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Old 10-28-12, 10:15 PM   #1
Seano Hermano
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Bike Safety: Are Bikes Vehicles?

I'm a college student and for one of my classes I have to write a solution paper. I'm arguing for bike safety in my town. My points are a possible bike safety program (obviously more just for knowledge/know-how than actual prevention), licensing (a common theory by non-cyclists which I know goes into a whole new can of worms), and lastly, specified bike lanes.

Now, I know bikes are not motor vehicles (traditional ones at least, as they're human power) and there is a lot of debate on this subject. But to what extent - when riding in traffic - are cyclists treated as vehicles (by both motorists and/or state law)? What if there are no bike lanes in place?

Last edited by Seano Hermano; 10-30-12 at 11:13 AM. Reason: spelling corection
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Old 10-29-12, 12:15 AM   #2
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In most states, bicycles are legally considered vehicles, and must obey the same rules as the cars. In those states where bikes are classified as "devices" they are still generally held to the same rules as motor vehicles. Despite being governed by the same rules as motor vehicles, a lot of states also have far right laws. (far right as practicable; AKA FRAP) Where I'm at the FRAP exemptions combined with the way the roads are made, render the far right requirement void pretty much everywhere.

A few places also have mandatory side path and/or bike lane laws. I don't have to deal with those, so I can't really say much on them, but it's something to be aware of.
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Old 10-29-12, 03:51 AM   #3
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why do i always think bowling green is in kentucky?

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Old 10-29-12, 06:15 AM   #4
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there really isn't all that much controversy over this subject. Motorists have one idea, but it's based on lack of knowledge. U.S. bike paths/lane design is a subject that continues to change as the transportation community works on designs that function properly given the special requirement to cope with the dangerous and self-centered habits of U.S. motorists.

Rodale Press generated a "bicycle drivers manual" that was published in Pennsylvania and possibly elsewhere. It covers the bases fairly well. There is also information available from the LAB. In general, bicycles are treated as vehicles, although in some states they aren't classified as vehicles. I'm not aware of any states where they don't have the rights and responsibilities of other vehicles.
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Old 10-29-12, 10:22 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
there really isn't all that much controversy over this subject. Motorists have one idea, but it's based on lack of knowledge. U.S. bike paths/lane design is a subject that continues to change as the transportation community works on designs that function properly given the special requirement to cope with the dangerous and self-centered habits of U.S. motorists.

Rodale Press generated a "bicycle drivers manual" that was published in Pennsylvania and possibly elsewhere. It covers the bases fairly well. There is also information available from the LAB. In general, bicycles are treated as vehicles, although in some states they aren't classified as vehicles. I'm not aware of any states where they don't have the rights and responsibilities of other vehicles.
You've struck it squarely there. Perhaps the OP might consider a bit of a change in his/her focus from attitudes towards infrastructure and bikes to how much the safety of cyclists would be enhanced by serious traffic law enforcement. There was a study out of Oz that, IIRC, determined that nearly 90% of all motorist-cyclist collisions were the fault of the motorist. Since collisions between motorists and cyclists are where the deaths occur, as opposed to skinned knees, that's where we need to focus.
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Old 10-29-12, 11:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Seano Hermano View Post
I'm a college student and for one of my classes I have to write a solution paper. I'm arguing for bike safety in my town. My points are a possible bike safety program (obviously more just for knowledge/know-how than actual prevention), licensing (a common theory by non-cyclists which I know goes into a whole new can of worms), and lastly, specified bike lanes.

Now, I know bikes are not motor vehicles (traditional ones at least, as they're human power) and there is a lot of debate on this subject. But to what extent - when riding in traffic - are cyclists treated as vehicles (by both motorists and/or state law)? What if there are no bike lanes in place?
Steve Magas knows his stuff: http://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/bike-l...ios-bike-laws/
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Old 10-29-12, 01:37 PM   #7
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PA law treats bikes as vehicles, equal to cars with some special rules (FRAP, etc.).

Most motorists around me treat bikes as they would treat another slow-moving vehicle, such as an Amish buggy or a tractor. Slow down, pass safely.

I have no official bike lanes, just shoulders of varying widths.

Safety program - good idea, but implementation is key
Licensing - impossible to enforce and would discourage cycling
Bike lanes - My aunt who lived in Madison, WI (lots of bike lanes) loves them and wishes every town had bike lanes.
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Old 10-30-12, 12:32 PM   #8
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A different bicycle-related safety topic could be one of bicycle lights. Almost every utilitarian bicycle in Europe comes equipped with lights, often dynamo-powered, before it leaves the store. Bicycles in the U.S. don't, yet most states require lights when it is dark. Why do bikes pretty much automatically come with lights in Europe and not here? (for one answer, see John Forester's Effective Cycling). Anyway, on many American streets you will find bicyclists riding after dark without lights.

Are there statistics on accident rates for bicyclists, time of day, and whether or not they have lights? Is there a problem? Are ninja (unlit) bicycle riders really more at danger or dangerous to others?

On the presumption that it is a problem, some jurisdictions and charities give away cheap bicycle lights, which can be as rudimentary as a $1.00 Chinese-made LED flashlight with $.85 worth of AAA batteries and a $.25 Livestrong-style wristband.

Is that a cost effective approach, or is there some better public policy or business approach to reduce the number of ninja bicycle riders?
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Old 10-30-12, 12:58 PM   #9
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Why do bikes pretty much automatically come with lights in Europe and not here?
For the same reason that volleyball nets don't come with lights for after-dark play. Most people in the US consider bicycles toys and wouldn't dream of using them after dark, and consider people who would even dream of doing so to be complete lunatics.
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Old 10-30-12, 01:23 PM   #10
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For the same reason that volleyball nets don't come with lights for after-dark play. Most people in the US consider bicycles toys and wouldn't dream of using them after dark, and consider people who would even dream of doing so to be complete lunatics.
Too true. Yet the real lunatics are the ninjas or near ninjas dressed so stylishly in all black with one little blinky with almost flat batteries and no headlight whatsoever.

Cycling must be incredibly safe to have such a low accident rate with so many idiots riding.
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Old 10-30-12, 01:54 PM   #11
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Did you check out Ohio Law?

http://www.ohiobike.org/bicycle-law-digest.html
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