Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Rules of The Road and Rights of Way

This morning a buddy of mine sent an email asking my opinion of 3 incidents he had with cyclists this weekend. All three incidents, taking place in less than a half hour, involved cyclists riding on the sidewalk in his residential neighborhood. The first was a delivery man, the second was some other adult, and the third was an elderly lady riding very slowly. My buddy made comments to all three of them about not belonging on the side walk and received some dirty looks and a few curses in return. He emailed me wanting to know if he was in the wrong. In short, no, he wasn't. This was my response.

I can sum up sidewalk riders in two words, quoted from Roman Moronie in Johnny Dangerously, "Fargin Bastages."

Like you I would have given way for the old lady. I probably would have let it go without comment but then again, after the first two incidents maybe not. I sometimes find myself on a sidewalk during the last or first block of a ride as I'm arriving at or leaving some place. Still I try to avoid this very much because of the incidents you are talking about. I've never said anything but I even get a little peeved at parents riding on the sidewalk with their children. I'm not sure what the cut off should be but it seems to me there should be a point where the child can ride on the sidewalk with the parent paralleling him in the street.

Often enough when I'm riding I am intentionally not following the rules of the road. I'll roll through stop signs. I'll run a red light (almost always stopping first). I'll ride the wrong way on a one way. BUT, but, I know when I'm doing this that I'm yielding a lot of my right of way. People don't expect me to come from the wrong direction. People don't expect me to run a red light. I can't speak for other cyclists but I make sure when I do it I yield to others.

I remember years ago being in Ohio on the boat with Lance. Lance explained the rules about right of way on the lake. Basically, the smaller and speedier and more maneuverable a boat is the less right of way they have. So jet skis give way to power boats. Power boats give way to sail boats. I have a similar theory when it comes to the interaction of pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles. I base it on vulnerability and speed.

Pedestrians always get the right of way. This doesn't mean they can't be stupid. Stepping out from between two parked cars, especially if one of them is a truck you can't see over, is a recipe for disaster. Cyclists are next. Yeah we can attain speeds of 20 or even 30 mph but we've got no armor plating. Motorcycles third. Same as cyclists but with a lot more speed and weight behind them. Then on to cars, trucks, delivery vans, etc.

That's enough rambling for now. Basically you were in the right and well with in bounds to say something.



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