There is an interesting article in The Daily News (Longview, WA) about the local reaction to the STP riding through their towns each year. It is a good example of the broad strokes people use to describe people on the other side. All bikers are “selfish arrogant scofflaws”, and locals are “fat, hateful bumpkins”. There are also lots of reader comments at the end reinforcing the opinions held by both sides.
There is a quote from Cowlitz County Sheriff Bill Mahoney that mirrors my thinking "There are always going to be jerks, whether on two wheels, four wheels or on two feet," he said. "We just try to find a balance and not step on toes." I missed this year’s STP, but I have participated in the previous four events. As I mentioned previously, there are simply too many riders. Any problems are magnified at this scale. Though there are jerks on both sides, I have to say that I have seen many more bikers in the wrong than drivers. This can be due to inattention or lack of experience, but some times it seems bikers have a chip on their shoulder and are doing something stupid to make a point.
Cascade does make an effort to educate the riders, but enforcement has been poor or non-existent in the past. They have started using “ride referees” on some of their rides, and they were supposed to be at the STP this year. I think as responsible riders and citizens we need to respect the law and do what we can to promote cycling. Setting a poor example or being a jerk on purpose will certainly not win anyone over to your way of thinking. I think Cascade needs to communicate better with the communities we pass through, continue to expand the referee program, and to require that riders in their events have and use a mirror. The first and most dramatic step should be to reduce the number of riders. 9,000 is simply too much.