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April 16, 2018 · OPINION

Winding country roads too dangerous for bicyclists

By Twila J. Adams

On Thursday April 5, at about 2:45 p.m., I was driving toward Warrenton on Wilson Road, commonly known as Old Waterloo Road for those who have lived here for many years.

There were two bicyclists heading in the same direction, riding side-by-side with absolutely no mind as to who was behind them. They were followed by two cars, two pickup trucks and school bus. Wilson is a rural road with many turns, hills with blind spots and a speed limit of 45 mph, all without a shoulder.

In the morning and late afternoon hours, the sun hits just right, causing a blinding effect for as many as five seconds. Wilson is not a road for bicyclists. It is a dangerous road, travelled by many motorized vehicles at higher rates of speed. Needless to say, this road has seen its share of accidents, some deadly.

These two bicyclists were dressed in all black, without reflective apparel, riding side-by-side. One bicyclist realized there was a line of traffic behind them and finally decided to ride in single file. Wilson Road is very busy at this time of day and very difficult to maneuver around bicyclists because there is a lot of oncoming traffic due to Fauquier High School recently letting out. What I find irritating is that bicyclists continue to ride on the road when they are fully aware of the oncoming traffic, a line of traffic behind them, and not pulling into a driveway to allow motorized vehicles to safely pass because they have “a right to be on the road.”

As bicyclists choose their mode of transportation, they should pay personal property tax, maintain vehicle registration (license plates) and inspections. Furthermore, bicyclists should be prohibited from roads that have a speed limit of 40 mph or greater for the overall safety of bicyclists and motorized vehicle drivers.

Do bicyclists honestly think that if they get hit they would be uninjured and simply walk away unharmed? I just don’t get it. I have driven on Wilson Road all my life and I have seen fatal vehicle accidents, injured and killed bicyclists, and speeding vehicles beyond one's imagination, yet bicyclists choose to ride on one of the most dangerous roads in the county. Unfortunately, bicyclists have a legal right to ride on Wilson and other roads, but doesn’t common sense tell you not to ride on dangerous roads?

It appears to me any bicyclist riding on Wilson Road has a death wish. This almost came true for one such bicyclist. As a courteous driver, I waited to pass a bicyclist on Wilson Road when it was safe for both the bicyclists and myself, giving them a large berth on all sides. As I began passing safely within the constraints of the law, one of the two bicyclists turned back to look at his partner and lost steady control of the bicycle. I was approaching nearly side-by-side with the bicyclist when the rider nearly lost all control of the bicycle, creating an extremely dangerous situation for both bicyclists and other motorized vehicles. The bicyclist’s choice to ride on a dangerous road and his inability to maintain full control places motorized vehicle drivers and bicyclists alike in a very dangerous situation.

Should an accident have happened, the bicyclist would have been at fault for failure to maintain control of his vehicle.

But, that doesn’t remove the mental anguish drivers would deal with for the rest of their lives. Bicyclists should at least have the common decency to put safety for all before their right to joy ride on these type of dangerous roads.

Adults of age have the right to drink alcohol. Adults of age have the right to drive with a legal license, but drinking and driving don’t mix. Similarly, bicyclists are legal. Dangerous roads are legal to vehicles, but bicycles and dangerous roads don’t mix. Choose roads with less traffic; choose roads with shoulders, and choose roads under 40 mph. Don’t motorized vehicles get ticketed for going too slow? There is a reason for that, because it’s dangerous for vehicles that are maintaining the speed limit. And bicyclists can not maintain the posted speed limits on roads, especially on roads that are hilly, winding and with no shoulders.

If it takes me and hundreds of others that agree with me to approach the government to prohibit bicyclists from riding on Wilson and other roads with a posted 40 mph speed limit or greater, then that’s what I’ll do.

Bicyclists should stay on bike paths paid for with tax dollars so you they can have their joy rides. Bicyclists should ride where it is safe for them and others without an unnecessary risk of sending people to the hospital and the mortuary.
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Tom LaHaye · April 25, 2018 at 11:17 am
So Twila J. Adams, was it you driving that white Isuzu Rodeo a few years back that just had to pass me as I was riding at the 25 MPH speed limit and crossing that little bridge between the WARF and Fauquier High? Did you notice the Lincoln Navigator coming in the other direction? I'll never understand how two SUVs and a bicycle fit on that bridge at the same time, but trust me, I was on the edge of the road!

Have you ever noticed the concrete curbs on that bridge that allow no escape route for a cyclist? Did you notice, 60 seconds later when I pulled up behind you at the light at Van Roijen and 215? I wanted to rap on your window and display some hand signals, but chose the high road.

Yes, there are too many ignorant cyclists on the road. There are also too many ignorant/impatient drivers. Pay attention out there, everyone.
nonewtaxes · April 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm
Shirley you can't be serious. If you are you have more than a bump on your head.

Please let me know on which point you are confused and I'll try to dumb it down enough for you to understand it.
Twilava · April 19, 2018 at 8:29 am
nonewtaxes: We are writing checks and you are DEAD. You make no sense with your comments. I think you have bumped your head. Seriously.
nonewtaxes · April 18, 2018 at 7:38 am
The two applicable rules, neither of which did you post are:
1. Passing traffic is to give a 4 foot right of way. When you pass in a car your passenger tires should be on or near the center of the lane.

2. When traffic is behind a group of cyclist they need to form a single line.

Traffic usually does not give 4 feet and usually cyclist do not form a single line. There are dumb asses in both groups.

I am not our looking for trouble. I am getting physical and mental therapy. I enjoy cycling. I do not want to get a Darwin Award. What award would you get?

Suppose I make $125,000/year and plan to work for 20 more years. Suppose I have 3 children. You might end up paying compensatory damages for lost income plus punitive damages for being a dumb ass and leaving my kids w/o a father. The financials wont affect you directly because you'll be in jail for manslaughter. Your family, however, will live in poverty unless you can write a check for $10,000,000 because you didn't have 30 seconds of patience. Sounds like the most expensive 30 seconds ever.

Jim Griffin · April 18, 2018 at 7:18 am
I posted the link to the whole page. Why quote the entire thing? I quoted that one entire rule because it seemed applicable, but the entire page offers better context, so I posted the link.

It is proof our time and place is polarized beyond all recognition: We cannot so much as discuss bicycle and vehicular safety without ridiculous charges of bias.
Darwin awards · April 17, 2018 at 8:10 pm
Virginia Law , nowhere does it say bicyclists cannot ride off cliff's , it's kinda I figured that out , would you let let your 5 year old ride down these back roads ? well I bet they are smart enough to know better. We have abundant heard of Darwin award want to be's. On a trip to a friends house I topped a hill , and in the shade of the tree's almost hit a bicyclists , hit the brakes , blew my horn , one of the bicyclists was in the center of the road , and did not turn back and did not move over , his co award seeker was 20 feet behind , near the shoulder filming. They are out there looking for trouble , and will have film , for the Darwin awards , or do they think in a court of law the film will bring their friend back. There are plenty safe places to ride , there is not much common sense. All of these bicyclists have a death with , idiots .
Try the cliff's , no cars there , great view's , scenic .
Thanks Lance Strongarm
nonewtaxes · April 17, 2018 at 8:02 pm
jg has a history of cherry picking quotes, he thinks it makes him look smart.
Bikesmayusefulllane · April 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Lastly, Jim Griffin failed to quote the rest of the state’s “as far right as practicable law”

Lastly for the person who quoted the “as far to the right as practicable” law wasn’t quoted it in its entirety, most notably the exceptions:

1. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge;
4. When avoiding riding in a lane that must turn or diverge to the right; and
5. When riding upon a one-way road or highway, a person may also ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as safely practicable.
For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane too narrow for a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or foot-scooter, or moped and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.
Bikesmayusefulllane · April 17, 2018 at 4:15 pm
Perhaps what Wilson Road, if it’s really that dangerous, needs is additional law enforcement? Perhaps such a task could be done if the author focused her efforts on this rather than whining about slow moving vehicle users.

Fortunately the author and other anti-cyclist bigots can’t just ban certain road users because they don’t like them or because they’re too incompetent to properly drive on the roads with them.

“Other motor vehicles” motorcycles exempted have a giant metal cage surrounding the occupants. A bicyclist losing or appearing to lose control is hardly a risk to others. Thank you for competently passing the bicyclists as this concept is difficult for many but please, there’s no need to be such a drama queen. Some bicyclists do need training on how to hold a line and look back but these are skills that can be picked pretty quickly and don’t represent a substantial portion of the cycling population.

The author insists on blaming bicyclists for being the cause of any crash on the road unfortunately even when the fault isn’t remotely the cyclists, police and media will blame the cyclist for their own demise.
Bicycling and drinking are not comparable activities either. That’s a logical fallacy to compare the two.

The author later demands cyclists use roads with less traffic. Again what if those roads are the only option? Why not insist other road users go somewhere else to serve your needs too?

Motorists get ticketed for impeding traffic but the laws for impeding traffic apply to drivers of motor vehicles only. No vehicle motorized or not has an obligation to go the speed limit. Speed limits are just that- limits and not mandatory goals. This is another elementary rules of the road concept.
You can’t prohibit certain slow moving vehicles from a roadway just to serve your needs either. It’s illegal and it’s unconstitutional.

The author makes the assertion that bicyclists are all riding for sport and should use bike paths. Then perhaps motorists should only stick to limited access freeways since those facilities typically prohibit slow moving vehicles such as bicyclists, low powered motorcycles, scooters, horse and buggy and others. Then the author wouldn’t need to moan over sharing the road with others. But just like freeways, bike paths don’t serve all destinations.

It actually is pretty safe to ride on the roads provided everybody is following the rules of the road. Even the author, despite her discriminatory talk of demanding bicyclists not use “her” roads admits to driving cautiously and passing when safe which is how all are supposed to act.
Bikesmayusefulllane · April 17, 2018 at 4:14 pm
The situation the author describes appears to be a two lane narrow road with lane widths too narrow to be safely be shared between a bicyclist and a standard motor vehicle. Chances are the centerline of the road is marked with double yellow lines or doesn’t have very many places where passing is permitted and safe too. Why is the author so disturbed by two slow moving vehicles (the bicyclists) operating 100 percent legally on the roadway? Roads are for use by people, not just people driving motor vehicles. Virginia has no law prohibiting two abreast riding and its easier to pass a group of cyclists riding abreast than it is to pass a group single file either since the “passing column” is shorter. In either case motorists don’t have enough room to complete the pass inside the same lane safely and legally therefore they must at least make a partial lane change to pass. Bicyclists are to be treated as any other slow moving vehicle.

Each road user has an obligation to drive in a manor appropriate for the conditions at that time. This concept, even without a single cyclist in the area, seems to be a difficult one for the average licensed motorist as they often cause most of the crashes in these conditions. So slow down, use sun visors, and keep your vehicle’s glass clean and free of glare. Many cyclists who aren’t riding on a set schedule try to avoid these roads during these periods but others have no choice as it may be their only route. And newsflash, not all bicyclists are out riding for recreation, many also ride as their mode of transportation just like many other people drive their cars to go places.

But as the author described, she saw them at 2:45 pm, which is a time when anybody with or without light colored clothing, lights, and reflectors can be easily be seen. Cyclists are pretty easy to spot in other conditions too depending on their lane position. As for single file, perhaps the bicyclist found an appropriate time to go single file when safe and legal passing could be facilitated. But the author doesn’t provide enough context to back this nor has the knowledge and understanding of basic traffic concepts to explain to us anyways. No law requires bicyclists to wear bright colors either. Lighting and reflector laws are applicable at night only but of course there no harm for bicyclists using them in the daytime.

The author seems to just be grasping at straws now. The correct action is to simply wait until it’s safe to pass. This is how passing any other road user works. Those ahead have the right of way. It’s the concept of “first come, first served.” Roads are for use by all people too and they get busy during times of high demand. Bicyclists have the right to use them anytime they want for whatever purpose. And to the author’s surprise, people who ride bicycles may ride to and from that school or to destinations close by. Perhaps the author should have described earlier in her rant that driveways existed. But if these are private driveways, do the bicyclists have a right to trespass on private property without permission? The author then whines about the bicyclist’s right to the road. Here the author really shows her discriminatory anti-cycling bigotry.

The author then starts to bicker that somehow bicyclists do not “pay their way,” and we see the author’s poor understanding of elementary civics. The roads are a public good (except those on private property of course) and open to all regardless of who pays or how much they paid in supposed taxes. The author misses that most bicyclists do own cars but licensing, registration, and insurance typically is only required of drivers of motor vehicles for the sheer danger motorists impose on others. It’s imperative the author, since she seems to believe one needs to pay their way to use the road, move aside and off the road when someone who has a more expensive car or who has lived in the area longer wishes to pass. When she comes and visits my hometown she also needs to do the same since she hasn’t paid into the “personal property tax” pool in my area. The author also needs to learn to stop blaming the incompetent actions of motorists on cyclists. It would be impractical, illegal, and unconstitutional to ban bicyclists from roads with speed limits of 40 mph. With such a ban the bicyclist’s right to travel would heavily be restricted.

The author doesn’t get a lot of things. Risk can be managed. Bicyclists ride hundreds of thousands of miles per year without injury or incidents. On a mile per mile basis it’s statistically safer than motoring and many other activities. Sometimes bicyclists do contribute to their own demise but in plenty of cases bicyclists doing everything right are killed and injured by motorists. You know who else is commonly killed and injured by motorists?
BJ · April 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm
The roads can be dangerous for cyclists but I'm more concerned with the distracted drivers moving down the road looking at their cell phones then I am by someone on a bicycle. We as drivers need to be just as aware of the road as they do, and a several thousand pound vehicle will do a lot more damage to life and limb then a bicycle.
Blaine Johnson
BJ · April 17, 2018 at 11:36 am
Add to the list Meetze Road and Casanova Road. It is nice to see people out on bicycles enjoying the day, but please pay attention, stop chatting away, riding side by side, wearing dark clothing, pulling your children in a attached bike buggies, and those bikes where the rider sits down near the ground are crazy to be riding around here.
Blaine Johnson
BikerFriendlyGal · April 17, 2018 at 11:31 am
Maybe the author of this story is not aware that Wilson/Old Waterloo Road is a Virginia Scenic Byway, a byway that "provides an opportunity to have a relaxing, comfortable outdoor experience that nourishes the need for a connection with nature" according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website. What better way to experience this "outdoor experience" than on a bike?

These scenic byways invite cyclists from all around the region to come out and ride on them. We are fortunate to have as many as we do here in Fauquier County as is evident by the frequent cyclist sightings.

As many riders have seen in the past, one story about being held up by a few cyclists...or runners for that matter, for a few seconds on one day
of the year brings out the vocal sedentary population for a bashing of the fit conscious. This is old news, just like being yelled at, having trash thrown at you, being forced off the road.

The hundreds of others that may agree with you will be drowned out by the thousands that do not. Again, good luck with your effort and keep us all informed as to how it's going.

Demosthenes · April 17, 2018 at 9:25 am
nonewtaxes - Ha! Ok, I missed the sarcasm in your original post. I get it now. Thanks for the clarification, and I'm sorry to have jumped to the wrong conclusion about your position.
nonewtaxes · April 17, 2018 at 7:22 am
I suggested building bike paths tongue in cheek. The county/state can't even keep the current roads maintained.

Just because I prefer a small government rather than a large one and low taxes rather than high taxes doesn't mean I prefer no government or no taxes to support it. What it does mean it that, for me, is that the government should provide those basic public goods that individuals cannot provide for themselves such as roads, emergency services, and the like.

Bike paths would be a public good but not a necessary one. They would be a want and not a need at least in our rural setting.

I'm glad you got a good laugh out of this. Maybe we can agree that bike paths along all the roads is silly and leave it at that and not try to make it into a serious suggestion.

Cars use the road. Trucks road the road. Hay wagons use the road. Farm tractors use the road. Lumber trucks use the road. Squirrels use the road. And I will use the road cycling on my merry way.

Demosthenes · April 17, 2018 at 6:00 am
Nonewtaxes: OMG this is too funny. I have read you post on here so many times that our government and taxes should be tiny. But when it comes to an issue important to you like bike paths, you are suddenly ready to fund additional pavement all over the county. What happened to your usual statement like, "If people want bike paths, the free market will provide them!"? Hilarious.

I actually support your idea that we build more bike paths. Maybe not on every mile of paved road as you say, but in some strategic places to establish some long routes for bikers. Not that I'd use these, mind you, but I realize that kind of government spending would be good for the area, and good for my own property values. You should realize that many government programs you rail against fall under the same umbrella.
nonewtaxes · April 16, 2018 at 9:35 pm
A cyclist doe not have a right to ride on the rode. A cyclist has a mandate to ride on the roe except where prohibited. The road is neither safe nor dangerous, the drivers and cyclists are.

I guess you can use your logic and imply that where ever two cars have had an accident that the road is too dangerous for car traffic.

I don't know how your lives and property are endangered. Car vs bike, the car will always win.

There are numb skull cyclist out there just like there are numb skull drivers. Cyclist are allowed to ride side by side unless there is traffic behind. Then they must ride single file.

Riding as close to the tight of the road does not mean on the very edge. That is not practical. Also, there are times when road conditions require the cyclist to move to the left.

You may not like cyclists on the road but that doesn't mean we can't be nor shouldn't be on the road. When I ride I expect that you give me the same thing I would give you if our paths crossed - simple courtesy.

I find that 99% of drivers move over and some even move over and slow down a little bit. Most however do not move over the 4 feet as required by the law. I realize most drivers do not know that 4 feet is the law.

I guess bike paths would be great too. They'd be a whole lot safer. Lets add the costs of bike paths to road construction. For every mile of road there shall be a parallel bike path.
CC43 · April 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm
Bravo, Twila Adams, and thank you to Fauq.Now for putting this subject in print again. For the nearly twenty-five years that I have lived in this county, I have wondered why pleasure bicycling is allowed on our country roads. Our lives and property are endangered when they ride, but that seems not to matter. Somehow, a cyclist's 'right' to ride is regarded as sacred, especially when a cause is attached to the practice. It is a shame that many are made to suffer for the pleasure of a few.
Jim Griffin · April 16, 2018 at 6:02 pm
Bike riding in the fashion described is already prohibited in Virginia:

"Bicyclists operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of roadway."

Reluctant to favor new laws that replace freedom. Signage might prove helpful.
pattyp · April 16, 2018 at 5:58 pm
We have the same problem on Cliff Mills Rd. It is very hilly and winding. Bikers could walk their bikes up faster and safer than trying to ride, especially side by side
BikerFriendlyGal · April 16, 2018 at 4:12 pm
"If it takes me and hundreds of others that agree with me to approach the government to prohibit bicyclists from riding on Wilson and other roads with a posted 40 mph speed limit or greater, then that’s what I’ll do."

Good Luck! Please keep us all informed on how this effort is going.
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