You've probably heard the slogan: "Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules"
This slogan is popularly used to advocate the desire for cyclists to be accepted as legitimate users of the public roadways. For example, see www.probicycle.com
Same Roads: Cyclists have the right to use public roadways in the same manner as any other vehicle, be it automobile, pickup truck, tractor, or horse-n-buggy.
Same Rights: Cyclists have the same protections under the law as any other vehicle, be it automobile, pickup truck, tractor, or horse-n-buggy.
Same Rules: Cyclists have the obligation to obey all applicable traffic laws, just the same as any other vehicle, be it automobile, pickup truck, tractor, or horse-n-buggy.
Most cyclists are happy to enjoy the privileges that "Same Roads, Same Rights" bring but many are not so keen on following the "Same Rules." If you don't believe me, just browse through the comments on this blog. Many of these comments are cyclists criticizing the law-breaking behavior of other cyclists. The biggest peeve seems to be running red lights, which I think we all can agree can be dangerous in most situations.
However, one could argue that there are some times when following the "same rules" is counterproductive. Example: A cyclists uses an unoccupied right-turn-only lane as a de facto "bike lane" in order to not hold up faster traffic in the adjacent straight-through lane, then continues through the intersection on the left edge of this right-turn-only lane. Against the rules? Technically yes. Dangerous? maybe. Courteous to faster traffic? quite possibly.
When a cyclist disobeys the rules of the road, it can cause problems not only for himself (i.e. injury or death), but it can cause problems for the cycling community at large. If the community sees us as a group of law-breakers, it becomes more difficult to convince the public to support improvements in public infrastructure that make cycling safer and more efficient.
So let me pose a couple of questions for the local cycling community:
1) What are the most serious violations of traffic law that you regularly see from cyclists in Los Alamos?
2) What situations have you encountered where obeying the "same rules" principle is not practical, or even downright dangerous?
3) How do we educate cyclists who insist on violating the rules of the road that they should change their ways?
I would ask that we keep this a discussion of behavior and not an indictment of individuals, Thanks.