I got a lot of comments and letters regarding Monday's Ride column on the possibility of different rules of the road for bicyclists. The article talked about an Idaho law that allows bicyclists to treat stop lights like stop signs and stop signs like yield signs. It's a polarizing idea -- the comments on both sides were fierce.
Here's the longest letter I got -- the writer is identified as "Vulture X":
"Everyone wants the right of way; be it a pedestrian, motor vehicle operator or bicyclist, often all three groups at the same time in the same space. In Illinois, as mentioned in the article , " Law...Less!", bicyclists are to obey the same rules of the road as a operator of a motor vehicle. However, just as motorists disobey the rules, bicyclists I believe, disobey traffic laws at a greater rate. This is evident when they routinely ignore any form of traffic control. Nearly all bicyclists I have seen have this," I have the right of way " no matter what" attitude along with , " what are you going to do..hit me ? " stance. And that is where the problem lies. Our roads were not built to be shared by bicyclists and motor vehicles together. Irregardless that we have painted lines on the road to denote bicycle traffic.( Which is a joke for more than one reason) Everyone needs to be responsible for their actions. It seems to me that bicyclists want to have a large chunk of the pie and eat it too.
Points of contention from the article:
* "It's common sense " quoted from article, from Mr. Rob Sadowsky, that bicyclists should not have to "Stop at stop signs or stop at stop lights or yield to at an intersection."
Where would it be common sense if those who bike follow the law as it's written in the first place ? Motor vehicle operators can't drive lawfully and in a " common sense " way as it is, much less with a bicyclist in the equation who thinks that a stop light means, "hey, it doesn't apply to me".It amazes me that people who bike do not ever admit that they DO NOT have the right of way...ever. Yet I do not see that bicyclists get any tickets for any infractions they commit.They do they want to admit to themselves that they have a great potential for serious injury or worse. As it is said " ...he's a different person when he gets behind the wheel " ,so is it with bicyclists.
* "... - if a car is coming in the opposite direction, it's the bike, not the car, that gets smashed."
To my recollection ( or rather, my way of thinking ), any accident involving a motor vehicle with a bicyclist ( or pedestrian) the aura of blame almost always seems to be on the motorist. Not all accidents involving a bicyclist ( Or pedestrian) is a motorists fault. It would be interesting to see the statistics about Chicago on accidents involving motor vehicles and bicyclists, to see what amount of blame is associated to the drivers and how that relates to civil actions along with their outcomes.A ticket or two (per accident) can mar a person's driving record with insurance companies. Much less the act of getting the ticket(s), I would not like to go and hunt for insurance after being dropped by my insurance company for hitting a pedestrian or a bicyclist. If a ticket is issued, fault is placed on the driver which, and I am not a lawyer ,would help in a civil case for damages, would it not ?
* " If you're on a bike, it seems silly to stop at every light."
Well gee wiz...I feel the same way when I am in my car, on a motorcycle, walking, or on a bicycle. Again, everyone at any given time wants to be in the right of way so as not to have to stop, slow down, use caution ,obey rules.
* " People don't put stop signs in their neighborhood because they're worried about their kids getting run over by bicycles."
I have seen kids , and adults run over by bicyclists along the lakefront and in my neighborhood,sometimes the outcome is severe head injuries to all parties involved.I don't think the method of getting run over means much to the victim now does it ?
* "Think of waiting at a stop light at six in the morning."
Yeah..and ? Obey the law, or break it, like everyone else. Break it and get a ticket, like everyone else should. I feel the same way when I am in my car etc.If the rules of the road were changed to that of Idaho, as mentioned in the article, we reallywouldn't see any change at all. Bicyclists already ignore the rules of the road as it is, and then try to hide their irresponsibleness if something goes wrong for them. Again, if I were to hit a bicyclist I'd probably end up in court even if it wasn't my fault.
I would have respect for bicyclists if they would obey the current law as it is first. Instead of making a case for creating another obstacle to contend with on the road. And yes, obstacle, what else would you call it ? I cannot even remember when I saw a bicyclist make a stop at a stop light in my neighborhood much less anything that could be considered as yielding at a stop sign.What I see and read in the media about this issue, is that bicyclists just want to get on their bicycle and ride nonstop...period. Without any responsibility or worries of others, be it pedestrian or motor vehicle. If I am wrong then why change the current laws ? There are enough distractions and obstacles on the road without having to think ..." Is that bicyclist going to yield or run the stop sign ? " Because... who really yields in Chicago ? It is "common sense" to leave the laws them they way they are, given the fact that we live in a city as large as we do where accidents between motor vehicles is commonplace. Where pedestrians, adult and child alike do not obey traffic signals, traffic signs or cross at the proper place in the road. Let's not help the chance of someone losing their life or limb because a bicyclist does not want to slow down , or bit my tongue, stop when supposed to.I think changing the law(s) would continue to create animosity
Here is what we really should put an end to:
* Those bicyclists who see fit to attach a cart to the rear of their bikes and take junior for a ride on a four lane road during rush hour. ( Seen often , but seen yesterday on North bound Milwaukee avenue from Peterson at 5:30 PM ) Now that's talent, let's put a child in a cart and drag it on a busy road with all sorts of trucks and cars doing 30 - 40 miles per hour.
* Bicyclists who ride without any reflective gear, in dark clothing at night.
* Bicyclists who can seem to be able to ride a bike in the first place. You know the ones, they pedal their bicycle with such a way that the bike sways from side to side. I have to change lanes for those folks in fear of hitting them.( They must ride horses somewhere during the day ,their legs must be bowed, I think, )
Again ,everyone wants the right of way; be it a pedestrian, motor vehicle operator or bicyclist."