In response to Jim Thompson’s letter of May 9 (“Bicyclists don’t observe law of road,” AFN), I have the following to say. In bicycling circles, “spin” has to do with high RPM training, with Thompson it is just the political-type “change what someone else said to suit my argument” version:

• Does Thompson expect people to take seriously a viewpoint based on totally misrepresenting what someone else says and believes? I never said that “ bicyclists own the highway” and I don’t advocate that position. If you want to debate a viewpoint, at least do it honestly without misrepresenting the other party.

• The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists (CAzB) advocates sharing the road and simply wants all road users to exercise care. Asking drivers not to use GPS, cell phones, etc., while driving (which numerous studies show is equivalent or worse than even low level DUI/drug impairment) isn’t unreasonable, in my opinion. And, enacting laws that put unsafe behavior, whether created by alcohol or inattention, at the same standard and set equivalent punishment for equivalent results makes sense to me. What part of injuring or killing someone by driving unsafe seems OK to him?

• If Thompson was honest about his “wonderful world,” I suspect that he would admit that many more motorists aggravate him than bicyclists. I both drive and ride, and I don’t have selective memory. I notice violations and “failure to share the road” by both groups. In my “real world,” many more vehicle drivers violate laws and offend other motorists than bicyclists. The difference is that I am fact-based, while Thompson just “spins” other people’s comments and exercises selective memory to create a foil for his anti-bike attitude.

When a guy like this takes a situation where three people simply exercising/training on their bikes and following the law are critically injured by an inattentive driver and tries to twist it into something it isn’t (referring to a totally different situation), it just shows us his stripes. The CAzB doesn’t defend riding three-abreast. In fact, we educate bicyclists (adults and kids), motorists, and law enforcement on Arizona laws and safe cycling and driving.

If Thompson did his homework (website and/or Facebook) he would know what we stand for and advocate. He wouldn’t have to mischaracterize. So, to make it easy for him: We advocate enforcing the laws for both drivers and bicyclists. And, we also (the main point of my commentary) advocate requiring a higher standard of care for motorists than currently exists, because a motor vehicle that weighs 2,000-plus pounds combined with inattentive or impaired driving can be deadly to other car/truck drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and law enforcement officers at traffic stops. Technology allows many more distractions to be present in vehicles than 10 years ago, but societal expectations and state laws, for the most part, have not kept up with this change.

I don’t expect Thompson to change his attitude toward bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation, athletic/exercise activity, health and wellness and good clean fun, but I’m not going to let him get away with mischaracterizing my views and that of the organization/community that we represent.

Bob Beane

President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists

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