Cyclists deserve protection, not abuse

Two years ago I moved from the Ocala/Gainesville, Fla., area to Asheville so I could enjoy some of the best cycling and kayaking in the country. It was also to move away from some of the psychotic Florida drivers who enjoyed threatening and intimidating cyclists with their cars. Many Florida drivers drive within inches of cyclists while traveling at 60 mph, and spit, scream obscenities and throw objects at them. After being threatened with a gun, I decided it was time to leave.

I don't know of any other sport that tolerates the abuse cyclists are exposed to. Now I find the coward firefighter Charles Alexander Diez is going to serve only four months of jail time for almost shooting out the brains of Mr. Alan Simons. If Charles Diez had shot at a mother holding her 3-year-old son in an Ingles parking lot, he would have been charged with first-degree attempted murder and spent many years in jail. Fortunately for him, he only shot at a male cyclist and missed him by one inch, almost leaving his 3-year-old son fatherless. Hopefully Mr. Simons has sought the services of a cycling attorney.

Judge James Downs has enjoyed his Superior Court position for far too long. He is no longer able to serve and protect people of this state. His ruling guarantees the status quo of great disregard for the lives of cyclists, their families and property. A man in Cleveland was recently sentenced to 15 years in jail for attempted rape. In Asheville, you only get four months for attempted murder.

The law states that motor vehicles must share the road with bicycles (North Carolina Driver's Handbook, page 95): "Bicyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane, but are entitled to the use of a full lane. When passing a bicyclist always remember the bicyclist is entitled to use the full lane."

I hear people complain about cyclists violating traffic laws. Hundreds of tickets are handed out every day by state and local police to motor-vehicle drivers and to cyclists. Most importantly, I have never seen a police officer issue a ticket to a motor-vehicle driver for endangering the life of a cyclist.

It is obvious to most cyclists that Judge Downs has compromised the value of their lives. Traffic laws concerning bicyclists need to be changed/amended to protect cyclists. Some states have laws granting cyclists a minimum distance of six feet between them and a motor vehicle. This is the combined height of a bicycle and rider. After the law has been changed, police officers need to be encouraged to issue tickets. I personally will be working hard toward this end.

— John T. Kelley III

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2 thoughts on “Cyclists deserve protection, not abuse

  1. Austin

    John, let’s be sure to remind local voters about Judge Downs in 2014. Hopefully he won’t ruin to many lives in the meantime.

  2. Cheshire

    I hear ya. I had to give up cycling because of a high-speed hit-and-run. What happened? As best I can tell, some idiot wanted to spook me, either for sport or to “teach me a lesson” and cut closer than they (hopefully) meant…at well in excess of 60 mph. The result? Paralysis for me, nothing for the driver. Yes, I was following ALL the rules of the road.

    I would LOVE to see better protection for cyclists.

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