Sunday, February 10, 2008

Velonews response

I've received quite a response since Velonews published the article about my snow plow incident.

I want to thank everyone for checking out the blog and leaving comments. For those interested in my camera setup, I’ll try and get a tutorial put together in the next week or so. There are a few things that need to be said about the comments. Some of my thoughts are about the content of the comments and some are about the tone of the comments.

First the tone of the comments.

I started this blog with the 2 main goals. The first was to affect positive changes in the way motorists and cyclists interact on the roads. The second was to share fun experiences my cycling friends and I have on the bike.

In furthering my first goal, I assumed that there would eventually be some discussion in the form of comments regarding my using cameras and pursuing citations where appropriate. There has been constructive discussion, but there have also been unfounded assumptions, name calling and unsubstantiated rumors. I will not post any comments containing the latter.

Second, regarding the content of the comments.

The main criticism I’ve heard is that I should have moved over to let the plow pass. I believe I took the safe and appropriate action by continuing on my ride. The reason is simple. I had no idea what the plows intentions were. He could have been turning right at the first light, he could have been preparing to make a u-turn or turn at an upcoming intersection. In all of these cases, my pulling off the road may very well have put me in greater danger. I would also like to point out that I was going the same speed as the other cars on the road at the time so I was not slowing the plow down. There was a stretch of road about a 1/8th of a mile ahead with little or no traffic and no snow due to a different city’s salting operation, so the plow had an easy place to pass me if he had just waited 10 seconds to do so.
Also, every piece bike safety literature I’ve ever seen says the safest way to ride is to be predictable. That is what I did. It was easy to predict my path because it was the same as it had been from the time I first encountered the plow. If I had tried to pull off to the side and hit a patch of ice, (there were large patches of bumpy ice from a previous storm) my path would have been anything but predictable.

The larger point isn’t whether I used the proper common sense in riding as I did, it’s whether the driver broke the law and endangered my life in the process. He did.
If the drivers violation had been running a red light and he had come within inches of hitting a grandmother in a cross walk coming home from the bus stop, the video would have made national newscasts and there would be calls for the driver to be fired. But because his violation of the law put a cyclist at risk, some believe that it is the person behaving legally who has to modify his behavior to accommodate the person violating the law. That view is completely ridiculous
I’ve heard that my lights were insufficient and the driver couldn’t see me because of blowing snow. I’d like to know how someone could know the brightness of my lights from reading the column or my blog? At the time of the incident it was snowing lightly to moderately and there was almost no wind. I believe the driver saw me because he told me to get off the road.

Lastly I’d like to talk directly to Mr. Anonymous who commutes 70 miles a day. I didn’t call you out for posting anonymously, it was another persons comments. I will happily post anonymous comments as long as they meet the above mentioned criteria. You certainly seem to lose a little credibility though, when you post misdirected defensive comments. I don’t think myself a primadona, I began this activity not to draw attention to myself, but to the cause of bike safety. And yes Jeff is my real name, try googling it. I’m not ashamed to put my name in front of the cause of bike safety. I am a good ambassador for the sport. The only time I yell is at the point I’m about to get hit. I yell instead of using a horn.
Stay safe
Ride on


ROP said...

I called out anonymous, not Jeff. The guy/woman was clearly trying to be confrontational and seems to have little if any experience on a bike. If she/he had some, the discussion would have taken a different direction. We have more snowplows per capita than any other city in North America in Minneapolis, MN. Any plow driver that pulled something like this would be fired immediately after presenting this kind of video evidence. Government jobs pay well and should not be performed in such a dangerous, lackadaisical fashion as Jeff experienced.

Jeff said...

I know you called out anonymous, not me, and I have no problem with that. I hope you didn't misunderstand my mention of the anonymous post, I wasn't bothered by the calling out, I just wanted to point out the errors in the long rambling anonymous post.

monkey's uncle e said...

Jeff, I enjoy the blog. I found if off of Velonews. I live in Madison and commute by bike (only about 2.5 miles each way) most days if the temp is above 10 degrees. What sort of tires are you using? Slicks? Knobby? or different bikes & tires for different conditions?

SiouxGeonz said...

The English teacher you should have had says you prob'ly mean to effect positive change, not just affect it :)

I do syspect anonymous is somebody resisting such changes... who wishes cyclists would simply stop riding except when it doesn't interfere at all with any motorists or plow operators' whims.

Jeff said...

monkeys uncle e,
I was riding panaracer 1.8" fire xc pros the night of the plow incident. I've also ridden slicks on the old road bike. Depends on the snow conditions. If there is a lot of old packed snow and ice I'll ride the knobbies if the roads were clear before the snow I'm riding in I'll take the roadie and try and go fast.

Ed W said...

Jeff...I read your explanations, and while I normally defend any cyclist's right to use the roadway, in this case I believe you were wrong. Snowplows perform a public safety function by clearing the roads for all of us to use. You wouldn't think twice about yielding your space to an ambulance or police car with lights and sirens running. A snowplow is performing a similar public good, maybe not as critical as an ambulance or police car on a call, but definitely similar in that it helps to prevent crashes.

Jeff said...

ed w,
You normally defend any cyclist's rights to use the roadway except in this case you believe I was wrong? Was the plow driver also wrong? If he was, which of the wrongs was worse, my being out riding when most people wouldn't have or him almost causing a fatal crash by not following the law or common sense in waiting until it was safe to pass.
A snow plow is in no way analogous to any emergency vehicle. Yes a snow plow is performing a public service, but so are busses and vans delivering meals to the elderly. Should they all be allowed to buzz me and almost kill me or other cyclists?

Sonja said...

Hi Jeff, I saw this on velonews. Anyone (Plowboy included-public safety vehicle or not)who intentionally and knowlingly and deliberately puts another in harm's way because of their own ignorance or opinion is wrong. The debate isn't about what the weather was or whether or not you should have been there (who cares-it's anyone's right; want to ride in snow? ride in snow...)the debate is did plowboy break the law...yeah I'd say so. If you want to go off the logic of "snowplows are public service vehicles and bikes should move" does this mean I have to allow myself to be sucked up by the leave picker-upper in the fall too? Or the street sweeper has the right to go over me if stopped at a light by the curb? I don't think so. Like my one bike jersey says...I AM traffic too!