Monday, February 12, 2007

Columbus City Bike Laws: Part 5

Today we get some laws on reckless operation and keeping your bike under control. Riding your bike recklessly is not only dangerous to you, but dangerous to those around you. Keep in mind, once again, that your actions on your bike can affect motorists actions toward other cyclists in the future.
2173.08 Reckless operation; control, course and speed.

(a) No person shall operate a bicycle:
(1) Without due regard for the safety and rights of pedestrians and drivers and occupants of all other vehicles, and so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person while in the lawful use of the streets or sidewalks or any other public or private property;
(2) Without exercising reasonable and ordinary control over such bicycle;
Translation: ride with the safety of EVERYONE in mind, not just yours.
(3) In a weaving or zigzag course unless such irregular course is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law;
Don't decide to be Ingemar Stenmark on your bike. The street is not a slalom course, it's a public road, designed for everyone - bikes, pedestrians, and cars.
(4) Without both hands upon the handle grips except when necessary to give the required hand and arm signals;
Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times, unless you're signaling to turn or stop. Don't turn yourself into a cell-phone-chatting driver, we all know how much we hate having to deal with it in motorists.
(5) At a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.
Don't go so fast that you're out of control.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one (1) year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one (1) predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one (1) year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two (2) or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree. (Ord. 1579-72; Ord. 2120-03 § 1 (part).)
And the penalties, once again.

This is a pretty easy section to understand, but I do have some comments on it. We, as cyclists, have every right in the world to ride in the street, in fact it's the only legal place for us to ride. It's awfully tempting to push the envelope on this sometimes. And due to our better maneuverability and such, it's VERY tempting to try to use this to get where we're going faster than the surrounding cars can. Cutting onto sidewalks, weaving in and out of stopped traffic at signals, etc. can be very tempting.

But keep in mind our situation here in Columbus. Right now, there aren't a lot of bike commuters. And the city and its meager public transportation infrastructure isn't set up for us at all. We don't have sharrows, or bike lanes, or anything like that. We don't have a reliable east-west bike trail that would facilitate better commuting and less traffic problems. So we need to do what we can to be conscientious cyclists and fight our battles at the right times. In the middle of traffic during rush hour is not that time.

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