Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

You Can Take the Kennedy Out of the Compound...

Safety buffs on Capitol Hill worry that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) might be taking the "easy does it" motto of his Alcoholics Anonymous participation a tad too far.

Kennedy has been spotted repeatedly lately riding his bicycle - without a helmet - to and from House votes, including on one occasion in which he was riding down a one-way street, the wrong way, one-handed, talking on his cell phone with the other.

Kennedy still legally cannot drive a car on account of that bit of unpleasantness last May when he crashed his car into a police barricade in the middle of the night in a prescription drug-induced stupor. Since then, apparently, he's taken to the bike.

"I'm a member of the bicycle caucus," Kennedy told the Sleuth during an interview in the bustling House Speaker's Lobby Tuesday.

Bicycle caucus... since when? "Since I lost my license. Since May 5th of last year," he said with a self-deprecating chuckle. "I have a carbon neutral way of life now."

But if he's a member of the safety-conscious Congressional Bike Caucus, why the heck isn't he wearing a helmet? Oh, that thing. "I, um, I'm just riding back and forth to votes. I'm not going fast. It's just for utility purposes...I'm not going downhill 30 miles-an-hour."

The stream of one-line explanations trickled for a moment, then he excitedly remembered that the bike caucus has "a policy" - yeah, that's the ticket, a policy. "Let those who ride decide. That's right, let those who ride decide!" Kennedy said.

"Sometimes the helmet can be an impediment to free access...to your full range of motion," Kennedy said, doing his best power of persuasion.

That's when we informed him that he'd been spotted on his beaten-up maroon mountain bike going the wrong way down Pennsylvania Avenue on the House side of Capitol Hill against traffic and, yes, against the code of universally acceptable rules of the road for cyclists.

"I only do that if there are no cars," he said. Then, switching to a more convincing tone, he explained, "You go against traffic. That way, you know where you are in relation to the cars. You don't go with the traffic."

By coincidence, just as Kennedy tried to explain away his reckless abandon of the helmet and unique set of traffic rules, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Mr. Bicyclist himself, chairman of the bike caucus, strolled past.

Kennedy waved him over, "Earl, Earl! Tell her - am I not a member of the Bicycle Caucus in good standing?"

Blumenauer, wearing his trade-mark bow tie, nodded enthusiastically. But his smile turned to a frown when we informed him, with Kennedy sitting there, that the Rhode Island daredevil has been spotted riding his bike sans helmet.

Known for being a fastidious helmet wearer, Blumenauer took the diplomatic route. "You want to take things a step at a time," he said of the novice bike caucus member, "and the Europeans would argue you're less safe wearing a helmet." But he added, as he tapped his head, "I have had had a couple of tumbles that have convinced me."

Kennedy had a pained, give-me-a-break expression on his face that suggested, "A bicycle crash - big deal!" He quickly interjected, reminding Blumenauer of the alleged caucus motto: "Yes, but let those who ride decide!"

Blumenauer's "I'm not going there" hand gesture and teeth-clenching grimace made it clear he's not condoning Kennedy's Leave Your Helmet At Home policy.

Though helmet safety may be the least of anyone's worries come next month - when Kennedy, who's been sober for a year and has successfully completed his probation, says he's due to get his license back.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  May 22, 2007; 5:39 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jesse Jackson III Segways to Daycare
Next: Paul Simon: a Chris Dodd Roadie

Comments

He breaks the law, yet he makes the law? I don't get it. I will agree that for bicyclers and pedestrians it is safer to go against traffic. Let's work to change the law.

Posted by: Newcastle | May 23, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

With all of the problems and challenges we face in this country, is this so-called "opinion" article necessary? Some in the press either have too much time on their hands or just simply are not doing their job. Whatever the case, stop wasting people's time with such garbage. Get some focus people!

Posted by: Robert I. Laitres | May 23, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Kennedy: "Give me a break." An adult should be able to decide whether to wear a helmet bicycling, motorcycling, kayaking, or dog walking. And don't get me started on seat belt laws. When doing any of the aforementioned activities or driving alone in a car, the only one for whom these "safety rules" have any physical consequence is yourself.

Posted by: Ed Chmielowski | May 23, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

priceless story.

Posted by: Johannes | May 23, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

What is it with you and the helmets?

One day it is Jackson on a Segway, the next day it's Kennedy on a bike...

What next, rollerblades?

Maybe this space would be better named 'The Nanny'.

Posted by: GStark123 | May 23, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

MS. AKERS USE YOUR BRAIN CELLS IN SOMETHING USEFUL. MAYBE YOU NEED A CHANGE?
ARE YOU BORED? WE HAVE REAL AND SERIOUS ISSUES TO WRITE ABOUT. DON'T YOU THINK?

Posted by: MAR | May 23, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

MS. AKERS USE YOUR BRAIN CELLS IN SOMETHING USEFUL. MAYBE YOU NEED A CHANGE?
ARE YOU BORED? WE HAVE REAL AND SERIOUS ISSUES TO WRITE ABOUT. DON'T YOU THINK?

Posted by: MAR | May 23, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Helmets?!! What are we, ten years old. C'mon...

Posted by: kurt | May 23, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd say it's a very pertinent story. It shows his thought process. Or lack thereof. And his disdain for any law that inconveniences him.

Posted by: Doug Stiers | May 23, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Very funny piece. Back here in Rhode Island, we simply shrug our shoulders and say, "That's Patrick being Patrick."

Posted by: franko | May 23, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

It is his choice whether or not to wear a helmet -- just like it is a person's choice whether or not to smoke. Both can have awful consquences, but both needed to be looked at by the individual.

Posted by: Mike | May 23, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Just filling up the space I see.What a waste of time.So there si nothing of importance to write about????As if we dont have real problems you could be investigating.Thats the media for you.Fill the space with complete and utter nonsense.

Posted by: cincigal74 | May 23, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Kudos! Another Kennedy spotted breaking the law. But then when haven't they? Above the proletariat, scruffy other people for whom "we make the laws" in congress. Those laws are not for us!!. They are for them!!!!. Therefore we break no laws. Either drinking, crossing long bridges with victims suffering criminal behavior from us and our privileged alcoholic tricks, or importing oils from dictator Chavez to sell at below market prices to those claiming to live in our districts. After all, Granpa Joe set the standard. He was a bootlegger. Master of the Kennedy Klan, superior being and controller of the diocese of Boston.

Posted by: jake | May 23, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

It will be very fun to see how well he can ride his bike after a few beeaahhhs and some Jamesons at the Hawwwwk and Dove Dood.

Posted by: JohnGalt | May 23, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

And when he crashes his bike and has severe head trauma who will be there to pick up the pieces? Perhaps the voters in his state need to think about this when he comes up for reelection. The good genes seem to have died off with JFK and Bobby.

Posted by: Doris Vician, Albuquerque, NM | May 23, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Doris is right about the good Kennedy genes. JFK was so far right of most current Dems that he would be a centrist in today's political world. Then there's Teddy who at times is just plain bizarre.

cincigal74: Do you spend all of your life dealing with serious important stuff. If so, you either have no sense of humor or you have no life or vice versa. It's entertainment. You can choose not to participate by reading something else.

Posted by: r man | May 24, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

helmets are for a worst case scenario...

this guy has nothing to worry about

as the kennedy family has no history of accidents causing death in their family

we all live under the "personal fable"
it will not happen to me

if an accident occurs to this kennedy while helmetless on his bike while going the wrong way on a one way street
we will just have to chalk it up to the curse of the kennedys

gwadzilla.blogspot.com
a bicycle blog

Posted by: gwadzilla | May 24, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm a long time bicycle commuter. Always wear a helmet. Never ride against traffic.

Having said that, what I'd like to see is Kennedy riding a bike after his license is restored.

Jim "Share the Road" Clark

Posted by: Jim Clark | May 24, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

If there were a law against pettiness, May Ann Akers would probably deserve at least 20 years. This is a pathetic article by a so-called "sleuth" looking for basically meaningless gossip. Whatever she's paid, it's entirely too much.

Posted by: Gregor | May 24, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"...against the code of universally acceptable rules of the road for cyclists."

Have you ever tired riding in China, or anywhere else for that matter. Bike laws...ridiculous how involved they get.

Worthless blog post altogether.

Posted by: Beijing Biker | May 25, 2007 3:39 AM | Report abuse

I love this piece. For once, I can be amused by a legislator trying to justify stupid behavior. Usually I just get incensed.

Posted by: Debbi H. | May 25, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Wearing or not wearing a helmet is only a personal choice IF you do not have health insurance that is being paid for by the taxpayers AND have a DNR in place that allows for the cessation of treatment if you run out of cash.

ON THE PLUS SIDE, helmet laws are a factor in the reduced availability of transplantable organs.

Posted by: Karen | May 25, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

does he wear the helmet when he is snow skiing?

Posted by: ernie theurer | May 25, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Sure understand bike riders not wanting to go with traffic. Too much of an act of faith in the proper driving of others.

Posted by: mike g | May 25, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

This is the sort of behavior that makes car drivers hate bicyclists.

Not the helmet, the going the wrong way with a cell phone.

But, it is nice to make allowances for beginners.

Fun article, Mary Ann. Also, I didn't know there was a congrssional bike caucus. Cool.

Posted by: bike | May 28, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This story is fantastic. I love it.

Posted by: MJP | May 28, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Like most liberal Dems, Kennedy likes to make up the rules as he goes. Dems are quite used to the idea that if a law is not to your liking simply don't follow it hence his lyrical retort that even Blumenaur dismissed) and let's not concern ourselves with those pesky details like legislatively changing the law. What the heck, if we get caught in violation, the courts will not enforce penalties anyway, at least none that are too severe.

Posted by: Jon Weiss | May 29, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

well the govenor of NJ didnot buckle up and his driver the Statepolicemen drove the SUV over 90 mph... That was defore the hospital stay and after the stay They still Broke the LAW! So where is the punishment???? Well the LAWS ARE MADE and enfocresed for the VOTERS not the LAWMAKERS"LAWbreakers".....Notice from the Universe ...There are no knowing Illegal Immegrates...back to the universe..They are selling smut in Las vegas...

Posted by: s.melvin | May 29, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

well the govenor of NJ didnot buckle up and his driver the Statepolicemen drove the SUV over 90 mph... That was defore the hospital stay and after the stay They still Broke the LAW! So where is the punishment???? Well the LAWS ARE MADE and enfocresed for the VOTERS not the LAWMAKERS"LAWbreakers".....Notice from the Universe ...There are no knowing Illegal Immegrates...back to the universe..They are selling smut in Las vegas...

Posted by: s.melvin | May 29, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

well the govenor of NJ didnot buckle up and his driver the Statepolicemen drove the SUV over 90 mph... That was defore the hospital stay and after the stay They still Broke the LAW! So where is the punishment???? Well the LAWS ARE MADE and enfocresed for the VOTERS not the LAWMAKERS"LAWbreakers".....Notice from the Universe ...There are no knowing Illegal Immegrates...back to the universe..They are selling smut in Las vegas...

Posted by: s.melvin | May 29, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Well this is a great idee for All of congress to ride a bike.....Since the gasprices to high ....then again congress is" Overweigth" and We are concenered about there healths..( the Cost ) is to much for us citizens to bear..Senator I believe( Thurmond )check into the hospital every nigth..How much did that cost the taxpayers? Why/ Didnt he have a Home and a doctor? Or was he Homeless? Hope to get an answer on this question..Go green Congress..oops not green money...Nature.
love your country

Posted by: melvin | May 29, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Bike helmets and obeying the traffic laws are good things. There is a saying :
"There are old bikers,
There are bold bikers,
But there are no old bold bikers."

You can get seriously injured in a slow speed crash on a bike. I know I did it. I was glad I had a helmet on or else it would have been much worse.

Anyone who rides against traffic is asking for serious injury. You will never see the car that is turning left and they will not see you because they are focused on what is ahead of them, not someone coming up on their left.

When you ride a bike you need to be fully aware and use all your senses. After your sight, your hearing is the most important sense that will keep you safe. No headphones and no cell phones. If it interferes with your hearing don't use it while riding a bike.

The Old Biker Jim

Posted by: Hopeisontheway | May 29, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Patrick should try the "Tricycle Caucus"...doesn't sound like he's ready for prime time yet! Given time, he'll remove himself from the gene pool.

Posted by: DQuixote1 | May 30, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

darn right it's relevant: same old "the rules don't apply to me" belief system of addicts, narcissists, elitists, entitled spoiled rich boys like Kennedy (simply another form of hypocrisy that the rich and powerful really do believe they are above the law)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 6, 2007 2:48 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company