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Mailbag: Radios, road rage and horse pucky

With most dividing issues there usually ends up being some sort of compromise solution, so here is mine for race radios.

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A middle ground on radios?

Dear Editor,
With most dividing issues there usually ends up being some sort of compromise solution, so here is mine for race radios.

Give each team one radio to use in a race. The team can then decide if they want the team captain or a domestique to be the point person. A one-radio-per-team rule could achieve what both sides are looking for.

If it is truly a safety issue for the directors, they will still be able to communicate any hazards that weren’t known at the beginning of the race. For the race promoters it gives the ability for breakaways or attacks to be more successful because the riders will have to be watching the race and not just responding to the radio. It can also offer some surprises during the races depending on who the team gives the radio to. Whoever the point person is, all the other teams will know who to watch for any strategy that is put in place, or if the team captain has a mechanical problem not all of the domestics are going to instantly fall back to help.

For time trials, let’s just leave them out completely and the directors can revert back to bullhorns or whatever. Let’s see how good these guys really are when they don’t have every time check communicated clearly in their ear.

Philip May
Boulder, Colorado

The Virginia case

Dear Editor,
I was hit doubly hard by the story of the cyclist hit in Virginia because not only am I a two-time survivor of being hit by an at-fault motorist, I was also a recruiter in the Marines for five years, so I have some empathy for the job and how hard and time-consuming it is.

However, one thing that every branch of the military has in common is the idea of responsibility for one’s actions, and I strongly doubt that his command will be willing to let him hide behind the curtain of official duties in order to avoid prosecution for the maximum offense, at least I hope not.

Both times I was hit the other vehicle was at fault, but the first time was on a busy public street in inner-city Houston (where I lived and rode for 20+ years until I moved here to Washington in May) and it was almost understandable. Two other riders and I were training for a TTT and using a course that was part of a route we used every Tuesday and Thursday called the Death Ride, and we were going much faster than most motorists are accustomed to seeing, and as a result the woman who hit me thought she had time to turn left in front of us. She did not, and she T-boned me, breaking my left leg in seven places and putting me in the hospital for almost a month.

It was the second incident that was the scariest, and is somewhat reminiscent of what happened in Virginia, except for the fact that the road was not open to traffic. I was hit while participating in a bike race, on a course that the organizers had paid extra to close on an early Sunday morning in east Texas. A driver bypassed the barricade and got onto the course, sped by the peloton and ran most of them off the road, then hit me as I was trying to escape along with another rider. The second rider was missed but I was hit from behind by a full-size pickup truck by a driver who admitted to a speed of at least 65mph. Like Kevin Flock, I had no warning whatsoever; fortunately, I survived, although I was seriously injured and 16 years later I am still dealing with the aftermath of a broken back.

In my case, the driver was issued a ticket for unsafe speed, and nothing more. In fact, after I regained consciousness, I heard a DPS trooper tell the friend I had been with at the time that “y’all don’t belong on the road.”

When my friend pointed out that the law stated differently, the trooper replied, “I know what the law says, but y’all still don’t belong on the road.”

I feel very strongly that this was a major factor in the driver only being cited and not charged for reckless endangerment or attempted vehicular homicide (given that he clearly knew that there was a bike race in progress), and I can only hope that attitudes have changed to a point where the recruiter who hit Mr. Flock is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Until the death of a cyclist is treated with the same gravity as that of a motorist, cycling in the U.S. will be more dangerous than it has to be.

Ron Wilson
Sequim, Washington

The road rage case

Dear Velo,
As depressing and infuriating as the case may be, I appreciate your coverage of the L.A. road rage trial.

Hunter Pronovost
Cheshire Connecticut

Riders are drivers, too

Thank you so much for continuing to follow this case.

I hope that you are able to dedicate Patrick Brady to same-day coverage for the duration.

Already we are seeing the pitched differences in perception of, let’s put it this way, “drivers when they are not driving.”

It is so amazing when you recognize that most of us are drivers, even though we might be cyclists, runners, skaters, whatever the mode.

While I agree that we “exercisers” often create the issues that can have tragic results, I think that there is more here than meets the eye. Perhaps a psychologist needs to examine why people who are not exercising get so pissed-off at those that are, at the moment.

Certainly much has been analyzed and written about “driver vs. driver” road rage. There’s a whole other body of work yet to written about “drivers vs. everybody else.”

Your following this case is a great service to all of us. If we can just begin to convert some of us, on all sides, the world could be a better, safer and healthier place.

Steve Bartolucci
Thousand Oaks, California
Driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, walker, & human being

We are human, too

Dear VeloNews,
I have been following your Road Rage article(s) closely and I simply can’t believe the lack of respect for life that people have for their fellow man.

They truly must believe we come from another planet and/or are some form of pedaling rodent that must be eliminated before we spread a disease.

I was riding in “The Park” here in Huntersville, NC earlier this year and barely missed becoming a road rage victim myself. While riding on a straight away, in a four lane business park, with no traffic in either direction except for the Chevy truck coming 1/8 mile behind me, I decided to change lanes. I signaled my left hand lane change with my left arm and quickly moved over into the left lane (as I was going to turn left shortly at the stop sign ahead). After changing lanes and pedaling for another 200 yards, a large Chevy four wheel drive truck comes by in the right lane honking and screaming out the window while shooting me the bird. Then, he proceeds to cut in front of me and slam on his brakes several car lengths before the stop sign. Coming to a complete stop in front of me. I slammed on the brakes as quickly as possible but my front tire still hit the back bumper of his truck. At which point I had already thrown down my trusty steed and was in full fury on my way to his driver’s side window.

Still stopped, he rolled down the window and shouted (with his toddler in the back seat) “YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!!!!”

At first I wanted to respond with “WTF!?” but my true reply will not be repeated here for sake of the youth.

Immediately following my response, he proceeded to squeal his tires and cut out in front of another car while turning into the intersection. Almost killing himself, his child and the driver of the other car (and probably me if they had crashed as I was about 15 feet from both vehicles at that point).

I still struggle to understand how changing lanes on a two lane road with no traffic could cause his death, while he was driving a 6500 pound four wheel drive truck 1/8 of a mile behind me.

Therefore, I certainly hope the California road rage case ends up in favor of the cyclists as the man even admitted to the officer on scene, “I live up the road. There were bikes in front of me, three across the road. They flipped me off. I stopped in front of them. I wanted to teach them a lesson. I’m tired of them.”

Anyway, thank you covering this case as it develops. I hope it brings more awareness to the community that we are in fact humans with families and loved ones and not pedaling rodents.

Brian D. Kuhl
Huntersville, North Carolina

Just smile and wave

Dear VeloNews,
This letter includes some lessons I feel people should learn from the L.A. road rage case:

Cyclists – ride single file when there’s a car behind you no matter how wide or busy the road is. If you choose not to ride single file (and obstruct a driver’s way, view and otherwise tamper with their sanity) don’t yell “F you!” when they drive by and ask/tell you to. It could save your life or at the very least, your face. Also, don’t be offended by a horn beep. Sometimes the driver’s just trying to tell you they are behind you (some of them don’t realize you already know this because you can hear them). You can feel free to be offended if they lay on the horn as they drive by at speed, but I’d advise you to just smile and wave.

Drivers – When you approach a couple of cyclists who aren’t riding exactly the way you feel they should don’t flip out and try to kill them. Treat each cyclist as if he/she is totally separate from the last one you were pissed off by and nicely let them know that it’d be sweet if they could just go single file when a car tries to get by. Don’t be surprised if you run into a few car-hating holier than thou “I’m saving the world by going green” bikers that won’t move or that will give you the finger. Most of us aren’t like that though. Definitely don’t stomp on the brakes after driving by them because you will most likely become somebody’s best friend in the slammer. You may also kill somebody which is something most people don’t want to have on their conscience.

I’m speaking from the perspective of a long time driver and cyclist who’s had a few run-ins with angry drivers (I’ve been shot in the back by a paintball gun among other annoying and sometimes scary experiences), and I’ve been somewhat annoyed by cyclists who don’t move over at least a reasonable amount when I’m trying to drive by faster than 15 mph (I like to think that single file and on or to the right of the white line is pretty reasonable in most situations). I think everybody just needs to be a bit more empathetic and maybe these bike vs. car moments would happen a lot less.

Andy Hardy
Medford, Massachusetts

What a bunch of horse pucky

Dear Editor,
I’ve closely followed the ongoing debate about multi-use paths. As an avid equestrienne and cyclist I was struck by the comments in a recent letter (by a runner) – comments which suggested that trail riders be required to pack out their horse manure. I’m not sure exactly where to start pointing out the idiocy of this statement, but I’ll give it my best. Horse manure is biodegradable and easily identifiable on the trail. To make such a stink (please pardon the pun) over a trivial amount of horse manure on a trail is beyond ridiculous…just walk around.

The most unsafe place for a rider to be while on a trail, and away from home, is on the ground. The risk of losing control of their horse by dismounting and attempting to pick up manure is significant. I assure you, a loose horse will create much more havoc on the trail. Riders are unable to carry shovels and the concept of plastic bags of manure banging against horses sides (making “plastic bag” noises) is a disaster waiting to happen. I know horse manure has very little to do with cycling, so thank you for indulging me on this point.

Now, on to the shared path issue…

With urban sprawl devouring open space in some communities at alarming rates, pleasure riders find less and less room for recreational trail riding. Like cycling, riding is a very relaxing and enjoyable pastime and nothing is better for both horses and humans than getting out of the confines of an arena. While on the trails, we do encounter both runners and cyclists that are unaware of horse behavior patterns and I have several friends who have sustained significant injuries from horse/bicycle encounters. Most riders understand the inherent risk they take riding and are generally acutely aware of their surroundings. We do not want to be thrown and ask only that both cyclists and runners slow or stop until everyone sees one another.

Joanna Gray-Randle
Sound Beach, New York

There are no droppings in the gym

Dear VeloNews
Raymond Cook’s complaint about horse manure on the trail is just full of it.

I am a long-time trail runner and never get on a horse. I like trail running because it gets me away from man-made fabrications including the fabrication of prissy demands for cleanliness. Trail running is about enjoying nature. Nature is not Eau de Cologne. It has flies, heat, dirt, and shit. I am sure Mr. Cook can find many climate-controlled gyms were he can exercise his vitriol. If he does I ask him to please baggy his perspiration.

R Lochoff
Westport, Connecticut

It’s not about the … droppings

I write regarding “Don’t forget the equines among us“, a letter in the mailbag from Melissa Ames, who complains that many cyclists don’t yield to her when she’s on horseback.

Ms. Ames indicates that even a well-trained horse ridden by an experienced rider may act in a way that injures other trail users, since she states they can be spooked by “anything”. If horses are as unpredictable as Ms. Ames suggests, then perhaps they shouldn’t be out in public. Society holds dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets, and by analogy I think horseback riders should be held responsible for injuries caused by their horses. Whether or not the person injured by the horse had violated some rule or other is irrelevant, just as no dog owner would be excused for allowing his or her dog to attack someone who littered.

I think the need for horses to be treated with the extraordinary caution that horseback riders ask of other trail users demonstrates that horses are not suitable for use on public trails.

David Newman

The advantage of advertising

I’d like to chime in on a benefit of coming across rude and elitist riders on roads and trails, it helps me learn where not to shop.

All these high and mighty types always seem to be decked out in gear from local bike shops.

My advice to you owners: If you think that a jersey with your name and logo is free advertising, think twice about who you sell it to.

John McLeod
Cleveland Ohio