Should the Rules of the Road Be Amended for Cyclists?

7_14_08_sf.jpgVia Carectomy, a San Francisco CBS affiliate reports that the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission is considering whether to revise the rules of the road to better accommodate cyclists. The changes would make it legal for cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, and stoplights as stop signs.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Carectomy commentary comes down against the idea, saying the change would merely reflect how cyclists already behave, and that more tangible steps are necessary. While there’s no denying that better infrastructure for bikes would bolster cycling more than a rule change (and would cut down on ped-bike infighting), a logical legal framework is nothing to sneeze at.

The way things stand in California, New York and the rest of the U.S. — except Idaho
— countless cyclists are scofflaws according to the letter of the law.
Who sits at a red light for a full cycle after coming to a stop and seeing the coast is clear both ways? Even if the cyclist is not issued a summons
(likely, though no guarantee), this safe and reasonable choice is
still stigmatized. Changing the rules would legitimize normal cycling
behavior, and, as the San Francisco Bay Guardian pointed out last month, make cyclists’ decisions more predictable for all parties involved.

It
would also acknowledge, in a codified manner, some of the fundamental
differences between bikes and cars. Namely, that a person on a bike
poses far less risk to those nearby, and can maneuver more easily, than
a person encased within a multi-ton vehicle.

Photo: BikePortland/Flickr

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