Coopperation makes roadways safe

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

I am writing this in response to the letter from Lloyd Rich published Friday, which reiterates the sentiment for possibly the hundredth time in this publication by various cyclists that motorists are dangerous and should stop being so mean and nasty to bicyclists.

I agree with a couple of his points. I agree in a perfect world we would have motor vehicle and bicycle lanes everywhere. I agree motorists should be conscious and courteous for the bicyclists’ safety. I concede there are laws that aim to keep cyclists off of sidewalks and on the road. I concede there are penalties in place for motorists who do not exercise caution near bicycles. In a perfect world, all laws would be followed and none would be asinine.


Welcome to reality.

Here, there are sidewalks and roads, and some laws are asinine. In reality, we must all cooperate and obey the rules of logic. Also, here in reality, the average vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds, travels at a speed of 30-70 mph, is 6 feet wide and requires 45-105 feet to completely stop. The average person weighs 185 pounds, an extra 30 on a bike, travels at an average speed of 7-15 mph and requires 7-20 feet to stop. The average pedestrian walks at about 3 mph and stops immediately when confronted with an obstacle when paying attention.

I’m no physicist, but it took a five-minute Google search to have enough information at my fingertips to see a major flaw in the aforementioned asinine law. Is this sidewalk law in place to prevent scrapes and bruises and make everybody feel warm, tingly and self-congratulatory about their environmental contribution? Or is it to actually prevent deaths and serious injury?

It seems intuitive that 4,000 pounds traveling at 45 mph is far more likely to seriously injure or kill a bicyclist in the middle of a traffic lane than a bicyclist is to seriously hurt a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

Worst-case scenario of a bike-and-car collision: the cyclist ends up in a body cast, paralyzed or dead. Worst-case scenario of a cyclist-and-pedestrian collision: someone has a sprained wrist or a mild concussion, and swearing ensues.

The other aspect of this reality is laws such as this will not likely be changed in the near future. They sound far too pleasant and ‘green.’ So motorists and cyclists must cooperate, as long as the government mandates that comparatively light-weight transportation devices meander slowly in droves onto busy streets filled with 4,000-pound automobiles.

I’m far more interested in pragmatic cooperation than I am in trying to change the law. I’m not directing this at all cyclists, but it seems to me about half of them in this community are more willing to preach traffic laws when an outraged environment-killing motorist brushes past them than they are when they themselves make similar traffic errors.


Cooperation is two-sided. Cyclists hoping to enjoy the law’s benefits should try following some of the other ones, too.

Let’s all cooperate; let’s all share the road; let’s all exercise logic under illogical circumstances. If screaming at someone saves a life, then scream away. I’d rather be verbally rude than inadvertently kill or injure a human being. If you’re on a bike and riding onto a curb or a sidewalk for a moment, then save your own life or bones. I’d also rather get a sidewalk ticket from a bored police officer than be paralyzed or dead.

Ryan Flores

Carbondale resident