It’s been a bit over a week, and to be honest, I am still a little bit shocked. I always wrote to help myself sort out the endless supply of punches life keeps sending my way, and I was never really sure anyone read my blog, let alone were able to find it on the web. Well, due to the fine folks over at BikinginLA (05-05-2014), I seem to have been “Discovered.” And, while I am grateful for their linking to my article “An Open Letter to Cyclists: If I Can Obey The Traffic Laws, So Can You, (Cycling Dynamics, 04-28-2014), it was the feedback I received, both positive and negative, which I really appreciated.
Though the article covered many unusual facets of human behavior, it was my comment regarding “Hogging the Lane,” (aka, taking the lane, assuming the right-of-way, call it what you will), a very legal, and potentially deadly practice, which drew the most feedback from readers. While I certainly appreciated the input (some called it “Preaching”), to put it plainly, people are forgetting one very important thing: Assuming the right-of-way DOES NOT guarantee one’s safety. Allow me to espouse.
I would be a very rich man if I was given $100.00 for every time I had the right-of-way, and wisely refused it, because I would have been plowed by a motorist who thought differently. When objectively analyzed, in the totality of bicycle collisions with motor vehicles, it is unknown how many of those riders had the right-of-way in full accordance of the law, and lost out to physics – A much larger vehicle, traveling at a much higher rate of speed. Not the rider’s fault, just not wise judgment.
I have a relative which recently retired from a major law enforcement organization, with over thirty-years of service. And, over the course of that time, one thing I distinctly remember was their take on the concept of the right-of-way. Whether a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, they marveled how many people lying in hospital beds after a collision were still adamant about their assuming that right-of-way, broken bodies, and all. The most tragic, they remembered, were the pedestrians. While taking countless accident reports, this relative used to explain to them that while they indeed had the right-of-way, “What good did your right-of-way do you against a motor vehicle bumper? If you had yielded a few seconds, you would have been fine.” They finally came to the realization that common sense could not be taught, and that a hard-wired response of humanity was, “I was in the right!” Yes, but of what value is a legal right-of-way if a person ends up maimed at best, or dead at worst?
See, I was taught in school there were two, solid components to the Law; the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. However, I would like to add a third component to the list: The Common Sense of the Law. The bottom line is that while I am indeed an advocate for cyclist’s rights, I am also an advocate for common sense.
Ride smart, and stay out of trouble.