Call me crazy, but a free and open exchange of ideas benefits everyone

Oh I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused. — Elvis Costello, (All the Angeles Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes


I’m still working on that last part.

The past few weeks, I’ve focused on the situation on PCH in Malibu, where at least some local leaders seem to feel cyclists on PCH are a problem. Whether because a sizable percentage seem to be in the habit of running red lights, or simply because we’re in their way.

Or maybe because we exist.

Meanwhile, many PCH riders point to problems with bad road design, overly inflated and inadequately enforced speed limits, and self-entitled drivers who neglect the law and refuse to concede even a small portion of the roadway, regardless of what the law says. And point out that, as annoying as red light running cyclists may be, they have yet to result in a single death on PCH — unlike the long list of fatalities stemming from drivers behaving badly.

As part of that discussion, I’ve allowed Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Chris Frost, and lawyer and frequent PCH rider Stanley E. Goldich to address the issues from their own perspectives, unencumbered by any restrictions on my part.

And therein lies the problem.

I’ve spent the last few weeks fighting a backchannel battle with people who a) think that if I allow someone else to express their opinion on here, it somehow reflects my own thinking, and b) question why I would let them to say the things they did.

Let’s take the last part first.

When I allow someone else to write on here, I want them to feel free to express whatever they think. And so I promise to publish whatever they send me, with no editing, changes or comments on my part.

As long as they don’t get offensive or cross over into personal attacks, I stick to that — whether or not I agree with what their opinions. Anything else would be censorship, which is something I just don’t believe in.

And that takes us back to the first point.

The opinions other people express on here are theirs and theirs alone. I don’t tell them what to say any more than I tell them what to think.

And they may or may not reflect my own thinking on the matter.

For instance, having spoken with him at length, I don’t believe Chris Frost “seeks to misuse his position as a safety commissioner to threaten and punish cyclists who do not comply with his views and makes up facts to justify this,” as Goldich wrote.

I may disagree with any enforcement efforts that single out law-breaking cyclists without an equal or greater focus on dangerous drivers, who have the potential to cause far greater harm. But I truly believe Frost’s motivation stems from a concern for the safety of cyclists, and that he believes observing the law is the way to achieve that.

I also don’t believe, as Frost wrote, that we are under any obligation to be ambassadors for our sport or police it ourselves, any more than drivers need to police other drivers or operate their machines in a way that reflects positively on all motorists — as nice as that might be.

At the same time, experience has taught me that a driver’s experiences with cyclists — positive or otherwise — can influence how they treat other riders down the road.

It shouldn’t, but it does.

I’ve had too many discussions with drivers who apologized for their actions on the road, blaming it on anger at a rider they encountered minutes or miles earlier, to think otherwise.

But in each case, I respect the respective opinions of the writers. And believe that there’s something we can learn from them, whether I happen to agree or not.

I also believe in a free and open discussion of the issues. Because as unpleasant as it may be at times, that’s the only way we can see things from the other person’s perspective.

And reach a resolution that works for everyone.

And that you deserve the opportunity to see both sides, and decide for yourself.

As for last night’s discussion of the Malibu Public Safety Commission, word from PSC members is that it was a great meeting with an open discussion of both bike and driver safety. Meanwhile, at least some of the bicyclists in the room felt that their comments were ignored, and that the meeting was a waste of time.

Somehow, I’m not surprised.

………

American Tyler Farrar overcomes illness to ride the wheel of Mark Cavendish to victory in stage 5 of the Vuelta. Thor’s thunderbolt results in victory in stage 6, as Norwegian champion Thor Hushvod outsprints 70 other riders for the win. Philippe Gilbert leads the overall standings, with Igor Anton and Joaquin Rodriguez 10 seconds back; Franck Schleck and Nicolas Roche top the list of better known riders at 8th and 11th respectively, nearly a minute behind the leaders.

And next year’s new Luxembourg-based team will feature Schlecks on Treks.

………

A new survey shows 65% of Brits think biking is normal, and only 7% think cyclists are strange. And 43% wish they were on a bike while they sit stuck in traffic.

I’m not sure I want to know what a similar stateside survey would show.

………

Browne Molyneaux says the only acceptable bike lane is a separated bike lane, and what the hell does that three foot rule mean anyway? KCRW commentator Rob Long says L.A. doesn’t need transit, we all just need to drive a little faster. Uh, no. A Mill Valley woman pleads guilty to DUI after side swiping a cyclist, who was then hit by another car. Proof that bicyclists do pay for the roads we ride on, despite popular perceptions. A former space shuttle astronaut was killed riding his bike in New Mexico last month. More on the Boston CM cyclist pushed off his bike by a cop, then ticketed. Atlantic City police use a bait bike to catch a thief; what did they use for chum? Jared Leto rides the mean streets of SoHo. Tucson police crack down on bikes, but focus on more dangerous violations; an observer sees far more violations by drivers. A writer says more bikes at LSU means more idiots on bikes. An Oklahoma woman faces manslaughter charges for killing two cyclists and injuring another; two dozen people write to say what a nice person she is, but I wonder if her victims would agree. The singularly named Performance Bicycle — evidently, they only have one — teams with People for Bikes. A Kiwi writer notes a flip book you can carry with you to express your road rage, but asks isn’t that what your middle finger is for? And it’s bad enough when drivers are mad at us, now we have to worry about getting caught in the middle when they get mad at other drivers. A look at European — and Japanese — style vulnerable user laws that assign greater responsibility to the larger vehicle.

Finally, one more reason to ride, as Ferrari recalls their new $230,000 supercar because it can catch fire without warning.

Bikes hardly ever do that.

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