The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights

My first exposure to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights came in an online forum.

Someone had posted a comment about it, complaining that cyclists expected drivers to treat them like porcelain dolls.

I had to agree with him. Because that’s exactly the point — if you hit a bicyclist with your car, he or she will break, just like a glass doll. Except the clean-up will be a lot longer, more complicated and more painful for everyone involved.

The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights doesn’t create any new rights. All it does is gather rights that cyclists — and human beings, for that matter — already enjoy in various forms, under various statutes, and codifies them in a single document.

Created by the Bike Writers Collective — I may have mistakenly said Coalition on today’s AirTalk program — it’s been endorsed by a long line of individuals and elected officials, neighborhood councils and organizations, just a few of whom are shown here. And countless cyclists have requested that it be officially adopted as part of the new L.A. bike plan.

I’m including the full text below, for anyone who heard me mention it on the show.

I’m also including a link to something I wrote earlier, explaining why cyclists do some of the things we do — and one driver’s exceptional response to it. Along with a link to the single best explanation of how to share the road, from a cyclist’s perspective, that I’ve ever seen.

Because really, we all want the same things out on the road.

We want to get where we’re going. And we want to get home safely.

And that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

CYCLISTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people – with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8 ) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

7 comments

  1. TheTricksterNZ says:

    I read that posting from a cyclists perspective, but then read the comments. Most were great however there seems to be some grade A psycho’s in cars out there.

    Then again its not like we didn’t already know that.

  2. PoliteDriver(andCyclistToo) says:

    Do cyclists have any duties?

    • bikinginla says:

      Of course we do. However, most of those are clearly spelled out by law, such as staying as close to the right as practicable when riding below the speed of traffic, signaling, stopping for red lights, etc. Others stem from common courtesy and common sense — both of which are a lot less common that you might think —  like not riding like an obnoxious jerk.

      However, this is a Bill of Rights, not responsibilities. There’s nothing in the U.S. Bill of Rights about an obligation to pay your taxes or vote on the first Tuesday in November, either.

  3. PoliteDriver(andCyclistToo) says:

    When I was driving this morning enjoying a beautiful day, I was cut off from all side by about 20 kids on bikes who were having the time of their life using the road like it was a Disneyland ride on wheels. I guess they were what you call “obnoxious jerks”. I have never seen a cop stop a cyclist anytime anywhere, not even when they ride in circles in the middle of the road, against traffic through red lights or stop signs. But I guess all that is not part of the Bill of Rights, because it wouldn’t include any “obligations”. When I ride my bike I ride like a nerd, so I guess I’m not an obnoxious jerk, but probably not so kool either, but at least I’m still alive.

    • ubrayj02 says:

      Yeah! And when the founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they should have put a “No jerks allowed” clause, and a “All men are created equal, except for those that drivers of private automobiles in the 20th century don’t like!”

      That pack of 20 kids “using the road like it was Disneyland” – what were you doing on it? You think that driving your car unhindered in the urban core is some sort of unimpeachable right? More power to those kids – who are consciously choosing not to be a part of the over-consumptive mall culture of the last few decades.

      Next time, get off your ass and join ‘em.

    • TheTricksterNZ says:

      How many other people were on that road though, was it just you and the kids, or were there 20 other people behind you lined up? Or was it 10?

      If it was anything less than about 13 (1.5 people per car so 20-ish people total) then they’d legitimately argue they were the traffic and hence were riding the ‘speed of traffic’.

      Admittidly they should have let you through, however arguing that traffic solely consists of cars is folly, and why does the ‘rights’ of one person trump the ‘rights of a larger group of people?

  4. PoliteDriver(andCyclistToo) says:

    Is there something in the gear that causes cyclists to come up with such impressive words of wisdom (see above)? Should I try on the gear? I hope the “magic” goes away though when you take the gear off, or does some of it rub off? Scary.

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