May - June 2006
Table of Contents
May - June 2006
Living to Ride Another Day
By Kent Mark
After riding on numerous 5BBC rides, I observed questionable conduct by cyclists on the road. Included are things like skipping red lights, passing others on the right instead of the left, failing to yield to pedestrians, taking more than one lane of traffic, riding ahead of the “Point” leader, etc.
While I would be the first to state that not all laws apply to all people regardless of what has come to be commonly accepted, I believe that most “traffic laws” do apply to most people if only by presumption of capacity, but perhaps more importantly because of safety and courtesy. Motorists have been told that bicycles are vehicles and have come to expect that cyclists will conduct themselves within these laws, while at the same time those motorists often violate numerous laws as related to the cyclist.
Cyclists speak about their rights on the road and the deprivation of those rights by others including but not limited to motorists. But what I don’t often hear is a discussion of responsibilities related to these rights. Seldom if ever to I hear anyone speak about the foundation behind the conclusion that unacceptable conduct by others is a justification for unacceptable conduct by cyclists. It is my opinion that such a foundation is seriously flawed.
As people become more assertive, we are faced with a society controlled by statutory codifications commonly called laws. I would think it prudent that we exercise common sense as cyclists and that we concern ourselves with both safety for others and for ourselves while exercising common courtesy. If more people were responsible for their own actions, we would need fewer laws and would not be so concerned about theories of liability.
I agree that it can be both time consuming and annoying to constantly stop for red traffic signals especially under certain circumstances at intersections in isolated areas. However, once exception is made for whatever reason, it tends to become the norm. As I have observed, as a consequence, a poor example is set for the trippers, especially the less experienced trippers, who then take chances that can be lifethreatening in an effort not to be left behind. While it has been made clear that trippers are responsible for their own conduct, it makes little sense to provide a safety talk prior to the ride when most often the conduct on the ride does not match the spoken word. I believe we need that safety talk and followthrough on a ride thereby setting a good example.
For the most part, we exist in a geographic area with a very large population. There must be some order in the interest of preventing total chaos. Stopping at red traffic signals, giving others the right of way, not blocking junctions, respecting pedestrians, passing on the left rather than the right, and countless other parameters within which we should ride would set an example for others. Many people have made a sincere effort to advocate for both cyclists and cycling. I believe it is important that we not undo this good work. Further, by exhibiting proper conduct and holding ourselves to a higher standard, we have the ability to raise the awareness of others. If you want to exercise your right to freedom, I believe you must accept the attendant responsibilities.
I present nothing new in this writing and nothing that hasn’t been repeated many times over. However, by nature we have short memories and must be constantly reminded.
Should you agree or disagree with the conclusions of this writer, I am sure that both the Bicycletter editor and 5BBC webmaster would welcome your comments. We can serve as cycling emissaries while helping others to conduct themselves in a safer and more courteous manner, thereby living to ride another day.