The Spokesmen 81 – Mercenaries of the Road

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9 comments to The Spokesmen 81 – Mercenaries of the Road

  • Patrick Cafferty

    Hi David, Spokesmen, and listeners,

    Making the rounds in the Atlanta cycling community has been a rather insensitive article written about cyclists in a small publication:

    The timing of this article is disturbing, given a the recent death of a cyclist riding near Emory University campus who died after being struck by a vehicle:

    If the author of the above article had his way, there would be very little roads on which cyclists could ride in the state of Georgia, including most of the roads in the North Georgia mountains that made up the Tour of Georgia.

    Could you please mention the poll that the author has posted on his site, which asks: “Should bicyclists be allowed to use public highways with speed limits of 45 mph and above?” The poll is found here:

    Also, if you are inclined to contact the author, you can reach Glenn Harrison by phone at 706-632-2019 or by e-mail at

    Thank you so much, Spokesmen and listeners.

    Patrick Cafferty
    Local cyclist

  • DP-San Diego

    IMO, not honking at cyclists should NOT be an absolute rule. It is imperative that the overtaking vehicle, whether it be a car or a bicycle, do what they can to get the attention of a cyclist who appears to be distracted. I was almost taken out by another cyclist who was wearing headphones and veered toward me, apparently never hearing the bell I rang several times before and while passing. Of course it would be the fault of the distracted rider should they be killed, but the driver would nevertheless feel bad if they hadn’t taken the time to tap their horn in an effort to preserve another life.

  • DP-San Diego

    I often get the impression listening to The Spokesmen that sharing the road with cars is dangerous and not enjoyable. Maybe I miss or don’t comprehend comments that put the problems in perspective. About 95% of my commutes to work on busy Genesee Avenue are enjoyable. Motorists generally respect my hand signals and my bell. I give them room and help them make right turns. I talk to motorists and cyclists at red lights when I can. On the rare occasions when I do encounter a problem motorist, if they did not put me in danger, I courteously quote the DMV handbook.

  • Guys, you should do another roundtable on bicyclist education. I suggest you bring in Keri Caffrey of for the discussion. She will help you debunk your own myths on this subject.

  • Hi Rich.

    Can you give us some hints on the areas in which you think we’re off base? BTW, have you seen this video by The League of Illinois Bicyclists, featuring Robbie Ventura? I thought it was pretty good.


  • Dan,

    Thanks for your comments. Allow me to be clear: If I thought cycling on the road was “dangerous and not enjoyable,” I wouldn’t do it and I certainly wouldn’t allow my wife and kids to do it. However, like most things in this world, there are risks associated with cycling and it is my opinion that the risks of cycling on the road (especially in large cities like where you live in San Diego) is more dangerous than, say, walking on the sidewalk. I also believe that it could be made much safer with better driver, cyclist and politician education.

    As for riding on Genesse Avenue, I have ridden and driven there many times. That is a fairly wide street, with good shoulders, good road condition, good bike lanes (with more on the way, as you know), and drivers who are more accustomed to seeing and driving with cyclists than in many other places in the U.S. and around the world. The driver education and familiarity component cannot be stressed strongly enough. I’ve ridden extremely narrow city streets in Europe and felt far safer than on the widest city streets in the U.S., simply because the drivers there have better education and familiarity with cyclists than here.

    It is not my intention to discourage cyclists from riding on the road in cities. Rather, it is my intent to try to encourage them to be “good cycling citizens” while riding, and to encourage better education all around.

    Just my $0.02. I’m interested to hear what the rest of The Spokesmen think.


  • Chuck

    One of you mentioned sewing reflective tape into your gloves. Good idea, I put SOLAS reflective tape on my helmet whenever I buy a new one.

    Here’s a link to some gloves … what do you think?

  • oboe

    If I thought cycling on the road was “dangerous and not enjoyable,” I wouldn’t do it and I certainly wouldn’t allow my wife and kids to do it.

    I think there’s a diversity of opinion on the panel. Carlton is fantastic on these issues. David’s pretty good as well. Then you’ve got Byron living in terror, and the (otherwise great) Bob Moss talking about how he honks at cyclists who have the temerity to ride 4′ from the right shoulder so that they’ll know to get the Hell out of his way. I had to listen a couple of times to make sure he wasn’t joking.

  • oboe

    One other thing: I think it was Byron who was arguing that in America, there’s just no way we can ever get to the same level of bike-friendliness as you see in Europe. As evidence, he points to all these car-centric places in America.

    But all of Denmark certainly isn’t Copenhagen (if you’re riding in suburban Odense, you’re likely to have a less than optimal experience). Just as in the US, places are bike-friendly to a lesser or greater extent. Some places are becoming more so (DC, NYC, Chicago); others less so (e.g. anywhere in the South).

    That process of bifurcation will tend to increase over time: people who want to live in bikeable, walkable cities are going to move to those cities. People who don’t are going to tend not to. So the key is to move to a place that’s making that commitment, and help in that effort. Not to throw in the towel because some suburb of Huntsville, Alabama sucks.

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