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Death to Bicyclists!

At their own hands, of course.

Have you heard the refrain “Share the Road” (and seen the bumper stickers)? I try to share, whether I’m driving my car or riding my bicycle. Have you also heard the screech of brakes as a motorist tries to avoid a cyclist or another vehicle after the cyclist has violated the rules of the road and caused, or nearly caused, a traffic accident? So have I, yesterday as a matter of fact.

I was, as they say, minding my own business, driving home from an appointment. When a traffic light turned red, I stopped and so did the cars in the lanes beside me. When the light turned green again, we started. Then, a bicyclist ran the red light and entered the intersection from our left. He crossed the two empty lanes on our left and then drove in front of our moving vehicles. We all slammed on our brakes and took a few months of life off our tires. Meanwhile, the cyclist paid no attention and kept on pumping toward the horizon. Perhaps he thinks that the laws don’t apply to him, but I have news for him: the law of natural selection does apply! But for the drivers’ quick reflexes, he would have gotten to know Darwin personally and been able to show the old guy whatever was in his backpack. Nothing would have been said if one of us had driven over him, he was so clearly in the wrong, and there would be one less traffic hazard in Los Angeles.

Is it stupidity or arrogance when bicyclists weave in and out between moving vehicles without signaling, blow through stop signs like they don’t exist, drive up on sidewalks forcing people walking to jump for safety, and zip across roads in crosswalks as if they were pedestrians? (They are only pedestrians when they are walking their bikes.) But still there is the whine “Share the Road.” Sharing means that both sides give up a little something. And it means sharing the laws that make up the rules of the road, too.

Another incident is worth relating. I was driving down a narrow, wooded country road in New England a few years back when I came up behind a line of cyclists all decked out in their colored jerseys. Just as I was passing the group, the two-wheeled moron in the lead decided to play Tour de France and pulled out to the left so that the others could pass him on the inside. At the instant he chose to do that maneuver, a car was going by us in the other direction and, seeing the situation, the other driver had pulled as far to the right as he could; I saw dust from the shoulder flying up from his right wheels. When I jerked left to avoid the dope, the outside mirrors of the two cars hit, shattering the glass in both of them. I checked my rear-view mirror to see if the other driver wanted to stop and discuss the situation, but he just kept going, so I did the same. If his motivation was like mine, it was to get as far away from those yellow-shirted idiots as quickly as possible to avoid the temptation to knock them all down and drive over them a couple of times, to make the world a safer place.

There ought to be an IQ test before bicyclists can drive on the public ways, and tests on the law, too. It goes without saying that there a lot of bad and rude motor vehicle drivers out on the roads; some steps ought to be taken to weed them out, too. But bicycles are so vulnerable. They will always lose out in any accident with a car, the way a car always loses out to a train. For a cyclist, good manners and obeying the law means living longer, even more so than for cars and trucks.

So, all you motorists, the next time you see a bicyclist acting stupidly on the road and winding up bloody and mangled on the road, be sure to document the situation and send it in so the cyclist can get his or her Darwin Award. It’s the least you can do.

A Little Help Where it Seems to be Needed

The California Vehicle Code only applies in California, but the laws will be similar in other states. One can also search across all California Laws, if one needs to.

231 … Persons riding bicycles are subject to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and 21200.5.
467 (a) A “pedestrian” is any person who is afoot or who is using a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.
21200 (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs.
21202 (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations: …
21212 (e) … The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor whose conduct violates this section shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the amount of the fine imposed pursuant to this subdivision.
21450 Whenever traffic is controlled by official traffic control signals showing different colored lights, … those lights shall indicate and apply to drivers of vehicles, operators of bicycles, and pedestrians as provided in this chapter.
21451 (a) … Any driver, including one turning, shall yield the right-of-way to other traffic and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk.
21461 (a) It is unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal defined as regulatory.
21750 The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to the limitations and exceptions hereinafter stated.
23103 (a) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
(b) Any person who drives any vehicle in any offstreet parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
(c) Persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104. [If someone is injured, the penalties escalate!]
27400 A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears.

Is It Clear Now?

July 19, 2007


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