Image credit: Richard Masoner, used under Creative Commons license.
We already know the single most important tip for staying safe on a bike, but there are other issues too. When I asked whether biking and phoning should be banned, it unsurprisingly stirred up some pretty heated debate. Lloyd's follow up survey on bikes and cell phone use also prompted some strong responses, and the debate continued over on our Facebook page too. So what do our readers think about the issue?Bike vs Car: Equality Means Responsibility
Many, like commenter Glenn, felt that as long as cyclists demand equal rights on the road, then they need to share equal responsibility too:
I support banning phone use while riding (on public roads) as much as I do for drivers of an automobile(on public roads). The sooner car drivers accept the fact that they are driving deadly machines and need to pay attention to the road, & the sooner cyclists accept that they are riding with these deadly machines and need to pay attention as well, the sooner I think our streets will become.
Emmy was of a similar mindset, but emphasized that a ban on driving and phoning would have to be in force before anything was done about cyclists:
As soon as they ban driving and phoning, they should do the same for bicyclists. Not before.
Bikes Are Less Dangerous
Others, like dr2chase felt that because bikes are less of a threat to others on the road, their users should not have to live by the same rules as those in heavier, faster and more deadly vehicles (this argument has been made before about biking drunk and cyclists riding through stop signs too):
A cellphone is a distraction no matter what you are doing; the question is, what is the risk, and how much of that risk is imposed on other people? A pedestrian texting away and walking into a fountain almost no risk to other people; a bicycle is slightly more dangerous (moves faster); a car, moving faster yet, and weighing ten times as much, is quite a large risk. Cars are dangerous, and require special restrictions for their use. People need to get it through their heads that it's not about the iPod, or the cellphone, or the texting -- it's about the car.
Evidence Should Come Before Legislation
And then there were those, like Richard Campbell, who simply argued that we already have proof of driving and calling being a problem, but until we have similar evidence about bikes we should not confuse the two:
This is really tiresome. Laws should be based on actually evidence that something is really dangerous. There have been extensive studies that have proven driving and talking on a phone are really dangerous. Unless you can point to research proving the same for cycling and phoning, please lets drop the subject.
Biking & Calling: Facebook Users Chime In
The discussion really kicked up a notch on our Facebook page, with a similarly diverse set of opinions. Some, like Brian May, just felt this was one more example of government meddling in the affairs of others:
But seriously, does there really need to be another law that will go largely ignored. More importantly does government really need to be regulating yet another aspect of peoples lives when they themselves do not follow these laws?
Others, like Hudson Nin, reminded us that cyclists can injure others too:
I am a road cyclist and see other cyclists on their phones a lot. Any time someone is out in public on wheels and not paying attention, there is the possibility of injuring someone. It doesn't just affect the rider.
Bike Callers Speak Out
Then, of course, there were those like Distracto who confessed to biking and talking all the time, and felt that there was a non issue here:
I TALK WHILE BIKING ALL THE TIME. not sure if you knwo about this ladies and gents, but there's something called earbuds, When I am on my bike i listen to music (and over 90% of my ride is on bike only paths) i usually have my headphones on playing tunes on my iphone (yes yes yes.. when i leave the bike trails and hit the streets i take out the right ear bud to hear the street sounds). And when someone calls me, i touch one button on the ear buds and start talking... again over 90% of my bike commute is on non-car bike lanes. but still I have no more distraction while doing this than talking to a friend while on a bike ride...
It looks unlikely we'll come to any kind of consensus soon. Like so many things, there is a balance to be had between personal responsibility, freedom and common sense on the one hand, and law, order and public safety on the other. Whatever your views on the legal aspect though, I think most folks would agree that it makes sense to stop and talk whenever possible. After all, as Jenni Deck put it, "if you can talk & ride you aren't riding hard enough."
More on Biking and Road Safety
Should Cyclists Be Allowed to Go Through Stop Signs?
The One Tip for Staying Safe on a Bike
Should Biking and Phoning Be Banned?
Survey: Should Biking and Phoning Be Banned?