Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the bicyclist's bill of rights, and why it is BAD BAD BAD

the great debate on the hill these days, as it relates to bicyclists, and so long as you don't count [fill in the blanksItalic for things considered much more important than riding a bicycle in the minds of lawmakers] is the whether or not the state legislature should adopt what is ironically called the bicyclist's bill of rights.
upon close examination, rather than ENHANCE the rights of bicycle riders, this proposal REDUCES or ELIMINATES the status of bicyclists legally, while doing much more immeasurable harm to us even before the bill is approved--if it gets approved. the bill faces an uncertain future at best in the statehouse.
i've included a link to the text of the bill.
read it carefully, and you'll be as pissed off as i am about it. just scan it, or ignore it, and you'll believe, as its author and chief lobbyist for the iowa bike coalition mark wyatt does, that it's the best thing to happen to iowa bicyclists since indoor plumbing.
section-by-section analysis:
1-1, section 1--i'm cool with this one, which asserts the bicyclist's right to operate on the streets or highways.
1-9, section 2--diminishes a bicycle's right to use a narrow lane. in other words, if the lane is narrow, the car can squeeze us out, rather than be prohibited from passing us. BULLSHIT.
1-19, section 3--passing a bike, the infamous 5' bubble. this new language takes away our right to occupy the ENTIRE lane. BULLSHIT.
2-3, section 4--following too closely. the language "reasonable" and "prudent" "with due regard to traffic and speed" provides enough language to fit conveniently up our asses. guess who wins THIS argument, kiddies?
2-13, section 5--please don't honk at me. gee, i couldn't find the penalty provision for this one.
2-21, section 6--hand and arm signals. guess what, our bill of rights guarantees our right to signal with our right arms. praise mark from whom all blessings flow. of all the things i've been hassled by cops about over the years, i've NEVER been given THIS shit. i don't think even the cops knew about this one. get real.
2-35, section 7--when crossing sidewalk or trail, drivers must yield, unless there is a sign posted. translation: watch for a blossoming of "trail users must stop" signs.
3-27, section 8--an open door policy? "darwin at work," or "dumb and dumber?"
4-1, section 9--kill a biker, only 1G.
4-15, section 10--a special simple misdemeanor fine reduced from $150 or more to just $25, or . . .
4-21, section 11-- . . . $35 for the open door thing. hey, bikies: STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM AN OPEN CAR DOOR. even better, ride with care as you pass a parked car. DON'T be a dumbass.
this bill has NO provisions for public awareness for the motoring public, nor does it mention the need to education law enforcement. city police, county deputies, and state patrol officers, as well as city and county attorneys would ALL benefit greatly from several hours of training about the currently available laws as they relate to the legal operation of bicycles in iowa.
i've said it before, i'm saying it now, and i'll KEEP saying it: this bill is WRONG. that mark wyatt is its daddy is further proof that he doesn't understand the needs of ALL bicyclists, and that the iowa bike coalition could be much better served with someone else at the helm. saying that is like saying that anyone would be better than dubya in the white house, isn't it? couldn't do worse, right?


the mostly reverend said...

oh, and by the way, jeff, bicycling IS politics these days, you know: everything is political.
sex, relgion, education, work [or lack thereof], death.
really, pretty much everything.

Jeff Bratz said...

at the very least this time you talked about bikes in your post!

Ryan said...

A naive response from somebody half Kim's age :-P

I'm thinking good intentions got mixed up with politics here and the stakeholders got lost in language without careful thinking about real-world effect.

I'll keep my rights as I have them today with the exception of a significant increase in the penalty for at fault injury or death of a bicylist.

Injuring or killing a bicyclist because of driver error/failure/stupidity/drunkeness/etc... has to carry AT LEAST penalties as severe as if the person did the same to somebody riding in a car.

If you want people to stop honking, give us five feet of passing room, and respect us as a vehicle on the road - change the penalties and EDUCATE EVERYBODY.

People will give you five feet on the road after hearing that they can lose their license and get fined through the nose (or worse) if they hit a rider. Civil cases just don't get publicized and don't have the same effect on society as the law of the land.

This is way more important than a ticky-tack "Bill of Rights" that doesn't get at the root of the problems we face.

Lastly, I'm reading 1-9, section 2 as cars cannot overtake cyclists if the road is too narrow (i.e. sit behind me and be patient motor vehicle). Don't see problem with this but I also don't see the application much in real life.

My 2 cents ** French

the mostly reverend said...

ryan, you talkin' 'bout jeff, or you?
WHO'S half my age here?
i'm not THAT old. ;-))

great points, though, punk.

Ryan said...

From Kim West's profile ---

the mostly reverend
Age: 105
Gender: Male
Astrological Sign: Libra
Zodiac Year: Rabbit
Industry: Non-Profit
Occupation: helping orphaned bike racers
Location: the orphanage, capitol city : iowa, just this side of the rainbow : United States

You're right Kim, at 26 I'm a quarter you're age!

Jeff Bratz said...

Ryan clearly is talking about himself as I am 37/105 of your age=35.24% of your age.

the mostly reverend said...

oh, i AM getting up in years, aren't i? and forgetful, too.