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Old 12-04-13, 11:54 AM   #1
Wilbur Bud
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City Ordinance for exercising due care to avoid collisions

Part of my daily commute is through a city just north of Indianapolis Indiana. A new city ordinance was passed recently, and I've no problem complying with the law but I'm a bit confused by one aspect where motorists are directed to exercise due care to avoid collisions with cyclists, excerpted below, full ordinance here: http://currentincarmel.com/wp-conten...eordinance.pdf
234 (b) Drivers to exercise due care. The driver of any Motor Vehicle operating on any
235 Roadway located within the City’s corporate limits shall exercise due care to avoid
236 colliding with any person then operating a Bicycle upon such Roadway, and shall, as
237 necessary, give warning by the sounding of a horn and by exercising such other
238 precautions as are necessary to avoid a Motor Vehicle and Bicycle collision.
What piques my interest is the expected reaction of the person on the bike to the sounding of the horn by the motorist. Does this ordinance create an expectation that when a horn is sounded then any person on a bike hearing it should/must do what? look around? bail out? exit the roadway immediately?

Assuming this reminder to avoid collisions was so necessary that it had to be enrolled in an ordinance and passed into law, I guess I would prefer to see this part of it without the intermediate phrase about sounding the horn, as precautions as are necessary would have covered the bases for me.

There are a variety of interesting aspects in this ordinance impacting various stakeholder groups, so I could foresee some media article in the future when an enforcement event has taken place, as there are rules for motorists, cyclists, MUP users, pet owners, etc.).
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Old 12-04-13, 12:04 PM   #2
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Either they are expecting motor vehicle drivers to do what is almost certainly already law, use due care in avoiding collissions. Or, they're making it more difficult to pursue harrassment charges by mandating "give warning by the sounding of a horn and by exercising other precautions as are necessary".

"Your honor, I was simply trying to alert the cyclist to the fact that I was passing and they shouldn't move further into the traffic lane."
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Old 12-04-13, 12:15 PM   #3
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This kind of has the appearance of giving motorists an additional excuse to "I did not see the cyclist" now they can also claim, I honked and swerved, and hit the cyclist, so its not "against the law" and it's an unfortunate accident. Hope I am wrong.
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Old 12-04-13, 12:19 PM   #4
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Hard to know what it means.
Guessing it has "good intention"-perhaps assuming you have a quiet car-prius-and might want to warn a cyclist that you are passing-sharing a lane-so honk.
Of course folks who wrote it aren't aware of just how startling a horn honk 5 feet from you is.
Probably fairly standard language- no doubt well meaning.
Seriously doubt the intention is to encourage drivers to harrass riders.
Yeah telling drivers to go out of their way to avoid hitting a bike.
Making it clear that "if" FOR EXAMPLE a bike rider runs a red light-you can't legally run them over-you have to BRAKE
and make every effort to avoid hitting ther bike.
Not exactly sure why they did this-perhaps there has been some bicycle vs car ill will ?
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Old 12-04-13, 12:28 PM   #5
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It just means that if the bike is about to hit the car, the driver is allowed to honk.

It could be translated as, "shall honk the horn and take other precautions to avoid a collision with a bike."

Is that common sense? Of course, but laws need to be very clear and specific and not rely on common interpretation.
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Old 12-04-13, 01:51 PM   #6
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What piques my interest is the expected reaction of the person on the bike to the sounding of the horn by the motorist. Does this ordinance create an expectation that when a horn is sounded then any person on a bike hearing it should/must do what? look around? bail out? exit the roadway immediately?
The law doesn't indicate that the cyclist "should/must do" anything. The law doesn't "expect" anything of the cyclist.

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excerpted below, full ordinance here: http://currentincarmel.com/wp-conten...eordinance.pdf
234 (b) drivers to exercise due care. The driver of any motor vehicle operating on any
235 roadway located within the city’s corporate limits shall exercise due care to avoid
236 colliding with any person then operating a bicycle upon such roadway, and shall, as
237 necessary, give warning by the sounding of a horn and by exercising such other
238 precautions as are necessary to avoid a motor vehicle and bicycle collision.
This text only specifies the actions of the driver. No one else.

Last edited by njkayaker; 12-04-13 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 12-04-13, 02:36 PM   #7
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This kind of has the appearance of giving motorists an additional excuse to "I did not see the cyclist" now they can also claim, I honked and swerved, and hit the cyclist, so its not "against the law" and it's an unfortunate accident. Hope I am wrong.
On the other side of this, a cyclist can claim they never heard the car honk at them, per ordinance, so how were they supposed to know they were just about to swerve into a car?
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Old 12-04-13, 02:38 PM   #8
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I'm sorry I don't see anything noxious or underhanded in this ordinance, except that it's probably just unenforceable legal boilerplate passed so that folks can say they did something.

The exercise due care section is meaningless since it's already part of the State's code, either tacitly of by implication. As for the warning by horn, I don't read that as a "get the hill our of my way" as much as "I know you don't have a mirror, and may not have heard me, so I'm letting you know I'm here".

Here in Westchester the public transit drivers have a company mandate to give plenty of room, and to tap the horn if they think the cyclist isn't aware of their approach. (most drivers give a quick tap,tap from about 50 yards back) I don't feel annoyed or threatened by the reminder of their approach, and take it as simply "I'm behind you and closing, watch your line". As such it's not much different than the "passing on your left" I might call out to another cyclist or pedestrian on a shared path.
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Old 12-04-13, 03:18 PM   #9
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I've always been amazed by the ability to translate the various horn sounds into intent. I lived in Bermuda for several years, where it is considered impolite not to acknowledge those you know as you pass on the road by "speaking" (honking) to them. There is an entire language of single, double and triple tweets, toots, horns and honks that everybody seems to know and use. Subsequently it is very easy to communicate intent. The states isn't nearly as developed in this sense but it's still interesting that those short, quick, tweets from an appropriate distance can be interpreted as a "high, I'm approaching and about to pass. Just so you know."
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Old 12-04-13, 03:23 PM   #10
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The reason that I am suspecting something nefarious from this ordinance is I cannot conceive how its needed to pass a new law that drivers must exercise due caution. I mean really, whats the point? Is it so cyclists have a legal tool for lawsuits? Is it to protect drivers from suits where they exercised due caution by beeping? Maybe the local politicos were bored and had nothing to do?
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Old 12-04-13, 03:25 PM   #11
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The reason that I am suspecting something nefarious from this ordinance is I cannot conceive how its needed to pass a new law that drivers must exercise due caution. I mean really, whats the point? Is it so cyclists have a legal tool for lawsuits? Is it to protect drivers from suits where they exercised due caution by beeping? Maybe the local politicos were bored and had nothing to do?
This is the kind of apple pie legislation that lawmakers pass all the time. It let's them kiss up to various groups saying I'm aware of.... and introduced (voted for) this bill in support.
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Old 12-04-13, 03:29 PM   #12
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I'm sorry I don't see anything noxious or underhanded in this ordinance, except that it's probably just unenforceable legal boilerplate passed so that folks can say they did something.

The exercise due care section is meaningless since it's already part of the State's code, either tacitly of by implication. As for the warning by horn, I don't read that as a "get the hill our of my way" as much as "I know you don't have a mirror, and may not have heard me, so I'm letting you know I'm here".

Here in Westchester the public transit drivers have a company mandate to give plenty of room, and to tap the horn if they think the cyclist isn't aware of their approach. (most drivers give a quick tap,tap from about 50 yards back) I don't feel annoyed or threatened by the reminder of their approach, and take it as simply "I'm behind you and closing, watch your line". As such it's not much different than the "passing on your left" I might call out to another cyclist or pedestrian on a shared path.
this
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Old 12-04-13, 03:33 PM   #13
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FBNY you're probably correct, but this one seem particularly pandering, or something. Personally, I would probably refuse to vote for anybody who introduced a bill like this because they have no sense of priority. But then again, thats the way I feel about most politicians.
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Old 12-04-13, 03:36 PM   #14
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Sometimes you get an ordinance when there has been a problem, to spell it out explicitly even when everything is already covered by existing laws and reasonable care. I expect that your local ordinance is designed to emphasize that motorists should take care around bicycles.
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Old 12-04-13, 06:12 PM   #15
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>>> 237.5 and in response to said sounding of horn cyclist is to flip off the motorist and proceed as before<<<<

FIFY
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Old 12-04-13, 06:56 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Wilbur Bud View Post
Part of my daily commute is through a city just north of Indianapolis Indiana. A new city ordinance was passed recently, and I've no problem complying with the law but I'm a bit confused by one aspect where motorists are directed to exercise due care to avoid collisions with cyclists, excerpted below, full ordinance here: http://currentincarmel.com/wp-conten...eordinance.pdf
234 (b) Drivers to exercise due care. The driver of any Motor Vehicle operating on any
235 Roadway located within the City’s corporate limits shall exercise due care to avoid
236 colliding with any person then operating a Bicycle upon such Roadway, and shall, as
237 necessary, give warning by the sounding of a horn and by exercising such other
238 precautions as are necessary to avoid a Motor Vehicle and Bicycle collision.
What piques my interest is the expected reaction of the person on the bike to the sounding of the horn by the motorist. Does this ordinance create an expectation that when a horn is sounded then any person on a bike hearing it should/must do what? look around? bail out? exit the roadway immediately?

Assuming this reminder to avoid collisions was so necessary that it had to be enrolled in an ordinance and passed into law, I guess I would prefer to see this part of it without the intermediate phrase about sounding the horn, as precautions as are necessary would have covered the bases for me.

There are a variety of interesting aspects in this ordinance impacting various stakeholder groups, so I could foresee some media article in the future when an enforcement event has taken place, as there are rules for motorists, cyclists, MUP users, pet owners, etc.).
The first relevant question is the extent to which these matters are covered by a state statute. If they are, then most of the ordinance is no more than hot air. If there is no such state ordinance, then, presumably, local authorities have the legal power to enact and enforce such ordinances. Even if local authorities have some such legal power, to what extent must they conform to the state statutes?

This all smacks of the type of local control that is undesirable, but which is permitted by some states.
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Old 12-05-13, 12:48 AM   #17
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... As for the warning by horn, I don't read that as a "get the hill our of my way" as much as "I know you don't have a mirror, and may not have heard me, so I'm letting you know I'm here".
That's an interesting interpretation. Perhaps we are riding in totally different cultures, but well over 90% of the horn honks directed at me are followed by dangerous passing maneuvers, often on two lane roads where the sight lines are long and there is no traffic present to prevent overtaking in the oncoming lane. These motorists generally give me a hand signal that indicates they think I'm number one. (I don't know why they don't use their index fingers.) Fortunately, encounters with such derriere-chapeaux are quite rare.

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Old 12-05-13, 12:57 AM   #18
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I bothered to go read the entire ordinance. It acknowledges state statutes, and clarifies their municiple position in line with those as it relates to sidewalks, mups, bike paths, bike lanes and road use. Doesn't look sinister to me, unless there's some back story that none of us are aware of. Go to the link and have a read. It's not that long.
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Old 12-05-13, 09:28 AM   #19
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[INDENT]234 (b) Drivers to exercise due care. The driver of any Motor Vehicle operating on any
235 Roadway located within the City’s corporate limits shall exercise due care to avoid
236 colliding with any person then operating a Bicycle upon such Roadway, and shall, as
237 necessary, give warning by the sounding of a horn and by exercising such other
238 precautions as are necessary to avoid a Motor Vehicle and Bicycle collision.
At least our state's driver's handbook gives a more detailed description when not to use a motor vehicle's horn.



"Don't Use Your Horn"

If a driver or bicyclist is going slowly, and you want him or her to drive faster or get out of your way. The driver or bicyclist may not be able to safely go faster, due to illness, being lost, intoxication, or having mechanical problems with the vehicle.
To alert other drivers that they made a mistake. Your honking may cause them to make more mistakes or to become angry and retaliate.
Because you may be angry or upset.
To honk at pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists unless necessary to avoid a collision. Remember that your horn sounds much louder outside a vehicle.

NOTE: Honking your horn may startle other drivers. It is safer to slow down or stop instead of honking your horn.
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Old 12-05-13, 11:06 AM   #20
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Just to clarify, I don't view this ordinance as nefarious or problematic. It came to life due to a fair amount of interaction over time about the local MUP, especially at a couple points that tend to be more crowded, and it evolved into direction (or repeated common-sense advice or duplication of state law) for three basic stakeholder groups (motorist, cyclists, pedestrians). My only curiosity was about the lines excerpted in the original post, which have now been well answered across the spectrum of responses.
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Old 12-05-13, 12:41 PM   #21
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anyone remember what happened to horn honking on 911 and for days after? it totally stopped. no one blew their horn at anyone for any reason.
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Old 12-05-13, 01:09 PM   #22
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It's interesting that they passed a law that's already on the books. All road users are already required to exercise due care to avoid a collision with ALL other road users, and also anything else that might be on the road like horses, cats, fallen branches, etc.

As for the horn, who knows? You could interpret it as "if a cyclist is in your way, honk at him, that's good enough, then you can go ahead and charge through." I doubt that's the intent, but since they don't state the intent, they left it completely open to interpretation. Bad move IMO. If they're not going to say WHY you're sounding the horn, they shouldn't say anything about it at all.

In general, sounding the horn at a cyclist is never a good idea. If they're a good cyclist, they already knew you were there. If they are not, then you might startle them and cause trouble.
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Old 12-05-13, 01:59 PM   #23
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I'm sorry I don't see anything noxious or underhanded in this ordinance, except that it's probably just unenforceable legal boilerplate passed so that folks can say they did something.

The exercise due care section is meaningless since it's already part of the State's code, either tacitly of by implication.
Problem with passing well intentioned laws such as this is the unintended consequences. It's impossible to forsee every situation to which the statute will be applied.

The fact that it's redundant of an already existing duty to exercise due care adds to the problem. As a matter of statutory interpretation, Courts assume that the legislating body intended to accomplish something with the statue. Thus, it's presumed that this statute does something more than just impose an already existing duty. So Courts will try to interpret the statute to give it some actual effect.

This construction problem, is the reason that the impulse "Their ought to be a law" needs to be resisted, when there are already adequate laws in effect.
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Old 12-05-13, 05:21 PM   #24
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Problem with passing well intentioned laws such as this is the unintended consequences.

This construction problem, is the reason that the impulse "Their ought to be a law" needs to be resisted, when there are already adequate laws in effect.
You'e preaching to the choir here. I've hated the "there oughta be a law" phrase for decades. In many ways we've moved from considered laws reflection the will of the majority, to rule by whim, where legislators get a bug up their rear, and introduce meaningless, redundant, narrow bills, many with an apple pie kind of image, and their compatriots vote yes, figuring the favor will be returned later on.

Some 40 years ago I seriously proposed changing how we pay legislators, giving them a large raise, but charging them $1.00/word for every piece of legislation they voted for. Voting against would be free.
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Old 12-13-13, 11:23 AM   #25
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Rudy,

I went to the survey link, and quit because the questions weren't well designed. There's no allowance for differences between 1st and 3rd person, nor for folks who engage in multiple activities, or at different times or both. This carries through, for example as a walker in the daytime I may not dress for visibility (walk against traffic), while as a cyclist at night I may both dress accordingly, and use bright lighting.

I suggest you pull the survey, and redesign it, so it flows intelligently along the lines you want, ie day or night visibility, or sorted by activity, or asking that participants focus on one activity at one place and time, and keep all answers related to that only.

Good luck with your project, remember --- getting good answers depends on asking good questions.
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