Another Viewpoint

15 Apr

With his permission, I am publishing an email from Edmond cyclist, Tony Sikes, which he sent to a number of people in the Oklahoma City and Edmond area in response to an earlier email concerning the reported actions of several cyclists running stop signs and going through a red light. 

Fortunately I received the email and after reading it contacted him to ask his permission to publish it here.  It is particularly relevant to the recent changes in law affecting bicycle riders and to many of the recent posts at For the Love of Bikes.

It’s a great email; Sikes makes many good points, drawing parallels between the unlawful behavior of motorists and cyclists and concludes that we are quicker to judge cyclists more harshly than motorists.  Here is his email:


I can certainly understand D’s frustration with cyclists ignoring the law.  This behavior contributes to cyclists bad reputation and sets us back in the court of public opinion not to mention placing these individuals at greater risk of injury or death.

I commute from Edmond to down town Oklahoma City daily and spend a great deal of time in my car running my children all over the state for sporting events.  To offer a counter perspective please allow me to summarize the vehicular violations I have witnessed since this email went out on Tuesday:

17 Motorists floating stop signs (Mostly on Covell, Danforth and 2nd street during commuting hours)

12 Illegal lane changes (How hard is it to use that little lever on the left of the steering wheel to signal)

1 Illegal lane change (No signal, in traffic) by one of our own Edmond Police officers

2 Cars running the red light in front of ENHS

Untold numbers of cars speeding

and my favorite which actually occurred before Tuesday so I am cheating here….

1 Lady with her cell phone in her left hand, applying mascara with the right while looking in the mirror and driving with her knee all while merging onto I35 from Covell Rd.  No I did not phone the police or write a letter to the mayor but I did honk out of sheer disgust.  I can now attest that you can talk on the phone, merge, hold your mascara stick and make obscene jesters with your mascara hand.

The point of this message is not to diminish the traffic violations which D witnessed but rather to point out the stark contrast between what vehicle operators view as inappropriate behavior.  The general public is accustom to traffic violations because they are vehicle operators and violations are commonplace.  Cyclists on the other hand are seen as a nuisance therefore their actions are placed under increased scrutiny. 

I feel this is largely related to a lack of infrastructure in Oklahoma.  Can you imagine a community where residents golfed, played soccer, basketball, football, tennis, frisbee golf or practiced Yoga in the streets?  The injury rate and conflicts with vehicle operators would be mind boggling.  As an Edmond resident I do not participate in any of these activities yet I understand that to make this a complete and attractive community my tax dollars are needed to fund infrastructure to support these activities.  I submit that if Edmond placed the same importance on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure we would have far fewer conflicts and less agitated citizens and cyclists.

From my perspective, this email only heightens the importance of an Edmond Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan and the corresponding support required from our city leaders to fund and execute on said plan.  Many cities before us have come to this realization and executed their plans resulting in communities which are healthier, happier and less reliant on motorized transportation.

Regards

Tony G. Sikes

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