Friday, November 02, 2007

Parking Lot Parkway, Ron Fitzwater = idiot.


Here’s My Point: Bikes turn parkway into parking Lot
By Ron Fitzwater

Here’s my point; no one else will say it so I will, bicyclists
ridding on the Blue Ridge Parkway or any other narrow, non-bike
path equipped road are a serious danger to themselves and the
driving public.

How many times have you been driving along enjoying the
wonderful feeling of being on one of the scenic rural roads in the
High Country when you come around a curve and HOLY CRAP
there they are, a pack of cyclists not two feet in front of you and
moving a whole lot slower. Your heart stutters and your throat
tightens as you slam on your brakes and hope you stop in time and
that no one behind you knocks you into the riders. In most cases
the automobile driver is able to avoid killing a cyclist who usually
continues to pedal on as if nothing had happened, oblivious or too
good to acknowledge what they just caused.

Look, I’m all for getting out and enjoying Mother Nature
and if someone wants to get their exercise on a bike so be it, but
things have gotten out of hand. At times there are so many bicycles
clogging up the roads that traffic is slowed to a crawl and backed
up for what seems like miles when you’re the last car in line, and I
usually am.

What I see as the main problem is that someone forgot to
tell all these energetic riders some basic facts about automobiles
and their impact on the cycling hobby. First of all bicycles can’t go
as fast as cars; this is important to remember because they will be
coming up behind you at a rather considerable speed. They also
don’t stop as quickly as most drivers would like them to, even
with new brake technologies, of course barring the chance that the
driver is a trained psychic, when meeting bicycles in a blind curve
brakes are moot anyway. This brings up another important point—
cars are heavy and do a lot of damage when they traverse over
bicycles and their riders.

I am sorry that there are not more scenic roads with bike
paths or trails that go cross country, but the lack of available paths
should not mean that the public’s safety should be put at risk. It is
beyond my ability to comprehend how any enjoyment can be
gleaned from creeping your way up a hill with a line of angry
motorists behind you cursing you with every breath and waiting
for the tiniest extra space to squeeze between the bike and oncoming
traffic, only to be ridiculed and showered with gravel and exhaust
fumes. Really, I’m just trying to save you the trouble.

So here is an idea; why not trade in your bikes and get some
hiking gear. There are many fantastic hiking trails in the area and
the best part about it is there is not one exhaust belching, fast
moving car with bad brakes on any one of them. You could actually
see nature that way instead of staring at your front wheel, and best
of all it will get you out of my way.

Roads are made for cars and are not safe for bikes, these are
facts that are not debatable and it is time cyclists came to grips
with them. And all kidding aside the dangers are very, very real. In
what can only be seen as tragic irony, while writing this piece,
news came in that 43-year-old Lee Anne Barry, who was riding a
bicycle across the country to raise awareness for brain injuries
caused from bicycle accidents, was one of two people killed during
the final leg of the trip into South Carolina. Barry died after she
was hit by a van on rural US Highway 521. Also killed was Barry’s
riding partner, 49-year-old Thomas Hoskins, of Columbia, SC.
The pair was on the last part of a two-month tour when they were
struck by a van around 2:15 p.m. Monday.

Three more quick facts from the most recent available data
from the NTHSA; Total bicyclist deaths in 2005, 784—Up 26
percent from 2003; 92 percent of bicycle fatalities are caused by
motor vehicles, 720 in 2005, and finally, 45,000 cyclists were
injured by motor vehicles in 2005, up 9.8 percent from 2003.

Awareness by drivers and respect by cyclists for the drivers
they are sharing the road with could lower those numbers but only
by so much. So here’s an idea when cars are coming, get off the
road. After all, having to stop and start over again is better than
getting a real close look at the undercarriage of a Cherokee.

That’s my point.


To whom it may concern:

"Q: Is bicycling allowed on the Parkway?
A: Yes..." [http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/faq.htm]

I am writing in response to Mr. Ron Fitzwater's commentary about "bicycling turning the parkway into a parking lot." First of all, he states "How many times have you been driving along enjoying the wonderful feeling of being on one of the scenic rural roads in the High Country when you come around a curve and HOLY CRAP there they are, a pack of cyclists not two feet in front of you and moving a whole lot slower. Your heart stutters and your throat tightens as you slam on your brakes and hope you stop in time and that no one behind you knocks you into the riders. In most cases the automobile driver is able to avoid killing a cyclist who usually continues to pedal on as if nothing had happened, oblivious or too good to acknowledge what they just caused." I would like to respond by saying that bicycles are vehicles under North Carolina Law (the state we live in) and that Mr. Fitzwater must certainly understand that: if he were "driving along enjoying the
wonderful feeling of being on one of the scenic rural roads in the High Country" and came upon a slower moving car (also a vehicle), tractor (also a vehicle) or slow moving farm truck (also a vehicle) that he would need to slow down appropriately and then pass such vehicle when it is safe (ie, when double yellow lines don't exist and/or away from the crest of a hill) and that if he was traveling so fast that "[his] heart stutters and [his] throat tightens as [he] slam[s] on [his] brakes and hope[s] [he] stop[s] in time" that he is clearly at fault for driving too quickly and not paying attention. If he were to come around a corner and collide with another vehicle, or perhaps i'll use the word car since he doesn't seem to understand that car ARE vehicles, that he would be at fault. Yes, scenic roads are scenic, but they are still roads, and if Mr. Fitzwater is so interested in enjoying the scenery perhaps he should slow down; I would also suggest that he doesn't photograph images while driving.

It should be noted that in many instances (especially in the high country) bicycles can "go as fast as cars." So Mr. Fitzwater, when we're descending the parkway (or other narrow scenic roads with 35-45mph speed limits) at 35-45 miles per hour, please do not pass us. I'm sure you are smart enough to not pass a CAR going 35 mph on the parkway since it would require breaking the speed limit. Please remember, as noted before, that bicycles are VEHICLES too.

"Travel on the Parkway forces us to slow down and examine a sublime nature, allowing us to drop our day-to-day cares and experience the glory around us that can appear as an unspoiled pastoral nature where cows munch bucolically near the road or as a ferocious assault from a sudden thunderstorm on a high wind-swept peak when the world disappears completely from view.
Don't even think about getting on the Parkway if you're in a hurry."
-NCNatural.com [Tim Treadwell]

Mr. Fitzwater states "Roads are made for cars and are not safe for bikes, these are facts that are not debatable and it is time cyclists came to grips with them." I would like to know where Mr. Fitzwater found his 'facts.' Last time I looked up 'road' it seemed it was something like an "an open way for vehicles, persons, and animals." [http://webster.com/dictionary/road] Mr. Fitzwater, I'm sure as a reputable writer you have sources for your facts... Would you care to share those sources of your "FACTS that are not debatable"???

I feel that Mr. Fitzwater crossed the line by writing about (using their full names) bicyclists who were killed recently and the sarcastic phrase "...cars are heavy and do a lot of damage when they traverse over bicycles and their riders." I do not care to go on regarding this subject as it is difficult for me to imagine unintentionally inflicting more pain on the families of these cyclists he mentioned. I do feel Mr. Fitzwater should apologize to these families and resist referencing such tragedies in any of his future writing.

I'd like to invite Mr. Fitzwater to come ride bikes with me in the beautiful high country of Watauga County; I'll even provide the bicycle and a helmet. I'm sure we both have narrow scenic roads to cycle. I would like to assure Mr. Fitzwater that he would have a enjoyable time riding a bike and that I will even wait on him if it is necessary. I would also like to say Mr Fitzwater's "point" is not very well received by anyone i know.

Lastly I would like to suggest that the editor of the Mountain Times Ashe County Edition publishes opinions in the editorials section and saves the rest of his newspaper for articles based on facts. Thanks for your time.

Joseph Grimes
Boone Resident & Road Cyclist

I included some extra reading in case people haven't picked up their driver safety handbooks recently:

"Bicycles
Bicycle riding is an important means of transportation, particularly for traveling to and from work and school. Because bicycles are vehicles, bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as other drivers. Bicyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane, but are entitled to the use of a full lane.

Pass With Care
A bicyclist staying to the right in their lane is accommodating the following drivers by making it easier to see when it is safe to pass, and easier to execute the pass. Drivers wishing to pass a bicyclist may do so only when there is abundant clearance and no oncoming traffic is in the opposing lane. When passing a bicyclist, always remember the bicyclist is entitled to the use of the full lane...
Think Bike
Bicyclists can be expected on all roads except where expressly prohibited. Bicycles are narrow and typically operate at the right of the lane, so may be obscured and difficult to detect. Avoid the Left Cross, Drive Out, and Right Hook types of potential collisions shown below." [http://www.ncdot.org/dmv/driver_services/drivershandbook/chapter6/bicycles.html]


"20-150. Limitations on privilege of overtaking and passing.

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center of a highway, in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be made in safety.

(b) The driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass another vehicle proceeding in the same direction upon the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where the driver's view along the highway is obstructed within a distance of 500 feet.

(c) The driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any railway grade crossing nor at any intersection of highway unless permitted so to do by a traffic or police officer. For the purposes of this section the words "intersection of highway" shall be defined and limited to intersections designated and marked by the Department of Transportation by appropriate signs, and street intersections in cities and towns.

(d) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the centerline of a highway upon the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where such centerline has been placed upon such highway by the Department of Transportation, and is visible.

(e) The driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass another on any portion of the highway which is marked by signs, markers or markings placed by the Department of Transportation stating or clearly indicating that passing should not be attempted.

(f) The foregoing limitations shall not apply upon a one-way street nor to the driver of a vehicle turning left in or from an alley, private road, or driveway." [http://www.ncdot.org/transit/bicycle/laws/laws_bikelaws.html]

2 comments:

Charlie said...

Dood his facts aren't debatable so your whole rebuttal is moot! ;) Glad to see you spoiled NCers have to deal with anti-sharing-the-road people as well!

In response to your most recent comment on my blog.. yeah I like the Cannondale. Not sure about the gears though.. However I love the lefty fork much more than my Reba.

And I'm with you on the 12/24/100s.. that's all I'm really signing up for next year.. and some roadie stuff that I probably shouldn't bother signing up for since certain vehicles are apparently not allowed on roads.

Paulie said...

Just reading through the bloggo blogs.... I love you man!