Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The morning mailbag...

Here's something a little unusual, a story about cyclists going too fast downhill, and getting banned from those roads - for their own safety, of course. I guess hitting 50mph is unsafe if you're riding a BMX bike because they tend to become unstable at high speed. Still, would anyone dream of banning motorists from a stretch of roadway because they can go too fast? "We're sorry, but the turnpike has been closed to motor vehicles after the state police discovered the majority of motor vehicles were exceeding the speed limit, and police officials are afraid the excessive speed may contribute to more crashes." I'm not trying to be cold about this, but there's a certain responsibility in riding (or driving) that rests on the individual. If you don't have the skills, suitable equipment, or the temperament for riding at high speed, you shouldn't do it. It shouldn't be a matter for the authorities to ban all cyclists because some of them might get hurt.

Now, about those drivers and their responsibilities; the second piece is a predictable complaint about cyclists going too slow and 'clogging up the roads'. The writer asks who's responsible when a motorist has to cross the center line to pass those pesky slow-moving cyclists, apparently without realizing it's the motorist's responsibility to overtake and pass safely.

If gasoline reached world price levels of around $6/gallon, these complaints about bicycles would end, mainly because many of the whining motorists would have to park their vehicles and ride a bike instead. Despite the irony of the idea, seeing those drivers wobbling down the street wouldn't hold a great deal of joy, because we'd all be paying far higher prices for groceries and everything else that had to be delivered by truck. Fuel price increases spread like ripples on a pond.

Portland 'zoo bombing' ritual gets more risky

10:46 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 6, 2006


A daring Portland ritual sent one woman to the hospital earlier this week and brought attention to a fad often referred to as “zoo bombing.”

Zoo bombing is when cyclists barrel down a hill as fast as they can, like the hill below the Oregon Zoo, or -- even more risky -- the highway that runs from the zoo to the edge of downtown Portland.

...Authorities said the group was not only endangering lives, but breaking the law, too.

Posted signs clearly state that non-motorized vehicles are not allowed on Hwy. 26 and even the city’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance says that stretch of highway is no place for cyclists.

“Until those prohibitions are lifted, we don't support bicycling in those areas. They are off-limits for a reason,” said BTA leader Evan Manvel.

But risk-takers are doing it anyway. They even have a special name for their favorite zoo bombing highway – they call it “hell-way.”

Portland police officers said they haven’t cracked down on the zoo bombers because there have been very few complaints about them.

The cyclists usually gather on Sunday nights, often on child-sized bikes, and zoom down the hill together at speeds up to 50 miles an hour.


Readers write

June 7, 2006

Scary situation

Who is in charge of allowing hundreds of bicycle riders to clog and disrupt our roadways, creating havoc with the motorists? Not only who, but by what right does this person/persons have to make this decision? Last Sunday, every second there was a near head-on collision between drivers crossing over the double yellow line trying to avoid hitting a cyclist, who should have been on the bike path not the highway endangering motorists on that road. We spent millions of dollars putting in the bike path. The main reason being to keep cyclists safe from being run down by an automobile. Secondly, to keep motorists safe from accidentally colliding with an on-coming car while trying to miss a cyclist.

H.H. Hunter
Tahoe City



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