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LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Motorists should slow down, share road
I am one of the “real cyclists” to which Mr. Nichols refers in his recent letter.
Sadly, his diatribe is not unusual. Having lived, driven, and ridden on Whidbey for seven years, why have I not personally encountered the difficulties that so test Mr. Nichols? I’d postulate it is due to a difference in tolerance and a belief that his needs/wants trump those of others.
Bicycles are entitled to use the roads. The majority of cyclists own cars. You cannot survive here without them. Therefore, cyclists likely pay as many fees as anyone. Asserting that a bicycle’s roadway impact is comparable to any motor vehicle is absurd.
Many states license vehicles by gross weight due to the damage done by heavier vehicles. Under such a scheme, any bicycle would be taxed at so low a level to render the effort ridiculous.
By law, bicycles must stay as far right as is safe. Some riders simply ignore this and that is a shame. But, this is surely less frequent than the number of drivers ignoring speed limits, passing rules, or any other rule of the road.
More importantly, the shoulder is often not safe to ride. As a result of recent chip sealing on Whidbey, large amounts of loose gravel remain outside the tracks from motor vehicles. Riding there is akin to riding on ball bearings. Broken glass, blow-down, and other debris accumulate on the shoulder. There are drainage grates which catch bicycle wheels. All this can make riding the shoulder unsafe. Cyclists must move left to ensure safety.
Mr. Nichols may have been ticketed for slow driving — on a freeway. It is impossible to believe it was on Whidbey.
There are other slow vehicles including mail deliveries, tractors, antique cars, and Vespas. None move the speed of a car/truck and driver in a rush. This inability does not make them targets for tickets. Slow vehicles must, by law, be approached carefully and passed only when it is safe. This is incumbent upon Mr. Nichols despite his rush. A desire to get someplace a fraction faster does not give any driver the right to oppress/endanger another person. No doubt Mr. Nichols has received unpleasant responses from cyclists. With his apparent belief that his wants/needs trump those with whom he disagrees would make any reasonable person react with disbelief, frustration, and even anger.
If Mr. Nichols is concerned with what his children are being taught, I suggest that he try setting an example of tolerance and good will — yes, even to people wearing tights.