The Freedom to be Stupid

cyclists

Should stupid be illegal?

You have to push stupid to its limits to get a Libertarian to think “there ought to be a law” but recreational cyclists in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach have just about reached that level.

This picture was taken on my drive home from our last TLP meeting on Saturday morning on Elbow Road in Virginia Beach.

Seriously, Elbow Road. There is no shoulder, a half mile stretch of blind curves and, though most of the road has a 45mph speed limit, it is 35mph here.  In this case, I saw them in the straight stretch before the curves and they were only an inconvenience, forcing me to follow them for about a mile at 12mph, but what if I had come upon them just after that curve? Would I have chosen to hit them, a tree, or an oncoming truck?

You could take pictures like this, and worse, all over rural areas of Chesapeake or Virginia Beach any Saturday morning, with small and large groups of cyclists holding up traffic and posing a danger to themselves and others riding on roads that are simply unsafe for cycling.

Use of the public roads is not a right, it is a privilege subject to certain limitations, such as being sober and obeying traffic regulations.  As the law currently stands, what these cyclists are doing is legal, no matter how stupid it might be, but at what point do we make it illegal to be stupid on the roads?

So, should some roads be placed ‘off limits’ to bicycles?

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17 Responses to The Freedom to be Stupid

  1. Nope, they are *PUBLIC* roads, that means *FOR ALL*. When I went through Driver’s Ed, I was taught to share the roads.

    And you are incorrect, use of a public road is a right. A private road, on the other hand, use is a privilege.

    • Don Tabor says:

      Really? Try riding your bike on the “public” interstate highway. You can’t, because it is too dangerous. I would suggest that Elbow Road, and many others around Pungo, are far more dangerous than the interstate for cyclists, and they can be banned there just as well.

      I have no problem sharing the road where it is safe to do so, but I object to being put at risk by cyclists too foolish to understand that 15mph bicycles and 45mph pickup trucks do not mix well on roads with limited visibility and unforgiving shoulders.

      And even if it is legal, it is still stupid to ride on those roads.

      • Actually, I’ve done so. Indian River between Independence and Lynnhaven. No sidewalk. No shoulder. Just had the common sense to stay to the right and be clearly visible. Not everyone can afford a car.

        As for I-64, there’s clearly marked at all entrance ramps: no bikes (among other things)

  2. Britt Howard says:

    Being “stupid” is subjective and should remain legal. “Big Government” would love to make a subjective standard the law. That’s a lot of power right there that wouldn’t likely be equally applied to everyone.

    What is not legal is wreckless endangerment. Drinking and driving for example.

    I agree that there should be signs up on Elbow Rd. forbidding cycling. You rightly point out the dangers of those curves. There would not be time to decelerate if you went 35 mph around those curves and came up on cyclists. And let’s face it, many will ignore the yellow signs and exceed the recommended speed for that turn. These cyclists are posing a great danger.

    Now roads with only straight paths or extremely long curves are a different story. In that case you should just share the road and quietly mutter a curse to yourself if you must.

  3. Dylan DelliSanti says:

    I agree those bikers are annoying. I almost got into an accident on elbow because of them, but I don’t think we should make it illegal for them to use the road. I maybe mistaken but isn’t illegal to use sidewalks in some areas? It atleast seems so. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen bicyclists using the road when a sidewalk is right next to them. I could be wrong there, but I would rather make it legal to bike on sidewalks than illegal to bike on roads.

    • Britt Howard says:

      Dylan, how about the highway? It is illegal to bicycle there because it is a SAFETY issue. As would Elbow Rd. be.

      There are PLENTY of long stretch roads for cyclists to enjoy. It isn’t as if someone is suggesting that we outlaw bicycling on the streets in general. There are just areas that are not safe and pose a threat to auto passengers and cyclists alike.

      Elbow road is an exception to the general rule. I’m sure most cyclists would have the common sense not to ride on Elbow or at least not after riding it the first time and experiencing the potentially deadly high speed turns.

      • Wayne Berry says:

        How many accidents on Elbow road have been single vehicle, with no one else involved and the driver died. I can remember a couple in the paper, and I wonder why. Was a bicycle rider involved and fled the scene? And it isn’t just Elbow road. There are SO many roads around here that have no room for bikes. Is it stupidity? Is it arrogance? This country has never been so self centered as it is now.

        • Doogie says:

          How many accidents on Elbow road were caused by an Elephant stepping out in front of a car, and then walking off afterward? Do you see the futility of your question? Let’s just go with what we know — Those bike riders have every right to be on that road. They also have the right to be in the middle of the road if they want. They are considered “vehicles” according to the law. Just as you can’t legally pass a pick-truck on a double yellow, you can’t legally pass a bike rider either. Next time, think about saying “thank you” when they move to the shoulder and wave you by.

          • Don Tabor says:

            They have every right, but rights have no effect on physics.

            Look at that photo. Had they gone around that corner before I saw them, I would have overtaken them somewhere in the curvy section where I might not have seen them in time to avoid hitting them.

            No one I know would intentionally harm of frighten a bicycler, but we can’t see around corners and if I come around a corner and I am faced with the choice of swerving right into an oak tree, left into an oncoming truck or hitting the cyclist, I’m sorry, I’m not going to die because someone put themselves in a deadly situation.

            Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you will survive doing it.

  4. Doug Uhlmann says:

    Really, since when do any of the local roads have anything the even compares to a shoulder or a sidewalk for that matter. Yes it can be an inconvienance but those cyclist have just as much right as you motorists. You just have to pay attention and those cyclist’s need to show enough sense that when the oportunity presents itself move off the road so it is easier for everyone to pass

  5. Britt Howard says:

    You know what Doug, I might be able to live with that. If the cyclists get off the road as they near those turns, the safety concerns drop off quite a bit. Not completely, given someone whipping around the corner might stray a bit off the road, but I don’t have an arguement in that case.

    I’m pretty sure that if a cyclist was run down at one of those turns by a speed legal car, the cyclist would be found to be at fault. However, that legal reality doesn’t change the fact that a legal driver continuing on a blind turn will have to live with killing somebody. Even if it isn’t your fault, it would weigh heavily on you. The cyclists family would also have to live without a loved one that insisted on being a fool out of some sense of entitlement to pedal dangerous roadways. Precisely why morons are not allowed to pedal on the highway!!! This is an issue of safety and reckless endangerment, not mere inconvenience to a pissed off driver.

    If you’re willing to leave the road as you approach the turns and pedal on ground or walk the turn until you are visible, I can go with that.

  6. Jim says:

    Some opinion and facts for the discussion:

    facts:
    The cities of the south side of the James R. have differing codes regarding where a cyclist may and may not ride. I found them on the inet. No two are the same though I think Chesapeake and Suffolk are nearly so. Example, Portsmouth restricts riding on sidewalks in a business district. Virginia Beach allows sidewalk riding anywhere not restricted by police or ordinance.

    Virginia Beach several years ago declared they would have more cycling paths/lanes than other cities in the area. They did this by allowing riding on sidewalks. Some experts on the subject of cycling argue that cycling on sidewalks is more dangerous than cycling with the traffic and advocate being a “vehicular cyclist”.

    In the northwestern states, I have read, there are places where cyclists are allowed on the interstate “flyways”. The reason is that there are not suitable alternative roads between certain points.

    Most cycling mishaps are the fault of the cyclist. I think this is borne by the statistics over the years, if you care to check.

    Motorists have a greater choice in roadway route than do cyclists.

    opinion:

    I think that riding on the sidewalk is unsafe generally. In fact, soon after I read that about the Va Bch. sidewalks, two cyclists were killed doing just that: cycling on sidewalks (fact).

    I think also that it is a matter of policy in highway departments across the nation (possibly at federal level) that cyclists are restricted from certain high speed roads when other suitable routes are available; example: Va. route 164 in Portsmouth is a virtual limited access interstate style road. However, cyclists are allowed to ride on the West Norfolk Bridge portion of that road so as to cross the river. At either end, the cyclists are accommodated with standard off ramps or special ramps just for pedestrians and cyclists.

    It is wise to choose one’s route carefully. Choosing to ride a certain route during rush hour though having legal support in doing so is not wise when a suitable alternative is available. Signs on tight curves would be useful. It is certainly possible to be right and dead right. Otherwise, drivers should be aware and even re-educated to think of and look for cyclists on the roads.

    Paved roads were originally built for cyclists, so I have read. Of course, roads and lifestyles have changed. Perhaps we need more change. Most people think of cycling as a non-necessity, as elective recreation. Some cyclists choose cycling as their transportation alternative and the law accommodates this choice. Unfortunately, motorists and cyclists alike are not educated in this frame of mind.

    There is safety in numbers: The more that motorists encounter cyclists behaving according to law, being vehicular cyclists, the better the two will accommodate each other anywhere and everywhere.

    If you as a motorist think that a road is too dangerous to accommodate motorists and cyclists (even stupid cyclists) safely, petition your local VDOT office for restrictions or signage.

    So, if a motorists regularly feels aggravated by cyclists on a particular route, perhaps that motorists should take an alternate route.

    Just some food for thought.

  7. Hunter Allen says:

    Don- I think you need to read this again. “Libertarians believe in our exclusive ownership of our own lives and the equal personal ownership of others own lives. No one has the right to take the life of another, in whole or in part. We can voluntarily exchange some portion of our lives for some purpose or property we need or desire, but there is no right held by any person or entity to compel us to do so, not even for one moment. Thus, we have the absolute right to defend our lives and the property for which we have exchanged some portion of our lives.”

    I have been a lifelong cyclist and if you are resentful about being held up for a minute or two in your retirement on way to see the grandkids, then I am thinking you aren’t really enjoying smelling the roses in your retirement. I abide by all the laws of the road and teach safe cycling as I am cycling coach as well. Cyclists love riding backroads and smelling the roses. Maybe it’s time you accept that we have a right to be on the road and sharing it with us will only further align with the libertarian philosophy.

    • Don Tabor says:

      So, I am supposed to live my life as you direct?

      Because you want to live your life at 15mph smelling the roses, everyone else must fall in line behind you and do the same?

      If I prefer to spend my Saturday fishing, or some other activity distant from my home, I should not complain if I lose half an hour of enjoying what I choose to do because of you , and hundreds of others like you, blocking the 55mph highways with 15mph bikes, then I should sacrifice my recreation for yours without complaint?

      It is you, not me, who is imposing his choices on others.

      • kd says:

        The last time I checked there weren’t too many 55mph roads in Pungo. Too bad for you your fishing area is located in a rural area that is also convenient for bicyclists who chose this location to be of general conveience to the REST of the population by avoiding heavier trafficked areas. I would suggest that if you are so concerned for our safety, instead of whining that we are clogging up the route to your fishing hole, you appreciate the fact that we have chosen rural roads as oppossed to the urban ones. Since you know we’ll be riding out there, and usually wait til it’s light out to ride, you could always get a bit of a head start before we’re out there… I hear the fish bite early.

        • Don Tabor says:

          Not many 55mph roads in Pungo? You mean other than much of Princess Anne Rd and Indian River Rd? And then there are the 45 mph roads like Sandbridge Rd, Newbridge Rd, Colechester rd, Muddy Creek Rd and the remainder of Indian River and Princess Anne Rds.

          All of which have curvy sections where a 15mph column of bicycles present a hazard.

  8. leianne says:

    Use of public roads are a RIGHT when you pay taxes to keep them up.

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