Tag Archives: antibikisms

Comic book chain owner fights Arlington Bike Plan

Arlington, TX is the largest American city without public transit.  Yet, Arlington has a bold hike and bike plan to add 272 miles of bike network to the existing 20.  City planners and Greenways Inc. have been working on the plan since November 2009.  The final draft is done, and after some committee approvals through February, the plan looks like a slam-dunk.  Almost.

Lone Star Comics franchise owner Buddy Saunders has launched a one-man campaign he calls “Save Our Streets Arlington.”  His hyperbolic rhetoric has been precededpredicted, and it employs shallow politicization that Tea Party conservatives ought to oppose bike infrastructure.  We’ve seen this before, when misguided critics draw dubious links between politics and transportation funding, to no party’s advantage.  Buddy calls the plan a “traffic congestion-creating, job-killing, tax-raising disaster for Arlington.”  His approach ignores that roads don’t pay for themselves, and the $600 billion debt continue to increase if only car traffic is prioritized.  A Star-Telegram article hypes up the debate, but they don’t quote anyone who actually rides a bike, or even anyone from Bike Friendly Arlington.  This late in the game, all that stands between city council and their adoption of the ambitious hike and plan is an angry guy with a protest sign.

As Elly Blue advises, our job is “to keep speaking reason while the madness runs its course.”

If you want to show support for the Arlington plan, you can sign the petition, or better yet, come to the February 8 city council meeting.

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Cyclist egged

Last night around 10PM, a TWU grad student (and all around sweet person)  was egged while riding near 900 W. Congress St by someone in a black pickup truck.  The truck sped off before she could see the license plate number, and the Denton police said they’d put this assault on file.

“It made me feel scared to be riding my bike.”

The last similar incident was in May when seven Denton high school students assaulted several cyclists with bananas.  A similar incident in Portland landed the assailants in jail.

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Driver hits Denton cyclist, cyclist ticketed

photo credit: Gerald Torrance

After completing an early morning 30 mile ride last Sunday, Southridge resident Alex Newton did not expect to get hit by a car, lectured by a responding police officer, and ticketed for failure-to-yield, all in his own neighborhood.

I had just stopped beside the neighborhood swimming pool on Woodbrook at Hollyhill and was about to cross Hollyhill on my way home. I do not remember seeing anyone while I was at the stop sign or when I started off into the intersection, but as I was getting clipped into my pedals and back up to speed mid-way through the intersection I looked to my right and out of the blind corner I saw a red Corolla coming at me. I started to accelerate as much as possible and thought that I was through the intersection, but to my surprise, was hit on the right hand side of my rear wheel and derailleur by the front passenger fender of the Corolla. My bike skidded a few feet to the left, but I was able to get my foot out and catch myself without falling.

After catching his breath, Alex reports that the car driver (Johnny Miller) demanded to know what Alex was doing in the road and yelled “I am going to call the cops”.  Alex agreed that police involvement sounded ideal, so they waited for the first officer to arrive.  While waiting for police, the driver continued to yell at Alex.

Johnny began yelling from across the street that “you didn’t stop!” and “what were you doing in the street!” I replied that I had stopped and that I there was no one in the street when I crossed. He yelled that I was a liar and that said that he saw me not stop. I was confused; I asked him why then if he saw me didn’t he stop?  He yelled that I was a good liar but still a liar.

At this point, the situation descended further into chaos, as the first police officer arrived and berated Alex, accusing him of running the stop sign.  Officer Danny Steadham, #124, accused Alex of “cussing this gentleman”, until the police dispatch corrected Steadham and reported no cussing during the 911 call.  Then, the situation gets more surreal as the Steadham threatened to write Alex a ticket for running the stop sign, describing that cyclists need to be taught a lesson.

Danny then let me know that he was going to give me a citation for not failure to stop at the stop sign. I told the officer that I had stopped, but he cut me off to tell me about the 8 cyclists he had seen earlier that day run a stop sign and how he has been lenient in the past with cyclists,but that we have to learn to obey traffic rules. I told him that regardless I had stopped. The officer then yelled over to Johnny to ask how long he had lived here. Johnny replied 13 years. Danny then asked if he knew the turn well, and Johnny told him that he did. Danny then told me that if Johnny had lived here for 13 years and knew this intersection that he wouldn’t have speed through, that in fact you couldn’t make the corner that fast. He went on to explain that he had tried to see how fast he could make the same corner during calls and therefore the he could not have been speeding. He let me know that he was going to write me a citation for not stopping and continued to lecture me on the subject of bicycles obeying all the same traffic rules as any other vehicle. I again told him that I had stopped.

As the situation continued to worsen, Officer Steadham’s sergeant arrived and attempted to calm the scene.  In an attempt to clarify what the record would indicate, the sergeant recanted his understanding of the accident.

He copied down the make and model of the frame and said that this is how they were going to file the police report: I had stopped at the stop sign and then proceeded into the intersection not seeing the car, the corner is a blind one, and Johnny had a large front left pillar and mirror and that he had not seen me. Mind you I am not a small man, and I was wearing a bright orange jersey on a bright yellow bike.  The officers then proceeded to let me know that even though I had stopped, as I was still operating a vehicle and coming from a direction that did not have the right of way, that I would be getting a citation for failure to yield right of way at a stop controlled intersection. He said that it would have been the same if I would have been in a car. Even though I had stopped at the stop sign it was still my responsibility to be clear of the intersection before any other traffic arrived from the direction that had right of way. I said that this didn’t sound right and asked if someone that was already in the intersection had the right to finish crossing. The sergeant joined in and said “well yes, in some cases, but not in this one”.

From glancing at Texas Transportation Code 545.153, it appears that the officers could be correct regarding Alex’s failure to yield.  The state law clearly favors vehicles already in the roadway. This, to governor Rick Perry, is adequate protection under current laws.  And that is why Rick Perry vetoed SB 488, the Safe Passing ordinance, which aimed to protect pedestrians; highway construction and maintenance workers; tow truck operators; stranded motorists or passengers; people on horseback; bicyclists; motorcyclists; and moped riders. Because the veto was completely unexpected, some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to pass local ordinances declaring the same kinds of protection. Councilman Dalton Gregory penned an editorial in favor of Safe Passing in Denton, but we’ve seen no support from other council members so far.

Wondering whether a sign would change the law’s determination, Alex questions the officers.

I asked if there was a “Caution children” or “yield to pedestrians” sign if it would still be permissible for drivers to run over the children in the intersection. The officer said that these signs would only be a warning and would not change the fact that the driver with right of way had no responsibility; it was up to the child, or parent if the child was younger, to beware of traffic.

In this case, Transportation Code 552.003 requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.  Further, state law requires drivers to “exercise due care” even without a crosswalk, according to 552.008.

Legal semantics aside, Alex supposes that this accident represents a danger to the neighborhood children, and he’s disappointed by the lack of empathy from the driver or police officers.

The strangest thing to me about the entire event is that nothing went as I would have expected. Of course I didn’t expect to get hit by a car, but then when I did, I expected the driver to feel some sense of responsibility or remorse not aggression and anger towards the victim. I expected that when the police arrived they would tend to the possibly injured cyclist and try to understand the situation instead of arriving with a defensive attitude for the driver and preconceived ideas on my behavior from earlier events. The last thing that I expected is that I would have received a citation for being an obstacle in the road while the driver that hit me was free to go. These things bother me at a deep level particularly because it was in our neighborhood only blocks from our house at a swimming pool that we thought would be great for our girls to walk to in the summers when they were older.

After looking at the Google Street View, I can’t help but think the ultra-wide roadway, the lack of a 4 way stop, lack of any pedestrian/children warning signs, and vehicle speed of the Corolla all add up to a perilous situation for pedestrians and cyclists.  Given the road curve, I question whether there’s sufficient line-of-sight to make this intersection safe for anyone.  I’ve swam at that pool, and that huge roadway could definitely use a crosswalk for children and parents to safely make it across.  Perhaps a 4-way stop and crosswalk are called for?  Alex’s accident should be seen as an opportunity to make a dangerous situation safer, especially since he survived unscathed.  There are plenty of lessons to be learned here for drivers, cyclists, police officers, pedestrians, and traffic engineers.  Let’s make this situation work towards a better future and not a bitter one.

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Cycling Parents Killed in San Antonio

BIKE MEMORIAL  100609 001

(Photo: Tom Reel/San Antonio Express News)

Summary from Erik Ryberg of TusconBikeLawyer:

Folks, that is a photograph of seven year old Kylie Bruehler. She is at a funeral service to bury her parents, both of whom were killed last week when a driver veered onto the shoulder and drove his pickup truck into them.

They were riding together on a tandem.

The local news reports that “investigators say there are no charges on the driver. They believe this was an accident and that somehow the driver lost control of his truck.”

Texas’s governor recently vetoed a law that would mandate a safe passing distance for cyclists, saying it was unnecessary.

This is one of the saddest, most senseless cyclist killings I’ve ever heard of.  If it’s manslaughter when the driver is drunk, then isn’t it manslaughter when the driver is distracted or texting or adjusting the radio?  MYSA News has run a few followup stories, like this one and this one, detailing Texas cyclists’ outrage at the lack of state legal protections.  Remember Denton resident, Nick Magruder, who was hit and run earlier this year, narrowly escaping with his life?  It didn’t make the newspaper headlines or blotter, and it also didn’t make the Traffic Safety Commission agenda.  Like most pressure for positive change, unfortunately it often takes tragedy with fatality to bring attention to where it’s needed the most.

BikePortland just ran a story on this and readers from all over America are commenting.

Rest in peace, Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler.

Bruehlers

Photo courtesy of Michelle Mondo and Eva Ruth Moravec of MYSA News.

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Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?

Via Freakonomics:

When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist’s fault — a result of reckless or aggressive riding. But an analysis of police reports on 2,752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Among the leading causes: running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist’s path, or opening a door on a biker. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise: motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes too.

This data, from David Tomlinson in Toronto, analyzed 2,572 cyclist/motorist collisions from 1997-1998 and found that cyclists were at fault less than 10% of the time.

The Project Freeride site also shows data that illustrates cyclists safety in numbers.  This figure depicting cycling ridership in the Netherlands from 1980-1998 shows a huge correlation between increased ridership and fewer fatal accidents.

A 30% increase in cycle traffic is associated with a two- third reduction in risk, e.g. a decrease of the total number of fatal cycling accidents


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Austin Cyclist Shot In Back With BB

Brad Urry

The Austin On Two Wheels blog reports that Brad Urry finally got his story out on KVUE that he was shot in the back with pellet gun on May 1st.

I could sense that something wasn’t right,” said Brad Urry, a high-tech worker who rides his bicycle at least twice a week.

Urry said, two people in a light-blue Prius shot him in the back with a pellet gun and kept going.

The half inch deep wound barely missed his spine.

“When they went by me they scrunched down in the seat so that I couldn’t see anything but the top of their heads,” said Urry.  “I wanted to catch them to find out what did I do to deserve this?  Why would you do this to another person and create such a situation where somebody could literally get killed?” questioned Urry. He told KVUE he wants others to be aware of their surroundings.

“Just be cognizant, pay attention when you’re out there because it caught me by surprise,” he said. “I thought I was aware of everything that was going on around me and this caught me 100 percent by surprise. Nothing to provoke the shooting.”

On a similar note, I was waiting to cross University/380 on my commute home from work yesterday.  I was behind one car, both waiting to cross.  A white Dodge Ram truck turned into the lot, and instead of going straight into the lot, the truck insisted on traveling diagonal to cut across the turn-in, which is exactly where I stood with my bike.  They laid on the horn, and angrily motioned for me to move.  In years past, I might have stood my ground and dealt with escalation, but I know better now.  It’s not worth it.  Like Urry says, focus on being cognizant and writing down the plate numbers.  In the past, when occupants of a van on Hwy 77 threatened to get out a gun and kill me, I was too freaked out to note the license plate.  Don’t make that mistake if you have any hope of justice.

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bikes vandalized near Fry st

At 7PM last Saturday night, some friends and I went to sit atop the Cool Beans’ roof and enjoy veggie burgers and a couple beers.  

Renee and I walked; the friends rode and parked their bikes in the rack at Riprocks across Hickory St.

When we came downstairs at 8PM, some friends on the Cool Bean’s patio mentioned that the bikes had been messed with.  We could see a tangled mess of bike frames with wheels and handlebars jutting out at odd angles.  We walked across the street and untwisted the two bikes to find that the nice Klein ladies’ road bike had the rear wheel completely taco’d.  Eyewitnesses reported that 4 guys at Riprocks finished a couple rounds, then 2 of them got up and started slamming the bikes around on the rack.  Our friends/eyewitnesses yelled at the vandals, and they yelled back “it’s OK, these belong to our friends!”

Yeah, right.  

Here’s the rear wheel as seen that night:

img_0270

The Riprocks bartenders said the same group of guys released some roid rage on the men’s bathroom by ripping the soap dispenser off the wall.  

Yes, we called the Denton Police.  Officer Don Lane showed up, surveyed the damage, remarked that a good bike shop could fix the wheel and that frames are almost impossible to damage, and then he filed a report.  We beg to differ on how easy it would be to damage frames, particularly the aluminum Klein road bike.  Now the Surly Long Haul Trucker, it has 4130 cromo steel genealogy in it’s favor.  

Supposedly these hooligans are from out of state, so they probably left Denton to go destroy bicycles elsewhere.  A UNT bicycle officer was simultaneously investigating and won us over with politeness and genuine concern.

Bicycle Path on the loop is re-using the Ultegra hub from the destroyed rim and building up a new wheel.  The Wald basket, well, it’s steel so we bent it mostly back into shape.  I’d guess anyone strong enough to mangle a Wald can bench press more than I can.  

The more Fry St becomes like 6th st in Austin, the less I like it.  Meanwhile, the square is kicking ass.

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