Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oliver: Respect the rules, or risk causing harm

I'm definitely one of those cyclists who does not run red lights and stop signs. I am an avid gearhead so that may bias my responses a bit. I get annoyed when cyclists flaunt the rules, especially, in the back roads of California where vehicle speed is much higher and there are more blind corners. The environment is more dangerous and it seems that there is less regard for the rules just because traffic is infrequent.  I would disagree that just because a bike is not moving as fast or is as heavy as a car that it is somehow less dangerous than a car. There is still roughly 200 pounds of rider plus bike traveling at 20 miles per hour. That is enough to cause harm to the pedestrian that the rider did not see. The author tries to argue that cyclists should be allowed to treat everything like a yield sign. However, a cyclist can cause harm to others even on a good day-- they are human and can make errors. It would be interesting to see if yield signs for cars have resulted in more or less accidents than stop signs. I would suggest that we have tried yield signs in roundabouts and drivers can find them challenging.

I agree that there is a need to make the roads safer for everyone.  Creating barriers that separate the bike lane from the road is a good step and I enjoy riding in those lanes in Boston. Creating bike only paths would be even better, but that may not be realistic given limited budgets.  There is a need to reevaluate traffic lights and signs for certain intersections. For example, if there is a T-intersection and you are "crossing the T" is it really necessary to have a stop line for the bike lane? Until we get bikes separated from cars, I agree with DHem about double parked cars blocking the bike lane and endangering cyclists who adhere to traffic laws. It is all about mutual respect between drivers and cyclists. As a cyclist, I can earn that respect by following the rules.  (Return to post)  

Oliver Hsu is a bake-off champion and serious gearhead, with an MS in Health Policy & Management from Harvard School of Public Health.  He currently works in healthcare consulting. 

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