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140 No Air Bags, Just a Bike 2009-10-21

group ride at Natchez Trace

"Stop Means Stop" a recent article in Slate Magazine by Christopher Beam was an interesting look at bicycle laws. He questioned if bicycles are vehicles with all the rights, privileges, and laws of a car or are bicycles just different. And if bicycles need laws, should the laws be different than the ones for the automobile? 

Bikes are different than cars. And, as Beam pointed out, the roads and the laws that govern them are made for cars by car operators. If there were no cars, there would not be any reason for the laws.

So where does the bike fit in? In Tennessee the law states that a bike is a vehicle and must obey the laws for all vehicles. Recently, the bikes were given the "three foot rule" but that rule was actually a new law for cars to help them respect bikes. 

When cars collide in a parking lot or on a neighborhood street, the chances of the occupants being hurt are slim. The cars are made to withstand the force of the impact. Riding on a bike however, a car backing into the cyclist or any little fender bender could mean disaster to the rider. Bikes are not made to withstand collisions of any type. Every time I ride, I try to remain as aware as possible of my surroundings. I must know what the big bad cars around me are doing. For example... Did someone just get in that parked car? Are they pulling out or are they trying to open a door? I know that I have the right of way but does that car see me, or do they even care? These are just a few of the thoughts that are constantly refreshing in my database as I ride. I don’t care who is right and who is wrong, I just don’t want to get hit by a car. I share the road with the cars; but they are bigger, stronger, and faster than me. I only survive by my ability to escape. 

So should bikes obey the laws of the road? Bikes should avoid being hit by cars, whatever that means. I always ride on the right side of the road, flowing with the traffic. I slow down at every intersection, whether I have a stop sign, signal light, or not.  If a car respected me while they passed, I will not pass them at the next light (as a rule at least) making them have to pass me again. I yield to everyone and everything (I am the most vulnerable one); but I never want to stop, ever!

If car smashing gamma ray guns were allowed on bikes I would then obey all of the laws and dare anyone to intrude in my space... but as the laws are, I just try to keep from being hit! 

links - http://www.slate.com/id/2232555/


Happy spokes, avoid the holes.


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