Letter to the Editor

 In General, Grand Marais

I sent this letter to the Cook County Star today in response to Jorey Brazell’s letter. It was pretty hard to remember when my friend was killed by a motorist, and it makes me sad that the attitude shown in the Star is still around.

Hi Rhonda,

I read Jorey Brazell’s (4/30) recent letter to your paper and was quite taken aback. I think that one of the reasons that I was taken aback is because I lost a bicyclist friend in a hit and run incident. My friend was riding home from work on his bicycle when hit. He wasn’t found until several hours later when his family became concerned that he hadn’t returned home at his normal time. The police determined that he had been hit by an automobile. He may have still been alive as he lay in the ditch unable to move. It was devastating to his friends and family.

The road that he had been riding on was a popular one for bicyclists. I rode the same route as often as once a week, and on many of those occasions, I had been accosted by polite motorists slowing down and telling me to get off the road. More often than not those motorists used four letter words and once accompanied those words with an empty beer can. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for bicyclists to be treated this way by polite motorists, so we tend to get used to it. But that doesn’t make the treatment right.

The thing is that bicyclists have the right by law to share the roads with motorists, and motorists simply have to take that into account in their driving. This is especially important in our community as we consider allowing more slow moving vehicles such as ATVs onto our roadways. An ATV or a bicyclist simply doesn’t stand a chance against a car, truck, or semi, and it always amazes me that some motorists get as mad about bicyclists as they do that they believe they have to slow down or stop and tell the bicyclist how they feel about them. To me that is a redneck mentality.

I still remember the first and last time I rode by the spot where my friend, Kevin, bled to death in the ditch. He bled to death, because some motorist didn’t give him the room on the road to ride his bike. I never biked that road again, and my friend didn’t live to ride his bike again. Please, if you are a motorist, show respect to the bicyclist’s using our roadways. Please, don’t let another tragic death like Kevin’s occur on our roads.

Bryan Hansel
Grand Marais, MN

Edit: This letter ran in the Star two weeks ago, and in this weeks paper (5/14), I received a letter back from Tod Sylvester from Grand Marais, who had a friend hit by a car when he was younger. He apologized for Jorey’s incoherent letter and uncalled behavior by suggesting that the reason Jorey harassed the original biker was because Tod’s friend was Jorey’s cousin, and Jorey didn’t want this to happen to other bikers. Although, I think we can call bullshit here. If that was the case, then Jorey would have written that the reason he stopped was because his cousin had been hit by a car.

Instead, Jorey’s letter showed that he had a serious misunderstanding of the laws that regulate bikes on the road while he tried to prove that bikers break the laws, when they don’t. He just didn’t understand those laws. Maybe he should be less worried about affixing his racist confederate flag to his car and more worried about reading the driver’s manual for MN.

Tod, in his response, goes on to prove both Adam Harju’s and my points, and then, because I suggested that motorized vehicle users should drive safely around bicyclists, he calls me “‘whack job extremist’ on a mission.” In the same issue of the newspaper, another writer laments the hostility of the locals in the area when it comes to sharing resources between different recreational users. He writes about how Cook County has a hostile reputation as far south as Hayward. If Tod’s attitude that bikers who suggest safety are “whack job extremist” is typical, I can see how Cook County got the reputation.

I’ve heard that this attitude is around town, but in my three years of living here this is the first that I’ve run into it. I hope that this is limited to the Jorey/Tod clan.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Ben Sanders

    It saddens me that we live in a society where people can hit someone riding a bike and let them die on the side of the road.

    What kind of a society lets another person die on the side of the road? How can this happen?

  • Bryan

    Whoever it was was just sick in the head. This happened on the old highway between IC and West Liberty. The same road the UI had their biking classes on.

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