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Why doesn't LA preach "share the road" to motorists?(14 posts)

Why doesn't LA preach "share the road" to motorists?commuterguy
Jan 2, 2003 10:00 AM
I didn't see the SI article until I found myself waiting in the dentist's office. I am a big fan of Lance's, and think he would have deserved SI's honor even if he had been healthy all his life.

However, an incident that was recounted in the article rekindled my curiousity about Lance's apparent silence on "share the road" issues. Lance (and his personal SAG wagon) were confronted by a pick-up truck driver who attempted to set up a road block. (The guy was apparently mad that Lance held him up for a while.) The article made clear that this was not a particularly unusual occurence for LA.

I know he is busy, and I know he works very hard (and effectively) to leverage his fame and fortune for the benefit of cancer patients and survivors. But, other than issuing a letter of support for the League of American Bicyclists, he hasn't pleaded/campaigned for acceptance of cyclists on public roads. At least I am not aware of his doing so.

The abuse he takes (in a state that he regularly champions) would seem to motivate him to adopt this as one of his causes. Am I missing something? Does anyone know the story here?
Would it really make a difference?look271
Jan 2, 2003 10:20 AM
I doubt it. Those who don't "share the road" likely could give a rat's arse about some guy who races bikes in Europe.
Would it really make a difference?Mike-Wisc
Jan 2, 2003 10:33 AM
You have to hit them where they notice to make a difference, or get them (the road aggressor cagers) on pedals as well to get them to acknowledge the concern. A local town recently started an enforcement campaign to enforce yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks and had their local police pose as pedestrians to cite offending vehicles. This state has to be one of the worst I've been in as far as tailgaiting and failure to yield to pedestrians and at times cyclists. It's not a lost cause, but it's also not an easy task to tackle. I used to point to Seattle as an example, but then the region imploded with high-tech expansion and now I wouldn't ride a bike on any of the roads I used to ride there. Bellevue and Redmond used to be very cyclist-friendly.

I'm afraid the only real way to make an immediate impact is to publicize an accident and get the local news to pick up on it. But sometimes, as was the case in Illinois, that may backfire and end up with cyclist's having less rights on the roadways than before the publicity and legal actions.

As it is now, when in my car, I just try to usually drive the speed limit and slow down for tailgaters. I'll try a little yo-yo to wake them up to the safe following distance by slowing and speeding up then maintaining the distance until they catch up again, then I go even slower until they either pass or turn off. Irks them off, but it irks me off when someone is 18" off my rear bumper at 55mph on a two lane country road at night. YMMV.
What do you want him to do?TJeanloz
Jan 2, 2003 10:26 AM
Armstrong has appeared in a public service ad for the League of American Bicyclists- what kind of groveling are you looking for?

I think his attitude is that cyclists have the full rights of motorists, and there's no reason to champion a cause that doesn't really exist. "Share the Road" is like saying "Don't kill people" - you're admonishing people to behave in a manner that you would expect of them in any civil society. I think Armstrong has better things to do with his time.

IMHO the whole "share the road" bit is overblown anyways- in tens of thousands of miles, I've never witnessed a single incident.
why should he?mohair_chair
Jan 2, 2003 10:36 AM
First of all, who are you to question how Lance spends his time and effort? If Lance took on every cause people want him to take on, he'd have no time left to train. Why don't you preach share the road to motorists? And other bicyclists, too. And runners. Segway riders. Punk kids on motorized scooters. Unleashed dogs.

Second, it's a meaningless cause. All drivers already know to share the road and most do. The people who are unwilling to share the road will never be swayed by Lance or anyone else outside of the penal system.
He picks his battles.MXL02
Jan 2, 2003 10:48 AM
Lance has been riding professionally since he was 15 and has ALWAYS been hassled by cars. At this point in his career, my guess is that he just accepts this as an irritating part of his profession. The cause that has captured his passion is finding a cure for cancer...Lance fights for what he believes in, its just that at this point in his life, finding a cure for cancer is more important than "share the road" issues.
re: Why doesn't LA preach "share the road" to motorists?commuterguy
Jan 2, 2003 11:18 AM
I think I acknowledged in my original post that Lance has been very smart and effective in publicizing the cause he is most concerned about: cancer. Furthermore, I think he has been incredibly effective, and deserves praise for this work.

Regarding why I don't preach "share the road": well, I do. I am doing so right now, sort of, although anyone on this BB is probably already in the choir, so to speak. I also promise to make a big deal about it if/when SI makes me sportsperson of the year. My point is, Lance apparently got a non-cycling reporter out on the roads with him, and the reporter witnessed first hand a very serious confrontation, but Lance basically shrugged it off. I wouldn't be surprised if road rage is the biggest mortality risk Lance currently faces. Why not exploit the moment?

To the poster asking what kind of "groveling" I wanted LA to do: not sure if you and I share a common definition of the word "groveling." It wasn't in my original post, and wasn't what I had in mind (groveling meaning debasing oneself, behaving in a way that betrays a lack of self respect). My point is, LA is willing to spend $15K and lose time with his family to go to Nebraska to talk about AIDS in Africa. Why not also be a little more visible on local issue on which he has a lot of background, credibility and a direct personal stake?

To the poster who hasn't had the misfortune of witnessing and accidents: you are fortunate. A local riding club (Potomac Pedaler Touring Club) had at least one fatality and a (separate) accident requiring a MEDVAC helicopter (the latter rider is looking at a long recovery period from head injuries).

I agree that the vast majority of motorists are very accommodating to cyclists, but it is still quite common to receive implied and explicit death threats from the ignorant minority who don't think cyclists belong on the road. Some of these people--or even some of the people that these people listen to, like relatives and SOs--might respond to Lance saying bikes have a right to use public roads.

To repeat: I admire and respect Lance a lot, and am not really criticizing as much as wondering why he doesn't speak up more on this issue. I think he could make a difference.
People with AIDS in Africa need his help more than you or meTJeanloz
Jan 2, 2003 12:35 PM
If I'm Armstrong, why should I speak up for a relatively small cause, which claims relatively few lives, when I can invest my time in curing AIDS and cancer? Wouldn't you try to help the most people?
People with AIDS in Africa need his help more than you or mecommuterguy
Jan 2, 2003 1:12 PM
Lance is a cyclist who has made a remarkable recovery from a very serious cancer. As such, he is in an ideal position to say to those very ill with cancer, "I had this disease, it almost killed me, but I beat it and now I am living a very full and productive life. You might be able to also. Don't give up." I can't speak from personal experience, but I sense that what Lance does is very important to those he is reaching. Again, I will reiterate my profound admiration for this man and what he has done on and off the bike. Many celebrities seem to exploit the causes they push as a means of burnishing their images: I believe that Lance is entirely genuine in and committed to his cancer-related outreach and fund-raising activities.

That said, the reason Lance has been so effective is that he can speak from his own personal experience. He undoubtedly has a lot of personal experience with inconsiderate (and worse) drivers (if memory serves, in "It's Not About the Bike" Lance relates how, in his youth, a different pick-up driver actually chased Lance off the road and intentionally ran over his prized racing bike). Thus, he would seem to be a logical person to ask for fair treatment for cyclists. It would be great if he also urged cyclists to respect the law as well, but there were some other stories in his book....

I would never say anyone should refrain from advocating for any cause they believe in, and it is also admirable that Lance helps Bono raise awareness of AIDS in poor countries. It is just puzzling that he isn't active in a cause for which the connection is closer. Perhaps no one has asked?

To directly answer your last question: I think there are at least two variables to consider. How serious is the problem, and how much attention can someone command for a particular issue? If someone can't command attention for an issue, and/or doesn't have a logical connection to the issue, their efforts, no matter how energetic and sincere, may go for naught.
League of American Bicyclists very thankfor for his PSAKerry
Jan 2, 2003 5:46 PM
Lance did a PSA for the LAB that aired during OLN coverage of the TdF. They were effusive in their praise of his contributions to share the road efforts. He's also featured heavily in their promotional materials, and for sure he's doing that gratis. Since LAB is THE cyclist's rights organization in the US, this seems like the right place for him to throw his support. In the mean time, how much $$ do YOU contribute to the LAB every year?
As good as the cause isPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 2, 2003 1:25 PM
It pales in comparison to anything else he does since it only benefits cyclists. Although I'd be an advocate for him doing it like someone else said he picks his battles to support the fight against cancer and give hope to those who have cancer. A cause which benefits not only those who have cancer and the survivors but also breeds hope into almost anyone who hears his story.

Lance Poster: Share the Roadchar
Jan 2, 2003 7:36 PM
He has helped out.

I see posters of Lance (share the road) all around town here in Northern California. He's riding a bike on the roof of a Buick.

check out the share the road website

Poor commuterguy - let him up, he's had enough! ;-) (nm)VertAddict
Jan 2, 2003 8:24 PM
Au contraire, bring it oncommuterguy
Jan 3, 2003 8:41 AM
Thanks, but no need to let up on me. I can take it.

The only LAB involvement I was aware of was a letter that was featured in their magazine (which I get). I didn't see the posters that the poster mentions above. Perhaps they need wider circulation.

I watched virtually all of the OLN coverage of the TdF (I have to use a satellite service to get it, my local cable doesn't carry OLN). I remember Mercury ads ad nauseum, a USPS ad that was a little less grating than the previous year's, and that's about it. I even taped some of the mountain stages and have watched them several times, and do not remember any LAB ads. Perhaps they didn't air nationwide (or on satellite).

To repeat again, I am a big fan of Lance's, and am wondering more than I am criticizing. It still strikes me as unusual why he didn't take advantage of the SI interview or his book to push this issue more. (Incidentally, last Sunday's NYTimes book section shows the paperback version of "It's Not About the Bike" pretty high up on the best sellers' list. That book has been out for a while, so I have got to believe it is reaching a large non-cycling readership.)

One issue I should have addressed earlier concerns the contention (see above) that "only cyclists" would benefit from a wider acceptance of sharing the road. I disagree. Many people die, and many others suffer serious respiratory ailments directly attributable to air pollution (primarily from ground level ozone and fine particulate matter). Commuting by bike, where I live, reduces congestion and frees up space on our overloaded mass transit system. Bike commuting adds only minor amounts of methane emissions, so potentially lots of people could benefit, and some lives could be saved, if more people biked to work. Also, many people who do bike recreationally feel like they have to drive some distance to reach lightly-used roads. The gasoline-powered rides to the rides also result in avoidable pollution. So more than just bikers stand to benefit from sharing the road. In the spirit of the personal attacks above, if you disagree, spend some time with an asthma patient during a code red day.

Finally, I will note that some of the above posters seem to think I have committed a heresy by simply asking a question about something Lance hasn't done (or more accurately, hasn't come to my attention). While I can see why one might be tempted to think otherwise, the guy is only human, and not perfect. In his book, which I read very carefully and recommend to everyone, Lance admitted to many mistakes and regretted a lot of behavior (pre-cancer). In the SI article, he engages in some pretty tough self-criticism, using some off-color language. If he can take his own abuse, he can certain withstand my wondering why he seems to be pretty quiet on a issue that would seem to be very important to himself.