetation on the northbound side of River Road, in part to keep it out of the way of bicycles. When that section is done, likely in about two weeks, the DOT will fix the damage, he said.

"We'll be correcting those spots," Taylor said. "We'll do some light pavement repair."

Patrick Gannon: 343-2328

'Do I think it's endangering people out there? No, not really," Taylor said.'

What an ignorant statement. The same as large potholes in the road don't endanger drivers? He has no business being in that job if that's his attitude. The State has a legal responsibility to maintain roads for vehicles that have the legal right to use those roads.

"We'll do some light pavement repair."

BS. They need to do way better than that. The state should fix the lane and actually make it a real bike lane.

How is this story related to cycling being under attack? Because this is what could happen when a cyclist gets killed because of damage similar to this:

Legally Speaking with Bob Mionske - A question of liability

In 2004, rider Kirk Ulrich was thrown from his bike and killed when he hit a crack in the road. His widow sued Crawford County, arguing that the County was negligent because it had notice that other cyclists had been injured when they had hit that crack in the road, it had had an opportunity to respond to the hazardous condition, and in fact did respond, by warning other cyclists of the hazardous condition, and then had ceased warning other cyclists of the hazard, just prior to Ulrich’s fatal fall. The case was settled out of court for $350,000. Crawford County Supervisors were outraged by the lawsuit, and subsequently banned RAGBRAI from using Crawford County roads for the event. Now here’s the thing: Crawford County was insured, and actually only paid its $5,000 deductible out of pocket; the balance of the settlement was paid by Crawford County’s insurance carrier. Nevertheless, despite the enormous disparity between the economic benefits that RAGBRAI brings to towns along its route, and the $5,000 deductible on the out of court settlement, Crawford County Supervisors vowed to cut off the County’s nose to spite the County’s face. With Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Dan Muhlbauer noting that “our roads are not made for bicycles,” the Supervisors approved a resolution to that effect, stating that the county's roads are not designed to meet the specific standards related to bicycle travel and constitute an unacceptable risk to participants in RAGBRAI and other similar events. And with that, the welcome mat was rolled up and RAGBRAI was ordered to henceforth stay out of Crawford.

Read the rest of the article. It's good. How would you like to be subject to an ordinance that requires you to take out an insurance policy when there are 20 or more riders? Critical Mass ride? Uh oh. It's now illegal.

What about riding two or more abreast? How about a citation.

Bike traffic increase needs attention

The riders were part of a loosely organized international movement called Critical Mass, although the term wasn't used in a front-page story about their citations. Critical Mass started in San Francisco in 1992 to bring more public awareness to the rights of cyclists. Unfortunately, the tactic they seem to use is to ride several abreast down some urban street, creating a traffic jam.

It certainly raises the awareness of cyclists by motorists but not in a positive light.

The young riders were issued citations during rush hour for obstructing traffic. The cyclists say they were behaving legally under state law, and they may have been. A judge will have to make that call.

And in a similar vein:

Legally Speaking with Bob Mionske - Two-by-two

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, during a ride on the last Friday of last month, 17 cyclists were ticketed for violating the two abreast statue by claims that they were impeding traffic. The tickets stated that the violation was of state statute 346.80(3) — impeding traffic while riding two abreast.

The road was a six lane intercity highway with a speed limit of 35mph. Other traffic was not backed up behind the cyclists, but there was a steady flow of passing motor vehicles. The cyclists were contained within the right-most lane. The lane qualifies as a substandard-width lane. It was explained to Sgt. Weber that since it was a substandard lane width, riding two abreast within the lane does not impede the normal and regular flow of traffic, as a single cyclist would be entitled to the entire lane. He rejected that notion, telling the cyclists, "Bicycles are not traffic," and wrote out twenty dollar tickets to the 17 cyclists. He also simplified the statute verbally, saying that bicycles cannot impede traffic. The cyclists have gotten a lawyer to defend them pro bono.

Bicycles were on the roads before cars. Then cars took over, much like what is occurring right now in China, and assumed a critical mass, marginalizing cyclists and treating them like outcasts.

That's why I love what is happening with our little oil situation we got going on here in the national automobile slum.

“My grandfather rode on a camel, my father rode in a car, I ride in a jet, my children will ride in cars, my grandchildren will ride on camels.”
-Sheikh Rashid bin SaeedAl Maktoum (1912 –October 7, 1990), Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates from 1979 to 1990 and Emir (Ruler) of Dubai.

Just substitute camel for bike. It's time for people to wake up and face reality.


1. SBA said...

You know, I was just thinking, people are always telling me that bikes are expensive. Most people that walk in a bike shop don't want to spend more than like $200-$250 for a bike. Yet they are spending at least that much in gas every month. In my case, if there was a way I could bike to work, I could save $50 a week in gas. At that rate, I could buy a nice new bike every 4 months!

Jul 11, 2008 @ 9:22 PM

2. hombre said...

Man you are preaching to a choir. Try directing your tirade to those who you are really pissed at. Start with the DOT, then try New Hangover County, vent out at a county commissioners meeting. We are all on the same page here so direct it where your words may carry some thunder. As for my two cents, here's a proactive link;

Jul 12, 2008 @ 12:04 PM

3. hombre said...

sorry folks that's

Jul 12, 2008 @ 12:11 PM

4. SBA said...

That site is sponsored by the airline industry. They are the canary in the coal mine so to speak of our fossil fuel based society. Oil speculation is not the problem, unless people are looking to blame someone or something other than themselves. When you want facts instead of fantasy, visit theoildrum.

I haven't spoken in front of the commissioners but I've written letters (see my earlier posts). They probably thought I was crazy, but maybe not so much anymore.

Jul 12, 2008 @ 10:13 PM

5. Rock Head said...

I say keep up the pressure, at some point things will turn around. Not that the US is a banana republic but we are finally coming to realize the we need to change our mind set in a global sense; to move towards a society with principles that will sustain us as our population grows. Something as simple as giving a bike lane some priority ought to be a no brainer but I guess the king has not been listening to the muses lately.

Jul 13, 2008 @ 3:28 PM

6. Sue said...

Um, so I'm one of those people that doesn't want to spend a crapload of money on a bike. But um, I only spent a total $239 on gas FOR THE WHOLE YEAR SO FAR. Muah ha ha!

Jul 22, 2008 @ 12:04 AM


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