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August 20 ē 01:51 AM
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Bikes, traffic donít mix


Dear Editor,

After reading Tom Wearing's column regarding bicyclists on busy roads in last week's issue, I thought I'd pass along this copy of a letter I wrote to Sen. Jud Gilbert a few years ago:

"About four years ago I had a very near head-on collision that occurred on North Ave. just south of Berville. The near-accident was perpetrated by four bicyclists riding at the very edge of the road on the white line. The road at this point is just standard width, and the white line is next to the gravel. The person coming north moved into my lane to avoid the bicycles. The thing is I don't believe that person ever saw me going south. We were within 20 feet of a head-on when I was able to stop my vehicle. The bicyclists (the woman in the lead was wearing a helmet with a rubber chicken on top) simply went on their merry way without even realizing the problem that they had caused.

"I realize that bicyclists are considered pedestrians and that is very dangerous. First of all motorbikes, motorcycles or bicycles do not have bumpers and usually the driver of a car is to blame when they have an accident with one. They simply are not that visible! I am not sure that I know the answer to that problem. Motorcycles usually run with their bright lights on so that makes them visible, and they can run at the same speed as traffic. But bicycles do not have lights, and can't move the same speed as traffic. Hence they cannot ride in the traffic lane of a major highway. Neither do they pay taxes on that highway. Bicycles should not be classified as pedestrians either, since you never see a person walking or running at 20 mph on a major highway.

"The other day I was up north at Elk Rapids talking to a cousin. He complained about the same thing in his area. He said he has written to his representative a number of times about the same issue. Maybe if you would contact the state representative from Elk Rapids you may have an ally in finding a solution to the problem.

"I guess I have one more stone to throw at bicycles. We have made enough rails to trails in this state to keep bicyclists busy for the rest of their lives. My wife and I traveled a couple of these in the U.P. a few years ago when we were still able to ride bikes. They weren't paved or graded, they were just a trail, and we had a ball. We met people along the way and talked railroad and the fun they used to be."

Obviously, since I wrote that letter nothing has changed. I still don't think bicycles belong on any road these days with all the traffic.

Ken Pleger, Mussey Twp.
July 18, 2007

Castle Creek
Van Dyke Gas
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