Thursday, July 22, 2010

The case for following traffic rules.

There are some cyclists who feel bending or out right breaking traffic laws are just fine since, while riding a bike, you are not an automobile. I heard from fellow bike builder CT Thongklin that last Saturday night's OWL ride was a good time, but saw a few motorists frustration as some cyclists blew past them at stop lights. You could say the owl ride brought out a lot of new cyclists, but I'm sure if you ask around among the more experienced cyclists, there's a few scofflaws out there.

Yesterday, I was reminded of why us cyclists need to follow traffic laws both out of safety and wholesome courtesy. I just left the bike warehouse which is located in Papillion. It was dusk, so I wanted to hurry home to avoid the dark. I rode through the neighborhoods like I always do. This one particular stretch involved taking a wide swooping right hander, descending down a smooth road to a stop sign at the bottom of the hill. As I descended, I did hear a car coming up to me, so I sped up slightly since I was a block from the stop sign and didn't want the "impatient car swerving around me to get to the next stop" scenario.

Like every time I come to this stop sign, I come to a complete stop and look both ways. The car that was following me came to a lurching stop behind me. I did a slight glance back just to let them know I knew they were there and impatient, however, I didn't actually see that car. I continued on around the bend of the road and signaled the left hand turn I was going to make since the car was following me, but not right on my tail. I started the climb out of this little valley, still wary of the car that was a block behind me. This was a narrow road with cars parked along one side, so at least this car was nice enough to wait till I could get over before it passed me.

As it passed, I found out why it was on my tail at the stop sign - it was a police car. Had I not come to a stop at that stop sign, my guess is he would have ran the lights and whooped his siren to pull me over. And I would have deserved the ticket for blatantly ignoring the law.

So to all you who are on the fence about whether bikes should follow traffic laws or not, I would highly recommend it.


fredcube said...

There are many motorists who complain about cyclists disobeying the rules of the road. I would venture, judging from my morning commute (by car) that many of them routinely speed through yellow lights to avoid running the red; fail to make complete stops at stop signs; drive roughly 10 miles an hour over the limit; drive drunk, etc. I have no problem running a red light at a barren intersection where only the presence of a car will cause the light to change. Glad to hear the cop was being safe, though.

munsoned said...

Good point, Fred. I'm all for, as long as it's safe and there's no other traffic around, bikes can't trip intersection lights. But riding past cars that are stopped at lights, or blowing through a stop sign when a car is right on your tail would not be wise.

And even if a majority of drivers are horrible, which I totally agree with, I'd rather not be one of them, either on my bike or driving.