Just who has the right to the road?

I stumbled on some interesting letters to the editor this week.

The first got my attention because it came from a town I know well, a scenic bump in the road in the Colorado high country near Rocky Mountain National Park.

My Grandmother lived in Granby, Colorado for awhile back in the ‘30s; my mother spent a few summers working there as a waitress when she was a teenager. And I grew up camping with my parents on the shores of Grand Lake just outside of town.

So I was surprised to read this letter in the local newspaper.

As these things often go, she was writing in response to another letter, which in itself was a response to an earlier letter demanding that cyclists be licensed, insured and taxed.

You know, the usual bull. As if most adult cyclists don’t already have a driver’s license and pay the same taxes anyone else does. And don’t make a fraction of the demands on the road system — or cause a fraction of the harm — that cars and trucks do.

When their real point is, they just don’t want to share their precious roads with us. Because, we’re like, in the way and stuff.

Her point was that local roads simply aren’t big enough to accommodate both bikes and the large logging trucks like her husband drives, especially given Colorado’s new three-foot passing law. Sort of like one of those classic westerns, where someone would inevitably say “this town’s not big enough for both of us.”

And it wasn’t her, or her husband, she thought should be leaving.

That came as a surprise to me, because over the years, I’ve driven — and ridden — virtually every inch of that area. And never had any trouble sharing those roads with anyone.

Then again, her idea of sharing the road is for us to get the hell out of the way.

The funny thing is, those curvy mountain roads that she claims weren’t built to accommodate cyclists weren’t built to accommodate today’s large trucks, either. Most of those roads were built in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, when most cars were smaller and trucks were just a fraction of the size they are today.

In fact, I remember riding in the car with my father, stuck behind yet another semi-truck inching its way down a narrow mountain pass, and listening to him rant about how those damn trucks didn’t belong on narrow winding mountain roads.

Evidently, who belongs on the roadway depends entirely on your perspective.

And it’s not just bicyclists — or trucks — that backcountry drivers have to watch out for. There’s the problem of drivers frightened by the winding curves and steep drop-offs who insist on driving 20 or 30 miles below the speed limit. Or farm combines and tractors who crawl along at 10 or 15 mph as they move from one field to another.

And there’s always the possibility that a deer and elk, cow or fallen boulder that could be waiting in the middle of the road, hidden by the next curve.

But her problem isn’t with rocks or cows, farmhands or frightened flatlanders.

No, it’s just the selfish cyclists riding where they don’t belong who inhibit her husband’s ability to speed along mountain roads that weren’t designed for either one of them — yet can accommodate bikes a lot more easily, and with less wear and tear, than they can massive trucks.

So here’s the bottom line.

If you don’t have the skill or patience to share the road safely with other users — whether cars, trucks, skateboards, bikes, cows, pigs or pedestrians, in the mountains or on the streets of L.A. — you don’t belong on the road.


Whether you’re behind the wheel, or crouched over the handlebars.

Don’t like it? Get over it.

Because we’re not going away. And neither are they.


The Times offers a great profile of the brothers — and philosophy — behind Flying Pigeon; next month’s Dim Sum Ride sounds like the best one yet. NPR considers the new Bike Station being built in Washington DC. New York might have a great new bikeway system, if it wasn’t for those darn New Yorkers. Stomach-churning video of a Wisconsin state legislator running a red light and hitting a cyclist. A Minneapolis cyclist is killed in a rare bike on bike fatality. DC authorities remove a ghost bike without notifying cyclists or the family — and do nothing to prevent more in the future. A writer insists the cyclist/motorist divide created by Columbia, MO’s new anti-harassment law is narrowing; the comments that follow beg to differ. The Cycling Lawyer clearly explains why the Idaho Stop Law is a good idea; people like the Columbia commenters and the letter writer above are why it will probably never pass. WorldChanging presents your guide to bicycle infrastructure; Bikes Belong announces a new Bicycling Design Best Practices project. Jakarta’s Bike to Work club celebrates its 4th anniversary. Finally, Portland gets a new separated cycle track, and a nifty brochure to explain it.

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