Friday, March 02, 2007

More advice from motoring media

Image of a stop sign, bane of bicyclists everywhere
From the Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro, TN) 03.02.07:

Bicyclists must follow the rules to gain respect

For the most part, bicyclists who ride for recreation do follow the law, traveling with the flow of traffic and abiding by rules.

But if all bicyclists are going to get the respect they deserve--since they don't pack quite the heft of a car or truck--it is incumbent on all two-wheeling folks to follow the rules. We can't count the number of times we've seen a bicyclist, usually one not wearing a helmet or any safety gear, blatantly run a red light or stop sign while all other motorists sat there in shock.

Indeed, we'd like to see, just one time, a Murfreesboro Police officer pull over those lawbreaking bicyclists and give them a big fat ticket. Is there such a thing as "citizen's arrest" in Murfreesboro, and can we exercise it? (Read more.)
I've already expressed my exasperation with this sort of tiresome "friendly" advice to bicyclists, suggesting that respect is contingent on group behavior. If respect on the roads were earned by universal compliance by a class of users, then motorists--who, after all, kill more than 40,000 people every year in the U.S.--would be the first group banned from public thoroughfares.

Bicyclists earn respect when they organize as a political constituency, forming advocacy groups that ally with other environmentalists, pedestrians, safety activists, clean air proponents (Lung Association, etc.), community organizations, preservationists, and others into coalitions challenging the pervasive hegemony of the motoring menace. Rights and respect aren't gained by "playing nice." Respect is earned by organized political power.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Brad said...

I have to say, I struggle with this one. Where I live, in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where I've commuted by bicycle for years, but we have a lot of progress to make), I see two problems. First, as most cyclists across North America will probably attest to, drivers are uneducated as to the rights of cyclists. But the second problem here is that many (I stress, not all) cyclists are equally uneducated about their responsibilities on the road. It really bothers me when I stop at a red light at a busy intersection and another cyclist comes up behind me and blows through the light. It's not sending a great message to anyone who sees it: drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians. I want to be respected as someone who has the right to use the road. Obeying the rules of the road is part and parcel of getting that respect.

Brad said...

Different Brad here

Cars don't seem to like it if you do wait for the light either. Then they have to wait longer as you get started, waiting longer for a time to pass. If we followed all the rules, cyclists would just be more in the way.

Anonymous said...

Since I live in Murfreesboro I feel inclined to comment on this one. I have done the bike commute thing off and on here for a few years and I can tell you this town used to be very friendly to bikes before the rapid expansion of the university and the housing boom for the Nashville commuters. But since then all bets are off. I can't count how many times I have almost been hit even with helmet lights, blinky lights and the rest. The city council thinks they are foward thinking by putting bike lanes on roads the don't get you anywhere. The non riding community thinks we should all ride on the greenway but it doesn't get you to work and it's dangerous because of peds and their kids and dogs. So we are just kind of screwed.

And it's not so much a matter of respect as much as we don't want to get hit.
We have had one gentleman get killed when he was struck by a member of our law enforcement community. Nothing was done. We had another lady get hit and the law said she just crashed even though the back of her helmet was smashed and had paint on it.

So in Murfreesboro whether or not you obey the traffic laws you are more or less putting your life in the hands of others when you ride be it with a group or as a commuter.

T. E. B. H. said...

I actually did a portfolio project comparing why Murfreesboro is such a dangerous town to ride when compared to other comparably sized college towns. One of my acquaintances on campus has been hit twice in the last month by negligent motorists. This town sucks to ride in...