There seems to be double standard when it comes to laws for cyclists

  • Thursday, August 13, 2015 10:10am
  • News

There is a new campaign in town. I’ve seen the stickers popping up on cars and trucks, the Homer Police cars have them, and there was even a full page ad in the local paper. And this has me really curious why the double standard. (Like seat belt laws, double standard, but that’s a different  story.)

“Share the road” is the new battle cry in the town of Homer.

So, as I understand this, bicyclists claim to have the same rights to the road as cars and trucks.

Just so you all understand, I have absolutely no issues with cyclists. I even get on a pedal bike from time to time myself, but I really have a problem with the double standard leveled in favor of cyclists, and against vehicle drivers.

When there is a clear trail specifically designed for bicycles, why use the road and put yourself, as well as vehicle traffic, at risk? When there is no dedicated trail or even a wide shoulder, I totally understand a cyclist using the side of the travel lane, and most try and stay as close to the white line as they safely can.

 All that being said, let me draw a comparison between bicycles and motor vehicles:

Cyclists are allowed by law to:

• Impede traffic.

• Run stop signs.

• No tail lights.

• No head lights.

• No brake lights.

• No turn indicators — I rarely see hand signals either.

• No minimal liability insurance — as required by law.

• No road tax — when motorists buy gas or diesel, they’re paying a road tax. 

If I were to drive my car or truck and not obey any of these laws, I would be in traffic court all the time.

Examples of the double standard for bicycles:

• If I was driving 20 mph in a 55 mph area on the Sterling Highway with a line of cars behind me, I would be impeding traffic; ticket.

• If I came up to a stop sign or stop light and just drove on through without stopping; ticket.

• If I was driving at night without tail lights or head lights; ticket.

• If I was stopping, and my brake lights didn’t work; ticket.

• If I made turns without using turn indicators; ticket. (Those seem to be optional in this town, though.)

• If I get pulled over and can’t prove or don’t have vehicle liability insurance, I would not only get a ticket, but could potentially lose my license.

As far as the road tax goes, since cyclists don’t use fuels, they don’t have to pay road taxes, and that’s fine, but it goes back to the road usage rules cyclists claim to have, being the same as vehicle drivers. There really is no contribution to the city, borough or state for road maintenance on the roads they claim to have the same rights to as motorists.

I don’t know for sure the rules and regulations on registering and or licensing a bicycle, but I am required to have current state issued tags on  my vehicles. For this, I pay the state to register my vehicle and I am required to put license plates on my vehicles. (I do know that bicycles can be very expensive and probably have some form of registration and even a form of insurance to protect the owner if the bike was to be stolen.)

I’m not anti-cyclist, and I know I’ll take a whole lot of heat for all of this, but maybe if you read what I wrote, you’ll understand what is being said.

Cyclists are there, and as with motorcycles, I am always careful to watch for them. But there are a few things cyclists can do to help the motorists to see them better:

• Wear brighter colors or even those small reflective slow vehicle triangles on your back.

• There are a few bicycles with the battery powered or tire powered flashing lights. Those really get the attention of drivers, even in the day time.

• Finally, when it’s available, use the dedicated trails for riding. The city, borough and state spent millions of dollars to put them in, and a bunch of money to maintain them.

Yes, by law, you have the right to use the road as a motor vehicle does, but just remember, your safety should be your first concern. Cemeteries are full of people that had the right of way.

Phil Celtic

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