Published online, August 2012
It seems to me that the bicycle enthusiasts want to rule the roadways; roadways that were never intended for bikes. What this modern version or the chain gang wants is less cars in their way! But what these would be rulers of the road mostly do is break the rules, the rules we call traffic laws. I see bikes every day in downtown Portland rolling through red lights, ignoring stop signs, making illegal lane changes, failing to stop before exiting private property, riding three or more abreast and flying by pedestrians on the sidewalk without giving the pedestrian an “audible” warning. Audible warnings are required by those pesky traffic laws before overtaking a pedestrian. I'm not exaggerating. Spend an hour downtown and watch the bicycle outlaws violate the traffic code. When you run out of fingers on which to count the infractions, I have made my point.
Is “outlaws” to strong a word to describe the “chain gang?” Haven't we always referred to those that ignore and break laws as outlaws? In my mind the bicycle community that ignores the traffic code are indeed outlaws!
When I'm downtown I feel like I have to practice “defensive walking,” and should have a rear view mirror on my shoulder. Answer this question please: Say I'm strolling down the sidewalk on the transit mall and get hit from behind by a bicyclist that did not give me an audible warning and whizzed by me zigging when they should have zagged? My leg is broken and I'm in severe pain. Who pays? Well, clearly the cyclist that hit me while breaking the law by not giving me an “audible” warning as they approached is liable for my injuries and hospital bills as well as my “pain and suffering.”
There are a lot of lawyers that would be willing to take my case. However it has been my experience in life that miscreants that are liable almost never have insurance or other ability to pay. The problem of who pays in an accident was solved by the state long ago as it applies to motorists. Motorists have to have liability insurance as well as a license to drive and pay to have their vehicles registered to them by the state. This produces both revenue and assurance regarding who pays when a motorist messes up.
What a concept! This financial responsibility for motorists that use the roadways. Let's apply this same common sense approach to bike riders. License, register and demand liability insurance from these two wheelers or stay off the road that wasn't intended for bicycles in the first place.
There were four wise men in the 2009 Oregon legislature that sponsored legislation to license and register bike riders “Oh no you don't” was the collective response of the chain gang. “You can't make us responsible, you can't make us register, you can't make up pay the suggested $54 biannual fee!”
In my opinion the bike lobby shot themselves in the foot. Not only would it have made them financially responsible for accidents it would have produced income to help finance their own pet projects like more and better “bike only” lanes, more “green way streets” and more Springwater trails. Instead they want funding from the city, state and federal sources.
They want someone else to pay. They want a “world class” bike city. What the hell is a “world class” bike city anyway? One with no motor vehicles and plenty of bridges to occupy?
Bridge pedal is one of my pet peeves and I have two words to say about it. It's bullshit. Wait, is bullshit two words by itself? No?
I believe the bureaucrats at city hall way overstepped their authority closing bridges and using police resources to facilitate this obstruction. It is pandering to the chain gang at its worst. There is no doubt the city of Portland has the “authority” to “regulate” traffic on the bridges crossing the Willamette river. But is stopping all traffic on all of the bridges “regulating” or is it a blatant pandering to a special interest group that interferes with Interstate Commerce.
The Vancouver City Mayor in a recent TV interview on Channel 8's “Straight Talk” program said that a billion dollars in commerce crosses the river into Oregon each year, some of it on its way to Portland. I can imagine the frustration of a long haul trucker with a $100,000 in product arriving in town only to find the bridge to his destination blocked by police protecting a drove of bicycle riding gawkers! Were I the owner of said trucking company I'd be in the Portland Mayors office with a couple of scoop fulls of crap to show my appreciation of his interest in bicycles.
My experience with bicycles comes from my several years as a Portland police officer assigned to the traffic division where I picked up too many bent and broken bodies of bicycle riders. I thought then and I still believe now that who ever decided that bicycles and motor vehicles could share the same chunk of asphalt was an idiot!
In the final analysis it is not the traffic laws that the chain gang needs to worry about, it is the law of averages. If you run the same old stop sign and hurriedly roll through the same red light every day you're gonna get creamed!! When a bike collides with a taxi or an 18 wheeler the 18 wheeler wins every time. Grow up bikers. For your own safety stay out of the street!
By Don DuPay
ABSOLUTELY NO PORTION OF THIS PERSONAL ESSAY MAY BE REPRODUCED OR DISSEMINATED WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR, DONALD LEE DUPAY, UNDER PENALTY OF COPYRIGHT LAWS!!