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Friday, February 20, 2004

Stop! in the Name of Traffic Safety
A few bicyclists ruin it for the rest of them.

This morning I was in the right lane of a low-traffic road with plenty of stop signs. I needed to make a right turn in 1/2 mile, and there was a bicyclist ahead of me. I figured that I'd go into the left lane, get around the bicyclist, then get back into the right lane before I had to make my turn. There was one stop sign between my current location and my right turn, so after I got into the left lane, I stopped at the stop sign.

The bicyclist didn't.

Because I was now unable to get around the bicyclist, I had to get behind the cyclist (driving at bike speeds) until I got to my right turn.

Bicyclists refusing to stop at stop signs is a common problem. Presumably the thought is that if the bicyclist "unnecessarily" stops at a stop sign, s/he will have to start up again, exerting muscular force which is not necessary. (Ironically, many people bicycle to stay healthy, so stopping and starting again should presumably be a good thing.)

Those wild-eyed granola eaters at the Marin County Bicycle Coalition have published a Bicyclists' Code of Conduct. I'll reprint all ten points, but please make special note of item 3 and the footnote below the code (emphasis mine):

1) Never ride against traffic.
2) Ride as near to the right as practicable*.
3) Stop at stop signs and red lights*.
4) Honor others' right of way.
5) Use hand signals.
6) With traffic, ride single file.
7) Be predictable; don't weave.
8) Follow lane markings.
9) Don't needlessly block the road*.
10) Use lights at night.

*--Note that the two most common offenses of bicyclists are running stop signs, and groups of cyclists blocking the road.

1. Stop at stop signs/lights: Stop at all stop signs and red lights. If two vehicles arrive at an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way. Politely indicate others' right of way with a hand gesture. For your own safety, never insist on your own right of way. Pedestrians always have the right of way. Your courtesy will be noticed and appreciated by other road users.

There are, of course, opposing views. Tar Heel Cyclists has posted an essay entitled Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs which speaks a lot about the number of watts that a bicyclist can produce, the problems that sweat causes for bicyclists who cannot shower at work, and sexist statements such as "bicyclists must husband their power."

Take the bus.

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