Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Art of the Practicable

Possible - that may or can be, exist, happen, be done, be used, etc.: a disease with no possible cure.

Practicable - capable of being done, effected, or put into practice, with the available means; feasible: a practicable solution.

Nuance - a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.


A few posts ago I said I'd write about The Mom calling me out about my bicycling related radio appearance. The radio show is old news but the topic remains relevant, so here we go.

The question put to The Officer related to where on the roadway is it appropriate for a bicycle to be ridden. The Officer, ostensibly summed up the law with this common interpretation:
the laws says a bicycle must be ridden as far to the right as possible.
I was going to interrupt to point out that what looks possible to an automobile driver is different from what looks possible from a bicycle seat. I didn't because I'd been threatened with the cutting off of the microphone and I'd already received an eye roll for interjecting clarity to what The DJ meant by “him running into a cyclist.” In this case "running into" = "happened upon."

I should have interrupted. The officer was wrong about what the law says.

A more accurate summation is:
the law says a bicycle must be ridden as far to the right as practicable.
But that's nuance. Who’s got time for nuance anymore?


robert said...

It might be more worthwhile to actually quote the law: for example, in Washington - "Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway or highway other than a limited-access highway, which roadway or highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near to the left side of the left through lane as is safe. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway may use the shoulder of the roadway or any specially designated bicycle lane if such exists." RCW 46.61.770

robert said...

Sorry, hit publish before preview -

Actually, the difference between 'practicable' and 'possible' isn't nuanced. Practicable implies safety, rider capability, road/debris conditions, traffic constraints such as lane closures or reductions. Possible could be interpreted to negate any condition that may affect a bicycle but not necessarily a motor vehicle.

For the amount of time that a bike might impede traffic at an intersection, I usually look at what a motorcycle would do to 'take the lane' to promote their own safety as a guide.

Anonymous said...

OK Robert, you want to put your last two posts into recognizable English instead of LawerSpeak?

mytzpyk said...

"Practicable implies..." - I stand by my use of nuance and acknowledge that I shouldn't've implied it defines the difference between practicable and possible.

On the air I immediately wanted to apply nuance to possbile. The Mom helped me discover I should have corrected the word possible to practicable - and then applied nuance to that.

Quoting the whole law might work in court, it doesn't work in 10 minutes of air time. Apparently it doesn't work in blog comments either.

Finally, the law matters little to an officer or driver who "knows" a cyclist ought to ride as far right as possible.