UPDATE: Rhea has e-mailed her irritation with this post and notes that it was a passing bicyclist all Lance Armstrong-ed up, riding with traffic toward Rhea, riding against traffic, with whom she engaged in her back and forth, not a motorist. She's right. I remembered it wrong. Doesn't change the basic point. The post and her e-mail are below. I do take issue with her claim that she is "always available." I've e-mailed Rhea on past stories and never heard back. But thanks for responding on this one.
With apologies to my colleague Steven Rea's (no H) global sensation Rides a Bike Tumblr, today's lesson for shoobies will focus on WIP sensation Rhea Hughes. Now we love Rhea, above, as much as the next person, but we have to take issue with Rhea's little rant on Monday. She described her irritation at being chastised by a motorist _ UPDATE, Rhea corrects me that she said it was another cyclist coming in the opposite direction, not a motorist _ while riding her bike against traffic with her young son in a bike seat on some unnamed back road at the shore. Um, Rhea. Can we talk? You are, how shall we put it, totally wrong. Rhea tried to defend herself by explaining that, riding on the left side of the road, she could better see oncoming traffic and presumably protect herself and her son from an accident. Better to see the car that might take you out than be surprised by one from behind, was Rhea's faulty (and illegal) reasoning. And it was not a busy road, she said.
But she also defended her bike ride with a common fallacy about the shore, that things are "more causal" down here. I see this in action all the time, in which people on vacation think common and common sense safety precautions don't apply because they are down the shore. It's a lovely and romantic notion, but dangerous. Parents who wouldn't let their kids set foot into the street in Cherry Hill have them merrily peddling their tricycles down the middle of the beach blocks on their way to the Boardwalk. Never mind the street is filled with driveways and parking cars and the like. It's the shore! Come on, just cross behind daddy! Let's just ride wherever we want. I've seen parents and kids sitting in the middle of the street toweling the sand off. Really? And now that cars are obligated to stop for crossing pedestrians, there's a whole new let's just walk wherever and whenever we want attitude with the resulting rear-end fender benders behind them. LIsten, I'm stopping for you, but the guy in the lane next to me, I can't guarantee.
I wish these shore towns really were idyllic places where people can ride bikes anyway they want without worry, and some of the time, they do feel that way. But don't be fooled. On Monday, near the dog beach at the base of the Ocean City Longport Bridge, a bicyclist sat just off the roadway fixing a flat, rather than move over a foot more so that he wasn't at risk of being swiped by a car. Hey, it's the shore. Anyway, Rhea, you're a first time mom, and first time moms can be forgiven for being sure they know what's what with respect to their children, so I guess I understand the idea that if you can see the car coming, you can avoid the accident. (An orange safety flag on the back might help too). But really, as Al Morganti tried to tell you, the safer and legal place for a bicyclist to be is with traffic. Even at the shore.