Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Share the Road" Signs Taken On By Ohio Bike Lawyer Steve Magas

They've been in the consciousness of a lot of people in the Columbus bike community recently: those "Share the Road" signs on High Street.  Lots of people look at them as sort of a nice reminder that bikes might be around and, please, to be nice motorists and give those poor cyclists a little bit of your room on the road.

Ohio Bike Lawyer Steve Magas, on the other hand, lays the legal smack down on the concept of Share the Road. Magas, you may remember, is the lawyer who got the positive judgment in the Trotwood vs. Selz case that led to the great bike law reforms that we're enjoying now in the State of Ohio. 

Let's take a look at bike law, for starters.  No, let's not. 

Let's go back to vehicle law.  A bicycle is a vehicle.  And as a vehicle, it is subject to the same rights and responsibilities as any vehicle on the road.  Read that again - rights and responsibilities.  And one of those rights is the right of way.  Bikes have the right of way when they're traveling on the road, just like any other vehicle does - they have a right to that section of the road that they're currently taking up. 

And the reason for this?  The law doesn't tell a car or a bike that they have to obey the law, it tells a person - the driver.  So the right of way belongs to a person - not a vehicle.  If there was no right of way for people, then pedestrians couldn't be assumed to have a right of way, right? 

So there's no need to tell anyone to Share the Road.  Cyclists have the same rights to that section of the road that cars do - period.  And the language of Share the Road is so ambiguous to be scary.  For cyclists, it's telling motorists to share the road with them.  But to motorists, it's telling cyclists to move over and quit hogging the road - even though cyclists have the right to it.  

As Columbus continues to invest in "Share the Road" signs and thinks that it's doing all of us cyclists a big favor to improve things, perhaps they need to step back and look at what those signs are really saying. 

People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Floodgates are Open...

Over on our Facebook page, we've started a discussion on the pros and cons of ALL bike-related infrastructure: bike lanes, sharrows, separated bike lanes, etc.

Do you think they're a good thing?  Are they right for Columbus?  Come on over and chime in with your opinion. 

People, not speed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tweaking Shall Continue...

Hey, cyclerati of Columbus.  Hope you'll bear with me while I tweak the format of this page a bit.  Blogger's made it so easy to do now that I can't keep my hands off it while I work to get just the format I want.

And let me know if you find anything you think could be changed for the better here!

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Should Cyclists Be Protected from Themselves?

I wrote a quick news article today on about Upper Arlington's examination of State bicycle law and a loophole that says cyclists can only be charged if they're on a street or bike path. That wasn't something I was aware of. Here's the article.

So the situation here is that the guy was drunk. REALLY drunk - three times the legal limit. And he was riding his bike to the ATM (in a shopping plaza's parking lot) because he was trying to be safe by not driving his car.  

Seems a pretty noble thing to do, right? He avoided being unsafe to other people by getting where he needed to go via a safer form of transportation. But he was still stopped for DUI. Granted, the charge was reduced because of the loophole mentioned in the article but that's really not the point here.

The point is that I'm concerned about laws that are designed to protect people from their own stupidity. I can totally understand automobile-related laws of this nature. Let's face it - cars kill. And the number one cause of car-related killings is irresponsibility. Using a cell phone or texting while driving, DUI, etc. are all forms of this.  Groups like MADD have all sorts of statistics for DUI, and obviously there are plenty of laws going on the books about distracted driving related to cell phone, texting, etc.

But what about cyclists? One can make the argument that a cyclist who takes to the streets and doesn't pay attention, talks on a phone, or is even mind-numbingly schnockered is endangering other folks on the road - drivers may swerve to miss a cyclist who's riding a bit wobbly for whatever reason and hit someone else.

But in this case, it was 1:00 AM and the rider was in a parking lot. Was this traffic stop really needed? The police officer in question probably wouldn't even have noticed the cyclist if this had been daytime, and a normal number of cars was around to occupy his attention.

What do you think?

People, not speed.