Justin: You are right on in your comments below! Definitely, cyclists need
at least the rights of the manure spreader which you mention.
The rights and responibilities of drivers (including farm tractor
operators) with respect to other vehicles is already well defined including
penalities for not obeying the laws. The problem in VT is that the bicycle
is not classifed as a vehicle and doesn't have these rights and protections.
As I understand the battle for cycling rights over the last 30 years, the
goal is to get the bicycle classified in the law as a vehicle. Then the
law enforcement would have the means to penalize law breakers. In addition,
it would be much easier to educate the general public about the rights of
cyclists if the rights were well defined.
As long as a bicycle is considered to be a child's toy, as you noted, it is
very difficult to establish rights, penalties, etc. Vermont is in the dark
ages in this area.
At 06:04 AM 9/3/99 -0400, you wrote:
Too many of our cycling laws are still written with
the antiquated perception that only children ride bicycles.
I agree to some extent that "we need to adjust our
actions to fit the world". However, if that had been the prevailing mood
in our country in 1775, today we'd be singing "God Save the Queen", instead
of "The Star-
And speaking of the U.S, it's not just the world that is the problem.
I've had friends who've raced in Europe, and all were
impressed by the courtesy with which cyclists are
treated on the road there, relative to the U.S. My own
experience in Quebec has been similar, and I'd be
interested in other peoples' input on this.
Are American motorists the least "cycle conscious"?
Or does the typical American driver believe that
their rights are being infringed by the necessity of
slowing down or passing?
Some motorists have a pavlovian reaction to a cyclist, no matter how fast
the cyclist is going. On several occasions in this year alone, I have been
passed on a fast descent, only to have the driver put on the brakes
immediately after getting by me.
"Pass the cyclist" seems to override the more sane
perception of "there's a turn coming, so be careful".
The fact that a motorist can strike a bicyclist who
has the right of way, then get off without so much
as a ticket, borders on the absurd. What if the victim
had been a pedestrian?
Cyclists should have the same rights on the road as a
manure spreader, even though we tend to go faster
and be easier to pass. Some of the reasons we're
at risk are:
* We're not as big as the other guy
* We're less visible
* The other guy may be conditioned not to see us, as John says
* The other guy may be careless (or drunk)
* The other guy may not be conscious of the cyclist's speed
* The other guy may be in a hurry
* The other guy may be a bully
It's time for cycling laws to focus more on the
responsibility of "the other guy". Cyclists pay taxes
too, and our rights on the road should reflect this.
I also believe that cyclists should be ticketed for breaking the law, even
if it means more interval training for two-wheel cops.
Good ride last night, Tom!
Dale L. Critchlow 802-656-2537
Research Professor FAX-656-3358
317 Votey Building [log in to unmask]
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405-0156