The shoulder of Texas Highway 287.
Reed Bates' trials (and travails) got some wider coverage this week (Streetsblog, among others). People began asking why the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) wasn't helping. Trying to get ahead of the issue, LAB President Andy Clarke widely posted a response, which I reproduce below with factual corrections.
Picking Your Battles: The League & The Reed Bates Case
We have been following the Reed Bates’ case since pretty much the day the saga began. At the very outset, I called a couple of the people closely involved with Mr. Bates and offered the League’s help;
Neither Andy Clarke nor LAB ever spoke with Reed Bates. Reed at one point called Preston Tyree (LAB employee), but no offer of help was made. Clarke did speak with Rich Wharton ONCE, but never again, and no offers to help were forthcoming. Rich Wharton asked Tyree to serve as an expert witness, but Preston could only offer his personal, paid services, not LAB's assistance.
I did see a single voice-mail from Andy Clarke on my Caller ID, but being as it was probably a robo appeal for money (like the letters and emails I get from Andy), I deleted it unheard. Perhaps he was calling me when he should have been calling Reed. No follow-up calls, emails or other attempts were made to me... and none to Reed Bates.
...it did appear that the charges were inappropriate, that Bates had a legal right to ride where he was riding, and that the jury that Bates chose to be heard by was incorrectly instructed by the first judge involved. On that basis, we would have been happy to help defend his right to ride on the road.
Bates did not choose a jury trial. The judge urged him to do so, and then chose it for him. An unemployed man with no resources had few options. No offers of help came from LAB, no letters of support, calls to action, no Amicus brief, nada. Instead, there has only been a behind the scenes campaign to discredit Reed Bates.
Our offer to assist was not accepted; instead, he and his advisers chose to assert that not only was Bates legally allowed to ride where he was riding, but that’s where he and everyone else should be riding, even in the presence of a perfectly rideable shoulder.
Again, to the best of my knowledge, there was never any offer from LAB to help Reed Bates. Period.
No one on Reed's side has ever said "everyone should be riding (in the travel lane)", not Reed, or his friends. That's simply an anti-vehicular cycling smear that says more about Clarke's motivation than it does Bates'. Also, Reed does not have "advisors" or "managers" or "handlers" or "custodians"... he has friends. That's another Clarke smoke-screen, to make Bates appear to be a puppet of others, as if he is somehow incompetent, irresponsible, and incapable of reason. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Please remember that Reed's first citation was for riding in the travel lane of a 30 mph city roadway, 4 lanes with a center continuous left turn lane.
BTW: here's that "perfectly rideable" shoulder Andy Clarke thinks Reed should ride on. Here too. A color-enhanced version (to show debris) is at the top of page.
That approach took the issue beyond a strict legal argument as to where one is legally allowed to ride to where one should ride, and a rural Texas courtroom may not be the best place to have that call made on our behalf. As the situation has developed, Bates (and the people advising him) has unfortunately chosen to follow a strategy that our board and legal advisers did not think was in the best interests of all cyclists – from the initial trial by jury preference to a failure to show up for court dates and hearings
It's hard to show up for a court appearance when neither you or your attorney receives a summons. Reed has admitted he was not aggressive enough in this instance, but this mail never got forwarded to him. Remember, being under virtual 'house arrest' in Ennis, Reed had to move out of town to find work (to the far more 'bicycle friendly' area of Dallas County).
...to the pursuit of a position that is simply not reasonable and could easily backfire. We have remained in touch with the issue with local Dallas-area advocates, Bike Texas and our board of directors.
It's not reasonable to control your lane so trucks don't pass within 2-3' of you at 70 mph? Andy Clarke has actively warned people to not support Reed by describing him as an extremist, and by saying he was under the influence of "angry, discredited" cyclists. Clarke has consistently been obstructive. I would not have been surprised to see the prosecution enter a letter from LAB supporting the State's case.
It is instructive that none of us have chosen to get involved. I think we all regret that the way the case has been played by Bates and his advisers has precluded us from constructively intervening to help him and defend our collective rights to the road.The irony of the tag line below Clarke's name is very instructive as to LAB's understanding of bicyclists' rights. Send us money, and we will defend your right to ride on shoulders, bike paths, and in mandatory bike lanes. Try to assert your right to operate your bicycle as a legal vehicle in a safe manner, and we will launch a campaign of innuendo to discredit you among other cyclists.
President, League of American Bicyclists
JOIN today; help us promote and protect the rights of cyclists!
Again, no offer of help from LAB was ever made to Reed Bates. He was never contacted by LAB. To the best of my knowledge, no offer of help was made to any of Reed's friends, who do not act in loco parentis for Mr. Bates.
And yes, it is indeed VERY instructive that LAB and local 'advocacy' groups who listen to Clarke have not gotten involved. Had Reed Bates been demanding a bike lane, perhaps they would have felt differently.