Sunday, July 27, 2014

What if road laws treated bicycles as first class citizens?

Roads were not always the dominion of cars, and traffic laws were not always written only for cars. It took decades, and significant cultural transformation, for pedestrians to become 2nd class citizens.

There’s change in the air though. Sweden launched Vision Zero in the 90s. Dutch experiments showed the safety and health value of segregated bicycle travel. Manhattan launched a bicycle share system with far fewer fatalities than anybody expected. Over my 20 years in the Twin Cities I’ve seen amazing growth in our local bikeways.

States like Idaho (!) are thinking about what traffic laws would look like if they weren’t written only for automobiles. While we pray for autonomous vehicles, and while we build more segregated bicycle trails and better sidewalks, we can also think about what balanced laws would look like. For example… 

Current stateCarNon-car (bicycle, pedestrian, inline skater, etc)
Stop Sign Stop until clear Yield
Red Light Stop until green (no right turn on red) Stop until clear (Stop sign where cross-traffic doesn’t stop)

A car passing a non-car with less than 3 feet of clearance would be penalized as though it had run a red light. All cars would be required to have proximity detectors, and violation of the 3 foot rule would result in an automatic ticket…

See also:

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