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From: Jim Dole


I don't want to share the road with a bicycle. However, you and I must because if we did not, it could lead to tragedy. Drivers have to follow the law, but that does not mean we have to like it.

The Tour de France seems to have spawned the Tour de South Hills if you'll pardon my French.

Are your secondary arteries clogged by clumps of Lance Armstrong-esque bicyclists sporting aerodynamic helmets, colorful skintight synthetics and baseball-size calf muscles?

Drivers anywhere near East McMurray Road are plagued by these swarms most weekends. Do you have the same problem where you live?

If you see them up ahead, you are forced to drive slower than the slowest one of the pack while you ponder if you can pull out without grazing one and not plowing into an oncoming car around the next bend.

Bicyclists are an accident waiting to happen.

Your municipality should be doing whatever it can to get them off the road. It can start by taking down those yellow street signs with black silhouettes of bike rider and car that encourage road sharing.

Common sense tells you roads are designed for most motorized vehicles: golf carts, riding mowers and farm equipment being some of the exceptions. Yet flimsy, two-wheeled vehicles powered by huffing and puffing are allowed even welcomed, according to those yellow signs. The governments' values are upside down.

Since bicycles are allowed on our streets, why not in-line skating and skateboarding?

Cars, trucks and motorcycles pay for our roads. State and federal taxes siphon about one-third of the cost of a gallon of gas, according to the stickers on some gas pumps. Take the time to read one the next time you defy the EPA by topping off your tank.

A motorist must pay for all the stickers on his car every year two on the windshield and one on the license plate even if no repairs are warranted. He also pays for a driver's license and auto insurance in case of an accident. He pays dearly if he gets a speeding ticket, and he even pays a tax for the privilege of throwing away his old tires.

And do not forget the government makes every motorist pay the hidden costs of all safety features mandated for our vehicles. We are forced to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are forced to wear helmets. Do you think many bicycle riders have been stopped and ticketed for safety violations?

If the government is so concerned about highway safety seat belt this, air bag that and crash test after crash test why does it allow bicycles anywhere near traffic? Can you name another vehicle on our streets that has no safety features? Does the government care about safety or not?

When those spoke-thin road hogs start paying their fair share of road costs like motorized vehicles do then maybe we could consider allowing them on a few isolated roads like in our city, county and state parks, where the only drivers they could threaten would be the teenagers whose parents are teaching them to drive.

The politically correct crowd loves bicycles. They don't use fossil fuels They don't pollute. And the more people can be convinced to ride them instead of cars, the more people will want to move back into the city so their ride Downtown and back would be doable. I have even seen bike racks on PAT buses.

Bicycling is a practical way to commute, if you live in Beijing. Cars are a luxury there, but they are a necessity here. Safety should be a necessity, too.

Dimitri Vassilaros can be reached at dvassilaros@tribweb.com or (412) 380-5637.

Last changed: August 12, 2002