Command Responsibility

I like the idea of Command Responsibility which means that the leader of a group is responsible for things that people below him do. It’s not enough for a leader to say, “I didn’t know.”

Since many leaders in the US apparantly argue in court, today, that they “didn’t know” and they seem to think that their ignorance is something that should get them out of their crimes. I think that this is doubly bad. They should pay for the original crime, and also pay back their salary for fraud as they didn’t do the job they said that they would do.

But I’m not a lawyer.

In the same way, I see a cyclist as the master of her domain. Whatever decisions she makes on the road are up to her. Thus, I don’t second guess a cyclist’s decisions nor to I bother pointing out that in some districts in some people’s opinions, she may be “breaking the law.” Oh my.

Anyone who cycles on the streets for more than five minutes will realize that the streets are not set up for our safety nor ease of use. In fact, if I were more paranoid, I would think that an engineer somewhere went out of her way to try to get me killed. I don’t feel that way; I realize that there are constraints on any plan and often cyclists are the ones who are, literally, the first ones under the bus. 🙂

Thus, there is little reason for a cyclist to obey the letter of the law if it is putting her life in danger.

The laws are made to keep people safe and happy, and when they violate that principle, they are obstructing us, and sometimes even killing us.

This is why I am so upset when people obsess over cyclists following traffic laws. The real question a compassionate person would have is, “What can I do to make the cyclists happier and safer?”

Probably honking at them, lecturing them, and harassing them isn’t the right answer.


2 Responses to “Command Responsibility”

  1. Aaron Garland Says:

    You make the point that we as cyclists are more often than not left to fend for ourselves and that we need not obey the law if it puts us in peril. I do not disagree.

    However, I believe that we as cyclists more often break the law for the same reasons that motorists break the law, to avoid inconvenience or delay. In both cycling and car cultures this is culturally acceptable. Car drivers go a few mph over and bikers ride through stop signs.

    I should add that many of these stop signs were placed as traffic calming measures to keep cars from driving too fast through residential areas. Bikers choose these routes because they are calmer and bikes do not pose a danger in the same way speeding cars do, so there is usually little harm in rolling through the stop sign.

    I believe that car drivers are frustrated with cyclists because of a misunderstanding of cultural differences.

    I think that the idea of “command responsibility” needs to be applied to those who have the final say in road design. They should be held accountable for making road conditions safe and practical for all users.

    • fredollinger Says:

      Wow, nice detailed comment; there’s a lot here.

      I don’t think we disagree on any major points.

      By allowing cyclists to be responsible for themselves, I didn’t mean that motorists nor planners should be irresponsible.

      I am just responding to the voices, over the years, who, as cyclists themselves, sought to demonize a certain segment of the population aka homeless and bmx riders.

      I wanted to beam a little love in everyone’s direction–including the critics–but I wanted to do so in an informed way.

      Your comments make me feel like I have, mostly, succeeded.

      So to sum up my summary: I don’t judge. 🙂

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