Watch Out For Mr. Thornton If You’re Riding In Kalamazoo

Bicycle lane symbol for San Mateo County, California. © BrokenSphere, Wikimedia CommonsI have my Google News set up to search for bicycle stories. It usually turns out to be a depressing list of stories about people who have been run over, mugged or police reports about stolen bikes.

There was a pretty even-handed story in the Kalamazoo Gazette this morning about clashes between the increasing number of cyclists on the road and motorists who don’t understand that riders have the right to be on the road.

Unfortunately, it sounds like Kalamazoo has the normal percentage of jerks and clueless riders who swarm all over the road and break every law in the book (I’m talking about bikers, not the 100% law-abiding motorists who would NEVER speed, coast through a stop sign, blow a red light, drive while impaired or text on a cell phone while changing CDs.)

Mr. Thornton sounds like a bad driver

Donald Thornton doesn’t think it’s a good idea to take the lane. “Not everybody can react immediately if they drive around a curve and there’s a bunch of (bicyclists) right there in front of them,” said Thornton, who lives on Van Buren County Road 358 in the Lawton area.

I responded with the following comment:

Motorist Donald Thornton says he can’t react immediately if he drives around a curve and finds a group of cyclists in front of him.

How about a slow-moving tractor? Or a broken-down 18-wheeler? Or a small child crossing the road? Or a garbage can that’s been blown into the road? Or a rescue rig working an accident? Or a fire truck?

Sounds like Mr. Thornton’s comment tells a lot about his abilities as a driver.

He’s not alone in his thinking, unfortunately.

Be friendly to the bikers you pass. If gas prices go up much higher, you may be one yourself. And, you’ll find that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

4 Replies to “Watch Out For Mr. Thornton If You’re Riding In Kalamazoo”

  1. I’ve noticed that the usual argument is something along the lines of the driver looking out for the cyclist’s safety. This guy says that bikes should not be on the road because he might run someone over. Paying attention would also prevent running someone over, but that never crosses his mind.

  2. I picked up a copy of the Gazette today and saw that article. I like the way the guy said “Not everybody can react…”. I thought that’s what we had drivers’ road tests for — to keep the people who can’t handle those situations off the road.

    At least it isn’t as bad as an article a few months ago where one of the police officers was quoted as saying he thought bicycles should ride on the left.

  3. On careful rereading, I see that Mr. Thornton doesn’t say that HE couldn’t react. He says “Not everybody…”

    I think he’s like the vast majority of motorists who think they possess superior skills. Sort of like the children of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

    I wouldn’t put a whole lot of faith in driving tests. I took mine in about 1963 and I doubt that my reaction time has improved much. Impulse control, maybe. Reaction time, not so much.

  4. I went back to the Kalamazoo Gazette story this afternoon to see if any new comments had been posted.

    A guy calling himself fedupornot says that Michigan statutes say that “a low-speed vehicle shall be operated at a speed of not to exceed 25 miles per hour and shall not be operated on a highway or street with a speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour except for the purpose of crossing that highway or street.”

    That’s a viewpoint I’ve never seen before. He conveniently doesn’t notice that it’s talking about low-powered vehicles, not human-powered one.

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