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Tuesday, July 26 2016 @ 12:38 AM UTC


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Biking Elsewhere[B'Spokes: Previously l have been critical of LAB's involvement in this case but now it looks like that they are doing something, which is a good thing. Now don't take this the wrong way but I still would love to see more public service announcements that put to shame the kind of thinking behind the charges against Schill. And I'll take this time to give a special thanks to the Eldersburg police who rode behind me on Route 26, l assume for my safety when they could have been like the police in Schill's case and ticketed me. There are two ways police to react to something they perceive as unsafe, they can improve everyone's safety or start handing out tickets. We need to encourage more of the former!]
by Ken McLeod, Bike League

imageThis week, my colleague, Steve Clark, wrote about his experience riding with Cherokee Schill and the conditions she faces while biking to work in Kentucky. As he detailed, she confronts numerous difficulties while riding and faces both official and unofficial harassment for riding in the road.

Her fight for her right to road reflects our society’s decisions about how we create roads, how we create laws for those roads, and the culture of safety we choose to create for our roadways.

So what's the legal background for her fight? And are their signs of hope for Kentucky’s future? Keep reading...

The Legal Problem with Bikes in Kentucky

imageKentucky, like several other states, does not provide clear rules for bicyclists, or the motorists who share the road with bicyclists. The basic problem is that Kentucky does not address bicycles as their own type of vehicle — and this leads to rules that are not made for the situations that bicyclists actually face.

A bicycle in Kentucky is a vehicle, because the Kentucky Statute that defines "vehicle" does not exclude those propelled by muscular power. However, a bicycle is never actually defined in the Kentucky Statutes or Administrative Regulations that create Kentucky’s traffic laws.

While a bicycle in Kentucky is not defined as a motor vehicle, it is required to operate in the same manner as a motor vehicle with three limitations. But, unlike 48 other states, Kentucky does not give a bicycle rider the rights of an operator of the vehicle they must behave like.

How does failing to address bicycles as their own type of vehicle affect bicyclists in Kentucky?

One of the major differences between Kentucky and other states is that it doesn't have a law that tells bicyclists specifically where to ride. Instead, as in five other states, bicycles are treated as slow-moving vehicles. This by itself isn't necessarily problematic — but it does have practical repercussions.

In states where laws dictate where bicyclists are supposed to ride the vast majority provide numerous exceptions to the requirement to ride to the right. These exceptions help to remove interpretation about what is as far right as “practicable” and give bicyclists a positive right to move left (into or further into the travel lane) when facing common situations such as the need to make a left turn, hazardous road conditions, narrow traffic lanes, and right turn only lanes. You can find out more about these laws and common features in my Bike Law University article on Where to Ride laws.

In Kentucky the slow-moving vehicle statute (Kentucky Revised Statute [KRS] 189.300) does not reflect the situations that bicyclists face. In fact, it does not give a slow-moving vehicle, including a bicycle, any situation in which it is okay to move left — other than it not being “practicable” to keep to the right-hand boundary of the highway. This “practicable” standard leaves a lot of discretion to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, who may not understand safe cycling practices or believe that bicyclists should be treated with the same respect as other road users.

In Kentucky, the slow moving vehicle statute is especially problematic for bicyclists for two reasons:

  1. It requires bicyclists to keep to the right-hand boundary of the “highway,” which includes the entire right of way. In 43 other states, bicyclists are required to keep to the right of a “roadway,” “way,” or “highway” that excludes portions of the right of way, typically the berm, shoulder, sidewalks, or portions not ordinarily used for vehicle travel. This creates a situation where officials interpreting the law can find that what is “practicable” pushes bicyclists out of the travel lanes.
  2. The Kentucky Administrative Regulations for bicycles (601 KAR 14:020) permit bicycles to be operated on the shoulder of a highway and require bicycles to use bicycle lanes, where marked. While it isn't bad that bicyclists are given the opportunity to use the shoulder of a highway, this helps create the conditions for interpretations of the law that require the use of the shoulder.

A bicyclist, like Cherokee Schill, who chooses to not use the shoulder, is forced to identify why the shoulder was not “practicable” to use even, though it is within the right-hand boundary of the highway and a place that a bicyclist explicitly can ride. Bicyclists must also fight the idea that a shoulder is set aside for their use, and not the use of motor vehicles, just like the bike lanes they're required to use when they are marked. This is a difficult task and without exceptions to the “practicable” requirement the court does not have to accept that the existence of a particular condition, like a debris-filled shoulder, made the use of that shoulder not “practicable.”

Making laws that recognize bicycles as their own type of vehicle allows legislatures, or the officials who make traffic law regulations, to recognize the conditions actually faced by bicyclists. In Kentucky, Cherokee Schill is caught fighting laws that did not anticipate her situation and do not give clear guidance to the officials interpreting them. We can only hope that her appeal goes well and that Kentucky enables safe cycling going forward.

A Failure of Laws and Culture

Cherokee Schill was also convicted of violations of KRS 189.290, which requires vehicles to be operated “in a careful manner, with regard for the safety and convenience of … other vehicles upon the highway.” She was convicted for taking the lane, rather than riding as far to the right of the highway as “practicable,” and prioritizing her safety. By charging Schill, and not the motor vehicles that erratically react to her or harass her, the officials of Jessamine County are prioritizing the convenience of motorists over the safety of bicyclists.

It's both a legal and a cultural failure that we have laws, and enforcement, which prioritize the safety and convenience of motor vehicles over the safety and convenience of bicyclists and other persons who are more vulnerable than the occupants of motor vehicles with whom they share the road.

What happens next?

For Schill, she has an upcoming appeal of her convictions for failing to ride as far right as “practicable” under KRS 189.300 and for failing to operate her vehicle carefully under KRS 189.290.

For Kentucky, there is a proposed amendment to 601 KAR 14:020, which would substantially deal with the issues brought up by Schill’s case. The two major statutes at issue in her case have not been updated since 1942 and the regulations have not been updated since 1994. The proposed amendment could be better, but it is a reasonable first step.

The League is sending a letter in support of the amendment to the members of the Kentucky Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee, which has postponed considering the amendment until Schill’s case is resolved.

Stay tuned for another post tomorrow, from League President Andy Clarke, on what's next...
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Cycling community, policy experts call recent bike safety report ‘misleading’ and ‘baloney’

Biking Elsewhere[B'Spokes: To many think that cycling is dangerous and go out of their way to look for things to back up their point of view (conformation bias). This is even more disturbing from "professionals".]
By Shaun Courtney, Urbanful

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety , raised the specter of an upward trend in the number of bicycle fatalities in the U.S. But critics have been quick to note that the report fails to consider the overall increase in cycling and the downward trend in the rate of fatalities.

Cycling advocates and academic experts in urban planning and policy quickly heaped criticism on the GHSA report, calling it everything from “baloney” to “junk science” to “deliberately misleading.” Ouch.

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Police out of control: It's illegal to walk on a residential street when there is no sidewalk

Biking Elsewhere[B'Spokes: I'm sure the charge &quot;blocking traffic&quot; is familiar to cyclists, now it is being applied to pedestrians on residential street with no sidewalks.]
&quot;In Tuesday's incident, officers were patrolling the 500 block of Dunn Street off Old Bainbridge Road shortly after 5 p.m., DeLeo said in the news conference.

Several people were walking in the street but moved out of the way when another officer drove past them. They walked back into the street behind behind the officer, who then pulled over and approached them. Police reports say the people were blocking traffic.&quot;

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This school has bikes instead of desks - and it turns out a better way to learn

Biking Elsewhere&quot;While some elementary schools no longer have recess, and people like New Jersey Governor Chris Christy argue that school days should be longer, a few schools are already moving in a different direction. Some are testing outstanding desks, and realizing that a little bit of activity can actually improve attention spans Others, like Ward Elementary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are starting to fill classrooms with exercise bikes, so students can work out while they learn.&quot;

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How to Decide If You Can Live Without a Car

Biking ElsewhereBy Eric Ravenscraft, Life Hacker

Cars are a way of life in the US (and around the world). While most of us enjoy the freedom they offer, their costs can be a burden on the budget. Not everyone can live without that red mark in the ledger, but we'll help you find out if you might be a candidate.

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GHSA's sensational report

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: The WashCycle dissects the Governors Highway Safety Association report that cycling fatalities are up but while true is misleading along with other info from the report.

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"We have chosen not to actively support Cherokee Schill's case" - LAB

Biking ElsewhereLAB's response here: <a href=""></a>;

B' Spokes: Let's say there are a range of responses we could expect expect from LAB, I am fully sympathetic as to why LAB has not cranked it up to 11 on this case but zero support? OK maybe one on the scale, as they did do a nice blog post on riding with Schill. But still we have all faced harassment from motorist and there are too many police officers who seem to think the cyclist is always at fault no mater what. The attitudes behind this case are universal and should be addressed.

If gun safety was like bicycle safety, it would be illegal to stand in front of a gun.

What is needed is a change of attitudes, a public relation campaign if you would. It is not right that the fastest mode of travel has the unspoken &quot;right&quot; not to be delayed in the slightest even though they could easily make up that delay but slower modes of transportation should not mind going even slower. Half hour or loner detours, no problem since they were going slow to begin with. :/

Next can you imagine the Climate Change folks saying, &quot;Climate Change right now only adversely affects polar bears so there is no national concern and we will take no action.&quot; Or the Anti-Fracking groups going &quot;Fracking only has a local effect so there is no national concern so we will take no action.&quot; So why are we allowing LAB to basically say the same thing? This is not so much about winning a court case which will have very little impact on all of us no mater which way it goes but about changing societies thoughts about cars and bicycle riders. Cars won the world over in the 1960's and we are seeing all the collateral damage their preponderance has done. We need a national organization to help reverse this trend and not keep on ignoring it every time it crops up!

Even if they looked at as a found opportunity for example if they did something like &quot;Join now and we'll contribute $5 to Schill's defense fund.&quot; That would have been a heck of a lot better than never mentioning she needed help raising money to defend our rights to the road. I am trying to say there are lots of opportunities for LAB to do more than what it is currently doing, LAB trying to defend their actions is too much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving just recommending a good doctor after you got ran over by a drunk driver but refusing to do more because of no national concern.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
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Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: I try to be a polite cyclist by going out of my way to find routes where I will be the least bother to motorists but once and a while I have to take the lane on a car centric street, not all that different from Cherokee Schill. Well OK most of the time when I do it, it's a much shorter distance and not every day but still I would love to see LAB support cyclists right to use public roads. I sort of understand why they have not done so in the past (while I don't know for sure this is my guess) in advocacy circles there is such a thing as the &quot;unsympathetic character&quot; so if you have an arrogant cyclist who thinks they own the road...

Gawd, that is such a loaded summary, it is a lot like &quot;Have you stopped betting your wife?&quot;, trying to defend that just gets you deeper into trouble. My point here is it is not the &quot;unsympathetic character&quot; that is at issue here but the &quot;unsympathetic framework&quot; that we are forced to work our way out of that is the issue. And that framework has to go! And it would be lovely if LAB would finally take up cyclists right to use the public roadway. So if you know someone at LAB please mention politely that you would love to see LAB involved in this case.

In this article it goes into someones first time riding this road and their trials in trying to be a polite cyclist on the return trip.]
by Steve Clark, Bike League

I used to think I was about as fearless and empowered as any cyclist out there. Then I rode with Cherokee Schill.

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It’s Happening: Washington State Revises Traffic Forecasts to Reflect Reality

Biking Elsewhere

by Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

Washington State has revised traffic projections downward, to reflect changing patterns. Image: Washington State via Sightline

The Washington State Office of Fiscal Management has revised its traffic projections downward to reflect changing patterns. Graph Washington OFM via Sightline 

The amount that the average American drives each year has been declining for nearly a decade, yet most transportation agencies are still making decisions based on the notion that a new era of ceaseless traffic growth is right around the corner


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Portland Shows How to Get More Bang for Your Traffic Safety Buck

Biking Elsewhere

Three road diets in Portland have prevented a total of 252 collisions. Image: Bike Portland

Three road diets in Portland have prevented a total of 525 collisions. Graphic: Bike Portland

State DOTs like to justify hugely expensive highway-widening projects, like Milwaukee’s $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange, partly on the grounds of safety. But if we really want to get a big bang for our transportation safety buck, fixing city streets makes a lot more sense.

Michael Andersen at Bike Portland reports that three local road diets completed between 1997 and 2003 cost a combined total of just $500,000 and have prevented more than 500 collisions:


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