The “Arizona Daily Star” posted a column about bicycle advocacy in Tucson and around the country. Read the excerpt below and check out the rest of the piece here. There are already a lot of comments on it too.

A Washington Post editorial last week said that city’s cyclists should be more responsible for their actions, both in accident prevention and advocacy. The piece led the League of American Bicyclists to lash back in a national e-mail, saying: “As if motorists are ever held to that same standard! We can, and will, fight back.”

The editorial also said Washington police should more vigorously enforce traffic laws for both drivers and cyclists.

Local bicycling advocate and blogger Michael McKisson also brought up the topic of driver-rider relations in a column on his Tucson Velo bicycling blog last week.

He took his platform to say, basically, that bicyclists will get what they deserve if they don’t stand up and defend their rights to the road, and support the bicycling infrastructure when it gets attacked by gas guzzlers who don’t want to share funding or space.

“In the last year, a disturbing trend has been forming in our community. People, businesses and interest groups have been mobilizing to put the kibosh on bicycle projects with astonishing success,” he wrote.

He implored bicyclists to advocate for themselves, telling them how they can get involved in the transportation community.

What do you think? Is it us against them?

15 thoughts on “Star column talks bike advocacy; pits cyclists against motorists”
  1. When this us v. them argument comes up about cyclists in Tucson, I always think about how many bicyclists also drive cars. I would think that most of us drive (even though I don’t).

    I have also noticed recently that a surprising number of bozo drivers that have cut me off recently have a bike on top of their car. This is a reminder to not divide ourselves up into groups too easily.

  2. Wow – that’s a sad piece of writing by Andrea Kelly. I generally like her stuff, but the summary of the TucsonVelo editorial was atrocious and it seems she wrote this just to get the predictable and worn-out responses from both drivers and cyclist (as if there’s no overlap). She should be ashamed – journalism at its worst.

  3. Us against them?

    We’re the same as any minority. Most cyclists drive cars, too, but do not identify with the car culture.

    Auto drivers see bikes as imposers on their space and do not want to have to ever become bike riders.

    I don’t know. I’m thinking that auto drivers don’t dislike bikes any less than they dislike other auto drivers. People on bikes wave to each other and ring pleasant bells and seem to have each other’s back.

    But, before it got removed from the comment section, I copied Bob L.’s view.
    It is a real hoot-

    “Let’s get something straight. Cyclists are not Arrogant. We are simply better than exhaust head car drivers. In every measurable way we are better. We are stronger, thinner, faster, fitter, smarter, better educated, and more affluent. What annoys you about us is that you can’t do what we can do. In a million years you could not drag your man boobs and giggling belly fat up Mt. Lemmon or Gates Pass on a bike. It would literally kill you. Your cigarette smoke encrusted jelly donut filled heart would explode after a quarter mile. You see us and remember that in high school you used to be thin…maybe you played football, but now… well now you are FAT and have to rely on a 3000 pound vehicle to cart your enormity around town. You see us effortless(ly) doing that which you can not and your self loathing turns to anger and you hit your horn and curse at us… but really you’re cursing yourself and the disappointment of the mess you have become.”

    So true? So sad.

  4. Yup. Every time the star puts out an article about bicycles or alt transportation it’s written in a way so that a very large internet flame war can be started in its comment section. I don’t see a reason for the article otherwise. Same recycled stuff over and over.

  5. The focus in the general media is on cyclists and whether they run stop signs, get in the way of vehicles, etc. NPR had a story recently about backlash against cycling infrastructure, and a lot of drivers were screaming about cyclists. The spotlight needs to shift to how careless, impatient driving is accepted as a right in the U.S. You can get away with murder if you are behind the wheel. How many drivers do you see that are actually doing the speed limit? You’re late for something, so speed, tailgate, and generally bully your way along the street. You’re mad for whatever reason, just floor your SUV or pickup truck and take it out on the asphalt. We are a nation of driving scofflaws, and we are very self righteous about it. The point is that drivers who have that “out of my way” attitude, focus on cyclists as the fall guy, when they should be looking in the mirror. When I drive, I do the speed limit, and I feel bullied by drivers who are in a huge hurry, which appears to be the majority.

  6. Why would they remove Bob’s comment? It looks like all the other comments I usually see on that site. I went to check out when the lunar eclipse was tonight and people commented about how the city council wanted to put bike paths on the moon and that cyclist wouldn’t have to pay for them, why is that ok? I stopped posting there because they rarely ok’d it. I guess I’m not conservative enough for their standards.

  7. Mmm… I dunno. I haven’t really had any bad experiences with drivers. One guy in a truck drove up along side and screamed at me and scared me but that’s about it. I also had a guy on a bike tell me to get out of the bike lane when I dismounted and was lifting my bike up on the sidewalk. Here’s an idea, slow down a little till I’m up on the sidewalk and out of the way. Thanks.

    I don’t really see this war between bikes and cars thing. Everyone has been really nice to me since I parked my car and took up a bike back in June 2010. Everyone on bikes smiles or waves, or just starts conversations at stop signs. It’s pretty nice. It’s like being on a bicycle instantly makes us all friends. 🙂

  8. This was awesome. Thank all things mighty and powerful this was preserved by an astute observer before this magnificence was deleted for all eternity. The next time some driver honks or curses at me, I will just say to myself “you’re cursing yourself”.

  9. It was difficult to know where to start. Bicycles don’t pay their way? Um what about the 1% sales tax for the RTA? The myth that gas taxes fund roadways needs to be busted. Gas taxes contribute some small amount to the total, bond elections, federal transportation grants and matching funds and sales taxes pay the lion’s share of roadway costs. Let’s not even get started on the subsidised costs regarding motorised transportation. Local building codes require parking for automobiles. Let’s see, 24 hrs in a day, 7 days in a week, what percentage of parking spaces at a business are actually occupied in a 168 hour week? That’s dedicated infrastructure that we ALL pay for. If you think Safeway isn’t including the price of “free” parking in their pricing then you’re as naive as the posters in the comment thread following Andrea “Cager” Kelly’s column.

    Bicycles run stop signs? Absolutely and it’s wrong and it’s rude but so do cars. Just go to 4th and University during rush hour and start counting the cars that actually legally stop at the 4 way. The last time I bothered I was getting a number under 20% and this includes SunTran buses. The world would be a better place if ALL vehicles using the roads followed the law and were courteous and polite.

    Why do we ride the white line? Let’s see, because what you think is a bike path is actually the end of a road so riding on the other side is actually riding a paved shoulder. An example of this is Toole south of Broadway. The rock landscaped frontage spews debris every time it rains. Glass is always at the edge of the roadway, not the centre. The roads are crowned for drainage. There’s also the issue of substandard bicycle lanes, they aren’t wide enough in many places. Add to that the asphalt meeting the horizontal concrete curb edge creating a wheel trapping crevice and you’ve got less than 2 feet of usable bicycle lane. You can’t crowd the curb side because of pedal strike. The road at the edge is in the worst condition because heat and cars cause it to sag and when it sags it stretches and cracks. Of course the number one reason to ride wide is to prevent dooring. University Boulevard from Stone Ave. east, you are taking your life in your hands if you ride in the bike lane because you will be in the door zone if you do. Past Euclid where the striped lane actually ends you have to move to the centre of the lane so that the back in angle parked cars can see you when they go to pull out. Ride the edge and they’ll pull out in front of you plus you won’t have any reaction time when they do.

    Why can’t we just ride in our little assigned out of the way side streets and bike paths? Sure great and I try to do this as much as possible but riding down Mountain at 5:30 pm on Monday there was a constant parade of speeding cars along the entire route. You can’t have it both ways. If we get a quiet safe street then you don’t get to leverage my infrastructure because First Ave and Campbell are chock a block full of cars. Plus which also if you’re going to use Mountain as a commuter car route you ought to learn the speed limit and obey it. 30 mph from Speedway to Ft Lowell. 25 mph from Ft Lowell south all the way to Limberlost. Nobody drives 25 on the north section.

    Bicycles slow me down? So what’s your point here? Like most bicyclists I also drive a car. My subjective analysis would lead me to believe that the vast majority of my car trip delays are actually caused by cars. From flipped over tanker trucks on the interstate to red light running t-bones in the middle of intersections it’s invariably a car that slowed me down. Do you guys honk and scream at the trains? What about the road crews, hurling obscenities at them? They’re on foot mostly so you could let them know that their 175 pound bodies are no match for your 3,000 pound vehicle. Then there are those annoying buses. How dare they aggregate trips and efficiently move multiple passengers across the city lowering the number of actual vehicles on the roadways.

    Using cars to leverage an unsustainable lifestyle and then directing your anger towards people who haven’t bought into your insanity is denial in its most obvious form. We’re addicted to a drug. Anyone who challenges the addiction is the enemy. The people streaming obscenities at the bicyclists who are simply doing the exact same thing as the car drivers are doing, trying to get from point A to point B are bullies of the worst sort. Using your physical size and speed to intimidate at the peril of another person’s life is not only morally reprehensible it’s illegal. How we as a society continue to accept this is beyond me. We need a cultural shift where bicycles just become a part of the accepted transportation network. Andrea Kelly’s columns do nothing to further this goal. Agent Provocateur.

    Andrea wrote a couple of columns about trying alternative ways to get around in Tucson. She spent some small amount of time trying buses and a bike. It didn’t work out so well. Her job requires her to travel long distances to interview people. sometimes the interviews get set up on a moment’s notice. I hear all of that but at the same time I know that she didn’t really give it a good try. It took me a good year to figure out how to work the bike thing out. Actually it was probably longer and every day I figure something new out. Riding a bicycle like I do for ALL of my personal transportation needs is high context and it requires a lot of work to get it figured out. Luckily for me that work turns out to be fun. How do you get your groceries? In my case a Burley Nomad trailer. What about flats? (carry a pump and tools) How do I get to the airport? (bus) It’s lifestyle changing. If I won’t go hop in a car to go out and eat I find that I go out less. If I do go out I have to really want to because it’s not too easy to do. You won’t find me at the Jack in the Box because the cost benefit thing just isn’t there. I’m only going to Target if I really want something so I buy less. I did go to Crate and Barrel on Monday. Downtown to the top of Campbell is about 35 minutes. That’s on a fixie going up Via Entrada. You could hardly do better in a car. Need to go long distances but you’re in a kind of a hurry? Bike and bus. I’m still trying to figure out how to get to the Mom and Pop doughnut shop on Wrightstown. They sell out by 10:30 or so.

  10. The car has contributed to our superficially high economic base line by making it so easy to shop. Using a bike, like Straw, requires planning and deliberation and contributes to better efficiency and less waste. Naturally, fringe businesses will push for the status quo. Businesses that ‘say’ they favor a more multi-modal tranportation system are likely to be somewhat tentative when asked to cooperate in initial steps toward that system. What do we need to do to ease their concerns? Start a “I Buy By Bike” campaign?

  11. The car has contributed to our superficially high economic base line by making it so easy to shop. Using a bike, like Straw, requires planning and deliberation and contributes to better efficiency and less waste. Naturally, fringe businesses will push for the status quo. Businesses that ‘say’ they favor a more multi-modal tranportation system are likely to be somewhat tentative when asked to cooperate in initial steps toward that system. What do we need to do to ease their concerns? Start a “I Buy By Bike” campaign?

  12. The important thing is to be politely vocal and contact officials, etc to protect cycling access and infrastructure. Please email Supervisor Bronson and others about the Rillito bike path, for instance.

  13. If it were only the cars. Cars being the most obvious and visible manifestation of our energy largesse. The recently installed Davis Monthan solar array supplies 900 houses with 75% of their power needs. 570 million tons of carbon over the lifetime of the system. I’m guessing that’s 20 years. The vehicle equivalent is 50,000 in a year or 2,500 for one year if you use 20 years as the lifetime of the system. 675 houses vs 2,500 cars. Clearly consumption in general is a problem. Buy a bike couldn’t hurt. I’m not gonna haul a large screen tv back from Best Buy in the Burley or on the bus. So the benefit of more considered consumption is certainly a bonus. More with less. How could that be a bad thing. So yeah buy a bike but buy a nice used one.

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