Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rider vs driver offenses - should fines be equal?

A year ago, I began to see cyclists chatting on cell phones as they pedaled. Now I see cyclists riding no-hands, staring down at smart phones as they pedal.

In CA, where cell phone use in motorized motion is illegal, should cyclists be ticketed and penalties be the same as those of drivers - when the destructive potentials of their vehicles are so unequal?

I never saw any of this coming, frankly. Who'd have imagined no-hands bike riders, fixated on their phones - in bikepath traffic, around peds and stroller-pushers and crowds of schoolkids. Okay, they are probably not going to hit a school bus and cause a fiery disaster, but....

What is it about cycling that makes so many practitioners feel exempt from traffic laws and rules of courtesy? What about cycling makes so many cyclists so uncaring about the safety of others?

I drive a car. I ride a motorcycle. I ride a bicycle. I walk. I'm the same guy in whichever circumstance. I'm not cooler when I pedal. I'm not suddenly a saint or the savior of urban mankind when I ride my bicycle.

What is it about all this that escapes me?


Jim said...

The fines and penalties should not be the same - not even close. Run a red light in a car and you can cause awful injuries / death. Do it on a bicycle and it's likely you'll only cause your own demise.

Where things get interesting is when alcohol is tossed into the mix. Get busted for biking while drinking a beer and not only is the fine exceptional but your auto insurance goes through the roof.

California permits you to "demand" a breath test if you're busted for BUI (biking under the influence). Interesting but I'd refuse to provide evidence which would be used against me in court (something about the 5th amendment). I do the same thing if somebody busted me for driving drunk (I don't drive and I wouldn't consider driving drunk, nonetheless).

Seems to me that if somebody is busted for driving under the influence that a reasonable penalty might be for him / her to be restricted to riding a bicycle for the next three years. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw the statistics for the number of Americans killed by drunken bicycle riders.

Gee, I just cannot find them anywhere. But those killed by drunken drivers approach 20,000 people every single year. Every year.

Wanna drink? Use a Cell Phone? Pick your nose? Then do it on two wheels and NOT four.

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