Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bicyclists need to stay on sidewalk
*Zack Colman*

Zack Colman

Black 2001 Saturn SC2. That’s the car I drive — and if you’re a bicyclist on the road but not in a bike path and you see my car, I hope you’re wearing a helmet, because I might run you over.

Maybe not intentionally.

But you see, with all these things I can do in my car nowadays, such as choose a different song on my iPod, send a text message while driving or fall asleep at the wheel because I had to wake up for a worthless 8 a.m. biology lab, I might not notice you.

And, considering you are where you should not be, I might hit you.

The simple fact of the matter is, MSU has so kindly provided sidewalks for people on foot and Rollerblades, and MSU’s ordinance should be revised to require bicyclists be there too. The university has outlined bike paths on certain roads, but bicyclists can’t just create imaginary bike paths like they do.

I cannot drive my car on the sidewalk, so why must you ride your bicycle where I drive?

Many of my friends ride bicycles on campus, so I’m not trying to berate a whole demographic of students. I appreciate bicyclists who advocate environmentalism, since they are making up for the damage I do with my car.

I respect bicyclists who use bicycles as a form of exercise, since people certainly can never get enough fitness in their everyday routines.

But for as much as I respect and appreciate bicyclists, I will not hesitate to honk at them when they are interfering with the roads.

My concern is not merely about inconvenience.

Bicyclists on the road are a driving hazard to people in automobiles, since many bicyclists make turns without using hand signals and ride too close to other vehicles when there is no designated bike path.

For example, I was driving to work Tuesday when a bicyclist pulled up in front of my car in the right lane on Farm Lane going northbound where it intersects with Shaw Lane. There is no bike path at this portion of the road, and I needed to be in the right lane to avoid the left turn only lane, but the bicyclist was in the way.

Instead, I had to speed ahead and veer away from the fast-approaching rear end of the car in front of me, just barely making it into the right lane.

Some will say I could be more patient on the road.

But roads are for cars, not bicyclists. The bicyclist should not have been in the car lane.

It’s possible some bicyclists are trying to live out their dreams of being Lance Armstrong, and the smooth terrain offered by the roads where big, people-killing cars are designed to travel on are more desirable than the sidewalk pavement.

I get it, bicyclists — you’re in the Tour de France. Well, in your head at least.

But in reality, my gas-guzzling, carbon footprint-leaving car is trying to get around you, the bicyclist. And you, the bicyclist, prefer to coast, not along the side of the lane but in the exact middle.

Maybe in your head you are actually driving a car. Maybe that’s why you believe you should be behind a pickup truck and in front of 15 other cars trying to pass you.

And maybe you are Armstrong, so talented and in shape and able to pedal so, so fast. But Armstrong’s average speed in the 2001 Tour de France was 24.9 mph, which is 0.1 mph less than most of the speed limits on and around campus.

Plus, I’ve had difficulty finding students who actually obey the speed limit anyway.

It’s common for motorists to drive at least 5 mph above the speed limit, which makes your task to out-pedal Lance Armstrong all the more daunting. And considering you’re not actually Armstrong (even if you do wear a skintight yellow bicycle uniform), you likely are not going 24.9 mph.

And, oh yeah, Armstrong is competing when he is bicycling — your leisurely ride through campus might not even register on a police radar.

But, hey, snap out of it. You’re not Lance Armstrong.

And those are the headlights of my black 2001 Saturn SC2 bearing down on you.

Zack Colman is the State News opinion writer. Reach him at

Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Marko said...

what a asshole! I hope a ton of people email him for this

Anonymous said...

FUCK YOU Zack...

Anonymous said...

"Black 2001 Saturn SC2. That’s the car I drive — and if you’re a bicyclist on the road but not in a bike path and you see my car, I hope you’re wearing a helmet, because I might run you over." I regard this statement as a blatant threat towards cyclists. This guy is dangerous, arrogant and an asshole.

Max Cosmo said...

what a chach.

Bob said...

---copy of letter to MSU seeking corrective action for the threats in the article above---

Lou Anna K. Simon
Michigan State University, President

Crime Reporting Unit
Michigan State University Police

1) Overview of Concerns:

I am reporting a written and publicly distributed death threat against numerous members of Michigan State University (MSU) students, staff and general public. I request MSU staff and the Michigan State University Police to address this death threat in a timely and professional manner to ensure the physical safety of those threatened. Secondary concerns with the article's encouragement of criminal behavior need to be addressed; but only after the physical safety is ensured of the bike community.

2) Primary Concern: Death Threat.

Zack Colman, staff writer for The State News, made specific death threats against the bike community in his recent article, "Bicyclists Need to Stay on Sidewalk" ( ). In the article, Mr. Colman describes an specific target, specific weapon, specific method of assault and cites specific motivations for his assault; therefore, his statements exceed the First Amendment protections on speech and meet the threshold for criminal death threats. Mr. Colman specially states he is willing to run over members of the bike community with his motor vehicle as an act of road rage. A reasonable person would have cause to fear for his or her personal safety based on Mr. Colman's threat.

Due to extreme nature of Mr. Colman's threats; immediate and comprehensive response is required by the MSU police to address this issue. However, I must advise the members of the MSU Bike patrol to use extreme caution when dealing with Mr. Coleman as Mr. Coleman did NOT exclude police officers on bike patrols from his list of potential targets in the bike community.

I am requesting that Mr. Colman motor vehicle privileges be immediately revoked and not reinstated until after he is examined and assessed by licensed and qualified mental health professionals to assess the risk posed to by Mr. Colman to the public. A special focus on mental stability, anger management, and road rage tendencies should be included in the assessment. Appropriate corrective actions are requested to be implemented by MSU staff and police, to include criminal charges against Mr. Coleman.

3) Secondary Concerns: Intimidation to Encourage Criminal Behavior.

Mr. Colman states in his article that bikes need to stay off the road and bike on the sidewalk. Mr. Coleman describes his personal frustration at the speed that cyclists ride on campus roads as the justification for bikes to stay off the road way. However, the various Michigan Vehicle Codes and Michigan State University Obedience's that apply to bicyclists specifically grant the use of the roadway to cyclists, require cyclists to travel reasonable safe speeds and to NOT bike on the sidewalk. Therefore in addition to the death threat previously describe, Mr. Colman is also utilizing his position at The State News to intimidate the bike community as a means to encourage the bike community to violate State and University bike use regulations. It is unacceptable for Mr. Colman to attempt to force law abiding members of the bike community into committing violations of law. For reference purposes, the specific State and University regulations and laws are cited below:

Michigan Vehicle Code 257.657 specifically grants the same rights to bicycles to the roadway as any other vehicle (except for special reasonable exceptions).
Michigan Vehicle Code 257.660 (1) requires low-speed vehicles (to include bikes) to "shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care.."; such a requirement includes using the full lane if deemed required and practical for the circumstances
Michigan State University Obedience 33.09 states that "No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed faster than what is reasonable and proper with regard to the safety of the operator and others."
Michigan State University Obedience 33.13 states that "No operator of a bicycle shall cause the same to be driven upon or across any sidewalk..."
Michigan State University Obedience 33.14 Every person operating a bicycle on a roadway on the campus shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle.

4) Conclusion:

Death threats of any nature are unacceptable in any modern environment and are not protected forms of speech. The increasing number of national incidences of homicidal violence on academic campus coupled with the very real danger posed by road rage dictate that Mr. Coleman's threats must be taken at face value. The university is ethically and legally obligated to make the proper response to the threats and take any and all appropriate corrective actions. A RESPONSE is requested to this email.


Marcus Griffith

Laura said...

Attitudes like this exist. I will peacefully ride my bike. In the street and on the sidewalk.

I know my behavior disturbs both motorists and cyclists.

Thank you for posting the article.

timebombtimmy said...

Original link:

I encourage everyone to express your views directly to him, or the administration of the university.

Jonathan said...

Copy of my email -

I read your post and kept hoping for the moment when it would become apparent that it was simply poorly written sarcasm or a mild attempt at satire. As best I can tell, you actually meant what you wrote so let's start with the factual error and go from there.

"But roads are for cars, not bicyclists."

This is simply false - legally, literally, ethically and probably even philosophically. The legal place for bicycles is on the road.

When you see someone riding a bicycle they are saving you gas. They are saving you oil. They are saving you tax money that will go towards caring for the infirmed. Every time someone rides a bike to work or school or the supermarket there is the faint chance that your genetically unlucky children might get to breath clean air.

When some bonehead in a hummer lacks the ability to take a long view of the world I am disappointed but not shocked. But you sir, are in college; in theory you are capable of rational thought, of logic. According to some standards you should understand cause and effect in fourth grade.

The bicycle will not save the world but it almost could. The majority of the US population travels extremely bikable distances every day. Does a bicyclist need to take a plane from LA to make a meeting in NYC sure, but there isn't a lot of short distance travel that can't be done on a bike. Bikes make for happier, healthier populations.

Does every bicyclist dream of safe dedicated bike paths... of course. They are a lot less expensive to create and maintain than roads and make areas prettier rather than uglier.

The thing is, I love cars but when I discover that people think like you I am full of dismay. I often try to convince myself that ignorance in general is dissipating and that as the older generations die off they are replaced with more enlightened people. Please don't try to prove me wrong.

I don't disagree with your right to have an opinion... everyone's got a right to that. However, the right to an opinion is different from the right to having that opinion being treated with respect or given any inherent validity. I can believe that the sky is red and made of monkey intestines but that won't make it so. You can believe the road is solely for cars and that your need to get somewhere in a hurry is more important than the rights and safety of a cyclist but that does not make it so.

In closing, I have a feeling no one is very upset when you're late so take it easy. That cyclist will be out of your way as soon as the light changes. (Okay, perhaps it was unnecessary and personal to imply that people don't miss you when you are not around regardless of whether or not it is based in truth.)

Please, go ride a bike. I promise you'll feel happier, less rushed, more full of joy and you might accidentally put some good energy into the world instead of the other way around.

Good Luck,

Jonathan Kehoe
Los Angeles, CA

Jeremy said...

What an amazing asshole!

Jamie G. said...

The State News, Michigan State University's student newspaper, is an independent publication. The university administration has no say or direct knowledge of what's going in it, especially on its opinion pages, until they pick it up off newsstands or see it online. (It's worth noting, too, that Zack's column was expressing his opinion, not that of the editorial board.) That said, the best way to let folks there know what you think is to write a Letter to the Editor and to send it to, or to write him directly at

I'm a former S'Newser, and I can't disagree enough with the guy, but I suppose it's good to be reminded of what I'm up against when I head out for a ride.

Drew said...

Sounds like the Clear Channel and 99x (Atlanta) issues from a few years back. I think the FCC got involved and I know at least one program director got fired. Seems like Zack could find something original to write about...stealing the Clear Channel shock jocks babble is cowardly journalism.

Anonymous said...

Complete retard,

Anonymous said...

Hey, I don't know about where this assholes from but bikes are legally entitled a full lane in sunny CO and we're real good at remembering license plates and calling them into big brother -so accidentally hit a cyclist while your texting with your bros after youve had a couple drinks and then I hope you rot in prison.