Friday, June 15, 2012

Revised Bicycle Laws: On Running Red Lights

Councilors, I thank Rex Rolfing for acknowledging that he receives e-mail.

I have little doubt that some of you share in the general public sentiment that so few riders actually follow the law why does it matter that we adjust the laws we have in place? Much of that sentiment is likely based on the number of riders you know of or hear of that ride through red lights.

I also have little doubt in the past you’ve heard from motorcyclists that your traffic signals don’t detect their motorcycles; they need a law that will allow them to ride through unchanging red lights. You’ve long denied them this opportunity.

Here are two key differences between motorcycles and bicycles:

1. Because of their additional size, motorcycles are far more likely to be detected at actuated signals than bicycles.

2. There is not a city ordinance for motorcycles that says, “Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” City ordinance section 10-34.

Because there is city ordinance that says all people driving bicycles have all the rights of drivers of any other vehicle; because as citizens we all have a right to working and functioning traffic control devices. Because the problem of traffic control devices that fail to detect bicycles is a systemic problem. I believe the city runs afoul of its own ordinance.

The systemic failure to detect bicycles is like driving behind a person with their left foot on the brake pedal. With their brake lights on all the time the existence of their brake lights means nothing. It’s no wonder so many riders don’t stop for red lights that will never change to green.

Here is your chance – in an orderly and standardized fashion - to decriminalize the bicycle riding citizens of the city – and in fact to decriminalize the city itself.

It was interesting to me to learn in the informational meeting the city is also running afoul of the law with the placement of sharrows on the left side of the roadway on Main and Dakota Avenues. It would appear the rules for bicycles on the road are so murky not even your own roadway experts can operate within the law.

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