Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Column Can Be A Good Read, But I Don't Have To Agree With Everything In It

Hard to believe this cold snap is lasting so long. Wear layers, breatable fabrics if possible. But don't overdress.

I enjoyed reading the reaction on Bicycle Stories to Mike Thomas's recent column in the Orlando Sentinel.

Keep in mind it's an opinion column that was desigend to be inflammatory, written with a chip the size of boulder on his shoulder. Thomas's column was an emotional -- and well-written -- in-your-face column authored as a counter-strike to drivers who don't appreciate road bicyclists on country roads.

Columns usually include hyperbole and their goal is to evoke visceral reactions. Mike is big road cyclist. And while it was written with a confrontational attitude that made me cringe at some points, I got the sense that it was written with the emotions that you would feel if a motorist came within a few inches of hitting you while also screaming, "Get off the road and get on the sidewalk." When you get buzzed by a car and verbally harrassed by a motorist, do you politely point out to the driver that his driving behavior was inappropriate?

For the record, my official policy is this: I advise all bicyclists to follow the three Cs with motorists -- civility, cooperation and courtesy. Some of you have witnessed me constantly wave to motorists in the ambassadorial spirit of sharing the road and making a connection between bicyclist and motorist.

I believe bicyclists and drivers need to cooperate and behave in a civil manner in sharing an often-too-narrow road where both bicyclist and motorist have an equal right to the road.

That doesn't mean, however, I can't respect a funny and well-written column as just that -- a well-crafted column written with some humor and passion and love for cycling. Did I agree with everything Mike wrote? No. But it was a good read, which, as defined by me, means a well-written provocative column that makes you react on a subject you care about.

For a Web site that endorses cooperation between bicyclist and driver, check out David Zabriskie's As many of you know, Zabriskie is a world-class cyclist who has biked with big-time teams such as the United States Postal Service. Zabriskie knows all about getting hit -- he was struck by an SUV that made a left turn right into him in 2003

Zabriskie's message: "We all travel life’s roads. I stand before you to ask for your cooperation in providing safe space for cyclists. When you see a cyclist on the road, please, yield to life."

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