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Monday, February 21, 2011

Cyclists should set the pace for being a good example

By  Rick Price, Ph.D.
First Published in the Coloradoan February 21, 2011

 I sometimes hear from readers who think I focus too much on the rights of bicyclists and not on their
responsibilities.

As one reader recently wrote: "I am totally against the buffoons who do not follow the rules, cross the
street against traffic without the signal, cross in front of traffic just because there is a small break in
traffic, wear dark clothing on a dark street after dark, cyclists without lights" and so on.

I agree. So here's one for the "buffoons" out there. If you know one, please pass this along.

Dear fellow bicycle rider:

The Washington, D.C., Area Bicyclist Association, or WABA, adopted a New Year's resolution making
2011 the Year of the Bicycle. They invited every bicyclist in D.C., Maryland and Virginia to sign the
following resolution:

In 2011:
> I resolve to be a more responsible bicyclist.
> I resolve to better respect the rights of other road users.
> I resolve to make a good faith effort to better follow the law.
> I resolve to yield to pedestrians.
> I resolve to help make bicycling safer and easier for all of us.

The resolution was signed by 757 cyclists. That's not many.

Admittedly, WABA had some pushback from its membership. Not everyone agreed to sign the ride
responsibly petition. One member said he could not "imagine how WABA thinks it is going to change
cyclist behavior on these points. This probably will happen about the same time motorists never exceed
the speed limit by a single mile per hour or always signal when they are changing lanes."

 When I teach bike safety to kids in local schools, we talk about rules. Even the kindergartners understand
the concept of rules of the road and agree it would be tough to have a football game where one team is
required to follow the rules and the other is allowed to make up their own. They agree this game wouldn't be fair (or fun) for anyone.

So, fellow cyclist think about this as you run that red light or as you race past pedestrians ("walkers"
as the kindergartners call them) in the crosswalk: As minority road users and as the more vulnerable
road users, we need to bite the bullet and set the example. Maybe by adopting these resolutions we
will inspire motorists to join us in practicing correct rules of the road, like yielding to cyclists when we
"take the lane" because it is too narrow to share, coming to a full stop at stop signs on the commute
to work, not exceeding the speed limit, signaling when we change lanes and watching for bikes when
pulling out of alleys, driveways and secondary streets and when opening car doors.


As for those on sidewalks and trails - pedestrians are the more vulnerable users. They have the right
of way. Always. Even the kindergartners understand that rule.


Vote for or against the WABA resolution in the side column of this blog (at the top of the column).

1 comment:

OrcaSister said...

You know, I've been to my place of worship this week, so no, I don't think I need to make a public profession of guilt.
The pledge (more responsible bicyclist, better respect the right of other road users, better follow the law) doesn't apply to me. Sorry, but I'm a mature, respectful cyclist and have been for a few decades now.