Bicycles Are Vehicles Too
Why are so many bicycle riders jerks? They drift into the car lanes without looking, they don’t stop at stop signs the way cars and trucks are required to do, and if there is more than one of them riding together they often ride side by side forcing cars to veer dangerously towards the left into the oncoming lane. Many of them possess an attitude that almost dares you to run them down. On more than one occasion I have been seriously tempted to do just that, heaven forgive me (and I’m pretty sure they would).
A snotty bicycle rider posted this open letter to motorists on a blog recently: “I don’t ride in a majority of the bike lanes in the area, and you can’t make me. No matter how much you aggressively honk or yell in your harassing attempts at trying to spread your beliefs of where cyclists should and shouldn’t be, I’m staying where I can legally be and want to be at. And, more importantly, just because there’s the addition of a bike lane on a street, it doesn’t mean that all the other lanes are suddenly reserved exclusively for cars now, and that I and other cyclists are required to use that bike lane.” That expresses the arrogant attitude so prevalent with bicycle riders today toward people in cars.
You can’t win with them. By virtue of the fact that you are behind the wheel of a 4,000 pound car, you are automatically the villain, the bully. They are the environmentally correct green healthy ones in their spandex outfits; you are the big fat brutish road hog belching out dirty carbon emissions that are polluting the world. It’s like smokers versus nonsmokers. Because they feel that they have taken the environmentally superior high ground, you in the car should always yield to them.
Once or twice when on a narrow street where there is oncoming traffic I’ve had a bicycle rider drift into my lane (without ever looking, of course) causing me to jam on my brakes and slow down so as not to collide with him. And if I dare to even tap lightly on the horn to alert the rider, chances are he will respond by giving me that international sign of the road, the lovely middle finger.
There was a time when autos ruled the streets, but no more. Special bicycle lanes are common all across the country now, taking up space that once was a traffic lane. New traffic rules have been written favoring bicycle riders over automobiles. And as in so many other wonderful ways, my progressive state of California is at the forefront of these new rules.
A bill requiring drivers to give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance when passing was signed into California law recently by Gov. Jerry Brown. Promoted by the California Bicycling Coalition (Yes, there is such a thing as a California Bicycle Coalition) as “Give Me 3,” Assembly Bill 1371 was authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford of Gardena. Its official name is the Three Feet for Safety Act.
The old law required drivers to pass while keeping at a “safe distance,” but that wasn’t good enough so the new law establishes exactly what that distance is: 3 feet. The city of Los Angeles sponsored the bill pushed by a growing bicycle activist community and liberal politicians. Now it is state law.
The law requires drivers who pass cyclists from behind to keep their vehicles 3 feet away. If traffic or roadway conditions prevent motorists from giving cyclists a full 3 feet of clearance, drivers must “slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent” and only pass when the cyclist will not be endangered. The bicyclist has no responsibilities whatsoever and can force motor traffic to inch along behind him.
There are many streets where it is a physical impossibility to allow for 3 feet of clearance between the bike and the car, it just can’t be done. So in that case, according to the new law, the car has to slow down and follow behind the bike rider down the narrow street. That should make for a nice steady flow of traffic, don’t you think? Violations are punishable by a $35 base fine which comes to $154 with additional fees. Drivers who collide with cyclists and injure them while violating the law will be subject to a $220 fine. The law is slated to take effect Sept. 14, 2014.
California law requires bicyclists to use roadways and obey all traffic rules, including stopping at red lights and traveling in the same direction as traffic, but they don’t always do that. They are required to be on the right side of the roadway unless they are making a left turn, but more and more bicycle riders are peddling in all lanes, weaving in and out as motorcyclists do.
Bicycles are motor vehicles without the motor. Since bicyclists are now utilizing our traffic lanes just as motorists do, it’s only fair they should be required to pay vehicle registration and licensing fees, which go to highway taxes for road maintenance just as motorists have to. Why should motorists be totally responsible for street repairs? Bicycle riders are sharing the same streets and roads as cars, they should pay up. Or get out of the streets.