Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Revised Bicycle Laws: When Conversation Is Criminal

Hello again councilors:

I hope you fathers had a fabulous Father’s Day Weekend.

On two occasions I took some new riders out and taught them a few things about riding bicycles on the roads. You’ll remember that I’m a cycling instructor.

One of those people is my son, a freshman marching band student at Roosevelt. He wanted to attach the trailer to his bike, then he loaded up his baritone and I showed him the safest routes from home to school and to his section leader’s house. I figure what with this generation losing their affinity for cars like they are my son could end up the coolest kid in band camp.

On both occasions I spent large amounts of time riding abreast of my riding partner. Sometimes to teach, other times just to talk. I find talking to people much easier when I am beside the person. It turns out I'm a social being. By nature. We all are. We can't help it.

Did you know only three states in the union explicitly prohibit riding two abreast? Did you know South Dakota isn't one of them? Why is Sioux Falls the only city in the state that explicitly denies bike riders the ability to effectively communicate with our riding partners?

I'm leading my wife through the neighborhood. My wife says something. I don't hear her. She says something again. I don't hear her. She checks behind for overtaking vehicles - as I've taught her to do before moving laterally in the roadway - and rides up alongside me and says, "you missed the turn." I still can't hear her because the police siren drowns her out. The officer tickets her for riding abreast. She says she'll never ride bikes with me again.

Normal pleasant conversation between cyclists should not be a criminal act – please accept the proposed two abreast law.

Remember, the proposal disallows riding abreast when a vehicle is approaching from behind.

Thank you.

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