As a visitor and a long-time cyclist, I have to express my pleasure with the extensive facilities and the generally courteous demeanor of the motorists in the Boulder area. As a Texas resident, I should also say I appreciate the moderate temperatures here at this time. I still marvel at the number of riders I encounter on the surrounding roads when I go out for my rides. It is disconcerting, therefor, to read opinions of the nature of E. B. Thomas’s last Sunday, who apparently would prefer cyclists not use the roads and highways at all.
I won’t argue with his remarks on those cyclists who violate traffic laws. I ride thousands of miles a year, many of those in Dallas proper, and I didn’t survive that by ignoring the rules of safe driving. But most traffic codes treat the cyclist as the operator of a vehicle, with the same rights and responsibilities as the motorist, with a few logical exceptions. It is nice to have bike lanes on some of the busy thoroughfares, but they still create awkward situations, particularly at intersections. I am more comfortable with making my left turns with traffic, than becoming a sort of pedestrian. And the bike paths are great for a leisurely jaunt around town, but they’re less suitable for the fast rider. So the recreational cyclist, the long distance tourer, the boy racer, they have to hit the roads. Some of the roads here have lovely, smooth shoulders to ride on, but many don’t. A shoulder less than three feet wide is insufficient for safe riding. The shoulders, and the bike lanes, accumulate sand and gravel, broken glass, bits of metal, and other hazardous debris. And in this economic climate they are seldom swept. Statistically, only about ten percent of serious and deadly cycling accidents involve collisions with motorists. Road hazards and loss of control cause many more accidents. On shoulderless roads, the safest place is in the right-hand tire track, as the closer to the edge of the road the cyclist gets, the more he seems to encourage too-close passing by motorists. The cyclist also has to have room to avoid holes or objects in his path that would be insignificant to the motorist. When multiple lanes exist, most traffic codes allow cyclists to ride two-abreast, unless traffic conditions would cause congestion.
Without reasonable access to our roads, commuting would be impossible. I certainly couldn’t have enjoyed my sight-seeing trip last weekend up to Masonville. And racing for cyclists would be driven indoors. No more Lance Armstrongs would be produced to thrill sports fans in this country. We need to keep the roads open, now more than ever. What we need is for cyclists and motorists alike to give up their attitude of entitlement and to replace it with an appreciation of privilege.