Lets Make Lemonade!

by Bob Mionske

Last Friday, it probably seemed like a relaxing, peaceful weekend was waiting for Santa Paula Police Chief Steven McLean. Instead, a firestorm of controversy erupted late Friday evening, and into Saturday, when a video that one of his reserve officers had made surfaced on social media sites.

In that video, the reserve officer, riding as a passenger in a car (and on her own time), made sarcastic comments about cyclists that she passed on the road. That was the entire point of her video—making mean comments about people riding bikes, in an attempt to be funny, in the same way the wannabe popular kids pick on other kids, and try to get everybody else to laugh at it and go along for the ride.

Except this wasn’t a junior high school student making an attempt at popularity with the cool kids—she was a reserve police officer. And while she thought she was picking on the nerds, she was actually picking on the “cool kids” in her attempt to boost her own popularity. The fact is, interest in bicycling has been growing by leaps and bounds for many years now, among everybody from hip urban trendsetters, to working people trying to save a dollar, to families bonding over a common activity, to aging baby boomers looking for exercise, and everybody in between—and it is only getting more popular with each passing year.

But picking the wrong target for her juvenile spite was only the tip of the iceberg. From the perspective of people who just want to ride their bikes, whether for exercise, or to economize, or to reduce their environmental impact, or just for the fun of it all, here was an officer of the law expressing her hatred of cyclists for no reason other than their presence on the road. And let’s be clear—when she repeatedly mentioned running over bicyclists, and ended her video with a statement saying “Like you’ve never thought about it” appearing over a graphic photo of an infamous collision in Mexico, in which a drunk American motorist plowed into a group of cyclists, killing one and injuring several more, her expressed hatred was seen as bordering on an incitement to violence.

And let’s be clear about something else, too. Every cyclist she passed in her video was riding lawfully, and courteously. There were no “scofflaw cyclists” in her video, just ordinary people minding their business, lawfully riding their bikes and courteously sharing the road. There was absolutely no rationale for a reserve police officer to be riding around expressing her desire to run them over. Even if she was on her own time.

That’s not all. When the controversy broke, a message on the Santa Paula Police Department’s Facebook page expressed support for the video, and encouraged cyclists to obey the law. Clearly, whoever wrote that message—another reserve officer, it turned out—was completely out of touch with what was happening on the street. And unfortunately for Chief McLean, he got the initial blame for supporting the video.

But Chief McLean is nobody’s fool. He took immediate, decisive action, placing both reserve officers on administrative leave. And before the weekend was over, Laura Weintraub, the officer who had made the video, had resigned from the Police Department. It’s obvious that these two reserve officers created an enormous public relations problem that he didn’t ask for or want, and the Chief should not be singled out for blame in this incident. In fact, Chief McLean deserves full credit for swiftly dealing with a problem in his Department.

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An Unavoidable Tragedy

(a satire) By Rick Bernardi


EVERYTOWN- A cyclist was killed today when he collided with a vehicle on Main Street. According to Everytown Police Sgt. Ben Dover, the cyclist and the driver of the vehicle were both traveling in the same direction on Main Street. As the driver was attempting to pass the cyclist, the cyclist’s handlebar clipped the front fender of the passing vehicle, causing the cyclist to lose control of his bike. The cyclist smashed into the vehicle, causing extensive damage to the right front fender and windshield. The cyclist was killed instantly on impact. The cause of death was believed to be massive internal injuries. Sgt. Dover noted that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet.

Because the cyclist was only traveling at the speed limit, police believe that the cyclist’s low speed was a factor in this tragic accident. Police also said that, based on what the driver of the vehicle told them, they believe that the cyclist may have veered one or two inches off course just before the accident, and because of this, the driver was unable to take evasive action to avoid this tragedy.

The driver, who remained at the scene, was heard to be grieving over the incident. “Dang cyclist shoulda been wearing a helmet if he was going to ride that close to me,” the grief-stricken motorist said. “Just look at the damage to my car! Who’s going to pay for this? These cyclists think they own the road, but none of them have insurance or a driver’s license!”

“Of course, the driver is terribly distraught,” Sgt. Dover explained. “He will have to live with this for the rest of his life. Cyclists really need to be careful to obey the traffic laws. Just last year, we had another terrible tragedy when a cyclist took a drink of water from his water bottle and got sucked under a passing truck.”

Although they didn’t witness this completely unavoidable accident, bystanders agreed. “These bikers don’t seem to know what a stop sign is,” said one bystander. “They think the law doesn’t apply to them.” Dudley Wright, owner of the Wheel Fast Bikes Shop agreed, saying, “Of course, cyclists need to obey the traffic laws too.”

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Another Legislative Attack on Cycling

 Interest in bicycling is at an all-time high, and steadily rising, as each year more people discover the benefits of a lifestyle that includes cycling. There are many converging reasons for bicycling’s increasing popularity. Riding a bike is a way to stretch tight budgets in a time of prolonged economic downturn. In the midst of rising rates of obesity, bicycling counters the sedentary lifestyle and over-consumption of calories that lies at the root of the obesity epidemic. And of course, bicycling is an environmentally-friendly means of transportation through which individuals can reduce both their petroleum consumption and their carbon footprint. Did I mention that it’s also just flat-out fun, whether riding solo, with family and friends, or with a club?

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Another Bike Ban

“They’re at it again.”

That’s what I thought when I heard about the latest cycling ban, this time in Hull, Wisconsin

Every now and then, some town gets a “ban bikes” bug. This issue has come up in Jupiter Island, Florida, Crawford and Hardin Counties in Iowa, and Black Hawk, Colorado. Usually, this is in response to complaints about everything from conflicts between motorists and cyclists, to cyclists not obeying the law, to cyclists not sharing the road.

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Blaming The Victim

Picture this: A pedestrian is standing on the curb, waiting for the light to change. The light changes, and the pedestrian steps out into the crosswalk and begins crossing the street. Before the pedestrian can reach he other side, a motorist runs the red light and hits the pedestrian. The pedestrian survives, but has sustained some injuries, and is transported to the hospital.

Police report that the pedestrian had been walking “too fast,” and hit the car.

The media dutifully reports this fact. Outraged by this incident, an op-ed column suggests that “the only solution” to this problem is to require pedestrians to be licensed and insured.

Does that sound far-fetched? Of course it does. That would never happen.

But suppose that, instead of a pedestrian, we are talking about a collision between a motorist and a cyclist. Does that sound so far-fetched now?

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The Sunbreak: Seattle's Socialist War on Driving Cars Gears Up

[This article from The Sunbreak, Seattle's Socialist War on Driving Cars Gears Up, was so good we had to share. You can read the entire article by following the link.]

Alternate title: "Misinformed People Outraged by Their Hasty Generalizations"

Last week's arrival of a bike box at 12th Avenue and Pine has prompted new grumblings from people who apparently can't count. (The "trapezoid" on Madison is bringing stormy denunciations as well.)

People who complain about cyclists--and correct me if I'm wrong--seem to do so because they're in a hurry. Here's a thought experiment: If we take away Seattle's three percent of bicycling commuters and add the same number of cars to the road, can you imagine what happens?

Reliably, the Seattle Times story on the event has over 100 comments, largely from people who feel that road safety should be based solely on anecdotal stories about how all cyclists run red lights or who argue that cyclists, being a strange breed of being who pay no sales, property, or gas taxes (Did you know no cyclists own cars? Not one! It's ideological) should have to pay for license and registration. 

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To read the rest of this article, click here.