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incredulous. update to baton rouge story...(43 posts)

incredulous. update to baton rouge story...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 13, 2002 5:32 AM
Read the excerpt below. The guy says they "ran over his dog, then threatened him." You'd think they were dressed in leather on thousand pound machines.

"The driver, Stanley J. Williams, was almost all the way into the wrong lane in a curve just south of Gardere Lane when he struck the riders head on. The cyclists were in the southbound lane, State Police said.

The accident has left some motorists and cyclists at odds over the danger posed by having to share the winding, two-lane road.

Several people who drive River Road said the cyclists are causing problems.

Leon Staples said he often drives by groups of 20 or 30 cyclists near his home a mile upriver of the Plaquemine ferry landing.

'They're very arrogant people,' Staples said. 'They just act like they own the road.'

Staples said cyclists once ran over his dog, then threatened him.

'They ride three or four abreast, not two, like the law says they have to,' Staples said. 'It's their total attitude.'
apples and orangesDougSloan
Jun 13, 2002 5:38 AM
The implication, sort of, is that the cyclists are a bit "deserving" since they sometimes don't ride properly. Of course, that's absurd, but nonetheless that thought will linger in some people's attitudes.

That's why we all must be good ambassadors of the sport.

blaming the victim is normalweiwentg
Jun 13, 2002 5:42 AM
that's not to say that it's good. but it is a normal thing. we have a need to see the world as a just one: we get what we deserve and deserve what we get. blaming the victim is one of the means by which we can maintain this view.
Problem with racing/training in my bike clubPaul
Jun 13, 2002 5:59 AM
We have tues., thurs. rides that have gotten out of hand, and could someday end up in a similar situation. It seems it has turned into "race night" with cat 1,2, 3, and 4 riders showing up from various clubs to race. This group usually comprises of 25-30 riders who take over narrow two lane roads, shoot stop signs, red lights. I'm a past pres., and along with another past pres. and a few others, have been trying to stop this madness. I'm all for racing under a controlled enviroment, but public roads are not the place for this sort of thing. And I know our club insurance doesn't cover this sort of activitiy.

Unfortunatley, the current pres. and vp are part of the problem. I forwarded the write up on the BR accident hoping this might wake them. State law says riders will stay over to the right side of the road. These racers are all over the road. We have had several serious crashes within the group, luckily no deaths, but like rolling dice, it's only a matter of time.

Just wondering if other riders in clubs have a similar situation, and what the solution may be.

Typical pissing contest............Len J
Jun 13, 2002 5:47 AM
with everyone losing sight of the real issues:

2 cyclist die when driver crosses center line & hits cyclist head on.

Cyclist riding 4 abreast when law states 2 abreast.

The truth is that there are bad, agressive, arrogant drivers out there and there are bad, agressive, arrogant cyclist out there. Lumping all drivers/cyclist into these catagories only leads to divisiveness. The majority of cyclist/drivers are good, law abiding, people. Let's not let the actions of a few push us towards not seeing the reality of the many.

On a typical ride I encounter 1 bad driver for every 50 to 100 good drivers. For every act of agression I see several acts of courtesy, wheather it's waiting for me to pass before moving into traffic or passing me wide to ensure both our safety, if you look for the courtesies they are there. I have a habit of taking these courtesies for granted & perceiving them as my right and get indignant at the agressive drivers. Let's all remember that there are many more good drivers then bad.

Notice that the cyclist are defending the cyclist & the drivers are talking about how bad the cyclist are. Maybe if we give each other some credit, we can all find some common ground. There is enough room out there for both of us. While most cyclist are also drivers, most drivers are not cyclist. If anyone can help this rlationship, it should be us. If you want to change this start with your own behavior.

My .02

I agree. Well said. nmbnlkid
Jun 13, 2002 5:50 AM
+1 astutectisevn
Jun 13, 2002 9:36 AM
very well said Len. I hadn't thought from that perspective before. I often get hung up on the negative actions by motorists and completely overlook the positive. By focusing on the good the bad becomes less an issue. Just looking back over the past 4 days of riding I can think of at least a dozen things drivers have done to avoid danger and only one overtly aggressive act. Yet I was somewhat focused on the negative. If someone gave me 12 beans and someone else took one I don't think I would focus on the one that was taken. I would think "cool Ive got 11 beans!". Thanks for the clarity.
not that it justifies running them down...rufus
Jun 13, 2002 6:19 AM
but i can certainly understand motorists' frustrations when they see cyclists breaking the laws of the road. they feel that cyclists feel they are above the law, and can do what they please on the road. not that this feeling justifies violence towards cyclists.

but i have seen on other boards where cyclists have advocated cleating cars, or smashing windows, or spraying water bottles, as a response to close encounters with motorists. what they don't seem to realize is if they do damage to someone's car, then the next cyclist that person sees is a potential target of retaliatory violence, a cyclist who has done absolutely nothing to warrant that violence.

there needs to be understanding and allowance on both sides. cyclists need to obey the laws, not run stop signs and lights, ride safely and responsibly. motorists have to be alert to cyclists, and give them adequate room when passing, and to do so safely. it does no good to turn it into an us against them situation, because as is too obvious, in a dispute between a two ton car and 200 pounds of bike and rider, the car is gonna win.
I've never, ever, seen a lawful group ride.Alex-in-Evanston
Jun 13, 2002 6:20 AM
Even my club, which has a reputation for lawful riding, blows stops and occasionally rides more than two abreast. We slow down traffic on every road we travel. When a driver honks at us, we get indignant and one of us might yell back. Does anybody ride in a large group that doesn't antagonize drivers?

It's for these reasons that I was expecting an article about the Baton Rouge group's behavior, and frankly, it sounds about average for that type of ride. I get the impression that the neighbors didn't wish ill on this group, but probably thought that a deadly accident was inevitable.

I've never, ever, seen a lawful group ride.MXL02
Jun 13, 2002 6:57 AM
Alex- Thanks for your post- I have been thinking the same thing but did not post it because I thought it would inflame the situation. I see now that many riders agree that despite the obvious fault of the truck driver, there are some things that we as riders can be doing to improve our own safety and improve our relations with drivers. I am beginning to believe that a big group ride may be one of the most dangerous activities in road biking.
It's funn you should say thatgrandemamou
Jun 13, 2002 7:20 AM
Although it's probably not true I have always felt safer in a group ride. I have seen more bike to bike accidents but it seems like we have fewer close calls with vehicles. Maybe it's because of the increased visibility or the psychological effect of safety in numbers.

I agree we need to take resposibility for riding in a safe and lawful manner. I always wave to passing and oncoming drivers and fully obey traffic laws. I realize that it's probably not the case everywhere but we should make an effort.
I think it depends on what type of group ride you are in.MXL02
Jun 13, 2002 7:51 AM
My goals in riding are simple...stay in shape but stay alive. When I started to learn about group rides and pace lines, I thought they were fun, but after awhile I started to think they were just too dangerous.
I thing group rides become dangerous two ways: first when the group is training hard in a pace line. Running very fast with your heart rate fairly maxed out tire to tire and depending on your fellow riders to ride straight, and call out obstacles can be very dangerous unless everyone in the group knows each other very well. Many of the riders I know have had their accidents in a pace line.
Secondly, is when the group gets large. Cars get very impatient trying to pass a group ride that is 15 to twenty bikes long. And these groups tend to take up a lot of the right of way.
I have started riding with smaller groups 2-5 people. We sometimes form a line and sometimes we just cruise side by side. But this number of people seems to be safer than riding alone...maximizing visibility, without compromising safety.
These views are obviously just MHO.
best behaved riders I've seenDougSloan
Jun 13, 2002 9:48 AM
The ultra folks are incredibly polite, lawful, disciplined, and mature riders. Because of the nature of their races (must obey ALL traffic laws), they tend to ride that way in training, too. Yes, even stopping at stop signs.

Of course, "group" riding consists of 10 riders each a car length or so apart -- no drafting.

Even when doing double centuries where drafting and group riding is allowed, they still tend to ride like this.

Great post and points Alex.EJC
Jun 13, 2002 9:56 AM
I agree, most of our local group rides tend to be done with an indignance towards cars/trucks while we ride four and five abreast, take up WAY more of the shoulder/road than we should and get snotty with honking drivers. WE are in the wrong for doing it, and it is for this reason that I do not participate in the group rides that frequently. The other problem with this is a hidden one...

...When I even MENTION this behaviour and attitude, I become the pariah for mentioning it. And this all happening in a town where there are signs that say (I'll scan and post some pix of them) "SHARED ROADWAY. ATHLETES TRAINING." You would think that there would be some mutual understanding on the cyclists part that they too must behave as well as the automotive traffic.

I am definately printing out a copy of these posts and of the Baton Rouge story to give to the riders tonight (Thursdays are the group ride nights). Hopefully some tolerance will come from it.

TCBC rides seem quite lawful ajnd politeoff roadie
Jun 13, 2002 1:15 PM
Minnesotta's Twin Cities Bike Club is the largest Minnesotta bike club by most meassures (total members, rides, miles, whatever). Thier rides require lawful behavior, and people seem to stick to it 99 times out of 100. The rides are NOT undeclared races, and riders do not ride in pacelines or huge packs. Drafting is allowed, but people tend to break up into groups of 2-8 pretty quickly, at least on the faster rides. From what I've expereinced, the interaction with local traffic is quite peacable. "Minnesotta nice", the famed midwestern politeness, is something you notice in most aspects of life here, so maybe it applies to bike / car interactiopn as well.

If you want any more info, TCBC's website is
re: incredulous. update to baton rouge story...MJ
Jun 13, 2002 6:25 AM
you ever run over a dog on a 20 lb bike and walk away?

anyways what's the dog doing in the road?

breaking the law on a bike = death by redneck pickup
need to get him on here or one with a like mind to discuss nmishmael
Jun 13, 2002 7:02 AM
excellent pointgrandemamou
Jun 13, 2002 7:03 AM
"They ran over my dog" Translation my dog was not restrained, it ran into traffic and caused an accident.

I've ridden lots of rural roads in LA and found the "rednecks" to be friendly. I had lots more problems with people when I lived among "sophisticated urbanites".

I have raced and done lots of organized tours in the BR area and have found the locals to be very kind and supportive.
excellent pointMJ
Jun 13, 2002 7:23 AM
yeah if you look at the other thread - I've been on the River Road myself - my parents currently live in Red Stick about a mile from the River Road - it's always covered in cyclists at all times of the year/day

it's a cycle friendly road - most of the drivers on that road are considerate as you don't use it for speed in a car - but it only takes one angry cajun...
re: incredulous. update to baton rouge story...Leisure
Jun 14, 2002 1:14 AM
Exactly. Who was illegal with that quote? Tells you what direction the bias went with the writers/editors. Anyone thinking logically about that one wouldn't have bothered printing it.
Ride cautiously, and persevere. Can't help but wonder128
Jun 13, 2002 6:34 AM
what our road system and driving culture would be if, from their beginning, cars were capable of travelling at 140+ mph, as opposed to 20-. Something tells me the road system and our attitutes would be different.

I'm inclined to think it is only by some mixture of the will to survive and blind luck that we have cars passing each other in opposite directions, mere inches from each other at such high speeds as we do, and relatively few collisions. When I think about it, it blows my mind how close to trouble we are on such two way roads.

I dream of the time when all roads have something like an eight foot shoulder partitoned from the auto-route by spaced Jersey barriers, built so as a matter of course. (I know; dream on....) Not to mention maybe a barrier between the opposing auto lanes...(to hell with expense; safety-and fun-first)

All prayers to the riders who have passed on the road...
one thing I've never understoodmr_spin
Jun 13, 2002 7:01 AM
Some drivers get all hot and bothered over stupid things cyclists do and things cyclists are entitled by law to do, but the stupid things other drivers do, which occur far more often, don't seem to bother them. Why is that?

Is it because idiotic and reckless drivers are so common on our roads, we've come to expect them?
no, i think they get just as upset..rufus
Jun 13, 2002 7:19 AM
that's why you hear all those road rage stories, and guys get shot because of a little fender bender. i put it all down to the increasing selfishness of americans, and their growing intolerance of anything that infringes upon their perfect existence.
no, i think they get just as upset..mr_spin
Jun 13, 2002 8:09 AM
I think you are right about the selfishness. But I'm not talking about the extreme cases that result in road rage.

The overwhelming majority of drivers have come to ignore the dozens of incidents that happen daily during a commute or trip. Other drivers cutting them off, other drivers not letting them in, other drivers tailgating, other drivers recklessly speeding and changing lanes, etc.

But some of these same drivers will come upon a group of cyclists and go through the roof. That's what I don't understand.

I can only theorize that when driving, drivers operate in the "car world," and the only things they want to deal with are other cars, even if those cars are threatening. Anything else on the road simply shouldn't be there and is cause for great anger.
maybe they don't do anything....rufus
Jun 13, 2002 9:09 AM
because they really can't have much of an effect upon another vehicle. but they begin to simmer and stew, and maybe the cyclist is the thing that sets them off. they think, "i'm bigger than him, and there isn't much he can do to me, so i'll screw him for getting in my way".
Jun 13, 2002 9:16 AM
Yep. Even pedestrian road ragekenyee
Jun 13, 2002 8:40 AM
Happened to me a few mornings ago. I was at an intersection w/o a crosswalk in Boston. Waved across one pedestrian. A pedestrian going the other way stopped to let me go (or so I thought). After I passed, this pedestrian punched my car. I guess he was ticked that I didn't let him go as well. I didn't stop to ask why. The psycho committed an act of violence (not sure if it's legally assault) the very least an attempt at vandalism.

People are really screwed up now. Our great mayor just tickets cars at specific crosswalks and lets pedestrians jaywalk w/o penalty, so the pedestrians think they're immortal and have gotten really belligerent. Gotta pay for the screwed up budget and Big Dig.

We all have to respect each other and be aware of surroundings, but alas, I suspect more accidents will happen in the future :-P
Biased Perspective?Wayne
Jun 13, 2002 9:57 AM
I think as a cyclist your focusing on the cyclist/driver confrontation. I bet 99% of the time a driver is angered by another vehicle, it's a motor vehicle (I know that's the case with me). Bikes piss people off because sometimes cyclists doing stupid things (greatly compounded on group rides), but most the time it's just that on-the-edge drivers don't see cyclist's as legitimate users of the road. We're all focusing on the "bad" drivers but 99% of drivers don't hassle/endanger cyclists and probably have no ill-will toward cyclists. It sucks for everyone involved that that guy crossed the centerline, it could just have easily been another car he ran head on into. It happens all the time. The guy doesn't deserve to be villified anymore that if it was a vehicle, he f**ked up and killed some people. He'll pay accordingly.
Thats the best point anyones made on this subject...mlester
Jun 14, 2002 6:14 AM
one thing I've never understoodLeisure
Jun 14, 2002 1:21 AM
It's because you can bully a guy riding in a bike, and chances are you can legally get away with it. If he's in a comparably sized vehicle he might call your bluff and you have to maintain some semblance of adult behavior. A certain percentage of people don't like acting their age. This all goes back to my rants about the underlying motives some people have in purchasing full-size SUVs and trucks.
this has me steamingColnagoFE
Jun 13, 2002 8:24 AM
this story burns me up. people are murdered and the paper STILL tries to put the blame on the cyclists. and for the dog that got hit...what was his dog doing in the road?
Where is the Woodlands-syle reaction?mr_spin
Jun 13, 2002 8:40 AM
Everyone dashed off letters to that Woodlands paper when that woman "suggested" getting cyclists with the door.

Where is the reaction to this story? We should all be writing the editor of this paper. This is a story that actually matters--nothing about it is tongue-in-cheek. I wouldn't even bother to write a long, polite letter--I'd send off ColnagoFE's exact words.
The paper published the driver's address....nova
Jun 13, 2002 8:31 AM
Remember the Woodlands, TX threads earlier in the week?

The notion of my publishing the author's address and phone number was deeply offensive to many here. They are both on public record, retreivable by anyone. I even published my private phone # in response. That number is not otherwise attainable by the public. (not one call was received)

So now I'd like to see the argument as to why the killer's address should not be published by the newspaper, cause I just don't get it. Let's hear it.
The paper published the driver's address....rufus
Jun 13, 2002 9:13 AM
ok, it's still offensive, but obviously the editors of that paper don't have the high moral standards that some others of us do. gotta sell papers.
Only moral people have unlisted phone numbers?nova
Jun 13, 2002 12:33 PM
Only moral people have unlisted phone numbers?rufus
Jun 13, 2002 1:46 PM
no, i'm just saying that a lot of people here were ethically offended about you publishing the person's home phone number. apparently, the editor of that paper had no such qualms about doing that with the driver's number.
this is one of the reasons I no longer go on club ridesgregario
Jun 13, 2002 9:12 AM
I'm not blaming the cyclists in this case but I don't go on club rides for this and other reasons. I see too many dumbasses who don't realize that we have to safely share the road with vehicles that can easily kill us.
This is why I now longer read the paper...(little rant)biknben
Jun 13, 2002 10:59 AM
Sorry gregario, not responding to you, just copying your topic.

If the news wasn't so tragic I'd be laughing. The writing has nothing to do with the story and everything to do with sucking you in. Someone went out to get a few quotes and add some fluff in between.

Just like someone mentioned concerning the Villager article. Any attention is good. Weather positive or negative. Like most of the article, the quote about how cyclist ran over some guys dog is irrespondsible on the part of the paper. But it got a whole bunch of new readers.

A newspaper is only a means of advertising. The news stories are just filler occupying the space between advertisements. They claim to serve the community but they serve the advertisers.
re: incredulous. update to baton rouge story...rufus
Jun 13, 2002 9:33 AM
ok, i sent this to the author of the article for that newspaper:

i understand your need to try to present both sides of a story, but to publish an article that in effect blames the victims because a pickup truck driver crossed over the entire road and then struck them does a tremendous dis-service to cyclists, your community, and responsible journalism in general.

i don't care how wrong many of the area residents feel that cyclists are when they ride on their roads, it doesn't justify what happened to this group. there is no excuse for plowing into a group of cyclists on the highway, no matter how upset or perturbed you are by their conduct. as far as we know, this incident was not done deliberately, but the quotes from some people in your article make it sound as if people believe they got what they deserved.

in particular, there is the quote from the man who says that "cyclists ran over his dog and then threatened him." exactly how did this happen? did the cyclists ride up into his yard just to run over his dog? or was the dog running free, and charged into the street and got struck? isn't this a violation of the law? an incident such as a dog charging into a pack of cyclists could have had fatal consequences, and i'm sure there were angry words directed at that man for failing to keep his dog under restraint.

cyclists who ride carelessly and break the laws of the road are a problem, and most law-abiding cyclists recognize this and attempt to correct this problem. but these problem cyclists are a small minority of the riding population. just as there are motorists who will break the rules of the road, so there are cyclists . however, this does not justify or encourage violence against them, nor should it be acceptable when an incident such as this occurs.
at least lose driver's license for life?DougSloan
Jun 13, 2002 10:02 AM
Sure, some collisions (plaintiffs' lawyers say "crashes", defense lawyers say "accidents" or "incidents") are due solely to lapse of due care, without any malice.

Nonetheless, neither money nor even a jail term seem sufficient justice when carelessness has taken someone's life. I think society needs to take a stronger stand, make examples, and deter people from careless, fatal acts. Maybe a law requiring the loss of driving privileges for life following a negligent homicide would help? Then, the motorist himself would be limited to cycling or walking (at least not driving). Seems to satisfy a sense of justice, as incomplete as it might be.

wholly agree, plus prison, in either scenario. nmJS Haiku Shop
Jun 13, 2002 10:17 AM
re: incredulous. update to baton rouge story...hammer_cycle
Jun 13, 2002 10:41 AM
It never ceases to amaze me how angry drivers get about cyclists HOGGING the road. I do a group ride every Sat/Sun and up to 100-120 cyclists can show up. Sure, we move at 25-27mph and we are 'hogging' the road, but can you imagine the backup there would be if we were 100-120 CARS instead? In a 30-40 stretch of road, we can fit 20x as many PEOPLE who pay taxes, etc. to maintain the road as 1 car takes up...
re: incredulous. update to baton rouge story...Leisure
Jun 14, 2002 1:57 AM
Obviously the choice of using the Staples quote bugged me, but chances are they had nothing better to quote from the opposing side, and all "good" news articles are supposed to represent both sides of an argument. In theory at least. Both sides should still be grounded in some semblance of reason. It bothers me that in such media the most incredibly silly arguments are validated, and this is a case in point.
Personally, I would just like to see the driver get sentenced as much as possible, making him an example as Doug mentions. As has been said it looks more intentional than anything, so even the maximum sentence for these two counts will be conservative at best. Then let's see it get reasonably well-publicized.
Other than that, I would like to say I actively encourage riders to be courteous and responsible road users. I do everything I can to set the same example with every new rider I ride with or meet on the road or trail. It is true we are ambassadors for our sport, and as much as we are able we need to set a good example, and create a good image of ourselves to noncycling motorists if we expect to garner long term sympathy from commuters and society at large. If the vast majority of motorists saw us as polite and responsible users of the road, they would start to look at acts such as this and see them for the inhumane and malicious behaviors that they are. Not only would we be respected by more motorists in general, but we could expect more sympathy from witnesses, media and eventually the courts when tragedies like this happen.
But we can't just sit here and talk about it. We have to go out and do it. Be it.