“Watch for Cyclists or Face $2,000 Fine, Jail Time: State”

June 11th, 2009

Another media proclamation regarding the proposed “Safe Passing” Bill has appeared. This one comes from a relatively unknown news source; so new it is designated as beta.

Bearing the sub-title “Cyclists are our friends”, this piece from NBC-DFW continues the theme of stirring an emotional response from all sides of the issue by employing hyperbole and misinformation.

Notable for its terseness, it contains several statements which are questionable or taken out of context.

A new bill (SB 488) before Gov. Perry seeks to curb the increasing number of bicycle injuries on North Texas streets.

No proof that bicycle injuries are increasing in North Texas is provided, despite this statement suggesting that they are. Nationally, bicycle crashes have declined, modestly, over the last fourteen years. An analysis by Michael Bluejay in 1996 listed Texas as fourteenth among traffic fatalities¬† – this despite the contradictory language that “Texas leads cycling deaths”. Finding the truth will take some work, but in the absence of a verifiable citation, this claim by NBC must be considered false.

Texas motorists are not known for awareness of their unmotorized, two-wheeled counterparts.

Really? I have safely ridden in North Texas for over sixteen years with nary an incident that would suggest a lack of awareness. Yes, there is occasionally harassment. It would also be correct to state that few – cyclists and motorists alike – know the law as it applies to the operation of a bicycle as a vehicle. Misconception and ignorance seem to be the rule. However, none of the above denotes a lack of awareness.

An issue of Bicycling magazine recently named Dallas in particular as one of the worst cities for bicycling.

How many times does that dubious claim have to be debunked? Dallas was named among the worst cities for bicycling due solely to the lack of bike lanes. This designation is largely disingenuous and has been rendered specious by contrary views.

In the absence of legitimate experience on the subject of transportation cycling, reporters for the mass media really ought to limit their coverage of these issues to the facts. When they inject hyperbole, half-truths and misinformed personal opinion, they do a disservice not only to their readers, but sully their reputation and that of their employer.

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