“Cyclists criticize Texas Gov. Rick Perry over veto of safety measure”

August 7th, 2009

For the past several years, standard practice for the Dallas morning News is to be a day late and a dollar short when it comes to reporting certain issues. This was highlighted one again yesterday, when an article appeared on the subject of the fallout over Perry’s veto of SB488. The correspondent employs all of the tricks of sensational journalism. Mentioned are the TBC petition protesting the veto, comments submitted by the father of an individual accused of running down cyclists in Grand Prairie and the FOIA request by a misguided employee of the Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin.

I was somewhat surprised to see my own comments… ahem… quoted in the story.

Herman May of Garland implored Perry to veto the measure.

“As a vehicular cyclist with close to twenty years of daily experience dealing with traffic in the Dallas area, I can assure you additional legislation is not the answer to this solution …,” May wrote.

“At its core, the primary result of this proposed legislation will be to convey a false sense of security to uneducated cyclists.”

The misquote gives the impression of incoherence. What I actually said was,

…I can assure you additional legislation is not the answer to this solution in search of a problem.

Upon further consideration, it would have been more succinct to have stated, “I can assure you additional legislation is not the answer to this non-issue.” Certainly, doing so would have left little room for ambiguity and butchering by shoddy journalists.

Equally interesting is the fact that the correspondent then proceeds to basically paraphrase other arguments from my correspondence with the governor and pass them off as his own. Few members of either side of the argument were highlighting ยง545.053, wherein it states that,

An operator passing another vehicle shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance; and may not move back to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the passed vehicle.

As I have stated from the outset of this debate, the only “safe passing” statute required is to flesh out the definition of what constitutes “a safe distance” and apply it to all vehicle classes. Demanding special consideration of cyclists as particularly “vulnerable” and lumping us with various, facultative pedestrian classes does little to protect our travel on the roadway. The statute as proposed would have been nearly unenforceable and would have served only to diminish the standing of lawful, competent vehicular cyclists as a recognized operator class.

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