“Scofflaws” not a reason to vote down bike safety legislation

Update: Des Moines Register article says safety bill “likely dead this year”

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Mark Wyatt of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition raised some important issues in comments on a post the other day about the IBC video that shows motorists running a stop sign.

One is the mistaken impression in some quarters that riding on sidewalks is safer than riding in the street. He said 19 Iowa communities require cyclists to ride on sidewalks.

Sidewalks and trails are demonstrably dangerous for cyclists – more dangerous, in some places, than the street.

An example:

Watch how motorists cross the trail in Cedar Rapids where it parallels Center Point Road just south of Blairs Ferry. Whether they’re entering or leaving the parking lot, they frequently fail to yield the right of way to trail users. I’ve had several close calls there myself. (A cyclist or walker should never assume the car will stop short of the trail. In fact, you’d do well to assume the worst.)

Wyatt also noted that some lawmakers “don’t want to give rights to scofflaws” are therefore are reluctant to pass bike safety legislation.

To those lawmakers: You won’t be giving rights to scofflaws. You will be codifying what should be, and unfortunately is not, common sense and courtesy.

You will be telling motorists to stay five feet away from a cyclist who is using the road, whether that cyclist is a child not wearing a helmet, or a commuter in a white shirt and tie, or a cyclist wearing a colorful jersey and tight shorts.

You will be, in all likelihood, saving someone’s life.

The fact that some cyclists and motorists don’t always obey traffic signs does not lessen their right to safely use our transportation system.

Pass the law.

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