I confess. I am a total slacker. Long-time readers might be aware that I used to regularly craft a weekly contribution to RKP known as “The Explainer.” It’s been some time since I last offered up a column. It’s time for me to try and correct that, so here goes.
Well, if I am going to resurrect “The Explainer,” maybe I ought to start by explaining why I haven’t been writing that much this year.
To start, I have been busier than @#$% with a law firm my friends and I started in early 2013. Neubauer, Pelkey and Goldfinger, LLP, has turned into a reasonably successful enterprise. It’s been fun, but I find myself working much more than I had expected. I have now learned firsthand that when you’re self-employed, the odds are good that you’ll end up working for a demanding asshole of a boss. I always wrote this column on early Saturday mornings, but that slave-driver has me doing legal work, even on weekends. (If I can figure out how to pull it off, I’m filing a wage-and-hour claim against myself.)
For some reason, I have also announced my candidacy for a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives. Yup, I have achieved a trifecta of unpopular career choices: I started out as a journalist, segued into the legal profession and now I’m a politician. (I guess I can only improve on that by opening a used car lot some day.)
Regular RKP readers might also be aware of the whole LiveUpdateGuy thing, which uses up spare time faster than Hummer gulps down gasoline. Patrick O’Grady and I have been providing Live Coverage of grand tour stages since the2011 Vuelta a España … longer than that if you count my time at that one cycling magazine for which I once worked. We will, by the way, be back for the Vuelta, so I hope you can join us for daily wire-to-wire coverage of the final grand tour of 2014.
Anyway, the usual format of this column is that you, the reader, submit a question. Then I opine on the topic as a self-anointed “expert” on all issues related to cycling, the law and – my favorite – doping in cycling.
Given that it’s been some time since I’ve asked for questions from you, let me temporarily turn the tables and ask questions of you.
What I would like to know is what issues are important to cyclists across the country and how I might translate some of those concerns to a state composed entirely of relatively small communities. The whole state of Wyoming has a population of just 580,000. The largest population center in the state is the capital city of Cheyenne, with 62,500 residents. Casper, in central Wyoming, follows closely with 59,000. The other 400,000 of us are spread out over the rest of the state with an average population density of just 5.9 people per square mile.
I’m running to represent a district in Laramie, the home of the state’s only university. We have a population of around 32,000, about 11,000 of whom are students.
Wyoming has recently experienced the same auto/cyclist issues, faced by residents of more densely populated areas, including two fatalities over just 48 hours in late May. In one of those, the driver has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.
These two deaths came on the heels of the League of American Bicyclists annual ranking of bike-friendly states. Over the course of a year, Wyoming dropped from 33rd to 36th. It was not good to start with and it’s only gotten worse. Cycling should be safe and easy in a state that has more antelope than people, but it ain’t.
I’m a former board member of Bicycle Colorado and consider myself an advocate of cyclists’ rights, both as a writer and as an attorney. What that does not give me, though, is complete insight into what other cyclists see as important to them.
So purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that you’re in my shoes. Let’s also assume for a moment that I actually do get elected to public office this November. I am a Democrat running in one of the most Republican states in the union, but it’s in one of the few Districts in the state that actually leans Democratic … a veritable island of Blue in a sea of Red.
What would you do? What cycling-related issues would try to take on first? Keep in mind that even if I do get elected, I will be a newbie and a newbie in a small minority. For one, I am a Democrat. Currently, there are just eight members of that party in the 60-member House. We have the same ratio in the Senate, with just four Dem’s in the 30-member chamber.
Now, I am not saying that cycling advocacy is necessarily a partisan issue. Indeed, in Colorado, the most vocal cycling advocate in the Legislature is Greg Brophy, a conservative Republican from Wray. Greg is a bike geek extraordinaire, a farmer and a committed advocate of cyclists’ rights. (He also pops in, now-and-then, to our LiveUpdateGuy coverage.) He has been instrumental in drafting legislation and assembling a bipartisan bike caucus.
Even if we have bipartisan bike caucus in Wyoming, we’d still be facing an uphill battle in trying to get cycling friendly legislation passed. So, what would you do?
What would be a reasonable first step to take?
What piece of legislation would you craft that
1) helps cyclists and
2) stands a reasonable chance of passage?
I am honestly open to suggestions.
If you have ideas about how a newbie legislator in the tiny minority might approach the issue, post your thoughts in the comments section below. If you have private concerns or need to post a treatise with reams of supporting documents, feel free to write me directly at [email protected].
Meanwhile, if you have questions, concerns, thoughts or complaints that could be the basis for next week’s column, drop me a note at [email protected]. In all cases be sure to include “The Explainer” in the subject line.
The Explainer is supposed to be a weekly feature on Red Kite Prayer (Pelkey gets sidetracked now and then).
If you have a question related to the sport of cycling, doping or the legal issues faced by cyclists of all stripes, feel free to send it directly to The Explainer at [email protected]. PLEASE NOTE: Understand that reading the information contained here does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Charles Pelkey. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained therein without first seeking the advice of qualified legal counsel licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.