Mailbag: Road safety, sharing and radios

I'm not a lawyer either, but I believe Charles Pelkey’s interpretation of Virginia law is correct. Military members are subject to civil prosecution all the time.

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Paying attention to the road

Editor,

I’m not a lawyer either, but I believe Charles Pelkey’s interpretation of Virginia law is correct. Military members are subject to civil prosecution all the time, and many “line of duty/misconduct” investigations (one would have to be done when the government vehicle was involved in an accident) defer military prosecution when civil prosecution is pending.

One unfortunate aspect of the Flock case is the date that it occurred. My hunch is that the only way for a driver to miss seeing Kevin in his bright orange kit on a straight road is if the driver was busy texting or emailing on a Blackberry or phone (that would also explain the cloud of dust the witness saw).

Unfortunately, that activity didn’t become illegal in Virginia until July 1 this year. As a result of that Virginia law, the Department of Defense issued blanket order to all military personnel noting that such activity was prohibited on military installations and in military vehicles.

Still, I would hope Ms. Morrison’s legal team has subpoenaed the cell phone records of the driver to determine whether any texts or emails were transmitted in close proximity to the time of the accident. Even if it wasn’t “illegal,” it could be a contributing factor that should be considered by the judge.

The bottom line for me is that I’ve engaged in texting while driving in the past, but after reading about Kevin Flock, I won’t be doing it any more.

Best,
John Barth

Fear for those on the road

Editor,

Please keep us posted on the developments in the Flock case. I personally forwarded the story to hundreds of contacts in my address book.

So many people around the Pittsburgh and tri-state area are following the tales of (former RAAM standout) Danny Chew and his nephew Stephen, who right now are past the 10,000 mile journey biking to Alaska and back.

Their trip has lasted for more than two months and we as their supporters and fans fear worst case scenarios that your article revealed, namely that cyclists aren’t safe if they aren’t protected. Either from irresponsible military or runners, the risk is high for all cyclists on bike paths in bike lanes and on roadways.

Doug Riegner,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

We expect to report on the out-come of Monday’s motion hearing in the Flock case. Sadly, the death of Kevin Flock is not an isolated incident. – Editor

Can’t we all just get along?

Good day!

I would like to throw out a little rant about the trails around Albuquerque and see if this is the case everywhere. I ride my MTB just about every day at a public park, known as the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. I’ll spare you the gory details, but this is a public use network of trails that adjoin a wilderness area. On these trails are horses, bikers, and hikers of all skill levels and demeanors, and their dogs. I’m sure you get the general idea of what this is like.

Now, I’m a Clydesdale and I don’t go uphill with any kind of speed. (I took a seven-year break from the bike and got fat and I can’t ride as fast as I once could. But, at least, I’m trying.) Consequently, when I ride, I encounter many riders who are much faster than I am. I pride myself on my manners and when I come upon hikers who move over for my fat ass, I always graciously thank them and make a comment about my slowness, just to give them a little humor and to not feel bad about myself. But, when some lovely individual rolls up on me, I rarely get thanked for pulling over into the cacti and weeds to let them pass.

The other piece is that I was taught that if you’re on an omni-directional route that if you’re going down and you meet someone coming up, you should yield to them, because they will lose their momentum. I have been nearly hit, like the story in the “Explainer,” by some aspiring downhill punk on his crappy old double-boinger. I also always let runners go in the clear, no matter what, because it’s tough to get going again.

The fact that I am not the fastest rider out there does not make me evil and I will continue to let people pass, but I will say that from now on, non-thankers may receive a nasty quip from me.

I’ll end with this: be nice to everyone and you’ll go far in life. Mountain bikers have a pretty bad reputation out there due to their rudeness and I, being one of them am beginning to believe this. I’d like to see that concept disappear.

Rocky Smith,
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Don’t forget the equines among us

Editor,

I own a horse. I ride on many trails, most of them multi-use. I have lived in Colorado (where there are a lot of cyclists), North Carolina and now Texas. Texas by far has the most people who understand the rules of the trail, Colorado the rudest by far with the fewest people who know the rules.

Rules are always posted at trailheads. Few people read them. Every posting of the rules I have ever seen states clearly that “Bicycles Must Yield to Hikers and Horses.” That means, when you see a hiker or a horse, or a jogger, that you must immediately (as soon as you see them) stop your bike on the side of the trail, and wait for the person/animal to pass you. Just like a car has to slow down to accommodate a bike rider on a road, a bike rider on a trail must slow down when encountering and passing slower riders. This applies to horses, too. If I come up on someone when I am going faster on my horse than a walk, I always immediately slow down and stop my horse. Trail safety works both ways, and a dash of common sense helps!

I can’t tell you how often I have had bike riders come at me at 20 mph and expect to whizz by my horse. Horses are unpredictable and very large, and anything that comes at them triggers the flight response. Even riding slowly toward a horse can cause them to flee. I had a biker not slow down and stop when approaching me and my (trained and experienced) horse whirled right in front of him, blocking the trail in the process — we almost collided. Then he had the nerve to yell at me (yes, this was only one of the many rude bikers I encountered in Colorado). I can tell you that in a horse/bike collision, the loser is always the bike rider and their bike, and often also the horse and rider.

On the flip side, when I come across a hiker or biker who does know the rules, I always thank them for stopping to let me pass. And if they have children, I normally offer to let them pet the horse.

Please slow down on multi-use trails when you encounter another person or animal. Also, I’m an attorney, and I can tell you that if you violate the posted rules of a multi-use trail, and you cause injuries to people, animals or property as a result of your violation of the rules, that you are likely to be held liable in both civil and criminal courts.

Melissa Ames,
Dallas, Texas

… and what about those golf carts?

Editor,

I live in way south Texas: Mission to be precise. We have some unusual circumstances with road sharing. The bike lanes are frequently used for passing lanes, or turning lanes or parking lanes. This is not my biggest gripe, though.

I have an ongoing problem with golf carts. Golf carts at 6 a.m. going to the golf course to sneak on. No lights, no noise, ghosting along. (I have lights fore and aft) The ones that do have lights seldom have brake light or turn signals.

Day time is just as bad. Sometimes coming back from the grocery store I use the sidewalk for safety. I do yield to all pedestrian traffic and will stop to let them pass. But what do you do about a golf cart going the wrong way on the sidewalk?

Yesterday there was a golf cart on the shoulder of a busy street going against the traffic. Many times they drive next to the curb, shoulder does not really apply, and as usual without signals or brake lights. I know this must be illegal but the local police turn a blind eye. I guess the income from one of the cheapest golf courses in the country is too much to pass up.

Curtis Whatley,
Mission, Texas

Desk duty

Editor,

Thanks for including the September 9 article by Monique Ryan about Mindful Eating! I’m in my mid-thirties, with the ho-hum lifestyle of wife, three kids, and a full time desk job.

As a college track athlete, I didn’t worry too much about my eating habits for many years. However, after a few years behind the desk, I was hit with the reality that I can’t just eat like I used to and maintain washboard abs anymore. So trying to get back on the bike after a few years off, this was just the type of article I needed to see. In just a little over a month of applying the mindful eating along with my training, I’ve dropped eight pounds. It may not be Jenny Craig material, but I’m feeling great and looking forward to continued success.

Thanks,

Casey Eitemiller,
Mitchell, South Dakota

Why stop at radios?

Editor,

I just want to say that I totally agree with Joe LeFort, who says “improving technology is not the problem, or a problem for that matter.” I agree with him so much that I think the UCI should also allow:

• Engines – that is a well tested technology
• Parachutes – safety reasons
• Rockets – they haul ass

Iztok Marjanovi?,
Cupertino, California

Soapbox?

Editor,

In Joe LeFort’s snarky letter, he lumps technology that increases personal performance with technology that enables non-personal decision making. That’s neither valid reasoning or particularly relevant to the discussion of race radios.

It is also incongruous that Mr. LeFort complains about Michael Barry being on a soapbox while standing on his own.

Shawn Ridel,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada