Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dr. Wally's Crank Index (update)

(Yam pointed out something I'd missed, so I added to the list. It went from 10 items to 11, and like the amplifier in Spinal Tap, that means it's one better!)

Dr. Walter Crankset of the University of Northeastern Oklahoma extension campus at Broken Elbow, has developed a quick indexing system to quantify the ignorance and anti-cycling bigotry found in so many letters to the editor. He named it the "Crank Index." He quickly pointed out that despite the similarity to his own name, he did not name the index after himself. "No," he said, "this is more accurately used to describe the crank factor in the letter writer's post. Obviously, higher is crankier."

(1)Bicyclists need tags, licenses, and insurance. There's a reason motor vehicle operators need these, and that's due to the enormous damage they can do to people and property. Licensing supposes that all operators have a minimal understanding of the law and can pass a test proving they can safely control an automobile. If cyclists caused similar levels of damage, public outcry would demand they be tagged, licensed, and insured also. Riding a bicycle does not absolve the cyclist of responsibility for any damages he causes.

(2) All bicyclists are scofflaws. They run red lights and stop signs all the time! No one comes to a complete stop at stop signs unless there's cross traffic in the intersection. They're treated as defacto yields. While it's true that some cyclists will run a red light, there's undoubtedly a greater danger posed by motorists who do so, trying to rush through an intersection while the light is still yellow.

(3) Public roads are for the use of all, and it's clear that bicyclists have an equal right to that public space. But they shouldn't ride on busy roads when there are other, less traveled roads and parks nearby. Cyclists have to reach their destinations, just as motorists do, so it's nonsensical to insist they cannot ride in proximity to other traffic.

(4) Bicyclists don't pay taxes. Roads funding comes from the general fund and everyone pays into that. There isn't a piggy bank somewhere collecting your tag, title, and gas taxes. Our roads are largely paid for via income tax, sales tax, and real estate taxes. Riding a bicycle does not absolve anyone of paying these taxes. If it did, the roads would be clogged with bikes.

(5) They impede traffic. If a given roadway has a minimum speed limit and a cyclist cannot meet or exceed that limit, he is impeding traffic. If there's no minimum speed, he is not impeding. The law (in Oklahoma) states that when a motor vehicle is moving at less than the speed of surrounding traffic, he is impeding. Bicycles are not motor vehicles in Oklahoma. They are legally devices propelled by human power.

(6) They should ride on the sidewalks. Most bicycling law forbids bicycle travel on sidewalks in business districts, and some municipalities forbid it entirely for adult cyclists. Regardless, riding on a sidewalk offers about three times the risk of collision as compared to riding in the adjacent street. If traveling on a sidewalk offers greater safety, maybe motorists should drive there.

(7) They should stay on the trails. These are very popular amenities, yet they serve little useful purpose unless they connect with popular destinations. There's no trail connecting my house with my work or the local grocery. Roads do that.

(8) Motor vehicles must slow down to avoid cyclists, risking a rear-end collision. Pardon me if I'm a little perplexed at this one. Speeding is a factor is about 13,000 deaths on our roads every year, yet you're complaining about having to slow down? Owning a car does not confer a Divine Right to Speed, yet many drivers seem to believe that anything that causes them to let up on the gas pedal is sinful, anti-social, and possibly illegal.

(9) Bicycle travel is dangerous. You may be right, but you'll be dead right. More people die from falls in bathtubs compared to deaths while bicycling. Perhaps we should outlaw bathtubs in order to save lives.

(10) They just don't have any 'common sense.' This one is lovely because it implies that anyone riding a bicycle in traffic is somehow deficient in common sense. Such feeble minded people have to be removed from our roadways for their own safety since they cannot recognize the dangers inherent in riding on the road. To which I say - bunk! Road cyclists are more aware than their motoring counterparts, and those who commute regularly in traffic have some of the lowest crash rates.

(11) They wear funny clothes that make them look gay. The basic cycling clothes haven't changed for decades. Like most sports apparel, function is more important than style, so bicycling clothing is meant to keep the rider comfortable over many miles and many hours in the saddle. And judging someone's sexual orientation by their clothing is about as reliable as determining their politics. "You know, that shirt make you look, um, Republican."

Dr. Crankset developed this for the use of all cyclists, and urged that results be kept in a common format, i.e., if 6 out of 11 statements appear in a given letter, the score would be 6/11.



Blogger bother yam said...

You forgot the all too common slur against the clothes...

8:19 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

You're right. I'll include it, but I wanted to keep the list to 10. Not a problem, though.

9:31 AM  

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