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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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"Bicyclists need to take responsibility for themselves"


By Reginald B. Bragg

I read with interest your editorial on fuel prices and the increased use of bicycles. I have a few comments I would like to make.

You are right, "there are people on bikes everywhere..."

Though bikes may be a legitimate means of travel, with the increased number, it is now time we examine this issue further.

Yes, we, the motorized public need to share the road with bicycles. However, what you forgot to say was that bicycles need to share the road with motorized vehicles. Yes, this sounds absurd to have to say, but within hours of reading your article, I was traveling south on Route 100, approaching Kenyon's Store.  Approaching from the north were two bicycles, a woman and a man who had grey hair (no kid.) The woman was to the right of the fog line; the man was beside her, two to three feet into the traveled portion of the road. Oh yes, and what else but cresting the hill was a car which was then meeting me and no place to go. The man was oblivious to traffic, he was, after all on his bicycle and motorized vehicles must share some of their road with him.

A couple of days later I came around a corner to find eight bicycles spread from one edge of the road to the other. I had to completely stop to allow them to get out of the roadway.

Somebody needs to tell the bikers that there are rules they must follow, as has been stated in your paper. The same rules as pertain to a motorized car. But is this enough?

Currently you do not need a license to operate a bicycle, yet we expect the biking public to know the rules of the road. Do they? Shouldn't they be required to prove their proficiency in the knowledge of those rules just as anyone operating a motor vehicle should?

I think we should require all bikes to be operated to the right of the fog line if there is a fog line, and if not, then they do not operate.

A mention was made about potholes like near Kingsbury's bridge. The understanding I came away from that was we, the motorized public, should be aware that bicyclists are apt to come upon a pothole and need to immediately and without warning, swerve out into the traveled portion of the road, yes in front of the oncoming 2,000-pound car traveling much faster, and it is up to the car to be able to accommodate that bicycle, even if there is a vehicle coming the other way. Doesn't it make more sense that the responsibility is on the bicyclist? That if they come upon a pothole, they can certainly stop quicker than the car, and they must do so until the way is clear for them to navigate around the pothole.

No one under the age of 16 should be operating a bicycle on the highway that is open for the general circulation of motorized vehicles, and only after they have passed a written test indicating they are knowledgeable of the highway rules and regulations.

Fines must be levied upon those who violate the rules and regulations of operating safely on our highways.

The motorized public pays gas taxes, registration, purchase and use taxes, insurance and inspection fees, all to build our roads and maintain them. What does the biker pay? Nothing. So why doesn't legislature create a registration for bicycles, requiring them to pay for the privilege of operating their bicycles upon our highways, and help to defray the cost of our road building and maintenance?

Those of you who read this and think I am all wet, how do you feel about extending the "share the road" idea with skateboards and walkers? How would you feel when traveling down the road and around the corner to find a couple of teenagers on skateboards in the middle of your lane of traffic, with a car coming the other way? After all, there might have been a pothole there and they couldn't go through that.

I think it is time the bicyclists took some responsibility for protecting themselves and to stop expecting the motorized public to take all the responsibility of providing them a place to ride free of charge.

Bragg lives in Fayston.

Editor's Note: It is fair to assume that cyclists are also taxpaying members of our society and as such contribute to state and federal coffers.

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