The Myth of Better Enforcement

OK, enough soft posts!

I’m back better than ever!

I recently was sent a new Blog Post GeneratorTM. It’s a VC site called: http://iamtraffic.org/2012/12/making-the-case-for-equality/#laws

Like Savvy CyclingTM, I really would like to see more cyclists on the road with or without infrastructure.

Do we need infrastructure?

Yes. Like a person needs water. Sure he can get along for a while without it, but after a while, one will become more and more weak and angry hardening one’s silly positions until one day one’s claim to fame is not cycling itself, but for dividing the cycling community. [http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/chainguard/message/31366]

“It is correct that the term Vehicular Cycling has accumulated much bias, misunderstanding and negative emotion, and that it has divided those people interested in bicycle transportation.”

When I am 80 years old, I want to ride on a cycle track or at least have some bike lanes in front of my house so I can ride my Mixte on it…Oh wait. :) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Step-through_frame#Mixte]

The (talking out of the corner of my mouth) unlike some people, I want ALL cyclist to succeed. However, I want their successes to be measurable in terms of greater people cycling as well as objective safety and not just rearranging words on a piece of paper.

The post (above) does not agree.

The fall from the “Enforcement Myth.”

Whenever there are clear problems that can easily be solved by infrastructure, we hear the notion that there must be better “Enforcement”.

Part of this is “better laws.”

“Many state vehicle codes include similar language, and in those states the language has caused great confusion, conflict, hardship, and expense for bicyclists.”

I say nonsense.

BETTER LAWS WILL NEVER HELP CYCLISTS IF ALL THINGS REMAIN THE SAME.

Why?

POLICE ARE PRIMARILY MOTORISTS AND WILL _ALWAYS_ SERVE THE MOTORING INTERESTS.

This is as true in Denmark as it is in San Diego.

Thus better “enforcement” is going to equal open season on cyclists.

The most comical thing about this whole mess is that the “iamtraffic” page that talks about better bicycling laws freely admits that the police refuse to enforce the laws in ways that favor cycling at all.

“I had an unpleasant encounter with an Easthampton police officer, who did not acknowledge my legal right, as a cyclist, to use the road in the same manner as a motorist.”

Great so the law was the only problem, right?

Wrong!

“The chief’s response was a non-sequiturial reference to city ordinance Section 3-41. The ordinance had no direct bearing on the conflict. The officer had never even accused me of violating it.”

So the cyclist felt like she were in the legal right, but police chief did not agree! I don’t see how rewriting the laws is going to solve this problem.

EVEN IF WE HAD A STRICT LIABILITY LAW POLICE OFFICERS AND THE “JUSTICE SYSTEM” WOULD NOT ENFORCE IT.

Thus, this is a total waste of time.

If the “iamtraffic” peope want to waste their time on this, well they seem to have nothing but time. Certainly riding their bicycles isn’t taking up much of their time.

On the other hand, if they want to actually solve real world problems they’d look at places that succeeded and duplictate their success.

IF IAMTRAFFIC DOES NOT WANT TO HELP ORDINARY PEOPLE WHO DON’T GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT THE “LAW” OR ANY OTHER NONSENSE TO RIDE BICYCLES THE VERY, VERY LEAST THAT THEY COULD DO IS TO STEP THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY AND LET REAL WORLD EXPERTS SOLVE THE PROBLEM THAT THEY TRIED AND FAILED TO SOLVE FOR FOUR DECADES.

3 Responses to “The Myth of Better Enforcement”

  1. Dan Gutierrez Says:

    Was this intended to be satire? It sure reads that way.

    It is clear that whoever wrote the above piece conflates three of the six Es. Namely Equality, Enforcement and Education. An enforcer’s ability to enforce laws is only as good as the basic Equality or fairness of the law, and the quality of their Education about why the laws are equal and fair and safe bicyclists movements in traffic.

    For example, when an enforcer engages in harassment based on a misunderstanding, ignorance, or even willful disregard of laws giving cyclists driver rights, that is not a problem with the legal text itself, it is one of how the enforcer is educated, and to imagine that we at I Am Traffic are not acutely aware of this is comically absurd.

    The problems in the real world stem from various combinations of all six Es:

    Equality (in law)
    Education
    Enforcement
    Engineering
    Encouragement
    Evaluation

    Without Equality in law, police can always with the full blessing of legislators, harass cyclists. Thus equality is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for an equatable enforcement climate for cycling.

    With equal laws, then one also needs to properly educate enforcers to understand not only the law, but the reasons why it is not only not unsafe, but actually desirable for cyclists to operate as drivers, to improve their safety and access to destinations on the road network.

    Many enforcers in the real world simply apply existing discriminatory laws, such as FTR (far to right) laws as a simple way of always blaming cyclists for crashes, no matter who is at fault. There’s no need to consult a 3-foot passing law if the cyclists is “guilty” violating the FTR law, etc. We seek to both remove the tools of discrimination, AND educate enforcers, since both are needed for effective enforcement.

    For more please see the descriptions at http://www.iamtraffic.org

    All the Es play together, and to try and stuff enforcer harassment problems into only one E shows that maybe the real experts are not who you think they are.

    • Fred Says:

      Dan, welcome to my blog!

      Also, thanks for writing a complete blog post here! You are welcome as a guest blogger!

      The point above was that given a text that one agrees with, in the original post the cyclist STILL HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE POLICE.

      Did I say that the text itself was related? No, I did not. That was the point. The actual text of the law matters very little as it is only words on a page. We all interpret things very differently.

      Look at how clear my post was to me, but you thought it was satire!

      The same thing happens with the law. It’s only words on paper until we interpret it. If you have police who hate cyclists, you will NEVER get justice no matter what the law says.

      I have some basic troubles with the “E’s”, I think it’s bullshit.

      I am only for infrastructure. This will not change as I am “set in my ways.” So don’t waste your time trying to change my mind.

      I am up for a spirited debate.

      Finally, please read some of my more livelier posts such as Burning Ken’s on My Lawn where I take the Father of VC to task for turning on his mentor.

      Best wishes and welcome!

  2. Whole lot of linking going on — a hit-and-run presser, charges in SD, a bike celebration in Santa Monica « BikingInLA Says:

    [...] Unbound says better enforcement of traffic laws is a myth; sort of like the NRA’s argument that better enforcement of current laws is the sole solution to [...]

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