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Things to Ponder

Prevention vs. Picking up the Pieces

Why is it so much harder to convince people to spend time, money, effort, etc., to preemptively deal with a problem, than it is to just ignore it until something bad happens and then it costs more, takes longer and people have already been injured or killed?

Perception of Liability Risk that doesn't exist

Bicyclists who have asked for signed detour routes are more frequently told by DOT's that they won't provide a signed detour route because they believe it will open them up to potential liability. Even though, this has never happened.

This same argument has been used by Metro Transit & Sound Transit to keep bicycles out of the buses because of fear that they (transit authorities) might be sued by a passenger if there was some injury or whatever. Again, this has never happened.

Bad Driver Behavior on the Rise

Many drivers make dangerous, illegal manuevers. Why?
  • Ignorance of the law
    • drivers don't yield to pedestrians in unmarked crosswalks
    • drivers honk at bicyclists driving in the center of roadway (when the driver believes they should move over so driver can pass)
  • Dislike of the law (willful disobedience)
    • bicyclists running red lights
    • drivers speeding
  • Selfishness (willful disobedience)
    • drivers failing to yield to bicyclists (in situations where they would yield to another motorist)
    • bicyclists running red lights
    • drivers blocking the crosswalk when their light is Red
  • Laziness
  • Anger/Reacting to other
    • drivers behaves aggressively toward bicyclist
    • drivers don't let other vehicles merge in
  • Bullying To spite others/demonstrate strength
    • drivers passing too close to bicyclists
    • drivers honking, driving too close to bicyclists
  • Distracted
    • drivers talking on cell phones while driving
    • drivers focus on bicyclist in front of them, and aren't aware of other vehicles on the road, signs/signals ahead.

What about Bicyclist Behavior?

It's easy to lay the blame on motorists, but bicyclists also contribute to the problem. How often have you seen the following bad cycling behaviors:

  • Bicyclists who don't stop at Stop signs or Red lights.
  • Bicyclists riding the wrong way in the road.
  • Bicyclists riding with headphones.
  • Bicyclists riding at night without lights or reflectors.

Remember that when motorists see these kinds of bad bicycling it just reinforces their negative impression of us all. Do your part to reduce the animosity level by obeying the law.

What else can you do? Take a class to improve your riding skills. The League of American Bicyclists provides bicycle education programs Teaching Cyclists to Ride Safely and Motorists to Share the Road.

How to Change Driver Behavior?

How do you:
  1. Get drivers to recognize they have a problem?
  2. Get them to acknowledge that their behavior is dangerous/illegal?
  3. Get them to change their behaviour?

Most people believe they are "good drivers". They believe they know the law. They also are used to getting away with "bending" if not "breaking" the law on a daily basis--who among us does not at least driver faster than the speed limit, if nothing else?

"California Stops" (rolling through a stop sign) are becoming more and more the norm.

How do we improve safety for Pedestrian Crossings?

The City of Seattle has actually REMOVED marked crosswalks on many busy streets because they claim the marked crosswalks are more dangerous than unmarked because they give pedestrians a "false sense of security" so they aren't as vigilant when crossing. Unfortunately, more and more drivers do not seem to be aware of the law regarding unmarked crosswalks and fewer are stopping for pedestrians at marked crosswalks, let alone the unmarked ones.

Many pedestrians are not aware of their rights at an unmarked crosswalk, so the removal of marked crosswalks contributes to their feelings of helplessness.

The Decline of Turn Signal Usage

Fewer and fewer drivers seem to use their turn signals. And often even when they DO use them, they are not activated until the driver is already making the turn!

If we assume that drivers actually used to use their turn signals (at least we hope that they at least had to use them to pass their driving test), why do they stop using them? Is it a gradual erosion of good driving habits from lack of positive reinforcement? Or is it a lack of negative reinforcement when they drive poorly?

Is the fact that there are few tickets given out for "minor" infractions like "failure to use a turn signal", "failure to yield to pedestrian in a crosswalk", "failure to stop at stop sign", etc., leading drivers to become worse and worse?

Is it possible to get changes made BEFORE someone gets hurt or killed, or must we always wait until there is yet another needless senseless death before the "powers that be" are motivated to make changes? (Changes = new signs, new crosswalks, more enforcement, etc.)



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