Streetcode Proposes New Rules for the Road - Heaviest Vehicle Bears the Weight of Responsibility

Heaviest Vehicle Bears Weight photo

Photo Julia Fullerton-Batton via Foxtongue @ flickr.

There is a highway code - a set of expected rules, best practices, and behaviors when manipulating your vehicle on those long ribbons of public road. There isn't, as of yet, much of a corresponding city street code - a set of guidelines that help walkers, bikers, scooter, truck, and car drivers - maneuver the streets of a city in a safe and (as important) polite way. New mobility consultant and WorldStreets editor Eric Britton is proposing the street code start with a fairly simple rule.

Respect Courtesy Compliance graphic
The biggest vehicle bears the burden of responsibility, and in the case of an accident, also the burden of proving innocence. If streets are for cars, as Britton says, than there isn't much need for this type of street code.

But if streets are multiple use vias (and in the U.K. 12 towns are adopting the 'shared space concept' to improve quality of life) where cars are just one player, Britton says:

"The idea responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means the driver that hits the cyclist has to prove his innocence."

The idea of a street code is not entirely new, but is starting to gain a little more traction as city planners think about designing streets on more of a shared use model.

Lest you think this seems utopian and far-fetched, in Belgium the insurance company automatically pays damages in collisions between cyclists or pedestrians and motor vehicles, no matter who’s at fault, according to a document on street codes on Livable Streets. Via: World Streets
Note: Graphic adapted by John Brooks via Livable Streets.
Read more about complete streets and shared streets
Watch for Bike Signs Not So Helpful
Taking Back the Streets: Cyclist Memorials
The Time Has Come for Complete Streets
Cyclists and Pedestrians Were Jerks in 1908, Too
The Amazing High-Tech Crosswalk Makes Pedestrians Safer

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