Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cycling Advocacy

From VeloNews
As the cycling community traded notes, people began to question if Dr. Thompson was the same motorist who had a run-in with two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon in March. A member of both clubs forwarded Patrick Watson’s account of his experience to Peterson. The vanity plate, “TCH MDX,” matched, as did the description of the car. The experience was almost identical.

In the March incident, the driver sped ahead of the cyclists then slammed on his brakes. Watson rode into someone’s yard while teammate Josh Crosby veered into oncoming traffic; Watson said the driver made a second effort to hit them and then sped away.

“I had a gut reaction to get the guy’s license number and entered his license number into my phone,” said Watson.

Neither rider was injured. Despite pressure from La Grange’s Public Policy Director, Jeffrey Courion, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley declined to prosecute the case; Watson was told it wasn’t a winner. “I’m a little bitter because this happened before, but no one took it seriously.”

La Grange created the Public Policy Director position so that the club could more effectively lobby public officials. Courion and others have been effective in working with city officials and CalTrans to note road hazards and other issues. Attorney Charles Mostov often assists Courion with advocacy issues. Mostov said, “It provides an opportunity to put the issue in font of public officials ... to educate them on the rights of cyclists and lobby for safer roads and more bike lanes.”

Motivated by their outrage for the situation, local cyclists inundated the local media outlets with the story.

“People are coming out of the woodwork to show their support,” said Peterson. “It’s not just the cyclists but their support networks reaching out as well.”

Mostov, the attorney, said, “What I’m trying to do is be a clearinghouse of information and a calming influence. If we can speak with one voice then it’s going to be more effective than if everyone vents their frustration and anger that these sorts of events keep happening.”

The BTA offers sympathy in the way of things to ponder but do they offer any advocacy in cases of Vehicular assault?

I'm just saying, it's time to get the nut jobs off the road before they figure out how to cause real damage. When a cyclist reports an incident, it needs to be followed up on and not diminished as just another little cycling thingy. Strong advocacy groups are the only way to try to force law enforcement organizations to do what is needed.

As my wife is instructing me on the upcoming ORR 400k route sheets and the eleven miles on US-26, I am pondering the practice of cycling clubs routing rides on major highways with heavy traffic. Do you suppose sponsoring rides on heavy traffic highways is a "best practice?" How much traffic and hazard is too much? Is this just a straw man argument?

Not that anyone should say anything doubtful concerning the Randonneuring lifestyle but...I'm recalling the last time I rode a brevet on US-26 back from the coast and remembering all of the memorial crosses lined up along the highway. There sure are a lot of broken hearts and lost lives on that road!

We've built a society that feeds on vehicles and driving places for everyone, everywhere, all of the time. Lets drive! Cars, SUVs, trucks, H3-Hummers and endless gasoline for everyone!