Today I ran across an essay I wrote nearly three years ago, which exhorted cyclists to apply peer pressure to get each other to obey traffic laws. Upon reading it, I had two realizations. First, I realized that I still agree with every word. Second, I realize that the problem has (if anything) gotten worse in the past three years.
Let me say it one more time, for the record: Cyclists, every single traffic law that applies to cars also applies to you!
But I’m afraid I’m in the minority. The other day I was walking across a cross walk and was nearly taken out by a kid on a bicycle who blew through the four-way intersection without stopping for the sign. This is typical. Later that day I posted on Facebook, “Am I the only cyclist who respects traffic laws?”. One of my long time riding buddies responded succinctly: “Yes.”
Obviously, peer pressure isn’t working. It hurts my libertarian soul to say what I am about to say, but I think the only answer is increased enforcement. Anyone on a bike who fails to stop at a stop sign or give proper turn signals, needs to be ticketed and pay a big fine. They are a public safety hazard and they give us few law-abiding cycle commuters a bad name. Anyone who can’t obey traffic laws doesn’t belong on a public road.
If you feel the way I do, feel free to write a letter to your local police department asking them to enforce traffic laws for cyclist the same way they do for cars. If possible, send a paper letter. E-mail is too easy to delete; paper usually stays on file for a while.