Sunday, May 15

Same Rules, Same Roads, Different Outcomes

I’ve recently seen a couple of articles, such as HERE, where motoring writers tell cyclists that they are not allowed to pass a stopped school bus. You see, they figure that “bicycles shall follow the same rules” precludes such an action. However, while the roads and rules may be the same, such writing forgets that becoming a pedestrian (no longer driving a vehicle) is an option for a cyclist that isn’t readily available to someone driving a 4000 lb car. The motoring writers and their motoring police advisers forget that you are not required to RIDE a bike in such a situation. Sometimes these are the same people that advise cyclists to get off their bikes and push a crosswalk “beg button” when they can’t (don’t know how, mostly) to get an induction or camera-controlled traffic light to change.

Even John Forester, a great advocate of operating bicycles as vehicles, recognizes differences in his “Effective Cycling” book when he notes that even the most militant motorists don’t claim that cars should be able to universally drive cross country through local parks. Not even the ones that claim bicycles ought to be required to obtain unavailable insurance or unavailable cycling licenses.

While I generally agree about the principle of “same rules,” the dramatically increased danger that motor vehicles present to other road users compared to bicycles, suggests that some rules intended for motor vehicle control might be inappropriate when applied to bikes. I do not opine on what these might be in this post. THIS post ought to provide food for thought about how bicycles DIFFER from cars in the ways they operate and comply with identical laws.

Just this morning, I stopped at an unmarked crosswalk to yield a pedestrian his right of way to the unmarked crosswalk. He seemed momentarily confused before crossing. Perhaps he hadn’t got the concept that a bike might stop to let him cross before. Definitely, this was a different response than it would have been if I’d been operating a large SUV. I guess had I been on a motorcycle, we’d have been somewhere in the middle in terms of “same rules relevance.”

PS: In case you wonder why I might go to the trouble to WALK past a stopped school bus rather than just waiting, there’s a story behind it. On my on my v2 commute, there were a couple of locations where large crowd of students and motoring parents (picking the students up or dropping them off) clogged things up at the bus stop. On my v3 commute, it turned out that my route passed by a location at a time where the local school bus often stopped to pick up a wheelchair-bound student. While watching the lift in operation was fascinating a couple of times, I elected NOT to violate the law by riding by when the school bus driver took to attempting to wave me by. Instead, it simply seemed logical to stop, pick up my bike, toss it on my shoulder, and legally jog past. Even stopped motorists seemed to enjoy the show – and my passing the bus on foot obviated their need to pass me at all.


cafiend said...

I stop for school buses and pedestrians in crosswalks out of legality, courtesy, and public relations. I have not had to deal with lengthy delays, or might have resorted to hoofing it. I have walked my bike to get around traffic accidents where a path allowed me to go around well clear of the emergency crew doing its job.

Justine Valinotti said...

I, too, stop for school buses and pedestrians in crosswalks for the same reasons cafiend mentions. I still can't get over the baffled stares I get from some pedestrians!

Steve A said...

To amplify cafiend's point, is a case where I walked around a road closure due to a fire department response to a gas leak. Yes, in that case, I asked one of the police before doing so. I don't think I'd have even considered the option had I been in a car.

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