[Nothing on this blog should be confused for legal advice. I am not a lawyer, public official, or officer of the law. You, the reader, are liable for your own behavior and knowledge.]

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The General Rules

How should I behave around cyclists?

Overall, this is fairly simple. The better question is, How should[1] I treat this person if s/he were in an automobile? In general (and with a few exceptions that I'll get to in future posts), treat cyclists like cars. This does actually work both ways: you should expect bikes to behave like cars. If you see cyclists running a red light/stop sign or turning without signaling, by all means, report them! They're making the rest of us less safe. Contrary to most people's assumptions, roads were created not for cars but for vehicles. Bicycles are vehicles.

Here are three general rules to use when you encounter a cyclist on the road.
  1. Is what I am doing safe?
  2. Is what I am doing legal?[2]
  3. Is what I am doing courteous?
If you're about to do something unsafe, don't do it. If you think it's safe but it's illegal, don't do it. If you think it's both safe and legal but it is rude, don't do it. Always remember to be patient. You, as a motorist, are sitting in a climate controlled steel shell on a soft, cushy chair. That cyclist is sitting on a narrow saddle, exposed to the elements, working hard to better her- or himself. Have some compassion, and Give 'em a break!

[1] Should, not would. Most of us don't drive very well around other cars, but most of us know how we should behave.

[2] Yes, being legal is second to being safe. Never forget that the law exists to keep us collectively safe and secure. No law can predict every circumstance, though, which is why it is always better to bend the law if it means keeping oneself or others safe.

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