Who’s at fault?

October 14, 2014 § 33 Comments

My friend Brent Garrigus recently began requiring customers to sign a contract when they purchase clothing that carries his shop logo. A copy of the agreement is posted below.

RIDE'r Contract

RIDE’r Contract

The idea is pretty simple. If you’re going to ride around North County with the name of Brent’s shop on your back, you should follow the law. Why would a bike shop owner care? First, because blatant lawbreaking may correlate with unsafe riding. Second, Brent doesn’t want his shop to be associated with riders who blow through red lights, run stop signs, and commit the other myriad infractions that seem to enrage so many motorists.

Brent has a solid record of practicing what he preaches. He runs his own rides out of his shop and doesn’t tolerate repeated traffic violations. People who can’t follow the rules of the road are first asked to do so, and then, if they still can’t figure it out, are asked to leave. This kind of leadership is necessary on large rides for lots of reasons. It enhances the safety of the group since everyone is riding by the same rules. It teaches new riders proper riding etiquette. And it probably results in better cyclist-motorist interactions.

On the other hand, focusing on scofflaw cyclists, in my opinion, is focusing on the wrong segment of the population. Few if any people I know have ever been hit while breaking the law. To the contrary, they are almost always law-abiding. The most recent outrageous cyclist deaths occurred when a texting sheriff’s deputy hit a biker in the bike lane and when an underage driver with a passenger killed a fully-illuminated recumbent rider who was carefully following the law. The same holds true for Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus while riding in plain daylight following the law.

In other words, obeying the law on your bike is a good thing in theory, but it doesn’t address the real problem of cycling in traffic, which is careless motorists. You can stop at all the stop signs you want, but running stop signs isn’t what’s killing cyclists. Cyclists get hit because drivers don’t see them, which is often a function of edge-riding behavior, where cyclists hug the curb instead of occupying the middle of the travel lane where they can be seen.

Brent’s policy of helping educate and create a friendlier class of road cyclist deserves only praise. Road riders, like motorists, can often be rude; in extreme cases they can be violent. Helping enforce a policy of better behavior helps everyone, whether it saves lives or not. Leadership in the road community is a highly desirable commodity and deserves our support and respect — people who are willing to take a stand regardless of their bottom line are few and far between these days. And if you’d rather not sign the contract because you can’t resist flying through red lights on the Coast Highway during rush hour in order to snag that precious Strava KOM, well … you may have bigger issues than which jersey you wear.



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§ 33 Responses to Who’s at fault?

  • Bob says:

    Hey, whatever it takes to get out the message to ride more responsibly is a good thing.
    But…..I have to believe that a significant motivation behind the “rider code of conduct agreement” is our perversely litigious society, where looking for anyone (and everyone) to sue has become obligatory.
    Brent is just trying (and understandably so) to cover his ass (and assets).

    • fsethd says:

      I think he’s also trying to establish a code of conduct — one that’s hard to argue with. He has an amazing video of a local Strava dork ripping through red lights that are stacked up with traffic.

      • cannibal says:

        The final affront that inspired Brent to create RIDE’s policy was indeed the video of a Stravaholic who was seen ripping through a series of red lights while going for Strava segments. His actions were so egregiously wrong that a motorist who saw it all pulled up to a light, took out his phone and then watched in amazement as the maniac raced across 4 lanes of PCH making an illegal left turn from the righthand bike lane during rush hour… only to miss the KOM by 4 seconds while leaving a string of car tire screeches behind. 7,000 people got to see the video on FB. This person does this repeatedly, and is know for it all near and far.

  • Peter says:

    A very interesting tack to take, I like it. It would be great if all the clubs asked their riders to conform to some sort of code of conduct. It might not be any safer but it does promote a better vibe between motorists and cyclists.

    • fsethd says:

      And it also lets riders know what they’re in for — so each ride isn’t a “brand new day.”

  • channel_zero says:

    Years ago, rides that left your/a shop have found themselves targets of lawsuits from all kinds of people including riders on the ride, traffic incidents on said ride, and more obscure/creative reasons.

    It’s not like shops have deep pockets to defend the cases. The business-end of running a shop is still terrible.

    His agreement helps protect him. Though, it’s not a great document. IMO, he needs to license the use of his logo. I’d also put a clause in there about being friendly to other riders too. That way the license can be revoked by bad behaviour and he’s defining his liability (none) pretty well. Maybe too many years for me in the tech industry?

    • fsethd says:

      I think the effect of the contract is in its mere existence. It puts you on notice, “Here are the rules.”

      And they’re pretty flexible when you read the fine print.

  • Tamar T. says:

    I don’t like it. Unless he’s paying to advertise his shop, in which case he totally gets to dictate behavior. Do you have your jersey recalled for riding on PCH without a helmet?
    (I was riding on PCH yesterday S/B from Big Rock and passed a laden touring bike being cycled by a non-helmeted dude. I know he had a helmet because it was hanging on the handlebar. I thought about saying something but didn’t. Thought of you.)

    • I concur.

      I understand the shop owners intent and mostly try and “follow the law”. But I’ll roll through a stop sign if it’s clear and no cars are coming from any direction. I’ll also take the lane if appropriate. A judge in Kentucky recently ruled that taking the lane is not legal even though it is. Would Cherokee have to forfeit her jersey for “breaking the law”?

      I’d note that Honda (or any other car manufacturer) doesn’t repossess your car if you drive recklessly. How is this any different?

      Personally, I’d just shop for my kit elsewhere.

      • fsethd says:

        The language of the agreement is pretty forgiving and flexible. Brent has earned a large following of people who are good with following the law, and hats off to him for setting a standard — even if it’s one that isn’t perfect.

        Like you, I roll stop signs and commit various infractions on a regular basis, but I don’t get my nose out of joint when people tell me not to. Much of this is developing a community, and communities have different rules.

        It’s nice that there are people out there who are willing to take a stand on bike behavior, even when, as I point out, it isn’t perfect.

    • fsethd says:

      Ha, ha! Those helmetless wankers!

      The idea behind it is to set a policy, something that’s incredibly hard to get exactly right. And it’s limited to the clothing that has his shop name on it.

      In a small community like Encinitas, where people notice which jersey you’re wearing and can drill it down to a specific shop, it is definitely one way to let your customers know that you are concerned about more than just making the sale.

    • David Huntsman says:

      Seriously? You don’t see the difference between riding a bike without a helmet and breaking a state law?

    • GBshaun says:

      Ever ridden to the start of as ride with your helmet on the seat of your car instead of on your head? I’ll bet you have. The risks (driving, riding) are about the same, and the effect of wearing a helmet are similar too. 3% of preventable head injuries are on bikes, 53% are in autos.

  • David Holland says:

    In other news, Ford Motor Company announced a revolutionary new initiative. Those that purchase a new automobile must sign a contract pledging to obey posted speed limits, refrain from using cell phones while driving, and respect the space of cyclists that share the road.

    • fsethd says:

      We wish. And it’s crucial for bike advocates to keep the pressure where it belongs, on motorists. They’re hitting and killing us, not the other way around — with one or two exceptions that are totally blown out of proportion by motordom-oriented media.

  • R. White says:

    Sounds like Brent’s got some unrealistic control issues. Kumby-ya moments aside for a moment, why is he trying to take control of something that is not his responsibility, legal or otherwise? If Joe Public runs a red light wearing a Nike jersey would Nike be responsible? While his intentions are good his method is neither cogent nor rational. Think Sisyphus. Odds on his blood pressure and stress shooting through the Thermosphere as he rolls out this campaign. A solitary effort to change any individual’s genetic disposition let alone a subculture’s behavior is an exercise in futility. Peer pressure works, but when the “peers” operate at the LCD, good luck.

    How about this for an option: Put: 1-800-HowamIriding on his kits. Identifiable riders who get kudos from the driving public get a 35% on Tuesdays(win-win: drives business to his shop on slow days too). Threatening people will only turn them off and drive away business on principle alone. It doesn’t appear that he really thought this thing out thoroughly. I’d wager it’s a knee-jerk reaction.

    Gone are the days of the classically defined peloton where rider’s skill levels and understanding of how to ride and handle a bicycle were on par and resembled professionalism. In this new era of mass rides, carbon-driven ego’s, and “strava-assholes” if you offer a tip or an insight, 70+% of the time you’ll get “I know what I’m doing” from the Square-Pedaler. Sad. Short of culturecide, I’d suggest the best we can do is ride professionally(not to be confused with “Pro”), and ride only with other like-skilled riders.

    Brent: I feel your pain. A positive-reinforcement approach could be a win-win for you and your cycling community. Get your local TV news to cover it(free publicity/advertising!). They are always looking for “feel good” stories to wrap their shows. I have practical experience with positive-reinforcement with a couple of local businesses whose trucks drive on PCH routinely. It clearly works, better than Paxil.

    • fsethd says:

      Sometimes you have to hang yourself out there … hopefully not by the neck.

      Brent is the same guy who offers free inner tubes to anyone who stops and helps another rider with a flat. Just show up, tell him what you did, and he’ll replace your tube whether you’re his customer or not.

  • lborean says:

    “He runs his own rides out of his shop and doesn’t tolerate repeated traffic violations.”

    So do his rides come to a full stop at all stop signs?

    If so, he’s an idiot.

    And if so, they are not practicing safety, they are putting the letter of the law OVER safety. A bicycle is unstable at slow speed and….bla bla.
    I get tired of defending the practice of rolling (carefully) through stop signs.

    I find here in SoCal, many drivers will pause at a stop sign to let a cyclist cruise through. It’s not hard to see that full stop for a cyclist is impractical, if not unsafe.

    • fsethd says:

      I roll/run stop signs when it makes sense, but I don’t condemn people for stopping.

    • I know people who ride with the accuser and they say that he doesn’t come to a complete stop at stop signs, that he does more of a ‘California’ rolling stop, which is illegal. Also how many cyclists do you know come to a complete stop at a red when they are turning right? It is the law to stop completely, but rarely does anyone stop, unless it is visibly unsafe. The worst thing in all of this, are the well known, light running hypocrites (who have STRAVAENVY) showering the ‘accuser’ with kudos for his ‘stand’. All of the clubs say they want cyclists to obey the traffic laws and ride safely. Everyone wants safety, but cyclists rarely get killed running lights and stop signs, they get killed by inattentive drivers while riding in a bike lane. Any given day you could spend not more than a few minutes recording at any intersection on Coast Highway, and video a cyclist running a red light. There are literally dozens of them on weekend mornings, but the accuser purposely singled out one individual for his [the accuser] STRAVADRAMA. The original FB post was more of a public lynching that had to do with STRAVADRAMA (and there was no KOMing involved at the time of the video), than with a call to prudence when cycling.

      • fsethd says:

        Sounded like a call to prudent cycling to me …

        And the video spoke for itself.

        It’s not about being perfect. It’s about trying to set a standard and encouraging people to meet it.

      • fsethd says:

        I checked your ISP and it’s from San Marcos, CA. Perhaps you’re the Delta Bravo who is so infamous for abusing traffic in pursuit of Strava KOM’s?

      • fsethd, I’m not, and he doesn’t live in San Marcos, I am someone who knows some of the three year old history of false accusations against others in this area that are about strava, not about whether you stop at every light. All is not as it seems to you.

  • tomato72 says:

    Bravo to Brent. Many local training rides have taken it upon themselves to regulate the safety of everyone involved. The Rose Bowl ride specifically has been policing all the riders, encouraging them to not make moves like swarming cars moving in the same direction, and not cross over the double yellow into oncoming traffic. This was done through discussions with Pasadena officials to reduce the number of complaints about the ride. Yet, there are still morons who do make these moves, putting others behind them in danger of becoming hood ornaments. Enforcers of these rules kindly remind them of their mistakes, but if these troglodytes continue their violations, yelling and expulsion can often happen. It’s better to think inside the box to make sure everyone is safe.

    • fsethd says:

      It’s a fine line between setting rules and coming across as if you’re on a power trip. Hats off to those who try, because they get criticized for either having too lax a ride or for being too strict. Sometimes you just have to pick a policy and follow it.

  • DangerStu says:

    Thanks for posting this Seth, I helped run a shop ride last Saturday, the first thing we do a basic safety speech, stay in the bike lane when there is one, explain when there isn’t one we will take the lane and explain why we do it, that we acknowledge stops etc. I Really like that someone is making a stand but hope it doesn’t become standard practice, let’s be honest you can educate and lead by example, but some people don’t get it for whatever reason.

  • nealhe says:

    Hello fsethd-san and All,

    Whatever happened to ‘the customer is always right’?

    While the storeowner’s heart is in the right place …. the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    I suspect this business model will be about as successful as teen age chastity vows.

    Cyclists are human first, cyclists second, ……. and obedience is way down the list in my experience.

    You wrote: “Cyclists get hit because drivers don’t see them, which is often a function of edge-riding behavior, where cyclists hug the curb instead of occupying the middle of the travel lane where they can be seen.”

    I am not sure that occupying the middle of the travel lane is a smart place to ride …. if you have another choice …. since you are in the trajectory of the motorist who does not perceive you …..

    There is evidence that being in the trajectory of a motorist is less safe than riding out of the motorist’s trajectory …. Hence riding as far right as practicable (with exceptions) … or in a bike lane …. is safer and has better odds for the cyclist.

    Know your predator …….

    Rear end collisions into other motor vehicles (like cars and trucks) are the number one motorist crash for a variety of reasons …. primarily that motorists are ‘spaced out’ (inattentive) on alcohol, drugs, sleepy, sun in their eyes, playing with their phone, and so on. When riding directly in front of the spaced out motorist the cyclist is toast.

    While smaller in number …… lane departures are another cause of motorist crashes for many of the same reasons. However in most motorist lane departures the cyclist is not directly in front of the spaced out motorist.


    “NHTSA, Virginia TechTransportation Institute Release Findings of Breakthrough Research on Real-World Driver Behavior, Distraction and Crash Factors

    Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to a landmark research report released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

    Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use, and drowsiness.

    “This important research illustrates the potentially dire consequences that can occur while driving distracted or drowsy. It’s crucial that drivers always be alert when on the road,” said Jacqueline Glassman, acting administrator of NHTSA. Her remarks were made during a news conference today at VTTI in Blacksburg, VA.

    The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study tracked the behavior of the drivers of 100 vehicles equipped with video and sensor devices for more than one year. During that time, the vehicles were driven nearly 2,000,000 miles, yielding 42,300 hours of data. The 241 drivers of the vehicles were involved in 82 crashes, 761 near crashes, and 8,295 critical incidents.”




    “The most common cause of deaths and injuries in work zones is rear-end collisions.


    Motorists are horseshit drivers ….. If my math is correct there are over 5,000 motorist rear end crashes each day in the US (on average) in addition to the rest of the millions crashes each year.


    “Summary: In 1999, the most recent year for which data are available, more than 6 million crashes occurred on U.S. highways, killing over 41,000 people and injuring nearly 3.4 million others. Rear-end collisions accounted for almost one-third of these crashes1 (1.848 million) and 11.8 percent of multivehicle fatal crashes (1,923).

    “Driver inattention is a major causal factor in about 91 percent of rear-end crashes, as reported in: U.S. Department of Transportation, ITS Joint Program Office …..”




    Rear-end collisions cause a huge number of cyclist deaths

    Click to access EBC_report_final.pdf

    “For example, the most common collision type in our Every Bicyclist Counts data is a rear end collision. Approximately 40% of fatalities in our data with reported collision types were rear end collisions. This is higher than what was found in the 2010 FARS release that included PBCAT-based crash types (27% of fatal crashes with reported collision types), although the crash type “motorist overtaking bicyclist” was the most common collision type in that data as well.”


    Ride fast and ride safe



    +1 mph Faster

  • Waldo says:

    Come on, Wanky, it’s “whose,” not “who’s.”

    • fsethd says:

      Sort of but not really. I meant to say “Who’s at fault.” Corrected … thanks for catching that!

      PS: All typos become the property of the finder.

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