“I’m a human being goddamit, my life has value!”
It must be in the air. Fred was stopped 2 more times in the last 2 days. You can read his account of bogus law enforcement rationale here. An LCI in Idaho was ticketed today for “riding on the road,” you can read his account here. I know of several cyclists in other states who have not only been ticketed, but had the ticket upheld by a judge substituting prejudice for law and then had to spend more time, money and energy having the bogus ruling overturned or thrown out by smart prosecutors.
Traffic law is supposed to enhance the safety of road users. Most traffic law codifies the rules of priority and predictability—the logic under which traffic operates with safety and efficiency. The bicycle-specific law for roadway position is an exception. It exists only for the convenience of motorists. In other words, its job is to get us out of the way.
Operating on the edge of the road is not in the best interest of our safety or efficiency of travel. In fact the FTR law so blatantly compromises our safety, it has to be loaded with exceptions to clarify our right to protect ourselves! (see Roadway Position Explained)
But no matter how well we can explain the exceptions and parse the language in our favor, the premise of the law will still be how it is interpreted on the road by law enforcement, motorists and cyclists. This premise is injurious to cyclists because it legally and socially reinforces the belief that we must stay out of the way by default. That belief is the root cause of many fatalities and injuries. It is also the cause of constant inconvenience and frustration for bicycle drivers, like Fred, who must travel through the territory of uninformed law enforcement.
Fred has been fortunate to escape a ticket, and the waste of more of his time and energy dealing with the court system. He’s maintained admirably good humor about it, but it’s still ridiculous that he is delayed and harassed regularly by misinformed law enforcement in East Central Florida.
A year ago, American Bicyclist Magazine published an article about adding a 6th “E” to the League’s guiding principles—Equality. The purpose of this principle would be to address and abolish discriminatory laws mandating roadway position and the use of facilities.
Encourage LAB to put it to action! We need them to help our state advocacy organizations overturn discriminatory laws. We need the League of American Bicyclists to stand up for the rights of bicyclists... like other famous (or infamous) membership organizations do for their members.