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ARP bicycle etiquette – a rant July 16, 2012

Posted by Bill in Reflection.
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no biking signIf you’re reading this, you aren’t the reason for this post.  However, readers here may care to share the rant, as it’s a common frustration for all of us.

Riding ability runs the extreme gamut on the AR Parkway.  That six-foot-wide strip of asphalt is shared by three year-olds with training wheels, professional-level teams, and everyone in between.  Yesterday I experienced the extremes of what one can in the way of riding etiquette.  I had a pace line of four women blow my me, but not before the lead rider called out “Four on your left!”, with each woman behind the lead saying hello as she passed, and the last woman saying “I’m it!”  Contrast this with the tri-biker who blasted past me without a word at the same time we passed a two-abreast set of riders coming in the opposite direction.  Frankly, I’m pretty used to the adolescent rudeness of the tri-narcissists (oops, did I say that?), but their juvenile antics and obvious sense of entitlement is not only an affront to Emily Post.  No, it’s also responsible for some horrific wrecks on the bike path.

In 2011, there were 25 serious accidents that required intervention by emergency services on the ARP.  I’ve come upon a few of these scenes, and all the ones I’ve seen were consequent to high-speed passing.  I’ve seen club pace lines bullying their way down the parkway with no regard to crowded conditions, with serious pileups a not uncommon outcome.

If you’ve accidentally stumbled upon this blog post because you Googled “Triathlete” hoping for news on the latest undetectable testosterone supplement, you’ve probably already mumbled something like “frikkin’ geezer.”  Fine for you, and happy hunting, but this kind of parkway usage has been noticed by county authorities who have had to reduce ranger coverage and enforcement from 25 officers to 12 in the past couple years, and like all agencies are looking for ways to mitigate this kind of liability due to irresponsible public behavior.  If you have the patience, you can read the 28-page report detailing their hand-wringing HERE.

And I end with this, not because it’s enlightening, but only because I can’t not say it:  The ARP bike trail has a 15 MPH posted speed limit.  Yeah, I know a lot of us work out well above that, but what is the spirit of that idea?  Is it because government is by nature fascistic, forever seeking random rules to impose to limit our freedom?  Or could it be that triathletes and bike teams aren’t the only taxpayers out there?  In that report cited above is a mention of the possibility of the need to limit access to certain users due to the inability to adequately enforce existing rules.

Dangerous riders have a choice here.  They can ignore this warning and take what comes in the way of limiting access (speed bumps? parking controls/payments/permits?), or perhaps they can find a shred of empathy amidst their testosterone blur long enough to share the trail safely and considerately that government can pay attention elsewhere in their efforts to protect us from each other.