Sunday, February 04, 2007

An editorial endorsement

Jim Smith's effort to regulate group riding of bicycles gained some traction with this endorsement in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The editorial writer is under the impression that Smith's group, SAFE, is a bicycle organization. That must be because of its advocacy of bicycle lanes along Route A1A in Delray Beach.

1 comment:

Jim Smith said...

Jim Smith comments via his email newsletter:

The Sun-Sentinel got it right when it explained SAFE's position on riding in a bicycle lane. The only error made was a typo when the editor typed that there is a 5-foot passing law, when he meant 3-foot.

SAFE has, from the very beginning of its existence, argued for separate travel lanes for all road users, - i.e. designated 5-foot bicycle lanes for bicyclists, sidewalks for pedestrians, and travel lanes for drivers.

Now, it's time for bicyclists to recognize the difference between riding on a road with a designated, 5-foot bicycle lane, and riding on a road that has only a 3-foot paved shoulder.

SAFE believes that in their best interest, all bicyclists should ride within a designated 5-foot bicycle lane, except when there are obstacles in the bike lane, in passing another bicyclist when it is safe to do so, and in making a left turn. On the other hand, where there is a 3-foot paved shoulder, bicyclists should have the right to share the road and "take the lane" if it dangerous not to do so. In other words, existing bicycle laws should continue to be used on roads where there are no designated 5-foot bicycle lanes.

Unfortunately though, SAFE does not believe that all bicyclists will use designated 5-foot wide bicycle lanes voluntarily. And, if they do not, the small number of bicyclists that flaunt designated 5-foot bicycle lanes will be responsible for creating a ferocious backlash from motorists. Motorists, who are many times more prominent on the road than bicyclists, will say "why build bicycle lanes for bicyclists if they don't use them? How can anyone argue against that logic?

SAFE has fought too hard on behalf of bicyclists then to now stand by and let a few bicyclists ruin it for all the other bicyclists who understand, appreciate, and use designated 5-foot bicycle lanes as they are intended.

All bicyclists should understand the consequences of their actions and support a new law that recognizes the differences between a designated 5-foot bicycle lane and a 3-foot paved shoulder. The same rules do not apply.

Motorist should realize the benefit of designated 5-foot bicycle lanes by not being inconvenienced by being stuck behind slower bicyclists. If bicyclists flaunt the use of designated 5-foot bicycle lanes, drivers will have every right to be perturbed.

The consequences of that happening will be considerable. There will be a backlash of public sentiment against the entire bicycle community. SAFE does not want that to happen and it believes that the only way of preventing it is with a new and targeted law that prevents it.

SAFE believes that it is in the best interest of the bicycle community to ask for, and support, a new bicycle law designed specifically for designated 5-foot bicycle lanes.

As a result of such an effort, the public will appreciate and realize the benefit of designated 5-foot bicycle lanes, and will support building more of them.