Category Archives: Laws

Share the Road?

Interesting post from “bike lawyer” Steve Magas on the mentality of “share the road” and the history of right-of-way for all vehicle types.  Although I doubt very much that well-intentioned signs contribute to motorist attitudes toward cyclists, Steve’s point about the “right of way” vehicle (i.e., the vehicle in the lead) is one that all riders and motorists need to consider.  The lead vehicle – be it bike, car or buggy – has the right of way, and vehicles behind it need to be observant to the lead vehicle’s actions.

share the road signs

(although I will say that I think the sign with the car following the cyclist is far more effective than the one with traffic side-by-side, which reinforces the implication that cyclists should ride on the shoulder at all times)

So – observing the rights of the lead vehicle means that cars shouldn’t honk a cyclists who’ve taken the lane, and bikes should consider the actions of cars in front of them, even if the cyclist has a bike lane.  God knows I’m guilty of not being as good about this as I could be when I’m on my bike.

Bike Licensing

July’s Momentum magazine features an article on bike licensing that goes over the well-worn reasons why bike licensing is a bad idea.  There are many, but we really need only focus on two:

  • It costs more to administer and enforce administer a licensing regime than would be recovered in licensing revenue; and
  • There’s no public safety benefit from licensing.

Nonetheless, calls for licensing of bikes continue.  These arguments go along the lines of:  “Bikes get to be in the road, so they should be licensed like cars.”

That’s impeccable logic – if you’re six years old.  In the real world where we grownups live, people ask whether it makes sense to enact costly programs that serve no purpose.

I don’t think that advocates of bike licensing are so stupid that they honestly believe licensing is sound public policy, or that they possess the charmingly naive belief that licensing is a necessary corrective to a troubling inconsistency between two (radically different) types of vehicle.  So let’s call it what it is:  passive/aggressive bike-hate.  It would be refreshing if they’d just come out and say:

“We don’t like you people on bikes.  You add precious seconds to our commutes and confuse us while we chat on our cell phones and shave.  For that reason we’re going to put whatever impediments we can in the way of your using OUR roads.”