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biking while talking on a phone.

Cycling while talking on the phone is not prohibited despite the fact it should be. D.C. Code 50-1731.02 states: "Distracted driving" means inattentive driving while operating a motor vehicle that results in the unsafe operation of the vehicle where such inattention is caused by reading, writing, performing personal grooming, interacting with pets or unsecured cargo, using personal communications technologies, or engaging in any other activity which causes distractions."

'The point is to enforce dangerous activity, not illegal"

Funny, I suspect most victims of speed and red light cameras might agree with you.

And enforcement has to be balanced. It shouldn't really be a crackdown on any one group,

I agree 100%

Problem is just adding more speed and red light cameras doesn't do that so see this current push as unbalanced.

Great ideas on this issue Washcycle.

I really wish most cyclist red light running would end. It is dangerous, and usually inexcusable (I put aside actuated signals, although I confess I can trigger many by riding over the center of the loop). I can understand not stopping at stop signs, though everyone absolutely should observe the rules of yielding to those who were there first.

Would Kugler be willing to support bicycles being required to have plates so they can get red light camera tickets when, as I see so often, they run red lights.... which I would suggest IS in fact a safety issue both to the cyclist and others?

Will E, probably not. I wouldn't.

Very few crashes result from red light running by cyclists. A study of cycling in London seemed to point to the idea that waiting at the light is actually more dangerous then performing an Idaho stop.

The biggest problems I see out there are oblivious driving and not yielding the right-of-way when appropriate by both drivers and cyclists. I would like to see more enforcement of these issues. I wish law enforcement would emphasize other forms of distracted and oblivious driving as well as cell phone use. Neither red light or speeding cameras address these issues and enforcement using these necessarily penalizes only drivers. The only good thing about speeding and red light cameras is that they disproportionately tax Maryland drivers. :)

@charlie:

Funny, I suspect most victims of speed and red light cameras might agree with you.

There are no "victims" of red light cameras, any more than there are "victims" of drunk-driving checkpoints.

@Will E:

Would Kugler be willing to support bicycles being required to have plates so they can get red light camera tickets when, as I see so often, they run red lights.... which I would suggest IS in fact a safety issue both to the cyclist and others?

Boo hoo!

It's so *unfair* that more police resources are thrown into investigating murders and robberies than littering and jaywalking.

And can anyone tell me why the sale of handguns is more regulated than popscicles???

OUTRAGE!

@washcycle:

Very few crashes result from red light running by cyclists. A study of cycling in London seemed to point to the idea that waiting at the light is actually more dangerous then performing an Idaho stop.

The only legitimate raised by jay-cycling is the safety issue. The statistics absolutely show that it's safe for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.

The remaining issue is a "tantrum" issue, where jay-biking engenders resentment among drivers who are a) stuck in cages; and b) "just passed that cyclist, and now he's in front of ME again!!"

Now we can argue about how important it is to mollify tantrum-throwing drivers--perhaps it's a critical stage in getting the to share the road (though I doubt it).

But there's no question where the resentment comes from.

Citing safety studies to justify lawbreaking is lame. Citing safety studies to justify changing the law is commendable. Name-calling at people justifiably annoyed at blithe disregard for the law is entirely too flip an approach to an issue that really does annoy people. There's simply no point to antagonizing the majority of the population, then blowing them off.

Where does citing safety studies to determine which laws should get enforcement resources fall?

Also, I was attempting to contradict the assertion by two commenters that running red lights is dangerous. I'll agree it's illegal, but I doubt it's dangerous as done by cyclists in this town.

@Krickey7,

One vote for "mollify the tantrum-throwers" then.

:)

Like I said, you've got a valid argument. But I'm amazed at the incredibly selective focus of this "[justifiable annoyance] at blithe disregard for the law". Strange how it's reserved entirely for cyclists or pedestrians who inconvenience them.

There's a small, but vocal group of resentful drivers. Whenever I hear the argument that by scrupulously adhering to the letter of the law, cyclists and pedestrians will earn their grudging respect, I think back to my kid's Bike to School day last fall: once everyone assembled in the local park, we proceeded to cross at the marked crosswalk. There were a couple of uniformed police officers there to stop traffic. I think it probably took about 2 minutes for everyone to cross. In that time, 4-5 of the stopped cars were laying on their horns, honking at a bunch of elementary school kids, parents, and police officers, all of whom were obeying the law to the letter.


The bottom line is, as always, will being a Avatar of Lawful Cycling win converts to the 'cause? If so, there may be some utility to that. If not, the haters will just refocus on something else (He's wearing lycra! He's not wearing a helmet!) in which case they can go fuck themselves.

I'm not going to spend my life worrying about what a bunch of unhappy, resentful haters are obsessed with. Hell, when I think about that Bike to School day, the thought of making area drivers lives' as miserable as humanly possible is just a perk of walking/riding in the city.

Here's what a study in Toronto reported:

"[W]hile there may be a perception that many cyclists recklessly disobey stop-signs and traffic signals, our analysis shows that less than 3% of collisions involve a cyclist failing to stop at a controlled intersection. Targeted stop-sign enforcement campaigns along busy cycling routes may result in large numbers of tickets being issued, but their effectiveness in improving traffic safety is questionable. Enforcement that focuses on driving and cycling infractions that are found to contribute most often to collisions and injuries can be expected to yield better results, in terms of improving safety, than campaigns that simply target infractions that are easy to enforce."

http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/publications/bicycle_motor-vehicle/pdf/car-bike_collision_report.pdf

You might ask why it is so easy to find studies that support this conclusion from the rest of the world, but not from the US. I chock it up to funding. The federal government seems to have deep pockets for poorly designed studies showing that helmets and bike lanes have magical powers to save lives, but seems strangely resistant to studies that probe actual issues of cycling safety.

As far as I can tell from a quick search of the internet, that London study found that women were more likely to get killed by left-turning (i.e. right turning) trucks at red lights because they were less likely to get in front of the truck at a red light when riding in a bike lane on the left (i.e. right in this country). These women were in the truck's blind spot and were killed when the light turned green and the truck turned left, often after moving right (i.e. getting pinched at the corner).

On the other hand, male cyclists would ride past the trucks stopped at the light and just run the red light. This turned out to be safer.

If this is what the study says, however, it really doesn't justify running red lights. It says that in such coffin corners, where there is a bike lane on the right and the possibility of right turning vehicles, you should get in front of all the cars stopped at the light so they can see you. When the light turns green, accelerate and take the bike lane again and this should only most minimally delay automobile traffic.

Will E, if there's an effective proposal that isn't a variation on "let's use motor vehicle ways of looking at bicycle problems" I'd probably support it. "Give bicycles license plates so they can get automated tickets just like motor vehicles" simply isn't it.

Bikes don't trigger current red light camera sensors - I've tried. The rate of crashes and traditional citations involving bicycles is absurdly low compared with motor vehicles. Red light cameras have no effect on unmonitored intersections, so we'd need a lot more of them.

An effective red light camera network for bicycles would require a new technology at an outrageously high cost, to accomplish a minor reduction in an already low statistic. An already very safe mode of transportation might become even safer, but at what price?

And that's without even considering the legislative and administrative costs of creating and maintaining the license plate system itself. If we're going to go to all that trouble, maybe the effort could be better spent on more creative and appropriate solutions that could have a more direct effect on everyone's travels through our fair city.

@DaveS:

An effective red light camera network for bicycles would require a new technology at an outrageously high cost, to accomplish a minor reduction in an already low statistic.

We spend a heck of a lot of money in this country soothing the ruffled feathers of middle-Americans who believe (rightly or wrongly) that someone's getting something they're not getting.

People get annoyed at cyclists for a couple of discrete activities: "weaving" and "slowing traffic down", which are not illegal, and several illegal things, such as riding on the sidewalks downtown, riding the wrong way and, probably first and foremost, disregarding traffic control devices. That single act probably infuriates more drivers to the point of irrational hatred. That just can't be good for cyclists. Why would anyone excuse it? It's plain wrong and it makes the streets a more dangerous place for everyone who cycles.

Why would anyone excuse it? It's plain wrong and it makes the streets a more dangerous place for everyone who cycles.

Because one might disagree with you. They might think the law is stupid and thus breaking it is not "plain wrong." They might disagree with the premise that their illegal behavior makes "streets a more dangerous place for everyone who cycles" which is an impossible claim to prove. In which case, they may be willing to excuse it. I don't think that is particularly unreasonable.

We as a society choose the laws through a democratic process, but once it's the law, it's the law whether or not you agree with it.

There are admittedly some laws that really are never enforced. It's a pretty good yardstick of stupid to have a law no one follows. This is not one of those laws. Everyone agrees that certain classes of road users, cars, should always follow traffic control devices. Not that it matters, but everyone but a subset of cyclists, probably less than a majority even of them, also agrees that all cyclists should also follow them. So your point fails even the stupid test.

I like the idea of more enforcement, based on actual danger (not revenue generation or spite).

Sometime Idahoing a red light is safer than waiting. Especially notice this in the suburbs, where many roads are actually designed to be more like highways, with ramps and slip lanes and high speeds. Far too easy to get sandwiched or just run down by a distracted or speeding or light-jumping driver. Likewise, low-use suburban sidewalks sometimes way safer than taking the lane in some instances and for lower-speed riders. Context matters.

I'd also like to suggest that perhaps some road names could be adjusted, so as to prevent possibly misconceptions. For example, I intend to petition the Greenbelt City council for a name change, in the name of accuracy and so the public would be less likely to be misled:

Whereas, Greenbelt Road is a six-lane road, which also includes on-off ramps, slip lanes, and multiple turn lanes;

Whereas, average vehicle speeds on Greenbelt Road typically exceed speed limits by a considerable margin;

Whereas, the design of Greenbelt Road encourages high-speed and aggressive driving maneuvers and lane changes, to the detriment of slower drivers, non-motorized vehicles, and pedestrians;

Be it resolved by the City of Greenbelt that Greenbelt Road, within the city limits and jurisdiction of the city government, shall be renamed "Greenbelt Speedway." The Greenbelt City Council by this action intends to clarify the status of the highway so slower-speed drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians are properly warned to the potential hazard of attempting to travel on or cross the highway.

@Greenbelt - the city council might actually go for that! I don't think SHA will though.

Purple -- SHA can keep the Route 193 designation.

It's a pretty good yardstick of stupid to have a law no one follows. This is not one of those laws.

See, here's where I disagree with you. There are laws that are very, very relevant to public safety. And yet, they're ignored universally: speed limits in residential neighborhoods, pedestrian right-of-way at crossings, etc, etc...

Of course, pedestrians and cyclists don't get a vote on *those* rules, because they don't apply. And drivers don't give a damn about those laws, because they transfer risk from drivers to non-drivers.

Now, for obvious reasons, if drivers ignored stop-signs and traffic lights, there would be carnage on the roadways. The reason drivers don't ignore traffic signals is that they would die in large numbers if they didn't.

Obviously that's not the case when people jay-walk or jay-bike.

All of that is kind of beside the point though: you obey the letter of the law at all times because you think you're accruing good-will for cyclists by behaving in an exemplary manner. I on the other hand do what keeps me safe, because I believe that behaving in an exemplary manner will score no points whatsoever.

If you break laws, a non-trivial percentage of drivers will resent you. If you don't break laws, an equally large non-trivial percentage of drivers will invent laws and resent you for breaking them. A driver with a perfect knowledge of the motor vehicle code and the rights of cyclists will still resent you, because you're transgressing "unwritten" cultural laws that have yet to be codified.

Resentment of bikes based on two main things in my opinion:

1. More bikes means drivers less able to multitask, must be more alert than before, and

2. Bike riders appear to be having fun and making decent time, while drivers are stuck in traffic.

Let's face it, no matter how many "luxuries" and distractions we engineer in to our cars, sitting in traffic is not very fun, especially when we've gone in debt to purchase the car in the first place, and since, in spite of that financial sacrifice, the car doesn't seem to be compensating for our perceived inadequacies after all (ie, buying a "big rig" like those guys on the TV ads didn't actually make one's rig any bigger).

We cannot control some reasons people dislike cyclists. We very much can and should control others. And I have to say, while it may or may not increase one's imminent risks to stop, carefully peruse the intersection and then proceed through, once one has accepted that traffic control devices do not apply to cyclists with the force of law, it very much is the irresistible temptation to cut the first two safety steps a little short, or to skip them entirely. I think most of us have seen the consequences of that.

@Will E, 230 people have been hit by drivers in DC just this year! My primary purpose is to stop the carnage, starting with the laws which people routinely break that cause the most deaths and injuries to others. My vision is for the streets to be safe enough for kids to ride bikes or walk to school.

If jaywalking and cyclists rolling through signals caused the same rate of deadly collisions as drivers running red lights and speeding, I would absolutely advocate for equally enforcing the appropriate laws.

I thank those who are willing to stand up and say enough is enough - with great horsepower and mass comes a great responsibility, and I believe that it *is* possible for drivers to do so responsibly.

Were it not for the fact that cyclists are out there calling for an increase in a type of enforcement which specifically excludes cyclists committing the exact same type of violation (red light running), I would have nothing to say to cyclists on the matter were you not all doing so. But since that is exactly what is taking place someone needs to call hypocrisy what it is.

A cyclist coming to a red light, stopping and going though it after they've confirmed no traffic is no less likely to cause an accident than a driver doing the same. Arguably if there is no other car, pedestrian, or bike then the risk of collision should be zero. Well not really, and its still the law, and that law, and also applies to cyclists. Yes, the cyclist is the most likely recipient of a fatal injury in their case so you can say "its my neck I'm risking"...... Yet we have seatbelt laws and helmet laws. Aside from that, what gives a cyclist the right to ruin someone else's life by using their car to commit suicide running a light in front of them when its not possible for them to stop? Plus, if a cyclist runs a red light, a driver may need to slam on the brakes or leave his lane to avoid him... that can be very dangerous. The fact that bikes are smaller than cars is no excuse.

There most certainly are types of photo ticketing which target "non dangerous" activites. There are places where it is used for parking violations(including DC) and HOV violations. Other cases include things like "stopping just past the white line" (red light cameras enforce such things in some Maryland towns now), violations well intentioned drivers can commit by accident or due to a small miscalculation of distance, and which studies have shown have only infinitesimal chances of contributing to an accident. The risk of a cyclist running a red light is NOT insignificant compared to such things, and I see cyclists run red lights more often than I see cars do it... even though cars greatly outnumber bikes. I'd say it'd be worth the while for DC to ticket cyclists for red light running if it is worth their while to ticket cars for 'crossing the white line', 'almost but not quite stopping before a right turn', and 'parking on street sweeper days' (which they now do).

If cyclists want photo ticketing they should want it for themselves as well. It really would be as easy as putting the same type of plate on a bike as would appear on a motorcycle or motorscooter. To object to this while calling for photo ticketing for cars is hypocrisy: you like not being accountable or traceable in the same way cars are. If you want to limit everyone else's right to due process and right to face their accuser (which is the effect of photo ticketing, and some do object to photo ticketing simply on that basis) you should be willing to do the same for yourself. MY rights (to due process/face accuser) are not for YOU to take away, and certainly not if you want to keep those same rights for yourself.

I would absolutely advocate for equally enforcing the appropriate laws.

This is something that should be done REGARDLESS of mode of travel.

I also agree with equal inforcement but as this is a discussion, I have a couple of questions.

Is there any country in the world that license plates and treats bicyles the same as cars?

Why not take it a step farther and just have everyone wear their social security number then we can use cameras on peds as well.

Will E, I don't see hypocrisy here. Erik is calling for more enforcement. Unfortunately almost all traffic enforcement in DC comes in the form of traffic cameras, and those cameras only catch drivers. That's hardly Erik's fault.

A cyclist coming to a red light, stopping and going though it after they've confirmed no traffic is no less likely to cause an accident than a driver doing the same

Not true. Cyclists can see more, hear more and are more maneuverable. That's why cyclists do this and drivers don't. It's not because drivers respect the law more.

I'd say it'd be worth the while for DC to ticket cyclists for red light running if it is worth their while to ticket cars for 'crossing the white line', 'almost but not quite stopping before a right turn', and 'parking on street sweeper days'

If the goal were to reduce illegal behavior you might be right. If the goal is to reduce dangerous behavior you're probably wrong.

It really would be as easy as putting the same type of plate on a bike as would appear on a motorcycle or motorscooter.

No. It wouldn't.

If you want to limit everyone else's right to due process and right to face their accuser (which is the effect of photo ticketing

The courts don't yet see it that way. No one wants to deny you of your constitutional rights. So far this doesn't qualify.

@Will E:

I understand your sentiment. And I also understand that there are folks who fervently believe that pedestrians should never jay-walk, and always cross at intersections.

Totally legitimate thing to believe, I just think it'll never happen, and as a behavior is almost entirely benign, and not worth society pursuing in even half-assed measures.

Just wanted to follow on with washcycles point: the reason that almost all enforcement in this area comes from red-light cameras and speed cameras, and is aimed entirely at auto traffic, is that the overwhelming majority of the population believes that auto traffic is *the* public safety problem that needs to be addressed. On occasion, you'll get a bunch of drivers calling for more enforcement of pedestrians jaywalking, or cyclists jay-biking. And the area police will make a show highly visible show of writing more tickets for a brief period. But the professionals understand you don't "equally enforce the laws". Otherwise we'd take half the homicide detectives in the city and make them "Litterbug Detectives".

Resources are finite.

"Cyclists can see more, hear more and are more maneuverable. That's why cyclists do this and drivers don't."
Yeah, this may be true, but it is irrelevant. The argument comes off as we are just special. Hell, we're saving humanity. And, after all, we're not arguing that it not illegal, but rather that enforcement should not apply to us.
Big difference...
As a bike commuter and rare driver, how do I disassociate myself from this arrogance?

It is relevant to his point that running red lights is just as dangerous on a bike as a car.

How do you disassociate yourself from imaginary arrogance? Like many problems of false perception, it's tough. I think I would just ask people why they think it's indicative of arrogance and then show them where they're wrong.

As a bike commuter and rare driver, how do I disassociate myself from this arrogance?

Frankly, these laws are in place to protect drivers from each other, and to protect non-drivers from drivers. The idea that a pedestrian who crosses mid block--or who jaywalks when there nary a car in sight--is an *arrogant* pedestrian is just silly.

thank goodness the bicyclespace guy is advocating for this!

he deserves a medal!

i will buy more from his store!!!
hooray!!!!

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