Hopefully, Carolyn Szczepanski's article "Uneasy Riders" serves as a wake-up call to motorists in KC. As one of the subjects (described as "Injured"), I'm a little bit disappointed, though.
First off, the article is scary. I know the mantra: If it bleeds, it leads. I'm sure it wasn't intended to frighten riders off the road. My bicycling friends from out of town don't want to ride with me in KC after reading it, though! It might, in fact, cause some area cyclists to stop riding. Not me, of course — but some people are now frightened of being "set on fire," "injured" or "killed" on their bikes. Also, the wording reinforces a hit-and-run mentality in motorists. What I would learn from it is to watch out for bicyclists, but get away before they can identify me if I happen to hit one.
It paints a very, very grim portrait of cycling that's not even close to representing how most of us feel when we hop on our trusty steeds to ride. Simply put, if any of us feared for our lives, we wouldn't be riding.
Noah Dunker, Lenexa
After reading your article, I found myself thinking of all the times I have had to veer into oncoming traffic with my family in the car, nearly missing a head-on collision because an avid bicyclist (I could tell from his $15,000 riding gear) decided his bicycle was too perfect to tread on some lowly sidewalk that was a mere 3 feet away.
Lately I have passed quite a few who decided that the roadway was far better than riding safely out of the way on the sidewalk as I drove down the roads. Forget it if they are in a pack!
We should all be content to drive in a long procession of vehicles crawling at a scorching 10 mph as these folks wish to enjoy their hobby.
I have much sympathy for those who have been injured or even killed by motorists not being courteous or even mildly careful. But at the same time, I do not enjoy getting flipped off by some Lance Armstrong wannabe because I pass him as quickly as I can before the oncoming concrete truck takes me and my family out.
K. Pearsall, Grandview
"Uneasy Riders" has me all choked up. You see, I am not only a bicycle commuter but a killer as well.
When I was a 19-year-old driver, I hit a beautiful 18-year-old girl on a bike ride and killed her. No charges were filed against me; the young woman lost control of her bike when she looked back over her shoulder and swerved in front of me. I tried to steer away, but it was too late. She was dead by the time I could stop the car and run to where she landed.
I have spent every day of the past 29 years trying to figure out how I could have avoided that accident. I have never felt that I deserved any happiness since that moment.
I understand the anger of the bicyclists you profiled, and I understand the pain of their families. I understand that the law says bicyclists have a right to the road. But I also understand the laws of physics and that accidents happen. So when I ride, if there is a sidewalk, I am on it. Riding on the street puts me at great risk of getting hit by a car, but it also puts some poor driver at risk of hitting me. I don't want that to happen to either of us.
Here in Johnson County, the government folks like to brag about how many bike trails there are. Problem is, they don't go anywhere. Bicycling is treated as recreation, not transportation. Until there are roads designated for bicycles or bike paths that connect neighborhoods to business and industry, drivers will keep killing bicyclists.
M. Martin, Olathe
Jen, I will miss your Night Ranger articles. You're a rock star!
Thank you for interviewing me at the Lava Room several months ago. I greatly appreciated you squeezing in how I meet the boys there and how I met my girlfriend there, too (now my ex-girlfriend). I tried. Oh, well.
Congratulations on your new position at The Pitch. I know you'll rock that, too. Tony Jones, Overland Park
The City: November 1
A recent comic by Derf criticized Laura Bush for trying to raise awareness of breast cancer. I have to wonder if The Pitch is as sexist as the cartoonist. Here is a person trying to help women, and she gets ridiculed. By extension, anyone who laughed at or agreed with the content is also a sexist, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Enough of the liberal mind-fuck about what people are. Though it doesn't indicate that anything connected to George Bush will be criticized by neolibs, no matter how important or correct it is.
Calvin Oyler, Claycomo