Legally shutting the fuck up with Bob Mionske

February 10, 2016 § 71 Comments

What a sanctimonious blowhard. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske wrote this smoking heap of dung for the bicycle rag factory mag VeloNews, admonishing us to obey the law and be model, upstanding bicycle citizens.

The basic premise is that by riding like scofflaws we make cagers hate us and do the greater cycling community a disservice. Then Miss Manners Mionske admonishes us that the madcap, out of control group ride “creates an enormous public-relations problem for us with the general public and with their legislative representatives.”

Bob then reminds us that, “We have a constitutional right to the road, as I established in my book ‘Bicycling & the Law.'” Founding Father Robert Mionske. Who knew?

Finally, we learn that adrenaline-soaked early season group rides in which someone gets hurt can result in *horrors* lawsuits. Having fallen asleep in his torts class for forty years, Professor Mionske belts us with this legal bugaboo: “Individual riders on group rides that have injured pedestrians, other cyclists or caused a motor vehicles to lose control have personally been sued. Because the injured party in these actions can rarely specify who caused their injuries they will name, in their suit, any riders they can identify from the group. Under a different theory of law lawsuits in these cases will also seek to attach legal liability to clubs, shops and even racing teams that are, in some way, affiliated with the group ride.”

In other words, just being the tongue-in-spokes wanker on the tail of the whip can send you to lawsuit hell where the aggrieved plaintiff will take everything you own.

Which leads to a reasonable question: Whose side is this asshole on?

It’s true, bicyclists shouldn’t break the law. Neither, Bob, should cagers. Or anyone, for that matter. That’s why they are called “laws” instead of “personal directives ordained by the Great Dictator.”

It’s not true that cagers hate us because we break the law. If that were true, cagers would hate each other, gun owners, and motorcyclists a million times more. Cagers mow us down with impunity because law enforcement treats dead cyclists as the price of doing business, cf. Milton Olin and hundreds of others.

Cyclists are hated because laws are arbitrarily enforced against us, and cagers know that they can abuse us and harm us and face little in the way of consequences. Mionske’s wholesale distribution of the canard that we are our own worst enemy is like the apologists who used to explain away the evils of segregation by telling people to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”

As for the crazed group ride in which every participant is a potential defendant, that is simply untrue. While it’s true that anyone can sue any other person any time for any reason, prevailing is a different matter. And what’s the solution? Stop riding in groups just because one or two yahoos ride like idiots? Newsflash: Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines a group ride as “A conglomeration of idiots on wheels.”

The real solution to bad group behavior is the one that Lawyer Mionske refuses to consider because he himself is so afraid of lawsuits–starting each group ride with a little speech. I’ve seen the guys at BCCC do it every ride. They go over the route, introduce any newcomers, and let people know what’s expected of them. Eventually people get the message and the rides acquire a certain discipline.

The down side is that the person who steps up and gives the speech really does become a potential target, as he could be sued as a “promoter” of the ride. But so what? Are you going to live your life in fear of lawsuits, Bob? And aren’t you a lawyer? And don’t you feel personally responsible for the people you ride with? Are you such a chicken-ass that you can’t do what Mike Norris of our local Wheatgrass Ride does–give a talk each week to warn people about going slow in certain areas and riding with safety in mind?

If every group ride started with a little speech, yes, there would be some incremental increase in litigation risk for the speaker (greatly reduced when the speaker reminds everyone that this is an informal ride, that the speaker isn’t the promoter, and that everyone there voluntarily assumes the risk of catastrophic injury and death), but overall the rides would be much safer. The Nichols Ride in L.A. cries out for this kind of leadership, as do many others.

Instead of blaming cyclists for being victims and exhorting responsible people to avoid group rides because of the risk of litigation, Bob needs to go to Oz, get a pair of courages, and be a leader. Maybe then his status as a former 7-11 rider in the 80’s might actually be something more than a marketing hook.

END

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§ 71 Responses to Legally shutting the fuck up with Bob Mionske

  • Brian in VA says:

    Well said, WM. Most of the club rides here (RABA) start with a quick speech by the ride leader and the result, I believe, is better behavior. At least, among the riders. I sometimes wish I could provide a similar speech for everyone as they get in their cars……

    • fsethd says:

      Exactly. And the overwhelming number of cyclists killed in collisions are law abiding. Mionske’s “run away” strategy is nothing but a space-filling advertorial for his work as a Founding Father at the Constitutional Convention of 1789.

  • Spinner says:

    Mionske was a good rider in his day (did he dope??? Unknown…). With that said, I also thought his “piece” in Velonews was shit. You hit it on the head, Seth, when you compared his comments to the old Dixie. Blame the victim etc. We should have a talk before we “group” ride here but the only thing that will cause a pre-ride rant is when a fool shows up without a helmet….

    • fsethd says:

      Yes, he was a very good rider. So were a bunch of other people. Too bad he’s taken the tack of blaming cyclists for cager negligence and violence. So true about helmet ranting. Better to attack fellow riders than lay out a safe game plan.

  • g in WV says:

    Thanks. Well said! I’m pretty surprised at how popular this anti-group ride attitude is becoming among cyclists. I’m sure BM’s article, and others like it, contribute to that feeling. For our local “hammer ride”, I post the weekly reminder via email group. I copy/paste the ride details which include route info and safety reminders. I also repeat, several times, that I am NOT the ride leader, and that there really isn’t a ride leader. I guess it’s the electronic version of a pre-ride speech. The ride happens all season regardless of who shows up, but I do wonder sometimes if I’m leaving myself open to some kind of lawsuit.

    I guess I’ll always be a strong believer in the group ride. It’s certainly how I learned to ride comfortably in tight, fast groups many, many years ago.

    • fsethd says:

      There’s always some risk of liability. You can reduce it by either not showing up (Mionske’s approach), cowering and pretending you’re not there, or stepping up and trying to build consensus over a period of weeks, months, and years. Telling people that you are not the “promoter” can help reduce your risk, and giving the speech in person before each ride helps a bit more. Also remind everyone that they are “assuming the risk of catastrophic injury and death” by participating, and that no provision has been made for their safety or protection since it is an unorganized, informal ride. There’s no perfect solution, but I agree with you about the value of group rides. They are how values are shared, people are brought into the fold, and skills are taught.

      It’s also instructive that Mionske finds the group ride bad now that he’s no longer one of the young guns able to drive the pace … grumpy old farts ruin everything.

  • Dessicated Old Man says:

    Why are you presenting us with a false choice? While it is true that drivers think they can cause us harm with little risk to themsleves, it is also true that drivers think that bicyclists are scofflaws. It’s not one or the other, because both are true. They are both byproducts of the notion that bikes don’t belong on “their” roads.

    As to who are the real scofflaws, I think it’s a toss up. I would say that drivers consistently break the law by exceeding the speed limit. And that cyclists consistently break the law by blowing through stop signs. So can anyone really claim the moral high ground?

    • fsethd says:

      No, they can’t. It’s not about who’s the bigger scofflaw. Most cyclists are law abiding, and most motorists are, too. The issue is that cyclists are injured and killed with relative impunity by motorists. This failure to enforce the laws when cyclists are killed and injured means that motorists have little reason to take the extra care required to keep us off their hoods.

      You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cyclist who doesn’t think cars belong on the roads. I’ve never met one.

      And it’s not a false choice. You can ride however you want, but don’t think that by obeying the rules you’re somehow winning over the enemy. The only way to win over people who don’t value your life is to consistently, over a period of years, equally enforce the laws.

      In the meantime, if you feel strongly about group riding behavior, you need to take ownership and leadership and be an agent of change.

    • darelldd says:

      Calling it an equal “toss up” because both cyclists and motorists break some laws sometimes, is similar to considering it an equal offense to be caught on school grounds with a slingshot and no pebbles vs being caught with a loaded semi-automatic rifle and extra clips of hollow-point rounds. The potential for death and injury of whatever “scofflaw” behavior we are talking about is excruciatingly important to consider when we wish to make everybody safer. It is why we don’t generally have death sentences handed down for parking violations.

      And something I’ve noticed that I think also fits into this conversation: The only thing that annoys non-cyclist drivers more than a cyclist who breaks the law, is a cyclist who abides by the law.

      A group riding (legally) in the middle of the road? Check. A group of cyclists who create gridlock by each one (legally) stopping at a stop sign to wait for proper right of way? Check. Now… how many cyclists get annoyed at motorists who abide by the law? I don’t know one. And to take it the final step – how many cyclists are injured or killed by motorists who abide by the law? Again, I don’t know of one. And how many motorists are injured or killed by cyclists no matter WHAT the heck the cyclist is doing? For a third time – I don’t know one.

      None of this is even remotely equal. And we do everybody a disservice if we pretend it is merely a tossup.

      OK. Off my box. Thanks for asking the question.

      • Waldo says:

        There was a guy chasing a Strava KOM in San Francisco, who, running a red light, killed a pedestrian.

      • fsethd says:

        Yes, and he’s being punished. Milton Olin was killed while lawfully cycling in a legal bike lane by a texting sheriff’s deputy who faced no charges.

      • darelldd says:

        @ Waldo. Yeah. Not an armored motorist. Clearly errant cyclists can cause harm if they really, really put their mind to it. So can another pedestrian. But for the very reason we keep hearing about this one incident, we know that it happens so rarely as to be statistically insignificant. And the news coverage on this! Wow it was huge. Cyclists are a menace! Yet when a car runs down a cyclists… oh well. The cyclist put himself in harm’s way by being on the road. Why is it that we never hear this about a pedestrian killed while crossing the street legally?

      • fsethd says:

        Just wrapped up a case with a cyclist who was legally riding in a legal bike lane when a driver unlawfully drove into the bike lane and clipped him with his mirror. Cager blamed the cyclist and tried to leave the scene. The argument that we are victims because we are scofflaws is untrue.

      • Waldo says:

        You guys are preaching to the choir. On Saturday, I was rear-ended in a left-turn lane by a driver who tried to go straight (through me). The car sustained no damage, me–not so much…

    • Peter says:

      This is sort of what bothers me, though.

      Basically, if I mention bicyclists riding through stop signs or stop lights or otherwise breaking the law, I’ll get an earful about how cars do it, too.

      Fair enough. Cars do it, too. But here’s where I see the difference.

      Suppose the police put a cruiser at a stop sign and ticket road users (cars and bicycles) who run the stop sign. Most drivers will accept the ticket, pay the fine, maybe go to traffic school if there’s an issue with points on their license, and accept that they should have stopped. If there’s any argument, it will be generally about the visibility of the stop sign (“I didn’t see it!”).

      If a cyclist gets stopped for running a stop sign, “Oh My God! We’re being oppressed by the man! Cars do it, too! It’s not fair! We shouldn’t have to stop for stop signs because we have better visibility! Why are the cops picking on cyclists when there’s real crime out there!? We should be encouraging cycling, not penalizing cyclists!”

      …and, in the next breath, cyclists will talk about how vulnerable they are out there. But suggest that following traffic laws might make them safer? “Absolutely not! It’s up to the driver of the two-ton death machine to make sure that a cyclist breaking the law doesn’t get killed! After all, if they weren’t there, the cyclist wouldn’t get killed!”

      Don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of idiot drivers out there. There are plenty of cyclists out there who are obeying all the rules and some stupid driver kills them. And for those drivers, hell yes, throw the book at them. Heck, I’d like to see the book include harsher penalties!

      But the whole, “Cars do it, too!” is no excuse.

      • Serge Issakov says:

        When a motorist runs a stop sign the safety of others is being risked. When a cyclist runs a stop sign, that’s not the case, not by several orders of magnitude. That’s why cyclists are more upset if they get a ticket for running a stop sign while cycling than while motoring. Besides, Idaho.

        But that’s not the point. The reason cyclists say “but cars do it too” is usually in response to some ridiculously sanctimonious criticism of “scofflaw cyclists”, as if scofflaw cycling is a problem that causes anyone any serious problems. Yeah, sure, cyclists probably tend to roll stops more than motorists, but motorists tend to speed, tailgate and violate other’s right of way more. Much more. And, again, you can’t even compare the consequences (to others) of scofflaw motoring to scofflaw cycling. Saying “cars to it too” is not an excuse. It’s an appropriate response to hyperbole.

        I’m 55 years old and have driven over half a million miles. Never has a single cyclist on the roadway caused me any significant problem. Dealing with cyclists on the roadway is trivially easy, and if anyone has an issue with it, they really need to go back to driving school.

      • fsethd says:

        Exactly.

        Yes, we run stop signs. Yes, they kill thousands. So … which is the bigger problem?

      • Judy F says:

        I think this is really not the case. I don’t hear cyclists whining when they get a ticket for jumping a light or a stop sign, they deserve it. It’s when the city goes and tells the Sheriff’s dept that they should come down hard on cyclists while not enforcing what is a lot more dangerous.. close passes by motorists. And actual aggressive harassment with a weapon. They do whine about getting tickets for things that are actually legal.. like riding 2 abreast in a narrow lane or in an actual bike lane.

      • fsethd says:

        I hear lots of people whining about lots of things. But I don’t hear any cagers whining about getting killed or maimed by cyclists. Ever.

      • darelldd says:

        Serge and Judy nailed it!

      • fsethd says:

        … again.

      • fsethd says:

        Spend a day in traffic court and then let’s talk again about whether or not cagers accept responsibility for their transgressions.

  • RG Worthy says:

    Portland, Oregon is renown as a bike-friendly town. Sure, there are incidents where motorists intimidate, maim and even kill cyclists. But overall, cyclists and motorists seem to accept each other.

    There are many reasons for this sort of “truce,” but one of them is the tireless bike advocacy of Rose City lawyers like Ray Thomas and Bob Mionske, among others. They do a tremendous service to the cycling community. They hold clinics. They lobby the legislature. They help their injured cyclist clients get justice against the bad guys. And they do their best to persuade their brethren to obey the law, be mindful of others on the road, use common sense, and ride like an ambassador of the sport.

    It’s healthy to debate the merits of a particular strategy for protecting cyclists from injury (or litigation or both). But, Seth, come on, youre one of the smartest people I know: do you really need to call Bob Mionske, a true bad ass in his day, and a fierce advocate today, a chicken ass pussy simply because you disagree with his ideas?

    • LesB says:

      In California it can be accurately said, “Sure, there are incidents where motorists intimidate, maim and even kill cyclists. But overall, cyclists and motorists seem to accept each other.”

      Though it’s mostly the axxhole cagers that glow in our minds, most cagers are friendly to cyclists. That’s my experience. Often when I’m at a stop sign a cager with the legal right-of-way will sign the go-ahead to me. Presumably, the cager realizes that stopping for a sign while on a bike is a kinda PitA. It’s just basic courtesy, which cagers don’t display to each other often enough.

      As for the hostile cagers, I believe this explains the primary source of the phenomenon:
      There are angry people in the world. Period. With a load of repressed anger from childhood, they are looking for outlets for their anger since they are not about to regard the true source of the anger. Some dude out on a $10K bike decked out in his lingerie will certainly set off such a cager’s anger. A group of cyclists? Grrrrr. A cyclist taking the lane in accordance with the CVC? Grrrr, pitbull!

      Angry people gonna be angry.

    • fsethd says:

      Well … how would you feel about someone in the asbestos plaintiff’s bar telling mesothelioma victims that part of their problem was their own bad decision to join the navy or work in a boiler room?

      Re-read his piece. It is ill-conceived, badly written, proposes undefined bad law, blames the victim, takes credit for establishing constitutional rights, and suggests that the solution is to run away from group rides that are out of control, rather than work with the group and try to rein it in.

      I’d be more than happy to edit my verbiage (I didn’t use the word “pussy,” by the way) if you’d like to suggest some alternatives that reflect the demerits of this very bad piece of influential writing.

    • Judy F says:

      Portland has the most dangerous infra where cyclists get hooked in safe green bike box cages

  • William Stone says:

    RG Agro: A whisper from the Aspen of the North West. A voice of temperance is to endorse the destruction of America-build a wall I say and make cyclists pay for it.

  • Winemaker says:

    I think I need a glass of wine.

    • fsethd says:

      Only one?

      • Jim in NC says:

        I have not read the Mionske piece in Velo. That said, there is certainly a context whereby “an oppressed minority” (in this case, cyclists) might combine vigorous assertion of its legal and human rights with an eye toward winning the respect, trust, and confidence of the majority culture. The notion that cyclists don’t frequently do stupid shit out on the road, and that this stupid shit doesn’t prejudice majority culture against us to our detriment, is ridiculous. Acknowledging that our own behavior has a role to play in causing– and fixing– our misfortunes viz drivers (why the demeaning, belligerent “cagers?” Most cyclists also drive) in no way equates to accepting second-class citizenship.

      • fsethd says:

        They might, and many do. It’s not enough, however. And since their oppression is caused not by their behavior but by prejudice and the unfair enforcement of the law, by focusing on cyclist behavior you are trying to cure a minor symptom without addressing the cause of the disease.

      • darelldd says:

        >> Acknowledging that our own behavior has a role to play in causing– and fixing– our misfortunes <<

        I really don't believe this is the case. And the reason for my belief is found in what I've posted here earlier:

        The only thing that annoys non-cyclist drivers more than a cyclist who breaks the law, is a cyclist who abides by the law.

        What this means is that even if cyclists were to model PERFECT, legal behavior, non-cycling motorists will be ticked off. We see it every day. If I'm riding in the road conscientiously, safely and legally, I am going to tick off a motorist. The motorist would rather that I was riding in the park, or off in the weeds or somewhere that he doesn't have to consider me a "road user." So I don't see how our behavior fixes the problem of many motorists figuring that we're a problem just because we exist. Wearing Spandex seems to rile them up even more… so I suppose wearing T-shirts and jeans could help a bit.

      • fsethd says:

        Yes, and acknowledging that the “scofflaw” behavior is minority behavior, that the biggest problem is unequal enforcement of the law and prejudice against cyclists, and taking an active role in changing the culture of group rides that exhibit scofflaw behavior–not abandoning them.

      • Serge Issakov says:

        darelldd – nailed it.

      • Waldo says:

        Cyclists’ lives matter, dammit!

      • fsethd says:

        Double yep.

  • dangerstu says:

    Some times I see a rider, and I think how the fuck are you still alive, ie how did you make it through kindergarten, not just this far on your ride, I’m not talk some group ride faux pas, I mean like drunk, stoned, none specific partner just left them death wish bat shit crazy riding, this happens once every couple of years and then and only then can I see some justification in the view that, the person isn’t perhaps representing cycling in the best possible light.

    On the other hand maybe Mr Monkey, has seen how Mr Trump is doing, and thought genius, I’ll make some stupid shit up and get some free publicity.

  • becomingblue says:

    If the consistent enforcement of the law will ultimately keep cagers from running down cyclists, then I guess no laws are consistently applied for any offense currently on the books. Crime is rampant. All types of crimes. Why should I be hopeful this alone will change minds or actions?

    It’s very helpful, but so are other methods. I don’t believe other methods should be stifled. Nobody KNOWS what is going to solve the problem of cyclists getting run down. It’s all speculation. But others are putting ideas and actions into to play to try and reduce it: lawyers going after the offender, riders not doing stupid stuff on the road, riding with lights during the day, etc. I don’t dismiss what you do to try and make this shit safer, but there’s other things that should be considered.

    Thanks!

    • darelldd says:

      I certainly agree that along with consistent enforcement of existing laws should come *practical and prudent* enforcement of those laws. But even more important for me: That we create laws that make sense and are relevant to the chosen transportation device. Pedestrians use our roads, and they are not treated like two-legged cars. Cyclists are closer to pedestrians in size, weight and speed, as well as connection to their surroundings – yet cyclists are treated like little, slow cars. And not like faster pedestrians. A pedestrian is not compelled by law to stop or even slow before crossing an empty stop-signed intersection. They don’t need lights or reflectors at night. They don’t need to signal their intention to turn or stop or back up. Why do we suppose pedestrians on the street are not treated like two-legged cars?

    • fsethd says:

      Agreed.

  • Serge Issakov says:

    This is why we pay you.

    I’ve seen this piece passed around on Facebag and in email as if it said something valuable. Thanks for the, uh, clarification.

    • Serge Issakov says:

      Speaking of clarification, by “this piece” I meant Mionske’s piece.

      • fsethd says:

        Of course, the suggestion that my writing contains little that is useful isn’t a wholly bad argument, either …

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, Serge.

      It’s so rude to rudely rudify Old School Racing Heroes Whose Words Are Holy And Blessed By The Jerseys Of Wool.

      The Facebag happy share was exactly what lit my fuse. “Let us all ponder the wise wisdomness of this Portland Yogi Constitutionalistic Founding Father,” etc.

      So I pondered, and there you have it.

  • Mario Obejas says:

    Oy.

    Nothing excuses lax laws or societal norms about drivers who harm cyclists and suffer little cost from it. So don’t read any of this as an argument there, we agree on this point.

    Most of us follow most of the laws – and yet almost all of us break the stop sign laws most of the time. We have our varying rationales, heavily weighted by “am I clipped in?” and momentum preservation concerns. I draw some hard lines: I am an adherent of never ever going through a red light, I can wait. But I also am willing to go do an Idaho stop at a stop sign *if* I think there is no one around.

    Chuck Watson had an interesting post ride conversation on point with me where Chuck challenged my moral consistency on the above. I have to admit, it’s an arbitrary line.

    Fact is that sometimes there are people who see me blow the stop but I didn’t see them. The potential harm is that I’ve just added more evidenceto some one else’s growing resentment toward cyclists as a scofflaw group.

    What I think I personally want to model is – at minimum – to not add to the background radiation of Road Rage. But I also want to add to the view that I’m a real person, not the stereotyped douchebag spandex warrior they expected. Every time we destroy the stereotype, its a win for us and our safety. To wit, three things I strive to do:

    1. When I yell “stopping!” and then stop the group because there is a walker in the crosswalk (even though we could get around them), it signals to the walker that that we care more about them than our momentum, and especially so since in this case I’m the party who can harm them more.
    2. When I stop at a Red Light, even when it’s a T Intersection and there is no real safety issue with continuing through it, it signals to the driver also stopped next to me that I don’t think I’m better than him.

    and finally, since those are about avoidin being a douche, here’s something I do that some of my friends think is silly but I think it helps:
    3. When I am at a light and notice a driver with a dead brake light, I will take the time if possible to alert them to that fact. Almost universally, the reaction on their face goes from “What does this guy want?”, to “Thank you, I didn’t know!”. And it becomes one little interaction that makes me a helpful human being in their eyes, not just a faceless stereotype.

    • fsethd says:

      Being nice don’t cost you nothin’. There’s a blog post on that somewhere.

    • darelldd says:

      >> There are plenty of cyclists out there who are obeying all the rules <<

      Here's my deal: We need to stop talking about following "all the rules". It doesn't happen. Even those mysterious cyclists and drivers we hear about who "follow all the rules" don't. One simply can't reasonably get anywhere without breaking a law. In the town north of here, it is illegal to ride a bicycle without a kickstand. One of the reasons we always break the law is that the "law" is as thick as an old-fashioned phone book (plus the municipal codes), and nobody knows all the laws. So there's precious little chance that anybody is following all of them. We know about speeding and stopping though, don't we? So if we find somebody stopping, we get all excited and hand out the "he's following all the rules" card. Here's the thing: The rules/laws don't matter.

      What? You can't be serious.

      I am. We need to be talking about safety and courtesy. Turns out that it doesn't matter if a road user rolls safely through a stop sign as long as she's not taking the right of way from somebody else. And in so doing, she may very well be *increasing* the convenience of all road users. If a 30 member peleton descends on a busy 4-way stop intersection and each one of the team waits to take his turn through the intersection – is everybody safer? And is everybody convenienced? Nope. But guess what? The law is being followed. Huh.

      If we prioritize safety and courtesy, we barely even need rules, it seems. The rules are really for the people who can't figure for themselves that we're all worse off if we're all selfish about the use of the road.

      Now, just one more point for me to belabor: The laws/rules/punishment for traffic infractions should NOT be the same for cars and cyclists.

      Wait! Don't we all want the same rules and responsibilities?

      No. We do not. Because it makes no sense. The responsibilities and liabilities are wildly different, and so is the size/speed/weight/visibility/hearing involved. Why we treat bicycles like slow, two-wheeled cars is beyond me. People driving cars can and do kill others with a sneeze or momentary inattention, or, of course intentionally. And we drive these things with all senses compromised. It isn't quite so easy to kill somebody on a bike, and it very rarely happens (national news when it does happen, right?). To put this concept into perspective, let's say that it is illegal to bring a weapon to school. One kid brings a slingshot with no rocks, and another brings an automatic rifle with extra clips. Should the rules and punishment be the same? I'm thinking no. And the death-inflicting potential difference between cars and bikes is similar.

      Following the rules doesn't make us safer. Being safer makes us safer.

      Anyway… too many words. Sorry.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Catching up (maybe) here…
    Read the Mionske piece. He has some good points– bad cyclist behavior is not good public relations. But– BUT– bad cyclist behavior *creating* “a enormous public-relations problem”? Wholly Bad Word Choice, Batman…

    Nope. This is a pecking-order power problem, a “lowest form of life on the (transportation, in this case) food chain” problem. Exists everywhere in nature, always has. So, whattya do about it?

    Automatic “at-fault” laws could help protect cyclists. And pedestrians, who don’t fare any better at the hands of police and in the courts, by and large.

    I tend to repeat the gist of a couple of conversations I had with Amsterdam-ers (in Amsterdam): “Hit a cyclist with your motor vehicle here, and when the cops get through with you, then you have to go deal with the insurance company”– or, “companies”– yours and theirs. And the head shake that indicated which would be worse…

    • fsethd says:

      Totally agree. In the meantime, rather than avoiding the group rides that Mionske so pillories, people need to step up and give “The Speech.” Things only change internally when people lead internally.

      According to Mionske’s logic, the bizarre law being proposed in South Dakota must be from all of the scofflaw group rides up there. Both of them. With three riders.

      https://momentummag.com/south-dakota-bill-would-require-cyclists-to-dismount-for-passing-cars/

      • Judy F says:

        That attempt has already basically been killed in SD.

      • fsethd says:

        Yes, but it’s a great example of crazy proposed legislation that has nothing to do with the antics of scofflaw group rides.

      • Serge Issakov says:

        “It’s a great example of crazy proposed legislation that has nothing to do with the antics of scofflaw group rides.”

        A point that cannot be overemphasized. Dealing with all the self-hatred within the cycling community these days is exhausting.

        Yes, we should discourage scofflaw behavior because it is unsafe and/or can earn you a ticket, BUT NOT BECAUSE IT IS BAD PR.

        Rule of thumb: if you’re angry at a cyclist for what they did you’re missing the point. Scofflaw motorists endangers others (killing upwards of 30,000 per year), but the scofflaw endangers only himself (practically speaking; not counting the one exception where a cyclist hits and kills a pedestrian so rare it makes nationwide headline news when it happens). Since the cyclist is only endangering herself, why are you angry with her? Do you also get angry at morons who choose to play Russian Roulette? Of course not. Why get angry at Darwin Award contestants on bikes?

        When people get angry at cyclists ostensibly for their scofflaw behavior, that’s just a lame excuse. What they’re really angry about is that they might have to check their mirrors and use their steering wheel, or, God Forbid, maybe even have to move their right foot over to the brake momentarily.

      • Tom Paterson says:

        Disagree with mirror checking, etc. or cyclists being a particular target. Whatever the background (foundation, emotional baggage, “reasoning”, etc.), MV driver anger comes from being delayed. Be honest, check your own reactions when you drive.
        Cyclists are not “special” here, see “road rage”– angry honking at the slightest provocation, on up to bloody mass-mayhem.
        The driver is an “us”, “them” is everyone and everything else.

        Also disagree with “self-hatred”: scofflaw riding (blowing stop signs especially I think) is very bad PR that should be discouraged, exactly because it is bad PR, right in front. Beyond that, there is a human aspect, in that many drivers fear irrational, abrupt acts by cyclists that might result in a non-avoided collision. I screwed up the other day and mis-timed a lane change, myself. And apologized, you bet. Me of all people!

        If you race or raced, and had good teaching, one cornerstone skill you were taught was to make your moves in the pack in a way that others had time to react to them– to be predictable (short of the sprint or other “tactical moments”, of course). Same deal on the road, amongst the MV’s. Respect, consideration for others. Eye contact (with caution!), signals, whatever it takes to make your intent known… some people call it “being nice”.

      • fsethd says:

        I’ve had too many people confess they hate cyclists to discount that as a factor. When I drive I don’t mind slowing down because I’m never in a hurry, except to keep on living.

      • Tom Paterson says:

        Understood, and not discounting good ol’ bike-hatred either. It sure does exist.
        I’m impatient, but I keep a lid on it and also keep my windows rolled up with the AC on when it’s warm, for secure and polite venting.

      • fsethd says:

        Secure venting!!

      • fsethd says:

        Yes, yes, and more yes.

        *Dog forbid.

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