Ken Chichester does many things for Cycle Oregon. In addition to his leadership role in route planning, he’s also in charge of obtaining road-use permits from city, state and federal agencies. During the event, he’s all about keeping riders safe. Here’s what he has to say about the small contingent of folks that make the ride a little less enjoyable for the rest of us.
In the 1960s, to combat a perception that all motorcycle riders were dirtbags and criminals, the American Motorcycle Association issued a statement saying 99 percent of all motorcycle riders are decent and lawabiding citizens, and the true bad apples only made up 1 percent of the riding public. Unfortunately, various “outlaw” motorcycle gangs enjoyed the notoriety of being such a rare species, and quickly began referring to themselves as one-percenters. To them it was a badge of honor to be recognized as a problem.
Similarly, the majority of Cycle Oregon riders are wonderful, conscientious and courteous folks and are a pleasure to ride with. However, there is always that small number of riders who through arrogance, indifference or simple ignorance act like idiots whenever they get on a bike. These riders threaten the safety and enjoyment of the ride for everyone around them. They also are responsible for a growing number of motorists who have legitimate reasons to dislike cyclists.
The Cycle Oregon one-percenters are not hard to spot. They’re the ones who don’t bother to slip into a single-file line when cars approach from behind. They’re in pacelines that are way too big to exist safely in a group ride. They’re the ones who don’t wait even a second to overtake other riders, and pull into the traffic lane in front of cars and trucks. They’re also the ones who won’t move to the right when they know they’re being passed. They’re the ones who ignore traffic laws. Unfortunately, they can occasionally be spotted in herds, which can result in even less courteous behavior. Strangely, some of the worst offenders are the most experienced riders in the bunch.
Volunteers who spend time on the course in vehicles are usually shocked to see how blatantly lame these riders can be. Even hard-core cyclists can be converted into belligerent motorists if they follow a group riding four abreast long enough (ask me how I know).
The good news: That kind of behavior does not need to be tolerated. And when we see it, we can take action. We encourage the motorcycle officers who follow the course each day, and local police officers, to ticket those who flagrantly disregard traffic laws. Cycle Oregon staff can and will pull people from the ride who repeatedly violate safety rules.
Cycle Oregon is a great time. And a little consideration on everyone’s part makes it even better. We can all be positive ambassadors for cycling by riding lawfully, courteously and safely.
Steve Shulz on the Hunt for One Percenters