Monday, February 20, 2006

"Safety" and the Cyclist

Here's another one crawling out of the woodwork. Just wait untill the weather warms up in the spring, and there'll be a million of 'em. Sorta like my old apartment that was declared a National Cockroach Preserve.

Awwww, somebody needs a hug! This is what happens when you buy tighty whities two or three sizes too small. I feel your pain! Well, actually, I don't.

"Cyclists have absolutely no regard for traffic laws" blah blah blah "cyclists blowing through red lights and weaving through traffic on the sidewalks and in the streets as if both were created solely for their enjoyment" blah blah blah "Cyclists should instead be required to have some type of air horn on their bike" blah blah blah "Forcing cyclists to meet certain requirements will encourage safer riders and establish accountability" blah blah licensing and insurance blah blah "If all of the new requirements stop or discourage certain people from riding, so be it" blah blah blah "...the city can funnel some of the money gained from registration fees and the like associated bicycle ownership towards creating more bike paths, bike lanes, greater public awareness, etc." blah blah FAT CHANCE blah blah "...the above mentioned cyclist regulations may be legally forced down their collective throat by the city government, which may just decide that if it can't win in court with the current laws that some new ones specifically tailored against cyclists will be in order" yadda yadda yadda.

Here's another writer who believes that riding a bicycle should be subject to the same onerous restrictions as driving a car. Let's see...ther are a lot of uninsured, unlicensed motorists out on our roads and the police don't have the manpower to go after them. So how much impetus would they have to go after those pesky unlicensed cyclists? Besides, if you use legislation to make people into outlaws, they'll have absolutely no incentive to behave other than as outlaws.

Lots of towns, my own included, have bicycle licensing laws that are almost universally ignored. The exception seems to be college towns that use the laws as another means of squeezing students. But in most cases, they're more trouble than they're worth. Given that this writer is in NYC, there's likely a bike licensing law there already. Shhhh! Don't tell him, or he'll REALLY get his panties all in a wad!


Blogger Coelecanth said...

I love where he says we should "...police other riders who refuse to share the road." Really? Apparently he realizes that the laws he's proposing are indeed unenforceable by conventional policing.

Besides, we all know how well self policing works for motorists. I believe it's called "road rage" or perhaps "vehicular homicide." Gah.

And don't get me started on the difference between vehicle/pedestrian collisions versus bicycle/peds. Sure a cyclist can injure or even kill a pedestrian, but anyone that thinks the lethality of the two modes are even remotely similar needs a good lesson in physics:

If you would be so kind as to step over here sir, our lesson will begin. This is your head when impacted by 2kg traveling at 10 km/hr. Yes sir, I'm sure that is going to be a nasty bruise. Now, this is your head when impacted by 30kg traveling at 20 km/hr. Did you notice the difference fifteen times the mass and twice the speed make? ....sir? Please get up...really, you can't lie there, you're blocking traffic...sir?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I work with 2 guys who are absolutely adamant that their trucks get BETTER gas mileage the faster they go. They just had a blank look when I said that drag increases at the square of the speed and the power required increases by the same amount.


Maybe they ought to go back for a remedial physics course.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

Much as I hate to say anything postive about cars and peoples myths about them:

If the truck they're talking about is a pickup, with an open bed and with a raised tailgate there might be some truth to it. Apparently the dead space of air caused by the box of a pickup with a closed gate acts to smooth the air flow. It creates a bubble of slow moving air that travels along with the truck and pushes the fast moving air up away from the bed. I don't know just how speed dependent this action is, but I can see that it might not work when going slowly.

If they're talking about a slab-fronted SUV though, you're dead right.

1:13 PM  
Blogger BC said...

I totally agree about the silliness of the idea of bike licenses, and I agree that something like that is completely unenforceable.

And I'm also really thankful for the physics lesson, and for the aerodynamics lesson. I had no idea about the pickups, but that seems to make a lot of sense, actually!


2:14 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I subscribe to a daily journalism briefing from the Poynter Institute. It has story ideas and links and just had one on the problem of unlicensed drivers:

Frequent contributor Jim Sweeney spotted a little item
( that really makes you wonder
how big this story might be. Just in the State of Maryland, police wrote
nearly 20,000 citations to people who were driving a vehicle with no
license. The story says unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to
be in a wreck than licensed drivers.

What happens to unlicensed drivers in your state? Does anything happen to
their cars? Arizona lawmakers just passed legislation
requiring cops to impound a car driven by an unlicensed driver. Even if
police seize the car, do they jail the driver right away? In Maryland, an
unlicensed driver does not even have to show up for court.

Some (
states are working on tougher laws
( right
now. What good does it do to suspend or revoke a license if nothing much
happens after police pull someone over?

Some research about 10 years ago
l) showed that up to 70 percent of people who lost their licenses due to
suspension or revocation still drove anyway.

WTOP Radio ( reported that
this is a "sprawling crisis in public policy."

The AAA Foundation reported:

Drivers who operate a motor vehicle without a driver's license are the
most dangerous drivers on the road.

About 20 percent of fatal crashes involve at least one unlicensed driver.

According to one AAA study, nearly one death an hour from 1993–1999 can be
attributed to unlicensed drivers.

Some unlicensed drivers are actually more careful because getting stopped
may have severe consequences.

Many unlicensed drivers are also uninsured.

In contrast to insured drivers, if you are in a collision with an
uninsured driver, even if it is their fault, you may not be reimbursed for

One in five fatal crashes involved at least one driver who did not have a

The proportion of invalidly licensed drivers varied widely by state, from
6 percent in Maine to 23 percent in New Mexico. Other high-risk
jurisdictions included the District of Columbia, Arizona, California, and

Not only were their licenses invalid, 28 percent of them had received
three or more license suspensions or revocations in the three years before
their crashes.

Drunk driving is associated with unlicensed driving.
A California study showed
( that
more than one in 10 people behind the wheel were driving on a suspended
license or never had a license to begin with. In that state alone, the
report says, a million Californians currently have suspended or revoked
licenses. If the statistics hold true, up to 700,000 people in that state
could be driving illegally. Last year, The (Stockton, Calif.) Record
( found that car
dealerships routinely sold vehicles to people who had no license.

7:53 AM  

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