Bulverde Mayor Threatens Bicyclists

I originally entitled this “Bulverde Mayor Opens Mouth and Inserts Foot”, but figured this  suited it better. That said, both are true. In an article he wrote himself (opens in new window), the Mayor proved he knows nothing of the laws and common decency, then threatened to abuse the police to target a class of law abiding citizens doing legal things - riding their bicycles.

Let us look at exactly what he wrote, and analyze each statement.

It seems that more and more bicyclists from San Antonio are coming to Bulverde to ride on our streets. They say what attracts them is the wide open streets, picturesque scenery and rolling terrain.

To me there is a flaw in their reasoning. Our streets are not wide open. Most of our roadways lack any type of shoulder. As the roads wind through the hills they also are lacking any kind of safe-sight distance.

 

So, he starts out by saying Cyclists come there because they like the roads. Then he says they are wrong. He points out that his roads don’t have standard safety features (no shoulders of “any type”), then claims Cyclists are less-safe because of the hills.

First, shame on him for knowing his roads are unsafe and doing nothing about it. Second, I have to wonder if he knows what safe-sight distance means. Safe-sight distance is a function of speed. If I am traveling at 10 MPH my line of sight requirement is a lot less than if I am traveling at 35, 45, or 65. Thus, if Cyclists pedaling along in rolling hills at 10-15MPH have no safe line of sight, neither does someone driving at 45. In fact, if you go by line of sight the car is more dangerous.

Consider the combination of a lack of safety shoulder and lack of visibility when thinking about a pissed off mayor in his truck at 35-45 MPH rounding the crest of a hill and seeing a stalled car. Now think about a cyclist cresting the hill at a likely 5-15MPH pace. Who can stop first? So, his roads are not safe for anyone to be using if a cyclist can’t stop in time from 5-15MPH to avoid a stalled car or kids crossing the street.

Now on to the next one.

I was sitting in the parking lot of the post office April 15 when suddenly there was a loud and abrupt knock on my truck window.

Nobody starts knocking very lightly on a window and slowly increases their knocking until you can hear it quietly. A poor attempt to be descriptive, or an attempt to prime the reader into thinking negatively about the cyclists? You decide. He then says it came from a pair of cyclists expressing their displeasure about how he passed them. While we don’t know the actual conversation, he claims they were upset about them being passed at all. I doubt this is the case, given his next assertion.

Traffic was quite heavy at the time. School had just let out, there was a scramble to get income tax checks mailed and the evening rush was beginning.

So, the scene is set. Unsafe roads due to a lack of shoulder and “safe-sight distance” are busy with school getting out, so we have kids running around, parents with kids in their car, probably kids on bicycles, and people “rushing” to get their taxes filed, and apparently the rush hour in Bulverde starts at the same time school gets out.

“My patience was already worn thin…”

So, he sets out his own frame of mind, a poor one for driving. He was impatient and driving. I’m sure we know what that does to people. We get heavy on the gas pedal, we make decisions to do things we wouldn’t normally make. This frame of mind is important.

…and being stuck behind a couple of slow-moving cyclists riding side-by-side did not help. So I gave a brief tap on the horn. The cyclists changed formation to single file.

Now we get some data about the cyclists. They were riding double-file. This is not a bad thing, nor is it illegal. In fact, according to the Texas laws on bicycle use, it is probably mandatory. The Mayor as already acknowledged his roads don’t have bike lanes, and don’t have a safety shoulder. Thus, it is arguably unsafe for bicycles to ride at the edge of the road, therefore they are to be treated in all ways like any other vehicle.

Yet, despite this, a “brief tap of the horn” and they cyclists changed formations to accommodate the driver of the truck. Quite considerate and a damned sight more than many motorists do in regards to cyclists.

That said, clearly the mayor didn’t feel it was safe to pass even when they were single file. Why? Are the roads simply too narrow for that? How is that not a general safety issue? If t were a stalled car pulled as best they could off to the side of the road, would traffic block up due to the lack of safe distance? Keep in mind he felt i was not safe to pass them even in single file.

Then a break in traffic gave me the opportunity to accelerate and pass on a stretch of road that has a double-yellow center stripe which you can’t cross.

So, despite the cyclists he still couldn’t pass until an area with a double line. Know why those are there? Often because there isn’t safe enough distance to see safely to pass. The lines tell you passing is too dangerous. Yet he ignored it.

I had to pass them quickly, but nobody was hurt and there were no close calls.

So, it is unsafe to pass so he did it quickly. This is not a case of ripping a bandaid off quicker for less pain, this is knowing it is unsafe to pass so he did it at a higher rate of speed. Going faster doesn’t make passing someone in an unsafe area less unsafe. Going faster decreases your minimum safe sight distance, Mayor. A distance you’ve already said you don’t have.

Now we should pause for a moment and think about the larger picture of events here. He was so put behind he had to pass quickly during a high traffic time, that when he got where he was going the cyclists were not miles behind him, they were able to able to ride up and knock on his window before he got out. Just how far “ahead” did he get himself? After all, had he stayed behind them, he clearly would not have been out of his truck any later than he was already, and thus he would have been just as “late” as he already was.

He then goes on to say he only has a problem with people who are riding for health, fun, or in any way not going to work.

These cyclists were in no way endangering anyone on the road, least of all the people behind them. By the Mayor’s own logic they were making the people safer by shortening the distance required for them to see in order to  drive safely.

The aforementioned frame of mind the Mayor was in comes back to the front in the next quote, wherein he tells us he went off on the pair:

For those at the post office that afternoon and heard me unleash on this pair, I apologize.

So, he apologizes to anyone other than the cyclists who heard his tirade. And to the cyclists he gives a threat.

To the cyclists, just because you have the right to come and use our roads does not mean you are exempt from common sense. Pick your route wisely.

The last thing we want to do is to start ramping up citations for the littlest infractions to get you to notice.

The cyclists were using common sense. They were following the law. The mayor, by his own admission, was not. Common sense, Mayor, does not mean you drive fast past cyclists on a road that you claim is unsafe for anyone, during rush hour with school getting out, you in a bad frame of mind, and in an areas deemed unsafe to legally pass in.

That is what the double-lines mean, Mayor. They don’t mean “pass if you fit”, they mean “NO PASSING”. You passed a legal defined vehicle being operated in a legal fashion on a public roadway in a no-passing zone. To claim you did it safely is to be completely ignorant of the effect of your truck zooming by someone at close range.

Then, threatening all cyclists with Gestapo tactics simply because they are cyclists is really the icing on the cake. I do expect the police department has more sense than you assign to them. After all, Mayor, you don’t write citations and you can’t command the police department to harass a class of people you don’t like.

This is thus a lot more than simply sticking your foot in your mouth.

Bill Anderson avatar
About Bill Anderson
Just your frendly neighborhood curmudgeon!