Driver Education: 'Bicyclists are a Source of Danger'

Today's tangent comes by way of Commute By Bike's article:

Ted Johnson makes a point and maybe if we did stress to drivers that if you hit a cyclist or pedestrian you'll end up damaging your vehicle so they might exercise more caution around us.

But my concern is there should be an agreed upon rules for both cyclists and motorists and in driver education is where things start to fall apart, seriously fall apart.

10% of the truth is worse then a lie. As the most insidious lies have some truth in them.

Like what is stated in the Texas Adult Drivers Education site:

Bicycles are required to ride to the far right of the road.

Using only 10% of the words of law law on what we are actually required to do is... errr... um.... well, really, really wrong, there is not that much fluff and extra words in legalese. So ignoring the seven exceptions to this as well as ignoring descriptive words such as "near" and "practicable and safe" that describes how far right we should ride when non of the seven exceptions apply is a very dangerous thing to tell drivers that we are required to obey this 10% of the truth and nothing more, or better stated, falsely stating we are required to obey this lie. (e.g. A police officer stopped a cyclist and demanded that they ride on the 4 inches of pavement on the other side of the fog line. When the cyclist complained the officer responded "You've got skinny tires, so what's the problem?" - Like 4 inches makes a proper bike lane, sheesh! Stating we are required to ride far right just leads to too many problems, we need understanding and a agreed upon set of rules, not lies that further complicate things.)

Once upon time, there was little traffic and roads were built wide to accommodate drunks and trucks and riding to the right mostly worked out. But now there is more traffic as well as lanes that are narrow and there is just too little information out there that states "As a driver, most of the time you are going to have to change lanes to pass a cyclist, even if they are riding far right."

Too often the unspoken desire of motorists is "We want cyclists to ride far right so we don't have to bother to change lanes to pass." I'm sorry but no you just can't squeeze by and put a life at risk. But more to the point does the statement "Bicycles are required to ride to the far right of the road." help or hurt the safe passing of cyclists by motorists?

I will strongly assert that human nature is such that we offer more courtesy to someone who is (in our view) lawful then one who is unlawful. Case in point: have you ever driven pass a jaywalker that was just standing on the double yellow line with just inches to spare? But if that person was in a crosswalk you would give a greater amount of space. Similarly a cyclist that is perceived as lawful will get more consideration then one that is not.

Can I give the Texas Adult Drivers Education site some credit in trying to address the above with "and they [cyclists and pedestrians] just do not know the law. ... driver's obligation to create a safe situation by yielding... even if the driver of the car might have the right of way by law."? It's rather insulting that they feel that they can incorrectly state the law for cyclists and then accuse us of not knowing the law. Something like the following might be better: "You are required to yield even if you think the cyclist is not obeying the law. The purpose of this course is not to make you an expert on bicycling law [and that's a shame as well IMHO] but to stress safe driving so you are not a danger to yourself and others."

I'll note that too many of these "educational" materials come from national resources, effectively negating any local advocacy effort. So I will assert things like need more attention from ALL cycling advocates.

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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