- Stop at intersections;
- Don't ride on sidewalks;
- Don't ride against traffic (especially on one-way streets); and
- Signal your turns;
Simply put, the question is this:
If bicycles are vehicles, prone to the rules of the road like cars, and fundamentally unlike pedestrians, should bicycle riders who use public rights-of-way be licensed to operate their vehicles?With no small amount of trepidation, I'm coming round more and more to the conclusion that we should be licensed. I think this solves two fundamental problems that otherwise show no clear way of being solved. These problems are:
- Lack of Skills Training: Many, many cyclists on the road are woefully unprepared, both physically and mentally, for dealing with traffic issues. They don't know how to recognize dangerous situations and how to avoid them. Any licensing program would have to have a concomitant skills development and testing program to justify the awarding of licenses.
- Lack of Moral Hazard: If I'm a driver, and I behave irresponsibly, then my license can be revoked, and I have to cease driving (at least if I want to obey the law). This threat of "points" has a strong effect of keeping my more animal impulses in check.
The question is, should bicyclists play offense or defense? There are those, uh, "colorful cyclist personalities" who insist on the right to play offense. They assert that in Europe cyclists are treated with far greater deference by motorists, and that's the way it should be here, dammit. I'm a pragmatist, and I believe in defense. Cars are big, hot, massive, dangerous. To assert that it "should be otherwise" is all very well, but it is what it is. Much as I like Europe, much as I've enjoyed cycling over there, the US is different. I say that for me, for here, defense is the game.
So, time for an informal, non-scientific survey. The Blogger system doesn't (at least as far as I have discovered) allow for a formalized survey system, so let's do an informal one. If you have read this far, please do me the favor of commenting on this blog post with a letter signifying one of the following survey preferences. Honor code, here; don't be casting multiple votes (I'm pretty sure I can delete multiple votes after the fact, anyway.) As I've implied above, this is primarily aimed as the US, so if you're voting from overseas, it would be helpful for you to say where you're located. Feel free to comment further, but start out your comment with one of the letters A through D:
Question: Should bicycle riders who use public rights-of-way be licensed to operate their vehicles?
- A. Yes; time to get serious; Particularly as the number of cyclists grow, it will make the roads safer for all of us.
- B. Partly; Require licensing for bicyclists using roads that have speed limits >= 30 mph. This will allow "family use" in suburban 25 mph zones.
- C. No; If we provide bike lanes, the safety problem will go away, except for those idiots who want to take crazy risks with their own necks.
- D. Hell, No; I demand the right to do as I please on a bike; I'm not a car and I shouldn't have to behave like one. We need the government out of our lives.