Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More so-called advocacy...redux

Here's a post calling for cyclists to show up at a meeting in Cobb County, Georgia, in order to defend their right to use the public roadways. Apparently, there's a popular cycling route that some believe is unsafe - because cyclists ride two abreast. Can you imagine that? It can't possibly be safe...and it slows down it's definitely not safe...and sometimes a driver has to wait to go around a large group of those pesky it's obviously not at all safe for those bicycle riders to be on the let's make it safer by forcing them over onto the shoulder.

This has absolutely nothing to do with making driving more convenient. Nothing. Not at all. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

One truism I've learned from other advocates it this - policy is set by those who show up. This doesn't necessarily imply that it takes large numbers of people to influence public policy. It takes well-spoken, committed people who want to make a difference. And if only motorists show up, you can predict the outcome.

Attempts to restrict our rights are depressingly common, as this post from last week demonstrates. But the most egregious part of it - to me, anyway - is the role of so-called bicycling advocates buying into the hypocrisy about restricting our access for our own 'safety'. Jim Smith's version of bike advocacy (SAFE) is nothing more than a sock puppet for motorists.

"...As Jim Smith, chairman of the SAFE bike advocacy group, aptly put it, "Taking the road when there's a designated 5-foot bike lane is like declaring war.""

"Now SAFE is firing its own salvo at the boorish behavior, advocating for a state law requiring cyclists to ride in designated bike lanes where they exist and prohibiting them from riding side-by-side in those lanes."

SAFE is an obvious shell organization, a ruse to claim that cyclists themselves want these restrictions. But there are other advocacy groups that are best categorized as Uncle Toms, and apparently the Cob County organization is one of them.

There is a committee of cyclists that is allowing Cobb County to chip away at our rights because they are scared. ...We need to stand up to the Cobb County commissioners, Commissioner Thompson and the cyclist committee, who were not elected, are deciding what they think is right for us.

The cyclist committee is saying they agreed on a voluntary single file rule. Thompson and the homeowners are saying this will this be a county ordinance. I think both are dangerous and either will start to erode our rights to be on the roads.

...The law says we are allowed to be 2 abreast. While I always make room for motorists to pass me, I do not want a motorist coming up behind me and buzzing me because he incorrectly thinks I am in the wrong.

If it is to be an ordinance, as Thompson told the AJC and MDJ, then we are giving up rights granted us by the State of Georgia. State law says those rights can only come under local authority if we are provided dedicated and exclusive bike lanes, which we do not have on Columns. If we set precedence by allowing them to take our rights, they may just keep on doing it.

My good friend Gary says we have a responsibility to speak out when confronted with "toxic talk". When cyclists are threatened with restrictions to their basic right to use the public roads - those roads we ALL use, regardless of our transportation mode - we are obligated to speak up and speak up LOUDLY!

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Blogger Paul Tay said...

Speak out LOUDLY? Naaaaaaaaah. Why bother? It's too CONFRONTATIONAL, remember?

NOBODY likes a wise guy with a BIG mouth and a bike.

9:41 PM  
Blogger BikeCobb said...

Thanks for the link.

I circulated that letter, and started the blog, to help stir things up. I have received some heat from people on the committee, which is an informal group of people tossed together, as well as some support.

It is funny that one commissioner decides to try and hastily push something through, and a bunch of cyclists get scared and agree to let him if he will leave them alone. That is no way to handle a bully.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I'm glad to help even if it's only providing a link.

When a commissioner says he wants to put a prohibition in law, it's obviously far different from a 'voluntary' rule like the cycling committee proposed. And it's unlikely it would be so narrowly written as to apply to only that road and only that neighborhood. In other words, it would likely impact all roads and all cyclists in that county.

Georgia may differ, but here in Oklahoma a local government is free to adopt standards that are more restrictive than state law.

Texas has a legislator who tried to ban cyclists from all the farm-to-market roads (essentially all county roads) for their own 'safety'. And lots of communities have mandatory sidepath or single file laws. The obnoxious part of this stems from people with little or no knowledge of practical cycling who take it on themselves to write laws for the rest of us.

But it's certainly true that policy is set by those who show up, so try to galvanize area cyclists regarding that meeting. Also, it helps to be knowledgeable regarding bicycle law and best practices. therefore, I highly recommend you attend a LAB Road1 class if it's offered in your area, and consider getting certification as a cycling instructor. There is no substitute for education. It lends greater credibility. You may consider joining some of the bicycling advocacy lists also.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Upon the off-record suggestion of Tulsa Municipal Court, aka traffic court, Judge Gerald Hofmeister to consider another venue for bicycle advocacy, Santa will be performing a medley of stand-up sketches, song, and dance at the Looney Bin, 68th and Memorial, Wednesday nights, at 7:30 p.m.

It's really the only joint in this crap-ass town that'll have him. All Santa asks is the patrons be open-minded, courteous, and LAUGH, a lot. In return, he will TRY to keep it as clean as possible for those easily offended and underaged skool girls who managed to sneak in. You know who you are.

Please, DON'T throw anything, unless it's a 20 dollar bill, if you are male, or your undershorts, if you are female. If successful, Santa will RETIRE and STAY off Memorial during rush. Riverside still FAIR game!

6:44 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Paul...isn't it odd that a judge would 'suggest' taking bicycling advocacy off the streets? After all, that's where we're supposed to be!

And...would you mind if I posted the information about your stand-up performance on the Tulsa Now forum? I know that you can't, but since it's a bona fide event, it should be permissible.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

NO! Don't post on T-Now. Santa will summon ALL the GENIUS legal eagles the Download Nazis have to offer onto YOUR front yard, while your kids are present, to serve a summons for DAMAGES to reputation.

Santa has a carefully crafted 'bad boy' reputation to maintain over there. Wouldn't want to ruin it with a dose of respectability, right?

Besides, why preach to the CHOIR? Preach to the LEPERS, instead.

Post it on TPD Blog! Or send your KIND, VERY kind, comments to the good Judge Gerald Hofmeister, Tulsa Municipal Court, Division II, 600 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103 and the Police Chief.

They need to know there's more than one CRAZY-ass CONFRONTATIONAL, out-of-control WHACK-job on two-wheels in this crappy-ass town. And, tell 'em you're WATCHING.

8:44 AM  

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