UT Letters to the Editor

(Edit: as of mid morning on Wednesday 10 January, the UT inserted the photo into the article and removed the comments section. However, they did not issue a correction statement as most professional journalism organizations would do.)

When cyclists have their own lanes, they should use them is the catchy title of a headline (probably written by their Chargers reporter) over on the website of the San Diego Union Tribune (UT). This is isn’t the first time the newspaper has unethically editorialized bicycling topics.  The page features two short letters to the editor. Being that this is a bicycling blog, readers can probably guess the content of the letters.

Surprise!

These letters complain about those horrible scofflaw bicyclists of not using bike lanes  getting in the way. On top of that, these war criminals are mothers hauling their children around on their bicycles.

IN THE STREET!

I can’t ever imagine anybody over at the UT would bother to take the time to explain the fact that CVC 21208 the “mandatory bike lane law” allows bicyclists to leave bike lanes for a variety of reasons and these urban areas with plenty of potential conflicts by default which make most of the bike lanes not mandatory to use no matter hot much it “inconveniences” motorists. Bicyclists are never required to place themselves in a dangerous position on the road just to convenience others. But whatever, stuff like that doesn’t sell papers.

The UT did choose a cool picture of a bicyclist riding over a shared-lane marking somewhere in what looks like Encinitas or Solana Beach. Knowing the advocates up there, that marking was placed in the proper position in the lane unlike this incompetent work down on the Bayshore Bikeway which was awarded some fancy award from the League of American Bicyclists.

img_0940
(author’s photo)

Anyways, the first letter comes from Gary:

Interesting piece (“Road study changes lanes,” Jan. 7) about Oceanside’s widened bike lanes and safety buffers resulting in the loss of a lane for motorized vehicles.

The accompanying picture shows a woman on a bike, with attached stroller (complete with child) still outside even the newly expanded lane. And yet cyclists still wonder why drivers get so annoyed

Who wants to take a bet that Gary doesn’t understand that bicyclists are allowed to leave bike lanes for a variety of reasons.

Fun fact: Cyclists get annoyed at people like Gary who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

The second letter, from the city in the country known as Poway comes from Elwyn who says the following:

Is it arrogance, entitlement or just plain stupidity for this mother to be biking outside the clearly marked lane? She is challenging 4,000-pounds-plus with her little child. The cars usually win.

Bless Elwyn’s heart for her exquisite knowledge of physics and her fine choice in vocabulary. Arrogant? Entitled? Stupid? Clearly marked lane? How about this Elwyn, pay attention and drive your car and then maybe you won’t hit a cyclist? Deal?

Looking and looking around on the UT’s website, using Google and different search methods lead to no article with title mentioned in Gary’s letter and no similar articles on that date or anywhere near it. Turns out the article, and the photograph were published in the paper version of the North County edition of the paper. In other words, only subscribers in North County or those who know where to find the pdf version of the North County edition would see it. Yet any viewer, subscriber or not to the UT page sees the two letters above and is mislead by the UT to think the bicyclists are being unnecessary road hog child abusers. (see note above, UT ninja edited the website)

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 19.24.39

(Author’s screenshot of content from San Diego Union Tribune. Fair use for commentary and criticism applies.)

Sure enough we see two women riding bicycles hauling children with “attached strollers. ”   down the Coast Highway in Oceanside.

A similar thing caused a massive diarrhea throwing drama tantrum over on Twitter earlier this week when some supposed “sciencey” lady from LA called women who carry their children on bicycles “assholes.” Why it’s this Twitter science lady’s business or the business of the two letter writers how other parents raise their kids is beyond me. The two women bicyclists are placing their kids in far less harm than the parents who raise their kids to be lazy entitled snots who are dependent on mommy to park her off-road Starbucks drive-thru-ready Range Rover five feet from the school door when they’re being picked up or dropped off.

So aside from the fact these women carrying their children on bicycles riding in the street amounts to some sort of crime against humanity and some snot over in the UT comments section is insisting Child Protective Services be called to remove these kids from their abusive mothers, these women are riding side by side.  Riding side by side of course is also a crime against humanity too punishable by only the most painful burns by ignorant commenters internet-wide.

They could be doing this for one of two reasons.

  1. The two are chatting with each other impeding traffic and killing puppies. 
  2. One is passing the other.
  3.  It doesn’t matter.

It appears from the photo there is a black BMW passing them with plenty of clearance which proves there’s hope in humanity. A few hundred feet behind is a platoon of cars bunched up from the last traffic signal. There’s even two motorcyclists riding side by side. So, even if the one bicyclist was “blocking” the “car lane,” she probably had plenty of time to complete her pass and move back over “out of the way” to make room for that platoon of car drivers who are actually going somewhere.

So really, it doesn’t matter why the two are siding side by side. The buffer zone is sort of a no-man’s land between the bike lane and the travel lane. Bicyclists are permitted to ride in it and many do because it’s a comfortable place to ride and they’re far more visible to all those texting cagers than if they were in the gutter. It’s very hard to see in the UT photo thanks to the distortion and point of view but the buffer is there in the foreground after the railroad tracks as well. Perhaps the LA “science” lady could lay off calling mothers “assholes” for carrying their children on bicycles and tweet about how telephoto lenses work?

Side note on that buffer and the bike lane itself,  motorists are required to merge into them as close to the right as practicable when making right turns although few do. Using a turn signal is a plus too.

Both letter writers also accuse one of the women of the crime of riding outside the bike lane! It seems these two were so fixated on that part of the photo alone that they didn’t notice the massive buffer space in the lane before the railroad tracks nor did ether bother to use basic reading skills to see the words right below the photograph which also mentioned the buffer space. We know they didn’t read the article because who does but it probably mentions some of this as well.

In a Google Street View image from last summer of the same area, looking in the same direction but with a different angle, the buffer is obvious. Gary, who claims in his letter he’s from the area, probably knows the buffer exists but maybe he was too busy scratching his balls instead of focusing on driving to notice. We can forgive the other cloud yeller because Poway is kind of sort of far from Oceanside. The maroon SUV in the Streetview photo is more or less in the same position on the roadway where the cyclists and the BMW are in the UT photo.

Compare to what the roadway configuration used to look like, the “road diet” configuration is certainly much better for bicyclists now as it doesn’t cower them to the gutter where many of them would ride thanks to society’s expectation that bicyclists are always supposed to be “out of the way.”

Some wouldn’t want projects like this if:

  • 40,000 + people didn’t die each year from automobile crashes.
  • Police actually took crimes like last week’s hit and run seriously.
  • We stopped calling crashes “accidents”
  • DMVs treated driving licenses as actual privileges and revoked them from the ones who refuse to drive safely.
  • Bicyclists paid their share, stopped at stop signs, wore helmets, and didn’t wear funny clothes. 
  • We had better drivers in general who obeyed speed limits, drive predictably, don’t drive pickup trucks with bald tires at 60 in a 45 down wet roads, yield for pedestrians, save their snapchats until they’re in the parking lot, etc.

The old bike lane before the “road diet” days was extremely narrow and half of it was in the gutter and the other half was on the pavement. The two travel lanes encouraged higher speed travel. What was in the bike lane was irrelevant to the motorists speeding by. Bicyclists were at a much higher risk being at that edge for all the potential collisions. The unacceptable riding surface (gutters are for drainage!) and the debris that’s well known to collect in the gutters made things unsafe too.

Most bicyclists educated in the law and who understand safe riding skills would have ignored that old bike lane altogether and controlled the lane which probably infuriated crybabies too who were asleep the day in driver’s ed when they were instructed on how to tap the brakes, use the blinkers, check the mirrors, and pass slow moving vehicles in the adjacent lane. At the higher speeds from the old design, bicyclists using that bike lane were at a much higher risk of sideswipe crashes, right hooks, left crosses, and drive-outs.

The new design has its flaws though also. A few hundred feet to the south they, being the city of Oceanside, striped the bike lane in the door zone. This one is nowhere near as bad as some of the garbage in other places though.

In closing, shame on the San Diego Union Tribune for posting this junk, especially with the bad title and for failing to post the article and photo for the rest of us to see. Shame on these letter writers too and the snot in the comments insisting CPS be called on these parents. Joke’s on them because they’re bitching about absolutely nothing.

Sorry, these mothers are badasses and they’re raising their kids to be too.

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