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STP: Riders need to obey rules of the road

Letter by Jill A. Milner, Spanaway on July 7, 2011 at 11:18 am with 14 Comments »
July 7, 2011 2:19 pm

It is that time again: Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic weekend. That means bicyclists will once again overflow the roads, ignoring traffic signals, clogging up intersections, riding multiple bicycles abreast so that cars (whose owners pay for the upkeep of the roads with their taxes) have to go slow and be put at risk because of the cyclists’ selfish behavior.

A couple of STPs ago, I had my daughter and young grandson in my car, and we were heading down one of the rural roads that was overflowing with the STP riders. There were four abreast to our right and all of a sudden, one of the riders close to the edge of the pavement swerved into his or her riding buddies. Then, like dominos, they bounced into each one to their left.

The result was a female face-planting onto the pavement (in the middle of our lane), and her head was almost run over by the vehicle pulling a trailer in front of us. I was doing my best to drive safely, so I had just enough time to swerve into the oncoming lane (thank God no cars were there) to avoid running her over.

Riders who plan to participate: Please, for once, obey the road rules. If you can’t, don’t participate.


Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. Omega6234 says:

    Ya, women cant ride bikes either… but do i not have to pay taxes to upkeep the roads if i ride a bike??? I think not. I take it your at least 65 and have nothing better to do than complain about a once in a year event that over 10,000 people have fun doing.

  2. KARDNOS says:

    “I take it your at least 65″

    Spoken like a genius. I take it YOUR 65 is probably IQ.

    I agree with the letter writer. Two abreast is plenty with the narrow lanes provided.

    I live on a major bicycling road and have to dodge ignorant riders weekly, not just once a year.

  3. Obvious Omega6234 is one the bike riders that think they don’t have to follow the rules. I’m not 65 and neither is my IQ. I for 1 which this event would end!

  4. madmike272 says:

    Team Spandex always has, and always will ignore any law they deem fit to ignore! I have never seen a bigger bunch of self-absorbed pihneads in my life!

  5. beerBoy says:

    Mob mentality is never very rational.

    Just because there are a whole bunch of you doesn’t mean the laws of physics have changed – a collision between a car and a bike will always be won by the car – obey the laws.

  6. Omega6234 says:

    TOOCAN, that is an assumption with no proof behind it. I obey the laws and i am sure 90% of the bike riders do to. As a matter of fact i see more drivers breaking laws everyday than i do bikers.

    KARDNOS… prove me wrong.

  7. beerBoy says:

    Omega –

    I ride. There are bike riders (especially in mob events like STP) who give the rest of us a bad name. Get over yourself.

  8. spungamy says:

    Just a few comments from a bicyclist. First I want to point out that most cyclists also drive, and just like with drivers there are the good, bad, and indifferent. My experience is that most people ride like they drive. If they are cautious drivers who carefully follow all of the laws, come to a complete stop at stop signs, never go above the speed limit, etc, they will bike accordingly. On the other hand, if they fly in and out of lanes, go through lights that are more “orange” than yellow, and are otherwise reckless, guess how they’ll ride? For the record, the vast number of poor road users that I’ve seen are drivers of cars; others may have had a different experience, but I’ve seen far more people cut me off in their cars, speed through intersections, almost run me over when I’m walking through my crosswalk (with the light in my favor), etc than bicyclists making poor riding choices. Again, this is highly subjective, but that’s been my experience.

    I will confess that the tax comment gets under my skin a bit. This is because as was pointed out, drivers are not the only ones who pay taxes for road maintenance. My primary vehicle is my bicycle; I also own a car, however, and pay fees related to my car, sales tax, income tax, and other taxes that contribute to road maintenance on a federal, state, or local level. This is the case for all of the adult bicyclists that I know of as well.

    My suggestion: why not regard the STP as being like a parade, or a race? Most people take it for granted that roads will be closed for the Sound to Narrows race, the Daffodil parade, street fairs, and so on, and people generally don’t complain even though major roads such as Pacific Avenue and Ruston Way will be closed for multiple hours. Yes, the STP blocks up some of the roads; no matter how wisely the racers ride, the sheer fact that 10,000 people are participating in the ride means that traffic will be blocked to some extent one way or another (this would happen whether participants were on foot, on bike, in cars, on skateboards…). Our area will be affected for part of Saturday, and that’s all. Unless you live on one of the roads where the STP passes, just avoid those areas for the day, and drive slowly if you can’t get around it. Sunday morning breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over for another year and leave it at that.

  9. beerBoy says:

    spungamy – if and when STP pulls parade permits for the entire route (and pays for all the extra security and clean-up that parades have to to get those permits) then I will think of it as a parade.

  10. spungamy says:

    beerBoy: My point wasn’t to make an exact comparison. The STP is clearly not going to be just like the Daffodil parade. For that matter, frustrating as it is to have traffic moving slowly on the roads the route runs (especially for those who live in the areas they ride through), it would be worse to have them completely blocked off like roads are for a parade (although some of the safety concerns that have been aired might be better if the roads were closed off).

    My point was that there are a number of events in our area that clog up traffic or else stop it entirely in some areas. I used to work at the zoo, so I can tell you that there are a large number of races, walks, and so on in the Ruston Way/Point Defiance area each year that close the park down for half the day and make transportation fiendish. A yearly marathon goes right in front of my house, one which has a bit of security provided but if I remember correctly the roads aren’t completely shut down so the cars and runners have to work around each other for at least part of the route. None of these things are convenient.

    The comparison I was trying to make was that just as people deal with other events involving road blockages, large numbers of participants milling around, etc, by saying, “Oh, well, it’s just for [part of] a day. It will be over by tomorrow,” they can do the same with the STP. If you have a concern about riders violating the law or safety issues, bring it up with the group that sponsors the ride. The kvetching that tends to appear before or after the STP (including blatantly false claims such as the original letter’s implication that only car drivers pay taxes to maintain roads, and exaggerations such as the claim that “Team Spandex” always ignores the law) only serves, as far as I’ve seen, to inflame both sides and make it harder to do the road sharing that whether people like it or not has to happen.

  11. Let us also not forget that bicycles have been on the “road” much longer than automobiles. I saw a few examples of riders not obeying the traffic laws…but there were these people in funny costumes carrying sidearms sporting traffic safety vests waving the cyclists through intersections where the traffic lights were clearly red. All throughout the course, I saw similarly-lad folks doing the same thing. It was curious.

    Yes, I was one of team-spandex and with my three vehicles, I do pay my fair share of taxes (sales, fuel, license, etc.) for the use of the roads. I am courteous…plenty more than the folks in the blue 4-door who “encouraged” 71-year old Ron Wingerson last week.

    I ride single-file because I like to use it as an advantage – two riders can move faster, longer when riding one behind the other as they share the same wind envelope. This is called drafting and it truly works. The letter writer mentioned an accident that occurred due to riders being 4 abreast. That same accident occurs in single-file lines which renders her point moot. I am wondering how much celebrating she did when she enjoyed the face-plant. I see that she made no mention of rendering assistance to the face-planted female cyclist. How closely was she following the trailer rig, by the way? Did she not leave enough spacing so as to make the situation worse?

    We all understand Ms. Milner’s frustration with those scofflaws who ride the infernal machines. They are a nuisance and should be banned from OUR roads.

  12. slugoxyz says:

    Spung. Are you new to the blogs? The only reason I ask is that you are trying to talk sense to BeerBoy. Many have tried and it is a bit too much like mud wrestling with a pig. You both get filthy but the pig likes it. You make completely valid points but you cannot, I repeat, cannot expect bB to agree. You can either ignore him (most of us do) or continue to impart your wisdom on the rest of us who actually appreciate it.

  13. I wish to let GeeMan know that NO, we did not celebrate when that lady face planted in front of my car. My daughter burst into tears, my grandson started crying because his Momma was crying, I was grateful to have NOT run her over and the vehicle in front of me was one of the STP’s support vehicles and they DID stop to give her assistance. We did have enough room between the vehicle in front and I was trying to get around the four abreast group (we were going around 20 miles per hour at the time) and I was driving with extra care because I know that the STP riders don’t seem to comprehend that there are cars on the road along with them and I know car versus person on bicycle is an uneven match up. In England, where bicyclists are the majority rather than the minority, they DO pay an annual fee to use the roads. Also, in England, car drivers are required by law to give a cyclist a ten foot area between them and your motor vehicle. Having spent ten years stationed in England with the Air Force, I have always remembered that ten foot rule and apply it around bicyclists, but it is extremely trying to apply it to the 10,000 enthusiasts who mass onto the roads every year for the STP. Again, I am just grateful that we didn’t cause that female cyclist any harm. And, I was sorry to read about the STP rider who was injured in this years event.

  14. slugo – you aren’t doing a very good job of just ignoring me. But, since you dropped in to swine me in a discussion that had nothing to do with you – explain why my points are wrong.

    To reiterate:

    Riding bikes near cars is a very dangerous activity and riders must take care as drivers of cars are oftentimes stupid.
    Riding in large groups oftentimes leads to reckless, careless behavior.
    If STP wants to be treated as a parade then they need to pull permits like every other parade.
    I have witnessed large rides that have been conducted safely with bikers respecting the rules of the road (and physics) – there is no reason why STP can’t.

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