Wednesday, April 15 2009 @ 07:55 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
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. or
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 operate properly.
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 unlawful behavior.
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.