Note: Suggested law changes appear below; these posts will be moved to a separate page next week
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that most traffic laws weren’t written with bicyclists in mind.
The vast majority of traffic laws were designed to move cars from here to there, as safely and efficiently as possible. In theory, anyway.
Few, if any, were written by cyclists, or with the participation of anyone who has ever been on a bike beyond the age of 12. As a result, bike traffic has been nothing more than an afterthought shoehorned into the laws and traffic lanes — without regard to whether it actually made sense, in terms of safety or efficiency.
That may have worked in decades past when most cyclists never left their own neighborhoods, and spandex-clad riders were an anomaly on the roadway.
But things have changed. Today, more and more cyclists are sharing traffic-clogged roads, as high gas prices and environmental concerns drive commuters out of their cushy SUVs and onto the saddle. And countless other people are discovering the health benefits of cycling; others just plain enjoy riding.
Government has a significant stake in promoting this increase in bicycling. Rising obesity rates, along with related problems such as increases in diabetes rates and high blood pressure, demand that more emphasis be placed on the health and fitness of their citizens. At the same time, increasing traffic congestion — and perhaps the very survival of our planet — requires that something be done to reduce the amount of cars on the road.
As a result, our state and local governments have an obligation to reform traffic laws to encourage cycling and protect the safety of all bicyclists, whether they use their bikes for recreation or transportation.
Over the next few days, I’m going to take a look at some ways the existing laws regarding can, and should, be changed. Changes that could help us all get home safely, and make every ride a little more enjoyable.
Feel free to offer your own comments and suggestions, and maybe together we can do something to change the laws. And help get more people out of their cars, and on their bikes.
Note: After appearing here first, this series of posts will eventually migrate to a new Bike Law page, replacing the “Things I’ve learned on my bike” page.
No Whip lets other bloggers tell their story of the Furnace Creek 508 he recently finished. Tamerlane starts a new blog focusing exclusively cycling, and discovers what it’s like to have an extremely close call of his own, as does another rider on the Eastside. Long Beach is looking for volunteers to help count bikes in an effort to become more bicycle friendly. And finally, El Random Hero discusses an alternate form of alternative transportation.