Cyclist Rights

I’d like to take back the term “rights” regarding cycling.

Often, we hear that “if we build infrastructure” cyclists will lose their “rights to the road due to motorist’s perceptions”.

I do agree with rights to the road, but not in the same way.

Thus, there are rights and there are rights to the road.

Let’s look at some concrete examples.

If some group has the right to go to college, but they fear that if they actually excercise this right, they will be killed.

Do they really have a right?

Many (callous) people would say “yes” because there’s nothing inherently stopping the person from going.

I say, “no”, we must do more to protect them especially when they are dying at two to three times the norm.

Similary, with 1% of mode share in the US, cyclists typically face 2% death rates which is small, but it’s double that of the “norm”.

Here are my ideas for rights to cycle:

1. Right to wear whatever I want without judgement. We don’t anyone else’s death into a fashion show. Thus, we need stop saying, “he wasn’t wearing bright colors.” Thus, my right to ride includes my right to wear black.

2. Right to be incompetent. In some places, cycling is a two minute class. Here it is apparantly a 15 hour lecture and hours of practice. I want the roads to be like an iPhone like they are in other places and not like a blinking dos prompt like they are now.

3. Right to be lazy. I want to be able to jump on my bike and get somewhere by navigating signs. I don’t want to need a map, compass, and a secret decoder ring. I should be able to ask directions to a normal person without stopping them every 30 seconds with, “but it’s illegal for me to get on the freeway.” After this, literally, they stop helping me because they don’t know how to get around otherwise.

4. Right not to be afraid. Ever. I should be taken care of.

5. Right to not be a mechanic. In other places, there are bike shops and bus stops everywhere. Here due to zoning, I have to literally walk for miles if I get a flat. This isn’t right!

6. Right to converse. I need it to be quiet enough for me to hear my wife. Also, I need some protected lanes so we can ride side by side. All motorists have this right, why don’t I?

Thus, while some see rights to the road as an abstract thing in motorist’s and police officer’s minds, I see it as a real, tangible reality.

For me, the “right to control the lane” is meaningless.

If one is going to fight for my “right to the road” they should consider that rights are not one thing, but they are many things.

Overall, the way to judge whether we have rights is to see if we have the same level of protection, comfort, and lack of thought that the govenrment currently gives to motorists.

Nobody but a daredevil wants empty rights.


2 Responses to “Cyclist Rights”

  1. Aaron Garland Says:

    If I could add an illustration to this article it would be a drawing of a cyclist pedeling down the center of the lane with a tractor trailer truck bearing down on him with the caption “cyclist exercising his right to the road.”

    I agree whole heartily with your position. I am not to concerned with the idea losing my rights when I already feel severely marginalized. Maybe you could rework this into a cyclist version of the “I have a dream” speech.

    • Fred Says:

      I love the cartoon.

      I was trying to expand “rights” to more than just the right to play in traffic.

      Regarding the racial stuff mixed in with cycling activism, I’m attempting to work with others to explain how truly horrifically offensive the whole thing is.

      We need cycling activism because we need more cyclist and we need cycling to be safer.

      Conflating this with civil rights is very unnecessary and very, very wrong.

      More will be explained on this later. I’m far from the expert on these issues…

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