15 June 2011


In a post written three years ago, I ranted about the perilous carelessness and sense of entitlement evinced by certain bicyclists and pedestrians in traffic. In a post written one month ago, I vented in a more reasoned manner (I think) on the same topic. As a more light-hearted salute, consider the following three recent news items --

In Chicago (that toddlin' town), police were out in force to crack down on cyclist scofflaws who claim "unconditional rights to violate every traffic law on the books .... The sting was conducted at only one intersection near downtown, and for only two hours during the morning rush. But the site that was chosen is a complex intersection that's a magnet for bicycle commuters, widespread disregard for red lights, and plenty of accidents and close calls. Some 240 warnings and one ticket were issued by the end of the law enforcement and education operation, which was aimed at bicyclists pedaling through red lights and taking over crosswalks meant for pedestrians only .... Across the city, an average of 1300 crashes involving bicyclists occur every year."

Imagine. All those warnings and a ticket, in two hours at a single intersection. Multiply that by several thousand (at least), and you get some idea of the daily scope of many bicyclists' disregard for the law, and for the safety of themselves and others. Way to go, Chicago!

In New York City, a creative and somewhat goofy cyclist made a video of himself receiving a traffic ticket, followed by his deliberately crashing into a series of objects which sometimes obstruct designated bicycle paths, to show why he deviates into automobile lanes. The exercise makes a point, but also detracts from his message by sheer repetition. Enough, already. You got busted, deal with it.

And again in New York City, a woman visiting from Holland was ticketed for bicycling while wearing a skirt which allegedly exposed her legs sufficiently to distract motorists (see image below). This is just plain silly. She was breaking no traffic laws -- it seems likely that the police officer was himself distracted. Needless harrassment is no substitute for responsible law enforcement.

Just to be clear -- I totally support riding bikes, walking, using mass transit, and other green alternatives to single-occupant cars which clog traffic and emit monumental amounts of pollution. And I know from my own experience biking that there are hostile drivers who intentionally crowd bicyclists. But no one conveyance has a monopoly on righteousness. We all have to share those streets, legally and with care.

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