Donaldson: Independent staff fools or knaves?

Irresponsible reporting or misguided editorial policy? Fools or knaves?:

The Independent is a local must-read and typically provides great coverage of what is going on in Paradise Valley.

Consequently, it was unusual to see the article on May 3 by Melissa Fittro re: groups of racing cyclists marauding through Paradise Valley. Oddly, such misguided conclusions were seemingly positioned as a pretext to eliminate the need for furtherance of the bicycle plan paid for by the city.

The article generated plenty of response, the gist of which seemed to be “in Paradise Valley drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are mostly rational and manage to get along; This is a great place to ride a bike or walk your dog.”

However, a shrill minority led your paper to write the article as if that is not the case.

Indeed, the bizarre nature of numerous factual inaccuracies included in the article begs question of why or how the article was published with their inclusion.

Either there was precious little fact checking or an editorial bias. Just because claims were made does not mean they merit reporting.

As was said by a playwright of some renown: “Which will you be sir, a fool or a knave?”

A few facts:

How often do fast groups ride on Hummingbird? Do they take the entire roadway?:
Each week, on Tuesday morning at approximately 6 a.m., two groups of cyclists ride very fast down Hummingbird lane.

These cyclists are traveling as fast as any car. Consequently, according to Arizona traffic law, the cyclists can legally take the entire lane.

Other cyclists also go fast down Hummingbird lane but not in large groups. Regardless, cyclists are permitted to ride on Hummingbird Lane, it is a public street.

Pedestrian and dog walkers:

Importantly, if the pedestrians are walking opposing traffic and have their dogs leashed — both required by law — oncoming cyclists at 6 a.m. will be visible (as they ride with very bright lights).

It is easy enough to step to the side of the road for the second or two required for safety. Would a dog walker not do so if a large garbage truck was coming, as on Thursday mornings?

Even so, it is puzzling, how many complaining pedestrians/dog walkers can there possibly be at 6 a.m. on Tuesday? Or is it a matter of whomever is making the complaint?
Public Streets:

It seems that to some residents it offensive that any cyclist at any hour rides on Hummingbird.

Evidently your reporter missed the petition circulating on Hummingbird to ban cyclists from Paradise Valley. Which ones would be banned? Kids? Seniors on cruisers? Or just those riding fast down Hummingbird, wearing lycra? It seems these residents are unaware of the meaning of public streets.

Banging on cars:

Unbeknownst to many, Arizona traffic law requires that a motorist passing a cyclist do so with at least 3 feet of clearance.

Cyclists having a sense of self preservation would be wise to bang on a vehicle that is dangerously close. Of course, there are a few people with sleeve lengths of 37” or greater, very few. Almost certainly, the motorist was in violation of the law, not to mention driving dangerously.

Notably, By Arizona law, if a motorist endangers a cyclist the motorist can be arrested and charged with vehicular assault. Perhaps a few such arrests and coverage in your paper would discourage the few hostile motorists that strafe cyclists purposefully.

Urinating in the streets:

Perhaps there is some confusion. We were talking about dog walkers. There is no shortage of dogs urinating on the side of the streets … but cyclists? This is widely known, observed, documented? Where? By whom? Was it those darn racers going fast down Hummingbird? How do they do that?

The bike plan:

Somehow the fallacious claims of a shrill few regarding the presence of cyclists on public streets have been conflated to the bike plan paid for by the city. These voices should be ignored or, if given any voice, be left to be seen for the shrills that they are.

One can only wonder, how or why such misleading reporting was published? Reporter credulity? Where was the editor? It raises the specter of either irresponsible reporting or editorial bias.

“What would you be sir, a fool or a knave?”

Editor’s note: Mr. Donaldson is  resident of the Town of Paradise Valley

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