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  1. #1
    road rage expert Flamingmb's Avatar
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    Need your input.

    So I am writing a paper, well 2 actually, for school that has to do with cycling. I have to do two sides of an argument so I chose "Bikes should follow all road laws." and "Bikes should make the laws work for them."
    So pretty much its "follow the laws or dont follow the laws."
    I need supporting idea for both sides. I know a lot of you here will scold me for even trying to support cycling that could get you a ticket or killed, but I need ideas for both sides.
    thanks.
    I have the new york langster!!!!

  2. #2
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Following every traffic law is impractical in urbanized settings. It takes much much more effort to accelerated from a full stop at a stop sign with a bike, especially uphill than for someone in a car to hit their gas pedal. Also, a car has limits to it's vision and encompasses much more space than the driver, unlike a bike. I've never backed up over a little kid because I didn't see them because with a bike it's just not possible. Also sitting in a bicycle you're not much shorter than standing, so you can see above the tops of most cars, giving you even better visibility. The smaller size also allows much greater control and allows me to squeeze between lanes, unlike a car.

    Lastly, if I run a red light in general only one I'm really risking is me. That big 2 ton steel cage might have a broken windsheild, bumper or mirror but the people inside will be fine. This isn't true with pedestrians but they don't go quite as fast or are as big as cars. If you're in a car and run a light you risk both pedestrians and other motorists.

    Better visibility + less space + better mobility + less risk to other people means I shouldn't have to obey every traffic law.

    Also, why does getting on a 20 pound bike and going 10-20 mph make us a motor vehicle?
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    For the "bikes should follow all road laws", I would argue that following these laws makes cyclists more visible and predictable, and, thus safer. Give specific examples of laws from your state, like laws that say you should ride in the same direction as traffic on your side, obey traffic signals, etc.

    For the "Bikes should make the laws work for them.", I would focus on the loopholes in the discriminatory laws that require cyclists to keep to the right and/or ride in the bike lane that allow us to ride further left in many situations, and how to use those loopholes to our advantage.

    But, that's just me.

  4. #4
    Old Fogy
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    This refusal to follow the rules, and then whine about getting no respect from motorists, is one of the most annoying things about my fellow cyclists. If you don't respect the law, the law is not going to respect you.

  5. #5
    road rage expert Flamingmb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waldowales
    This refusal to follow the rules, and then whine about getting no respect from motorists, is one of the most annoying things about my fellow cyclists. If you don't respect the law, the law is not going to respect you.
    Thats not really a point I can make in my paper. Thats more of a personal rant from you.
    I have the new york langster!!!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member slagjumper's Avatar
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    Some ideas to consider.

    "Bikes should follow all road laws."
    Many “road laws” do not apply to bikes. For example no driver’s license, license plate, roadworthiness sticker, or insurance is needed now if you ride a bicycle. So of course your not going to follow all “road laws”, you don’t even have to take a test!

    There are good reasons to follow some other road rules—like stopping at a stop sign and yielding to the person on the right of you. There is a good reason to wear helmets, especially if you are younger because the skull is thinner.

    There are other road rules that do not generally apply to bikes now but might or might not be useful. You definitely are not allowed to drive on the sidewalk, but cyclists can ride on the sidewalk, except in certain cases, like if it is posted or perhaps in a business district. If there is a 2 mile sidewalk, with no driveways next to a busy 45 mph road, wouldn’t you want to be allowed to choose to ride on the sidewalk, without the fear of getting a ticket?

    Since you often encounter motor traffic and roads, while cycling, you should know well the rules of the road. These can help you to avoid trouble, because you’ll know what the cars are supposed to be doing. However even these can fail you because often the “cars” do something unexpected, like turn without signaling.

    "Cyclists should make the laws work for them."
    This is an interesting topic. Wouldn’t it be nice if a group of cyclists got together and convinced their suburban lawmakers to require 10 foot bike lanes in all new developments? Many people are concerned about riding so close to cars that they might never even try. The bike lanes might get some people started riding, and later they’ll have the skills and confidence to ride properly in the road without bike lanes. HH knows well about the fears of many cyclists about getting hit from behind while cycling on the road.

    Or how about, since .5% of road users are cyclists, shouldn’t they get .5% state and federal transportation money spent on making a safer world to ride bikes? Money could be used for education of motorists, new bike facilities, (safe / appropriate bike lanes signage bike security, helmet programs, etc.).

    One of the most important things that a government can do is protect the rights, and freedoms of the smaller groups of people. So while there are more people and companies who would want more money for car-related transportation imporvement, the minority cyclists should not be cut out simply because there are fewer of them.

    There are many laws that serve the car in the US, if you use you car for work you get 44.5 ˘ per mile from the Federal government. Shouldn’t you get 5˘ a mile to use you bike to help get free of oil dependency, greenhouse gases and reduced road costs?

    Not only are cyclists in the minority, but they are up against some very powerful groups. Auto industry, oil companies, roadway builders, suburban and xurb developers, mortgage companies and banks all would like more money spent to make motoring easier, not cycling. A developer might tell his connected banker, “If the “big road project”, doesn’t go through, more people will move from the rural areas, and the prices will drop and that will hurt real estate values, and the tax base. Why don’t you talk to your senator buddy and get this road thing rushed though?” Or how much money do you think it would cost a construction company to have someone make a very convincing, threatening call to a senator?

    Some motorists get special treatment because they save fuel by having more than one person in a car. So the government builds them special HOV lanes. In my city this is a distinct roadway. Why not do the same for cyclists?
    Last edited by slagjumper; 02-28-07 at 10:00 PM.

  7. #7
    Striving for Fredness deputyjones's Avatar
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    Follow the Rules:
    • Generally safer
    • Less likely to get a ticket
    • Sets a good example for others and speaks well of the cycling community as a whole


    Don't follow the rules
    • Can be more expedient
    • Sometimes is hard to do with weighted light triggers, etc.
    • Requires knowing what the laws are
    • There could be times when following the law is unsafe (in theory)
    Monsignor: We must always fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil that we must fear the most, and that is the indifference of good men.
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  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    bikes are allowed to operate as both bicycles and vehicles on public rights of way. I am allowed to use a lane of traffic, and i am also allowed to use a bike lane, wheras cars are not allowed to use a bike lane.

    additionally I am allowed to pass stopped traffic by filtering, something cars cannot do.

    bikes also have the benefit of using trails, sidewalks, unimproved grassy strips to theirt advantage, and not be riding like a 'car.'

    bikes have more versatility than cars and can use more space of public rights of way than cars can.

    Bikes have more rights than cars do, in my opinion, in use of public space.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  9. #9
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deputyjones
    Follow the Rules:
    • Generally safer
    • Less likely to get a ticket
    • Sets a good example for others and speaks well of the cycling community as a whole


    Don't follow the rules
    • Can be more expedient
    • Sometimes is hard to do with weighted light triggers, etc.
    • Requires knowing what the laws are
    • There could be times when following the law is unsafe (in theory)
    I'd use this person as my general outline if I were you. It encapsulates the major points quite nicely, and you can fill in details pretty easily. (BTW, it's usually a much better idea to follow traffic laws whenever possible. If you're in traffic and you behave in a hard-to-predict manner, eventually someone is going to run into you. That's the reason they have traffic rules to begin with.)
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Get all the car drivers to come to complete stops at stop signs, and i'll consider doing the same! (argument for the "Don't follow the rules" paper.)
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    You should probably differentiate in your paper between urban city riding and suburban commuting. In the urban environment, cars go slower and roads are narrower, so breaking traffic laws can save a lot of time for a cyclist at little risk to his or her wellbeing. In the suburban environments where I ride now, there are very few laws one can break at little risk. Furthermore, there is little time to be saved by breaking traffic laws in a suburban environment.
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  12. #12
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Laws of the road have an arbitrary nature in that as long as everyone agrees that this is a system to follow things generally work out for the welfare of society and it really does not matter much as long as the system is perceived as fair and has an understandable rule set. We could adopt a system like in places oversees where the bigger more expensive vehicle has the right of way. But would such a change be perceived as fair or could such a change possibly lead to situations where who has the right of way would be less clear then our current rule set? Clarity on what to do in a given situation and fairness are the underlying principles that govern how well the rules of the road work for the general welfare of a society.

    Cyclists have two major problems with Americas rule set that governs road use. One is the engineering of the roads are highly biased toward accommodating motor vehicles and not cyclists. One clear example is if a cyclist is waiting at a red light but the light will not change for a cyclist because a bike will not trip the sensors, so a cyclists will have to run a red light if they want to get somewhere. The law says that the signal must be obeyed but no law says that the light must acknowledge a cyclist, which is not exactly fair. The other problem revolves around do/should cyclists take up road width or can they be kept off to the side and out of everyone’s way. This lack of clarity of where a cyclist should be on the road (per laws) is fundamental to the problems cyclists face in the safe use of public roadways. As it is not just the cyclist who must have a clear understanding of where they need to be for their own safety but other road users need to understand this as well as to not put the cyclist at risk. Another factor in just where a cyclist should be in the road is most slow moving vehicles are just admonished not to speed up when being passed but cyclists are admonished not to impede traffic, again not fair and not exactly as clear as it implies that the cyclists should just suddenly disappear when there is traffic. A subset of this problem is that everyone reacts to harassment and in most cases will change their behavior to avoid harassment a lot of “illegal” cycling behavior is the result of harassment IMHO.

    Let’s try and get a hypothetical cyclist through a busy intersection with a light. We will start them off on the far right side of the road as that’s where most laws imply they should be and when the light changes the cyclist gets right hooked (in a combo straight/right turn lane.) And the cyclists will generally be found at fault for ether passing on the right or for not being in cue with the cars. So our hypothetical cyclist has now learned that they should take the lane. (Note that the poor wording of the law is what put our cyclists in this position in the first place but ignorant laws are no defense so lets move on.)

    So we will now try it again this time with the cyclists taking the lane behind a long cue of cars. As the light changes our cyclists tries to accelerate like the cars but soon a large gap is forming and cars behind are honking for the cyclists to get out of the way so they can make the light but our cyclists undaunted chugs on to just miss the light. Well at least now our cyclists will be the first in line for the next light. And when it changes more honking for the cyclist to get out of the way ensues and the experience is much like being in front of stampeding cattle, not very pleasant. Since lights are timed for motor vehicle speeds (not fair) all this will now be repeated at the next light. So our cyclist is now encouraged to avoid all this harassment and to make the system more fair. One way to do that is to run the red lights, no honks, no unpleasantness and when traffic catches back up with the cyclists they are now dispersed enough to pass the cyclists without much to-do. It is the lack of accommodations at intersections and public pressure to keep cyclists from interfering with the movement of traffic (that is loosely based on how the laws are worded) that is responsible for the cyclists behavior. Or simply put; society is not in agreement just how to accommodate cyclists at intersections and this lack of agreement and the lack of fairness is what leads to unlawful behavior.
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  13. #13
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slagjumper
    Or how about, since .5% of road users are cyclists, shouldn’t they get .5% state and federal transportation money spent on making a safer world to ride bikes? Money could be used for education of motorists, new bike facilities, (safe / appropriate bike lanes signage bike security, helmet programs, etc.).
    Mode share % based on surveys on primary mode of getting to work for a whole year is highly biased against cyclists. Most Americans make 5 car trips a day which means most of the cars on the road are not going to work and bikes have a potential of replacing over 50% of those trips so some new ways of looking at things should be encouraged. I’ll throw out one suggestion and that is have the money spent on infrastructure split based on the ratio of accidents for cyclists that’s ~3% (pedestrians would be ~15%) You’ll definitely hear some complaints if you start demanding that much money.

    Edit: That should read accident fatalities ~2% cyclists and ~11% pedestrian (I'm suffering from data overload.)
    Last edited by The Human Car; 03-01-07 at 03:09 AM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingmb
    So I am writing a paper, well 2 actually, for school that has to do with cycling. I have to do two sides of an argument so I chose "Bikes should follow all road laws." and "Bikes should make the laws work for them."
    So pretty much its "follow the laws or dont follow the laws."
    I need supporting idea for both sides. I know a lot of you here will scold me for even trying to support cycling that could get you a ticket or killed, but I need ideas for both sides.
    thanks.
    Well, first of all, you need a vital piece of information, and that is what are the road laws, as they apply, to a bicycle. Now every state or province has slightly different laws, your in Oregon, according to BF, so you should obtain a copy of the Oregon traffic laws. Many jurisdictions now post such laws online, so you should check there first, if no luck, check with the DMV. You need to make sure your copy has an as of date, and that the date on it is fairly recent, certainly within the last 6 months. Laws tend to be in a constant state of change, so you could argue against a law that has been changed recently.

    First thing you need to check in the laws, is whether a bicycle is considered (legally) a vehicle, so look in the definitions. Some laws apply to vehicles, some apply only to bicycles, and some apply only to motor vehicles. If a bicycle is considered a vehicle, then any that apply to vehicles, would apply to bicycles as well. If a bicycles is not considered a vehicle, then you only need to consider the ones that apply to bicycles.

    Some of those laws will make sense, some will seem like the legislators were smokin' some mojo well past it's best before date (), when they enacted that law It's helpful to know what your arguing for and/or against.

  15. #15
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingmb
    Quote Originally Posted by waldowales
    This refusal to follow the rules, and then whine about getting no respect from motorists, is one of the most annoying things about my fellow cyclists. If you don't respect the law, the law is not going to respect you.
    Thats not really a point I can make in my paper. Thats more of a personal rant from you.
    Not true. That's a point in favor of following the laws. Motorists like to have excuses to "punish" us or "teach us a lesson." Not following the laws is often their excuse.

    Now for my rant: If this is for a class in school you should do your own thinking, formulate your own arguments and write your own paper and not ask us to do it for you.
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  16. #16
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I was center bias at a stoplight for safety on my route home last night. four lane road, easy for a vehicle to pull around me. car pulled up behind me, honked, reved the engine. I ignored him. Put the hammer down when the green hit, and blew away from the cager. he caught up in a block and a half, just in time to get stopped at the next stoplight.

    Then the guy chanted out his window... "act like a car when you want, and act like a bike too" or some such blather, and I thought, you know, he's right! We get to act both like cars AND bikes. Chapped his hide too, obviously.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    You should probably differentiate in your paper between urban city riding and suburban commuting. In the urban environment, cars go slower and roads are narrower, so breaking traffic laws can save a lot of time for a cyclist at little risk to his or her wellbeing. In the suburban environments where I ride now, there are very few laws one can break at little risk. Furthermore, there is little time to be saved by breaking traffic laws in a suburban environment.
    That is my experience too.

    Al

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    In Oregon, bicycles are considered vehicles.

    As for sbhike's comment, she's right. Anything said here cannot be used as a first source in an academic paper because there is no way to collaborate anything we say here. There is also no way to ensure that the person reading the paper can come back and find these comments, as the forum is always in flux. Best you can do is treat these as interviews, and be sure to disclose that the interviews were over the internet, through a forum site.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    To help you with the thinking so you can formulate your own idea also try replacing 'bike' with 'vehicle' in your original statement:

    ""Vehicles should follow all road laws." and "Vehicles should make the laws work for them."

    Do the same with 'motorcycles', 'convertibles', 'trucks' and 'cars' - then see where there are deltas in your list and focus on them and why.

    Al

  20. #20
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deputyjones
    Follow the Rules:
    • Generally safer
    • Less likely to get a ticket
    • Sets a good example for others and speaks well of the cycling community as a whole


    Don't follow the rules
    • Can be more expedient
    • Sometimes is hard to do with weighted light triggers, etc.
    • Requires knowing what the laws are
    • There could be times when following the law is unsafe (in theory)
    Very useful!

    Earlier someone said if you don't respect the law the law won't respect youand the OP dismissed that as a rant and not useful. Far from it. Cyclists are a small minority and where cyclists routinely flaunt the law the laws get changed to get rid of cyclists, either in letter or application.

    If arguing for breaking the law I would concentrate on letter vrs. spirit. One example is where bikes are banned on sidewalks. The spirit is that sidewlaks are for pedestrians and when crowded or when bikes are being ridden at speed the bike interfers with the intended use. So riding a bike at slow to moderate speed when not crowded while breaking the letter is not breaking the spirit.

  21. #21
    road rage expert Flamingmb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    Not true. That's a point in favor of following the laws. Motorists like to have excuses to "punish" us or "teach us a lesson." Not following the laws is often their excuse.

    Now for my rant: If this is for a class in school you should do your own thinking, formulate your own arguments and write your own paper and not ask us to do it for you.

    I actually completed 90% of the paper before I even posted this thread. I just wanted ideas that I had maybe missed for my paper. A really good one I missed was the weighted stop light sensors point. I totaly forgot about those.
    Also, since I have experienced all these things first hand it will be easy to cite my source, cause its me. Everything in my paper comes from first a hand account from my times riding my bike.
    I have the new york langster!!!!

  22. #22
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i still think an important differentiation is bikes can act as both vehicles AND bikes. bike lanes are open to bikes but not cars, for example. bikes can use paths, and cars cannot. bikes get to lane split in some states, cars cannot.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  23. #23
    pj7
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    I'll chime in with one thought your you to ponder/pose in your paper... against following all rules of the road.
    People in cars hit each other all the time at an intersection I pass daily. And I mean ALL THE TIME. There is at least 3 incidents there per week. Given that, I tend to not ride the street "properly" in that section but instead do my own little "magic" that, while illegal according to the law, gets me safely across the intersection. I several years I have not been cited for what I do, in fact, I think that the law inforcement in that area know exactly why I am doing what I am doing and sort of just let it slide.

    My life and well being trumps making a statement any day.

  24. #24
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingmb
    A really good one I missed was the weighted stop light sensors point. I totaly forgot about those.
    Malfunctioning or non-sensing traffic control sensors are never a reason to break the law. (in most states)
    Most states have a clause in the law that allows one to legally proceed on red light if the signal is non-functional and the driver has stopped and verified the way is clear.

    (Also note that most all light sensors are inductive (sense metal object) vs. weight based. The later would be much more complex and expensive to implement.)

    Al

  25. #25
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingmb
    Thats not really a point I can make in my paper. Thats more of a personal rant from you.

    Well it is a persona rant that a lot of people share. It can be one of the reasons you cite in your paper why not following the law is a bad idea.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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