Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When all else fails, lower the standard.....Part 1

Regarding how bicyclist ride on the road, I think I have made my stance very clear. I am one of the minority of cyclist who feel that, by the way they ride, most cyclist bring a majority of their problems on themselves. They talk about how dangerous motorist are out on the road, and how motorist just don't want cyclist out on the same roads that they drive on. Well, I've seen how a lot of these cyclist ride out on the road, and quite frankly, I don't want them riding on the same roads I ride on either.

So, coming from the state of mind that certain cyclist are making us all look bad, and are, in fact, either stupid, crazy, or both, I was quite disturbed by a recent column that I read by Bob Mionske. For those of you who aren't familiar with Bob's work, Bob wrote a bicycling and the law column for He is in fact, a lawyer and a cyclist. He recently gave up that column to pursue other interest.

A quick aside here. As we are speaking of the law and lawyers, I'd like to take a moment to pass along my two favorite lawyer jokes.

Joke #1 - What do you do if you're trapped in a room with Adolph Hitler, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and a lawyer, you have a gun, but only two bullets? Answer, you shoot the lawyer twice.

Joke #2 - Did you hear that medical researchers are going to stop performing experiments on rats, and instead are going to start using lawyers? Turns out, there are just some things that a rat won't do.

Anyway, the article, (click here to read the article), said that a law has been proposed in Oregon that would allow cyclist to treat stop signs as yield signs. Basically, cyclist in Oregon would no longer be required to stop at stops signs, unless they needed to do so to yield the right of way to an approaching vehicle.

Apparently, there's already a law on the books in Idaho that allows for this. The Idaho law even goes one step further. In addition to the "red as yield" provision of the law that has been proposed in Oregon, Idaho also allows
for “red as stop,” meaning that cyclists may treat red lights as stop signs. A cyclist in Idaho only has to stop for the red light, then they can go. They do not have to wait for the light to turn green.

I'm about to give my unabashed opinion of this law. To make it easier for my readers to tell when I am up on my soap box, or when I am just complaining, look for the following symbol:

Whenever you see this symbol, you can rest assured that I'm no longer just complaining, I'm now preaching. Can't help it, it's the Texan in me coming out.

I see some basic problems with these laws. Both in Oregon and Idaho.

First an foremost, it gives cyclist a different set of rules to follow than the motorist on the road are required to follow. Do the lawmakers in Oregon really think that this is going to make the motorist there feel any better about cyclist? When the motorist see the cyclist blowing through stop signs, it will only lead to resentment. I thought the whole idea was to share the road. One road, one set of rules.

Secondly, the lawmakers seem to be of the mind that if this law is passed, all of these cyclist who have been riding illegally, will all of a sudden become law abiding citizens. Does anyone actually believes that? The law in Oregon currently says that cyclist, like all motorist, have to stop at stops signs. A certain percentage of cyclist ignore that law, and blow through the stop signs. So if this law is passed, I guess the thinking is that these cyclist, who were perfectly OK with breaking the law before, will now start obeying the law. I think we all know that if these cyclist are no longer required to stop at the sign, they'll fly though it without even touching their brakes.

Laws like these are the equivalent of legislative "give up". Cyclist seem hell bent on riding illegally. It would seem that lawmakers, instead of making cyclist obey the law, have decided that it's just easier to make the illegal behavior of cyclist, legal.

I can't see where lowering the standard of acceptable behavior is ever a good idea.

In reading back over this post, I realized that I might have been a little harsh on cyclist. I just assumed that the cyclist I'm talking about here are arrogant, and just don't want to obey the law. When in fact, they might just be stupid, unaware that they are even breaking the law. In part 2 of this post, I'm going to issue a little test. I want to see just how much you know about the law and cycling, and how much you know about your responsibilities on the road. So hit those books.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred


Lizzylou said...

"I can't see where lowering the standard of acceptable behavior is ever a good idea."

You should be a teacher. They are constantly lowering the standards to which students have to preform so that all students can get an A. (Thank you No Child Left Behind)

In any case, I agree with you. Riders on the wrong side of the road ignoring signage and jumping on and off the sidewalk randomly absolutely infuriate me.

wirehead said...

Oh, I totally agree.

'cept I still get ticked off when the light doesn't trigger for me and I'm sitting there waiting for a car to come up behind me to trigger it.