Tim Daniels: A Responsible Bicyclist’s Frustration – March 1, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I take exception to your implications that the cycling community isn’t “stepping up.” There are those of us who are doing what we can, but there are only so many of us to go around. We’re significantly outnumbered, and I’m sure you’ve noticed. Yeah, the kooks on their bicycles worry many of us too, and it seems there are a LOT of them in Arcata. I see it every day. I see cyclists and skateboarders blowing through stop signs, riding on the wrong side, and bombing down G Street against traffic. I would argue that most of them are students, and they’re invincible.

You and I are not 20 anymore Kevin; we’re more in touch with our mortality. Perhaps we’ve just forgotten what it was like to be 20. Do you think they’re going to listen to me? I don’t know about you, but when I was that age, a 50-year-old schmuck couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. I learned, and lived… yeah, in that order. Beating some freakish odds, I actually made it to my 15th year. Hell, I beat the odds making it to 20.

In the meantime, yeah, they’re a nuisance. They give cyclists in general a bad name. How do you think it makes me feel? I commute daily, and though I get a lot more respect than I did a decade ago, there is still a negative attitude toward cyclists in general. We’ve been demonized in a lot of folks eyes. How do you think I feel when a motorist deliberately intimidates me with their vehicle, playing “let’s see how close I can get to this dork on the bike” game. Yeah, it happens. If you ride much, I don’t even have to tell you.

I teach a bicycle maintenance course on campus and I always spend the first 10 or 15 minutes talking about safety and vehicle code stuff. I only have so much time I can volunteer, and I can’t imagine the University spending a single cent on anything bicycle related. The Bicycle Learning Center is not funded by the University, though they let us use a small wooden shed for our tools and such. I imagine many campuses (at least in the U.S.) don’t have anything like it so I actually feel fortunate in that sense.

It would be nice to reach a larger audience. The key is to reach those who don’t know the law and would really appreciate learning how to improve their odds of surviving on a bicycle in a world of motor vehicles. I believe the University should offer a bicycle safety seminar. What is the opportunity cost? What are the chances we’re actually going to reach that student who is going make a fatal miscalculation? What is the life of a student worth? These are questions I think somebody should bring up with University administration. I think President Richmond would be a good start. I wonder how much he really cares about “his” students?

I did not hear about the fatality on Alliance. When did that happen? I moved back here from the Bay Area in 2003. I’d like to think that’s something I’d remember hearing about. Cyclists’ deaths are something that tend to catch my attention for obvious reasons. I’m really curious. I don’t suppose you have more details on that story do you? What do YOU think cyclists should have done to prevent this tragedy from happening?

Yes, I stop at stop signs. All of ’em.

Been hit three times in five years.

All of them from behind.

All of them while stopped at intersections.

If anything, there’s an argument for blowing through them.

But I don’t.

Timothy Daniels, president

Bigfoot Bicycle Club

Humboldt County