Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Sharing the road

Wick's World

 

August 2, 2018



My favorite scene from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” appears near the very end when the two bank/train robbing outlaws are perched behind a large boulder. One of them turns to the other and says “Who are those guys?”

The lawmen, in relentless pursuit of the charismatic felons, were not from the CIA, FBI, or the DEA. They were not even reporters from CNN or Fox News. The posses of lawmen were Postal Inspectors who turned to the Postal Service to hunt down some of our nation’s most wanted.

The movie was set in an era before J. Edgar Hoover would come home to his beloved butler, slip into one of his favorite dresses and enjoy cocktail hour. It was much later when Hoover would ask the U.S. Congress permission to form the FBI, at the time the most powerful law enforcement agency our country had ever seen.

I heard the rumor going around Washington, D.C is that J. Edgar Hoover has turned over in his grave so many times because of current White House attacks against his tyrannical organization, that his tombstone is about to collapse.

Another part of the movie that remains etched in my memory occurred on a farm where Butch and Sundance took a much needed rest in their run from the law. The place was a temporary safe haven and it had a unicycle lying around. For a few moments, Butch and Sundance were able to ease the constant threat of capture by hopping on the big-wheeled bike and riding in circles around the farmyard. This scene depicted the riding of a bike as a form of relaxation.

Riding bicycles is still a form of entertainment. However, it is now also a means of transportation. Last week, while I was sitting behind a car at a stop sign and waiting to make a right turn onto the freeway ramp, I saw a frightening accident. A bicyclist from a pizza delivery company, in their haste to return to the job site, took a shortcut. Jumping the center line into oncoming traffic, their line of vision prohibited them from seeing the car in front of me pull out into the oncoming bike. Neither party saw the other and the results were bad. The biker flew in the air for about 20 feet. The bicycle became a twisted pile of metal and rubber. The pizza delivery guy got up and walked in circles, obviously dazed and in shock. The exit ramp on I-35 is one of the last places on earth you should attempt to take a shortcut into oncoming traffic while riding a bicycle.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I was pulling out of the parking lot at White Drug in Moose Lake, Minnesota. Just like the previous car/bicycle accident, I was making a right turn on to Arrowhead Lane. Only moments before, I noticed how the road had an addition of bicycle lanes. I also saw the huge arrows on the lanes that specified for bikers to travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic. The arrows could not have been any clearer. At the moment I began to pull out, a bicyclist whizzed by me, travelling the wrong direction of traffic. They stopped on the side of the roadway and began screaming at me, although they were clearly driving in the wrong lane.

I yelled back, “You are driving the wrong way! You are in the wrong lane!”

While we are yelling at each other, I again prepare to make a right turn onto Arrowhead Lane only to see two younger bicyclists, also driving the wrong direction, tangled up in their efforts to stop. As they both lay on the pavement, it became obvious that they were with the first wrong-way biker.

I rolled down my window and asked the youngest biker, “Are you okay?”

After assuring me they were fine, I headed for the freeway, but not until I was going to make a stop at the police station. I didn’t have to. The police were already heading my way.

I didn’t care that I got yelled at. I did care for the safety of the two children. I even cared for the ignorant adult who was doing the screaming instead of paying attention the direction of travel.

The bicycle lane is clearly marked with large arrows instructing you to travel with the flow of traffic. Failure to do so can be as deadly as driving the wrong way on the freeway. I have always sided with bicyclists when it comes to allotting space for their own lane. My two close encounters in the last two days have given me cause for reflection. Bicycles are only as safe as the person riding them.

“Bicyclists … use the correct lane!”

 

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