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Letter: Steve Rose Responds to Cycling Comments

"I think it important that I clarify some interpretations of the article that I wrote as a personal opinion and not representing the Culver City Chamber of Commerce."

My March 28 letter regarding bike rider’s rights and responsibilities has generated a lot of interest.  I think it important that I clarify some interpretations of the article that I wrote as a personal opinion and not representing the Culver City Chamber of Commerce.  The following is also my personal opinion. 

First, I strongly encourage bike riding and bike lanes.  I believe bike riding is a great method to reduce crowded streets, give us a greener environment, improve fitness and reduce road wear and tear. 

I am mostly concerned about bike rider safety.  Car drivers and bike riders alike must follow traffic laws designed to protect all users of the road.  When a bike and motor vehicle collide, it is the bike rider that suffers the most damage and therefore it is a necessity that bike riders use extra caution.

My prior comments were meant to identify the extra care bike riders should take in streets that can be less than hospitable. For example, children are required to wear helmets while riding a bike and an adult’s brain is no less important, therefore I encourage all bike riders to wear a helmet.  

Additionally, while the law requires reflectors on bikes, the truth is a cyclist’s best night protection is high intensity front and rear blinking lights that give a fast moving motorist ample notice of the bike rider’s presence. 

Lastly, all users of the road must stop at Stop signs, yield for pedestrians and should show common courtesy.

Bicyclists have the right to be on the road and with that right, there are both legal responsibilities and common sense protections that will allow all users to safely coexist.  

I'm a responsible car driver and I look for the same from bike riders.

 

Steven J. Rose

President/CEO

Culver City Chamber of Commerce

  

Editor’s note: Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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Ben Folsom April 03, 2013 at 07:24 PM
1. You signed both letters with your professional title and organization, hence you should expect that your opinion is treated as the opinion of the CoC. 2. It is not simply the cyclist that must use extra caution. The additional caution must be shared. Just as residents are expected to exercise caution and not dash into the street, drivers are expected to exercise caution and slow down in residential areas. When you see a cyclist, pay attention and act in accordance with safety guidelines that protects both parties. Said cyclist may impede your forward momentum temporarily, and putting the responsibility for enhanced caution solely on the cyclist permits you to put him or her in danger by passing unsafely then blame the cyclist for putting himself or herself at risk. 3. Since your previous letter generalizes, I will generalize here: Cyclists violating the laws, rules or conventions of the road is only seen as aberrant because similar violations performed by drivers is normalized within the driving population. Sit at any intersection and count cars that roll through stop signs, fail to signal or continue through a right turn, gun through yellow and enter on red. Count cyclists that violate the rules as well and you will find the percentage to be in favor of the cyclists exercising better caution. Drivers are no less guilty of violating the rules of the road than cyclists, you just do not get mad at drivers for doing it.
Sidney blum April 04, 2013 at 02:10 PM
I agree with Steven Rose and thank him for his comments. I ride a bike daily from Chatsworth to Santa Monica. If I didn't exercise extra caution, then I would have been killed many times over by the bad car drivers of this city. I always wear a helmet, as required by the second largest cycling club in the LA area, the San Fernando valley cycling club where I have been an active member for 30 years, and I do have a lot of bright lights on my bike for when I ride all the time at night. I appreciate he supports bike lanes when so many politicians don't. Yes car drivers need enhanced caution around bike riders but that does not appear to be the purpose of the article. Instead it is about the need of bike riders to be safe. And quoting random statistics most bike riders I see in Santa Monica don't have helmets on their heads so my opinion is they must not have a brain to protect. No one rides with me and my club or my race team with out a helmet.
Gary Kavanagh April 04, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Riding with a race team and rolling down to the grocery store cafe or to the beach on an upright bike in Santa Monica are not at all the same context. Bicycle helmets are designed primarily for falls of a bicycle rider at bicycle speed, and protection from cars is limited. I still wear a helmet most of the time, but most of the research I have seen does not show a strong correlation with helmets and improved safety, with contradictory findings. There has been documented strong correlations between more number of bicyclists and improved safety, in some cases seeing deadly crashes remain flat or decline despite far more people biking. Australia is country which went all out for full helmet mandates for all riders of all ages, and in doing so succeeded in undermining bike ridership, which shrunk, and some studies I've seen showed a greater number of head injuries. This being the result of those who continued riding after the legal clamp down, were more likely to be hit without the presence around of those bicyclists that are apparently in your opinion are "without a brain to protect", as drivers became less accustomed to taking care or looking out for bicyclists. Of course care & responsibility should be exercised on the part of bike riders, but the root cause of traffic deaths, which are incredibly high with or without counting bike collisions, is that drivers are terribly irresponsible & our traffic engineers value throughput at intersections before public safety.
MaxUtility April 04, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Thank you for the clarification. But I have to say you pretty much just reiterated that non-controversial points from your earlier letter in a less contemptuous tone while ignoring all the actually misleading, inaccurate, and offensive stuff you wrote before. Although you tried to phrase everything in the standard "I'm just asking questions" cop out technique, it's pretty clear the claims you were making. - "Will my insurance rates go up" - Well they might if you keep hitting, maiming, and killing people because you refuse to treat piloting 2 tons of steel as if it had any responsibilities. - "why can a bicyclist ride on a street, sidewalk, etc." - because we've spent the last couple generations making sure that streets are designed with no one in mind except cars. Although we've accepted this in general, it is still generally realized that many people will not or can not ride in the rode for safety reasons (i.e. kids), so we've allowed bike to go on sidewalks as well in the mistaken assumption that this is safer. - "should bicyclists stop in front of cars" - yes, when the street conditions make it appropriate.
MaxUtility April 04, 2013 at 05:27 PM
- "why don't bikes stop at stop signs" - First, because the general hostility to bikes by road designers, law enforcement, etc. have helped to produce a culture where many cyclists feel like they are outlaws just by being on a bike who have to take the situation into their own hands, thus, petty infractions like running stops just don't seems to be a big deal. Two, because the law is rarely enforced because even the cops generally get that a bike going through a stop sign rarely poses a threat to anyone except the cyclist, three because people ride bikes and just like the people that drive cars, they tend to roll through signs when it seems relatively safe. - "why don't we tax cyclists..." - because they already pay taxes like everyone else. If you think the few bucks you pay once a year to register your car and a couple pennies of gas tax actually pay for the roads, you are badly misinformed. If you're going to make snarky, condescending comments, at least admit to them. Don't hide behind "I'm just worried about cyclists' safety" BS.
Jeff Jacobberger April 06, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Mr. Rose: You say that "all users of the road must stop at Stop signs, yield for pedestrians and should show common courtesy." But, as President/CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, you didn't write a big piece in the Patch complaining about drivers who fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs, did you? You didn't write to complain about drivers who fail to use their turn signals, or drivers who talk and text while driving, did you? Your initial letter was the equivalent of a tirade about "women drivers" or "Asian drivers." As a customer who has the choice of patronizing businesses in Culver City or businesses a block or two away in Los Angeles, you just made my choice a whole lot easier.
Yosi Sergant April 08, 2013 at 12:29 PM
As a CC taxpayer, and a bike rider I am rather offended by your article and equally clunky clarification. Mr. Rose you have been a strong advocate for Culver City for many many years, but this article reads like a 'get off my lawn you whipper-snapper' rant and the clarification of "I am mostly concerned about bike rider safety" doesn't hold water. You should first apologize (not clarify) and then join the vibrant bike community here in Culver City (and broader Los Angeles) to make our streets a safer place for bikers, not a place where important figures from important institutions wag fingers. As a carless bike rider, by choice, for almost ten years, I can assure you that most bike riders read your article with the same eye roll they give the most aggressive and confrontational drivers who scream these very points out car windows as they honk and wave fists. They just add expletives. ...and honestly, its a shame that they may also see this article - signed with your official title - reflecting the similar aggressive and confrontational approach that people associate with the National Chamber of Commerce... and now potentially, with the fantastic Culver City Chamber of Commerce. (continued...)
Yosi Sergant April 08, 2013 at 12:30 PM
(....continued) Mr. Rose, your heart might have been in the right place, but you asked the wrong questions and alienated bike riders in the process. More important, the approach was simply confrontational and not reflective of the changing perspective (read: progress) of the broader city on bicycle riding nor of the amazing new life blood of the those who are revitalizing the very Culver City you love and have worked so very hard for. Again, I urge you to apologize (not clarify) and perhaps come speak to some bike commuters/riders and join us in making Culver City's road's, less territorial and safer...
Marco Anderson April 08, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Steve Rose writes "I'm a responsible car driver and I look for the same from bike riders." However I challenge him to spend his next long drive staying at exactly the posted speed limit. I tried this once driving from the Long Beach Airport to Irvine. And I was astounded at how slow this felt. I also noticed that in all contexts (Freeway, Arterial, and local road) I was the only one doing so. I didn't pass or pace a single other car for the full 30 minutes. So somehow I doubt that although he may be "responsible" driving he is a fully law-abiding driver.

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