Thursday, January 6, 2011

A resolution

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has an online Resolution to Ride Responsibly that area cyclists can sign:

Please think about how you ride, your responsibility to yourself and other road users, and what you can do to help as a member of the bicycling community.

The pledge itself includes:

• I resolve to be a more responsible bicyclist
• I resolve to better respect the rights of other road users
• I resolve to make a good faith effort to better follow the law
• I resolve to yield to pedestrians
• I resolve to help make bicycling safer and easier for all of us

Sounds reasonable and welcome. I know some are irritated by it for various reasons, but not me. While I think I'm already a responsible rider, I'm signing because I'm all for encouraging a more civic-minded collective biking mentality in DC. We need to always strive to be a positive and collaborative part of the overall transit-scape.

Think of it as good cycling citizen-ship. All of us, to varying degrees, can do even better on these points. This could make the task of cycling advocacy easier during this pivotal time, and help defuse the kind of driver hostility that we know is out there, right or wrong.

No one's saying absolute, strict compliance, just as (for example) none of us stop fully at every stop sign when driving. Just make being a good biking citizen a goal and a habit as best you can. If you're already doing that, great.

Let's seduce with reasonableness, even in the face of irrationality.


  1. Well, no :). Of course there should be. That's what bothers some people, understandably, signing feels like apologizing to your tormentors.

    Obviously bikers aren't model citizens and neither are drivers. And of course drivers can kill us but not the other way around, so their transgressions carry more weight, literally :).

    But at the risk of pissing off some people, my sense is that there are still a significant number of North American cyclists who don't want to conform to traffic laws, bike lanes, to the growing civic mentality... For years they've been forced to improvise to survive and that's what they feel most comfortable with. I see them avoiding bike lanes seemingly deliberately. It would seem they are the ones that make drivers mad at all cyclists. I dunno, I could be wrong.

    As far as the resolution, I suppose you have to show a good faith effort to hold up cyclists' end of the bargain. Tackling the perceptions that are out there and are used against cycling. Then you're in a stronger position to insist drivers do the same. Seems that's the logic behind it anyway.

  2. I agree Bill. All road users need to be better behaved (generally speaking). But until bicycles become ingrained into our society, we will always have riders who disobey the rules. I think less rules would be broken if our infrastructure was more accommodating to bicyclists though.

    On the other hand, I used to think that bicyclists need to obey the rules to "earn" respect from motorists. But then I realized that it doesn't matter if all bicyclists obeyed every rule that exists. Many drivers will still hate bicyclists. It's a tactic/excuse that is used to delay any progress with respect to bicycles.

    Having said that, I obey most rules. I generally only break rules when I feel my safety is at risk. I will ride on sidewalks when I'm way out in the suburbs with cars driving 80+km/h. I also make illegal left turns on busy streets (I turn through the pedestrian crossing). I can't tell you how many close calls I've had while doing "legal" left turns, so I don't bother with that on busy streets anymore. I also use the sidewalk when I'm walking my dog beside my bike.

    Other than that, I stop for all the reds, I slow down more than most drivers do at quiet 4-way stops, etc, etc.