Traffic Justice

I’ll follow up Eric’s post with something I worked on over a year ago.

I suppose sociopaths are always going to be a segment of any population. The problem is, we are missing numerous opportunities to reform them, or get them off the roads and out of circulation before they kill.

The following table expands the diagram above, highlighting the “pressures” and offering potential solutions.


1) Infrastructure Deficiencies

  • Lack of alternative transportation
  • Sprawl, arterial/broccoli design, traffic congestion
  • Road design that segregates users to enhance traffic flow for the speed an convenience of motorists – fosters braindead driving
  • Sustainable development
  • Alternative transportation
  • Smarter infrastructure – more redundant connectivity, lower speed limits to encourage scooter and bicycle transportation
  • Shared use design and integration of road users stimulates attentiveness

2) Societal Attitudes

  • Societal view of driving responsibility (and personal responsibility) is at an all-time low
  • Societal focus on individualism vs community is out of proportion
  • Lack of priority for safety among community leaders
  • Societal view of traffic enforcement as harassment or revenue-gathering creates political pressure against speed enforcement
  • Lack of civility toward other road users discourages use of cycling as an alternative

  • Tune in, show up, speak up.
  • Make personal commitments to safety – drive the speed limit, limit cell phone use


  • Elected officials and media outlets willing to take a stand – legislate and promote concepts of sustainable, healthy communities


  • Encouraging walking and cycling requires a safe and civil traffic environment – this cannot be accomplished with infrastructure, it is a social structure issue

3) Enforcement Issues

  • Not enough manpower for rigorous traffic enforcement
  • Systemic problem of taking officers off the street or using days off to defend traffic tickets in court (allows offenders to game the system in hopes officer will not show)
  • Elected officials cave to citizen complaints about traffic enforcement
  • Many officers do not understand certain traffic laws (particularly laws regarding bicycles)
  • Stiffer penalties and mandatory driver education
  • Strict and relentless enforcement of speed limits, crosswalks and safe passing
  • Elected officials who don’t cave in to citizen complaints about traffic enforcement
  • Eliminate Right Turn on Red at more intersections (where it would enhance pedestrian safety)
  • Bike education for all traffic officers

4) Personal Factors

Careless Drivers
  • Economic stress
  • Busy schedule
  • Long, tedious or frustrating commute
  • Lack of driver education and safety awareness
  • Better driver education
  • Bicycle driving education for pre-teen drivers
  • Promotion of safety awareness in media—safe driving requires full attention, distractions are not OK!
  • Encourage telecommuting and use of alternative transportation
Reckless/Aggressive Drivers
  • Anger management issues
  • Authority issues
  • Lack of regard for others
  • Drug & alcohol issues
  • Strict and severe penalties for road rage
  • A social environment which discourages aggressive, abusive behavior
  • Anger management education
  • Alternative transportation must be available to realistically enforce revocation of driving privileges

As cyclists, we have control over a huge amount of our environment. When we ride assertively, we can prevent many of the problems caused by inattentive drivers. But gross negligence is one thing we—like all other road users—are powerless against. We need for law enforcement and the justice system to not let us down by continually releasing people who have proven they are unwilling, or incapable, of being responsible citizens.

Along with all other road users, cyclists are stakeholders in this issue. We need to throw in our ideas and energy to help solve it.

5 replies
  1. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    Well put Keri! Driving a motor vehicle has become such a normal everyday event the average American’s perception of the magnitude of the responsibility involved in this activity has become insignificant.
    Perhaps a little public shame is in order. Perhaps requiring a revolving yellow light to the top of ones car for a month or so to warn others that a poor driver is in their presence as well as a fine for a ticket.
    The light would also attract the attention of law enforcement (no further tickets issued while lighted could be a condition to get it removed) ingraining good driving habits.
    Irregardless, the seriousness of motoring has to be revived somehow.

  2. DanC
    DanC says:

    Excellent Keri! Motor vehicle license is a privilege, formal or official permission earned not a birthright.

  3. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    “Where in Portland, Oregon can you find a teenager in baggy pants slouching next to a no-nonsense retiree, next to a slick businessman? In the Emanuel Hospital Auditorium, two Wednesday nights a month, at the Share the Road Safety Class. The amazing thing is that they have all chosen to be there… sort of…….”

    Visit for thw full story!

    Seems like a good start to get the education process going for all users, pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist alike.

    This would be an excellent way to instruct the “scofflaws” that we are constantly and unfairly being pitted against in our bid for equality, respect, and basic human consideration!

  4. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    An idea proposed on this blog should be added to the “enforcement solutions” box. Police need to concentrate on enforcing safety issues over traffic flow issues.

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