Whose roads? Our roads!

The nanny-state ninnies in DeeCee are at it again, slipping a mandatory sidepath provision into the draft of the Senate’s transportation authorization, a.k.a. S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

The portion dealing with the federal lands transportation program reads as follows:

(d) BICYCLE SAFETY—The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road.

No, no and hell no, thanks all the same. As the League of American Bicyclists notes, this egregious bit of transportation segregation “ignores our fundamental right to the road.”

There’s a perfect example of why this is a ridiculous notion right here in Bibleburg. North 30th Street is a narrow, high-speed road that cyclists use to get to the Garden of the Gods or to the hilly roads around the Flying W Ranch. There is an alternative route — a “multipurpose path” east of the street that connects to a serviceable west-side path — but the eastern leg is in woeful condition, a hodgepodge of lumpy, thousand-year-old chip-seal and pulverized-granite road base that erodes at the slightest bit of run-off.

I don’t mind riding it, but I’m usually on a old steel cyclo-cross bike. Some more sensitive types with five-figure plastic fantastics find the trail less navigable and so stick to the road.

And why shouldn’t they? These are our roads, as in everyone’s, not just the folks texting their office-mates, kinfolk and sweethearts while barreling along behind the wheel of a multiton hunk of Detroit iron.

The choice to use road or path is and should remain an individual one. The League is on this like a sweaty jersey, but if you’d like to add your voice to theirs, sign their petition reminding the Senate that bikes have a right to the road. Tell the silly sods to Occupy the clues closet for a change.

A tip of the Mad Dog Media riot helmet to Khal S., LAB rat and longtime friend of the DogS(h)ite.

23 Responses to “Whose roads? Our roads!”

  1. Boz Says:

    Since Jim Oberstar lost to Tea-Bagger Chip Cravatte, we have less of a strong, common sense presence in congress to keep this sort of crap at bay. It truly is painful to see all of the attacks on anyone and anything not involving the depletion on fossil fuels as transportation. The Repugs say they want less and less regulation, but seem to be pushing more and more regulations on those that aren’t goose-stepping along with them!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Boz, suffering as I do from a broad streak of paranoia I often wonder whether “our” elected representatives slip idiocy like this into legislation to distract us from other issues:

      “If we keep the silly sonsabitches looking thataway they won’t notice this executive order to dispose of nuclear waste by adding it to infant formula.”

      Which shell is the pea under again? Oh, yeah, right — none of ’em. Sheesh.

  2. John A. Levy Says:

    thanks for the heads up. Gawd won’t won’t those morons come up with next. I have met and talked to both my U.S. senators and they are not stupid but put them in D.C. and they lose all sense of reason and common sense, what do they ingest stupid pills along with lobbyist’s money? Sorry rhetorical question.

  3. Garu Says:

    Thanks for commenting on this in the Dog. I have signed the petition and also passed it on to a number of others. The car/oil/road people try to chip away at bicyclists rights at every opportunity. We gotta fight back every time, all the time.

  4. BenS Says:

    Thanks for the heads up. Petition signed and link re-posted to my Facebook page and club listserve.

    Imposing a new burden on cyclist because of an imagined ideal that separate facilities will be equal is inherently unfair and bad policy.

  5. sharon Says:

    I’ve had so many conversations with the DOT guys that I feel like a broken record. They must train them nationwide to try to push bicycles to the paths every chance they get. Their philosophy is thus – “Cars use the road for commuting to and from work and that is the primary purpose of roads. Bicycles use the road for fun and recreation so don’t need to use the roads – they can use the path” (with dirt clods, glass, walkers, strollers, flooding, etc). Hmmm…let me see if I can follow that logic. Kick off all of the retired people and kids in cars that don’t have jobs off the roads. Kick off all the parents taking their kids to school/activities off the road. Kick off all of the workers driving to lunch during the day (brown bag it) and kick off all of the workers who are traveling by car to the gym, to the bowling alley, etc for fun/recreation. Bottom line is that lazy, fat, greedy people don’t want to share the road with those on a bike. But make no mistake, when I ride my bike, I am commuting from somewhere to somewhere else – so am using my bike for 2-wheel transportation (which is the intended purpose for a road) regardless if I am riding to work, to my parents home out in the country, to the grocery store or for a circuit ride.

  6. swell Says:

    God where do they find the time for this horse crap?

  7. Jeff Cozad Says:

    I’m just wondering which Congress Critter was responsible for this little gem. While I don’t mind bicycle paths, I keep telling anyone around here that will listen is that we already have them everywhere. They’re call roads.

  8. James Says:

    And somewhere in Holland cyclists cried…..http://youtu.be/n-AbPav5E5M

    Maybe if we DID have separate and equal paths – along with the provision that motorists are at fault in any collisions – this wouldn’t be such a problem.

    There I go spouting commie pinko thoughts again….sorry!

  9. barry Says:

    Separate but equal….hmm, that sounds familiar.

  10. Khal Spencer Says:

    Thanks for posting this Patrick. You get LOTS of air time.

  11. Sami Says:

    I am with Patrick O’Grady on this one: we have been successfully diverted from addressing more important issues in the bill. Where is the LAB analysis of the bill? Andy Clark is too busy writing long missives about sidepaths to have analyzed the real issues. There is some work done on the substance of the Bill here: http://t4america.org/blog/

  12. Larry T. Says:

    I signed the petition. This shit makes even less sense from here in Italy where plenty of folks ride bikes- for fun and to avoid driving a car on the narrow, congested roads on a short trip. I laugh each time I ride over to any store off the island because I’m usually passing folks in cars stuck in traffic. Add in $10 a gallon for the dead-dinosaur juice and I wonder why more folks aren’t riding — but at least those that do don’t get run off the road by the motorists! Sadly, in the USA bikes are toys or transportation for the poor, neither deserves any consideration in the thinking of road-builders or those who provide the funds.

  13. John Says:

    Not to defend this turd of a law in any way, but perhaps we need Charles “The Explainer” Pelkey to get in this conversation. It seems to say that this law applies only to “federally owned” roads, so does that mean it doesn’t apply to state and local roads? What if a state or local road was built or maintained using some federal dollars, is it then a “federally owned” road? If the law applies to exclusively owned federal roads, then it wouldn’t apply to state highways and local roads, right? So, POG, unless North 30th Street is a federal road (like the interstates), it appears that this law shouldn’t apply.

    It seem that in the end this law may end up applying to very few roads, but anytime there’s a distinction made between a motorized vehicle and a bicycle that favors the lazy asses in the car, it’s bad news for all of us.

  14. barry Says:

    Thank you John for bringing up that perspective, because I was wondering about similar points.

    I think part of the difference is Eastern vs. Western property ownership and rights therein. Here in NC, I’m pretty sure only the State or the Cities and Towns maintains roads- most counties don’t have the infrastructure to do it. Most road maintenance is done by the state over here.

    However, the difference is out West. Out there is a lot of Federally owned land- and I suppose a lot of Federally owned and maintained roads. That said, it does seem odd to think the Feds own and maintain N 30th Street.

    But also like I said…separate but equal brings back some sickening thoughts- which somewhat agrees with your final comment.

    • John Says:

      I used to work for the Mesa County (Colorado) roads department doing their GIS work, so I have a really good idea of what’s local, county, state and federal roads around here. Probably unlike where you are Barry, out here the counties are mostly quite large, and the majority of the road miles are county roads. All of the highways connecting the bigger cities are state highways, including the interstates. Unless they consider the interstates “federal roads” because they receive some federal funding, the only major federal roads that I’m aware of anywhere near here are those roads in National Parks.

      But there are lots of federally owned “minor” roads on BLM and Forest Service land. All of these that I can think of are gravel or dirt, and I can think of only two in Mesa County that can be said to have an “adjacent paved path”, and in both cases that paved path is actually I-70. So I don’t think that’s what they had in mind when they wrote this law.

      Which makes me wonder: what do they have in mind in proposing this law? State law already says that cyclists are prohibited from riding on the interstate if there’s an adjacent frontage road. So as near as I can figure (and I’m no lawyer), this law wouldn’t change a thing around here.

      Most likely some cyclist riding on a road in DeeCee forced the chauffeur hauling some congressman’s fat ass around to take his foot slightly off the gas, and that’s why we’re seeing this pointless, yet turd, of a law proposed.

      • barry Says:

        Right you are John. I work in my local GIS office now (I’ve been with the county for 21 years, but two different departments) and the road ownership is similar here. Roads are either declared public or private, which means that the land the road and right-of-way on either side of said road are either in the public domain or the private domain. Of course private domain roads don’t typically have any right-of-way at all…they’re just there. Public-domain roads still fall further under another set of circumstances- who will pay to maintain them. Around here the only public entities that maintain roads are towns or the State. If it’s not maintained by either of them and you want to buy a lot or house on one of those roads…caveat emptor. I’m not aware of any federally maintained roads around here- even the interstate highways (which are off limits to cyclists anyway regardless of frontage roads).

        That said, I’m fully aware of the large amount of BLM land out there. But like you, I can’t imagine too many of those roads having paved paths or much traffic at all anyway.

        I still don’t grasp what that law is trying to do in light of what I know about public roads on this side of the country at least.

  15. Khal Spencer Says:

    The short answer is we have no idea how exactly this will play out if passed.

    In the West, the Feds own a lot of land. Some roads, such as National Park and Forest Service roads, could be strictly regulated by this law. In my town, the U.S Dept. of Energy owns the land under, and maintains some of the critical big roads in Los Alamos County. But legal enforcement goes to State and local cops. What would apply? We don’t know yet because the Feds have never tried to pass a law that trumped local jurisdiction. This is a clusterfuck waiting to happen, and a bad one for cyclists. Get behind the League on getting Congress to shitcan this provision.

    • John Says:

      Hey Khal. In Grand Junction we do have a federal road, in a National Park entity, where the Feds HAVE asserted that their laws trump state and local laws. Oddly enough, one instance involves the safety of cyclists, or lack thereof. Colorado state law requires motorists to give cyclists a minimum of three feet while passing. However, no such federal law exists, the feds say only to “pass safely”; therefore this requirement doesn’t exist in our local National Park entity (Colorado National Monument). For example, last week while riding in Colorado National Monument I had a truck pass me so closely that I was literally run off the road (had I stayed on the road I would have been squished for sure). A park ranger saw it happen, pulled the driver over, and (as I found out later) issued him a warning. So apparently “no blood, no foul”, and NO three foot rule.

      To draw a closer parallel with your situation, the local roads department actually does winter maintenance on a portion of this road. So, based on what we have here, who does maintenance has no bearing on what regulations, federal, state, or local, apply to the road.

      As for which laws trump which, we’d have to ask Pelkey to be sure, but as far as I know federal law trumps everybody (I think the Civil War had something to do with this). Beats me what the pecking order is between state, county, and local, but I suspect that’ll vary from state to state.

    • barry Says:

      Oh Khal…don’t worry too much about those DOEnergy roads…if Governor Goodhair gets elected, I think that’s one department he thinks he’ll get rid of.

  16. barry Says:

    Oh…no worries there Khal. I already signed it with an FU to Mr. Burr of the Wall St. bailout “yes” vote. I didn’t like him in 2008 and I like him even less now.

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