Wednesday, April 15 2009 @ 07:55 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Posted by: John Forester on Chainguard
Date: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:58 am ((PDT))
The issue regarding control of lanes by cyclists, precisely stated, is:
1: Cyclists should have the same legal right of lane control as other
drivers of vehicles. This can be called the slow vehicle law case.
2: Cyclists should be assumed to have no right to control lanes, but
must always act to allow the easiest overtaking by any potential faster
traffic, unless failure to control the lane is dangerous. This can be
called the Far To the Right law case.
That's the issue.
2.1: The FTR case has been public policy for decades, and it has been
supported by three arguments:
2.1.1: Cyclists are not capable of obeying the normal rules of the road,
and therefore are endangered if they don't stay at the edge of the
roadway. This is an assertion based on the notion that cyclists are
young children, who are assumed to be safe only if they stay at the edge
of the roadway. Both parts are false. Most roadway cyclists are not
young children, but are sufficiently old to obey the normal rules of the
road. Furthermore, roadway cycling safety requires that cyclists often
operate away from the edge of the roadway, so that those who do not know
how to do this safely are endangered. Cyclists need to be trained to
2.1.2: Having cyclists operate at the edge of the roadway keeps them
safe from fast traffic. This argument assumes that fast motorists will
always leave sufficient room at the edge of the roadway to accommodate
bicycle traffic, which is false, and it exonerates motorists who are so
careless that they drive right into slower vehicles, which is seriously
2.1.3: Having cyclists operate at the edge of the roadway, despite the
exceptions for safety, will produce less delay to motorists than
allowing cyclists to operate as drivers of vehicles. This argument is
very weak. The only condition in which the cyclist's lateral position on
the roadway might be changed to allow a motorist, who has no other safe
choice than to stay behind the cyclist, to safely overtake, is if the
cyclist is using a lane that is wider than standard. If the lane is
standard-width or narrow, which is the typical case, the cyclist can do
nothing to make safe overtaking possible within that lane. Only if the
cyclist is operating in a wide outside lane, might there be adequate
width for safe overtaking. Only in the limited case when there is
adequate width in the outside lane for safe overtaking, does the FTR law
require that the cyclist stay far right to facilitate overtaking by
faster traffic. That is all the advantage that the FTR law can provide.
2.2: The FTR case has been public policy for decades, and it has
produced the following ill effects:
2.2.1: The public belief that staying at the edge of the roadway is both
necessary and sufficient for cyclist safety persuades cyclists that they
should not leave the edge of the roadway and, therefore, would not
benefit from better knowledge and skill in operating according to the
rules of the road.
2.2.2: Motorists believe that there is always room for cyclists to move
aside safely, simply because the FTR law says that there is.
2.2.3:Some motorists believe that the FTR law expresses the right of
motorists to always travel faster than bicycles, that bicycle traffic is
prohibited from slowing down motor traffic.