Random Thought: Are scofflaw cyclists really better drivers than they are cyclists?
First of all a favor: Can somebody (doesn’t need to be everybody) let me know if your’e able to leave a comment on this post? I upgraded this site’s software and I’m no longer able to leave comments on my own site. Thank you. The commenting seems to work now, so never mind. Though if you can’t comment, there’s not really an easy way for you to let me know, is there?
This morning’s bike commute seemed to have a higher proportion than usual of law abiding drivers. I was amazed to see somebody actually signal his turn!
I ride through a school zone with a radar-activated speed limit sign that continuously flashes “SLOW DOWN” as scofflaw drivers speed past walking children on the narrow residential road with no sidewalk. Today, the sign displayed speeds well below the speed limit with no flashing red reminders, but that’s because a moving truck was blocking half of the street. Ah well.
Finally, I get to the four-way stop at Ringwood and Middlefield where, again, NOBODY ever comes to a complete stop. Miracle of miracles, most of the drivers were at least putting an effort into it today, and that’s when I got suspicious, looked around, and saw the Menlo Park patrol car parked conspicuously on a nearby side road.
I’ll take what I get.
There’s been a lot of discussion at the Urban Country’s proposition that cyclist behavior has nothing at all to do with motorist anger towards cyclists. I believe cyclists should ride courteously, but I agree with James Schwartz’s thesis that perfect behavior will not engender much additional goodwill to cyclists overall.
Consider Bryce Barker of Berthoud, Colorado. Last summer, Bryce yelled at a trio of road cyclists in exurban Larimer County, Colorado. The cyclists — all between the ages of 50 and 60 and riding as they were on a rural two lane near Berthoud (an area I biked plenty when I lived in Boulder County) — hardly fit the profile of daredevil scofflaws, but were likely just riding along when Barker stopped his car, pulled out a baseball bat and started into an insane tirade about old guys from Boulder riding their bikes on his county roads. Barker was arrested and is on trial now.
For those who would like to punish all cyclists for the scofflaws, consider this: Do you really want to push the scofflaw cyclist off of his bike and behind the wheels of a car? 17% of traffic fatalities in the United States involve an unlicensed driver. 14% of drivers are uninsured. What makes you think the young male eschewing bike and road safety regulations will think any better of licensing, registration and insurance requirements for driving? Do you really expect the maniac you see running red lights in heavy traffic on a brakeless bike will be a better driver than he is a cyclist?
Photo: That’s Kyle riding in front of me in San Jose. He braked for the salmoning crosswalk cyclist, and I nearly rear ended Kyle because my hands were on the camera instead of the brakes.