Snipper Wrongs Bike Rights

Dear Readers,

Your Gilbert is officially annoyed at Councilmember Reuben Snipper. We would include Mayor Bruce Williams and Chief Ronald Ricucci, but they are healthy and strong, whereas Snipper is still in recovery from a nasty bike/auto mishap. We prefer to pick fights with people who are already knocked down, injured, and unable to chase us.

Besides, it is Snipper who repeatedly brings up the The Incident. Every time he sees Chief Ricucci, or every time the subject of bicycles comes up, he mentions The Incident. The Incident was this: shortly after he was elected to the council the chief pulled Snipper over for running a stop sign on his bicycle. The chief let him go with a warning, but not without a lecture. Bicycles, he said, have to follow the same rules of the road as automobiles.
Rules of the road? Bicycles must stop at stop signs the same as automobiles? Even when they can see there’s no danger? Brake a perfectly good coast for nothing?


What’s the point of bicycling if one can’t coast? Not only is it one of life’s most joyous experiences, it is essential to biking, especially when the bicyclist needs momentum to get up the next slope. Unnecessary braking for a stop sign is NOT sustainable, to use the council’s favorite buzz word. It wastes natural energy! Why should a sustainable energy source (a bicyclist) be forced to follow rules for a polluting, green-house-gas-producing, big, fat, smelly, size-15 carbon-footprint automobile?

Rules of the road, my sweet Mother Jones! The rules need to be changed! The stop signs should be moved! The cars must follow OUR rules!

Is that what Snipper, chaining himself to the police car and starting a hunger strike, told the chief?

NO! Snipper couldn’t say “yessir!” fast enough. He probably saluted, betraying all we Takoma Parkians hold dear!

But, let us not cast aspersions or call names. No, no! Your Gilbert is above all that. Why, we even have sympathy for the two-legged snake-in-the-grass, turncoat, running-dog quisling. It is possible that in his long minute of captivity he was stricken with Stockholm Syndrome, the condition in which hostages take on the beliefs and goals of their captors.

Yes, Reuben Snipper could be the Patty Hearst of Takoma Park!

We sincerely HOPE that is the explanation, otherwise we’d have to instigate official proceedings to have Mr. Snipper drummed out of the city- his “Question Authority!” bumper sticker stripped from his Prius, his bicycle pump snapped in two – and have him exiled to a whitebread suburb beyond the Beltway where nobody over age 12 rides a bicycle because they eat so much meat and fried foods they can’t perch their bloated butts on a bike seat without falling over.

Allow us a moment to catch our breath and imbibe some cool liquid, Dear Reader. Ahh, that’s better!

Snipper brought Your Gilbert’s abuse tough love on himself by bringing up The Incident to the city’s Safe Roads Committee at the council’s June 22 meeting. The committee members were discussing plans for bike lanes when Snipper, aided and abetted by Mayor Williams, brought up The Incident and the “Rules of the Road.”

In the pious tones authority figures often take when informing others of their alleged duties when said duties advance authorities’ interests*, they made the committee representative acknowledge the responsibility of bicyclists to follow the Rules of the Road. It was off the point of the discussion, but the representative played along, resentfully rubbing his twisted arm.

So, on one hand they say bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorized vehicles. On the other they say bicyclists must be in their own separate but unequal lanes: either in bike lanes or in the gutter.
Separate but unequal, eh? How far the “progressive” Takoma Park has fallen!

Well, do bikes equal cars or not? That’s the question we put to the city lawmakers. If bikes equal cars, then let bikes into the center of the driving lane and make drivers slow down to accommodate our speed – especially UPHILL after a FULL STOP. Better yet, put bikes and cars on totally equal footing by requiring drivers to turn their engines off inside city limits and push their vehicles through town.

Lawmakers and law-enforcers, if you have the good sense to admit that bikes are NOT equal to cars, cut bicyclists some slack and adjust the laws, or your enforcement of them, to reflect the reality of bike riding.

Meanwhile, Back at the Council

Other things, perhaps even important ones, happened at the last meeting. Your Gilbert will report on those in an upcoming post. The council is taking a break next week, so we have a while. There wasn’t anything THAT important.

– Gilbert
*the same sort of tone the Committee of Public Safety (the French one, not the Takoma Park one) must have used when reminding victims of their duty to remove hats and neckerchiefs before placing their heads in the guillotine..

About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

8 Comments on "Snipper Wrongs Bike Rights"

  1. Reuben Snipper | June 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm |

    Glad to see you discussing this important issue. I hope others weigh in on it. You know my views.
    As someone recently hit by a car, I can tell you that cars and bikes are NOT equal.
    Now for the real purpose of this comment: I note that the tag for this blog post has my name misspelled. The post itself has the correct spelling. Any politician would insist on the correct spelling of one’s name. (Although politicians have told me that any mention at all is good.)

  2. Corrected.
    Dammit, why are all our city officials such good sports?
    – Gilbert

  3. If there were completely separate roads for cars and bicycles, the issue of distinct rule would make sense,
    But since that is not the case even bringing it up is idiotic. When a car stops at a STOP sign the driver not only respects the law bu also expects the others to respect it and give time for both to check that the way is free and clear. How many times have I seen bicyclist zoom through STOP signs at full speed without hardly a look? Too many times to count! Once stopped and restarted, they still either they could have run into me or I could have run into them!
    On the same roadway, safety is a question of mutual respect and not of self-righteousness!
    By the way, if a car did not have to stop at stop signs it also would probably get much better gas mileage.
    So sorry for Reuben’s accident but that does not make up a solid argument: rules and regulations should not be based on solely individual experiences.

  4. By the way, what was the use of these bike signs on road between Philadelphia and Sligo Park earlier this year? To tell us that bikes use the road? then why not put them on every street in the city?
    Or as too often in TP, just for show?

  5. Anonymous | June 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm |

    Bikes are SILENT. Cars are NOISY. We bicyclists can hear them before we see them. And we have better field of vision than cars. We know where the cars are better than cars know where we are!
    There are a couple of intersections on hills near me where 9 out of 10 times there is never a car at the corner. I never stop unless there is a car.

  6. Since bicycle are SILENT, in my car without the radio on and with the window open I CANNOT HEAR THEM, so I expect them to RESPECT THE RULES OF THE ROAD as I do!
    You are obviously a gambler, with your health and life no less, expecting more respect of the rules from the car driver than you are willing to do!
    Now, how about bicyclists listening to an Ipod (I have seem some), should there be rules of road specific to them?

  7. Rules of the road also say you can’t pass a vehicle when there is a solid line. If bikes are the same as cars, they are vehicles and you can’t pass them. We expect strict adherence to this rule!

  8. Keith Berner | July 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm |

    Anarchy for bikes now! Rigid rules for cars, always! As for car drivers who take themselves too seriously, out of our paradise with all of you!

Comments are closed.