Cultures of Responsibility

This article by Robert M. Shanteau, Ph.D., P.E., Registered Traffic Engineer, is an excellent resource.  It is a long one but one you can go back and reference time again.  It is pretty cutting edge so it has taken my mind a while to catch where he is going with this history lesson:

http://iamtraffic.org/equality/the-marginalization-of-bicyclists/

Shanteau’s educational piece is good background for this story.   A cyclist was pulled over and ticketed for impeding traffic.  The video clip from the patrol dash cam shows how it unfolds.

Basically the Officer thinks the bicyclists should be riding at the edge of the road, not on it.  He says repeatedly to “stay out of the road”.   This fundamental confusion has a lot to do with the way the traffic laws are written.  In all 50 States bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as other drivers.  This includes the right to use the travel lanes, and associated duties (signaling turns, yielding before moving laterally to change lanes, respecting first come first served).  That’s all good.  The general law for slower moving traffic applies, slower traffic stays to the right.  The confusion comes from the “Far to the Right” law added to control bikes.  It creates a rule that designates bicycles as a second class user.  This creates conflict and confusion, and puts bicyclists at risk for the convenience of motorists.  The Far to the Right law is detrimental to road safety because it confuses the principles of traffic law and creates uneven treatment.  Dropping Far to the Right would let the regular rules of the road prevail and the sharing concept would be clear and explicit.  Bicyclists have a right to the road just like the drivers of other vehicles.  It is not an exception, or a special case.  It is the rule.  Start there and ride to the right as safe.  When moving slower than other traffic, drivers keep right as they judge safe and appropriate.  Bicyclists have to position themselves for safety.  Respecting bicycle traffic is a precondition for guiding safe traffic behaviors.  A good sign for this stretch of road would be:

bikes may use full lane

That makes everyone’s responsibility clearer.  It is safer that way.   Easier on everyone.

References:
Text to the video is here:
http://www.bikelaw.com/2016/02/04/biker-obstructing-traffic-nope-roll-the-videotape/

The League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Quick Guide is an excellent resource

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