Op-Ed Piece Argues That Cyclists Should Get Off the Road
Too many cyclists don't know the rules of the road.
Here the author makes a very good point. Too many cyclists don't know the rules of the road, thereby endangering themselves and others, and making other cyclists look bad. Some cities have begun addressing this problem. For instance, Santa Cruz, California offers a bicycle traffic school for cyclists that have been ticketed for moving violations. Other cities, including Portland, have been making infrastructure and educational improvements to ensure that roadways are safer for all. There is no doubt that more efforts like these need to be initiated. All cyclists must know the rules of the road and follow them. Period.
Unlike drivers, cyclists are not required to have insurance, and if a cyclist causes an accident he or she may be unable to pay for damage to the car or driver.
This, too, is true: cyclists are not required to have insurance. However, in a collision between a motorist and a cyclist, the the cyclist usually bears the brunt of the damage, although there are exceptions. In cases where the cyclist is at fault and the accident causes damages to either the driver or the vehicle there is obviously a problem, but that's no reason to keep cyclists off the roads. As more cyclists get on the roads, policy makers, insurance companies and others will come up with new products and laws to meet the needs of cyclists.
The Bottom Line
Very simply, the roads are not, and never have been, only for cars. All taxpayers fund the construction and maintenance of roads, not just drivers. Drivers, and in particular their addiction to driving, had led to a vicious cycle in which cities are built around cars, making alternatives less attractive; if we had designed things differently then perhaps the car would not have been so important in the first place. Consider this: if cars were so absolutely necessary, why would GM have a 3 billion dollar marketing budget? But perhaps more importantly, cars are responsible for over 40,000 fatalities a year, as well as air pollution, obesity, unlivable cities, climate change, and addiction to foreign oil.
It is especially frustrating to hear that cars are an inevitable need when, in fact, it used to be that trolleys and buses were the norm. Cars didn't become "essential" until the automakers and oil companies bought up the trolley companies and put them out of business, and then convinced America that we needed cars (go see 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit" for more on this!). Cyclists are saving society money in so many ways, we should be doing everything we can do encourage more cyclists to get on the road.
No one is arguing that there aren't problems with the interaction between bicyclists and motorists (see my article on the matter: cyclists, motorists and the law). But those problems aren't reason for segregating cyclists from motorists; rather, they are reason for coming up with better laws, infrastructure and education to make sure that bicycles and cars can co-exist.
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