Bicyclists Have Right to Ride in Road, But Should They?
By: Peter EganI hate sharing the road with bicyclists. I know they've the same right to use it, I just wish that wasn't the case. Too often, I see cyclists endangering their own lives and those of others by riding their bikes down some of the most dangerous roads in the United States, such as Lee Road (Hwy 437) in Covington, Louisiana, a road considered among the nations most dangerous in terms of mortality rates relative to the amount of traffic.There are alternate routes to all the same places that are much safer, but I get the impression these cyclists do this for a power trip. They know that although permitted, passing on Lee Road is like playing Russian roulette, and that their exercising their right to ride in the roadway will inevitably amount in a mile-long line of motorists, all forced to drive a fraction of the speed limit because some control freak decided to take his bike out and hold up traffic.To be clear, my reasoning is not that I hate having to share the road with them. For the record, I don't like to see other people get hurt, and yes, I am aware that I own a business that sells medical supplies to people who among other things have suffered minor-to-moderate injuries to their bones and joints. I take no pleasure in someone else' pain, and were all my orthopedic customers to disappear I'd find another way to earn a living. My preference would be that the customer who calls up in need of a cervical collar (a form of neck brace) not do so because he or she was involved in a collision with a motor vehicle that occurred while riding a bike.
I know that people will always find a way to harm themselves, I just think that bicycles in the roadway is a bad idea. Too many drivers get road rage too easily these days, and a person is in no position to flee a road raging driver while seated upon a bike.That said, that is not to say that Lee Road is the only road where I object to seeing bicyclists, or even that bicyclists should avoid dangerous roads, highways and other thoroughfares on which automobiles travel in general. Truth be told, if it were left up to me, people riding bicycles would be required to ride on the sidewalk anytime a sidewalk is present, and in cases where there is no sidewalk, people riding their bikes would be expected to use the route (if more than one is available to reach the bicyclists' target destination) with the lowest speed limit (which usually translates into the least amount of traffic) of those routes available.
Bicyclist Hit by SUV While Riding in the Road
Pedestrians would have the right-of-way on sidewalks, and aside from that bicyclists would be expected to have a horn or bell to warn pedestrians as they approach to pass on the left.
I've never understood laws (at least in Louisiana) which prohibit cyclists from using the sidewalk but allots them equal rights when it comes to riding in the street with the cars, trucks and SUV's.
If politicians can take the time out of their busy schedules to talk about banning guns because some idiots misuse them and there are consequences for people besides the idiots who misuse the guns, they can take the time to address this important issue. If banning guns is a practical solution to stop violence in which a gun is used in committing said act of violence, banning bicyclists from riding on streets, in roads, on highways, parkways, drives, boulevards thoroughfares and ways is an even more practical approach to putting an end to unnecessary delays while on the road, and unnecessary injuries suffered by the drivers and the passengers of the vehicles involved in the accidents caused by idiots who misuse bicycles. Accomplishing the latter wouldn't even necessitate the complete and total destruction of the nation's founding document.
The Covington Police Department has taken more than its share of heat over the course of the past year or so, largely due to a scuffle between police and the owner of a Covington pharmacy. The city boasts one of the nation's lowest per-capita crime rates, yet is nonetheless a source of controversy among media and residents, with the most common complaints being allegations of police brutality and general disrespect of citizens. This author makes no statement in defense or critique of either the department or critics with regard to these matters.
However, one thing most of us should be able to agree on is that they are due some kudos for the city's unusually low crime rate. We'd all like to believe that Covington is largely free-of-crime because its residents are such good people. However, let's not delude ourselves into thinking that the fact that our city is so safe is entirely because we're such great people and has little to do with those whose duty it is to keep the rest of us safe.
The next time you arrive at work in the morning to find your place of business exactly as you'd left it the night before, consider that there were men and women keeping an eye on your interests while you were at home in bed, and these brave citizens were prepared to thwart any effort by anyone seeking to rob, burglarize or otherwise damage or harm the establishment through which you are able to feed your family and pay your mortgage.
I work very late, and I've had several recent first-hand experiences with an extremely polite and courteous Covington police officer who thrice in recent weeks visited my business establishment in the wee hours of the morning to investigate the fact that a car was in the parking lot and the building lights were on.
For the sake of full disclosure, in his own words he "thinks the world" of my mother, Covington Primary Care NP Pamela Egan.
Granted, virtually everyone who knows, knows of or has ever met Mrs. Egan has tremendous respect for her. She revolutionized the worldwide medical/scientific understanding of the difference between Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3, as well as the medical-scientific establishment's understanding of the role of vitamin D3 in the prevention of disease (this is 100% factual and the claim can be proven by virtue of the fact that the two oldest newspaper articles ever written on the aforementioned topics were both authored by NP Egan while she was writing a weekly health column for the St. Tammany News, which at the time was known as The NewsBanner). Her first three articles on these topics have been plagiarized by literally thousands if not tens of thousands of wanna-be journalists and D-list bloggers over the past decade or so. Her website receives tens of millions of unique visitors each year as a result of her cutting-edge health columns, many of which are still referenced (without proper citation of the original author, a growing trend in today's increasingly irrelevant and untrustworthy media) as sources for reporters who assume everyone from Louisiana is too dumb to figure out how to track down copyright violators on the web.
We're not. It's simply not worth the effort and cost required to pursue litigation against a list of defendants that would number in the thousands for something as relatively trivial as copyright violations. To be clear, the word trivial is used in terms of the negligible damages and awards likely to be acquired through the pursuit of such litigation. It's not that we wouldn't be able to prove that Pam's work was plagiarized. The challenge resides in proving damages, but I digress.
The officer only learned of the relationship (the mother-son relationship between Pam and myself) toward the end of our third (and most recent) encounter, which occurred Wednesday, April 25, late in the evening. He never stays to chat with me, and I respectfully refrain from engaging him in conversation as we both know that mine is not the only business in need of an extra set of eyes watching its back while the owners are at home or otherwise away from their bread-makers.
One man and one incident do not reflect or define what I believe to be among the nation's best law enforcement agencies - particularly when the two sides of the story (the Braswell story) are in no way similar, and nobody other than those who witnessed the altercation (or were participants therein) knows what really happened and in which order those few events acknowledged as fact by both parties and witnesses occurred.
For every news story about a controversial incident involving a Covington cop and revered owner of a local pharmacy, there are thousands of unreported, untold and largely unseen instances in which the men and women of this department --- of whom I know not one by name and am in no way affiliated in any capacity --- go out of their way to ensure that OUR homes and businesses are SAFE from criminals while we're comfortably at rest in our beds resting up for the following day.
Once you've had an experience in which you hear voices outside late at night in a secluded area, attempt to identify them pistol-in-hand, only to find a police officer who is there to protect you, not hurt you, it becomes much easier to appreciate the quality-of-life Covington has to offer. No small part of that unusually high quality-of-life is the fact that our city features little-to-no serious crime in which anyone actually gets harmed beyond the point of being inconvenienced.Sure, the Tchefuncte River may be the most appealing asset the City of Covington has to offer, however let us not discount the lack of crime. Believe me (I lived in New Orleans for five years), when you're surrounded by crime, the peace-of-mind one can attain here in Covington is impossible to be in possession of for more than a few manic minutes at a time. It is this author's personal opinion that a growing number of Northshore residents in general have forgotten what life was like on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain, lest they'd be more tentative to complain about the police in whose jurisdiction there is no "real" crime to speak of.