Running Interference

By Rick Bernardi

Last week, I had an errand to run, so I reserved some time on Zip Car. I pulled out of the parking space, drove around the block, and there, right in front of me, was a cyclist climbing up a long, steep hill.


My first reaction was a gut feeling that he was going to slow me down on my errand.

Maybe I could pass.

But then I thought about it. How much was he really going to slow me down? By a few seconds? A minute, tops? Maybe I could pass him, but why make him feel pressured? It’s a long, tough climb. I know, I’ve done it, and it’s not easy. He was as far to the right as he could get, doing his best to get up the hill without impeding drivers trying to get up the hill.

I changed my mind. I decided I could wait. Instead of passing him, I held back. I gave him some space on the road, and some time to climb to the next light. Other cars behind me might have passed him, but they couldn’t pass me. So we all held back, giving the guy some space on the road.

And you know what? Nobody honked at me. Nobody tailgated me, or revved their engines, or buzzed me, or yelled “get off the road!” The other drivers just waited patiently, just like me, as we all climbed the hill together.

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"A Driver's" (Windshield) Perspective

Any cyclist who has ever read an online news story about cycling is familiar with this phenomenon—the comments section, where drivers vent their fury at cyclists, regardless of facts or circumstances. In fact, the actual facts of the news story are as irrelevant to these internet-ragers as the law. The article could be about a law-abiding cyclist being hit by a law-breaking motorist, for example, or it could be about a law-abiding cyclist being assaulted by a motorist in violation of the law. No matter. The inevitable Pavlovian reaction from these rageaholics will be to recount how “this one time I saw some other cyclist break the law.”

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"And the hell with the law"

A few months ago, Bob received a call from a call from a cyclist in West Virginia. The cyclist—Tony Patrick—had an amazing story to tell; while out on a training ride in southern Ohio, he had been ordered off the road by a Sheriff’s Deputy, and when he asserted his right to ride on the road, he was confronted, beaten, and tased by law enforcement officers.

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Crawford County Rescinds RAGBRAI Ban

 In July, Bob published a Legally Speaking column (See "A question of liability") in which he discussed how one Iowa county passed a resolution banning RAGBRAI from county roads, and the subsequent effort by the Iowa State Association of Counties to pass statewide legislation that would have curtailed the legal rights of cyclists who are injured on county roads. The Crawford County ban and subsequent legislative efforts took shape in the aftermath of a cycling death that occurred in Crawford County during RAGBRAI. Due to the facts of the case, the county was alleged to be negligent,  and settled the case out of court with the cyclist's widow.

Fortunately, there was a distinct lack of interest for the proposed legislation in the Iowa Legislature. This week, BikeIowa reported that the Crawford County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to rescind the RAGBRAI ban.

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